Monday, December 1, 2014

The Road So Far: Sam Winchester (Part 1)

the entirety of this post will be spoilers. proceed with caution.

For those of you who are just now joining us, and have no prior knowledge of Supernatural, which you should totally remedy right now, introductions are in order. We have the Winchesters: dad John, mom Mary, brother Dean, and baby Sammy. Spoilers, but John and Mary are both dead. Oops. Sam and Dean fight all sorts of monsters, demons, and other things that go bump in the night. Basically they're my heroes. We’re focusing on Sam today.

Now, I’ve heard countless people give me all the reasons why Sam’s a sissy and why he’s a terrible son, not only for leaving the hunting world, but also neglecting his relationship with his dad and Dean. But let’s get down to the root of Sam leaving: he craved normalcy. Not only normalcy though. He also wanted freedom.

In episode 13 of season 4, After School Special, we see a young Sam and Dean at a new school. Everywhere Sam looks, he’s surrounded by happy people living happy normal lives in relative safety. And that’s what he wants. It also happens to be the thing that he was told over and over again that he couldn’t have. That normal life, that’s what he wanted to have. What he wanted to be. He craved a life that consisted of more than just hunting monsters.

I think that desire is what caused so much angst in his family. His desire to be normal is the same desire that alienated him from his family. It made him feel like he didn’t belong in his own family. We know that his desire for a normal life wasn’t accepted. We know that John and Dean couldn’t wrap their minds around someone not liking the family business and wanting out. We also know that they mocked him for that desire, something that continued into season one with Dean making jokes about Sam being “rusty” or a “college boy.”

 That about that for a moment. Can you image how lonely Sam was? Was is it such a surprise, then, when he grew to resent his father?

(Are you getting emotional yet? I am.)

The thing that we see constantly throughout the show is that Sam loves his family. Their not understanding his desires never changes that. He loves his family more than anything. He doesn’t often think of himself, instead he thinks about others, what they need, before he thinks about himself.

That, I feel, ties into why Sam and John’s relationship was so strained. Think about it. The thing that Sam and Dean fight about the most in season one is how Dean follows orders explicitly and Sam doesn’t. I get the feeling that that wasn’t a new argument.

In my eyes, Sam is an incredibly independent person. And he wants Dean to be as well. I don’t think he saw it as, “I want my own way in this,” but rather in a way that kept Dean’s best interests in mind as well. It was a, “If we had a normal life, Dean wouldn’t have to follow orders. If we were a normal family, we wouldn’t have to hunt monsters. If we had a normal life, Dean could be his own person. If we had a normal life, we would be able to do whatever we wanted when we were older.”

Yes, maybe there was a little bit of selfishness there. But Sam never had that normal life. Dean did for a little while before Mary’s death. The fight between John and Sam that led to Sam going to Stanford was bound to happen at some point, especially with how stubborn John was and how fiercely independent Sam is. 

Sam left at age eighteen. He could have run away earlier. He could have just left. But he didn’t. He waited until he knew that John and Dean would be fine without him, that they didn’t need him anymore. He waited until Dean was old enough to become his father’s hunting partner and then he went California and left the family business behind.

It stays behind him for four years.

And how does that affect him?

It shows him that a normal life is impossible. Absolutely, completely, 150% impossible. He even says it. He felt like a freak at Stanford. He still felt out of place, like he didn’t belong. The only time he begins to feel normal is with Jess, which we see in the pilot episode. But even that’s disrupted by his past as he dreams about her dying in the same way his mother did.

Then Dean shows up again, telling him that their father is missing and that he needs help finding him. And what does Sam do? Drop everything and go help him. He leaves Jess and plunges headlong back into the world that he thought he had left for good. When he returns, there’s nothing left of the beginnings of his normal life. He watches Jess die, unable to help her, knowing that he could have saved her or at least told her something about his past.

So he goes back to hunting.

To be continued…

1 comment:

  1. I just finished the latest episode of SPN. I love my boys so much! I squealed when I saw your post about Sammy! Part of what I truly love about the show is how it's about MEN. It's men's relationships with men - if it weren't about fantastical monsters it could practically be classified like a war movie. This camaraderie, brotherhood... even when a woman enters the script, it doesn't add drama like some shows. The other thing that I adore is how it's written. It makes the viewer laugh like a maniac and then sob like a toddler who's dropped his ice cream on the sidewalk. Heartbreak and hilarity walk side-by-side without contradiction or conflicting aims. SO happy SPN has made it on the Fangirlinitiative!
    Carry on, ya'll... carry on.
    A fellow Wayward Son.