In celebration of one of our favorite Winchester’s birthday, we’re looking back over Season 14 and how far Sam has come – and at the incredible acting of Jared Padalecki that has brought Sam to life so vividly and made us all fall in love with him. Every guest star who has ever been on Supernatural has talked about their surprise to find that the leads of the show, even after all this time, are not just “phoning it in”. That they care so much about this show and these characters that they “bring it” every single time – even when it’s someone else’s coverage.
At this point, they’ve talked about how it’s not exactly like acting anymore – they know these characters so well, they can just become them. And it shows.
So on Sam Winchester’s birthday, here’s a look back at Season 14 entirely in screencaps – which tell the story of Sam’s emotional journey and of Jared’s incredible acting talent.
Early Season 14 found Sam grieving the loss of his brother, possessed by the archangel Michael and lost to Sam. Hence what the fandom lovingly dubbed the ‘beard of brotherly grief’. On a totally shallow level, Jared looked hot like FIRE – but on an emotional level, he made it achingly clear that Sam was in incredible pain. It shows in his every expression, in the look in his eyes, in the way he carries himself. My heart broke for him.
Jared can portray pain like nobody else – physical pain, the way he did so authentically in Red Meat, and emotional pain, as he’s had to do for much of this season.
In the midst of his own grief, Jared also showed us the empathic side of Sam. Sam Winchester has a tremendous ability to put himself in other people’s shoes, no matter who they are. He’s done it with Rowena, and thus has developed a sort of bond with her. He’s done it with Jack, creating a closeness and making Sam a father figure to Jack.
In one early episode of this season, he even reached out in empathy to Nick, understanding all too well what it means to have been possessed by Lucifer.
It clearly cost Sam so much to do that — Nick was wearing Lucifer’s face, bringing back all of Sam’s own trauma and PTSD — and Jared shows us every bit of that, without a word needed. A flinch, a fleeting expression, and we know.
Sam having to confront his brother, knowing it was Michael and Dean was trapped inside, was clearly painful for him too. There wasn’t even any dialogue about it, but just one look – and you knew.
Even as he was grieving, Sam took charge – became the accepted ‘chief’ of the band of AU hunters who moved into the bunker in Dean’s absence. He clearly commanded their respect and loyalty, and even as he didn’t sleep and we all knew he couldn’t keep this up forever, I think every single viewer stood up and screamed their approval when Sam stood up to the demons like the fucking badass that he is!
Go through him? I don’t think so.
Sam Fucking Winchester, everyone.
Sam eventually got to show Nick just how he felt about being taken in and fooled by him, giving us more badass Sam – and more kickass acting by Jared.
Jared also got to play dead. Again.
He does it way too well.
The season wasn’t without its humorous moments, or it wouldn’t be Supernatural. Jared, Jensen and Misha all excel at comedy and this season Jared had some priceless moments.
Sam stuck in a fantasy world where he’s a prissy 1950’s esque homeowner and husband, much to Castiel’s absolute dismay, was one of the funniest scenes of the season – anyone who doubts that Padalecki could carry a comedy just needs to watch this!
Frankly, he’s hot in the glasses and out of them.
And there’s always going to be something about a guy his size and a tiny tiny teacup.
Sam got quite a few geek out moments in this season, and I enjoyed every one of them.
Some of my favorite scenes of the season, as always, were the emotional moments between the brothers. These often happen in the car, lit with breathtaking beauty by the talented Serge Ladouceur. When Sam Winchester tears up, I can’t help reaching for the tissues myself. There’s nothing contrived about it; Jared’s own empathy and sensitivity make it all so genuine that I can’t help but react too.
The hands down most moving scene was in Prophet And Loss, as Sam finally breaks down and begs Dean not to sacrifice himself in the Ma’lak box. In the episodes leading up to this one, Sam has struggled to accept what Dean feels he has to do, knowing that Dean is terrified he won’t be able to keep Michael locked up in his head forever. At the same time, his fear of losing his brother and his horror at what Dean’s fate will be are growing stronger and stronger.
Eventually Sam breaks, and Jared shows us it in excruciating detail.
I loved this scene the first time I saw it, and maybe even more after we heard what it was like to film it. Jared had broken down on set too, unable to get the lines out and emotional and frustrated with himself. It was shortly before they made the very difficult decision to end the Show after next season, and I can’t help but think that much of that emotion was real – and all about saying goodbye to Dean and Sam, for real. Jensen said that when the hug came, it was as much Jensen hugging Jared as Dean hugging Sam, and that shows too. The raw reality of this scene makes it one of the most memorable in the show’s long history.
That scene was perfection. Just look at him, at how much emotion you can FEEL just pouring off the screen.
Season 14 included Supernatural’s landmark 300th episode, “Lebanon”, which saw the return (finally!) of Jeffrey Dean Morgan – and the shedding of probably more tears than have ever been shed on this show!
From the long overdue heart to heart that Sam had with his dad to the Winchester family’s tearful goodbyes, all the actors brought their A plus game. They were all unafraid to show vulnerability, and thus let their characters do the same.
A heartbreakingly short time after they once again lost their father, Sam and Dean also lost their mother (again), which gave us some emotional flashbacks to the time that Mary shared with her sons (that unfortunately we didn’t see much of until then). They were brief moments, but powerful.
The season finale found the brothers having another emotional heart to heart, Sam once again refusing to go along with his brother’s plan to sacrifice himself. Once again, Jared lets us see Sam’s anguish – and his determination. As much as he knows Dean wants his blessing for the suicidal plan, Sam refuses.
By the end of the season finale, Sam’s disillusionment with Chuck is clear. So is his rage at being used all this time, as a puppet, as the star of God’s “favorite show”.
Sam is strong and solid in “Moriah”, determined to do what he thinks is right.
And that’s where we leave Sam Winchester, as we go into the last hiatus and try to prepare for the last season.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to mess with him.
Happy birthday, Sam.
We love you.
And thank you to Jared Padalecki for giving so much to this character and to this show – and to this fandom – for fourteen years. We would never have had this show and this extraordinary SPNFamily for all this time if you hadn’t been so talented – and cared so much.
You can read in Jared’s own words how his journey as Sam Winchester and with this fandom has impacted him in the chapter he wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood – but don’t read it without tissues nearby…
All the pretty caps by kayb625
You can read the chapter that Jared
Padalecki wrote about how Supernatural
Has changed his life in Family Don’t End
With Blood, links on the home page