So far, that is where I am with Dean. Yes, he is hardened—but he’s been tempered in a terrible fire. To my mind, it didn’t start in Purgatory. Dean knows exactly how Kevin feels because he too was torn between his personal need to save someone and his hero’s responsibility to save the world. His personal arc has always had these two impulses at odds with each other, coming to a head in season five.
In that season, Dean’s personal hell came to pass—he had to not only allow, but actually help, his little brother destroy himself in order to avert mass destruction. The personal cost of being a hero is horrific—but Dean had to pay it, as, of course, did Sam. Having faced the pain of helping his little brother throw himself into Hell to be tortured by Lucifer for eternity, Dean knows how to focus on the big picture even when there is a personal price to be paid. Kevin has just started down his fateful road. Sam and Dean have travelled it for a long way.
But the side of Dean that is protective, that reaches out to people, is still there to stir his conscience—and to prevent him from turning into the kind of monster Gordon became even before he was turned into a vampire. Being able to see the big picture is necessary for Dean, but not at the expense of cutting him off from his humanity. I suspect his arc this season will explore how Dean finds a balance between the two.
I’m loving the start of this season so far. I’d love to hear what you think!