I’m assuming Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder intended that title to refer both to the physical transformations of the MotW’s victims and to the emotional purge of Sam’s speech to Dean in those all-important last five minutes of SPN. Nice touch, writers.
Once again, the episode was split into two parts – and once again, I have more to say about the second. The first was a rather tragic story of a monster-trying-to-be-normal, a classic Supernatural theme. I was a bit worried that there would be too much insensitivity and ‘fat jokes’ for me to just sit back and enjoy, but I think the script did a decent job of avoiding that, so I was able to enjoy the ride. The special effects were disgusting (and awesome), the guest actors were memorable, and despite the chill between the brothers, the humorous scenes still worked. Dean with powdered sugar all over his face (and Sam’s expression haha), the awkward conversation about sex and ‘extra padding’, even some of their snarks at each other made me laugh. There was suspense, some scary scenes, some gorgeous cinematography with the boys and their flashlights. The brothers worked together as seamlessly as ever – there’s nothing wrong with their working relationship at least. We got boys in suits, and in dress shirts and ties lounging around motel rooms, which is always a big plus.
Oh, and there was Sam in shorts and a tank top, and Dean in a hairnet (which you wouldn’t ordinarily think would be a good thing, but Dean Winchester? Can even make hairnets sexy.) So nice job on that, writers. Thank you for Sam as a yoga instructor and both boys in tight-fitting clothing. And whoever is keeping up Dean’s break-up scruff? I love you.
There was the customary parallel between the MotW and the main characters’ journey – this time, that was a toxic sibling relationship that cost the ‘good sibling’ her happiness. How sad was she, sitting on the couch at the end and telling Sam, “I lost my whole family today.” Ouch. That better not be foreshadowing, I’m saying to my television at that moment. (I said the same thing in the beginning, with Dean looking nearly as sad as Maritza eventually did, drinking too much and not sleeping, and deflecting Sam’s “you sure you’re okay?” with a defensive insistence that Sam didn’t hurt him at all. “I don’t break that easy,” Dean says, and I start screaming “Nooooooooo, don’t say that, you know that’s tempting fate!”) Yep.
But Sam got to save Dean for a change, which is exactly what I was clamoring for in last week’s review, so that made me smile (for a little while – god knows, Show was just waiting to wipe that grin off my face!) Dean’s desperate and plaintive “Sammy, I need your help” gave me ALL THEFEELS, as did Sam’s “Hey Dean, hey.”
Then came the last five minutes, and with it, an online firestorm of fan response. When I could manage to pick myself up off the floor and string two words together again, I went looking for explanations to make sense of my own emotional meltdown.
I realized two very interesting things while reading fan reaction to this week’s and last week’s Supernatural all over the internet, and both say something important about this Show. The first isn’t so surprising – fans are almost unbelievably passionate in their opinions about a bunch of fictional characters and a Show in its ninth season. The second is just how real these characters have become to us. It’s partly because we’re so invested in them. And it’s partly through familiarity, as we’ve welcomed them into our living rooms and onto our media screens for the past nine years. There’s research that shows that we react with the same emotional intensity to things that happen to our favorite television series characters as we do when things happen to our real life loved ones. Yes, actual research. (Most fans knew that anyway). They’ve also become so real that I noticed that many of the episode reviews don’t read like episode reviews at all. Instead, they read like a bunch of smart, articulate, passionate people who are heartbroken about the tragedies that have befallen people they love. Article after article tries to make sense of what was painful to everyone, the same way we would if we were staging an intervention for beloved family members.
So there were a lot of very real life comments. “It’s hard to watch, but it had to happen.” “Dean needs to find a sense of self worth and realize that he can let Sam go, because the lengths they go to save one another are destructive.” “They need to treat each other as equals.” “They need to get to a place where they’re both emotionally healthy and have a healthy relationship.”
At first glance, who could argue with that? If Sam and Dean were my real life brothers, I sure as hell wouldn’t. Then there were some comments like these:
“If Sam & Dean were real people I would agree completely. But, I probably wouldn’t have this ridiculous obsession with their show if they were so emotionally healthy.”
“The core of SPN is Sam & Dean doing anything and everything for each other. It isn’t healthy, but Dean and Sam’s messed up relationship is why SPN packs such an emotional punch.”
“It’s that part of the Show that draws me in. In real life, I help real people… When I’m watching the Show, though, I thrive on the emotional mess and co-dependence. Oh the joyful guilt.”
Joyful guilt – an interesting way to put it. That could actually be a description of the books we’ve written on fandom and why it’s so powerful, and at the same time so prone to shame. It also went a long way toward dissecting my own emotional reaction to this episode when I sat down to write my own review. I was struck by how many reviewers and commenters used the words “real life” in whatever they wrote. But as much as we all treat Dean, Sam and Cas like real people after all this time, we do all know that they’re not. If we wanted to watch real people, we’d be watching Real Housewives or Jersey Shore, and then we could weigh in on what the people on our screens should or shouldn’t do from a real life ethical perspective (not that reality television reflects reality either, but that’s another discussion…) That’s not why we watch Supernatural – to see a reflection of reality. SPN is a fantasy universe full of things that don’t exist in real life, and that’s a big part of its draw. Fantasy allows us to explore things and be drawn to things that we wouldn’t be in real life, hence the appeal of every effed up relationship in every variety of media since the beginning of storytelling. It’s the appeal of the tangled, twisted, dysfunctional relationship between the brothers that hooked many fans on the Show, and it’s the appeal of the forbidden love between a human and an angel that partly drives fans’ passion for Destiel. Both relationships have a history of strife and sacrifice, hurting and being hurt, that makes them compelling and inspires a great deal of fannish passion and creativity.
The allure of the “romantic hero” has long fascinated all of us, and it often has little to do with emotionally healthy characters. Sera Gamble talked about how much Dean and Sam’s heroism flowed from the fact that they are damaged when we spoke to her and Eric Kripke about SPN back in Season 4:
“Dean is the more damaged of the two. He’s had to put his own needs aside for his entire life, which tends to cook up an interestingly fucked up kind of person – and in this case, has ended up making him instinctually heroic. Selflessness is a huge part of heroism. We often say in the writers’ room, when the two of them are in disagreement, as long as they’re falling all over themselves to save each other, they can go pretty out there with the misguided ideas; their actions will still maintain a core of heroism.” (Fangasm, p. 7).
Of course, Eric also told us that “part of the process of the Show is driving [the fans] nuts. It’s part of the viewing experience. If they’re happy and content every episode, that means you’re not doing your job. It would be a very boring show if at the end of every episode, it was like, oh isn’t that nice? That isn’t very exciting.” (Fangasm, p. 175).
No worries about that, Mr. Kripke.
Obviously a story can’t remain stagnant, and I haven’t seen anyone suggesting that it should. It hasn’t. The question is, how much do we want Sam and Dean to change? Laura Prudom wrote this in her thoughtful review:
“Right or wrong, I believe that Dean would always choose to save Sam’s life, regardless of the cost or consequences, and, sadly, regardless of Sam’s wishes. He’s basically acted as Sam’s father for most of Sam’s life, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a loving parent who wouldn’t do anything to save their child’s life if there was even the slightest possibility of protecting them from certain death. It is an inherently selfish position, especially if your child/loved one/stubborn younger brother is suffering and has made their peace with dying — because the one who dies is ultimately at peace, but the one who’s left behind has to live with the loss. But regardless of the reasons behind it, it’s a realistic instinct and one that I don’t think Dean will ever fully evolve past. (Nor would I want him to, honestly, because it’s such an intrinsic part of his character.)”
It is. And I agree with her, I wouldn’t want that to change. (I also can totally relate, as a parent, to that motivation to do anything to save your child. That’s a part of Dean’s psyche, part of what makes him the complicated fictional character he is). It’s well established that Dean is terrified of losing Sam and being alone, but any parent can testify to the strength of that impulse – and it’s not about fear of being alone.
Why do we all care so much about fictional characters anyway?
The spark behind the creative force that is fandom often comes from our emotional investment in these flawed characters and the need to fix things for them – to move the characters in the direction that we, as fans, want (it can feel like need) . Not for the characters’ sake, since we all do know intellectually that they don’t exist, but for ours. It’s that very personal need that makes fans love – and disagree – so passionately. When we were researching “Fangasm” and “Fandom At The Crossroads,” fans alluded to the importance of fantasy again and again. We’re drawn to fantasy not to see what’s around us in reality, but to vicariously experience what isn’t – sometimes, what we very much wish we could see for real, and sometimes what we very much do NOT want to see in reality. The things we’ve experienced ourselves that have hurt us. The things that fascinate us, but also make us feel guilty for that fascination. These are the things we often want in fiction. It’s safe, it can help us master our own past bad experiences by identifying with fictional characters who deal with a lot of crap in the safe realm of fantasy. It can help us construct our own wish fulfillment fantasies and then (we hope) see them played out onscreen. Do we all want someone to love us like Dean loves Sam? Someone who will throw the entire universe under the bus just to save us, because we are just that important? In reality, no. Most of us aren’t that cavalier about the universe. In fantasy? Hell yes. Do we all want our very own personal angel, who loves us above all others with a profound bond that can’t be understood by the rest of the world? In reality, probably not – not all of us even believe in angels. In fantasy? Hell yes. Fantasy – and fictional television shows with unbelievably powerful characters played by amazing actors – gives us that.
So what happens when the fantasy we want to see changes, or doesn’t go in the direction we want/need it to? Supernatural’s narrative has changed quite a bit since we sat down with Eric and Sera. Sam and Dean have both been through even more trauma, on top of what they already had on their shoulders. They have always had different personalities and views of life, because their childhood experience was so different. So the set up for change has been there from the beginning, and we’re all in agreement that stagnant doesn’t make for good storytelling. At this point in Season 9, the stage has been set for major change in the brothers’ relationship, ready or not — since one side of the relationship (Sam) has changed quite a bit already. I generally hang onto my optimism when it comes to SPN, and I’m mostly managing that, though I admit it’s being sorely tested by how painful the show is to watch right now.
In order to be a fulfilling fantasy, we have to try to make sense of our beloved fictional characters, and individual fans are hashing that out right now. One of my sticking points is how much I’m struggling to understand what we’re supposed to make of Sam’s head space. The poor guy has been through so much in nine years, so some of his evolution as a character certainly makes sense, but other changes just haven’t been well explained. Everyone gets that Sam puts a lot of importance on choice and agency, because he’s had his own co-opted far too often. Everyone gets that he’s angry at Dean. I make sense of that in terms of their history too, as I said last week. As the younger sibling who’s always been sacrificed for, Sam had a hard time seeing himself as a grown up as long as he was in Dean’s protective shadow (hence the move to Stanford). He doesn’t want to be the victim or have Dean be the martyr. I’m interpreting some of the things he said to Dean as his way of seeing their history differently – instead of Dean being the self-sacrificing protector, Sam needs to see him as the selfish over-protective big brother who won’t let Sam grow up. In real life, every child has to eventually give up their hero worship of their parent, and this is often how we do it. That’s why we talk about “adolescent rebellion”. Essentially Sam is doing that now – he even talks about Dean swooping in and being the ‘hero’.
It’s a familiar dynamic in families, but it’s usually played out between child and parent, not siblings. That too makes sense, though, since Dean was as much parent to Sam as brother. Perhaps Sam’s normal adolescent rebellion (usually against parental protection and control) that began at Stanford got derailed by Jessica’s death and he’s only now getting back to it – except this time it’s played out against Dean. Unfortunately, revisiting that now, with Sam a grown man and Dean not at all an independent parent who can easily weather what would have been Sam’s normal adolescent individuation, is a tough road for Show to go down. Dean is not Sam’s parent, and he shouldn’t have had to play all those roles in his brother’s life. It certainly has been to his detriment often enough. They’ve both been hurt by the traumatic circumstances of their life, which were not their fault. Dean’s acceptance of his role as protector was clear from the pilot, when John set the stage by putting Sammy in Dean’s arms and telling him to save his little brother, a directive made explicit by John over and over again. Dean was reinforced for making those decisions repeatedly – the one time he didn’t save Sam and let him choose to put himself and Lucifer in the cage, resulted in Sam going through hell and coming out soulless and then psychotic. No wonder Dean decided he wouldn’t do that again. Understanding that makes it hard to watch Sam lash out at Dean for doing what he’s learned and believes is the ‘right thing to do’ – even if we (sort of) know where Sam’s coming from.
Change is never easy, even when it’s happening to fictional characters – that is, all this change is hard on us, the fans. It’s been difficult to reconcile this version of Sam with the Sam from earlier seasons who played out his side of the not-at-all-real-life relationship in such a powerful way. As Sera said, then they were “falling all over themselves to save each other”. Not just Dean saving Sam. I remember Sam’s impassioned “You save my life over and over — you sacrifice everything for me. Don’t you think I’d do the same for you? You’re my big brother – there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” Sam would have done anything then. Tried to – with crossroads deals, demon alliances, even a readiness to kill Bobby to get Dean back in ‘Mystery Spot.’
The change in Sam is striking – but I could make sense of it better if I’d been privy to more of Sam’s thoughts and feelings. I’m having to make assumptions about why he’s changed so much, and who knows if they’re right or wrong? I’d rather see it. I struggled with Carver’s choice to have Sam not look for Dean in Purgatory too, and had to construct my own explanation since we never really got one. Was it a reaction to the trauma of losing Dean and the resulting hopelessness? Or perhaps he was remembering how his efforts to save Dean turned out with Ruby, and the apocalyptic consequences of that effort, which ultimately failed anyway. I can understand him not wanting to go down that road again. If that’s it, I wish Show would lay it out a little more clearly. The Sam we’re seeing now, whose need to get away (psychologically if not physically) from his brother is reasserting itself rather dramatically, still seems jarring. Is it real-life healthy? Probably. Is it consistent with what I want from Supernatural as fantasy? I don’t know.
I’m also confused about Sam’s rather quick turn-around from his speech to Dean about the trials, where he declared that he valued his life and wanted to live, and wanted to show Dean the light and have Dean want to live too. What happened to change his mind so completely? In the church, it was Sam’s choice not to keep going with the trials and to live (though he was taking Dean’s feelings into account too). And if Sam actually wanted to die, as he now seems to be saying, why did he change his mind so readily and go with (who he thought was) Dean instead of Death as soon as he believed that Dean had a way to save him? I’m going to make sense of these questions by assuming that Sam is overwhelmed with so much guilt about the consequences of making those choices (Kevin included), that he needs to think of it as not his choice at all. It’s too horrible to think that his choices had those consequences, and easier to be angry at Dean (who did, after all, trick him into agreeing to possession). A bit of projection would make sense considering what Sam’s been through — I don’t think Sam can live with knowing that Dean valuing him above others has gotten people killed. We’ve seen Dean struggle with that same guilt, after John sacrificed himself for his son, and when he made Sam swear not to do anything to try to save him from going to hell. I’m just not sure why Show has made that the tipping point for the brothers’ relationship, or how that will play out for the characters I love.
I commented to someone that I think I’m developing Supernatural-related PTSD. When I look at the clock and see that it’s 6 minutes from the end, I reach for the box of tissues, clutching it as I watch reluctantly, perhaps trembling a little. (Shhh, don’t judge). I’ve learned that in those last 5 minutes, Show can break me into a million pieces and leave me on the floor. That’s definitely what happened at the end of this episode. I’ve seen some comment that Sam’s words weren’t intended to hurt, that he just wanted Dean to understand where he was coming from, but I think that’s wishful thinking (which I understand completely!) How many barbs start with “Hey, I’m just being honest”? That’s the classic way to introduce (and rationalize) a comment intended to cut, as Dean does to Sam later in the episode about his skills with the ladies, with the same pointed introduction.
The last image of Dean literally made me nauseous. Damn Ackles for his acting skills, because I swear I can see Dean’s worst nightmare coming true with Sam’s words. “You sacrifice everything for this family, but they don’t need you like you need them…” “I’m poison…” The image got stuck in my damn head and I couldn’t get rid of it — how’s that for reacting emotionally as though to a real person who was suffering? That’s how it felt. Ouch.
I saw some interesting speculation about the effects of the Mark of Cain, which apparently curses the person who bears it from having any kind of family. Is it possible that’s part of what’s going on here? Is that influencing Sam’s feelings? I found it hard to believe that he was uninterested in helping research the effing MARK OF CAIN that his brother has on his arm. What??? And was that why Dean was so gung-ho to kill the friendly pishtaco? (immature snicker). That would be an interesting explanation for some of the seeming contradictions. I’ve also seen the explanation for Sam’s speech as that he wasn’t saying that he wouldn’t have his brother’s back, only that he wouldn’t sacrifice the universe to save one person, even if that person is Dean. That’s mature and reasonable and makes perfect sense in real life. But it’s not quite as “romantic” (I don’t mean in the sexual sense) as the premise of Supernatural, the fantasy. It’s not what Sera Gamble famously referred to as “the Epic love story of Sam and Dean.” Can the Show create a Sam and Dean who don’t have that twisted, tangled, heroic, epic bond but who are still just as compelling as characters? I don’t know.
Wherever we’re headed, I agree with many fans who are missing another important aspect of Sam and Dean’s characterization that’s been part of the Show from the beginning – the brothers having fun, teasing each other, enjoying life every now and then when they take a break from trying to save the world (and each other). Tell me you’ll get them back there, Show. You know I’ll keep watching.
Here, have something upbeat — and real life! — to close this out. As heartbreaking as this episode was for the characters, Jensen and Jared apparently had as much fun as ever. Sometimes I have to remember that.
Hang in there fandom,
To read more of our adventures in fandom,
check out “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls”,
by clicking the link at the top of the page.
79 thoughts on “But Will it Still be Epic? Supernatural’s “The Purge””
Once again you have done it. I had so many mixed emotions with this episode. I’m still so stunned the words won’t come out. I agree with all that you said. It so hard seeing Dean so hurt by Sam’s words at the end. Knowing that Dean did what he had to to safe his brother.
Births are never painless, re-births may be more so. The evolution in their relationship has me excited…not so much for the result as for watching the process. So far I appreciate it highlighting just how different their POV’s are on their shared history as well as their present. For all their chronic tangled eff’d-up-edness and issues and complexes, they have seldom shared the same perspective, either on each other or on wider events and forces in their lives. That friction has always been a part of the Winchesters.
Like you, Laura and others have said, knowing more of Sam’s POV would be helpful – we are forced to see (and therefore FEEL) too much through Dean (and Dean’s self-worth tinted glasses). We end up going down the head-canon route, the forced subjectivity maybe explaining why there is so much outrage in fandom. But, when I’m starting to have bad dreams about Dean or Sam’s head-space, I know Show is doing something right. Oh Supernatural, you hurt so good!
Where’s the ‘like’ button for this??
Lynn, As usual, your review expresses exactly how I feel-although much better. I also have noticed quite the change in Sam since Gadreel left and have wondered why we (the fans) have not been privy to the thoughts or events that have changed him. Perhaps there will be that explanation a little later on, but it is taking a little faith in the Show to understand the change. As Eric Charmelo tweeted last night: “Progress is NOT resolution”. I certainly hope we can get some kind of GOOD resolution between Dean & Sam before the season FINALE-which I am sure will tear our hearts out again. Do wish the CW would go ahead and announce the 10th season.
Brilliant! And so sad. I watch all the episodes at 4:00 a.m. before work (via Hulu Plus as we have no cable) and I was sobbing on the way to work, needless to say.
The only thing I would add is that my take on Dean’s quick desire to kill the pishtaco (haha!) was because she gave up her brother for slaughter, which can’t make her exactly popular in Dean’s book! And follows along with last episode’s “do what you need to for family, even if they’re monsters” idea.
So much to think about!!! Wanted to slap Sam upside the head at 5:00 a.m. but I’m better now 😉
I was also confused by the quick shift from Sam’s desire to live overriding his desire to finish the trials to his acceptance of his death in 9×01. Sam keeps saying that he was ready to die, but besides the fact that Dean will always try to save Sam, I can also see why this would be confusing to Dean since Sam’s desire to live was so strong right before. I would love the brothers to have a conversation about this or at least some kind of explanation as to why Sam apparently changed his mind so quickly.
I think you guys summed up why I feel so dead about the show right now. I just don’t feel like the Winchesters of Kripke and Gamble’s era exists anymore, and I don’t think this new version of them is interesting enough for me to get excited about or feel passionate about.
There was so much LOVE back then, even when they were fighting or cruel to each other. I don’t feel it now, and I wonder if it’s because Carver doesn’t have the same love for these characters that Kripke and Gamble did. Maybe Carver’s approach is too clinical, maybe? It feels like he’s “correcting” flaws that the other two embraced to create this awesome tragedy.
Bang on, Lynn! Thank you. I’m still trying to sort things out in my head, and since I lack the time I used to have to write reviews in the midst of everything else, I’m particularly glad you’re here!
Okay here’s a theory out of left field
Going back to the end of season 8 when Sam was filling Crowley with his altered blood. Didn’t Crowley show the ability to tell a lot from a person by their blood? Could he have been luring Sam in with his plaintive cries about being forgiven? Did we forget that he also bit Sam to gain blood to make contact with hell? So he has a deeper understanding and Crowley always plays the long game.
So on to season 9 where Sam the eternal Peter Pan optimist who dearly loves his brother suddenly decides on death. He demands not to be brought back from death. Since when is Death so accommodating that he does what anyone wants. Okay so it was Sam’s dream but even so… furthermore if Sam does die exactly where does he expect to go. The Winchesters more than anyone know what death holds. To Hell with Abbedon? Or Crowley? To Heaven with Metatron? To Purgatory with every monster that knows your name?
Furthermore just because you don’t like the way love is expressed doesn’t mean it’s not love. Dean is a whole bag of nuts with way too many guns and knives but he has demonstrated his love too many times for Sam’s rant to hold water. Sam sounds too much like a martyr. He should have known there is no “end” to the problem of evil and sealing demons into hell is bound to have unforeseen consequences. Especially since Crowley was very involved in the translation. Just like Dean said, Sam’s behavior is also not thought through. I vote Crowley influence on in Sam in his weakened state , Kevin’s murder by Sam/Gadrell, fractured memories of being possessed by Gadrell, then Crowley with Crowley as his “rescuer” (rather than Dean) he clearly needed some time off, he’s burnt out.
Then we have Dean out to kill Abbedon, Gadrell and anybody else being manipulated by Crowley into meeting Cain the original murderer and taking his mark. Fanning Dean’s murderous rage he accomplishes his ultimate goal to split up the brothers and have them both beholden and obedient to him again. I have always believed that Sam and Dean were two halves of the same personality, Sam the intelligent spiritual one and Dean the powerful, emotional conscience-less id. Without each other they make really bad decisions. Like hunting with Crowley or trying to get Castiel to kill you or thinking you can stop being brothers because you don’t like your brother’s choices. Sam needs to grow up (remember Crowley’s line “has the overgrown baby got himself in trouble again”) and start standing up to Dean more, and they both need friends.
Sorry late for the party unless I answered somewhere else but that is just it now they didn’t close the gates of hell if that would have happend only metatron and god know what would have happend. I mean Cass thought he was keeping the angels in heaven with the tablet and look how that turned out so Sam can’t be to sure that they would have closed demons out for all we know it would have been and angel and demon war on earth. And if he died he ain’t going to heaven that is closed off to him. He ain’t going to purgatory unless he is a monster so that left his soul to go to hell. And if that was closed then what does his soul do??? And also I like the fact that he would be dead with dean to deal with angels on earth which dead he wouldn’t have known that; cass with no powers. So isn’t it best the two of them take this on. Instead yes I admit be mad but be mad at dean for the right reason not whatever you feel like. But wouldn’t dean be dead without sam around and also angels after him because he is friends with cas? I mean he would not survive what is going on all by himself. Sam has to rethink about what is going on right now Dean did not cause the angels to fall metetron did that. I mean this is repairable if they can get the angel tablet back and somehow figure out how to find another prophet. But I think also Sam has to realize how long Dean has been programmed to be save sam. Since 4 and its hard to just shut him off that now. If he wanted this minute he was on road with him he should have stated. But him and dad have played a large part of deans programming. Daddy with save sam or kill sam. Sam the same way you might have to kill me in his drunken stage. I mean dean has been so messed with; dean needs to stop feeling guilty about stuff he never did also. Anyway that is my 2 1/2 cents.
Loved your review, as always.
For me, both brothers are hurting because neither of them understands the other’s point-of-view. I agree with what you’ve said about Dean being conditioned to protect Sam whatever happens – as it was ingrained into him from a very young age and re-enforced by his father that he had to protect Sammy. I also think Dean doesn’t want to be alone without any family; but it’s not the whole story – and this is what Sam doesn’t understand about Dean.
But Dean doesn’t understand Sam either. He is misinterpreting what Sam is trying to say, as I think are many of the fans. Here’s my interpretation (which I admit could be wrong too).
When I re-watched the final scene of The Purge, I paused on Sam’s face just before he said “No Dean, I wouldn’t. Same circumstances, I wouldn’t.”
I saw no trace of anger or malice at that point. Moments earlier, yes, when he sat down and asked Dean to be honest, he was angry. But in the next moment, after Dean’s question, all I could see was resignation and sadness. I think it’s because he’s realised he can’t make Dean understand. He has to try to spell it out; even though he knows what he is saying will hurt Dean. It’s hurting him too.
For me, it all comes down to Sam being possessed/soulless/not in control of his own destiny. No free will. He would’ve preferred to die than be possessed again. And I don’t think, given the choice, he would ever wish for what happened to him to happen to anyone else (let alone his brother). If he was faced with that choice for Dean, he’d let Dean go because Sam would think that being at peace is a better fate for someone he loves.
Dean can’t see that because he hasn’t walked in Sam’s shoes – and Sam is not doing a great job of articulating this to Dean. All Dean hears at this point is that Sam wouldn’t save him. I desperately wanted Sam to keep talking; to clarify what he meant. But, honestly, I just think he’s too tired. And I think he’s still grieving terribly for Kevin.
I have no doubt that Sam would die for Dean; but he wouldn’t save Dean under the same circumstances that Dean saved him.
Remember, when Sam was in a comma, we saw Bobby talking about the choices the brothers had made over the years. We know that was Sam’s sub-conscious, not actually Bobby.
Just as it is ingrained in Dean to protect Sam at all costs, it is ingrained into Sam that he does not want to be saved at all costs and he does not want to inadvertently be responsible for anyone else’s death. Some of the choices they’ve BOTH made have had terrible consequences and he just can’t do it anymore.
Right now, I’m seeing all over Twitter and comments on reviews that Sam is an ass; that he doesn’t love Dean anymore. I don’t subscribe to that at all (and I know you don’t either).
Sam loves Dean so much that he is prepared to let him go; to be at peace, rather than subject him to the same pain and grief he’s experienced.
Dean loves Sam so much that he will always do anything to protect him and save him; despite the consequence.
Who decides then which brother loves the other brother more? You can’t!
What is boils down is that neither of them (at this moment) can understand the other. And please don’t get me wrong, Sam isn’t faultless in any of this – he did choose to stop the trials after his conversation with Dean, and he did choose to go with Dean instead of Death.
But I have a theory about his mindset here too.
The problem lies with the fact that Dean had to make a life-changing decision for Sam right after the conversation in the church. Dean wasn’t given any opportunity to show Sam that they’d be able to work together in an honest way, trusting one another, working together as equals. The first thing that happened after this amazing conversation was Dean letting an angel possess Sam and then proceeding to lie about it for months. We know Dean had to save Sam, but he could’ve told Sam immediately and let him make the choice to live or die. And yes, I know, Gadreel might’ve prevented him telling Sam; but at least now Sam would have Gadreel’s memories and know that Dean tried to be honest with him as soon as he was conscious. What Sam has instead, are memories of Dean lying to him for months before the truth finally came out – it was too little, too late. Hence Sam saying he can’t trust Dean like he thought he could.
When he choose to go with Dean instead of Death, he did trust Dean’s plan (because he, with his mindset about possession, would never have expected Dean to go along with something like that, because it’s not what he’d personally have done – he can’t see it from Dean’s perspective). Given the same choice now, I’m sure he’d go with Death.
I’m sorry for another extremely long comment. The show is certainly prompting some interesting discussions. I just wish we didn’t have to wait so long for the next episode. It hurts like hell 🙁
Once again, you’ve written an extremely thoughtful, non-accusatory response. I knew folks would be heart-broken for Dean, but I didn’t expect the venom Sam has been getting.
I don’t see Sam as a selfish kid exercising his independence or temper by saying mean things to his brother. I see a man finally having the courage to tell his brother that their trust is broken, that this father/son relationship that’s been stuttering between them is no longer necessary, or even safe.
Sam is just as guilty as Dean for the mess that they’ve become, yet just because Dean can make with the wounded orphan eyes, doesn’t mean he didn’t need to hear what Sam had to say. Admitting they can’t function like family right now is valid … at least until they can come to terms with what family means to each other. Right now, it is not the same thing at all.
Like you said, they need to walk a mile or ten in each others shoes before either of them will get it.
And honestly? I don’t really blame either brother for the fracas within fandom right now; I think it’s been the plan from the show runner and writers all along. 😉
Thanks :), I love both brothers and try to see both their perspectives (even though I admittedly relate more to Sam).
I had another thought this afternoon too. Remember in Devil May Care when Abaddon was threatening to possess Dean and have him watch while she murdered children. Dean looked horrified at the thought that this could be his fate, yet he doesn’t seem to have made the jump to acknowledging that Sam has already suffered through exactly this when he was possessed by Meg, Lucifer & Gadreel.
Sam was present (or made fully aware of what happened later) as innocents were murdered by his hand (and he had absolutely no control).
In that moment, when Dean thought this could be his fate with Abaddon he was distraught (beyond his sarcasm and bravado). Now if only a light-bulb would go off in his head about how Sam must feel having already experienced this. Maybe then, he would realise that there are things worse than death for some people.
I also wish we could see more of what is in Sam’s head. I think I know where he is coming from and for the most part, I understand it, but there are some questions. For instance, I still think there is more to why Sam didn’t look for Dean when he was in purgatory and he does seem to be contradicting himself about whether he wants to live or not, but I guess we will have to wait for the writers to tell us. Sam is such a complicated character, and I think Jared has been doing a wonderful job in portraying the confusion and hurt and guilt that are all part of Sam. He also looked exceptionally hot in this episode!
And Dean…poor Dean. This quote: ” the one time he didn’t save Sam and let him choose to put himself and Lucifer in the cage, resulted in Sam going through hell and coming out soulless and then psychotic. No wonder Dean decided he wouldn’t do that again.” I said basically the same thing on another site a few days ago. “It is just not in” Dean to let Sam go, and Jensen can say so much with those beautiful eyes and a nuanced expression. Oh, my, he is breaking my heart. (…sob…)
However, while the last 5 minutes of this episode left me an emotional wreck, I did find a few things that gave me hope in this episode. First, Dean did call his brother Sammy – he will always be Sammy (if in doubt, check out the Sammy page on the SuperWiki site). Second, when Dean called Sam for help, Sam rushed to help him. Maybe that was just a hunter/partner thing, but third, when Sam found out that Dean had been drugged, he was VERY angry with the man he thought was responsible. Fourth, at the end of the episode, Sam didn’t say he wouldn’t save Dean, as a general premises. He said, under the same set of circumstances that had faced Dean, Sam wouldn’t have made the same choice (but then hindsight is 20/20). I think there is hope for our boys, but I think we will all be put through an emotional wringer before we get to where we are going. Can’t wait.
Excellent article. I’d be more hopeful if I still had any trust or faith in the current writers. At this point, I’m skeptical that the resolution will be earned or believable (and even how much I’ll care by then). I’ve stopped watching a lot of long running shows before they ended, but I’ve always thought SPN would be one I’d watch until the bitter end. I’m not as sure now, it will depend on how the rest of the season goes.
Like you (and the equally excellent ScreenFad article) said, we desperately need some Sam POV. I’m afraid it might be like his storyline in the first half of season eight. His flashbacks from when Dean was gone could have had a lot of character based potential. There are very believable fan explanations of why he didn’t look for Dean, but, based on Carver’s interviews, it seems he thinks that was the right and mature decision for Sam to make and there was never a deeper reason.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think they’re trying to make Dean and Sam’s love any less epic or moving. I think they’re trying to get it to a place where it can be that, but without being so unhinged. In other words, I think they’re trying to get it to a place where it’s not harming literally *everyone* around them.
There was once a time when that electricity that makes Sam and Dean Sam and Dean was somewhat contained in a current between just the two of them. Now? It’s an open wire, sparking and flinging itself all over the place. That’s not the show I want. I haven’t felt “moved” by these acts of love lately, only angered. It’s been reckless and stupid. Hurt yourselves, fine! But don’t become so insane that you hurt others, especially others that you love, in the process.
To me, that’s not making Sam and Dean more “real.” That’s making Sam and Dean more bearable to watch.
I so thoroughly enjoyed your review. And I like you questioning if we WANT to see a healthy relationship in our epic hero story.
My POV: While I get Sam’s logic and think it’s probably the healthier mental path, I’m with Dean over here bleeding on the floor.
Dean has a passion for saving that is fueled by love. And not just love for his brother. It’s not rational but I’m not sure Dean could have accomplished all that he has without that passion. And for all Sam has accomplished, wasn’t his greatest act (stopping the Apocalypse) driven by his irrational, less-than-healthy guilt? Can epic heroes be normal? Be intellectually 100% healthy? Name one. (*crickets*)
So I think Show needed to have Dean cross a line and have Sam put his foot down. It feels like natural progression. I just don’t know if they can make a mutual relationship that I believe in from both POV’s. Truth is, the words of Azazel haunt me. Dean needs his family more than they need him. I KNOW Sam loves Dean – more than anyone else in this world. But maybe not as much as Dean loves Sam. That’s realistic (and unfortunately true in real life more than stories) but how can Dean function with what he now feels is certain knowledge of this disparity? How does he do this and not lose his passion?
If you need me, I’ll be applying pressure to my sucking chest wound….
We all know that Azazel was right when he said those words, because even in season one, we knew it was true.
That doesn’t mean Sam doesn’t love his brother, or loved his father – no, absolutely not. He just doesn’t love in this absolute, overly passionate, unhealthy, self-sacrificing and other-sacrificing way.
and I did understand Sam’s words to mean “If I was in your shoes and you were ready to die, I would respect your wishes and let you go”.
But that wasn’t what he SAID, and I’m not mad at Sam for what he meant – well, I’m not mad at Sam at all.
What he said, or better what he left hanging there was the meaning, and if Sam’s not influenced by some weird mark on Dean’s arm (which in my opinion would diminish his standpoint), he would at least have an idea that it would hurt Dean.
If that was his intention – fine! He can do that, he has the right to do that. It won’t change anything though, because there is no understanding.
It’s like kicking your dog because he/she chewed up your favourite and extremely valuable book. Yes, you can be angry and you have a right to be angry.
But kicking your dog will not make the dog understand that he/she is not supposed to eat books. It will only let the dog know that you kicked him and are angry, and maybe it will make him/her scared of you – but understanding will not come.
(I know full well that Dean’s not a dog, and that this example isn’t really fitting 100% 😉 )
So, if Sam wanted Dean to hurt, those words and what he didn’t say were chosen right.
If he wanted to change Dean’s behaviour for the future… well. No cigar.
I really think Sam THINKS he’s being all calm and rational. I truly believe that if Sam didn’t love Dean he’d have left.
Sam’s committed to hunting. Sam’s actually committed to his brother. He’s committed to sticking through this fight until they can come to a relationship he can live with.
All that is good and mature. Some of his comments? Not great. And he’s not being introspective enough yet. But that will come, I’m convinced it will.
Your reviews ALWAYS make me feel better.
I’m really struggling here – struggling like I NEVER have been when watching Supernatural.
I’m not understanding Sam. I’m not understanding how he could be so callous to Dean. So un-emotional & cold-hearted. As if their brotherhood means nothing to him. I KNOW that it means so much so Sam, so why can’t we see that? Why won’t the writers give us insight into his head space, because the last REAL look we had was in “Sacrifice” & 9.1 & where he is at now is such a huge leap from then. I want to understand Sam (so badly!). I want to be sympathetic to his POV. He deserves for me to be sympathetic because he has every right in the world to pissed/upset/hurt at Dean. But all I wanted to do last night was punch him. (I would probably hug him right afterwards though!)
I don’t get how Sam can just throw around the whole “we are not brothers” thing in the name of “honesty” & say it in the tone he did with the demeanor he did. or tell Dean that he does more harm than good because that is a blatant lie. I worry that this is not just Sam acting out in anger/hurt & that it is what the writers ACTUALLY believe. I just didn’t see Sam’s “honesty” as being all that honest. I instead saw it as words meaning to slice deep – the whole “you hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you back” logic.
Even though it hurts, I think I could theoretically get on board with the whole maturity thing, but I can’t get on board with how it is being presented currently. I don’t like where I think the story is headed, & that is to untangling / lessening the brothers need for one another. I want maturity so we get less lies & secrets & allows for more trust & support. But instead, I feel like the writers want us to think that the brothers past history of doing everything & anything for another other is bad & toxic & wrong, wrong, wrong. And quite frankly, I find that insulting. Like the writers don’t fully understand & get & appreciate this (sacred) relationship that has been entrusted to them.
Yeah, maybe Dean should not have allowed an angel to possess Sam (he really shouldn’t have), however, don’t tell me that Sam & Dean needing one another is a BAD thing or that it is something that needs to be resolved. Sam & Dean literally keep each other human, as Dean so eloquently stated. Dean & Sam have saved more people TOGETHER than one can count (hell, their love literally saved the world) – they can’t do that saving if one is dead.
Sam & Dean lead crazy, twisted, messed-up lives. So reasonably they should be crazy, twisted, & messed-up. I don’t think is is realistic for them to ever have a normal relationship & be anywhere near emotionally healthy. It is just not possible, but that is where I see their relationship headed. And I can’t even tell you how much that hurts me. I should not be THIS invested in a TV show.
I’m just so frustrated. I think where the brothers are out now is a direct the result of sloppy (perhaps lazy) writing. It did not have to be like this. I want to yell at anyone who will listen to quit putting the brothers in a position where the brothers have to make these types of decisions. Quit killing characters like Kevin for no good reason (the only reason I can come up right now is to reinforce how dangerous the brothers bond can be to others around them).
I’m still holding out hope that Sam will save Dean from Cain trouble – that Sam will have to eat his words & realize, that yeah – must save Dean above all costs…because Sam & Dean together, against the world, is an unbeatable combination.
But that hope is dwindling quickly.
If there was a like button for this comment I would be clicking so hard right now. i too could be on board for a mature relationship if that mean less lies and more understanding of each other, not if it means ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ in the traditional sense. The reason I became so invested in this show was the ‘would die for you’ love between these brothers. If I wanted a normal relationship I could go watch any other show that had brothers. Yes, in real life this type of relationship is not healthy, but this is not real life.
Right?? When you really sit down & really think about, both guys went to Hell (arguably both for each other). What two guys who spent time in Hell can be emotionally well-adjusted..? It just doesn’t compute!
It’s kinda funny; since I tend to relate more to Sam’s POV, I was so relieved when he finally drew the line with Dean. So much so I didn’t even notice Dean’s hang-dog expression!
I think the same can be said of folks who see things mainly through Dean’s POV: they can’t see where Sam’s trust in his big brother has been so shattered, he can no longer count on Dean to value and honor Sam’s decisions. When Dean allowed Gadreel to use guile to get Sam to say “yes”, Dean usurped Sam’s agency. He condoned the one thing he knew Sam would decline unequivocally.
And THAT’S why Sam stated “we can’t be family.” He doesn’t want Dean making those decisions for him anymore. He doesn’t want Dean taking on the parental role. Sam wants to be an equal, not a child. So for now, ‘co-worker’ will have to do. (Though from the way Sam slammed the chef up against the wall when Dean had been drugged, I’d say there’s more than just buddy-buddy feelings in Sam, yeah?)
I have no doubt Show will continue to make us squirm and weep and fret and cheer, but I do wish more of fandom would try to see things from both brothers’ viewpoints just a little better. It’s not fun to go to site after site and see your favorite brother, smashed.
I’m not sure why you seem to think I am smashing Sam, especially since I mentioned how much I want insight into his headspace & that he deserves to be sympathized with because what was done to him with Gadreel was crappy.
In my personal opinion, in this particular situation, I think Sam went to far with this words to Dean. In the past, I think Dean has gone to far (remember Benny being a better brother?). I do think Sam was speaking out in anger/hurt though, and who hasn’t done that before? I’m not saying he shouldn’t, just that is was harsh & not the complete truth.
I think a lot of Sam’s self-doubts/insecurities came out in his convo with Dean too – for example, Sam does not see himself being alive as really a good thing or a positive thing. Dean does. And I do.
I am a bibro fan through & through – both Sam & Dean are my favorites. And even though they are my favorites, I don’t always agree with their choices/actions/decisions & so I don’t always suppose those choices/actions/decisions
For the record, I don’t think either brother is 100% right here – I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. In that giant, Grand Canyon-sized chasm.
Well said! This season has been too hard on my heart but I am glad, at least, that the brothers are still in the bunker and working together.
(replying here because I can’t reply to your reply)
No no, you’re right! We need more Sam POV for better understanding; the show has been pretty neglect with that (though they’ve got reasons, such as Sam’s brain is constantly possessed or broken or soulless or, yeah.)
I didn’t mean to directly accuse YOU of being unfair to Sam; that was just a sort of stream-of-consciousness caboose at the end of my first reply. Though I do disagree with you on Sam’s lack of honesty. I think he was being bloody honest, just not candy-coating it. Typically, Sam’s sins are those of omission; Dean is the one who will lie right to your face. (There are exceptions here and there, but as I said, typically. And I mean to people whom they care about, not in the course of playing FBI agent or summat.)
In the case of S&D? Yep, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Absolutely.
I think we are going to have to agree to disagree re: the level of Sam’s truthfulness. I think maybe when Sam spoke the words he did, he thought he was being completely honest / truthful, but I don’t believe, deep down, he really believes those things. I think his thoughts right now are somewhat clouded by his own insecurities & (mis-placed) guilt over what happened to Kevin.
I don’t see Sam as TRULY believing that Dean does more harm than good. No way.
I also didn’t like that Sam was talking for Dean. Telling Dean how Dean was feeling or why he did what he did. Sam telling Dean that Dean did what he did because he didn’t want to be alone. I think there is a lot more to it than that.
For Dean, I don’t think it was being alone, as much as it was being with Sam specifically. And I also don’t believe that Dean’s decision to save Sam via Gadreel was completely selfish. Sure, some of it was, but I also this it still so hardwired in Dean to always save Sam over everything, even himself.
More agreeing to disagree. 🙂 I still think this is letting Dean off the hook too fast and easy. I see this “Dean is hardwired to do ‘x’ and Sam should just accept it” comment all over the place and I have to take exception to it. Dean still has CHOICE. Free will. NOTHING is forcing him to do what he does but … him. (Hell, ‘free will’ has been an on-going theme in Supernatural!) Additionally, I don’t think Dean has ever stopped to think about why he has this knee-jerk reaction to save Sam all all costs–over himself, over any other person in the known universe. We can suppose why he does, but it’s just head canon until the writers put it in the show, and even then, they may not explain it very thoroughly! (To keep fandom all churled up.)
The way I see it is Dean is a grown-up now. He’s not the same freckled-faced kid he was at four, when he was charged with Sam’s safety. And Sam is no longer that squirming bundle of helplessness. When Dean said “yes” to Gadreel, he was saying yes for himself. Because what is the world without Sam? What would John think? What am I without Sam? It hurts without Sam.
What Sam wanted was never really a blip on Dean’s radar. I firmly believe it was all selfish, but not maliciously so.
If Sam, like you say, is being less than truthful now because he doesn’t realize he’s not being truthful, well, for all intents and purposes, in that moment Sam is being truthful. Our perceptions are our realities. I agree; Sam telling Dean what Dean feels is really just Sam telling Dean what Sam thinks Dean feels. (Yeah, that wasn’t confusing!) I guess we’ll see next episode if there’s any fall-out from this! Or at least I hope we do.
Sorry to go on and on. (I actually chopped a lot out of this reply because I’m sure it’s getting bothersome.) But thank you for having a thoughtful back-and-forth with me!
I don’t think think I’m/the show is letting Dean off the hook. I said in my original post that Dean really should NOT have let Gadreel possess Sam & that Sam should be angry/pissed/hurt with Dean. It wouldn’t be believable if Sam just forgave Dean & they hugged & skipped off to continue hunting.
Dean absolutely does have a choice & free will & with both, he made the decision to save Sam. Just because you do not agree with Dean’s decision, it doesn’t mean didn’t didn’t have a choice or didn’t utilize free will.
I believe that saving Sam is a core characteristic of Dean. It is part of who Dean is, just as much as Dean’s right arm is apart of him. Dean is (at the moment anyways) standing by his decision to save Sam. Dean said that not saving Sam “wasn’t in him.” So Dean being hardwired isn’t an excuse for why Dean saved Sam, but more of an explanation/reason. So what if Dean is the only one “forcing” himself to save Sam – it doesn’t make it less of a valid reason.
I still think that Sam is wrong about WHY Dean saved Sam. I think Dean did it both for himself to continue his life with Sam in it, but I also think he did it for Sam. It would be/is hard for anyone to accept that death would be a better choice for their loved one over living. Especially when in the (recent) past, Sam has expressed GREAT interest in continuing to live. Remember, he was the one who saw the “light at the end of the tunnel” & he did the trials because he didn’t see them a suicide mission like Dean did.
We really need more insight into the heads of both brothers, otherwise we are going to talk ourselves into circles! 😉 I would love for the show to devote more time convos between the bros – we need more than the last 5 minutes of every ep!
Wow! I don’t even know what to say anymore. My heart’s been dragged all over the place so many times in so different ways that it’s all scattered now and I don’t know how I’m ever gonna put it back together, but I’m gonna try to be articulate for a couple of minutes and say although I understand where Sam is coming from, it doesn’t change my feeling that he is consciously hurting Dean. Why? Because he’s hurt too, and he’s lashing out, but he’s been unnecessarily harsh. Every time he asks Dean if he’s Ok it’s like he’s scrubbing to his face that he is NOT Ok and he has Sam to thank for that. I get it. Siblings are that way, but enough is enough. Besides, I’m gonna go to a place no one’s gone in any comments, and it is the fact I don’t believe a word Sam’s saying. I think, opposite situation, Sam would have done the exact same thing. Because it’s always been like that for them. They are Ok with dying, as long as it is themselves, but letting the other die is entirely another thing. I believe in Sam’s character integrity, and this doesn’t go right with the Sam we’ve seen over the last seven seasons. There are a number of episodes on what’s been to Sam the possibility of losing Dean. It still bugs me too the fact that we didn’t get a satisfactory explanation as to why Sam didn’t look for Dean at the end of S7. How could he even be sure Dean was dead and at peace if there wasn’t even a body to bury? That’s so unlike Sam. Let alone ditching the phones, his only connection in the unlikely event that Dean turned out alive or some of John’s old contacts reached out. Sam wouldn’t do that. I’m sorry. We, fans, probably know the guys better than the writers do because we’ve been there, following them around for nine years, so yeah, we know them, more than anyone else in the entire world. So I expect for things to get back on track. Many unthinkable things can happen in Supernatural, but breaking up the boys is not one of them. Their bond is what makes Supernatural what it is and you don’t mess with that. That being said, I’m off to rewatching. First time is always too emotional to get it fully. I’ll be back if something else comes up. Thank you for being here. It would be so hard to go through this all alone. Sorry for the long post. Supernatural does that to me.
Pia you make me laugh, I can see you are just as traumatised as I am. I have been ranting on different boards for days now and I still haven’t purged myself of all these nasty emotions. This is what I had to say on another board. I was discussing the pro-life pro-choice issue. I cannot understand why they are writing Sam so unsympathetically at the moment, so….
“In all honesty, or should I say IMO the sympathy should be with Sam but it’s not. I am sure you guys are right, the issue really is about pro life and pro choice, and it is an impossible one to debate or reconcile purely because it is a divisive issue, especially if audience members have been in similar situations. I think Carver and his sadistic writers have done this deliberately to stir up the hornets nest. Ratings are so important you know!!!! My issue is making the decision that Dean did was controversial but I feel as hard as it was, the sympathy should be with Sam right now. He made some very valid points, but Carver chose for some inexplicable reason to have Sam say it in such a way as to destroy any sliver of self love or self worth that Dean just might have had left, and that IMO is why he isn’t getting the sympathy. I think Dean could even have been a dick about it (he wasn’t) and I think the audience would still sympathise with him because every good thing Sam had to say in this last conversation was invalidated by the cruelty of the delivery.
(from a conversation on another thread) What frustrates the living daylights out of me is that this was the perfect opportunity to have the audience sympathise with Sam f i n a l l y (and in my mind redeem him from the not-looking-for-Dean-and-Kevin beginning S8). Hell his agency was taken away when he was at his most vulnerable by a bullheaded brother that thinks he’g got all the answers (notwithstanding the argument that Dean didn’t know at that Sam wanted to die at that moment, I’m discussing it purely from Sam’s POV), so the audience should be sympathising with him, but they are not purely because of the delivery of Sam’s words. This is Carver’s plan for Sam? I swear Carver must surely for chucks sake know by now that he screwed up the Sam not looking for Dean beginning S8 debacle. After Dean’s mysterious disappearance (I mean that was the first time Sam ever saw someone go poof in front of him, of course Sam should naturally think Dean was dead [angry7] ) (sorry for sarcasm). I don’t think there was an audience member who knows the brothers who wasn’t scratching their head at that point. The fact that Carver never thought it necessary to really explain why Sam didn’t look (and no I am not buying into Sam ‘finding’ something as an explanation) I will never understand. It just took I think one minute of Dean angrily saying something like “I looked everywhere, I drank.. “etc. in S6 for us to understand his suffering during Sam’s time in hell. They also showed how broken Dean was, going through the motions of living the apple pie but being dead inside. That was powerful stuff. Nooooo instead we see Sam looking all healthy with long flowing hair, set in that soft gentle background lighting, with some weird bitchy vet woman, not looking desperate or particularly sad at all. Don’t forget Sam’s flashback scenes were in stark contrast to Dean’s time in purgatory (for chucks sake everyone with half a brain cell was going to sympathise with Dean)… but I digress…. what I am trying to say is if Carver wants the audience to get on board with this more mature relationship thing, then surely the sympathy should lie with the &^&&% PERSON WHO IS TRYING TO ADVOCATE FOR IT FOR CHUCK’S SAKE. mmmm breathe breathe… ok feel much better now.
So you see Pia, I am one unhappy little chicken at the moment :((
You did explain it very well. I love these characters like my own family. I hurt with them I m happy when they are I feel with them and follow them on their journeys. Dean has always (like you said been ready to sacrifice himself) to save his brother Sam. Even if it is not healthy that is an amazing love to have which is not seen much but like you said this is a fantasy where real life is not in it. THat is part of the appeal It takes us in a different world and gives us a short escape from all the things we have to through in our live and makes us feel for these characters. The actors are fantastic that they draw us in like they do. All the others involved in the show like the director producers and all involved work so great together. My life was not exciting and in was monotone and not much entusiasm until I started watching. Now it is almost like I look forward to the future to see this. I was really broken at the end because I hurt for Dean. Yes I am mad at Sam because he was cruel but after the points you brought up interested me I still feel anger because knowing the writers are putting words in his mouth wanted him to say it nicer. I am so involved with the characters and I wanted to cry last night I want the show to be the way it has been, the reason I have stayed watching it for 9 years but at the same time want it to change a little but not too much. I have many mixed emotions cause the show makes me feel beautiful young and happy. After all it is fantasy One think I do know is I love the show more then I have loved any other show ever. I love Dean Sam and Cas and want them to be ok cause when they are not I hurt with them. Whats more tho is I love Jensen, Jared and Misha. I wish I could see them at their appearances and just want to see them live cause I love them so I care about them tool. They make me happy and I want them to be too. I watch them to see what they are really like and so wish I could see them. No I am not a stalker I am not young like a lot of the fans but feel like I am because of how I feel about them. I may not be totally healthy thinking to have this show as a obsession but I do know it makes me happy and makes me believe anything is possible. Thank you Jared, Jensen and Misha and all involved for giving me something to believe in and feel the way I do (even if it hurts) and for making me love you because I do very much Yeah you are more then that. They are truly in our heart and we want the best for them as if they are not fictional and love them like they are not so these people who have worked together to make this show have done something amazing and yes we are all wrapped around it. I am still upset at Sam THat was wrong and cruel. I think he will turn around tho. I love them yes and this period of life I will remember because of this show.
Lynn, what Dean did to Sam is not romantic and the relationship cannot continue that way. They have to respect each other as individuals if there’s any hope for them.
I too loved the bros of the first seasons. The love was so palpable! They would do anything for the other, but there were limits. For example, Sam didn’t drug Dean in season 3 and trick him into becoming a zombie with Dr. Benton’s help, even if Dean refused. That would have been saving Dean at all costs, but also disrespecting his wishes. Is that the relationship that we want for them? Not me.
I’ve also been on twitter and tumbler and seen all the venom directed at Sam and, on the one hand, I don’t find it that surprising given that we don’t even know what Sam feels most of the time, but I wonder what fans expected: Dean betrays Sam, but Sam should forgive Dean, even though Dean is not seeking forgiveness and would do the same damn thing all over again given the chance?
Hear hear! I’m a little confused myself at the pass Dean is being given. His obsession with keeping Sam safe at all costs is not only taking away Sam’s rights to decide his own fate, but prohibits Dean from looking at situations from any other viewpoint but SAVE SAM. This might’ve begun, many years ago, as a ‘parental’ thing but it has since become smothering and infantilizing for Sam.
Lack of communication between the Winchesters (status quo!) and dialogue deliberately designed to stir the pot is largely responsible for all the hoopla we’re seeing now in fandom. So, mission accomplished, show writers? It’s tough to be a Sam fan right now, though. I do think he isn’t written with as much clarity and understanding as Dean, so I realllllly hope we get more of Sam’s POV in that it’s revealed why he’s made his choices. Dean’s life philosophy has been made abundantly clear; Sam’s is still rife with conjecture and opposition. This is a distinct shortfall in the current seasons’ characterization, IMHO.
It is a inbuilt reaction from some in the fandom . I think whether we get the Sam pov we should and frankly that has been a issue for a long time IMO or you hated Sam’s words it does not take much to see what Dean did was wrong on every level. I wonder if Dean knew what it was like to be possessed whether he would be so willing to put Sam through that again with Gadreel after Lucifer and Meg ?.
Sam’s words were painful but not as painful as seeing him for me the position he was put in this season and getting very little pov over it. Thank you for the review and to the interesting comments I have read from everybody.
Exactly! Thank you, Julia
Your really my go to gal after the fact lol. You bring up so many good points. Talk me down from the ledge so to speak. Not sure why the reference to destiel because there is no ‘relationship’ Dean has had a lot of those relationships with friends and surrogate fathers etc. But IA on everything else, it certainly is compelling. My problem is that the main reason I care is that can see these boys caring on screen and at the moment, they don’t. In fact when Sam rushed to find Dean I’m thinking, really, you care now, I’d be suspect if Sam would have my back from now on if I was Dean.
I mean wheres the line, the Winchesters where special. There relationship was put above all other relationships on the show. Even Sam saying their Dad died for Dean. Its how its always been, something special. If Sam wasn’t alive this pistacho could of killed a whole lot of other people, so yes Sam being alive means something. If he he doesn’t see how his life is worth more than Kevins lets say how does he think Kevins life is worth more than all those people he will save.
I could do without this kind of conflict, I see the relationship through the boys eyes and atm there is no relationship to care about, Sam seems off. Its one thing to disagree and to want to make a point, even be mad but its another thing to be so callous to the person your suppose to love. Sams seems almost cold at times. I’m thinking there could be something there in that. Sams always had a big heart, where is that heart now. Why wouldn’t he say ‘Dean we can’t go round and round with you and me bring each other back from the dead, thats not how its supposed to be, we fight while we are here and we watch each others back and we kill all the sons of bitches we can together, thats all we can do, you taught me that.’ Not nope I just wouldnt’ save you.
I think all of this will depend on where they go with the story. I’ve seen speculation (on tumblr, mostly) that they’re going to end up in a situation where Sam will have to make a similar choice because of the mark of cain, and if they stick with what they said, I’ll be interested to see where that goes, because that could, I think, really determine what this ends up meaning. As other people have pointed out, I think the key to Sam’s statement isn’t that he wouldn’t save Dean, but that he would never do something to save him that Dean would hate equally. I also think the mention of the church is more of a reminder that Dean made that promise and then broke it with Gadreel (pretty soon after). Obviously, I’m happy that Dean did it, because I like having Sam around, but I think Sam has pretty fair points too.
I really liked the points you made about what we want from fiction vs. reality as well as how much these characters seem real to us.
Well, I was fighting against tears again.
Yes, they aren’t real but oh how real they are to me. I’ve been thrilled with the show lately because it’s all I expect from a show. To be plunged in deep emotions, to be captivated by the possibilities the mythology create, to speculate… I know Sam and Dean better than I know myself. It’s scary but it is true. So as I was saying to my friends right after the episode, it’s fiction, but it’s too important to me to not destroy me sometimes.
I was joking that Season 9 would be that awesome season I wouldn’t be able to rewatch before long xD Like for Season 5. I loved it so bad but the first months after it, I could only go back to the beginning.
Anyway… I love how you explain that we try to rationalize their choices and words and actions. There is what we know should be like in real life and there is what is in Fantasy and even if we claim we want less pain, we partly lie because that’s what appeal to us. Well the pain is the results, it’s more the relationship, the back story, all those little keys and turns which lead them here, that truly thrill us. Their codependency and flaws and unrational need for each other. Yes, in real life we wouldn’t like that very much but in the show, we want more.
It was a beautiful article. I find myself reaching for kleenex everytime I come to read your thoughts as much as I do during the episodes.
Thank you for it…Thank you so much… Brazilian hugs.
It kicked me in the heart, this episode. Right where it hurt, though I think if someone else but Jensen had been standing there and tried to look like his world ended, I wouldn’t have been as invested. He just manages to show “I just died inside” like no-one else I know on television (though to be fair, I don’t watch much else but SPN )
As for Sam and his words:
I find the idea of the Mark of Cain interesting. But then again, it would make the issues between the brothers once more something “supernaturally caused”, which … Well. For the sake of the drama, I prefer those struggles to be human and humanity-caused.
Which means that Sam saying what he said would have been based in bitterness, anger and hurt. And well, Dean did say that he would do the same thing again if he had the choice, which means that he would sacrifice Kevin again. Sam, as the recipient of that “honour”, is clearly not happy about that.
Then comes another thing: Sam might still think that Dean actively chose to overrule Sam’s wishes. He might not realize that it was that angel inside his head, that he wasn’t actually having conversations with Dean. That Dean was outside, sitting at his (death)bed and that Dean’s last memory when Sam was conscious was that Sam chose to stay alive!
So while I still think Dean would have tried everything to convince Sam to stay alive, and maybe even gone above his decision anyway, in reality he didn’t know that Sam was ready to die. Sam is blaming Dean not just for saving him, but for disregarding his wishes – which Dean didn’t actually do.
Now… if this is again some supernatural influence that’s breaking them up (and wouldn’t THAT be a good idea from Crowley’s PoV?), I will be at once relieved and sad. Because I actually understand Sam being snippy a lot better than I understood his reasons in season 4 😉
Just a little clarification: Dean knew what was going on inside Sam’s head because Gadreel had his hands on both brothers; he plumbed Dean’s mind for the resource information to ‘convince’ Sam, and I think there was indication that Dean could also observe through that link. My understanding is that Dean knew what Gadreel did to get Sam to say yes.
Dean did actively choose to override Sam’s wishes in that he knew Sam would never agree to yet another possession. One need only to look at Dean’s face.
I’m not ready to paint Dean as the innocent, here. He did what he’s always done and would do no differently: he put Sam before EVERYTHING, and he’d “do it again.” Per Dean himself. 😉
It wasn’t meant to paint Dean as innocent. Sorry if that’s what came across to you. But you’re right, I forgot the hand-on-hand thing… Hm.
Dean is far from innocent. It’s why I like him – he makes more mistakes and misjudgements before breakfast than others do in their lifetime 🙂
Well, anyway, my opinion doesn’t really change much: I can understand anger and hurt and pain and bitterness. I’ve always gotten it when Dean lashed out or punched Sam, and I understand if Sam is lashing out with words.
If he wouldn’t, it would be beyond weird and less understandable to me. WANTING the words to hurt – I can totally relate.
But if he wanted Dean to understand his reasons, those were not the right words. Simply because Dean clearly didn’t understand the intention behind them.
And it’s not even a question of innocent vs guilty – just a question of what you (= Sam) want the other to get from your words.
Darn, I wish WordPress would let us reply to a reply! I’m with you; I looove the Winchester’s flaws. LOVE THEM. Hey, perfection is boring. A few of my favorite things: bowlegs, freckles, untamable hair, an impossible shoulder-to-hip ratio … but I merrily digress. 😉
I totally agree with you that Dean didn’t understand the intention behind Sam’s words (and therefore fans wearing Dean goggles probably didn’t either.) I think this was deliberate on the part of the writers to keep the friction going! Uncomfortably, though, I’ve been seeing a lot of absolution of Dean’s guilt bobbing around fandom, a dogmatic lack of willingness to try to understand why Sam might be using strong words to get through to Dean. And yes, hurt him. Because Sam is hurt too.
Fritz, Dean definitely knew that Sam was ready to die. Through Gadreel, he heard Sam’s talk with Death. He even said “No, Sam!” or something like that. And then Gadreel said that there wasn’t much time (because Sam had made his choice to go with Death).
Dean also knew that that Sam would never say yes to possession.
I think that they both have their defences way up right now, Dean because of what Sam said last week about being brothers, and Sam because Dean is defensive and aggressive, and says that he would do it again. If Sam wants Dean to understand how badly Dean hurt him I agree he’s not using the right words. I think he’s still too angry. I’m so tired of saying “I think” when it comes to Sam! More POV please!
kgrahamjourneys bless you for saying EXACTLY what I thing about that last scene and how I interpreted and understand Sam’s word. I think he would sacrificed HIMSELF to save Dean but he wouldn’t sacrificed Dean free will or their friends (even though, Dean had no way to know about Kevin). For me the problem here is not “I didn’t want to be saved” the problem is that Dean tricked him into doing the worse thing ever for Sam, being possessed again. When you look at his past, this is the worst thing that could happen to him, and Dean knows it. That’s why he feels so guilty about it. The problem isn’t that Dean made a sacrifice again, the problem is that Dean went against Sam’s will and took from him the most important thing, his will power. We’re talking about “team free will” but Sam didn’t get his word in that and he would have never accept possession. For me it’s about losing control here, which Sam was terrified about since…forever!
Anyway, I had told myself I wouldn’t go into the debate this week because the fandom reaction (and the SamHate going around) is actually more painful to me than the actual show (I’m not talking about comments here where everyone is respectful) but I can’t resist.
And I just wanted to react on your part where you question weither the show should change and if their relation should “grow up” and be more realistic and the thing is, as much as I LOVE the first seasons, I wouldn’t want to see that now. I want a show that’s fantastic enough to allowed that kind of messed up relationship but I also want a show that’s realistic enough for me to believe in it. So yeah, after 9years of course their relationship have to change and as much as I miss the brotherly moments and teasing from the early season, I think the show would lost interest if it was still that now. I read a lot of people saying they’re tired of the same thing over and over (aka the boys fight with each other) and I agree (even though, let’s be realistic here, it’s needed for the story to keep on going) and I’m pretty happy with what’s happening now because it’s different. Yes they fight but they’re also being honest. And I cannot wait for the makeout hug but I want the story to progress and their relationship to progress so we don’t end up on the same path all over again. They fight, they hug it out and they do the exact same thing all over again, well maybe it was time for them to deal with all that differently so that pattern that we don’t like can stop.
I’m sorry I know I don’t express myself perfectly and I’ll be honest, I’m so passionate about that subject that I have trouble expressing it, even more doing it in english (not my primary language)
Didn’t have time to read all the comments so I hope I didn’t say the same thing as someone else (I’m on break at work, should be eating not typing about spn!)
Lynn, Thank you for writing your review so quickly. I watch for it every week to help me make sense of what I am feeling. I also wrote my article yesterday (before seeing yours!), only I wrote it from the purely emotional perspective. I needed to try to understand my feelings, since they have been trashed week after week by these boy’s hurtful arguments. Every week I try to both intellectually and emotionally sort out what is happening. This week I am left trying to make sense out of WHY the brothers are being pulled apart like this. The obvious motivations for Sam just don’t seem adequate, so either we aren’t getting enough of Sam’s POV as you stated, or there is something else going on. I love your theory of the MoC cursing Dean in this way. That makes tremendous sense to me now. Then in processing through my feelings, I arrived at an explanation that made me feel better, too (should be posted on WFB later this morning). Even after processing both your and my theories, though, I have to say that I still HATE this turmoil. I created a hash tag late Tuesday night on Twitter: #Iwantthebrothersback. This is torture.
I will reread your review many times. It helps. Thank you for your insights!
It seems like everyone is struggling with the emotions this arc is bringing out, whether they want Sam and Dean to change or not, and obsessively discussing Sam’s issues and Dean’s issues. I’m enjoying it. All the more so because this is after feeling alienated from the brother bond for a while, although parts of season 8 brought back up a lot of my feelings for it. But this story in S9 is what I’ve hoped to see for a long time. Not that I enjoy them being distant and at odds, but the underlying story, the reasons for it–yes.
I realize you’re laying out your personal sorting out of you in relation to Sam and Dean and SPN and the feelings, but let me give you the exact flip. Because *my* fantasy, the reasons this relationship resonated for me and the kind of story I crave, was fading until Carver decided to take such an honest look at their issues. I don’t really think we can get so emotionally involved in characters and then cite “but it’s just fantasy” as a reason why we want things to be how they are. I think we all have different backgrounds and emotional buttons. Enjoying something in fiction is not an endorsement of it IRL, I’m not saying that. But everyone also brings something different to the table because of who we are as people, watching SPN. Also even if it’s not an endorsement to enjoy things with a darker aspect, stories resonate for a reason and what is in our stories is a reflection of society, of people, and so it matters if it hurts, it matters if it’s demeaning or erasing or insulting to segments of the viewing audience, it matters. It’s never “just a story.” If that were true, why would we all spend so much energy on it, and cry over it?
No matter how fantastical or out there the premise is, emotional realism is necessary for believable storytelling and I feel SPN would be violating my sense of emotional realism to ignore the issues between the brothers. The show could destroy the “profound bond” for me if it didn’t allow Dean and Cas growth and change and hadn’t paid attention to who Castiel is as a person outside of Dean. We all have different buttons. Watching characters I adore lose themselves and be miserable over and over and repeat tired, worn out patterns is a way to break my emotional involvement.
It’s no wonder the fandom is so polarized on this because you literally have people saying “if you take this away it will hurt me” and others saying “if you don’t address this honestly and allow them to grow and be less hurtful, it will hurt me.”
We could share tissue boxes! You’re scared of losing the Sam and Dean bond that means so much to you…so am I. But I’m excited because I see the start of something that could save it (for me). I respect not everyone will see it the same way, and one group in fandom or another is going to be in the wrong kind of pain. But I’ve seen far too much in this fandom lately of shaming people for not wanting a “nothing else matters” approach, for caring about other characters, I’ve seen artifical goal-posts set for what constitutes a “real brothers fan,” for wanting the Sam and Dean that resonates for them and for wanting each getting more satisfying personal arcs (which I feel strongly will, in turn, be better for the bond between them).
It’s so funny, I’ve never been one to support the idea of destiel, but I have finally realized that those who do have a point- the codependency has become truly toxic, and needs to stop. In fact, I would support destiel in canon if it meant that Cas had to take the abuse from Dean for a while. Or better yet, Dean finds out what it feels like to have his express wishes completely disregarded, then just has to forgive Cas without receiving any apology, just because Cas makes sad eyes.
That is not what I want, nor what most Destiel fans want, nor was that the point of my comment. My hope is to see Dean and Cas continue to have better understanding, not worse, and not repeat their past hurtful tendencies. Transferring it from Dean and Sam to Dean and Cas won’t solve anything and perpetuates the very problems that made me start to disengage with the story.
And why are you framing this as if Dean is the sole responsibility for the codependency and the problems between the brothers? Sam contributes to it as well, his conflict between wanting to be independent, but also he craves Dean’s approval and protection, he’s had Dean watching over him his whole life, no matter how much awareness Sam has, he’s not going to just magically one day stop relying on that. So he puts pressure on Dean and conflicting messages, while Dean also contributes with his stack of issues.
Also you seem to be implying Cas just “makes sad eyes” but hasn’t apologized (repeatedly) or shown remorse already, which is not the case.
Dean made a huge decision on Sam’s behalf–to let him be possessed by Gadreel, an angel who was double-crossed by Metatron. It got Kevin killed. If the angel had been a truly good angel who had not been evilly used by Metatron, Sam might have been healed, as promised, and Dean’s good intentions would have had a happy ending. But this is the Winchesters, and they always get screwed. Cas had a similar experience with Metatron; he trusted him and ended up losing his grace and being forced to live as a human for a while. Truth be told, Metatron is the real villain here. Maybe Gadreel would have even done the right thing had Metatron not intervened, but we will never know. Sam wants Dean to stop lying to him, even if it means he has to die. But Dean can’t lose Sam, period, and will always choose the option that results in Sam’s survival, even if it means allowing an angel, demon or fairy possession. Trust goes out the window for Dean when it comes to his little brother staying alive and that will never change. Sam has to understand that Dean’s love for him transcends trust and rationality. If he can do something to ensure Sam’s life, Dean will do it, and the end will forever justify the means. Sam must accept that. SAM might be ready to die, but Dean will never, ever accept the loss of his baby brother. Because from the moment John Winchester placed six-month-old Sam into four-year-old Dean’s arms the night Mary burned on the ceiling, Dean was forever responsible for his brother’s life. And that is a birth rite Dean Winchester will take to his grave!
I think it’s also important to note here that Sam did NOT say he would just let Dean die, which is the accusatory finger fans are pointing at Sam, but that Sam would adhere to his brother’s wishes the the matter! If Dean wanted to live, Sam would pull out all the stops to save him, as he has in the past–remember “Faith”?, where Dean had given up–but if Dean wanted to die, Sam means he would acquiesce to Dean’s wishes–or would he? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we? Because I suspect that the reverse situation is waiting in the wings for our beloved Winchester brothers, and Sam will not disappoint–the fans or Dean. Love, Robin
I forgot to say that I really hope Sam’s attitude is not because of the mark of Cain, I would be really disappointed if that new honesty between them was just a “trick” from the writers…. I truly think THIS can be a good thing for the future. A terrible moment to go through but that would allowed us to have “our” boys back the way we like them > together! But for a longer time this time. Let’s face it they’ll always be fuckedup but a bit of “new ground” in their relationship can be a good thing. I’ve git faith (on the writers and Carver)
forgot to say that I really hope Sam’s attitude is not because of the mark of Cain…
Oh, wow, me too. I honestly don’t think we’ve seen the effects of the MoC yet. *crosses fingers!*
I can’t read the whole article right now because I have to go to work. I would really like a reaction to what I’m going to add, even thought I’m way down the line here. I agree that fixing S&D isn’t what we really want. TPTB always say the boys will get together this season and they do, for 5 minutes. Have you noticed that? Anyway, what I was thinking is that no one expected this show to last so long. And the Winchesters never expected to last so long either. They thought they would be dead by thirty. Maybe Sam is bored and needs to have something in his life besides hunting. If this is all it is, he may as well be dead. Maybe the answer for Sam is to find something to do that has meaning for him, but it would be in addition to hunting and not instead of. He could take classes at a university possible in writing. Oh, (and I just thought of this) he could start where Chuck left off and continue the chronicles of the Winchester Brothers. I don’t know if this Is in-line with the show, but it does make sense for Sam. Remember Dean was happy when Sam got interested in the MOL books and if Sam could find an outlet, while remaining with Dean and hunting, it could be a win win for all.
So I’ve had 12 hours to process your review. Yes, you are right — this feels too personal and for me it is. I’m projecting some of my own life’s challenges onto this pair. But you know what? Isn’t that what stories are supposed to to? Allow us to examine our own lives at a safer distance through other people’s issues. Gain some insight into what is driving us by how we react to what is driving beloved characters? So, sorry not sorry for internalizing this brotherhood dilemma and working on it for a while.
Unfortunately, my insight came at the expense of a potential spoiler based on the preview. So, I’m going to ROT13 my comment because I don’t know the spoiler policy and felt it was the safest approach. In sum, I saw something in the preview that gave me perspective that I can live with. Something that fits for Dean in my mind (my emotional stand-in for my real life issue) and yet also fits for Sam. I don’t have a clue if the show will go in this direction but it gave me peace.
In the preview:
Gurl fnl gurvef n tubfg va gur ohaxre naq sebz gur oevrsrfg bs pyvcf vg xvaqn ybbxf yvxr Znzn Gena. Gung tbg zr guvaxvat “Jung Jbhyq Znzn Gena Fnl” va ertneqf gb Qrna’f qrpvfvba. Naq fb V fbeg bs jrag gueh n pbairefngvba va zl urnq orgjrra Znzn Gena naq Qrna naq ibvyn — V srry orggre. V guvax vs Qrna jrer gb “pbasrff” jung unccrarq gb Znzn Gena fur’q haqrefgnaq naq rzcnguvmr jvgu Qrna’f vffhr. Vzzrqvngryl. Fur’f n cnerag naq Qrna’f vafgvapgvir erfcbafr gb xrrc Fnz nyvir vf n cneragny erfcbafr va zl zvaq. Fher gurer pna or na ryrzrag bs frysvfuarff ohg Fnz whfg qbrf abg TRG gur cneragny vafgvapg va Qrna. Jura Qrna gbbx gung onol va uvf unaq, ur orpnzr vg’f Zbz. Whfg yvxr gung. Sbetrg gur traqre vffhrf sbe n zbzrag. Qrna orpnhfr n Znzn Orne jura vg pbzrf gb cebgrpgvat guvf puvyq. Naq ab bar rire unq gb gryy uvz bgurejvfr. Zbfg cnerag jub unir cvpxrq hc gurve puvyq sbe gur svefg gvzr xabjf jung V zrna. Lbhe urneg arneyl ohefgf jvgu vafgn-ybir naq lbh srry yvxr lbh’q zbir urnira naq rnegu sbe guvf puvyq. Fb GUVF vf gur ybir gung qevirf Qrna gb tb bire-gur-gbc cebgrpg Fnz. Ur pnyyf vg orvat n ovt oebgure, ohg Yvfn jnf evtug — guvf vf orlbaq oebgureubbq. Juvpu vf jul Fnz whfg qbrfa’g trg vg rvgure.
Onpx gb Znzn Gena’f crefcrpgvir: V vzntvar fur’q fnl fur trgf vg. Vs vg jnf Xriva, fur’q unir cebonoyl qbar gur fnzr guvat. Naq gura fur’q gryy Qrna gung ur’f tbvat gb unir gb yrg gung vafgvapg tb. Ur unf gb yrg Fnz pubbfr uvf yvsr be vg jvyy cbvfba Qrna’f eryngvbafuvc gb uvz. Ohg guvf vfa’g gur fvzcyr “yrg lbhe puvyq tebj hc” vffhr. Vg tbrf orlbaq gung naq V guvax Znzn Gena pbhyq ynl fbzr jvfqbz ba Qrna. Frr jung’f obgurevat Qrna vf gung va uvf urneg ur XABJF ur jnf evtug gb fnir Fnz’f yvsr. Naq V guvax Znzn Gena jbhyq nterr. Fur’q cbvag bhg (de-ROT-13’ing because the rest is a line of reasoning that does not required the potential spoiler)
…that Sam going from willing to live to willing to die was too quick of a turn around. Sam thinks he was making that judgement clear headed but Dean’s instincts were telling him he wasn’t. It’s why Dean was shocked to see Sam trying to make a deal with Death. Where was this death wish coming from? Sam rationalized it in his head and it fit with his need to be “pure”. To die fighting the good fight. But is that really what was best for Sam? Isn’t what is best for Sam what Sam himself said? To see a light at the end of the tunnel and to actually live? It’s possible that Sam was completely level headed but he just went through the trials and was physically and emotionally tired. Dean’s instinct that it was not his time WAS THE RIGHT INSTINCT. So I’m hoping Dean figures that out.while he violated Sam’s free will, his instincts that it was NOT Sam’s time to die were right.
I think in order to make peace with Sam he’s going to have to point that out – that he thinks Sam’s off on this and that Dean’s instincts were right BUT that if Sam is going to trust him, Dean is going to have to let him make those calls. Even if it’s a bad call in Dean’s mind and Sam dies because of it. That he, Dean, would rather have his brother have faith in him that he’ll respect his agency even if his instincts say that he (Sam) is wrong. So, Dean can say he thinks he made the right call but that in the future he’ll make his case to Sam and if he thinks Sam isn’t thinking straight and if Sam doesn’t buy it – Dean will let Sam have his way. Even if it means dying.
I think this will be a compromise Dean can live with. He won’t deny his own instincts but he won’t force Sam to live if Sam truly believes it’s his time to die. Sam may not buy it. Sam may want “unconditional apology”. I don’t know if he’ll get that but I’m looking at this from Dean’s POV because that’s mine as well.
Sorry for the long post. Thanks for giving me starter dough to work this out in my head.
The first time Sam let Dean go and said their problem was something else, it broke my heart. Then they unintentionally worked together and something in how they did that glued some pieces back together for me so I could hope again. The second time Sam said they could work together but not be brothers, he stepped on the remaining pieces of my heart. But then here they go again, working, Sam rushing to find Dean and threatening that chef as a result (I too want to see more of Sam coming to Dean’s rescue; it’ll solidify that equality thing he’s going for), even earlier when Dean said he didn’t break that easy…more glue! More hope! But at the end? Dang it if my heart didn’t pretty much turn to dust, even though I – unlike Dean – understand Sam’s anger and didn’t think he meant he would NEVER save Dean so much as he wouldn’t have done what Dean did in that EXACT same situation. Hopefully this shows Sam isn’t forgetting how he pretty much fell apart when Dean dies repeatedly in Mystery Spot and Sam became a robot.
You would think by now Sam knows Dean well enough to know how he would interpret what he is saying, and that Dean knows Sam enough to know he isn’t killing their relationship, he just wants it to grow and for Dean to treat him as an equal. For goodness sake, how many times in the past has Dean said he did know Sam wasn’t a kid anymore and he had to stop treating him that way? At least twice that I can quickly think of. I do wish that would stick! Sigh. But right now, I think these two are too busy wallowing in their hurt to hear the other. So we suffer as a result until they do.
Clearly even Dean has forgotten that quiet moment when Gadreel-masquerading-as-Ezekiel told him that he needed Sam not to know what is going on lest Sam eject him. That moment spoke volumes as we saw Dean’s wheels turning about the consequences of not telling Sam. He KNEW at that moment that none of this would be what Sam wants. He knew he was asking for trouble though he risked it wouldn’t come to that. Come on. He knew! So yeah, he should get it now. He should get that Sam is angry and Dean ought to understand why and agree with that or yeah and apologize, for goodness sake Dean! – even if he would simultaneously still do the same thing all over again.
I know I have a little more draw to Dean than Sam, but I do love them both. I want them to figure this out, but I am ok with it taking time. What I do wish is that Sam would walk just a little more gingerly, please. Just a little! Because, like you said, Dean is more broken. Does Sam realize this? I’m not sure he does so I guess gingerly walking is out of the question. These two need Charlie or Garth – as two people who do seem to get how this relationship works – to help them get out of their heads for a second to see the other side as well as to help them take a deeper look at their own psyches.
(Dang I didn’t mean to go on this long!)
Lynn, you bring up the whole parent angle and that too was something I had thought about – though not in nearly as much amazing depth as you. I was thinking to myself recently in the shower (TMI?) that if Sam could remember that Dean is coming at this like he is his brother AND his parent (maybe Dean doesn’t realize this aspect though?), maybe that could help explain some things for Sam and help him think of a different way to approach all this. And it would certainly show that while Dean doesn’t want to be alone, him choosing to save Sam repeatedly goes deeper than that.
I have to get off this topic. Seriously. I can’t recall the last time a show cut me to the quick like this. Shedding real tears over TV is nuts for me – yet, I did tear up this time. That hurt, Sam. I think you know it too. You aren’t wrong, but it still hurts a lot and I hate it when people hurt Dean and reinforce the incorrect view he has of himself.
I agree, we need Charlie or Garth here. They always bring them back to reason (or you know Bobby. Or Ellen….) Now that Cas knows humanity and seems to relate, maybe he’ll be the one able to talk to them and make them understand. It looks like he understands and he knows their relationship like his pocket
I’ve honestly been left pretty cold by the MOTW episodes this season. It does feel like the brothers are stuck in some kind of break-up/ make-up limbo, but it’s happened so often by now that it’s beginning to feel a bit…numb. Honestly, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to rewatch last night’s episode…and that’s becoming more and more common this season. I think Show is in ‘jump-the-shark’ mode, and I think Carver needs to think more ‘apocalyptically’ for want of a better word. Remembering it’s 2014, and (paraphrasing) Luci!Sam told Dean in ‘The End’, “We’ll always end up here; nothing can change that.” Sarah Palin becoming President seems unlikely, but as for the rest of it.. bring back the huge themes. Put the whole world in danger again, not just have the angels as a vague, shadowy menace. Get Adam out of the cage! The trials – the tablets – all of those pieces that have just sort of faded away, and it feels to me like the show’s running on empty, and I’m really only watching it for a J-ackles fix. Have the CW make 10 the final season, and let our boys go out with a bang, not the whimpering that’s happening ATM. Fingers crossed.
Of course, I’m emotional and, honestly, completely wrecked over this episode. I could go on and on about the torment and angst and how my heart is barely functioning and, and, *BREATHE!!* But how frickin adorable does Dean look on the bed in the motel?!?!? 💚
What is MotW?
Monster of the Week. 😉
I’m seriously thinking about this show too much at the moment (probably to the detriment of my ‘real’ life, lol). But I woke up this morning and had a light bulb moment about Sam and why he keeps talking about the conversation in the church and being ready to die.
This has been really bugging me since a couple of questions were posed on Twitter, including “If Sam was so ready to die, why did he instead choose not to die and go with Dean?”
So here are my jumbled thoughts…
In the church Sam talks about how many times he’s let Dean down and how he can’t do that anymore.
Fast-forward, what… a matter of hours at most, when Sam is struggling to stay alive; he’s facing a choice to stay and fight, or accept that he’s done enough and now it’s time for some peace. *Shit, this is making me cry as I write it*
Just as he’s made one of the hardest choices of his life – with Dean’s and Bobby’s voices in his head debating the pros and cons of continuing to fight – he has Dean standing in front of him imploring him to stay.
Sam falters, he doesn’t know what to do, so he does the one thing he has always done… he trusts his big brother. He does exactly what his big brother wants him to do – because, above all else, he doesn’t want to let him down, not again, not after what he just told Dean in the church. And not after what Dean had said to him in reply.
The conversation that happened in the church is crucial to where they find themselves now.
If Dean hadn’t appeared to Sam in his coma-state, Sam would’ve made his own decision and gone with Death. He would be at peace. Instead he went with his brother, trusted in Dean’s plan, and the one thing he couldn’t bear to happen in his life again, happened.
Sam now realises he can’t do that again (“I can’t trust you, not like I thought I could”). Sam’s pattern of repeated behaviour is ‘not leaving his brother out there alone’. And Sam knows that Dean’s repeated pattern of behaviour is saving Sam at all costs. But sometimes that cost is too high.
That’s why, when Dean tells him he’d do the same thing, Sam replies: “No Dean, I wouldn’t. Same circumstances, I wouldn’t.”
I’m not saying I’m happy with any of the above. Clearly, I don’t want Sam to be dead. But I understand why Sam is behaving the way he is, even if others can’t. Is it hard on Dean? Yes, it is… and that is heartbreaking to watch. But Sam is equally devastated and hurt by what has happened. He is lashing out, maybe too harshly, but, maybe, as time goes on, his approach will change.
I guess what it boils down to, for me, is that I’m tired of the judgement of Sam (and I’m not talking about this blog [at all – I love most of the comments here], but in general across Twitter and in comments on various blogs). As I’ve said previously, I love both brothers (even though I obviously relate more to Sam) and I try not to judge either brother. I also try to understand both perspectives. Neither of them is doing very well right now. They both need a hug (as do we all).
Anyhow, if this makes no sense, I apologise. I’m totally sleep deprived because I woke up early thinking about SPN… and now I’m going to be late to work 😉
In the church, Dean begged Sam not to go through with it. My headcanon is that after Lucifer rose, Sam promised himself that he would never, ever, refuse to heed Dean’s pleas again. He would never follow through on his intention if Dean was desperately trying to stop him. As you say, he couldn’t and can’t let Dean down again. I think when Dean said, “I’m begging you,” Sam no longer felt he had a choice.
I disagree. I just don’t like the idea that Dean backed Sam into a corner in the church & made Sam feel like he had no choice but to stop the trials. Sam had a choice. And he chose Dean. Just like Dean chose Sam.
The brothers didn’t choose each other for other reason than they wanted to.
I really cannot accept any other reasoning. I just couldn’t deal with the church scene being cheapened/tarnished more than it already has been in the past two episodes.
In the church, I think both brothers were so desperate for the other – Dean was desperate for Sam to live, and Sam was desperate for Dean’s approval/love.
Sam was such a little brother in that moment. He typically puts up such a good front, but Sam was literally crying over idea that Dean trusted Benny & Cas more than him was so heartbreaking. And I keep going back to THAT Sam & trying to relate it to the Sam we have seen over the past two episodes. It is like they are totally different people. I know that Sam is still inside Sam and I want to see him.
Sam was in such a bad headspace at the church. He was falling apart – he was literally at the end of his rope. And Dean threw him a much needed lifeline.
kgrahamjourneys I posted first and now I am reading comments and I see I could have saved myself some time 😀 I see it that way too. People don’t understand because they want this all to be mutual and it no longer is. Sam is too broken and neither Dean nor the fandom seems to have noticed.
I’m sorry I had to post again and not even to debate or anything but I just wanted to say that this review and the comments that followed made me feel so much better. Honestly after the episode, like everyone, I was struggling with my feelings and it did take a toll in my real life (I’m a nanny, I woke up the kids from their nap with red eyes and a runny nose…not the most joyous time) and I kept on thinking about it and thinking about it because I did understand both brothers and why they say what they say but I still couldn’t…. untangled the mess that were me feelings. And reading all these? it helps! It helps a lot because people put words on what I’m feeling and people also understand Sam (here) and it just feels GOOD to see that everyone is struggling and to make sense of it all with the spnfamily.
Sorry, I had to say it. Promise I’m not drunk or druged just tired and apparently overemotionnal…
Amazing article! I’m glad I’m not the only one who treats the show as if it were real (sort of).
Over the last couple of days I’ve been completely bewildered by the amount of abuse Sam’s been getting from the fandom for the final scene. Your point about Sam going through a belated teenage rebellion makes a lot of sense, I hadn’t thought about it like that before!
The way I see it: in the church Sam was ready to sacrifice himself, but in the heat of the moment (no pun intended) seeing Dean so desperate for him to live, Sam couldn’t bear to see his brother that distraught and so stopped the trials. But then when he was in the coma, he made his peace and WAS ready to die, for real, so I can understand why he would be mad at Dean for tricking Gadreel into possessing him. Particularly as he now feels that he should’ve died and the world would be a better place for it – Hell would be sealed off, the angels may not have fallen and Kevin would be alive. (I’m very glad he didn’t die, obviously).
I don’t think Sam was saying he doesn’t have Dean’s back anymore – the way he went running to Dean when he was roofied proves that – he was saying that he wouldn’t necessarily try to intervene if Dean was planning to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
But most of all, I think the fact that if Sam is feeling this way for whatever reason, surely it’s best that he IS honest about it, so that he and Dean can work out where to go from here and to rebuild their relationship from a place of equality and honesty.
So I was going to write a comment earlier today and found that when I sat down to type, my thoughts were all jumbled, so I left it a little while. Now I’m back at my laptop hopefully more capable to write, but no promises! 😉
So I guess first, start right with the feels – Sam’s speech at the end of the episode. I don’t really know what to make of it. On the one hand, I want to be upset at Sam’s change – where’s that boy that said there is nothing he wouldn’t do for his big brother? – but at the same time I’m… proud of him… I guess. Sam’s growing up. Or that was my interpretation. I took Sam’s admission of “same circumstances, no I wouldn’t” to be him learning from past experience and actually saying “we can’t – I can’t – go down that road again”. When Dean went to Hell, Sam fell completely off the wagon, let himself trust a demon, get addicted to demon blood and set Lucifer free. No good came from his struggle to get Dean back.
I also get the feeling that maybe this is crucial in re-establishing their roles as brothers. So far, Sam has always been the protected little brother, maybe this conversation will lead to a more equal relationship. I know we all love their dependence on each other, but perhaps it is time for a little shake up – hear that Show, a little change, not a huge one!!
Of course this is all pure speculation; as you’ve said here, it would be nice to see Sam’s POV. An episode that really lets us see where Sam’s head is at, because so far we’ve had no way of knowing entirely what he’s thinking. I hadn’t noticed until I read your last couple of reviews that more often than not we get Dean’s thoughts handed to us, while Sam’s are puzzle pieces we have to fit together ourselves. I think this is why I tend to comment more on Sam than Dean – why I often feel the need to defend Sam and not Dean.
I do love the theory about the Mark of Cain being responsible for Sam’s behaviour. I don’t think it’s totally behind Sam’s harsh words – there must be some honesty there – but that could definitely be contributing to them. I’m also certain there is something more to this Mark than it being the key to killing Abaddon. I may have said it before but… Dean never listened to the conditions of taking on the Mark, perhaps the conditions were that “you can’t ever have a family” and not “you will have to kill your brother” like I initially thought (although that idea is still playing on my mind). I am very interested to see where the Show will take this!
There was one thing I kind of disagreed with and that was “And if Sam actually wanted to die, as he now seems to be saying”. I’m not sure I’d say Sam wanted to die exactly. I think in the church both he and Dean had hope that not finishing the trials would mean Sam would live. That wasn’t the case and Sam was whisked away to the plane of not-quite-alive-but-not-yet-dead where he had to choose life or death. I think that’s when he made peace with his death. Before there was hope, now he knows the trials were always going to lead to his death and perhaps subconsciously he knew that they wouldn’t be something he could easily come back from. Plus, now he’s feeling guilty about Kevin (even if it wasn’t really his fault, but Gadreel’s) and after extracting the promise that “nobody else can get hurt because of me” from Death, I imagine that’s a hard hit to take. So yeah, I don’t feel like Sam wants to die, he was just prepared for it. I don’t think I’ve explained that very well, but somewhere in that rambling are my thoughts. 😉
In regards to the fantasy / reality section: I love the fantasy genre, my favourite books, shows and movies are those in the fantasy / sci-fi genre, because it is so easy to lose yourself in them and feel safe because it’s not a real world, the ideas in this genre can be so out there that they completely draw you in and keep your mind off real life. That’s definitely how it is for me; whenever I’ve needed to withdraw from reality I dive into fantasy. So I agree, we watch the show for the fantasy aspect (and the pretty guys 😉 ) but I think there has to be a healthy amount of realism there that we can connect with otherwise it would be less believable. I think Supernatural has the balance between the two about right.
Oh, would I like a guardian angel like Cas? Yes. I think about it often, mostly those times when I need to throw myself into fiction. And sometimes yes, I’d like brothers like Sam and Dean, but could I cope with their self sacrificing ways? Probably not.
Well, this is not as articulate as I would like, this episode has left me emotionally shaken up, but hopefully it makes some sense! 🙂 Here’s hoping for happier moments, even if it’s just a short scene like the one at the end of Plucky’s when Sam and Dean were genuinely laughing for the first time in a long time. I need another moment like that!
Wow, great! I agree. I have “real” at home. I want my co-dependent, loving, can’t live without each brothers! The talk at the same time ; pranking each other; completely in sync Sam and Dean. You know, people want real. Well, I have 2 boys. They are adults now. They still wrestle; joke; prank each other; etc. Some things never change with brothers…
– ‘(Purge)…refer(s) both to the physical transformations of the … victims and … the emotional purge of Sam’s speech to Dean…’
Can’t believe I missed that. Twice. Damn you, Ackles. Was distracted by the heart-shattering going on in Dean’s eyes.
– ‘…“You sacrifice everything for this family, but they don’t need you like you need them…”…
OUCH, Lynn! Now my heart bruises have bruises!
– ‘…fans are almost unbelievably passionate in their opinions about a bunch of fictional characters and a Show in its ninth season…’:
– … the “romantic hero” has long fascinated … and it often has little to do with emotionally healthy characters … the need to fix things … Not for the characters’ sake … but for ours… It’s safe, it can help us master our own past bad experiences by identifying with fictional characters…
– In order to be a fulfilling fantasy, we have to try to make sense of our beloved fictional characters, and individual fans are hashing that out right now…
Yup (Every day we hashin’ out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqI6ZKQhEf8 )
– …the set up for change has been there from the beginning… stagnant doesn’t make for good storytelling. At this point in Season 9, the stage has been set for major change in the brothers’ relationship, ready or not…
– Eric (:) “part of the process of the Show is driving [the fans] nuts…’… So what happens when the fantasy we want to see changes, or doesn’t go in the direction we want/need it to?
I’m game for most things, as long as there is internal consistency…
– … speculation about the effects of the Mark of Cain, which apparently curses the person who bears it from having any kind of family… …And was that why Dean was so gung-ho to kill the friendly pishtaco? (immature snicker)…
🙂 I keep reading that as ‘pistachio’… *adds own immature snicker*
– That would be an interesting explanation for some of the seeming contradictions…
Ohhhh, interesting…I have also been wondering about post-Gadriel possession/?ongoing connection issues for Sam…
…The (Winchesters) have always had different personalities and views of life, because their childhood experience was so different.
And that is never NOT going to be true.
…hard to watch Sam lash out at Dean for doing what he’s learned and believes is the ‘right thing to do’ …
Even when we can see Sam’s POV.
• “…is the more damaged of the two. He’s had to put his own needs aside for his entire life, which tends to cook up an interestingly fucked up kind of person …(Sera Gamble)”
• “Right or wrong (he’)d always choose to save Sam’s life, regardless of …cost … consequences… Sam’s wishes … acted as Sam’s father for most of (his) life … an inherently selfish position … I don’t think Dean will ever fully evolve past … It’s well established that Dean is terrified of losing Sam and being alone…” (Laura Prudom)
‘… struggling to understand what we’re supposed to make of Sam’s head space… some … changes just haven’t been well explained.
– I’ve seen some comment that Sam’s words weren’t intended to hurt…, but I think that’s
• Everyone gets that Sam puts a lot of importance on choice and agency, because he’s had his own co-opted far too often.
• Everyone gets that he’s angry at Dean …
• He doesn’t want to be the victim or have Dean be the martyr.
• … instead of Dean being the self-sacrificing protector, Sam needs to see him as the selfish over-protective big brother who won’t let Sam grow up…
– Unfortunately, revisiting that now, with Sam a grown man … is a tough road for Show to go down… It’s been difficult to reconcile this version of Sam with the Sam from earlier seasons who played out his side of the not-at-all-real-life relationship in such a powerful way … I remember Sam’s impassioned “You save my life over and over — you sacrifice everything for me. Don’t you think I’d do the same for you? You’re my big brother – there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”
The change in Sam is striking – but I could make sense of it better if I’d been privy to more of Sam’s thoughts and feelings …
– quick turn-around from his speech about the trials (valued his life, wanted to live, wanted to show Dean the light and have him want to live too)
– In the church, it was Sam’s choice not to keep going with the trials and to live (though he was taking Dean’s feelings into account too).
– And if Sam actually wanted to die…why did he change his mind so readily and go with (who he thought was) Dean instead of Death..?
I’m going to make sense of these questions by assuming that Sam is overwhelmed with … guilt about the consequences of … those choices … easier to be angry at Dean (who did, after all, trick him into agreeing to possession)…
– Can the Show create a Sam and Dean who don’t have that twisted, tangled, heroic, epic bond but who are still just as compelling as characters? I don’t know.
“Help us (Jeremy Carver), you’re our only hope”
Oh! And fascinating review as always! Apologies for omitting to mention that above and for the length of my comment…
Great article. So nice to see calm, rational discussion about this.
I am sorry but Dean thought it was Ezekiel that he trusted to heal Sam because Cas said he was a good angel. He didn’t know it was Gadreel. (and he had seconds to decide) He was supposed to heal Sam and leave. What the heck is wrong with that? It was not supposed to be a long term possession. So if it was Cas that possessed Sam to heal him would that be OK with Sam? Who knows…. If Dean didn’t do what he did there would be no Sam. And……………it wasn’t Deans decision for Sam to be possessed by Lucifer, he was supporting Sams decision. Everyone is finding ways to twist things around so All Sam’s mistakes are somehow Dean’s fault. You ask any human being on the planet if they wouldn’t save someone they love repeatedly if they had the chance. Of course they would it’s human instinct. Being alone does not even factor into loving someone. Why did Sam have such hatred for Benny? When he was so gung-ho about letting that monster live in “The Purge”? Benny wasn’t hurting anyone either. Dean did not force Sam to make any of the Decisions he made, he gave reasons and Sam agreed. I am sorry but too many excuses are given for Sam that don’t make sense. The writers do not do a good job with researching past episodes for the facts. They contradict themselves and it makes THEM look stupid.
Well, I’ve had a week to think about it. I went to my barometer of non-fannish thoughts on the show – my long suffering Hubs who just wants to, you know, watch the show — and asked him what he thought about the state of Sam & Dean’s relationship. “Do I have to think about it?” he said.
“Yes!” I said.
“Well I’m not picking sides.”
“Fine. You don’t have to.” (Have I mentioned he’s a smart cookie, my Hubs?)
“Sam has every right to be pissed off. Dean doesn’t listen, so Sam’s harsh, I get that. But, he also needs to recognize there’s a difference between Dean bringing him back from the dead and Dean finding a way to keep him from dying. I can’t fault Dean for that. And if they go on like this, I can see it getting tiresome pretty quick.”
I decided that about summed it up for me too. If it goes on like this, its going to get tiresome. And, I came to the realization after reading your article and thinking about that for a few days, I don’t want Sam & Dean’s relationship ‘fixed.’
I don’t generally mind the boys being on the outs because I like the angsty stuff that usually surrounds it. What I don’t like this time around is that the angst is all on Dean’s side. And I don’t get that. How can Sam be that cool about it? He’s been a half of the codependency all along. I mean, I can see him acting that cool about it for Dean’s benefit – if he doesn’t, Dean will have no reason to compromise or discuss – Sam’s already with Dean, if he goes back to ‘normal’, its a total capitulation and that’s not healthy or realistic given Sam’s independant streak. But I cannot see the separation not bothering Sam at all — which it does not appear to — and if it really is not causing him angst to make the decision to in effect, renounce Dean as his brother, then I really do not get it. If its true that Sam is that detached, then I’ll agree with the folks who think the whole thing is OOC and wonder what’s going on in the writers’ minds. If its not hurt/comfort, then what heck is the point?
IF its an avenue for the boys to retreat from the edge a little, I can see that – I want their attitudes toward each other and their lives to improve – the show’s like the Pit of Despair (which is OK with the angst from BOTH brothers) I ‘d like to see Show get a little hope back but NOT at the expense of the passion. Without the passion its just another run-of-the-mill genre show. Supernatural has never been that.
Normally I really like your reviews but I feel really strongly at the moment that the tide has turned against the victim in all this so please excuse this long description of what I see has happened. If it annoys any of you commenters please realize that I get that the writers are probably not on my (or Sam’s) side in all this so you will eventually be able to say ‘I told you so’. I haven’t read too many comments but I am fairly sure my take on this is different to the majority…
I want to address why I think that nothing that Sam has said contradicts Sacrifice or Season 8 or all of Season 9 so far.
I had a problem with Sacrifice from the start. it didn’t sit well with me. The emotions were real enough but they didn’t really make sense. Why would Dean say something so hurtful just before his brothers biggest commitment? Why would Sam seem to have given up? Why would he ask for trust and then when he didn’t get offered trust in Dean’s ‘look at what I have sacrificed for you’ speech why would he change his mind?
And the answer is because Dean asked him to..
Not because he wants to live, he doesn’t.
Not because Dean trusts him, as far as Sam knows, he doesn’t.
Sam went into the church feeling that he had let Dean down and that Dean had just gotten through telling him that nothing is ever forgiven, nothing is ever forgotten and no amount of atonement can make up for that. So here he is with Dean asking, pleading for something from him – that he live! The one thing left he can do for Dean, because he feels he has let Dean down (which is a whole other debate) is to live because Dean says he can’t do it alone.
Sam handed over his life and trust to Dean. Sam trusted Dean! However it didn’t work, Sam was still going to die.
So he made his peace with his conscience and prepared to go. And Dean came to him at the last minute and said ‘I have a plan’ and ‘there ain’t no me if there ain’t no you’. And Sam said ‘ok’.
Again he did it because Dean wants him to ‘live’. Dean can’t or won’t do anything about the quality of Sam’s life, but as long as Sam is not-dead then all is ok, I guess.
But Sam didn’t agree because HE wants to live and that is why so many are confused now, if you only look at this only from Dean’s point of view the equation is:
Sam is alive = everything is ok.
If people can see even the remotest happiness or hope or enthusiasm in Sam’s face in either moment where he agreed not to die, compared to the way he looked when going with Death then I wish someone would point it out to me, I just see a guy at the end of his rope, asking for help to do something he doesn’t want to do.
Then we have weeks of:
– Dean telling Sam he isn’t better, he is tired, Dean is an amazing hunter so he can survive – all ‘necessary’ lies but all undermining Sam.
– Sam doesn’t understand why he is weak and tired.Sam spends half the season unconscious. He eventually admits he thinks he is just ‘wrong’ that he is never going to not be unwell (or ‘clean’)
– A random hunter girl tells Sam that his greatest sin is still out there and unforgiven (and if that was just a WTF moment by the writers for random drama and not integral to Sam’s mindset then it was totally uncalled-for and just intended to piss people off (congrats, it worked)).
– Charlie berates him for not imprinting his personality on the bunker (last season Charlie removed Sam’s one great and unarguable success – stopping the Apocalypse (with the very necessary and essential participation of Dean) – and gifted it to Dean in entirety and left Sam with ‘pity ’bout the ladies’).
– Cas tells Sam he is only the worlds second greatest screwup.
– Sam realises that Dean kept a whole chunk of his childhood secret from Sam, and that the hardships of Dean’s childhood are somehow all Sam’s fault.
– Dean tells Sam on 2 separate occasions that Sam is bad with women (the first time in a room full of women).
– Gadreel tells Sam he is ‘weak’ (the only time Sam has actually defended himself against an accusation this season).
If you watch the show Sam has reacted to every one of these slights, with little grimaces. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t deny it, but he has noted and taken on board EVERY ONE OF THEM.
Sam doesn’t want to live, he doesn’t see the upside of his life in this world and god knows there is no one telling him that he is worth it. As he sees it his death would at least have accomplished something back in the church.
Sam doesn’t see any purpose and everything he does to stay alive is because he THOUGHT back in the church that Dean said he trusted him. How is he to take what happened with Gadreel? How is he supposed to deal with remembering that he was forced to watch Kevin die, forced to sit through needles in his head, realized the gates of hell are still open and his chance at being ‘clean’ in this life will not happen and know that this is what ‘trusting Dean’ has done.
And he FEELS that his autonomy, his worth, his abilities, mean so little to Dean that Dean has no intention of apologizing or admitting he as done something wrong and that he would do it all again.
I am sorry for Dean, and his screwed up childhood and his inability to let go. I am sorry that he is doing this (he believes, because Gadreel told him it was so) all out of love but he doesn’t ever let his brother see that he has worth outside of being a burden. Dean compliments Sam all the time but NEVER when Sam has the smallest chance of hearing it. Sam compliments Dean to his face.
But I am sorrier for Sam and I know that whatever happens with this storyline the fandom will side with Dean – and I feel that is very much the writers fault. But it is also the fault where reviewers forget the events of Road Trip (and everything that went before) to focus on Sam saying things that hurt Dean’s feelings (when Dean still hasn’t come close to seeing that he should apologize). But the fans who say ‘Dean can’t help himself’ are not doing Dean any favors as a character. Dean could help himself if he tried, he could meet Sam half way at least – like he used to do back in Season 2
I suspect that the show is going to side with Dean, it is moments like Dean having the catharsis of the chance to mourn over Kevin’s death at the pyre and the fact that Sam, who was actually kinder to Kevin, has not, and will not, be given a similar chance to mourn that lead me to this conclusion (I bet if it turns out that Mama Tran isn’t dead Sam will come in for a fair chunk of the blame for Kevin’s death though), It is also the way Dean has been told he is right in every move he has made.
The only tiny amount of hope that I see that the show is not just hopelessly biased is that 2 people have told Dean this season that just because he thinks he is right doesn’t mean he is – Sam, and Kevin, Sam as a result of a storyline already forgotten and Kevin just before he died.
It makes the most people happy if Dean is not held to account, or at least if Sam’s words ‘come back and bite him in the ass’ as I have seen it phrased. But it doesn’t make the way Sam has been treated this season right.
Heh, should my comment get published I have to correct where I said ‘if you watch the show’ which is possibly the most redundant thing ever said … I meant: ‘If you watch Sam’s reactions, he has reacted ….’ 😀
And now that I have read the other comments I see the tide changed about half way down and now I need to change:
“I haven’t read too many comments but I am fairly sure my take on this is different to the majority…”
“at least there are a few people out there that see this somewhat like I do which makes me feel better”
Shutting up now … 🙂
The relationship between Sam and Dean those last episodes is very critical and it hurts … A lot. That last scene was so painful for everyone. Sam was so cold with Dean and left him even more broken that he was before.
But the thing is I’m not that surprise with Sam’s reaction. Somehow i always understood their relationship as Dean undoubtely needs Sam at his side whereas Sam – even though he’s devoted to Dean as brother and everything- can actually live without his brother. Each time Dean had to live without Sam (when he was in California or when Sam was “in the cage”) he somehow felt incomplete. Then when Sam was left alone (when Dean was in hell or purgatory) he was hurt but he managed to live his life. That’s why he didn’t decide to search for Dean back in season 8. Appart from the fact that he felt powerless, he was just tired and decided to live a quite life.
Now back to this season’s storyline, Sam precised he wouldn’t have saved Dean “in same circumstances”. That means Sam would not hesitate to save Dean if he was dying but he would accept to let him go if Dean himself chose to sacrifice. Think about what the Trials represented for Sam: he felt “purified” for the first time of his life. Since he was a child he somehow felt he was different feeling demon’s blood through his veins. Those trials were the closest he was from heaven. He could get the Earth rid off all the demons and felt like if it was the perfect task to sacrifice, a perfect way to end his life. Dean convinced him not to, Sam was weak and cared about his brother’s opinion. But then Sam was in a coma and decided from himself that he could let go (interesting thing though how Dean represented the part of himself who wanted to fight and survive). So when he remembered, he realised Dean didn’t even care about Sam’s opinion and decided to bring him back in a twisted way. First annoying thing for him since he doesn’t like when Dean takes decision for him. Then he was possessed, angel or not Gadreel was evil and i think it kind of remembers Sam of bad memories. It brang back Sam to his bad side when he was feeling purified. I suppose the conflict is more about the fact that Sam has been possessed again than the fact Dean lied to him. But of course Dean is the only one he can blame for this since he was the one who made this huge mistake. It’s just a big mix of bad feelings for Sam, i don’t think it’s a fundamental chance of character but a logical continuity.
This is how I understand Sam and Dean’s relationship at this point, that’s why i’m not that surprised of this statement.
With Dean having the Mark Of Cain, and Sam saying that in similar circumstances he would let Dean die, I think he may get to test that theory. MWAHAHAHA!