That's the main thing that jumps out at me, watching this scene from the end of last night's Supernatural midseason premiere. Both Winchester brothers are playing out a scene they've done many times before, and it feels a bit... forced.
Seriously, when Sam keeps saying "I was ready to die" in the above clip, I can't help feeling that's the show talking. Supernatural is one of my favorite shows of the past decade, and I still love it even now — but jeez, the "going through the motions" feeling was very strong last night.
In last night's episode, Dean is determined to evict the angel Gadreel from Sam's body, after Gadreel has murdered the prophet Kevin Tran. And to do that, he needs the help of both the angel Castiel (who's only just gotten his Grace back) and the demon Crowley, who's been chained up in the basement all season thus far. (And the best parts of the episode, by a long chalk, involve the "three amigos" riding around together. I would watch that show every week.)
There was almost no doubt that Sam would get de-angeled by the end of this episode, since you can't have one of the show's two main leads sidelined. The main question was how it would happen, and what the repercussions would be. And apparently, the answers are: A) by having Crowley go inside Sam (after poking his head with metal rods for hours) and tell him he's possessed. B) Crowley gets to go free and start working on his election campaign to become King of Hell once again.
The actual mechanics of Sam evicting Gadreel from his body, though, consist of a fistfight inside Sam's head — arguably better than the time regular Sam fought Trauma Sam inside his brain — which feels no different than the fistfights the show serves up as the climax of every other episode. It might have been more interesting if the suspense had been built around Crowley trying to get to Sam inside an obstacle course Gadreel constructed. Or Sam refusing to believe the truth, because even Dean wouldn't be that selfish and gullible.
Instead, the exorcising-Sam stuff feels kind of paint-by-numbers, and then we get the above scene, where Dean basically gives his usual speech, with a weariness that feels entirely genuine. Dean couldn't let Sam die because it's not in him, and he'll always protect his baby brother, and Sam can't live with the consequences of that, etc. etc.
Dean repeats back something that Crowley said to him earlier in the episode, which is that people around him tend to wind up dead. (Crowley failed to mention that in this show, people tend to wind up dead either way. It's a very violent world, whether or not you're in Dean's vicinity.)
Oh, and also, Dean and Castiel get to bond over being either "dumbasses" or "trusting" — because at this point, absolutely everything bad is their fault.
Dean failed to close the gates of Hell, leaving the world open to a demon civil war, and then let an angel possess his brother and murder the last prophet on Earth. How many people are going to wind up having died because Sam survived the end of season eight?
And meanwhile, Cas murdered a ton of angels, teamed up with Crowley, released the Leviathans from Purgatory, and then got tricked into kicking all the angels out of Heaven — leading to a bloody angelic civil war on Earth.
So while Castiel suggests that "dumbass" is too harsh a word for the two of them, I'm kind of inclined to believe it's a bit too mild.