Ever since I started reviewing Supernatural in season three, I’ve taken some enjoyment here and there in performing a close study of Sam’s character (and gotten tons of “Sam fan” accusations because of it). He’s quite an enigma most of the time because he tends to internalize everything. It makes for hours of fun speculating. Still, there have usually been clues throughout the years as to what path he’s on.
Having said that, this is the most perplexed I’ve been about him since season two. I’ve often said they didn’t try to develop his character until season three, and now I’m not sure if they’ve regressed back to those days of season two where we had no clue what was going on in that head of his. Allow me to elaborate further.
Back in Supernatural’s season two, when John Winchester died, Sam wasn’t exactly given a visible grieving process. He cried in “Everybody Loves A Clown,” gave Dean a speech at the end of that same episode, and that was it. Even when he had his infamous meltdown at the end of “Heart” there wasn’t a lot of build up to that. I’ve always believed he had his meltdown because of everything building up inside not only over John’s death but mostly over his fears of his impending destiny of evil -- and man does it break my heart to see what happened to him since then. He had something to cry about. You’ve got to admit though, his busting into tears came out of left field considering he seemed so well adjusted prior to that. We were never really let into his head. Yeah, there were small signs like him getting drunk in “Playthings”, but “Born Under A Bad Sign” turned out to be Meg. At the end of that episode, Sam wasn’t showing too much pain over the experience. He did what he always did, he withdrew and dealt with it internally.
Flash forward now to season seven. Sam seems to have recovered from his Hell trauma just fine, saying how he’s okay with the hallucinations and that he has a handle on things. Fantastic! Glad he’s doing better, now we can...oh wait, do you think that there’s actually more to that? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I just wasn’t looking hard enough.
Ever since “The Girl Next Door” Sam’s been insisting to Dean that he’s not a time bomb and has everything under control. It wasn’t until the end of “Season 7, Time For a Wedding!” that Dean could admit that Sam really has pulled it all together. Now Sam is giving the same speech to Bobby. It’s my presumption that because this conversation keeps coming up so much, Sam is not fine. Either that or he really is fine and the writers are using the issue for some scenery chewing.
The question is, should he be fine? I know, dumb question. Neither of them should be fine. Any realistic scenario would have had both of them, as Dean put it in “The Real Ghostbusters,” howling all the way to the nuthouse. Are there clues in Supernatural season seven that I’m missing? Little chinks in the armor that have potential to open into major chasms? I have poured through “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” and I haven’t seen anything. Or maybe Sam is taking a page from Dean’s book and worrying more about Dean than himself, which leaves him open to be blindsided later.
Sam recently separated from Dean twice, for ten days in between “Slash Fiction” and “The Mentalists” and four days before “Season 7, Time For A Wedding.” Considering we got zero glimpses as to what really happened during that time alone, is this Sam’s new way of dealing with his “umbrella of crazy”? Or am I overanalyzing those breaks, which could have been inserted just for the sake of Dean’s drama. What do you think Sam has been doing during that time?
I’m forced to look backward at Sam’s patterns, see if there’s potential here for a major crack. I love season three Sam because he had this whole gradual descent into darkness going. He was doing things outside of his comfort zone, but for the purpose of saving Dean. What was great about that season though is we got to see through those tiny cracks in his psyche. It finally opened up his character to us. Remember that devastated glare at the end of “Mystery Spot” after Dean told his clowns or midgets joke? The long ordeal was over, and Sam was so not okay. I keep waiting for such signs here, but unfortunately, we’re being led to believe everything is just peachy and there’s nothing there to see.
I just the other day pulled out “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” for I remember loads of foreshadowing there. It was the grand build up of season long prior warnings coming from others like Castiel, Death, and Crowley. Worst case scenario happened. The wall came down and Sam for a bit was trapped in his own mind, pieces of himself facing one another. Could it be all that hype over Sam’s wall breaking was always just for the events through “Hello, Cruel World?” Would the writers actually spend an entire season building up to the psychotic break only to sweep it under the rug in two episodes? The sad part is, I have no clues that go against that statement. I want to so believe they wouldn’t do that.
After all that build up, season seven has given us the new “zen” Sam. He’s exercising, which going by “The Third Man” is something he’s probably always done, he’s eating salads and protein bars, something, well, he’s always done, and he’s not heavily drinking, only having the occasional beer with Dean. Well that’s something new. He’s gotten mindless on this saving the world thing, in that somebody’s got to do it. He isn’t getting very philosophical about how the world keeps wanting to end itself like Dean has so cleverly noticed.
Sam’s convinced himself that despite having a scrambled brain that leaks traumas of Hell and his life (possibly) and has hallucinations of Lucifer (definitely), there are others that are worse off and he’s okay. There are others worse off? They’re the ones living in happy land in those mental institutions that house about half the hunters that have gone through far less. I know, accepting that would drive him crazy, but man, can nothing crack this guy anymore?
We did get one glimpse into Sam’s brain when he was carbon copied by a leviathan in “Slash Fiction.” He couldn’t believe how Sam was coping with the “Satan vision” all the time and essentially called Sam unstable. Could it be this was just the POV from a monster? Has Sam truly learned how to overcome this and it’s not so bad as it seems?
Has Sam truly become indestructible? Is it me or does this new attitude seem so freaking off? Not human? He actually seems robotic to me now, which is the polar opposite of Dean. Then again, Dean’s traumas with Hell were swept under the rug, and sure they probably plague him, but it’s the feeling of loss that’s consuming him right now. Ben and Lisa, Castiel, everyone else that’s left him. His fear of losing Sam is too crippling and he’s waiting for everything to come crashing down on him (which it might, especially if he loses Bobby). What is Sam’s greatest fear right now? Losing control? Does he also share Dean’s impending sense of doom?
At least we’re seeing Sam smile again. That’s something I guess. So what do you think? Is this just a case that this guy has been through so much that nothing will get to him now, or it’s all a front and he is that time bomb he insists he isn’t? Do you like how his character development has been approached? What would you like to see from Sam in the second half of this season and beyond?
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