Sam In Bunker

Sam Winchester's Safe Place

There are all sorts of reasons why scenes are written, but the way they are staged often is outside the boundaries of authorial intent – practicalities come into play, such as budgetary restraints and actor availability.

In Road Trip, we had a very wonderful scene set inside Sam Winchester's head, a scene in which he found the strength to take back his agency. I'm going to think of him as being in his safe place, and while we don't know for sure if Gadreel locked Sam away in there or he did it himself, I want to think the latter is true, because I feel his choice of safe place sheds such insight into who Sam is – and that's something we haven't seen for a while.

Once upon a time I would have thought Sam's safe place might be sitting in the shotgun seat of the Impala, his "home on wheels," tooling through the heartland with his brother at his side on the journey to the next hunt. But this episode showed us that his safe place is something different. It showed us Sam in the Men of Letters library engaged in research and surrounded by books, by centuries of knowledge. I feel it was such a perfect callback to what I believe Sam is at heart: a scholar, a thinker who would prefer to use his intellect to fight the ongoing battle against evil rather than use brute force – with all the collateral damage that accompanies violence – to fight it. Not so very different from wanting to find a way to expel or even cure demons without killing the host.

It made me think of how Sam always felt like an outsider in his own family because he wanted more than the hunt. It made me think about what the showrunners commented on in pre-season interviews – about Sam finding that he wasn't an outsider, that he did belong by virtue of his legacy as a Man of Letters, like his grandfather, Henry Winchester, before him. It also made me think of Sam's own claim that the bunker was simply a place of work and not a home. Yet here we see it as his safe place, where he can be that scholar and thinker he is, with evil barricaded outside. It's something he tried to do when he escaped to Stanford to follow his dream of doing more with his life than having it end bloody and sad.

To come full circle, it may well be that this wasn't authorial intent, that it was to do with those practicalities referenced above – they needed a venue for a fight scene, they only had Jared, Mark Sheppard and Tahmoh Penikett on the roster that day.

But I really do want to think that there is more to it, and that we might see Sam recover and find a middle ground where he can flourish as a hunter and a scholar, and leave his own legacy as a Man of Letters.

Comments  

det_coverdale
# det_coverdale 2014-01-18 18:57
Nomad,

I agree with your theory that the Bunker is Sam's safe - or comfortable - place, as he has always craved a home; a stable, non-changing environment, which he has only had fleetingly (at Stanford, and with Amelia). Dean also wants that, and we've seen how excited he was at having his own room (which was cute, BTW). Although Sam didn't see the Bunker that way to begin with, I think they've spent enough time there that he's seeing it differently, now.

As you said, Sam is a scholar, an academic, and along with having a home (albeit unconventional) , he seems to like the idea of becoming a Man of Letters; to pick up where Henry left off. And I'm glad Dean recognises that, too.

I do think, however, that it was Gadreel who conjured Sam in the Bunker, rather than Sam. Gadreel needed Sam to be unaware that anything was different to the norm, and he knows the Bunker is Sam's constant now, so that was the safest choice. Having said that, either could be true, and I like that fans see different interpretations of scenes/episodes in the Supernatural 'verse.

Looking forward to next week's ep. How long are the brothers going to be apart?
det_coverdale
# det_coverdale 2014-01-18 18:57
Nomad,

I agree with your theory that the Bunker is Sam's safe - or comfortable - place, as he has always craved a home; a stable, non-changing environment, which he has only had fleetingly (at Stanford, and with Amelia). Dean also wants that, and we've seen how excited he was at having his own room (which was cute, BTW). Although Sam didn't see the Bunker that way to begin with, I think they've spent enough time there that he's seeing it differently, now.

As you said, Sam is a scholar, an academic, and along with having a home (albeit unconventional) , he seems to like the idea of becoming a Man of Letters; to pick up where Henry left off. And I'm glad Dean recognises that, too.

I do think, however, that it was Gadreel who conjured Sam in the Bunker, rather than Sam. Gadreel needed Sam to be unaware that anything was different to the norm, and he knows the Bunker is Sam's constant now, so that was the safest choice. Having said that, either could be true, and I like that fans see different interpretations of scenes/episodes in the Supernatural 'verse.

Looking forward to next week's ep. How long are the brothers going to be apart?
amyh
# amyh 2014-01-18 21:51
Nomad, thank you for this speculation. If pressed i would have said it was finacial reasons....that they would want to use their very expensive MOL stage whenever possible.

Though....in the season premier we also were in Sams head and Sam was in the IMpala. Though, symbolically that worked as Sam was 'traveling' toward a destination...i .e death while debating living or dying. Or maybe the destination was unknown until the debate was finished.

Anyway, I like your theory; its a good one and i do hope the scene was written with Sams charecterizatio n in mind not just financial...cou rse maybe the two mehsed perfectly for the scene. :)
amyh
# amyh 2014-01-18 21:51
Nomad, thank you for this speculation. If pressed i would have said it was finacial reasons....that they would want to use their very expensive MOL stage whenever possible.

Though....in the season premier we also were in Sams head and Sam was in the IMpala. Though, symbolically that worked as Sam was 'traveling' toward a destination...i .e death while debating living or dying. Or maybe the destination was unknown until the debate was finished.

Anyway, I like your theory; its a good one and i do hope the scene was written with Sams charecterizatio n in mind not just financial...cou rse maybe the two mehsed perfectly for the scene. :)
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-01-18 22:01
I think this is a very intriguing theory. The Bunker has become more than just a simple place over the time we've seen it since its introduction. It has become Dean's home---and if Sam would like it to be, his, too.

I think the concept of being surrounded by knowledge as being a safe place for Sam fits, too. Knowledge is power. It can thwart brute force at times. I also see Sam gravitating towards the MOL Library because he'd have any tome of information at his fingertips so he could stop any threat with minimal damage.

It's an intriguing and beautiful thought. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-01-18 22:01
I think this is a very intriguing theory. The Bunker has become more than just a simple place over the time we've seen it since its introduction. It has become Dean's home---and if Sam would like it to be, his, too.

I think the concept of being surrounded by knowledge as being a safe place for Sam fits, too. Knowledge is power. It can thwart brute force at times. I also see Sam gravitating towards the MOL Library because he'd have any tome of information at his fingertips so he could stop any threat with minimal damage.

It's an intriguing and beautiful thought. Thanks so much for sharing it.
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2014-01-19 00:06
Id like to focus for a moment on one thing. I agree with your assessment of the bunker as his safe place and for him its a font of knowledge and this isn't a surprise to me be pause I remember the two very different reactions we got from the brothers meeting with Henry Winchester. Sam was very eager to meet him as he saw Henry as a font of knowledge as well. I thought it was really cute how Dean treated him as a pragmatic sort of annoyance but Sam was ready to embrace Henry with open mind and then tempered his reaction after he saw how Dean behaved.

What Jed like to bring attention to though is the one thing no one has mentioned in these Sam's mind scenarios- he is WITH Dean in all of them. I think hes less inclined to think of the bunker as his safe place but Dean is almost always present in these headspaces and perhaps its simply that Dean means home to him. Just Imo, really, but I still like the above theory just fine too.
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2014-01-19 00:06
Id like to focus for a moment on one thing. I agree with your assessment of the bunker as his safe place and for him its a font of knowledge and this isn't a surprise to me be pause I remember the two very different reactions we got from the brothers meeting with Henry Winchester. Sam was very eager to meet him as he saw Henry as a font of knowledge as well. I thought it was really cute how Dean treated him as a pragmatic sort of annoyance but Sam was ready to embrace Henry with open mind and then tempered his reaction after he saw how Dean behaved.

What Jed like to bring attention to though is the one thing no one has mentioned in these Sam's mind scenarios- he is WITH Dean in all of them. I think hes less inclined to think of the bunker as his safe place but Dean is almost always present in these headspaces and perhaps its simply that Dean means home to him. Just Imo, really, but I still like the above theory just fine too.
debbab
# debbab 2014-01-19 09:50
Gadreel created the scenario for Sam to think he was engaged in a hunt with ghouls and cheerleaders. The cheerleaders is more of a Dean dream, but that he was doing research bring us back to Sam's understanding that he is a legacy. For practical purposes the bunker was probably the best set to use, but is worked to reflect the well read side of Sam. His confusion about why the ghouls are going after cheerleaders lets me believe that he would have eventually figured out that the hunt was staged and he might have figured out that his mind was being manipulated but there isn't time for that in 42 minutes so.... Dean's voice is off as it responds to Sam's query so in Sam's head, Dean is there in his safe place. Loved the reaction to being shot by Crowley! Just a neat detail in the script to bring in reality.
debbab
# debbab 2014-01-19 09:50
Gadreel created the scenario for Sam to think he was engaged in a hunt with ghouls and cheerleaders. The cheerleaders is more of a Dean dream, but that he was doing research bring us back to Sam's understanding that he is a legacy. For practical purposes the bunker was probably the best set to use, but is worked to reflect the well read side of Sam. His confusion about why the ghouls are going after cheerleaders lets me believe that he would have eventually figured out that the hunt was staged and he might have figured out that his mind was being manipulated but there isn't time for that in 42 minutes so.... Dean's voice is off as it responds to Sam's query so in Sam's head, Dean is there in his safe place. Loved the reaction to being shot by Crowley! Just a neat detail in the script to bring in reality.