How much did I love "Dark Side of the Moon?" It made me really wish they had run it back to back with "My Bloody Valentine," much more powerful without the huge break. I loved lots of things in this episode (one of the best opening scenes ever, why did they spoil it by making it a preview?) but after my second watching, I was mostly struck with (this may be me way over-thinking, or way behind the times) how I finally see this season as a parallel to last season. Sam was "played by the demons; Dean is being "played" by the angels. This idea makes me feel better about this season. :)
Just like Sam was manipulated by demons last season, with visions designed to steal his trust in Dean, play on his desperation, and take away his hope; that is what I saw the angels doing with Dean in this episode and, in retrospect, this entire season. I think maybe the writers (show runners) are trying to be a bit more subtle with this than they were last year with Sam. Maybe to be more dramatic, but I had found this season somewhat frustrating before this episode. Now I feel like I have to go back and watch the rest of season 5 with this re-discovered faith in the writers.
I love the use of memories as a manipulation tool. Memories are almost never accurate because they are made of feeling and emotion that color actual facts; they are perceptions. They are formed at a moment in time and even when we grow up, the memories of childhood remain as formed by our childish minds. So Dean's memories of Mom start out very idealized and only as an adult can he see (remember) the fuller picture. Sam's family memories consist almost entirely of conflict with his father and wanting to escape that situation would be some of his strongest memories, again formed by a more immature mind, and perfect to use to torture Dean. Sam's perception of family is so clearly different than Dean's. I actually think that Sam sees Dean somewhat differently than Dean's feeling of "family" with Sam (not sure that makes sense, am working on it).
I wasn't really sure what was going on until Pamela. Before, I was trying explain away Sam's lack of memories including Dean: he had none of the happy home (or maybe not so happy) memories that Dean has and his perception of growing up in conflict with Dad would override the smaller good times with Dean. But I really think that all memories were Zach manipulations-designed to shake Dean's most core belief and make him desperate enough to say yes. Because that is what made Sam say yes to Ruby--desperation. Sam's last hope was Dean and when he lost Dean to hell he had nothing left. If Dean really believes that "God is the last hope of a desperate man," then Joshua took away his last hope. They are being played the same way, by the two different sides.
Two other things. One, the idea of Sam and Dean being soul mates. I love that. I also think it must mean something...maybe that is the way they can save each other? They have some super special connection that can ultimately help Sam save Dean (or help them save each other) even if he says yes to Michael or they both say yes? I really like this idea. May just be me wishing though. ;) I also loved the look on Sam's face as Dean walked out at the end of the episode. It was the same ending look on Dean's face at least once, and I think more than once, last season when Sam walked out on him.
Okay, I guess two more other things ;) Could the fireworks scene with Dean and young Sam have been any better? And of course Dean's question that "if this is heaven where is Sam?" And surely Sam picked up the amulet....