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Open Couch – Appointment in Samarra

Or

How do you define human dignity?

An – quite literally – ensouled episode. Looks like the resident therapist here is going to have some serious work with Sam (and Dean won’t be far behind, I reckon)… Thank God there’s a hiatus and we can take our time to work out some coping strategies. 

Lean back, kind readers, get yourself some coffee, hot chocolate or good Scotch and snuggle into the cushions, as this one will be, I’m afraid, a long one. 



A few years back there was a brilliant book by a wonderful writer named John O’Hara, ‘Appointment in Samarra’ – it’s the story of a young high society man set during the time of the prohibition in a small Pennsylvanian town. Being at odds with the bourgeois, complacent and suffocating small town society, he loses his temper and insults a member of the gentry, thereby causing the beginning of his own downfall. He spirals inevitably to his own self-destruction and loses practically everything. 

I can only assume the writers meant to build a connection to this outstanding novel (and I am thinking self-destructive Sam here) which holds a reference to W. Somerset Maugham, who retold the ancient story from the Babylonian Talmud (though its origins are unknown): ‘The Appointment in Samarra’

Death speaks: “There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, ‘Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture! Now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.’

The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, ‘Why did you make a threating gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?’ – ‘ That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra’.”
Literally scholars see in the term having-an-appointment-in-Samarra a metaphor for Death and that you can’t escape what’s waiting for you. Here you go.
 
And once again I am pleasantly amazed by the erudition of the writers of this show. Well done, indeed! 

They are giving us, again, another deeply disturbing battle in this episode - both brothers are fighting for the same thing: survival. More on a spiritual level than a physical one. Dean can’t bear that Sam is imprisoned in hell and being tortured till kingdom come. He’s been there. He knows how terrible it can be. He’s following his inner compass that has always been in alignment with the safety of his younger sibling. That’s his life’s calling. It has always been. It might have found variations over the years, but that’s what Dean still feels compelled to do.

He wouldn’t be able to sleep from tormenting guilt if he didn’t achieve this goal. He probably wouldn’t be able to live with that, and thereby he’s also trying to protect himself.

Sam, on the other hand, has listened closely when angel and demon agreed on the matter of his soul. He doesn’t want it back. It scares the living daylights out of him to imagine how he might end up, a pathetic mess, like a genetic meltdown of soul and living body, when his infernal ordeal surfaces. He’s terrified and I can’t blame him. Who wouldn’t be?
 
Both brothers are ready to do literally everything to survive – Dean goes flatline, strikes a deal with Death (not heeding his previous bad experiences when it came to making deals with the supernatural), imprisons Sam, forces his soul back into his body (it doesn’t matter that Death does it – Dean is the one who made it possible by searching for the horseman and agreeing to his terms, thereby doing himself (in his desperation about Sam) and Death (as it is about souls, we will learn) a favour. A deeply disturbing thought altogether – there is, no doubt, method in this madness).

Sam looks for a deal with another paranormal enemy, Balthazar, he’s trying to deceive everyone, eventually is willing to take Bobby’s life to scar himself in an irreparable manner.

‘Desperate times’ is the reason both explain their actions to their opponents. Oh, yes, they come from the same gene pool.  Though hardly anyone could be closer, both couldn’t be further apart.

It’s heartbreaking, really. 

‘If I don’t make it back, nothing I say is gonna mean a damn thing to him.’

So, Dean is going to have that appointment as he stops by a Chinese butcher to find a fairly cheap (and, well, germ inhabited) apartment. He meets a bit too-hands-on doctor who apparently has stitched up his father countless times ‘back in the days when I still had a license’. Okay…  Did anyone check whether this Chinatown had an Elm Street?

Well, his treatment room has seen better days, and he occupies a Goth-ish assistant named Eva.  But Dean will go through with this, as Dean has a plan for which he is willing to pay good money – find Death. 

The problem is: to meet Death you need to die. 

It seems Dean has lost faith in the version of his brother that has been around. The last-words-letter in case anything goes wrong in the flatlining process is addressed to his almost-son Ben, not to his brother.


 
Because what’s walking around on this planet is an empty vessel. Supposedly. The essence of Sam that used to live in that handsome body is down in the pit. And there is no sense in Dean sending any last words to an empty shell. Perhaps he even assumes he might see Sam downstairs should things go wrong. Though I would personally think that Dean would finally end up in Heaven (since he has been a basically good man, despite the whole demon-killing, lying, fraud and womanizing), he himself in all likelihood doesn’t hold himself in that high an esteem.

It’s a painful sentence he utters here. He’s a defeated man, more or less, who still has a lot of spunk, in short: he dies for his brother, again, to find a way, any way, to save him. And he is a beautiful corpse, indeed. An even more handsome ghost evoking Tessa (sorry, folks I need a dash of shallowness here, this is going to be a tough ride). But she doesn’t want to help him call her boss, the Horseman himself. No need, as Death is here. He always is here. He walks beside us, doesn’t he? Whenever he reaches out his hand, someone has to go. I know how that feels. I am quite grateful I don’t have to be on the other side, doing the taking.
 
I am amazed, again, at the charisma of Julian Richings. With his extraordinary looks and husky voice he is predestined to play characters like this, a holy man or the devil. It might not be the nicest typecast niche, but I can’t help but notice that when he appears on the screen it’s full. You don’t miss another person there. He dominates his screen time. And that is a rare thing.  Plus: he does his job wonderfully.

Comments  

bookdal
# bookdal 2010-12-12 21:38
Jas, as always, a beautiful analysis and one that opens up lines of questions and insight that I love to think and read about.

Thank you.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-12 21:51
How do you keep loving your brother after such an ordeal?

Hmmm, depends. How do you keep loving your brother who stood by and let you get turned by a vampire, who has admitted to have killed innocents (knowingly, since he knew they were innocent), how do you keep loving the murderer and attempted father killer in your midst?

For if we concede that this Sam has a mind and a right to his own inviolate personality we also have to concede that he bears responsibility and guilt for each of his heinous actions.

In other words, it is not only Dean who stood by and and let Death violate Sam's body. It's also Sam who stood by and let a vampire violate Dean's body by violently forcing vampire blood down his throat. Not pretty.

It all depends on as what you see this part of Sam, the part that is his body and mind. It is not the part that makes him human, Veritas, the Godess of Truth has established that he is not. He has a personality, a mind of his own. Yes. But so has Angela, the zombie revenant. Her body and mind were also intact - how exactly is this Sam different from her in essence?

Whose rights are more important, those of the revenant body or those of the soul?

I'd wager that the returned/reunit ed Sam will have much more difficulty living with the shame and guilt of the knowledge that he has killed innocent people in cold blood.

That he stood by to watch his brother's body get violated by a vampire.

Much worse than the knowledge that his brother stood by and let death violate his body to restore his soul to its rightful place.

We don't even know yet that this was against his will, not his soul's will at any rate, just against the revenant's will wearing his body.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-12 22:00
I disagree that both brothers are ready to do literally everything to survive. Dean puts his life on the line and flatlines. He is willing to sacrifice his own life save his brother. He is not willing to sacrifice innocent people to do it. He loses the bet because he is not willing to cross this line. Not even for Sam.

Sam is willing to commit patricide, to sacrifice Bobby's life to survive.

Not in any way comparable as both brothers willing to do anything to survive.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-12 22:10
It is not a matter of Dean having lost faith in the version of his brother he is around. It is the factual knowledge that he is a sociopath who "would sell his brother for a soda if he were really hungry" who has stood by and let his brother get violated by a vampire, who has admitted to being a cold blooded killer of innocents. Who advocates shooting an innocent bystander who's in the crossfire range to get the skinwalker. Who advocated letting 150 people (including children) get turned into skinwalkers in a cold blooded end justifies the means argument to get his soul back.

That is a bit more sinister than just losing faith in one's brother. This is letting run around someone who in all other worlds would be in a maximum security prison. As it is, Dean is fast running out of options of how to contain him. This Sam will stop at nothing and Dean knows this.

I think before pitying this version of Sam for his terrible lot in life we should take a long hard rational look at what he is and the things he has done and will continue doing.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-12 22:29
One final thought - I am a bit at a loss how you come to the conclusion that Dean makes the decision because he cannot live with this version of his brother. That he needs to save him.

We're back to the Dean does this out of self interest and not in Sam's best interest. Naturally, Dean can't live with this version of his brother. Nobody can. He is a sociopathic killer who has turned on Dean before (the vampire thing) and may do so again at any given time. He is a danger to everyone around him who is ready to kill at a whim.

Not because Dean can't bear to live with this version of Sam but because this version of Sam is a cold blooded killer. A dangerous one.

He wants to put an end to Sam's soul's suffering, wants to save his soul. Not because he cannot bear the thought for selfish reasons but because he cannot bear the thought. Period. His compassion, his humanity won't allow it. He is well able to survive without Sam. But he won't tolerate Sam's soul suffering in hell if there is anything he can do to alleviate the suffering. At this point it is not necessary for Dean's spiritual survival. As has been shown, there are lines he is not willing to cross (sacrificing innocents) even for Sam. It hurts like hell but it doesn't crush his spirit. He'll keep on fighting, trying to find another way. He does it to end Sam's soul being trapped in agony, not for his own self-preservati on.
Galina
# Galina 2010-12-12 23:25
Thank you for a very thought-provoki ng post!
However, I have quite a few caveats here.

re “natural order”: There are studies supporting the idea that the earth’s natural resources are actually enough to provide for all people who ever lived in all recorded history simultaneously. If, of course, there were no multy-national corporations exploiting us mercilessly for the last scrap of profit, supported by religious and governmental organisations.

So the idea that there is a natural order to things and that it has to be maintained works mightily fine for the ones in power. I have not seen much proof in real life or on the show that such a thing actually exists. What I have seen are the powerful who would punish you with the utmost cruelty for daring to question said “natural order”. For me Dean is the epitome of a rebel – one unafraid to challenge the “wisdom” of beings such as angels, demons or even Death, until the bitter end. It is bitter not because he is necessarily wrong, but because he gets stomped on for his efforts every single time. The more impressive that he manages to recover every time and has to “learn his lesson” anew. Because that is a manipulative lesson meant to keep “us human slaves” from being brave and asking questions. I sincerely hope that what he said to the little girl was just under the weight of the moment and not something that remains with him.

I admire Dean for consistently failing to learn his lessons, even if I was not enamoured with his pleasure at the armed robber’s suffering. He does have a tendency to assume too much about others. Still, it was not unexpected from someone who has made a career of killing monsters, and that involves deciding who is a monster and who isn’t. Dean does have a lot to learn. But not what he’s been hammered over the head with in this episode.

re “allegory to rape”: I assume you perceive RoboSam as a separate independent human being, someone who has nothing to do with SoulSam. In that case he has all the rights SoulSam has. So, lets see – RoboSam is fighting for survival. So is, presumably SoulSam. RoboSam however has a body and the freedom to do however he pleases. SaoulSam is a prisoner of war no one cares about but Dean. He has absolutely no agency. His only spoke person is Dean. So if Dean was to honour RoboSam human rights, he would have to abandon someone to eternal torture because that someone has no way to even voice his existence. Plus, the more time passes, the less chance SaoulSam would survive – in the end he would be turned into something else than a human soul – at least according to show’s mythology.

To me that is a no-win situation. Whatever Dean does, someone dies – RoboSam or SoulSam. Since Dean is not the sort to sit around and twiddle his thumbs when something could be done, he makes a decision and kills RoboSam. Should he be accused of rape and murder? Maybe if he had waited for three months or three or thirty years, another solution would have presented itself that allowed both Sams to survive. Is that particularly likely – I don’t know.

All that, of course, hinges on the idea that RoboSam and SoulSam are both human and have the same rights. My understanding of the characters is not even remotely the same. To me SoulSam is the human being, RoboSam is a by-product of Sam’s jumping into the cage and a powerful entity’s manipulative interference – Crowley’s. RoboSam is an it that has mimicking humans down pat and is extremely skilled in deceiving everyone around it that it is anything more than an it. The “rape” – scene in this episode was a prime example of this. RoboSam had all of SoulSam’s mannerisms down to perfection – the pleading voice, the puppy-dog-eys-o f-doom, the please-it’s-g oing-to-kill-me contrivance. I did not feel moved at all. All I could think was that finally this thing the combined efforts of angels and demons produced was leaving and our Sam was coming back – maybe a little worse for wear, but still our very own human Sam. And he is the only one I want to see.

I read the “rape” –connotations of the scene as the writers’ rather pathetic attempt to inject controversy for the sake of controversy. Since they deliberately omitted to tell us what SPN understands under a human soul, I take it as deliberate and rather heavy-handed.
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-12-13 01:29
Oh yay, an Open Couch!

You've said some beautiful and moving things here and have caused me to look at this episode differently. Now I'll need to rewatch. Frankly, I was rather unmoved by the job of Dean or the 'plight' of RoboSam. (Though I was holding my breath over Bobby).

Dean being Death and learning his lesson of the natural order didn't catch my interest. Perhaps since I've made my own peace with Death. Of course it will happen. And of course I'll do what I can to keep him away for as long as possible, but when he comes, he comes and there is no stopping him. So be it. Because of this personal viewpoint, I forgot to watch it all from Dean's POV and everything that means. Oops. So time for a rewatch.

And I found it interesting, your theory that RoboSam may be forming his own soul. That's a bit horrific. Till now, I'd assumed that RoboSam had the brain signals and chemicals to produce certain feelings/emotio ns. Fear, pleasure ect, but no soul to remember them and create groundwork for empathy. Now though...oh man, I don't think I want to believe your theory!

In the end though, I feel as Galina does. "our Sam was coming back – maybe a little worse for wear, but still our very own human Sam. And he is the only one I want to see." As such, I felt no horror at the 'death' of RoboSam.

Thanks for the article Jas, a rewatch is now definately on the to-do list.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-13 01:59
This will be very short because I'm writing on iPhone and my thumbs are freaking huge!

Jasminka, just want to stand and clap for what you've written. You've provoked a huge amount of pondering (and so early on a Monday morning, damn you!!) The comments also made me think a lot (damn you all!)

The more I think about this episode, the more it haunts me. It's not the 'Wippee, sammy has his soul back' moment I thought it would be. It's more like 'Whoa, Sam has his soul back. Now what.....'. The ramifications of that, for BOTH brothers, are going to be huge.

So much to think about, so much to honk about..... (This is my first hellatus in 'real time' and if this is the quality of articles and kind of debate that 'hellatus' has provoked after only 2 days, the seven weeks should be a breeze!)
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 02:58
@Galina

thank you for such a wonderful post. You raise so many important points. First of all the question of how much free will and humanity we are supposed to grant Sociopath Sam. It is the reason why I keep harping on about what exactly he has done. I too feel that the whole scene was done to insert some last minute tension and controversy. Very clumsily done, which is why it grates so to me and why I cannot let go ;-)

This Sam is manipulative to his bones - just look at the way he manipulates Bobby during the conversation on the basement stairs. He's a ruthless killer, willing to eliminate each and everything in his way. And he was like that before the matter of restoring his soul ever came up.

I meant the comparison to Zombie Angela. In which way exactly is this replicant version of Sam any different? Or different to any Zombie? His body doesn't decay and that's about it.

I think this last minute ditch at amping up suspense and tension has really hurt the overall characterizatio n of both Sam and Dean here. Your point made elsewhere about Demons about to get exorcised making pitiful noises is a good one! I think they tried to the same thing here. To the detriment of Dean who ends up being damned if he does and damned if he doesn't when really the choice should be crystal clear. Putting the focus on poor replicant Sam's bodily violation and allusions to rape leaves everyone (Dean and Bobby) desperate to save Sam in a bad light. It is particularly unfair to Dean who displays the signs of rape trauma throughout a number of episodes (show clearly telling us that rape was on the menu in hell - how could it not be) and lets people forget that Sociopath Sam was an agent of Dean's violation at the hands of a vampire.

I absolutely love your take on the natural order and Dean's constant fight against destiny and the natural order. I think this was done rather heavy handedl again - leaving people with the impression that Dean should learn his lesson, having been too dumb or self-centered to learn it up to now - or even that there should be a lesson for him to learn.

Which is why I brought up the little matter of Team Free Will which Sam and Dean were the champions of last season. This "learning a lesson" directly contradicts everything the show seems to champion now if we are to believe Dean needs to learn the lesson to accept destiny and the natural order. That's not who Dean is. Nor who he should be. He is by very definition the one who constantly questions humanities slave status and destiny. It wasn't Sam and Dean's compliance with the natural order that stopped the Apocalypse - it was them being the agents of free will and exercising it.

It is a manipulative lesson for certain and Dean is a hero precisely because he keeps fighting it. Every damn single time. He just does not take no for an answer and this attitude may cause him to get stomped on over and over again, but it has also saved many lives. I admire Dean for the fact that he keeps questioning the natural oder of things, heck the very nature of things. He's the wild card, has always been. He is humanities champion in this in that he does precisely that - fights against predestination and a set of rules he perceives to be wrong. He is the one who is not afraid to challenge authorities and higher powers, be they angels, demons, god or even death himself. It takes Dean to point out that the game was rigged against him from the get go and he is right. He could not have won this bet, his very nature would not have allowed it and both Death and Dean know this. Had it not been the girl some other death would have brought Dean to the breaking point. It was inevitable and rightly so. It is who Dean is and it has nothing to do with Dean being arrogant but with Dean being human, a compassionate being, not being able to watch suffering on any scale without wanting to alleviate it or to help.

And you are right - Dean allowing the robber to suffer, even for seconds, was jarring to me to, and IMO OOT, another clumsy effort on the writers part to show that Dean at first doesn't find it difficult to do his duty as death. That could have been handled better and more graciously. Back in "Death takes as holiday" Dean was compassionate from the get go and found the right words, something the writers conveniently seem to have forgotten. Back then he also challenged the natural order - mourning the fact that many good people were bout to die once the reapers were back in businss. Unavoidable, but typical for Dean that this would be his instinctive reaction - think about the people, the human beings affected by this and not about the restoration of the natural order first and foremost.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 03:08
just one more point to add to Galina's exellent post.

I think the writers were making an explicit point when they had the Goddess of Truth state that this Sam was not human.

Not a demon, not an angel, not human being, not a hunter saying this but you know, none other than the actual Goddess of Truth, the very one who speaks truth to the masses. Uncomfortable, unpalatable truths.
Yirabah
# Yirabah 2010-12-13 03:22
Jas as usuall you got me to think. I watched that ep only once so far. Didn't have the time to squeeze another view in yet. And my first thought at that comment "The wall will itch but don't dare to scratch it" was how will you be able to scratch a wall in your soul? Surely your fingernails will not be able to reach it.

After reading your article I finally got the explanation. As you said some of us might have had really bad times in their lives. I am one of them. Not that I did really realize how bad they were. Somehow my mind wouldn't let me accept it for years. So maybe that was a wall put up in my soul. Once I finally realized how bad things are I started to change things. But like half a year later when I thought I managed to escape it all. That wall started to crumble. The unconscinous is a surprising thing. You know that part when you nearly asleep. You don't have a conscious control over your mind anymore. That is when my unconscious gave me a little glimps of things that happened during my bad years. And after that glimpse I sure was wide awake and faced the horrors of my past. Night after night that happened and always the same scene. Until I finally managed to accept it as part of my life that I have to live with. But surprise surprise a few weeks later same thing happened just another scene. And here I went again. This went on for nearly one and a half years until I finally faced the worst of all.

So I guess something like this is ment about the itching of the wall. The don't-scratch-o n-it means don't think to hard about it.

Another thing I am thinking about. The letter to Ben. It's no scret I am fond of Lisa and Ben. Now that letter was not only adressed to Ben it also had a stamp on it already. We never saw if Dean took the letter back or not. What if he didn't? Did the doc think what the heck! It's adressed and stamped I sent it off anyways. If so, what did Dean write in that letter? Something to the account: If you receive this I am dead.
I can't imagine what Lisa and Ben would go through after hearing that. They sure would be the next customers for your couch.

Ok rambling done. You got me late to go to work again. Have to rush now.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 04:10
Frankly, all I would like to see in terms of acknowlegement in the next episode dealing with the fallout of this would be Sam quietly saying to Dean: "Thank you for not giving up on me" in a direct reference back to "In my time of dying" when Dean quietly said it to Sam for doing the same thing, for not giving up on the notion that Dean will be ok and for trying to establish contact via the talking board and the brotherly bond.

That's all it would take. No pissing contest and compare and contrast on whose bodily violation was worse and whose hell was worse.

Frankly I do think the writers have very much written themselves into a corner with the notion of Sam's soul being so damaged. They've raisede the stakes to such a degree in order to create anxiety and tension that now the hellfirfewall has to permanently stay in place for this to make any sense. They've come out and stated that any breach in the wall would reduce Sam to a vegetable. If that is so, they cannot afford to go there - or else this whole drama of Soulless Sam being destroyed and the danger the whole rescue mission could end up being would not make any sense. Barring a massive retcon they will have to stick to their own rules. Or else everyone talking about the massive damage done to Sam's soul will be made to look like hysterical idiots overreacting (and thus needlessly endangering the rescue mission by spreading fear and hysteria) and Dean will have been the only one who was right in thinking that it might not be so bad, or might be managable.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-13 04:46
Beautiful, as always.
While you were recalling in your article how one brother's actions/situati ons always seem to mirror the other one's, I thought, "how odd. Life, through mirror experiences, is placing the brothers on the same footing, giving them the same understanding." Then I remembered that Ash theorized that Sam and Dean might be soul mates. I read somewhere that soul mates (both platonic and non-p) tend to be given the same life lessons so that they can progress together and do their assigned projects.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 05:36
@FMJemena

The brothers being soulmates was one of the first things that had crossed my mind once the soul business was brought up and I was intrigued if they would use the theme in any way or allude to it. But I am afraid that ship has sailed and that possiblity has been squandered with the current set-up.

As for being given the same life-lessons, what exactly are the life lessons given to Sam here?

And how are the brothers actions/situati ons mirroring each other when one brother is shown to stop at nothing to get the desired result while the other is show at actively drawing the line and not go there to get the desired result.

Whether it's entertaining the thought of killing virgins for the greater good (Jus in Bello), killing Bobby to get a lead on the Trickster for revenge (Mystery Spot) or killing Bobby to despoil one's vessel.

One brother is prepared to go there (with and without soul). The other one is not. This is not mirroring, this is juxtapositionin g.
Speaking of which - Balthasar refers to Sam as Sam's vessel here - which needs to be violated/despoi led so vilely to keep the soul out. Interesting.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-13 06:38
Bookdal, Pandora, Galina, Yvonne, Enchanting Tim, Yirabah, FM Jemena - what an discussion, I really set you off, didn’t I? Oh, dear... Thanks for joining in!

Bookdal, thank you. I am glad I could provide some brain food for you here!


Pandora, thanks for your elaborate comments. You are of course entitled to your opinion. But I wish you wouldn’t read meanings into my words that are not there. I never declared Dean to be selfish, dumb or anything in that neighbourhood.. I’d like to invite you to read it again.

It would be indeed wonderful to see Sam acknowledge that Dean didn’t give up on him. I am hoping still that we will see something like that. I doubt it, though.


Galina, I think it’s a matter of definition – how do you define ‘natural order’? I am very much with you when it comes to criticising the exploitation of the planet’s natural ressources. It’s used politically to justify all kinds of corrupt measures. And, true, in this show demons and other supernatural riff raff have done it, also.

But I do believe, looking at nature itself, that there is a natural order. The old die. The too sick die. The weak get eaten by their enemies. When man doesn’t mess with it, some things just are. If there was an easy way of learning all that, how wonderful it would be. To my experience, for the most part you start to learn about those when life has you in a cornered and have to room to withdraw.

As to the SoulSam vs RoboSam question – what I noticed throughout the season were emotions in this person. To my mind, he was not all robotic, and I elaborated on that in another article (Sam and The Mystery of the Missing Soul), so I don’t mean to repeat it here.
For me, this Sam is a human being until proven to not be one. And this implies that he has the same rights - but also the same responsibilitie s as any other human being. And I wouldn’t force an invasion like that on any convicted murderer. In my world it’s not what should be in the repertoire of any civilized person.

I am not defending ‘RoboSam’s actions nor diminishing Dean’s heroism. But I think we have to take more heed with judgement before we know the whole story.


Yvonne, thank you. I think you might have a notion as to why those scenes moved me so much. I’m there with you – with the making-your-pea ce-with-Death thing. I have done so, too. I’ve got to know it quite intimately and it doesn’t scare me anymore. But that might also be responsible for my sometimes quite fatalistic point of view.

You know, as to producing emotions via brain signals… It boils down to in on a mere physical level. All emotion is a product of chemical processes in our body. It’s our interpretations that make emotions of it.

As much as I an in favour of getting the real Sam back (as this one was truly hard to like at all), I am horrified by the way it was done. That’s all. And I fear it has scarred both brothers terribly. Will Sam remember this scene? How will Dean cope with having to do this to his brother? The whole thing didn’t sit well with him, as his face showed.



Enchanting Tim, I’m afraid I opened a can of worms – well, this episode was predestined to do that, wasn’t it? I can’t help it when I see so many elements of philosophy, psychology, politics in one spot, it triggers my brain… I hope you enjoyed pondering over this.

As for your first real-time hellatus – we will be here to help you overcome it and prevail


Yirabah, I can imagine. I feel for you, dear. I think I can relate quite distinctively to what you describe. I am in constant awe about the unconscious. Well, I make a living with working with it. And I am amazed ever again what it is capable of. Freud and all following in his wake were bloody geniuses!

Well, that letter – is there a reason why the camera showed it so clearly? There might be. I would like to know what Dean wrote, though. A message of love, no doubt. Poor guy, really, that the man closest to him, Sam, was not the one he could address his last words to. Imagine the loneliness behind that letter.

So sorry for having you be late!


FMJemena, thank you. I think what both see in the mirror is: ‘I need to do the right thing’.
And both brothers try to act according to that. Unfortunately, we never know whether our actions will be ‘the right thing’. We don’t have a crystal ball. Sometimes I wish we had.

Upon the moment we have to make your mind up, we can only decide from our point of view, judging from what we think to be right at this very moment. It’s trusting our instincts. But those, alas, are also not entirely reliable and coloured by our own inner moral compass or social guidelines. Gosh. We don’t get it easy, do we?


Thank you, everyone, for your trusting, open comments! Best, always, Jas
Yirabah
# Yirabah 2010-12-13 06:53
Ha have a chance at lunch time to writw a few words.

Some how I think it sad that Dean never writes his last words to Sam. This time it was a letter to Ben (not even Lisa - guess he figured she might put it away unopened). The last time when he decided to become Michaels vessel he put a box together with his belongings and added a letter to it and than the thing was adressed to Bobby.

Oops - lunch time is never undisturbed in this place
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 06:56
@Yasmina

You may not have called Dean's actions selfish. But plenty of other did and still do. That is what I was responding to.

As for not defending RoboSam's actions and not diminishing Dean's heroism. And taking more heed with judgements before we know the full picture. Hear hear. It works both ways though. We should not label Dean's actions as anything then either, before we know the full picture. But it seems that Dean's actions are subject to judgment now and everyone else's is not.

Re your take on the natural order. I agree that in real life there may be something like that, but that is not necessary what is depicten on the Show. Human beings might not be advised to mess with the natural order. But nor should supernatural beings. If there are supernatural beings messing with the natural order and with humanity, humanity has every right to question that and to disagree and fight back.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 07:13
@yasminka


sorry for misspelling your name earlier on.

I am a little confused with regard to your definition of mirroring as "I need to do the right thing". In your essay you did not define it as such but called it:

"Both brothers are literally ready to do everything to survive"

That is what I queried. Because that is not the case.

When the mirror is the notion that I need to do the right thing that is fine - it is a common notion, not exclusive to the Winchester brothers. I'd argue that most people would think along those lines. Bobby certainly would.

However, when we are talking about the notion that both brothers are literally ready to do everything to survive - that is a totally different kettle of fish, and not comparable at all.

It was this statement of yours that I was questioning - because the things happening in the episode, the differing brother's actions and reactions clearly show that this is not so.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-13 07:16
Jas, Pandora--thank you!

The soul mate thing---I'm not sure the writers will work in that angle again unless it turns out to be important to SPN6, and they can use it "logically", as in, making us take that "leap" w/o creating a truly sappy scenario.

It's both Sam and Dean I was referring to about learning the lessons. Here--
(1) "In various ways, this is a mirror to the role of Sam in previous seasons. Dean believes he is doing the right thing – doing what he is doing to get Sam’s soul back, while being aware what it could mean....There was a time when Sam stepped onto a slippery path of this own, consorting with Ruby, for instance, for the same reasons: to help stop the end of the world because he was convinced that Dean was not strong enough to do it. So Sam, essentially, was protecting his brother (and the planet for that matter)."

(2) Sam got to experience Hell like Dean---and, no, I don't think I'd wish that experience now on anyone.

It's just a hunch, but maybe these painful "mirroring" (w/c will, hopefully, create understanding and forgiveness in our characters later on) will be used to nudge the brothers on the same side again? I have no idea how the writers will do it well--repairing that brotherly love to defeat what/whoever has to be defeated.

I'd like to add something about that Natural Order Lesson by Death: I may be be reaching but I didn't read that scene as Death telling Dean to "back down" whenever he and Sam have this chance to subvert the System. I thought of it more as Death needing to teach Dean what the consequences of his actions are, esp. the supernatural ones. But NOT to NOT do it (subvert) whenever it became necessary...

Another point: Death has his take on the Natural Order and on reaping God someday. But what is the Almighty's take on these? (Wherever He may be right now in the SPN universe.) I mean, SPN will have to tie up the God-angle, too, before the series ends.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-13 07:23
Oh, this is exciting! I don't know whether to kiss or beat up the SPN producers and writers for creating this troubling season. :P
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2010-12-13 07:50
Pandora, I don't think Sam was killing Bobby in Mystery spot but The man who he knew was trickster and he panicked because even after staking Bobby did not revert back to trickster...tha t is what I understood from that scene...Will comment on article after reading . Sorry got sidetracked by the interesting discussion..
elle2
# elle2 2010-12-13 07:54
Jas,

Beautiful as always. You do deconstruct, inspect and reveal so much in these writings of yours. Sadly nothing you have written makes me feel any better about things, I think the writing is on the wall for me.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-13 07:56
Hi Pandora, FM Jemena, anonymousN,and Elle2 this is a lively one… wow.


Pandora, don’t worry about misspelling my name, but it’s written with a J, too… ;-) No offence taken at all.

If we are splitting hairs here, I might have to admit that ‘literally’ in ‘ready to do literally everything’ can be irritating. I am referring to what they already have done to survive. Even making deals with the demon world, sacrifice themselves, etc.

About my ‘mirroring’ definition. Please have a look at the passage in the text (you can find a part of it down under FM Jemena’s (1)). Then you will understand what I meant. Again, please don’t misread my words. ‘I need to do the right thing’ is not a definition, as I answered to FM Jemena’s post, it’s what I think, both of them (and many of us, of course) see in the mirror. There is a difference. And where did you find it was exclusive to the Winchesters?

I am not fond of taking the blow intended for others. As you have noticed, I have never labelled Dean’s actions (or Sam’s, for that matter) but tried to understand and discuss what’s going on from a psycho-sociolog ical point of view which is fairly easy, as the actions of the characters are embedded in a realistic psychological scenario.



FM Jemena, I love your idea of getting to know the angle of God – I sincerely doubt that we will get that one here. Only eleven more episodes to go… but, if it is all about souls, then perhaps we will finally get to hear what God has to say. I think the writers might have to tread a careful line here, as many people get all worked up when it comes to religious questions. It might cause a lot of controversy by introducing God alone. We’ll know by the end of this season, I think (and hope).

AnonymousN, please take your time with reading. It's quite a lot to process, I guess.

Elle2, thank you for your words. I regret that I wasn't able to give you something to make you feel better. But I do understand what you mean. I am still so very sorry about that. You know. I am still hoping (in your stead, if you allow me) that you will find that spark again that made you love the show as much as you have.


Thanks, ladies! Jas
Galina
# Galina 2010-12-13 11:08
Jasminka, thank you for taking the time to answer!

“But I do believe, looking at nature itself, that there is a natural order. The old die. The too sick die. The weak get eaten by their enemies.”
This is the wisdom of human experience, which in itself is very limited. Since SPN has been tackling religious subjects for 5 seasons now, I would suggest a look at the religions from which the writers borrow the most – Judaism and Christianity. According to both there is a promise of Paradise on earth after the Apocalypse (which is supposed to be initiated by God, not the Devil, by the way) for all but the worst of sinners. And people get to live forever...
Of course, SPN only borrows names and gimmicks, not the substance, from any religion. I do not expect it to change. Just wanted to point out that the “natural order” concept is not as cut and dried as it may appear.

As to RoboSam, I can see why you consider him a fully fledged human being, even if I don't. What I would like to ask is this: How do you view the soul, formerly known as Sam and formerly occupying RoboSam? Does he have any rights? Is he also a human being? Is he less?

The point I was trying to make was, that we have been following RoboSam for 12 episodes now. We haven't heard anything from SoulSam – naturally, since he is disembodied and voiceless. So why does RoboSam's suffering take precedence over SoulSams torture? Because we have been able to see it? If one insists on pointing out that RoboSam's been violated, does SoulSam not deserve the same courtesy? Why is Dean the only one advocating for SoulSam? Why is everyone else ready to write him off and forget about him, while at the same time washing their hands of RoboSam?

Even the most humane societies lock up murderous psychopaths and deprive them of the human right to freedom, although they do not sanction physical violence except in the direst of circumstances. Would you consider forcing medication into a raging schizophrenic that has the purpose of altering his brain chemistry, and consequently his personality, a violation? I have personally experienced what it means to let someone like that run around unchecked. Do innocent bystanders deserve to suffer so that said schizophrenic can retain his human rights?

Back to Sam - What do you think about the following: Since it was his decision to jump into the cage, Sam should suffer the consequences. Dean has no business deciding any thing on his behalf, since obviously he cannot communicate with SoulSam at all, and only rudimentary with RoboSam. Besides it is Sam's life and soul. So the best course of action for Dean to take would be to walk away, stop meddling in Sam's life and hope that God in his unfathomable mercy (on SPN at least) would remember Sam and maybe rescue him the way he rescued Castiel twice already...
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-13 11:11
Just a quickie before the school run ... I don't think Dean ever saw it as a choice. Essence Of Sam downstairs getting sixteen shades of sh*t beaten out of him for all eternity and Walking Talking NotSam topside leaving a trail of pulverised bystanders as he goes about his business. If he can kill two birds with one stone by force feeding one to the other he's obviously going to give it a go, isn't he ... Dean's a Winchester, so the possibility of a plan backfiring horribly isn't going to bother him much!
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2010-12-13 11:13
Surely will read it Jasminka Sorry and for future references I am a Gentleman.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-13 11:46
Hello Galina, Suze and anonymousN, still working, but having a little break.

Galina, I do hope you haven’t understood my article as an argument to deprive the real Sam of his humanity. Of course he is a human being. And, if you have read any of my articles before, you will know that I have always considered myself a ‘SamGirl’ and an advocate for his journey.

I am surprised that you understood (so it seems) that I said RoboSam’s suffering took precedence over the real Sam’s. What I described, though, is that the method of forcing the soul back into that body makes me shiver and that I could not do that, not even to a sociopath.
It’s a difference if you put someone behind bars or if you violate someone in that way. Of course we can assume that Sam’s soul has been tortured in hell countless times, but so far it would have been only speculation.
Please don’t impute a writing-off of Sam to me.

You are addressing one of the most controversial ethical questions, too, one I don’t have an universal answer to. There isn’t any. If there was one, it shouldn’t be an easy one.

When someone is put away because he endangers others, he is deprived of his human right for freedom, but no other. Even ‘a raging schizophrenic†™ is supposed to be treated with as much respect and understanding as possible. And – by the way – meds influence the brain chemistry (which is needed with schizophrenia), but they don’t alter the personality.

We live in social surroundings. There have to be laws. Else we’d have anarchy. People would take the law into their own hands (and sometimes do) and there has to be a regulating executive. I someone threatens others (or himself) he needs to be stopped, of course. But, if we are talking human rights, within those. Else we are creating more situations like notorious prisons that torture their inmates.


Of course Sam should not suffer the consequences! Where did you get that from. He jumped into the pit, however, fully aware that he might have to suffer them. He was ready for it and made Dean promise to let it be.
I want Sam back, badly, I want him redeemed, not a suffering mess. And it scares me in what state he might be, actually.

RoboSam wasn’t Sam, and of course he could not be allowed to kill innocents et al. What I object is the method. But – I have to admit – I can’t think of an alternative at this point.



Suze, true, isn’t it. I fear his conscience will do some of the back-firing when both go on with their lives. It’s just how he is built, don’t you think?


AnonymousN – oops, so sorry! I never meant to change your anatomy! I will pay attention to distinguish you from the ladies, Sir. ;-)

Cheers everyone, off to more work. Jas
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-13 12:18
Galina, well said.
Not only is Dean the only one caring about Sam's soul but also the only one caring about the innocent bystanders and the victims of amoral Sam's.

He is also the only one who seems to have considered the consquences of not doing anything to improve the situation.
Celia
# Celia 2010-12-13 16:14
pandora: "Not only is Dean the only one caring about Sam's soul but also the only one caring about the innocent bystanders and the victims of amoral Sam's."


YES. Thank you so much for pointing this out, pandora, and for your wonderful comments here. I have been quite dismayed by many who don't seem to understand that Dean cared about Sam's SOUL in all of this. The only way to save Sam's soul from hell was to get it back into Sam's body. Dean was the ONLY one on his brother Sam's side. He risked his own life to save his brother.

And this time it was Bobby who was going to be the victim of soulless-Sam, next time... who knows??


"Alas, Dean violates Sam’s borders to act according to his inner moral compass."

Perhaps I am misreading, but are you comparing Dean to a rapist because he allowed Death to give Sam his soul back?

Dean was placed in a no-win situation from the start. Apparently he was damned if he couldn't save his brother and now damned because he DID. :sad:
Celia
# Celia 2010-12-13 16:19
Sorry, to be clear, the 2nd quote was from the actual review and not pandora. Thanks.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-13 16:59
Yirabah, Dany and Celia, thanks for commenting, ladies!

Yirabah, I apologize for missing your earlier comment.
I have to admit that I felt sadness, too, upon realizing that Dean tends to not write his last words to Sam but to Bobby or, in this case, Ben. He’s had good reasons for that, as both situations happened when the brothers were at odds, but it did strike me, too – it’s such a tragedy that brothers who couldn’t be closer once can be so far apart.

But I hope (let’s not give that up) that we will see something of that loving spirit that used to be at the core of our show again. It’s still there in what they have been willing to do to save each other over the past controversial seasons. I trust it will be there again. And, when the show ends and the ending should be an unhappy one, I hope that they will address their last words to one another.

Dany, I know how rarely get to comment these days, thank you so much for doing it this time, dearie! We did, undeniably, get some answers and they are teasing us again.

Most of all perhaps with the questions – what will happen to Sam when he starts scratching at that wall (since I think all of us are convinced that he will do so)? And what will become of the brothers’ relationship after all they’ve been through? And what about that soul-issue?

You know, from season one on, it has been a typical Winchester trait of not accepting the circumstances, especially when it comes to losing a loved one. They never truly accepted the natural fact of dying like everyone else who has ever lost someone, since we others don’t have any spells or demon deals to keep us (and them) going.

They never learned to really let go, it seems, and therefore are terrified by the mere possibility. If you like, it’s almost like a pathological mourning sorrow when someone can’t let go of the lost one.
Our dear, poor Winchesters haven’t learned that, yet, as they keep fighting that part of a natural order with such despair they hardly ever find peace.

With what you say about how you learned to accept it (and so did I , perhaps in another colour, but basically similarly) I am convinced that we are capable of making our peace with circumstances we can’t change.

Sam and Dean might not find that inner peace as long as they keep fighting it with this vehemence. It’s sad, isn’t it? It’s so much harder for them, then, don’t you think?


Celia, I noted that it was an act of violence. Rape is always about dominance. We don’t find that in Dean’s character nor in my description of him. If you like to read a comparison of Dean to a rapist here, I’ll leave it up to you.

And should your last sentence of your post be directed at my article, then, I’m afraid, we have a misunderstandin g, indeed.

Thank you, everyone, for your elaborate and passionate comments. Take care, Jas
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-13 17:27
Yume, thanks for still joining in and your kind words.

After a hard day at work (with a couple of cases you won't find that much hope in)I, too, need to believe that my favourite characters will find a way to overcome their horrific ordeals.

When has it ever been easy for them? You're right, it can't go back to what it has been before. But it will be something else, and hopefully, both will find a way to grow from these experiences.

Cheers, Jas
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-13 18:44
My thoughts are all over the place with this one because this episode is freaking haunting me!!

Um, crap, where to start? I’m not going to go there with the rape allegories because it completely unnerves me. I’m not going to go with the ‘Was Dean right/wrong to resoul' argument because following fresh articles etc, it’s going to take a whole lot more pondering on my part. The thing that’s tickling my mind the most, especially after reading this article and comments, is the whole Soulless Sam part of it. Is Sam actually a man and if he is, is he worthy of the basic human rights?

Jasminka, you mentioned the UDHR whereby you talked about possessing reason and conscience. Does Sam possess these? Yes, I think so. So, despite being ‘soulless’, and despite what Verity said, do I think Sam is human? Yes, I most certainly do. Stick him under an x-ray machine and all the bits will be there. Will he be held accountable for his actions? He certainly will hold himself responsible, and I don’t think lack of soul is a valid defence in a court of law.

This may have been discussed before but there are just so many articles and comments that I can’t keep track of them all! Therefore, if I‘m plagiarising, apologies... (Also, if I go way off topic on your article, Jasminka, apologies. I’ve always been really bad at doing linear. You should see my driving!!)

I have to admit, I find the concept of a soul and what having one entails quite difficult to grasp (God is going to be so pissed with me!) The idea that having a soul makes you ‘moral’ also doesn’t sit well with me because what ‘morality’ is, is so hard to define. What’s right for one person might be wrong for another. Therefore, in my rather simplistic viewpoint, not having a soul should leave you blank, completely impassive to everything. The callous remarks should be as foreign to Sam as the dry humour. The ‘evilness’ of not having a soul should be as alien as the naive innocence we see in Clap Your Hands.... etc.

There have been many comments made (not here) in relation to Sam’s fluctuating ‘emotions’ and it’s been put down to bad writing. I don’t know that it is (or maybe I don’t want to believe that it is). I think the writers and producers are too invested in the show to let there be so much ‘bad writing’ about something so monumental so I think it might be something else.

Ok, this mightn’t make sense but still....

I’m thinking about Sam’s conscience and morality from a psychological point of view, specifically the Nature v Nurture theory. Basically, it debates our social development, our conscience, morals etc etc. Are these things that are innate to us (we are born with a conscience etc) or are they influenced by those around us (do our parents, friends, society etc teach us right from wrong?)

For the most part, I believe in nurture. I think our environment and social structure has a huge effect on who we grow up to be. If I grow up in a family where violence is commonplace, I’m going to believe violence is acceptable. I believe we are born empty, with only the basic needs of food and shelter, and we are ready to be filled by what we see and experience.

We see that young children are inherently selfish (or at least my nieces and nephews are!) They want what they want and will do anything to get it. When their ‘good’ behaviour is rewarded, they will look to do it again.

Like I said, I have difficulty grasping the concept of a soul so I tend to think of Sam in these terms, he came back from hell a blank slate, inherently selfish and wanted what he wanted in order to survive. His morals, conscience, innate sense of right and wrong, the things that made Sam ‘Sammy’ were burnt (frozen?) out of him so when he got back topside, he needed to relearn a huge amount. (When Castiel said Sam had no soul, he meant his soul, which houses our morality, hadn't been fully developed yet.)

Prior to meeting Dean, Sam spent the bones of 12 months hunting with the Campbells, who would be quite cold and dismissive. He’s seen that hunters have to be selfish to survive. We know they don’t place a huge emphasis on family (given how much they mourned Mark!). Sam would have been around them the most and so picked up a lot of their traits; indifference, practicality, dismissiveness etc.

Then he got back with Dean and we see him take on some of Dean’s more overt characteristics . Dean mentioned in You Can’t Handle the Truth that Sam is acting like Dean, and I think for the most part he is; a highly concentrated version of Dean; the girls, the snark, the ‘hunt is paramount’ attitude; that was quintessential Dean, especially earlier on. I think that Sam was getting to be more ‘human’ the more time he spent with Dean, because via osmosis alone Sam was learning how to act in the right way. We saw in ‘Clap Your Hands if You Believe’ that, several times, Sam sought Deans approval before he reacted. This, to me, shows that he sees Dean as his moral compass.

But this is where things start getting a little tricky, and where my fragile heart gets a little pained for Sam. Sam stated he has the memories; he just doesn’t have the emotion. Sam can remember the facts of hell; he just can’t remember how it felt. Therefore it’s safe to assume that Sam can remember everything about Dean, everything he said and everything he did but he won’t remember the reasons behind them. He’ll remember the many criticisms; but he just won’t be able to remember that they were said out of concern; he’ll just know they were said. He won’t remember Dean locked him in the Panic Room out of fear, he’ll just remember Dean locked him in there. He’ll remember that Dean spent his entire life needing to ‘fix’ him. To a logical mind, needing to fix something implies it’s broken. In Sam’s logical mind, if Dean spent his life trying to fix him, it’s because he was broken. He couldn’t be accepted while he was broken so he needed to be fixed. He needed to be right.

One of the biggest gripes I have in relation to Dean is that he can be quite conditional in his acceptance of people. He seems to have difficulty accepting that Sam is, in fact, very different. It’s understandable (given how different Sam is) but I still find it quite unsettling. So maybe Sam sees this as a chance to make himself into what he thinks Dean values most; the ultimate hunter. In You Can’t Handle the Truth, he tries to appeal to Dean by mentioning the trait he thinks Dean would find the most attractive, his ability to hunt better.

Taking the emotional aspect out of a person, this is how he sees Dean. Perhaps he thinks this is what he needs to be in order to be accepted.

I’ve felt a lot of things about Sam this season but, so far, sympathy wasn’t one of them. However, I do now feel tremendously bad for this Sam.

Dean has always been the biggest influence in Sam’s life. He has relearnt from Dean how to behave. He has remembered all the characteristics Dean approves of; decisiveness, single-mindedne ss, good hunter, no emotion, do whatever it takes to get the job done etc, and has taken these on himself to be what he thinks Dean wants him to be. Why does he do this? To be accepted. No man is an island; we all need/want acceptance. Whether it’s for protection or companionship etc we need to belong to something, anything. I think Sam wants to belong with Dean.

However, I think Sam finally realised in this episode that Dean doesn’t/can†™t/won’t accept this new Sam. He knows that Dean will kill him in order to get what he wants, Sammy. Therefore, all Sam’s new learnt emotion, all his trying to be like Dean, have had to be cast aside in order for this Sam to survive. He had tried to be what Dean wanted him to be but it still wasn’t right. I can’t think of anything worse than trying your ass off to be accepted but still being rejected.

Annnnd, my heart breaks afresh for Sam. When Death is beside him, I don’t think Sam was struggling because he was afraid because fear is something that has to be experienced in order to be learned. I think Sam fought on his back because of that most primal instinct of all, to stay alive because for Sammy to live, Sam has to die, simple as. I don’t these two can inhabit the one body. How rejected must Sam have felt at that moment to think that, when he finally felt he got it right, that he was what his brother wanted, to realise that he was wrong, again. Dean didn’t accept him. Dean didn’t accept Sammy either but despite that, Dean was willing to sacrifice Sam to get Sammy back. What does this say about just how wrong this Sam is, that Dean would willingly kill him to get his ‘better’ brother back?

Does Sam hate Sammy? Yeah, I think maybe he might. He certainly seems to disassociate himself from him. He speaks of him to Bobby quite condescendingly , almost as if trying to prove to him that ‘this’ Sam is more worthy. Sam is clinging to life by his fingertips because he knows that if he doesn’t fight to save himself, then no-one else will.

Taking these speculations (and they are only speculations) into account, the final decision to force Sam’s soul back into him rests that wee bit more uneasy with me tonight. Damn.
Galina
# Galina 2010-12-13 20:08
Jasminka, I know you are a 'SamGirl', I don't live under a rock ... ;-) And I thank you again, because this conversation has helped me greatly in clearing up something for myself. Namely:

What I took issue with initially was the following:

“... He makes that decision for Sam, because Dean can’t live with this version of his brother. He does it because he needs to save him. It’s a philosophical question whether it might be more of a salvation for Sam to leave it be.
...
He knows that his own brother is going to violate his soul back into his body, and he’s not thrilled.
...
This violation has been forced upon Sam in that last scene, and I shudder at the thought. One could see it as an allegory to rape. You’d have to be deaf and blind to miss that.
...
Innocence destroyed. This Sam has not known the beauty and the terrors of having a soul. Within that train of thought he was a virgin. Not anymore. It disturbs me more than I believed possible.
...
Sam needs to protect his intimacy. Dean his conscience. Alas, Dean violates Sam’s borders to act according to his inner moral compass...”

You repeatedly used the metaphor of rape to describe what happened to RoboSam in this episode. As I see it, if Sam's rescue was accomplished through the rape of a virgin, it has no value whatsoever. What's more, everyone involved just became a monster, including SoulSam. That to me reads as a very clear dismissal of SoulSam.

Your reply to me however clearly suggest that you feel otherwise. So what is going on here?

Then it dawned on me that the writers have been conditioning us by employing rape jokes ad nauseam for the past few episodes. Close encounters of the forth kind and being gang-banged by Michael and Luci coming to mind as the most recent ones. In relation to both SoulSam and Dean, who, I have no doubt, were subjected to very literal rape in Hell.

So the writers' message now reads to me as: Look at Sam and Dean – they may have suffered, but they did the same to this poor innocent creature! Controversy! Outrage! Hurray!

It is heavy-handed, shamelessly manipulative and highly offensive (strictly my opinion). Now I know I was angry at the end of the episode for a good reason.
magichappening
# magichappening 2010-12-13 20:44
Wow. Am impassioned discussion. Really interesting article Jasminka that made me consider some of the events with new eyes. Thanks for giving us this couch to lie on - I have more questions than answers...

I have to confess that I must be one of the deaf and blind though as I completely did not see the last scene as an 'allegory to rape'. I saw the re-ensouling as a (granted) rather brutal ‘killing’ of a dangerous supernatural being and saving a human Winchester brother from untold suffering.

So in The Tale of the Two Sams, let’s take Robo-Sam first:

I am not sure why he sometimes showed emotions (other than perhaps it was impossible for the writers and Jared to keep him completely without affect if he was to remain at all sympathetic, familiar or interesting) but I am not sure that he had developed the beginnings of a soul. With the explanation that Death gave of souls, I had understood it to be that they either are or aren’t…you either have one or you do not/are given one or are not. Not that one can grow…

I do not think Robo-Sam was human. Robo-Sam was a-moral in the purest of senses and a sociopath. By his own admission he has killed innocents and in this episode he is willing to do something as unforgiveable as kill his own ‘father’ -although in ‘self-defense ’ I agree. But he has already ‘killed’ his own brother and that was simply to expedite a hunt as far as we know. Robo-Sam could not have the morals of a human as he was not human. He did not what needed to survive and hunt. So I am not sure he could be considered innocent…

I think you make an interesting point about him fighting for survival like any animal which I do think is his right, but is it wrong to follow that line of logic to the conclusion that like any animal that is a danger to humans, I would put humans first?

So something that has no soul, is not human, not animal, unnatural and has been proven to be a danger to humans (albeit through no fault of its own) – is that not like so many of the supernatural creatures that the Winchesters hunt and kill? Quite violently and bloodily usually? Was this re-ensouling different because it looked like Sam and we care so much about him?

Secondly there is Soul Sam - who IS human as you so eloquently pointed out with the beautiful quote in your earlier article: ‘You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.’ He is suffering. Horribly (‘flayed’). And he put himself in that position to save the world. And Dean has been suffering (albeit to a lesser extent than Soul Sam) as he knows Sam is suffering, and Dean has done this for the same reason – to save the world. Through Death, Dean has the chance to ‘do his job’ and save Soul Sam from infinite suffering, to give him a fighting chance at a human existence and sanity and to prevent his ‘vessel’ from being a threat to any more humans. So he took it. If Soul Sam had been asked as to whether he wanted to take that chance, would he have agreed with Dean to go with it – even considering the manner in which it would be done? Would Sam have done the same for Dean? I would say yes to both those questions wouldn’t you?

Dean would and has done pretty much anything for Sam/Soul Sam and this is just the latest thing. Both brothers have killed non-human supernatural creatures over and over for each other and even killed many demons while they were possessing humans (with Ruby’s knife). So the case could be made that they have put their own brother’s life above other human lives when it is self-defense or when it comes down to us or them. And then there is the fact that Sam killed that nurse when he was under Ruby’s influence...nei ther human brother is innocent or perfect nor has a clear conscience and they know it. Each struggles with guilt and shame and the knowledge that there are only hard choices and no black and white and how does one ensure jus in bello… perhaps all they can do is do the best they can.

I take your point that you were not objecting to the re-ensouling, but the means that were used. I guess that raises a few questions in my mind. If this was the only way to re-ensoul someone, does the end justify the means? If Dean did not know that the ensouling would be violent, does that make it better or should he stop/have stopped it when he saw what it would take? Once again, Death would have known I assume unless Robo-Sam’s case is unique. Were Robo-Sam’s pleas real or simply him mimicking emotion he does not feel to trigger a sympathetic reaction in his brother? He has certainly done that before by his own admission. Do Soul Sam’s rights outweigh Robo-Sam’s and make the risk worth taking? I would say yes as I do not consider the latter human. Would Dean have had to kill Robo-Sam even if they had not tried re-ensouling him? I would say probably yes. Was there an alternative to what happened? I don’t know…

Tim I think your point about nature vs. nurture is an interesting one with regards to the Campbells – but I would say the Dean that Robo-Sam has been around when he has been re-learning is not the violent, carousing, carefree model, but the softer, more mature version with a new family and acting as a conscience to Robo-Sam. Although both humans were raised by their father who often took the violent choice…

I also think the point you make Tim about whether a soul and morals are equivalent is an interesting one – reminds me of Robo-Sam’s question to the watchmaker in the fairy episode when he asks him what his excuse was in sacrificing his firstborn. Robo-Sam says ‘I assume you have a soul?’ But he does then learn that it was not with malicious intent that the watchmaker invited in the fairies. Not that there are not humans in this world that we assume have souls but are the very essence of amoral… hmmm.

I think the most difficult part of the episode for me was Dean’s actions resulting in ‘killing’ the nurse and for her life to have been taken away from her because of Dean’s actions. He is not a saint and is flawed and sometimes makes the wrong choices, but Death is not evil or good, He just is. The Grim Reaper was teaching Dean a lesson. And if one nurse’s soul is sacrificed in the effort, what is one more to him. He knew the consequences of disrupting the natural order (as did Tessa) but they allowed it to happen anyway. So Dean is not blameless and an innocent paid the price, but he cannot shoulder the blame alone. Although, Dean then saved her widower, I am sure he will shoulder the guilt of the nurse’s death alone - I do not think Reapers ‘do’ guilt.

Lastly on the disrupting the ‘sanctity’ of the natural order point, I am not sure how I feel– I mean don’t some religious sects think use an argument like that to refuse all medical help and that it should be left up to God?

Anyway, thanks very much Jas for providing a space to examine some of these issues (uncomfortable as they may be) and do a little ‘soul- searching’. The fact that this show can continually provoke discussions like this reminds me of one of the reasons why I became captivated in the first place. And while I am really happy that Supernatural got its first TV guide cover, I wish the airbrushed, overly perfect photos (in T-shirts of rather questionable blues and greens that would not be out of place on Dr Sexy M.D) had not been used. It really does not reflect the depth, weight and grittiness of this complicated and fascinating show. If they had been showcasing the sitcom version that ‘is filmed in front of a live studio audience’ on the other hand, cookie-cutter pretty was definitely the way to go! Damn it. Memo to me. Do not look gift horses in the mouth :-)
elliot
# elliot 2010-12-13 21:36
@ Tim the enchanter: "However, I think Sam finally realised in this episode that Dean doesn’t/can†™t/won’t accept this new Sam. He knows that Dean will kill him in order to get what he wants, Sammy. Therefore, all Sam’s new learnt emotion, all his trying to be like Dean, have had to be cast aside in order for this Sam to survive. He had tried to be what Dean wanted him to be but it still wasn’t right. I can’t think of anything worse than trying your ass off to be accepted but still being rejected."

So Dean is to blame for Sam's actions? This robo!Sam didn't care about anyone, he admitted he'd killed innocents, he allowed Dean to be turned into a vampire. He didn't have emotions and he wasn't altogether human because he didn't have his soul -- but it's actually all Dean's fault?

Dean was blamed for Sam going off with Ruby last season and now Dean is again blamed for robo!Sam's actions. Is there anything that Dean isn't supposed to be blamed for on this show?? Ha. Probably not.

@ Jasminka: "If you like to read a comparison of Dean to a rapist here, I’ll leave it up to you."

Celia didn't make this comparison -- but you did:

"He knows that his own brother is going to violate his soul back into his body, and he’s not thrilled."

I guess Dean should also stop exorcising demons who possess dead people since that might be violating the demons' right to occupy an empty body? Sam's soul was the owner of Sam's body. It's not a violation for that soul to take back ownership of it's own body.

I guess I don't understand why Dean is getting all the blame heaped on him here? I don't believe he should be compared to a rapist as he is in this review. He was trying to save his brother from the tortures of the cage/hell and return his soul to its rightful place.
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-12-13 21:48
Jas - I'm drawn to your analysis because I think it hits at the heart of what I love about the story, and that is a near perfect portrayal of Platonic love that we see between Dean and Sam. Their love for each other is so total that it approaches consumptive, but it stops short of that danger (most times), and instead it feeds this companionship that lends a "dignity" (borrowing your word here) to what could be an incredible amount of suffering and sorrow.

To me, the question "What am I supposed to do?" is the symbol of the eternal return for these brothers. Always that question, and always the camera pans back and forth between the two, as if directing the audience's gaze to and fro, between life and death, between right and wrong...between .

For me, we are always returning to that moment, in that bedroom, as the father stared up as the mother burned...."What am I supposed to do?" with this ungodly choice, this unacceptable reality. Every moment of crisis returns us to that moment of terror, whether it be the dead Sam on the cot, the dying Dean, or the empty Sam. And yet, the hope springs forth in the link between Sam and Dean. This connection that can produce the bravest acts, but at the same time, can lead to the most foolhardy decisions. It's perfectly flawed.

As I stated in another post, the final scene did disturb me for its gestures toward rape, toward invasion, but it also reinforced how much these brothers need each other to maintain that balance. I think I've finally began to understand why Death was going to return Sam (and why he was always going to return Sam, even sans bet). He is the great equalizer; everyone meets Death at some point, for without death as measure, there can be no life. So his "return" was really the only force that could bring Sam back. His duty extended to a microcosmic example of his cosmic obligation: maintain balance.

Just some thoughts...Than ks for the post, Jas.

-Linda
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-14 02:23
elliot, that isn’t what I said though if that’s what you want to take from it, that’s your prerogative. However, as that seems to be YOUR feelings about the incident coming into play, not mine, I guess the question is, do YOU believe Dean is to blame?

In relation to your statement that ‘Dean is to blame for all Sam’s wrong’. Nowhere did I say that, so nowhere do I think that, but by bringing it up, perhaps you do. Yes, Sam killed innocents but Sam was hunting with the Campbells at the time and we know how single minded they are. Has Sam killed an innocent since he went hunting with Dean? Nope, so how do you read that I think Dean is to blame for Sam killing innocents?

The same applies to the attempted patricide incident. Did I say Dean told Sam to kill Bobby? I actually said, that in order to do what he did, Sam had to put aside all the right behaviour he learned from Dean. So once again, if you want to take ‘It’s all Dean’s fault’ from that, I'm not going to stop you. Like I said, maybe deep down you believe it was Dean's fault but I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who agrees with you.

‘Dean was blamed for Sam going off with Ruby last season and now Dean is again blamed for robo!Sam's actions.’ Could you please point out where it is universally accepted that Dean was to blame for Sam going off with Ruby 2 seasons ago? Until you do, it might be a good idea not to pass the thoughts of one or two people off as fact. Sam himself acknowledged that he is to blame for everything in relation to Ruby and the Apocalypse so where are you getting the idea that Dean is to blame?

‘Is there anything that Dean isn't supposed to be blamed for on this show?? Ha. Probably not.’ Well, given that he hasn't been blamed for anything.....

If you had read the entire post you’d have read I stated that I felt Sam was learning to become a better person from Dean. It’s generally a bad idea to latch onto one or two phrases and manipulate same to suit whatever agenda it is that you’re pushing.

By all means, criticise the theory, that's what it's there for but when you do can you please ensure you are criticising what I actually said, and not what you think I said. Thanks.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 03:27
@timtheenchanter

Sam has advocated the killing of innocents while hunting with Dean:

He flat out told him to shoot the mother (who was in the line of fire) in order to kill the headskinwalker in "All dogs.." Dean refused.

In the same episode he also flat out stated that he would be perfectly fine with 150 people (inclunding chilren) to get turned into skinwalkers if it meant that it helped him getting his soul back.

In other words he was prepared to stand by and wathc 150 people get turned into monsters.

He ways willing to turn over an innocent (the mother) to Crowley on the flimsiest of evidence and did not comprehend why Dean would not go along with this plan but demanded more proof.

And let's not forget that he stood by and let his brother get turned into a monster.

Kind of ironic really, after all this agonizing over not letting his brother become a monster we finally go there.....

IMO your theory isn't supported by the evidence. There is no sign that at any point amoralSam devolops any feeling (other than notions of selfpreservatio n).

On the contrary, it is quite explicitly stated that he takes no heed of what Dean says and how he leads by example.

So I would say the only reason Sam hasn't killed an innocent is because Dean stopped him from doing so. Not because he developped any kind of empathy or feeling of wrongdoing.

On another note, I have been wondering: those who advocate granting human rights to amoral Sam and credit him with feelings - what do you make of the concept of "with rights come responsibilitie s" If he has feelings does that mean he should be expected to accept responsibilitie s for his actions and to own up to the consequences?

I'm curious, what makes you think that the Goddess of Truth does not know how what to make of Sam? Surely she has come across unique situations before - something that had no point of reference but she was still able to tell the truth. It is her very essence - being a Goddess. So why should she, all of a sudden, no longer be able to tell the truth? Because it is an uncomfortable truth?

In other words, why should a new situation debarr her from seeing the truth? Do you think that every single time the Godess comes across a new development, something that hasn't happened before, she is not able to speak the truth? Wouldn't that weaken her and and reduce the whole concept of the power of truth?

All because Sam (in any state) can't possibly not human?
;-)
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 03:52
@timtheenchanter

re your statement that Sam is learning from Dean. Could you give a few examples what you base this on?

The only thing I can think of is that Sam lets Dean explain the concept to him but I do not see him actually taking the lesson to heart and actually changing his behaviour, or even contemplating it. He stops when Dean tells him not to. But only because Dean says so and not because he understands why. There is no comprehension of the why only the acceptance of the fact (as in "ok, so we don't shoot the mother").
I'm still trying to figure out where exactly it is shown in these scenes that Sam atually understands what Dean is trying to tell him. From what I see all he grasps is that in order to function as a human, or to be seen as one he needs to simulate.

In fact this is actually spelled out in "Clap your hands.." Dean spells it out for him: "Fake it until you make it". In other words, Sam is acting the part but it is nothing but an act, no real comprehension there. Dean needs to tell him how to behave every single step of the way - there is no instance where Sam picks up any of the clues. It is all simulation. The "I'm not supposed to laugh, right?" is a perfect example. He notices that it was the wrong reaction after Dean gives him the bitchface - there is no feeling developped of his own - he is caught out in faking the wrong reaction.

I think that this is very consistently shown throughout.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-14 07:17
SUPERNATURAL is an imperfect universe created by imperfect human writers. The writers are distilling into stories their individual takes on reality--nothin g really whole, nothing perfectly right as they're not omniscient nor siblings of Sofia (Wisdom). Maybe SPN's Veritas gave that assessment of Sam either because they wanted a red herring for their show or because she's an imperfect goddess (because the writers have an imperfect understanding of the Lady of Truth)? Gee, I would really love to interview those writers...HOW ABOUT WFB opening a Q&A line with the writers?

Personally, I never got the idea that Jas or Tim or anyone maligned Dean. But I did get that their hearts were breaking over the boys' situation. As is mine...

SPN is never about Dean vs. Sam. But it is, at heart, about "the epic love story of Sam AND Dean" (as Sera Gamble said, though she just wanted to tease Kripke).
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 07:24
@FMJemena

re Veritas - or the writers simply meant to make the point that soullessSam is not human and thought that making the actual Goddess of Truth pronounce it, as in "speaking truth to the masses" it would make it clear to the "masses" that this was what they were trying to convey ;-) ;-)
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-14 07:56
@pandora:

Naughty writers! We really should be given a chance to tor--question them about their ideas on souls, etc.

@Mods of WFB: How about opening a Q@A line with SPN's writers? Video format--I don't think having to ask us to read reams of their explanations will stave off any impending heart attack we have about S6.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-14 08:18
EnchantingTim, Galina, magichappening, elliot, bookdal, Brynn, Leslie,Pandora, FM Jemena, you added a lot to think to this discussion, wow.



Enchanting Tim,
I agree with many of your points and thank you for having had the notion, too, that this Sam was human, as well. I can’t see it any other way before proven wrong by the following episodes. It might not have been the soulful Sam we’ve grown to love from the beginning of the show (and I miss him terribly), but there was something to that creature that moved me, though it was really hard to like him.

I discussed these thoughts with a dear friend last night and she mentioned – would I feel the same if it had not been Sam’s body but someone else’s? She clearly had a point there. His beloved outward appearance might have had some influence on me as to looking at this Sam with more compassion.
But, as I have been thinking when I should have been sleeping, it might also be in some part a result of my profession and my trained eye to find something human and likeable in any person, no matter how appalling that person might appear at first. Because what I see is not black or white, it’s mostly shades of grey.

That doesn’t mean that this Sam should not be held accountable for his actions. But I shy away from judging someone before I know the whole story, in particular when the stakes are so high. That’s a part of my own concept of morality.
And morality, by the way and I agree with you there,too, is not simply the fact that a person owns a soul but a conglomerate of social, psychological, historical elements. A Middle East’s person’s morality might look different than that of a Mexican, for instance. You are right that nurture has a huge influence on what we develop as a moral compass.

I like your idea that: had Sam sought out Dean earlier, he probably would have developped a more empathetic streak – it is quite possible. Not quite unlike Castiel becoming more human because he was humanized by his encounters with the Winchesters.

Some claim it was all a manipulation. It might have been. But there is the possibility that he was actually a raw creature, innocent to the ways of compassion and love.

I agree that Dean can be quite conditional in is acceptance of people. He tends to label others and used to think in black and white dimensions. I think, however, that is beginning to change. He had to realize painfully that it doesn’t always work this way and thereby is growing.

We can dig into various speculations. And that, I think, is one of the elements that makes this show so excellent! We debate about the characters as if they were real. I hardly know any other show I would have been tempted to do that, ever. But, unfortunately, that also brings up the problem that some fans take personal offence by whatever speculations. And that is something I see as awkward.





Galina,
it's not my place to tell you what you should make of my sentences in your mind. But in this case I need to emphasize that I never meant to dismiss SoulSam.
If you try to look at the text without the need that you’d have to protect Dean, you will see that I have never dismissed SoulSam.

I was never fond of the rape-allegories and jokes at all. It’s too serious a topic to make jokes about, as I see the aftermath on a daily basis. It’s surely one reason why I felt so very uncomfortable with that last scene.

You know, it’s also an uncomfortable thought that Dean felt compelled to do that to person who was, in part, Sam. I am terrified about what this might to do his own vulnerable soul.





Magichappening,
I hope you didn’t feel offended by the ‘deaf-and-bli nd’ thought, dear. It wasn’t meant to be derogatory.

As you see in my article, I didn’t say this Sam was innocent (as in – never committing evil deeds), only that he was an innocent (like nescient, unaware) in his knowledge of what it means to have a soul, its beauty and its terror. It’s a difference, you’ll surely agree.

And I think it was, at least for me, hard to take this re-ensouling because he looked like Sam. I have to admit that, true. And because I looked at this being as human. I know others did not, but I did.
Which does not mean that I think less of the poor suffering Sammy down in hell, as some have accused me of.

I think, at the core of the problems these brothers bring upon their lives, as I stated in my response to Dany, is their incapability of letting go and accepting losing each other. It is one of our very human burdens that we lose people. That’s a part of natural order. However, the Winchester family have always, it seems, been unable to accept that and made deals that lead to catastrophic events – only because they were not ready to let go and accept.

I am not quite sure that SoulSam would have agreed to the procedure, but he probably would have. But, I also think that he would have reprimanded Dean (and perhaps will do) because Dean did not leave it alone, as he promised Sam, but got him back. I think we will see some of that discussion.

You pose many questions and I’m afraid I can’t answer them all to your satisfaction. When something like that forceful re-ensouling is done to any creature (and in my mind, I have to admit, I am comparing the method (not Dean) to torture, rape, and other forms of humiliation). Though I do believe that sometimes the end justifies the means, I can’t say that I could apply that here. For me it was too horrific. But that’s just me.




Elliot,
Please read my article again to understand that I didn’t put ‘all the blame’ on Dean but attempted to describe the predicaments of the situation from various angles. And I emphasized human rights, not demon rights. If you look at this Sam as a human being (which I do) I object.
And I am also of the opinion that Sam’s soul had to be brought back from hell and saved, but I object to the manner in which it was done and also explained why and what I think lies behind what happened psychologically . I assume you didn’t see that I described how both, Dean and Sam, were subjected to violence and force.





Linda,
I am happy, indeed, that I voiced some thoughts you can feel drawn to. Thank you.
I agree with your point of the quality of the love between the brothers. I think in many aspects it is quite disastrous, as the intensity of their love for each other is so strong that it always runs the risk of becoming too painful. A predicament that tends to appear when you love someone too much.

I think both – to gain some sort of peace – should learn to let go, learn to accept previously unacceptable circumstances. There are things we can’t change. In their universe they will dig and dig till they find something (be it a spell, a deal, some despicable thing) to set it ‘right’. It’s a constant fight within themselves and their surroundings. And they are suffering tremendously because of it, aren’t they?

What an interesting thought –Death as the great equalizer had to return Sam in order to keep some kind of balance. I haven’t read that other post of yours (but will look for it now), as I didn’t want to delve into what has been going on there. I found it quite unpleasant.




Brynn,
same for you, please don’t feel offended by my deaf-and-blind expression. Of course you are entitled to see it the way you describe. I think it would be much easier for me to see it that way, too.




CalifornianLeslie,
I find your arguments very interesting. And it got me thinking – if this Sam had not been driven into a corner and thereby forced to fight for his survival will all means, would there have been a possibility to do it all differently and with more dignity? And, well, during desperate times reason hardly applies, does it?

I am hoping, too, that we will gain more insight when Sam is ‘re-Samed’⠀¦ I think the whole ordeal left deep scars in both. If Sam remembers what happened – how will he feel? And how will Dean suffer for knowing that he forced that upon his brother’s body? Oh, my God… Hop onto my couch, guys. It’s warm and cozy (and you’re invited, too, of course, Leslie).


Pandora,
of course with rights come responsibilitie s.
I'm sorry you didn't understand that while defending this Sam's rights (assuming he was human) I didn't mean to say that he should be free of responsibility. I see now that I probably should have been more explicitly clear, however, I didn't expect some of you readers to go there and extend the contents of my article.


FMJemena,
thank you for adding that you understood how heartbreaking this whole ordeal was, for both brothers and for me (and, well, many of us) watching it.





I don’t really know what to make of this debate, albeit I love passionate discussions and steaming heads.
I fear, though, that some of us are at present taking the debate on a personal level, almost to the idea of being personally offended. And then objectivity can get lost.
That’s probably where some bitter and ironic remarks stem from. It should not be about ‘I am right and you are wrong’ and not about reading meaning into arguments according to the pair of glasses we are wearing. Because then we only see that those glasses are atuned to and to block out other arguments that are also there and that might help broaden the picture.
Personally, if this wasn’t my article and didn’t feel obliged to answer your questions and address your thoughts, I probably would not read all posts, as it is not the easiest read and it is not comfortable to take blows in this manner, I guess for everyone commenting here.


Take care everyone, Jas
Julie
# Julie 2010-12-14 09:42
Jas, what did you start?
I have just sat for a very very long time and read all of the posts here.
There were loads of comments which I would love to answer and comment on myself, but, as I am feeling pretty rough and I think brewing a case of `man flu` can I just be facetious, post a link, and invite everyone to cut and paste!
http://tinypic.com/usermedia.php?uo=5zeR%2FeOxIJd2DVmUuilozYh4l5k2TGxc
It is one of my posters from the hundreds we have made in CBOX but for me it sums up perfectly everything that has been going on around here ;-)
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 09:48
@Jasminka

I find it interesting that you contemplate your reaction may have been colored because this being looked like Sam and that your reaction might have differed had you watched this being done to a being you were not as emotionally attached to.

I have raised the point for debate before - what about the other person such a kind of violation was done to? Namely Dean, whose body was violated in the same manner by having forced vampire blood into him.

It is something that was done to him, something he had no control over, something he was forced to endure, something that forcibly changed him.

I went back and read your take on this, expecting to find you voicing the same kind of reaction to what was doen to Dean than what was done here.

Interestingly enough, most of your episode review was about why Sam would do this and finding explanations for his behaviour that wouldn't make him look as bad as the situation looked at that stage. Please don't misunderstand - I am not trying to do a round of Dean vs Sam here, I understand that you are emotionally invested in Sam and thus naturally your focus would be on him and you would want to know why he did this.

This is not meant as a criticism - after all we all do this, it is just a statement of fact. I guess the tendency, or rather the impulse to emphasize the good points and to try to rationalize away the bad points in the character one can better relate to is entirely natural.

Still it struck me as a bit curious that you do not address the violation of Dean in the same manner. You feel for him, you agonize with him, but not a mention of the violation, the same kind of violation that so clearly upsets you here and that you find so difficult to stomach. I'm curious, why didn't the violation done to Dean upset you in the same way?

You describe him being turned into a vampire as "he knows what it means to have swallowed vampire blood" IMO this is a lot more neutral than the way you described Sam's ordeal. It's not as if Dean had any active part in this, the blood was forced into him, he didn't ingest it himself. You did not bring up the matter of bodily violation then. The wording you use in your analysis of Sam's violation is a lot stronger, there is no mention of the way this was done forcefully to Dean the way you describe what whas done to Sam.

I wonder, did you not find the violation done to Dean as cruel and comparable to Sam's? After all Dean's life was threatened as well, and his humanity was being taken from him, he was turned into a monster irrevocably changed. Well, not irrevocably, a cure was at hand - but the principle remains the same - Dean was no longer the same.

So I think you were right in your contemplation that you reacted stronger to the violation done to the character you are more invested with. Your analysis, your take on things when it was done to somebody else was different.

Please understand that this is not a criticism, I am just comparing and contrasting your reaction to those 2 incidents, I am trying to find out why people react the way they do and how and why they interpret things in the way they do.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-14 10:33
Hi Julie, Pandora and Leora, more to think about…

Julie,
Well, good question, I guess. I hope you won’t feel all rotten because of your flu, dear! Unfortunately I can’t open that link, but I’m sure you will send it to me, won’t you (*blinks eyes*)? Get better, soon!


Pandora,
Thank you for explaining a bit more why you raise your points of debate. I understand much better now why you are so adamant about it and thus it’s much easier for me to address that. And, thank you for explaining that you are not trying to do a Dean vs. Sam round. I had actually the impression that might be the case. So, again, thank you.

Though I understand your issues with my reactions to both situations, for me it was quite a different matter, as in Live Free or Twi Hard I was shocked to my bones when I watched Sam let this happen to Dean and I was furious, stating that he deserved ‘a damn good thrashing’, as you will recall.
When I feel so intensely angry as I was at this moment, my initial reaction is to get very calm and to master it I sometimes get very analytical. I tried to understand why a character I had grown to love as much would do such a horrific thing to his own brother.

I did feel a lot for Dean, and I felt that their relationship suffered serious damage (as further described in the follow-up to the truth-episode). My sentence you’re referring to ‘he knows what it means to have swallowed vampire blood’ was not a description of his being turned, but a description of the resignation in his face – because as a hunter he knew that swallowing vamp blood he had to die or be killed, as he would pose a threat to everyone.
I think, going back to the day I wrote the article, at this moment, watching this scene and being confused by anger and not-understandi ng-what-the-hel l-is-going-on I was just on a similar level of resignation and defeat as Dean was and therefore my description of the scene remained equally passion-less. If I was to write the same article today, I don’t know, I might react differently. But when you write it’s always a combination of form on the day, spirit, atmosphere, personal story. And therefore it rarely is the same.

The violation of Dean was cruel. And I was bordering on the edge of looking at it as inexcusable.
It’s true, I might be more emotionally invested in Sam, I can’t deny that, but I love Dean very much, too. And I feel so very much for him, as I have also described in various articles that dealt with his story and agony. But that alone doesn’t explain my different reactions, I give you that. I can’t answer this question fully to you, please understand, as I would have to disclose too personal an experience, and I’m not ready to do that here.



Leora,
I think I agree with you that the ensouled Sam would want his soul fully, given the choice. After all, he was the one who jumped down into the cage, aware that there were horrors awaiting him, and he was ready to do that. But – I don’t know he would have any idea of how terrible it really might be to be that heavily traumatized.

I think also that the question of what the souls are for will provide themes for various episodes. Perhaps they are the currency du jour. Perhaps the answer is utterly despicable. As this is Supernatural. And the writers like to torment their characters and viewers alike.

Cheers, more work waiting for me now, Jas
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 11:40
@Jasminka

Thank you for elaborating on your perceptions!
I had a feeling that you had misunderstood or misinterpreted my previous contributions to the debate ;-)

I understand that this is a place where Sam gets a lot more sympathy from the majority of the contributers and there is a tendency (which is entirely human) to get a tad overprotective at perceived criticism of the character one feels more connected with.

So I was aware of the fact that bringing up the other POV, Dean's POV might get taken personal. This isn't directed at you - but more of a general impression I got from some of the replies and the way some of the post were framed and taking up a point you yourself made. I think you yourself referred to it as "bitterness" shining through. I agree with you there, that was my take on some of the responses as well, and they left me feeling a tad uncomfortable.
Then again, nothing but a good controversy to spark a lively debate!
Cody
# Cody 2010-12-14 13:04
(edited by Alice) Sorry Cody, this is a violation of rule number one on the site. No personal attacks.
magichappening
# magichappening 2010-12-14 13:07
Thanks very much for your reply Jas. I must say really admire the fact that you take the time to address each of the comments to your articles. And please do rest assured that I was not in the least offended by the deaf and blind remark. We all see the world and its events through our own prisms and your comment simply showed me that there were other ways to look at it than the ‘death’ of Robo-Sam and ‘re-birth’ of Soul-Sam.

Perhaps as a DeanGirl I had the mirror prism to yours and focused on what I like to think was the lack of malice or intention to cause harm (and perhaps the strength it would need to stay loyal to Soul Sam in the circumstances). I think Dean’s motives were not entirely selfless, however, and that he missed his brother and needed him out of Hell for his own peace of mind as well. But I honestly don’t think that he did not want to torture or humiliate Robo-Sam.

I am reminded of the quote though: "If you don't like someone, the way he holds his spoon will make you furious; If you do like him, he can turn his plate over into your lap and you won't mind." Perhaps for me that means giving Dean the benefit of the doubt…hmmm.

I think your statement that your job leads you try to see the human in everyone is really interesting though and made me think again about what it means to be human. I hope this whole discussion has not been too difficult for you as it obviously is something that has a deep meaning to you. I applaud you for your honesty and courage. (You also make good points about the Winchesters being unable to let go, that there are different forms of innocence and Sam’s future reaction to Dean’s actions later down the line).

Lastly, I have to say that I agree with both you and other commenters. The jokes in the show about rape this season are offensive, insensitive and unnecessary. Were they there or as frequent in previous seasons? Perhaps when coupled with the sexualised Meg torture scene they are now more obvious/ominous ? Even though that was a copy of a scene from a previous season also with female character and actor? As Zack Handlen said in his article about Caged Heat: ‘No, Supernatural. Just ... no.’
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-12-14 13:24
Jas -

I love this quote and want to address it, since I am in total agreement and I have a few additions, if I may:

You state, "I think both – to gain some sort of peace – should learn to let go, learn to accept previously unacceptable circumstances. There are things we can’t change. In their universe they will dig and dig till they find something (be it a spell, a deal, some despicable thing) to set it ‘right’. It’s a constant fight within themselves and their surroundings. And they are suffering tremendously because of it, aren’t they?"

First, I'm not sure if you meant to use "dig" intentionally, but it brings me back to Death's conversation with Dean at the end. He insists that Dean "keep digging," and this is almost a hyperlink to a theme of the series, one which is emphasized in this episode in particular. Their work as hunters, to a certain degree, rests on what happens when we don’t let go. Whether it be ghosts, demons, or shapeshifters, many of the cases they work are consequences of not letting go. Ghosts can’t let go of life; demons can’t let go of their emotions; society can’t let go of presuppositions about what is natural and what is unnatural (i.e. the shapeshifter is not an acceptable being in the natural order). Even the apocalypse is the consequence of two brothers who can't let go. And this inability to let go creates the ultimate dilemma which again is reinforced by the show’s eternal question of “What am I supposed to do?” and how that question can never really have a right or wrong answer. It’s the question of desperation; it’s the echo of a prayer.

I think that, for a long time, SPN has been a series of the ground. What I mean by that is the show attempts to meld the physical world (i.e. the earth, the body, the corpse, etc.) with the metaphysical world (i.e. the soul, the spirit, ghosts, etc.) and how that intersection directs the audience's attention toward certain conundrums, such as the question of what it means to be human? or inhuman? Or even monstrous? What is the monster? Are you the monster? Am I? Are you my brother or my enemy? Those questions fall in the difference, in the “in between” of the physical and the metaphysical, so for me, that last scene (in fact the whole episode) was about how to negotiate what is here explicitly (materially) and what is here implicitly (spiritually).

In my reading then, humaneness (humanity) in this universe, distills down to a complex set of reciprocal acts that we call love. And for Dean and Sam, that love is concentrated into a relationship that has been very restrictive in terms of social interaction. Even characters such as Bobby, Lisa, and Castiel, although important to the circumstance, are simply that: circumstantial. They are not perceived as essential. Nota Bene: I am not saying that these characters are not essential or important; I'm saying that they are essential to a circumstance, which is different than my observation about the brothers' relationship. And here, as an example, I paraphrase Castiel when he sarcastically tells Dean in “Family Matters” that his and Sam’s dilemmas are the most important issues. But the brothers, for good or bad, experience each other as essential and that feeling often leads to disastrous consequences.

At this point, I’m reminded of Sam’s spiral into the demon blood addiction, after Dean’s death. Two of my favorite episodes of the entire series (and I’m not really sure what this says about me beyond my love of pathos) is AHBL and IKWYDLS. And I think, now, Appointment may start to ascend to that level as well. These are my favorites because the stakes are set on the table: Dean nor Sam want to imagine a life, and in earlier seasons can’t imagine a life, beyond this relationship. And that leads to the choices that lead to the suffering that eventually pull them (and us) back to the infernal moment of letting go, which both are closer to being able to do, but have not quite achieved yet. I do think Dean was willing to kill this version of Sam, since he would’ve been a monster, and that is more than what has happened before. But still, their relationship continues in such a circular motion that it is always on the verge of spiraling out of control.

One last note, I will admit that I like to be generous with the writers, perhaps because I am a writer myself, but also because there are basic philosophical questions that lead to paradoxes that really can't be answered. Now, to me (and many others I imagine), the conundrums of the real v. the unreal, the demonic v. the ethereal, are solved with love in this show. But I agree with what you say here, Jas, that their love sometimes comes with the price of suffering and hinges upon an inability to let go.

Jas, I hope that I have represented your quote accurately, and I also hope that this post has made sense...

-Linda
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 14:46
You know, Brynn and Cody, in many ways I agree with you.

One thing I have felt dismayed at for a while now is the way that the crimes committed by Sociopath Sam get dismissed. Sure he's a murderer, but...

I just don't get it. I've pointed out over and over again that this being has killed innocent people in cold blood and has admitted it openly. And no, the fact that he hasn't killed anybody else since he's teamed up with Dean does not migate the fact. The other murders won't go away.

The notion that he may be in the process of picking up empathy and feelings does not excuse the murders, nor does it migate the seriousness of the crime.

Never mind that the notion of him developping these feelings and that given time it would all get better is not held up by the evidence. There is clear proof that the only reason he did not continue to kill people was because Dean stopped him from doing so. Plain and simple. Sam still advocated shooting innocent bystanders (shoot the mother). The line of sociopathic murderous behaviour is clear from start to finish.

I cannot begin to describe how I feel about describing using your brother for expediency and let him get turned into a monster, let his humanity get ripped to shreds and endangering his life (not to mention destroying what little happiness he had found with his family) as "almost" unforgivable.

"Almost!" What else is there to say?
If that isn't unforgivable then what is? Attempted patricide clearly isn't - the poor sociopath was driven to it, wasn't he?

I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I do find that hard to take.

It really shouldn't have taken attempted patricide to realize that Dean was dealing with a dangerous murderer that had to be contained or stopped. Just because we did not get to see the actual killings, the fact that they happened "off camera" does not make them any more heinous. There simply should have been no excuse, no shades of grey, no benefit of doubt once Sam admitted to killing innocent people knowingly and willingly and backed it up by telling Dean to shoot one as well (the mother in the line of fire to get to the skinwalker).

Because it looks human and talks like a human doesn't automatically make it human. I have yet to hear an argument why, other than because it looks like one, this creature/entity , whatever, should be human. It was clearly in an unnatural state of being. A supernatural creature in other words. What human being does not need to sleep? How is that human for one thing?

The Godess of Truth declared it not human... oh, but she doesn't know the truth.

Sometimes it is very difficult to reign sarcasm in.

Anyway, I think what I am trying to say with this little rant is that, like Brynn this post isn't to insult anyone who felt sorry for SoullessSam but to voice my increasing dismay at the humanisation of Soulless Sam simply because he looks like the real deal.

If he is human and has human rights he also has human responsibilites . And those responsibilites don't end with "oh, I did bad, I couldn't help it" but with facing up to the consequences of his actions - he needs to get turned in for murder and attempted patricide. For starters.

The consequences of Soulless Sam's actions get glossed over and excused a bit too much for my comfort. Allowances are made for him that wouldn't be made for anyone else IMO.
Anne J
# Anne J 2010-12-14 15:57
*The consequences of Soulless Sam's actions get glossed over and excused a bit too much for my comfort. Allowances are made for him that wouldn't be made for anyone else IMO.*

This. Actually I find it hard to believe that the rightness of Dean's actions is being placed under the microscope while the wrongness of Sam's is being totally whitewashed here. Someone's right to be a homicidal psychopath doesn't take precedence over someone's right to ensure he doesn't stay that way (and everyone's right not to be killed by him). Especially when Sam's homicidal psychopath tendencies would probably have got *him* killed by Dean, Bobby or Cas at some point. And then what would we be hearing? That it was all Dean's fault for not resouling him when he had the chance. And if Death had refused to save Sam's soul because Dean took off the ring what would we be hearing? That Sam is still suffering in Hell and it's all Dean's fault.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-14 16:33
Pandora, Brynn, Magichappening, bookdal, and AnneJ, I never expected this thread to be that long and lively, actually.

Pandora,
I am well aware that I poked the bear with some of what I wrote. I had not expected it at first, but it can hardly be denied, can it?
I understand your points much better now and thank you for allowing me to understand them. Throughout this debate some of my words have been taken out of context and twisted to form arguments that were not even there, at least not in my article. I understand, though, how these things happen.
Rest assured that I have never, ever dismissed Dean in any way. I might be fonder of Sam than of his older brother, but I am also protective when it comes to Dean. I think you can assume from now on, should you ever have the impression that I am dismissing or diminishing Dean’s role or his character (which I doubt, actually) that this is not the case. I would never do that. Just as I couldn’t with Sam and the variations of that character.


Brynn,
I am aware of the references to rape in various ways, and it might be a product of your society, as you put it. I agree with your idea – that souls in hell are probably subjected to that kind of torture, too. When we look at how often it happens in prisons (to men and women alike), I think it’s safe to assume that it happens in hell, the worst prison of all, too. I just hope the writers won’t go there. Our guys here have enough to shoulder. That’s an issue they don’t need in addition.

Magichappening,
You know, I believe love is never entirely selfless. There’s always the part of us that wants the other to be a part of our lives. When we think we can’t live without another and the like. I understand that you focused on Dean’s lack of malice – and, believe me, I never intended to convey the impression that I saw Dean as someone malicious. On the contrary.

I am just so very shocked, still, that Dean felt the need to take a measure like that. In a way he jeopardized his own soul (in terms of the feeling of guilt that might taint it even more), because it’s so not like him to force what he thinks to be good onto his brother. Not in this manner. I don’t think he will cope very well with this. But, I could be wrong.

Thank you for acknowledging what I try to do here with answering the comments as respectfully and honestly as I feel able to.

You see, it has a deep meaning to me. I work with so many people and I have met many patients in my career that were so massively disturbed, unpleasant or even violent that I had to find a strategy of finding something loveable in their characters to be able to work with them at all. To feel compassion. And to understand.
I draw a line though – for instance: let’s say a dad comes to me and tells me that he is fantasizing about touching his daughter, I can regard him as a patient and try to help him. The moment he oversteps that border, he is a criminal and needs to be put behind bars. But I always need to understand what made him do it. Though I have little personal tolerance for crimes like that (and could not treat pedophiles for example) I try not to judge anyone before I truly understand why they do what they do.

It’s what find necessary to maintain my own integrity. And, yes, following this discussion hasn’t been easy for me. I am trying to remain as objective as possible, tolerant and courteous.


Linda,
I didn’t use ‘dig’ intentionally, but noticed the connection the moment I posted my comment. Well, the unconscious works in interesting ways.

Thank you for adding your thoughts. I loved to read them and you’ve given me some more brain food which I absolutely adore!

I have not thought of the undercurrents of this show in this way, before, not on a more global scale (as in: all the seasons so far). And I agree. The concept of not being able to let go seems to be one of the machines that keep that ship running. And those intersections pose these highly interesting and complex philosophical questions of defining what we regard as human or monstrous and thereby a right to exist (or not).

I think it depends very much on the structure of the society in which these questions are posed. In the Third Reich, the Nazi party clearly decided what unworthy life was, e.g. disabled people. Within a dictatorship that has no regulating moral compass these questions take obscene faces. I think we need such a compass.

I think your assessment about how the brothers experience each other as essential is very correct. Their social life has been very restrictive, indeed, from childhood on. Even though they, as intelligent men, would say that they literally can’t live without the other. I think this applies more to Dean than to Sam who has always been the more independent of the two. But for Dean Sam is essential to his life like air. Which makes it harder, altogether. It defines his identity. And he suffers in a disastrous way. I believe it to be vital to both to learn to let go, eventually. I doubt, though, that they will be depicted in that manner. But – in terms of psychological continuity and growth, to me that would be the next logical (and necessary) step.

Your post entirely made sense to me, thank you for elaborating on your thoughts. I have to admit, though, that I’d like to write something you’ve written – if it’s not too insolent to ask. Should you like to share something, you can send it to my email address via Alice and the Contact Us section.

Thanks again, Linda, for your fascinating post! I appreciate your eloquence.


Brynn and Pandora (your later comments)
I take it your comment was addressed to some posts above and some parts of what I said. I think I have explained the points you take issue with in my article and various posts. I’ll just leave it at that.

AnneJ,
I can’t agree with your observation of whitewashing Sam while ‘condemning†™ (paraphrasing your words, here, sorry) Dean’s actions. But, it’s late already here in Europe and I’ve addressed those questions previously, so forgive me for not repeating it again and just thanking you for commenting.


Best, Jas
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 16:33
@Anne J

Not to mention the argument that the homicidal psychopath was driven to patricide in self defence. By selfish Dean, who threatened him with resouling ;-)

Dean's fault, clearly.
Anne J
# Anne J 2010-12-14 16:37
Wow, Pandora, now I've heard it all. Is that comment actually in this discussion? The mind boggles at that line of logic.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 16:38
@Jas,


thank you for your reply.
I can't agree with your observation that this is not whitewashing Sam while "condemning" Dean's actions.
IMO, as I've spelled out previously, it very clearly is.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 16:43
@Anne J

Yep. And nobody found anything disagreeable about it. Except me. My bad. I was rather rudely told off for daring to object. I am still somewhat appalled. But there you go.
ChristopherH
# ChristopherH 2010-12-14 16:52
Two unrelated thoughts ...

(1) Your argument that the victimization of robo-Sam is a rape allegory of sorts is well-made. You cite human rights logic to support your discomfort with how robo-Sam is being treated:

‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’

But here's the rub: Sam no longer possesses his reason OR his conscience. They are trapped in the cage along with his soul (and Lucifer and Michael). THAT is the problem that Dean's conscience won't allow him to live with. It isn't JUST that Dean misses his brother or feels some noble purpose to protect him. Robo-Sam LACKS those intrinsic qualities that make him fundamentally human. That being the case, does he have the same claim to "rights" (note the absence of qualifier "human") that Dean or Bobby do ... or that his soul (locked in the cage) does? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Do ALL living things have rights? Of course. But does a rugaru have rights? Does a vampire? Does a djinn?

On the one hand, your sense that Sam has been violated is somewhat compelling--but has Sam REALLY been violated? Since he lacks that which makes him fully human couldn't one also argue that it would be morally objectionable to allow him to exist as he is, a shadow of his true nature--especia lly if one has the power to restore him to wholeness?

I see little black and white here, but lots of gray.

**********

(2) ‘The soul can be bludgeoned and tortured but not broken, not even by me ... It’s vulnerable, impermanent--bu t stronger than you know. And more valuable than you can imagine.’ Death

Much has been made of the trauma that Sam will experience when his soul is reintegrated with his body and mind. But it seemed to me that Death's statement above was a clue of sorts by the writers. How is it that Dean managed to deal with the trauma of his time in Hell so well? Are we really to believe that his soul is that much more capable of recuperation than Sam's? It seems to me that it is fair to expect that Sam's reintegration won't be pretty. It will be painful and torturous. But he will get through it. On some level, the wall Death has placed in his soul will make that process more manageable. Instead of recalling his time in the cage with Michael and Lucifer in one giant, overwhelming flash, he'll be reintroduced to those memories piecemeal. That ought to keep the writers busy for the remainder of this season at least.
Lianne
# Lianne 2010-12-14 17:12
To Pandora -- I just want to say that I totally agree with everything you have written here. Thank you so much for your insight and expressing your (very valid, IMO) point of view.

To Jasminka -- I appreciate your willingness to continue this discussion but I have to agree with pandora and many comments here that robo!Sam was a non-human psychopath. He doesn't feel guilt or shame because he's not human. To be human is to have a SOUL, according to the show. I understand that robo!Sam was wearing Jared's face but he was NOT Sam. That body belonged to Sam Winchester -- soul and all!
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 17:14
@jasminka,

"I never expected this thread to be that long and lively"

Well, if you put such an extremely controversial article up for debate you have got to be prepared for a long and controversial discussion ;-)
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 17:26
@Lianne

thank you!

Re the human - non human debate. I think what I would really like to see is an explanation, a marshalling of arguments what it is that makes this soulless Sam human by those of him attributing him that status.

I have seen a number of arguments offered what makes him not human, with examples and clarifications but I have yet to see an argument what precisely qualifies this entity as human - this needs to be more than just looking human, a simulacrum wearing Sam's face and body is not human. So what are his human qualities? And in which way does he differ from other entities that also retain their human appearance and brains? Such as Zombie/Angela or vampires.

What are your reasons for seeing this Sam as human?

And what are your counterargument s - how do you explain the non human traits - such as the sleeplessness?

What do you think the writers tried to hint at with that? Or the pronouncement made by the Goddess of truth?

How is Soulless Sam's unnatural state different from that of Zombies, Vampires or rugarus, creatures that retain many of their human characteristics ?
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 17:57
@Jasminka

"I am just so very shocked, still, that Dean felt the need to take a measure like that. In a way he jeopardized his own soul (in terms of the feeling of guilt that might taint it even more), because it’s so not like him to force what he thinks to be good onto his brother. Not in this manner. I don’t think he will cope very well with this. But, I could be wrong."

I think he'll manage. After all he knows from firsthand experience that one can learn to cope with having such a thing done to oneself. By one's own brother.

He'll have plenty of tips on how to deal with being raped (in hell) and how to cope with finding oneself in hell on earth when being violated, while being watched and left helpless by his brother. Betrayal doesn't come much bigger than this.

So Sam is going to be lucky to have such a knowledgable counsellor at hand.

It will be interesting to see how Sam copes with the guilt and remorse and the taint of his soul at the thought of what he has done to his brother.

Of course, I don't think that should be an issue for either brother because I don't believe that this version of Sam is in any way the real deal and cannot be held responsible for the committed crimes. Nor falls any blame on Dean for doing the right thing.

Of course, if you see this version of Sam as human with rights and responsibilitie s the shame and guilt on Sam's part should be pretty overwhelming and beyond measure. What Dean was forced to do is more than cancelled out by what Sam did and it should be interesting to see how he deals with the knowledge that he is a murderer and has destroyed his brothers one chance at happiness and has actively had a hand at turning him into a monster.

His relationship with Bobby is going to be fun to watch as well.

Do you think he should go to Lisa and inform her of the despicable part he has played in destroying their little family? That he was responsible for putting her son in mortal danger?

How do you think Sam is going to cope with the consequences of his actions?

Should he do the right thing, the human thing, you know, the responsible thing and turn himself in for multiple murder?

How is Sam going to live with the knowledge of what he has done in his other human incarnation?

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on how Sam should face up to his crimes.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 18:08
@Brynn

"Now something about what Death said: "The soul can be bludgeoned and tortured but not broken, not even by me ... It’s vulnerable, impermanent--bu t stronger than you know. And more valuable than you can imagine."

A soul cannot be broken, and yet it is vulnerable and impermanent. So even Death can't break a soul, and yet it is not a permanent thing, as in it can be destroyed...

I am a little confused. It definitely implies that a soul is a tenacious thing, and very valuable, but the second part still seems to indicate that it can be broken/destroyed.

Anyone else confused by that statement?"

I'm not sure it can be broken - it can be tainted and corrupted, isn't that how Demons are eventually created - souls get corrupted systematically in hell. It is just a matter of time.

I took Death's statement as a veiled hint that Dean's soul is not broken, that his soul, tortured and bludgeoned as it as in hell proved to be more resilient than Dean gives himself credit for. That Dean should take heart, that altough he perceives himself to be broken and tainted his soul is precious and valuable and so is he.

Souls can be destroyed - I take the salting and burning of bones/the killing of demons as the destruction of their souls. Annihilation is complete. They cease to exist. Their souls cease to exist.

All of this is rather dodgy. I have the suspicion that the writers have not really thought all of this through and a lot of retconning and fudging is going on here.

Sometimes one just has to ignore logic and plotholes...
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 18:10
@Brynn

"Now something about what Death said: "The soul can be bludgeoned and tortured but not broken, not even by me ... It’s vulnerable, impermanent--bu t stronger than you know. And more valuable than you can imagine."

A soul cannot be broken, and yet it is vulnerable and impermanent. So even Death can't break a soul, and yet it is not a permanent thing, as in it can be destroyed...

I am a little confused. It definitely implies that a soul is a tenacious thing, and very valuable, but the second part still seems to indicate that it can be broken/destroyed.

Anyone else confused by that statement?"

I'm not sure it can be broken - it can be tainted and corrupted, isn't that how Demons are eventually created - souls get corrupted systematically in hell. It is just a matter of time.

I took Death's statement as a veiled hint that Dean's soul is not broken, that his soul, tortured and bludgeoned as it as in hell proved to be more resilient than Dean gives himself credit for. That Dean should take heart, that altough he perceives himself to be broken and tainted his soul is precious and valuable and so is he.

Souls can be destroyed - I take the salting and burning of bones/the killing of demons as the destruction of their souls. Annihilation is complete. They cease to exist. Their souls cease to exist.

All of this is rather dodgy. I have the suspicion that the writers have not really thought all of this through and a lot of retconning and fudging is going on here.

Sometimes one just has to ignore logic and plotholes...
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 18:19
Rest assured that I have never, ever dismissed Dean in @Jasminka


"I might be fonder of Sam than of his older brother but I am also protective when it comes to Dean. I think you can assume from now on, should you ever have the impression that I am dismissing or diminishing Dean’s role or his character (which I doubt, actually) that this is not the case. I would never do that. Just as I couldn’t with Sam and the variations of that character."

I don't know. You agonize a great deal about the violation done to Sam, and agonize over how Dean can live with the guilt of what he has done.

Sam's violation and Dean's guilt.

You say that you find what Soulless Sam has done "almost" unforgivable. No agonizing over how Sam can live with the guilt of what he has done.

Or any of the other things he has done. Or the consequences.

I know you see that differently but to me that is very dismissive of Dean.

What would it take for Sam to do for you to remove the caveat "almost" from the unforgivable?
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-14 18:52
Kind readers, at this point I’m taking my bow and withdrawing from this discussion.

As I see it, my words keep being misconstrued; arguments posted appear intransigent, and all I could say I already have. I must admit that I find some of the comments posted about this article hurtful and I am not willing to perpetuate this situation.

So, we should respectfully agree to disagree at this point. Please feel free to continue this debate as you see fit, but don’t expect me to add any further contribution.

Thanks to everyone who made constructive comments, your well-conceived thoughts are highly appreciated.

Thank you, Jas
Galina
# Galina 2010-12-14 19:37
You clearly did poke the bear, Jasminka…

After rereading your article as well as all posts I must confess that I am coming down on the side of pandora, Brynn and others who expressed similar thoughts. And no, it is not because I am a raving mad DeanGirl. In fact, I’ve come to be rather fed up with the epically infantile love triangle of Sam, the soulless revenant and Dean. It has dragged on for far too long for my taste. I am NoOnesGirl.

That aside, I still need to see a sound argument for the revenant’s claim to be human. Since all and sundry on the show, including the revenant itself, made a point of explicitly saying that it was, in fact, NOT human. I won’t repeat pandora’s arguments but I fully agree with them.

That is not my main problem with your reasoning. So here goes…

According to you even the worst of violators have reason behind their madness and need to not be judged by us, since we can never know all the facts or everything that shaped a person.

I agree.

On three conditions. One - that this person is actually a human being. Two - that said person is kept safely away from any potential victims. Three - that any existing victims are not blamed for the person’s actions.

Apparently the Sam look-alike creature is so dear to you that none of the above matters.

It has repeatedly been said in canon, that it is not human .Your answer – but there is a 0.0001 % chance that it could be!

It openly confessed to killing innocents and it was caught in the act of committing murder. The only reason it did not kill Bobby was Dean’s inconveniently timely return. Your answer – but it was fighting for its life, don’t you have any understanding for the survival instinct of a cornered animal!

It very deliberately let Dean be VIOLATED by a vampire and actually showed signs of satisfaction. Your answer – I didn’t feel that way, but look at Dean, he just practically RAPED the poor thing by allowing the RIGHTFUL HUMAN OWNER of its shell to return and put a stop to its reign of terror!

Really!?
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 19:39
@Jasminka

That's a shame Jasminka. I do get what you mean though. I frequently find myself in the same situation, my words keep being misconstrued, the arguments posted appear intransingent, or my points and queries are not addressed at all.

And sometimes when addressed it is in what I find to be a dismissive and condescending tone. I find that hurtful.

I am still very much interested in hearing the arguments for Soulless Sam's humanity, something constructive, some evidence, an explanation of what leads you to the conclusion.

But to be honest, I find a dismissive "my words keep being misconstrued" without any further elaboration not very helpful and not very respectful either.

Of course that is simply my personal opinion and this is how your words affect me. I am sure you do understand though, since you say you are affected by other's words in much the same way. So you should be able to emphasize with my hurt feelings the way I do with yours.

If you decline to further participate in the debate and bow out, I respect that, that's your decision and your right to do - perhaps someone else can take up the baton and answer my questions?
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 19:50
@Galina
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your frank and true words. I agree, especially with this:

"And no, it is not because I am a raving mad DeanGirl. In fact, I’ve come to be rather fed up with the epically infantile love triangle of Sam, the soulless revenant and Dean. It has dragged on for far too long for my taste. I am NoOnesGirl."

I so wish they hadn't gone there. I so wish they had let both of them grow up and be the adults that they should be, and give them both proactive storylines in their own regard instead of this epic mess - Sam come back wrong, part 385. It stunts both character's
growth.

And this:
"Three - that any existing victims are not blamed for the person’s actions."

I think this is what bothers me most.
Galina
# Galina 2010-12-14 20:26
@Jasminka
I didn’t realise you had withdrawn from the conversation before I posted tonight. I understand your reasons and thank you for the discussion platform you’ve offered SPN fans.

The thing is, the more I’ve been thinking about this article the more it made my blood boil. I took the liberty of taking it off my chest. I want to stress that my arguments are directed at your line of reasoning here specifically, not at any of your other articles, and by no means at your person.
Alice
# Alice 2010-12-14 20:29
Okay ENOUGH! I've been watching these threads carefully over the last few days and these comments are now just rehashing the same old argument and they've grown into lynchings. All these are great points, but the spirit of discussion has veered WAY too negative. I agree with Jasminka, there's too much sensitivity and things are being harped on and misconstrued that don't need to be.

This is partially my fault for not having a clear set of rules posted, which I will have up tonight, but we do not approve of Sam vs. Dean nonsense. Once in a while I'll allow it, like when the author raises the question, but this has gone too far. Simmer the conversation down now or I start closing comments on this thread.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 21:06
Ok Alice, your list, your rules.

I do take offense though, at your insinuation that the comments are only rehashing arguments - IMO the arguments got repetetive because they were never answered, meaning that points raised were never adressed in substance beyond "I disagree" and the fallback of "you misconstrue" whenever the going gets tough. I find that pretty condescending as an answer when asking for arguments or clarification of points or elaboration.

It was a pretty controversal theory offered in the article and the counter arguments offered were pretty substantial, perhaps unexpectedly so. It shouldn't have been a surprise though, given the highly controversal article that set it off.

For a while there I actually thought that the extreme bias in the article was balanced out by the ensuing discussion and that everyone was getting a fair hearing.

Guess I was wrong. Oh well, it was worth a try and the discussion was fun. I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you everyone and goodbye!
Lianne
# Lianne 2010-12-14 21:50
Alice -- please explain to me how this discussion is "Sam" vs. Dean? I do believe that pandora and others have presented valid points of view here and it is rather unfair of you to diminish their argument as merely "Sam vs. Dean." The actual Sam Winchester is barely being discussed here.

Jasminka is entitled to her opinion as well, but just because many here might disagree or challenge her points (and when she compared not-Sam being re-souled to being "raped" I would imagine she knew what kind of controversy she was bringing on herself), does not mean that those people who present a counter-argumen t are breaking the "Sam vs. Dean" rules.

I am sorry but I feel that you are being quite unfair to those who actually interested in this discussion which is not, as far as I can see, Sam vs. Dean in any way.
ChristopherH
# ChristopherH 2010-12-14 22:28
Oy vey! Like ... um ... it's a TELEVISION SHOW for crying out loud. I've been enjoying Supernatural for over five seasons, and I just now discovered this website. Imagine my excitement. And I thought to myself, "duh Chris ... of COURSE there's a fan website out there where people can discuss the show!" But this is about as cutthroat as the political seasons have been the last couple years.

It seems to me that Jasmine was simply offering her views about the episode. She wasn't condemning Dean. She wasn't supporting robo-Sam's sociopathic behavior. Did I entirely agree with her rape allegory statement? Not really, but I understood the point she was trying to make. And I certainly wasn't going to attack her personally for making it. But some folks are apparently so invested in these characters that they took what she said way too much to heart. Again ... it is a television show. Tone it down folks. Perhaps we can all have a kumbaya moment and agree that we all LOOOOOVE Supernatural? Can we?

I can only imagine what Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki would be thinking if they read this thread. How embarrassing.
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-12-14 22:49
I LOOOOOOVE Supernatural. :D :D :D

Glad you made it to the site ChristopherH. It's a pretty cool place. Hope you decide to hang around.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-14 22:51
@ Julie:
Re the link you posted--it can't be found. Perhaps it's incomplete? Thanks so much!

@ Everyone:
Since last night, I keep getting the feeling that some of the SPN people are reading the posts here. They're probably mighty pleased with our reactions, I think, because we're 'chewing' on the food-for-though t they've given us. For me, a writer myself, our reactions are the best compliment a group of artists can receive. Well done!
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 22:52
"Controversial topics are worth discussing. Discussion is good. It's just starting to get a little too personal now and several points (good or not) are being overly repeated. I think it really went well until today and I'm pleased you enjoyed it, for you did make some great points."

Look Alice, I am at a bit of a loss as how to say this, how to phrase this so that it doesn't look like I'm doing another round of Dean v Sam. That is really not my intention at all.

But in all honesty I have been waiting all day for the hammer to fall. Those repetetive points made you refer to - the way I see that is that a great many people agreed on certain points and those points were disagreeing with the original article.

So I knew that it was only a matter of time until this was going to be deemed "uncomfortable" and "too personal". I've been lurking here for quite a while and I've noticed that this is a time tried and tested method, but one that isn't used case when the shoe's on the other foot.

Of course, there is no such thing as total neutrality, and there will always be bias of one kind or the other. This place is famous for its loyalty to Sam and that's fine. There are plenty of other places where Dean gets more sympathy.

And I knew after all where was coming to when I started posting. I wasn't expecting much in the way of sympathy and agreement but I figured that some of the things put up for discussion should be queried and I no longer wanted to keep quiet. Naturally, I got my fair share of "how dare you" "he is selfish" "you misconstrue" immediately. Points were repeatedly rehashed, and I found some of the replies severly lacking in courtesy. But hey, I'm a veteran of many discussions and I can take some flak. So I didn't mind.

My beef with it is this though - none of that elicited an admonishment like the one now. So forgive me if I am a tad cynical here.

Look, I know that balance may be desirable but it can never be achieved. That is not what I am asking for. But a bit more honesty would be nice. That maybe sometimes some points made and some POV's are a bit more equal than others.

It is easy to fall back on the "now you are getting personal" line when one does not have a constructive and solid counter argument to offer.

I guess what I would have liked is more of an acknowledgment that sometimes hey, this is not personal, the poster is attacking your argument, not you. Or as Galina put it - I am questioning your line of thought, not your person - instead of the blanket "it's getting personal" when the going gets tough.

More differentiation , perhaps. Not so much overprotection when one side feels it is slighted. Which I feel is what is happening here. It is a defensive stance that is easy to fall into.

But as I said, I was expecting it, as the discussion progressed.

I hadn't expected to get much sympathy here, much less agreement so I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people reacting with a "hey, you know, you've got a point" to some of the things I addressed.

I was also surprised at the number of issues sidestepped and evaded in reply to my posts, or the dismissal as "misconstrued" "twist my words" by way of answer when replying to a line of thought or an argument I had questioned or disagreed with. So naturally, I just kept on asking for an answer to my questions and demanded data and elaboration ;-)

I am not surprised that this elicited the vague "it's getting a bit personal again" response though.

I get the hint.

You state:
"Here's some advice rather than leaving the discussion. Everyone take a deep breath and please don't blow every single word uttered out of proportion. Otherwise, discuss away!"

I'm not walking out in a huff here. But it is rather stifling to discussion when a great number of people who have agreed on the same points get told that their agreement is repetetive and would they please refrain from now on. And that rephrasing questions that got sidelined and ignored, or asking for evidence to back up an argument are told that this is "too personal".

So really, what is there left to discuss? The ones in agreement are told to back off, answers are not forthcoming and points made are brushed off.

That is my personal take on what's been happening here. That's what it looks like from my perspective. And that's why right now I am inclined to say Auf Wiedersehen.
Alice
# Alice 2010-12-14 22:54
There's a great television critic out there by the name of Alan Sepinwall. He has six simple rules for commenting. Now granted a couple don't apply to this site, but number 1 and 6 do. Number 1, "Be nice." Number 6, "What did I say about being nice?"

He spells it out. TALK ABOUT THE SHOWS NOT EACH OTHER. This discussion has turned to a bunch of people getting into a tizzy over what another commenter (or in this case Jasminka too) may or may not have said or implied.

It's okay to challenge. It's okay to support your arguments. Just don't be hostile, mean, antagonistic and for God's sake, stop taking things so personally. It's not the tone we like here and we've had plenty of great discussions on this site that have been less hostile. Don't accuse someone of being a typical "Sam fan" or a short-sighted "Dean fan." That's where the Sam Vs. Dean comes in Lianne. It's there, at least once. I can site MANY other examples too, but that means I'd have to single people out and I don't want to do that.

Oh and ChristopherH, welcome, very much welcome to this site! Your speech reflects the attitudes we value here. It's so refreshing!

Everyone take deep breaths, sing Kumbaya like ChristopherH suggests, think about Christmas lollipops and candy canes, I don't care what. I'm going to post another article soon from elle2 expressing her displeasure of season six, but before I do, I'm going to make the rules very clear. We'll just consider this thread a rough start.
Donna
# Donna 2010-12-14 23:01
"Dean trapped in his mind knowing that he forced something upon his brother and didn’t give him a chance to decide for himself."

So in essence you're saying Dean was trying to force Sam upon himself and that was wrong? How does that work, or did you forget that Sam's soul is what makes him a man, not the empty meatsuit walking around wearing his face?
What we'd been seeing the last 11 episodes was a revenant walking the earth while Sam's soul endured horror beyond belief (so we are told). Was it better to leave Sam's soul to that fate or return it to it's body and let it have a chance at eternal peace someday?
I really don't see how Dean had any options here or that he should feel guilty for what he did. Either he eventually kills this dangerous,murde rous creature wearing Sam's face and lets the soul suffer for all eternity or he tries something else.What he did is the something else and I have every confidence it will work and the wall will hold.
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 23:06
Lianne, thank you so much for your post. I have to quote it in full because you put this much better and much more direct that I did. "

Alice -- please explain to me how this discussion is "Sam" vs. Dean? I do believe that pandora and others have presented valid points of view here and it is rather unfair of you to diminish their argument as merely "Sam vs. Dean." The actual Sam Winchester is barely being discussed here.

Jasminka is entitled to her opinion as well, but just because many here might disagree or challenge her points (and when she compared not-Sam being re-souled to being "raped" I would imagine she knew what kind of controversy she was bringing on herself), does not mean that those people who present a counter-argumen t are breaking the "Sam vs. Dean" rules.

I am sorry but I feel that you are being quite unfair to those who actually interested in this discussion which is not, as far as I can see, Sam vs. Dean in any way."

And I see Christopher has now raised the question if those disagreeing with Jasminka are taking this too personal. Well, I can only speak for myself. No. I am absolutely not taking this personally. I can very much distinguish between challenging an argument and challenging a person, thank you very much ;-)

What I see this as is a passionate, challenging debate. Different thing.

But back to Lianne's point - yup. I was skirting the issue a bit because I wasn't quite sure to which extent "dissent" would be acceptable, but: what Lianne said!
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-14 23:19
(edited by Alice) I've kept your comments in my administrator records. Your frustration toward me is irrelevant to this article. Again, I refer you to "Contact Us." I swear, I'm not intimidating that way. I will discuss.
Christine Apple
# Christine Apple 2010-12-14 23:24
I LOOOOOOVE Supernatural too... *singing Kumbaya at the top of my lungs* Even got the dog to howl it with me. This is a great site for a great show. Alice, Jas, elle2, Adre, Robin, Sablegreen, and everyone else involved make this a wonderful place to visit. I love to come read what people like Tim the Enchanter, Julie, Yirabah, Suze, Bevie, Yvonne and countless others have to say. It never fails to broaden my horizons a bit. I even throw in my 2 cents every now and again. Spirited discussions are what it is all about, but being nice is the way to go. There is so much hate and stress and hurt in the real world, it really doesn't need to be brought to such a lovely place as this.

And a special thanks to Jas for the article. Thought provoking and interesting as always. I can hardly wait for every new installment of Open Couch.
ChristopherH
# ChristopherH 2010-12-14 23:26
@Alice: Thanks! I'm def sticking around ...

For the record, I'm a Dean AND Sam guy! Love 'em both equally! ;-)
pandora
# pandora 2010-12-15 00:14
Oh no... If anybody starts singing Kumbaya I'm definitely out of here... You needn't have threatened with that kind of torture Alice... I am on my way to the contact me button now.
Julie
# Julie 2010-12-15 04:13
I am just sticking my head above the parapet briefly to say, `This is a TV show` for entertainment! I love it and I get a huge amount of pleasure and FUN from watching it . Reading many comments here it would appear some people dont seem to share these emotions at all.
Christopher , welcome to the site please keep posting! I love your pondering on what Jared and Jensen would make of all this , I think they would do what I was doing about it all last night , they would have a bloody good laugh.
FMJemena just tried my link again and its working fine for me , try again
http://tinypic.com/usermedia.php?uo=5zeR%2FeOxIJd2DVmUuilozYh4l5k2TGxc
It is even more perfect now!
Diving back down again now, Bye All Ju
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2010-12-15 05:06
@ Julie:
GOt it! Should have opened another tab and pasted the link. Reaction? Bwahahahaha! (Thanks for sharing.)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-15 08:27
I have been negligent in welcoming ChristopherH to the site, allow me to correct that. It’s lovely to find another man’s opinion! Thank you for your elaborate, level-headed and clear statements.

And thanks to everyone who sang *Kumbaya* over the last hours here. You know what I mean.
magichappening
# magichappening 2010-12-15 10:31
Just to say I am a proud member of the Kumbaya Singing Group (KSG) and LOOOVE both the show and this site.
Christine Apple
# Christine Apple 2010-12-15 12:37
I see KSG t-shirts in our future :D
Callie B
# Callie B 2010-12-15 13:53
*I am getting the feeling at least from Alice's post that different points of views are encouraged and not discouraged here.*

As a lurker and rarely a poster I don't agree with that at all. In my experience when people start to disagree with the pro-Sam bias on this site (and it's well known throughout fandom for having pro-Sam bias) they get accused of trotting out the Sam v Dean agenda even when - like here - they are making perfectly valid, reasonable and polite observations.
Timbre
# Timbre 2010-12-15 17:38
"If Dean did not know that the ensouling would be violent, does that make it better or should he stop/have stopped it when he saw what it would take?"

What in the world was violent about the re-souling? :-) Just because that revenant was whining and crying? Kids whine and cry when they are about to get a shot, it doesn't mean it's violent.

Wild animals or even pets often thrash about "violently" when people are trying to do something to help them, or save their lives. It doesn't mean the act being committed is an act of violence.

My dog let's out the most pitiful howls when you even try to go near her with a nail clipper and we've never so much as accidently cut her quick. I assure you we are not violently cutting her nails. :-)

There wasn't anything violent about it, in my opinion, except Revenant Sam's reaction to something he didn't want was rather dramatic.
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-15 18:08
Timbre, you are a man/woman/thing of rare insight.

The image that jumped into my mind during the final scenes wasn't rape at all but reluctant-cat-b eing given-worming-p ill, although Sam didn't actually bite everyone and run up the curtains immediately afterwards if I was Bobby and Dean I'd still check to make sure he didn't spit the soul back out behind the sofa when no-one was looking. ;-)

P.S. Cheers, Boobula, You broaden ours, too!
gadfly
# gadfly 2010-12-15 19:53
Word to Pandora's, Galina's, Celia's and Suze's posts. Robo!Sam was a sociopathic revenant, and no different from Angela. We've already been told he isn't human. We've already seen (and heard from his own lips) that he cares about no one and nothing except himself and his own wants, and that he will do anything, including letting his brother get turned into a vampire (and then lying about the existence of a cure) and killing innocents. (We also saw that Sam is a lousy hunter in his new incarnation. He antagonizes witnesses and the people he is seeking information/hel p from, and as he doesn't care about anyone except himself, he has no problem with taking anyone that seems to be the likely guilty party, without thinking things through, thoroughly researching or just not jumping to conclusions.)

Sam is no less a monster than Angela right now. I find it astounding that the same people who praised Sam for five years as being some supersweet, kind, gentle, generous etc person, would now rather have the exact opposite on the screen--and have no problem with letting the Sam they said they loved rot in the Cage and be tormented for eternity.

I find it interesting that Dean is the only one who seems to care about this. And a little sad for the real Sam.

What a lot of people seem to be overlooking is the The Promise, first demanded by John of Dean, and then by Sam. This episode was, in my opinion, the crunch moment. Sociopathic!Sam could not be permitted to continue to as he was. Too many innocents would end up dead because of it.

This was Dean's last-ditch effort to save Sam, before he closed the door on that and opened it on killing Sam, as he promised Sam he would do if Sam ever went evil. And right now, Sam is evil, just a human variety.

That scene where Dean and Sam are staring at each other through the grill of the panic room, is not some soft or "oh, my poor brother" scene. It's a stare-off between the hunter and the hunted.

So, it was get Sam's soul back or it was kill him. Apparently, some people think the former is the worse choice, a position with which I do not agree.

In regard to Dean and Death, I thought the scenes were marvelous (love that Death always wants to feed Dean) and, yes, Dean was right that the bet was rigged. But I think Dean passed both times: I think Death knew that, Dean being Dean, he would lean towards not taking the little girl; that was a test of Dean's humanity.

The second test would be what Dean did when he saw the consequences. That he would go back and take the child when he saw what would follow if he didn't, and that he would sacrifice Sam to keep innocents safe, was a test of Dean's strength and his "righteousness. "

The fact that he passed in the end, that he saw what Death was trying to tell him, and that he proved willing to let the last of his natural family go rather than hurt others, is the reason, I believe, why Death gave Sam's soul back. I also saw it as a bit of a retainer--Death wants the intrepid detective to work for him. He gave him his fee upfront. :lol: I'll be interested to see how this relationship--a nd assignment--pro gress.
0_0
# 0_0 2010-12-15 19:56
Honestly, it shouldn't matter if it hurts or not because if the only choice between death and surgery w/o anesthesia on the battlefield then I say surgery.

A guy stuck in a crevice in 127 Hours cut off his own arm with a dull knife and no pain killers because it was necessary, climbed out of the crevice, ran until he found help because the alternative was to die from starvation, exposure and thirst and probably septic shock. He screamed with pain and there was a lot of blood but it was necessary.

Resouling was necessary because the only other choice was either to kill him to prevent him from killing Bobby. Period. So basically robo!Sam was choosing Death so if we do what he wants, then he just ends up beheaded and turned to ash.

To be blunt, if a souless!Dean tried to kill or torture Sam for selfish reasons, I don't think there would be any question that he either had to be killed or resouled.
elle2
# elle2 2010-12-15 20:05
gadfly,

Thank you for your post. I'm at a loss over this season at this point and did not like this episode at all, it was a bit more palatable on the rewatch but still bugged me. You're post truly has me rethinking some aspects of the episode, namely the Dean parts for I have been fully on board with get rid of soulless Sam for he is nothing but a sociopath who will 'sell his brother for a soda'.

I too did not see anything sympathetic between the 'eye stares' through the panic room portal but I saw hate from Sam and resignation from Dean; he would have to kill Sam. I had forgotten about the promise from so many seasons ago and yes, this was that ultimate fulfillment for the promise extracted by John and Sam...kill Sam if he becomes evil; well, in essence Dean did just that here, although it wasn't the Sammy of Seasons 1 - 5 that died but the sociopath of Season 6 that died.

Nice post, gadfly, thanks for giving me much to ponder. Perhaps this episode isn't as bad as I have thus far seen it to be.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-16 02:54
Sociopath, monster, revenant, wild animal.... Wayhay, brand new nicknames for Sammy! Just as well, Sasquatch was getting old and mop-headed lumberjack is a bit long winded. Plus, I’m not going to use any nickname given to him by a diminutive, double-digited, demonic, dick.

It just struck me, for the past four and a half five seasons we’ve been told by all and sundry that Sam is not human, he is somehow wrong, he is tainted, he is evil, he is irredeemable, he is an abomination, he is a monster.... and it’s never actually panned out to be true. Sam is just a guy, Sam was always just a guy, a deeply flawed man who, in his heart, has nothing but good intentions, who has erred and fallen short time and again but who never once gave up trying, who has made apocalyptic mistakes but who sacrificed everything to try and make it right. And for that, at least, I feel he has earned the benefit of the doubt.

I also think Sam is human, fully human. You stick him on an x-ray machine right now and everything will be where it should be. I don’t think there’s going to be a big black hole inside the body with an arrow saying ‘Insert soul here’ pointing to it. What constitutes being ‘human’ differs for everyone, same with the concept of a ‘soul’. I know for a fact the heart pumps blood around the body, I know the lungs take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. I know nothing about the soul, so until I know what it is and what it does, I’m going to find it difficult to casually give someone a label based on the rather innovative idea that they don’t have one.

The term ‘monster’, as with ‘soulless’ as with ‘sociopath’ etc is completely subjective and very much open to interpretation. A broad definition of a sociopath is someone who is unable to conform to what society defines as ‘normal behaviour’. But who decides what is normal? Who dictates what is right and what is wrong, you, me, the law, God? Society is made up of individuals who all carry different beliefs and standards so how can there be a consensus as to what is ‘normal’?

Someone who raised as a cannibal might have no qualms at all about chowing down on a human bum but while that may turn OUR stomachs, that is THEIR norm (an extreme example but I’m sure you get what I’m driving at). Eating pork is immoral for millions of people, but not for millions of others. Who’s ‘right’ there? I’ve been vegetarian for years so I’d consider it perfectly normal to not eat meat, but because those who eat meat do not adhere to what I consider ‘normal’, does that make them sociopathic? Of course not.

We also need to consider that Sam and Dean, due to the fact that they are hunters, cannot be judged by conventional societal norms. In order for them to do be able to do right, they have to be allowed to do wrong. They have to lie and cheat and steal and kill to be able to help people. All of these characteristics (plus many more exhibited by the boys) are indicators of sociopathic behaviour but because their ultimate aim is to do good, we negate them by looking at their intent, not their actions.

A question was raised earlier as to whether Sam would be held accountable for his actions during this past year. I dare say that Sam will find himself accountable but I doubt he will he held accountable by the law (what is the penalty for standing by and watching your brother get turned into a vampire these days? Probation, incarceration, a good spanking??)

Will Sam and Dean be held accountable for all the hosts they killed while killing demons, for those they killed in Croatoan, for Madison, for Jake, for countless others? Nope. Why not? Because due to the fact that their ways are not our ways, then our laws are not their laws. They cannot be judged by what we perceive to be normal because the situations they find themselves in are not normal.

Jasminka, I'm open for correction on this but from what I can remember from my university days is that the criteria to indicate sociopathic behaviour (anti social personality disorder) is pretty broad, so broad that any one of us could easily be labelled as having an ASPD. The DSM IV lists 9 specific criteria and says that displaying 3 or more of these indicate ASPD. In the last 24 hours, I’ve displayed 5; irritability (this time of the year, who isn’t), impulsivity (oh man, you should see shoes I got as a result of this trait), irresponsibilit y (all the time, unfortunately), was not respectful to the law (illegally parked), and shallowness (the shoes make my legs look great!). I was also narcissistic (went to the gym), was cruel to animals (I think I drove over a frog on the way home, he hopped under the wheels, I wasn’t aiming for him) and showed a lack of remorse (I didn’t go back to see if I could resuscitate him) so according to all diagnostic manuals, I’m on the upper end of the sociopathic scale. I hope they let me post here from whichever prison I end up in!

And that’s what I’m carrying into this whole ‘soulless’ = monster’ business. There is no definitive criterion that dictates what is a monster, a sociopath, immorality etc. There is only OUR criteria, OUR beliefs and what OUR society dictates but are we really so arrogant as to think that (a) our beliefs are universal and (b) our criteria is law?

Nah, it’s going to take a whole lot more than something as contentious as ‘the absence of a soul’ for me to call Sam a monster or a sociopath; enough people are feeding into that. The show is certainly feeding into it and what can I say to you, show? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me five years running......
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-16 03:27
Enchanting Tim, I’d like to encourage you to save your already worked-up nerves. You won’t persuade those commenters you are referring to to re-think and find the contradictions in their statements.

As to your diagnosis of yourself as being a sociopath… *she smiled broadly*.
Each one of us owns the elements you ‘displayed’ here. It’s human. In my profession I would have to find proof that these traits are persistent, non-changeable and being there from childhood on. Because one of the criteria for diagnosing a personality disorder (of whatever kind, by the way) is that is has to begin during childhood/youth . If I can’t find behavioral proof for that, I am not allowed to label anyone sociopath, narcissist, histrionic or whatever. So, you need a long time of observation and third-party anamnesis in addition to be entitled to label any person with a personality disorder. If the behaviour in question appears in later life, then I have to look for other reasons, and then it’s a completely different diagnosis. So, unfortunately, I can’t label you with the disorder you mentioned. Sorry. :-)


CalifornianLeslie - I know. Thank you. Sweet dreams.

Cheers, Jas
Pandora
# Pandora 2010-12-16 03:51
@TimtheEnchanter
"Sociopath, monster, revenant, wild animal.... Wayhay, brand new nicknames for Sammy! Just as well, Sasquatch was getting old and mop-headed lumberjack is a bit long winded. Plus, I’m not going to use any nickname given to him by a diminutive, double-digited, demonic, dick."

May I refer to Alice's houserule no. 4?

I think that nobody called Sam Winchester any of those things. The whole point of attributing these names was to show that this was NOT Sammy.

To clearly differentiate that this being is a monster, revenant while the real Sam is not. To drive home the point that there is a difference between the two, that there are two seperate entities.

IMO it is misconstruing people's arguments when you say that those are the nicknames given to Sammy.

Those are the nicknames given to what people believe *not* to be Sammy.
Pandora
# Pandora 2010-12-16 03:52
@TimtheEnchanter
"Sociopath, monster, revenant, wild animal.... Wayhay, brand new nicknames for Sammy! Just as well, Sasquatch was getting old and mop-headed lumberjack is a bit long winded. Plus, I’m not going to use any nickname given to him by a diminutive, double-digited, demonic, dick."

May I refer to Alice's houserule no. 4?

I think that nobody called Sam Winchester any of those things. The whole point of attributing these names was to show that this was NOT Sammy.

To clearly differentiate that this being is a monster, revenant while the real Sam is not. To drive home the point that there is a difference between the two, that there are two seperate entities.

IMO it is misconstruing people's arguments when you say that those are the nicknames given to Sammy.

Those are the nicknames given to what people believe *not* to be Sammy.
Pandora
# Pandora 2010-12-16 04:04
@TimTheEnchanter

"I also think Sam is human, fully human. You stick him on an x-ray machine right now and everything will be where it should be. I don’t think there’s going to be a big black hole inside the body with an arrow saying ‘Insert soul here’ pointing to it."

What about not needing any sleep? For more than a year? What do you make of that in terms of a human frame of reference? I thought it was impossible for a human being to go without sleep for a prolonged period of time.

Sleep deprivation is even considered to be a method of torture if I am not mistaken. Is there any medical condition, a human medical condition that would account for the fact that this Sam doesn't sleep *at all*?
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-16 04:15
Tim 'n' Jas ... Not fighting, just asking ...Sam ( when he's all there and not split between here and Hell ) is an all round good egg and a lovely bloke with some bad choices on his CV ( Same goes for Dean ) but what's left after you take the bit that cares about other people out is a good deal less likable.

Given that Dean's not going to leave the caring part of Sam in the pit to suffer then where should he put that bit when it's rescued if not back in the body it came from?

As I said, not having a go, just wondering ...
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-16 04:55
Suze, I know you are not having a go, but I won't delve into it again. I explained so many times in the article and comments that I object to the method in which it was done and never said it should not happen at all. Of course it is sam's body where the soul belongs. Or- Danny Kaye? ;-)

As I said, I won't contribute to the discussion anymore. I answered Tim's question in regard to diagnostical criteria on personality disorders, that's all. Please don't feel offended, dear Suze, by my not going back to it.
Ellie_444
# Ellie_444 2010-12-16 07:52
Jas put up a honest thought provoking article and since then I have read alot of differing views .. Tim the Enchanter I agree with your post and nicely put.It is a extordinary situation the brothers found themselves in as I dont think given a choice Sam would of had his body and soul seperated but there were but not by Sam .I have stated I saw Deans actions as selfish because in away they were but I also know he loves Sam and was in a position that was literally horrible . I happen to agree with Jas that the resouling was necessary but the method disturbing and that is just honest feelings .
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-16 08:44
Jas, fair enough ... I must admit I skimmed some of the more epic offerings so I misunderstood that bit. 'Nuff said then!
bookdal
# bookdal 2010-12-16 08:48
Just a quick note, since I have to go to work, but after reading the column of comments, I would like to make an additional observation about my own reaction to the re-souling. I do maintain that it was disturbing, and that it was meant to be messy. However, I think the issue of what is monstrous is at the heart of this debate, or at least, what is seen as monstrous. A fellow poster, in another thread, and some posters in this thread have made the observation that in the SPN universe (with the rules established as they have been so far) that RoboSam was akin to a zombie or any other creature that has been hunted over the last five seasons. I actually agree with this premise, BUT I also think, given several cues this season, that the automatic reaction of hunting to kill has been called into question by the series. I am reminded of the AlphaVamp scene in "Family Matters," the skinwalker in "All Dogs Go to Heaven," and the baby in "Two and a Half Men," and how the show has positioned the definition of "monster" at the center of the narrative. And I think, in my own reading, that SPN is calling into question its own rule set and that is epitomized by the Sam v. notSam debate. I've been thinking about this since these debates started, and I'm more and more convinced that this conversation is an intended conversation, that we are supposed to struggle with the parameters that the writers have been struggling with. It's not so easy to kill a monster when the monster is you or me - hence the shattered glass of the opening. Glass is a mirror when it needs to be.

The writers have spent the first half of the season leaving breadcrumbs of doubt by introducing scenarios that are not so cut and dry; they've done this before. "Roadkill" is a sympathetic portrayal of a ghost; "Heart" is a sympathetic portrayal of a werewolf. I'm sure there are others, but these come to mind because they seem specifically designed to highlight the problems of the hunt and what is hunted. But those episodes were strung throughout a larger, more comprehensive narrative that had set goals and outcomes. Save Sam from becoming a monster; Save Dean from dying; Save the world from the end.

But now those larger narratives have transformed and I am now even more convinced this was a smart move on the show's part - now the narrative (although still global - Heaven's War, Alpha Monsters, and Purgatory) is really localized to the brothers' relationship. Much time has been spent on establishing Sam as potentially monstrous, and now we have that possibility come to fruition, but not. It has also been measured against the murkiness of the baby shapeshifter, the creepy but pathetic dog-man, and vampDean.

I'm tempted to rewatch the first episodes again and parse out how subtly the thread has been woven.

Just my feelings and observations.
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2010-12-16 13:14
Wow.... what an article . I really don't...just wow. How do you write such stimulating articles.I thank you and also the site for putting so much effort in your articles.
For me i am worried for Sam...Poor guy I just felt sad at the end of the episode for him. When i include all the Seasons and watch at Sam's life i feel only sad for Sam.For a guy having a promising life at the beginning he started loosing people who he loved and ended loosing his soul until recently.
I liked soulless Sam as well as his charger. Soulless Sam because till season5 whenever Meg(just an eg) used to come she would always threaten them but now it was opposite and was reduced to pathetic .Not that souled Sam is not my expected character just it was pretty amusing to watch Sam just ordering Meg around...and charger was cool.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-16 13:51
Dear anonymous gentleman - thank you! :-), Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-12-16 14:58
I'm the 123rd commenter here, and not surprised at all - your articles rock, Jas!!
This epi rocked, too, and I get a feeling the Supernatural as we know it is coming back. Sorry, but so far S6 didn't work for me very well (except WeekendAtBobby' s).
Loved to see J.Richlins back, I totally agree with you, Jas, he's just amazing. And I love Tessa. Actually, as I think of it, I like how SPN portraits death - mostly you find it portrayed dramatic and brutal, but here Death and the reapers show compassion and, well, death as such is treated like a normal, natural thing. It's just the humans that make a drama out of it, but that's understandable for we don't know (in real life, I mean, not the SPN universe ;-)) what happens afterwards, and those left behind really go through a traumatic time. It's funny to have watched this epi today, because the past week death has been a present topic for me, the tragic death of an acquaintance has stirred up some real life discussions on that matter. Not good. But it somehow helps loosing a bit of it's fear-factor, as much as this is possible for a fearful human being. ... Oh, God, I'm rambling ...
Anyway, great episode!

Anyway, always love to read your articles, Jas, thanks again for your effort. And thanks to Alice for putting up this wonderful site.

Merry Christmas to y'all, and a very happy new year!!

Lara
Lianne
# Lianne 2010-12-16 15:10
@ Tim the Enchanter:

"It just struck me, for the past four and a half five seasons we’ve been told by all and sundry that Sam is not human,”

I don’t believe this is true, it was only this season in the Veritas episode that Sam was deemed to be actually “not human.”

@ “I also think Sam is human, fully human.”

Yes he is NOW because he has his soul back. But without a soul, Sam was not human according to the SHOW.

@ “The term ‘monster’, as with ‘soulless’ as with ‘sociopath’ etc is completely subjective and very much open to interpretation.”

Yes it is to us as individuals, but it is not to the show, Supernatural. To the show, the soul's value is immeasurable, priceless. To the show, to be fully human is to have a soul. And according to the show’s director, Sera Gamble compared Sam without a soul to a sociopath.

So you and I may believe that soullessness is open to interpretation, we may debate whether or not soulless Sam was a monster, but I do believe the show has been quite clear on the matter – HUMANS have SOULS. Period.

When babies are born into this world, it’s a painful and extreme experience, but the horrific scream of a newborn baby signifies LIFE. Perhaps the show means to make this comparison? In a way, Sam is now re-born.

I believe soulless!Sam’ s momentary suffering while being re-souled is not comparable to real!Sam’s suffering in hell. If Dean had not made this choice, Sam would *still* be suffering in hell. But now at least Sam has a chance to heal and return to his life.

Sam experienced the horrible pain but now he also has a chance to experience happiness and joy, now that his body has been rightfully reunited with its soul. :-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-16 16:37
Lara, thank you for your kind and moving words. I am so very sorry to hear about the loss of an aquaintance, and believe me, I do know from personal experience how bitter a pill to swallow that is.

There is not much one can say that might be comforting, depending on how close you were.

I would like to offer you to enclose you in my prayers and hope that you will find soon that the pain doesn't stay the same, nor does the fear. It's moving to another state, and then it becomes more tolerable.

There is a poem by one of my favourite poets, Antun Gustav Matos, whom you surely know, which has always had some comforting quality for me (along with others). I hope you don't take it amiss that I include it here:

UTJEHA KOSE

Gledao sam te sino?. U snu. Tužnu. Mrtvu.
U dvorani kobnoj, u idili cvije?a,
Na visokom odru, u agoniji svije?a,
Gotov da ti predam život kao žrtvu.
Nisam plako. Nisam. Zapanjen sam stao
U dvorani kobnoj, punoj smrti krasne,
Sumnjaju?i da su tamne o?i jasne
Odakle mi nekad bolji život sjao.
Sve baš, sve je mrtvo: o?i, dah i ruke,
Sve što o?ajanjem htjedoh da oživim
U slijepoj stravi i u strasti muke,
U dvorani kobnoj, mislima u sivim.
Samo kosa tvoja još je bila živa,
Pa mi re?e: Miruj! U smrti se sniva.

I hope you will be well, soon.

And thank you so much for your dear good wishes for Christmas and the next year. A very merry Christmas to you, too. May it be joyful and full of peace, despite the present situation (hoping that this is possible at least a bit).

Love, Jasminka
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-16 17:12
P.S. how rude of me - here is my rather clumsy translation of the poem above, for all those of you who don't speak Croatian.

Comfort of hair

I watched you last night. Dreaming. Sad. Dead.
In the deadly hall, within the idyll of flowers,
High on a catafalk,within the agony of candles,
Ready to give you my life like a sacrifice.
I did not cry. I did not. Mesmerized I stood
I that deadly hall, full of beautiful death
Doubting that those dark eyes were clear
Wherefrom once a better life shone at me.
Everything, everything was dead, eyes, breath, hands,
Everything I tried to awaken with my lament
In blind passion and under the spell of pain,
In that deadly hall, grey thoughts.
Only your hair was alive still,
Saying to me: Be at peace. In death you dream.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-16 20:33
That’s easy for me to argue in my head, Suze. I’m rather simplistic in my thinking; I don’t claim to be a philosopher. I don’t (can’t?) think of Sam and Sammy as two separate entities. I have difficulty comprehending that something I don’t necessarily believe in (a soul) can create such a marked difference in a person. Kids come into my class every day, and honest to God, if I didn’t know their names, I wouldn’t even know who they were; such might be the difference in their personality. (That’s it, Sam’s not lacking a soul, he’s just going through puberty!!)

I see peoples personalities change based on who they are hang out with or what is happening at home, in relationships etc etc. There might be a million and one different factors involved and I find it easier to explain the marked difference in Sam’s personality with what I can relate to. I know it’s Supernatural (so a suspension of belief is a prerequisite) and I’m sure it’ll be completely debunked in 7 weeks, 1 day and 5 ½ hours but until then, it works for me....

Suze, I know you’re not trying to pick a fight or be antagonistic, so no worries there. I gotta say it’s a bit depressing to think that we feel the need to precede any statement we make with ‘I’m not this’ or ‘I’m not that...’ for fear of attack or reproach. (I’m not going to attack anyone; do I come across as overly antagonistic in my comments?? Crap, sorry if I do. It’s an Irish thing. We’ve spent so long shooting the arses off each other we find it hard to relax....)

I know I didn’t make remark earlier (there are so comments on here!) but, I’m totally on board with what you said about Dean not having a choice. Things couldn’t be left as they were. The minute they got the soul back, it was a win situation. Being out of hell, regardless of what happens now, is a win situation. If they got the soul out of hell, put the bloody thing into a box and kept it in the trunk of the Impala, it’d be a win situation. The question of how good of a win it was will be answered in time but yeah, Dean did what he had to do, no matter how much it pained him or Sam.

Plus, like you said, Dean is, and always has been, the man with the plan. If it works, great, if it doesn’t work, he’ll find a way to make it work. That’s one of Dean’s key strengths. He, like Sam, will fight on his back for what he believes in and he is unwavering in his belief in Sam.

This is one of the things I admire most about Dean, he has the courage of his convictions and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s not afraid to make the hard choices, the ones most others are hesitant to make, if he believes in what he is doing. I know there are hundreds of comments on this article and others but from what I can recall, very few people said that Sam should NOT have been resouled. The method and visual impact of that may have been distressing but that is where Dean is strong.

If you were to ask me right now ‘Did Dean/Death do the right thing?’ I’d answer with that all-encompassin g, chicken-shit, copout statement ‘I’m just glad it was done’ and leave it at that. I’m glad Sam has his ‘soul’ back, I’m glad Dean was strong enough to do it, but I’m glad neither the decision to, nor the method of, resoul were left up to me.

Brynn, apologies for the confusion. I was trying (and apparently failing...) to go for a rhetorical question. ‘Who decides what is right and wrong’ and the answer is of course, as you said, no-one, because no-one is qualified to make such a decision.

Unfortunately, semantics are kinda my thing. I like words.... (You think that’s bad, you should see what the maths teacher does for fun!) However, for me, this wasn’t an issue of splitting hairs in relation to what a sociopath is because there’s never going to be a consensus on that, my main issue is the whole idea of sticking labels on people.

Apologies for bringing my personal bias into play here but I loathe when labels are put on people. I think it's the reason why the world is in the shit state that it’s in, to be honest. Very often it seems to be a case of, we see something we don’t like or don’t understand and instead of trying to understand, we either fear it or try to change it. Because of that I tend to question the label itself. In relation to this, I was merely trying to highlight that sociopath, as with monster, have different definitions.

As Jasminka said (and apologies for bringing your name in here again) sociopaths need to have a long pattern of immoral behaviour, from childhood onward, which Sam clearly hasn’t exhibited. One of the commonalities in the definition of a sociopath is a desire to rule the world, which Sam turned his ass on when he fought back against Lucifer.

Personally (and again, it’s only my opinion) I’d have to look past the last 11 weeks and judge this Sam now against the Sam we saw for the 5 years prior to that and then decide if he’s a sociopath or has, for the past eleven weeks, displayed intermittent signs of sociopathic behaviour (I'm also pedantic...)

Of course, I could end up with egg on my face if they ever show an episode about Sam during his year with the Campbells which shows him mugging little old ladies and kicking puppies!

Lianne, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I entirely agree with all you said.

I feel that since the very first vision Sam has been shrouded under a veil of suspicion. There has always been some subtle allusion that he is just isn’t quite right, and I feel the show has failed to address many questions in relation to it. For example, was Sam chosen by YED because he was psychic, or did the blood give him the visions, why was he favoured by YED to lead the demon army, what’s with the telekinesis, what was it about him that repelled Lilith, did drinking blood give him the demon killing powers or were they always there, why was it only Sam who could be Lucifers vessel ‘It had to be you, Sam’, are the powers still there now?

Back in season 4, angels almost refused to touch him, Dean told Sam that if he didn’t know him, he would want to hunt him (they save people, they hunt monsters), Castiel called him an abomination, Dean also said something along the lines of ‘Do you know how far from human you are right now’ or something like that (I can’t even remember the episode.) Sam himself felt he was a monster even back in season 4 as is evident by the Dean hallucination in When the Levee Breaks. The above unanswered questions, along with these incidents, indicate, for me, that the ‘Sam=non-huma n?’ debate has been floating around since season 1.

In relation to the show being very specific about what a soul does, maybe I need things spoonfed to me, but I don’t think it has. As Bookdal said, the show has been muddying the waters for quite some time in relation to what constitutes a monster and, I feel, what constitute a soul. The prime example here would be Madison. She’s a werewolf, so by all Supernatural standards, she’s definitely a monster, yet I don’t think there’s any doubt she has a soul. The same applies to the alpha shifter (until he wasn’t at all bothered by the thought of Crowley playing with his kids spines...), the dog in Family Matters etc etc etc. These, going by their actions, all have souls, yet are clearly monsters.

I’m in total agreement with you that the soul had to come out because temporary suffering in the process of being resouled is incomparable to suffering in hell and I love your idea that he is now reborn and hopefully, wiped clean. Personally, I’m hoping they’ve wiped clean the lot, the demon blood, powers, visions etc etc. For feck sake, Sam hasn’t been ‘Sam’ since 1983!

Jasminka, don’t worry, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I’m neither arrogant enough to think I could, nor bothered about it enough to try. I recognise an exercise in futility when I see it and Momma didn’t raise no fool, though apparently she did raise a shoe-shopping, crappy-parking, frog-pulveriser who, thankfully, isn’t a sociopath.

Also, I never got to say this earlier though every time I reply to one of your articles I mean to put it in. Having read what you do in your profession; I couldn't do it. Genuinely. I’m not being facetious or glib here; I could not do what you do. I am in awe that you voluntarily do something that would have me running to the hills in avoidance. And while I know that I could never do what you do, I’m infinitely glad that there are people out there like you who can.

So respect to you.

Right, now I’m off to try to plant the idea into Ardeospina’s head that 12 pictures of John dressed in a Santa hat and tinsel would be entirely appropriate for her 12 Days of SPN Christmas article.
elle2
# elle2 2010-12-16 20:50
Tim, This is exactly why you are an absolute joy to have here. :-)

"Right, now I’m off to try to plant the idea into Ardeospina’s head that 12 pictures of John dressed in a Santa hat and tinsel would be entirely appropriate for her 12 Days of SPN Christmas article."

Please know that while I do dislike labels as you have said, they are inherent such as male, female, young, old those are all labels, (chocolate lover, non-chocolate lover (freaks :o )

When I refer to Sam as a sociopath admittedly I'm doing it from this foundation, 1, Sera Gamble herself said that she sees 'current' Sam (this was in an interview perhaps a month or so ago) as akin to Ted Bundy, fairly sure he qualifies as a sociopath; and 2, someone else used the label and I picked it up, much as I did revenant (although I also pondered that and looked up what revenant means).

Mostly I'm commenting because of what I quoted from your last post... had me laughing my butt off!!! :D :D
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2010-12-17 03:42
LOL Brynn, think Tim was referring back to the earlier post

"...was cruel to animals (I think I drove over a frog on the way home, he hopped under the wheels, I wasn’t aiming for him) and showed a lack of remorse (I didn’t go back to see if I could resuscitate him)"

Personally found the 'frog-pulverise r' rather hilariously brilliant Tim. You had me laughing.
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-17 09:10
Tim ... I reckon if you go round doing mouth-to-mouth on frogs you end up with inflatable anphibian thingies like in Shrek, so it's just as well you kept driving! ( Actually you might get a handsome prince instead, but he'd be really pissed-off with you for running him over so you wouldn't have much chance of a happy-ever-afte r! )

I'm with you on the not-labelling things front, too many people think that once something's catagorised you can just kick it into the long grass and forget about it.

I'm well confused by the whole what's-a-soul debate. Seems to me more as if Sam's still Sam but he's lost his ability to care about anything except himself, lost his heart, if you like. So he can still feel the colder emotions, pain, anger, fear and so on ... But not the warmer ones. He's still him, just missing the part that connects him to other people. If this makes him pretty dangerous and thoroughly obnoxious ( which it does ) that's not because Sam is inherantly evil or any of that tosh, but just that anyone without the ability to empathise and identify with others is like a car with no brakes ... Doesn't matter who's driving, frogs are going to get squashed ...

PS. Sorry about all the qualifiers around my last post. I know you and Jas aren't going to go off the deep-end but the discussion seemed to be getting a bit tense so I didn't want anyone else to think that I was putting the boot in ...
Lianne
# Lianne 2010-12-17 09:15
Tim -- I didn't mean to imply that ONLY humans have souls (because yes, some monsters do as well), rather that to be fully human is to have a soul.

I do think the show has established that Sam, without a soul, was NOT "human". Sam had to be re-souled in order to be human. :-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-17 09:45
Enchanting Tim, the moment you should ever go mouth-to-mouth on frogs might actually get you committed, dear Celt, so I'd recommend to stay on the pulverising front. :D
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2010-12-17 21:33
Jas, you've certainly given us much to ponder in this article. I've not had time to read through everyone's replies, but it is impressive that so much response has been generated. I'm still trying to put my own thoughts about this episode & the season so far into cohesive form, & my heart just keeps breaking for our boys & everyone who cares about them. I do think Dean did what he had to, to make his brother human & whole again. Even though the show has muddled its definition of what having, or being, a soul really means, it has certainly encouraged me to think about it. And that is another reason I love this show so much. Most other TV programs I watch, then forget about once the episode is over. Not Supernatural!
Thanks, Jas!
amazed
# amazed 2010-12-18 10:54
I have spent an enjoyable & thought-provoki ng couple of hours reading both the article and all the comments and find myself wanting to add my own thoughts to the mix. Thank you Jasminka for your latest article, it was an interesting read and like other commenter's I found some points resonated more strongly with me either in full agreement or in a stunned whoa moment as I had not had the same interpretation. I also found it was quite fascinating reading all the various comments in one sitting.

I firmly believe we are all influenced in our perceptions of what we are seeing by our own life experiences. Those experiences also include our own moral code, religious or spiritual beliefs, and of course where we are currently balancing from an emotional or hormonal level. This can have a massive impact on how any of us view a particular episode or article at any given time.
One of my favorite sayings is, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way YOU think about it." It's as simple and as complex as our own attitudes because while we cannot always control events that happen in our lives we are able to completely choose how we react to those events.

My own belief system is we are all spiritual beings inhabiting a human body so I understand your need to find the good in everyone Jasminka, especially your empathy with the walls we all build to help to allow our souls to survive trauma. Having said that, for me the re-souling of Sam did not have the same impact because RoboSam was missing the vital element that made him human, his soul. (so I was definitely another of those deaf and blind viewers!) I do believe the first couple of episodes after the break will be really interesting especially to see where the writers will be taking us as the next step in the journey of Sam and Dean. Will episode 12 pick up immediately after the 're-birth' of Sam or will it move forward a few weeks? For many viewers the first few episodes back may have more of an impact on how this episode will be finally viewed. Which when you think about it is so typical of many Supernatural episodes and in fact each supernatural season is so much more when looked at overall.

Like many others I have had my own trauma and loss over the years, and I still find the world is a wonderful place full of joy and beauty, especially if we allow ourselves to focus on what we love rather than dwell on the rest.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-19 15:39
BagginsDVM and Amazed, thank you for speaking your mind!

Dawn, thank you,I agree so very much that this show doesn't leave you just like that, one thinks about it even after the credits have rolled, what a wonderful testament to its quality.

Amazed, I think it's the most important thing - to see someting beautiful in the world despite what we experienced. I noticed that the world's colours became more intense and manifold, given the experiences I had. It's so important and vital if we want to truly survive.

Thank you! Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-12-21 17:28
Hey Jas, thanks so much for your reply! Haven't read that poem since high school, good old Matos :-) Hvala ti na lijepim i utjesnim rijecima, bas mi puno znaci.
Anabelle
# Anabelle 2010-12-21 20:01
you're using rape to talk about what happens in the show? I think all this article is offensive, rape is a serious matter and you're using it only to defend your favorite character.

Are you really comparing a fictional character with a real rape victim?
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-22 08:45
Freebird and Anabelle, thanks for commenting.

Lara, bila mi je cast. :-) Matos is a master, isn't he?

Anabelle, I'm afraid you don't seem to have understood my argument. Please feel free to read it all - and the comments - again. It's widely explained there.

Cheers. Jas
pamelab
# pamelab 2010-12-22 15:40
I think you've raised some interesting points and I agree Dean will feel guilty for having to do that to Sam because he'll be witnessing the fallout and it would be a direct result of a decision he made BUT I don't think Dean is guilty of doing something wrong and I definitely don't believe he deserves the blame because there was no better alternative and I think it's a choice Sam would have made for himself. RoboSam's body is Sam's body and in the absence of his voice Dean had to make a tough decision regarding what happens to it on his behalf.

You may not be blaming Dean in your review but you are using negative terminology for Dean's actions which is easy to miscontrue and come accross as anti-Dean which like you say you are not. If you would honestly use the same terminology had the situation been reversed instead of saying something like Sam restored Dean's soul to his body against RoboDean's will then we're fine. It's natural to take sides when you identify with one character over another but sometimes it helps to switch the names in your head to check if you really are trying to present both points of view fairly because I do think some Dean fans are always having to be on the defensive because Dean's point of view is not being understood.

Sorry, you're obviously entitled to present whichever point of view you agree with I just feel a bit disheartened by some people's view of Dean because I love the character and I want people to see him in the same light as I do because then they'd love him just as much as me :-)
carlyj
# carlyj 2010-12-22 18:05
Great you've sparked a debate on another forum and now people are jumping on a "Dean raped Sam" bandwagon referencing your article. As if people needed more ammo to used against Dean.

There are some intelligent comments from Sam fans on Dean's side though...

'A lot of people are blaming Dean for forcing Sam's soul back because he didn't have RoboSam's consent but if SoulSam had his say wouldn't he ask Dean to do the same thing, it is his body afterall?

Then.

SoulSam chose to go to hell and accept all the suffering of the cage in order so save innocent lives.

Sam's soul was going to suffer in hell for eternity.

Sam's body with his memories was roaming around not caring about human lives, letting his brother get turned by a vampire and killing innocents that got in the way of the hunt.

Now.

Sam's soul is out of hell and it is no longer suffering eternal torment.

RoboSam is no longer a danger to his brother and other innocents.

Sam's wall will break but the difference is he will not be suffering in hell for eternity he'll be suffering on earth surrounded by friends and family trying to do everything in their power to help him and it doesn't have to be forever anymore.

Would SoulSam choose to remain in hell in order for RoboSam to live and possibly kill Dean and Bobby on a hunt because he doesn't care about innocent casualties or would he choose to be resouled in order to end his torment in hell and be around people he loves again even knowing he'd have to face the memories of hell eventually. Arent memories of being in hell better than still living in hell? ' -anon
Julie
# Julie 2010-12-23 10:10
I so promised myself I was not going to do this as I did not want to fan the flames, but I cannot shut up any longer.
I have read this article many times and still cannot see where all the misunderstandin gs, misinterpretati ons
and hostility is coming from.
Are there are some sort of `chinese whispers` happenning? I do wonder if there are not some sort of jungle drums encouraging people unfamiliar with the site and its writers to visit, but if this is the case I would ask them to please re read the article very carefully.
Nowhere did Jas ever accuse Dean of being (and it is an anathema for me to even type this) `a violent rapist`. This is something she would just never do. What she actually wrote was that when DEATH forced the soul back into `Sam` this violation could have been seen as an allegory to rape. This was her opinion and since when do we pillory people here for expressing an opinion? She did say that `Sam` , or as I prefer to say , the thing pretending to be Sam, was forced to take his soul back, and that Dean was forced to do this beacuase of his own integrity, could anyone not
agree with this?
If we want to go down the old route , Yes, Jas is a so called `Sam Girl` as I am a`Dean Girl`, but if you love the show how can you not love both characters, they are halves of one whole! I also see people questioning that if the situations had been reversed would she have still felt the same way, could she reverse the names in her head or have written the same article? Yes she would. I also wonder what some of the Dean Girls comments would have been if she ever called Dean
` a fiend` because that is what she called `Sam` here.
If anyone is still really in doubt about her opinions I would invite you to read her article `What Dean Winchester means to me`. Perhaps they will then understand her writings and feelings a little better.
Personally I would just like to draw a line under all this and mark it up to an example of how things can be interpretated very differently. It is afer all the season of goodwill.
I hope everyone gets just what they wish for this christmas , Love Ju
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-12-23 13:17
Well said Julie. I actually didn't realise that Jasminka was a 'Sam fan' as her articles are generally hugely positive to both brothers. However, it has shown that having a leaning towards one brother doesn’t automatically equate to prejudice against the other. I like to think people are not that one dimensional (as was said, grey, glorious grey!). I don’t think it’s possible to love Dean without also liking Sam and vice versa; everything that’s good about them is wrapped up in each other.

I may be the only one but I’m thrilled with the idea that her article is being used as a reference on another forum. First of all, it shows the quality of articles that are being written here. Secondly, I don’t believe that articles, especially impassioned ones, should be contained just because some of the issues that arose from them may be contentious or unpopular. That’s the nature of debate and, for me, the more debate the better.

In relation to the ‘rape’ allegory; ah lads, it's not as if Jasminka coined the bloody term. Take a look back at the various discussions following Twihard. A huge amount of them alluded to the whole ‘Sam raped Dean' idea, especially as it was weighed down by the transfer of bodily fluids. The show has, in relation to the allegory, been insinuating it for weeks with Dean’s comments about soap on a rope, ‘rape showers’ etc etc. One thing is for certain, SPN ain’t for kids, folks!

I honestly can’t wait for five weeks time to see how the resouling affects both sides. We know that giving Sam his soul back was the right thing to do, let’s hope it now has the desired result. Given that all we know about the next episode is that Dean looks excited and Sam looks unnerved about virgins (God love them!), the odds are that in 37 days, natural order will be restored (at least for a while....)
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-23 16:57
Wait, what? Jaz is a Samgirl? ... Oooh, grab your torch and pitchfork ... ;-)

Or you could try actually reading what she wrote before you wade in ... Looking at you, Anabelle.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-12-23 17:18
Julie, EnchantingTim and Suze, after all the flak and misconstruction s in the comments to my article, to find statements like yours (in a row! Oh my, golly! ;-)) is ...ah, you know how I feel...
Thanks for this pre-Christmas Christmas gift...

I'm singing off in a way, as I'm going on a week long Christmas trip, and I'll not be online regularly (but there will be other articles coming), so - Merry Christmas!!! And lots and lots of smiles! Jas
Suze
# Suze 2010-12-23 18:49
No worries, mate. Have a good Christmas. We all need some over-eating and a huge family row to restore our sense of perspective and remind us why we need to escape into TV oblivion in the first place ... ;-)