Monday, December 29, 2014

The Road So Far: Sam Winchester (Part 2)

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

The last time I was here, we were talking about Sam Winchester, the adorable moose who can be seen in the TV show Supernatural. Because I love meese, we're going to continue analyzing Sam's character (and his fabulous hair) today. I left off with Sam returning to the family business following the death of his girlfriend, Jess. We left off with Sam's life, his little slice of normal, burning to the ground. He's left with nothing. No place in law school, no girlfriend, no home. Nothing. But Dean's there. Dean offers Sam a way to exact revenge on the yellow eyed demon. Not just revenge for Jess's death though; revenge for his mother's death too. And that's where we're picking up again today.

Imagine yourself in Sam's position. Not only was he too freaky for Stanford, too freaky for a normal life, but suddenly he's finding himself to be a freak in the world of monsters too. He has visions -- psychic dreams -- of people dying. Dean doesn't have dreams. Dean doesn't have demons targeting his girlfriends. Because Dean is normal. The one thing that Sam has longed for his entire life. And because of that he has to confront his fear of never fitting in, of always being a freak, and of being more of a freak than he could ever have imagined.

And then, when he's finally doing what John wanted, when he's searching for the demon that killed his mother and girlfriend, when they finally have a chance at killing the darn thing, John sends him away. He tells him to go.

Think about how that must have felt to Sam. His father wants him to stay and hunt, but he leaves and goes to Stanford. He gets kicked out and returns to hunting to work with his father and his father tells him to leave. If anything, that just reinforces the idea that nothing Sam wants will be good enough or the right thing. That whatever he wants is wrong.

They find the demon. They finally have a chance to end it all. To get their revenge.

But they don't. They fail because the demon possesses John and Sam can't kill him. Because family, to Sam, is more important than revenge. And now he has even more things to worry about. Like why the demon isn't attacking him in the same way that it is Dean and John. Like what the demon meant by "special kids". But before he can wrap his mind around any of this, or make heads or tails of it, John's angry at him for not taking the shot.

John couldn't see it from Sam's point of view, that family trumps all else, and it leaves Sam struggling with the idea of there no longer being a family for him at the end of the day. Dean's in a coma, John's planning something, and all Sam wanted was his family to remain a family. To the very end, as he's making a deal with the same demon that killed his wife, John Winchester fails to understand that, in Sam's mind, it's family first, the business second. 

And so Sam has to watch his brother almost die, try to protect his brother from a Reaper, and then -- and then he has to find his father's body.

To us at home, we watch Dean struggle with John's death much more than Sam does. Sam seems to be relatively okay with the whole thing. But think about what we know about Sam's personality. He puts his family first. He makes sure other people are okay, often at the expense of himself. And I think that's what he's doing here. He's trying to take the burden of John's death away from Dean. He can see Dean struggling, and he just wants to make it all better.

And so he tries to be okay. He tries to be okay for Dean so that Dean can be okay too. He knows that Dean needs him and that if he showed how incredibly guilty he felt about John's death, Dean wouldn't worry about his own grief. He would focus on Sam's. 

So instead, Sam takes on Dean's grief alongside his own.

But then everything changes because suddenly he does need Dean to save him. He has to be saved. And if he can't be saved, he has to die.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. I love to see an analysis focusing on Sammy like this! A lot of the time Dean's angst is more visible, so Sam and his issues don't seem to get enough attention. And I also appreciate that you're focusing positively on Sam without bashing Dean, without that bizarre one-or-the-other mentality that a lot of fans seem to have. Which I don't get. How can you love one Winchester and hate the other?

    Anyways, I totally agree with all this! John Winchester ticks me off like no other, and I loved how season one slowly peeled back the layers to reveal Sam at his core. I feel like Dean was in some ways more accessible right from the start, because Sam was still letting his "normal guy" façade fall, you know? Plus the fact that he was still reeling from the Jess stuff and the hunter's life catching up with him again.