Oh, Sam what happened?  What did those writers do to you?  

No doubt about it, Sam Winchester is suffering from an identity crisis.  Actually, he doesn’t seem to have an identity.   This show has always been guilty of failing to show Sam’s emotional side since he internalizes, but it often felt like season  nine didn’t even try.  I think they kind of forgot Sam was there.  One has to wonder where it all went wrong.   Where did he lose his voice, his emotional capacity, his sympathy?  Where did he end up becoming a secondary player in a show where he’s listed as a lead?  Why can’t character development happen simultaneously for both brothers, not one or the other? 

The last time I was real frustrated with Sam’s character development was back in season seven.  I’m one of the ones that thought his season 8 role was a great push forward, even with the whole Amelia thing.  He had a new lease on life and was determined to live it.  Then the writers forgot all that and went their own way, decimating any progress he had made from seasons 7 to 8, and likely earlier.  He gets possessed and goes from a normally intuitive and hard to fool Sam to someone who was oblivious to what was happening. Then he finds out what Dean did and behaves like a total unsympathetic jerk, and then he goes back to thinking everything is okay without truly resolving his issues from earlier in the season.  He was removed from the story, serving as Castiel’s wing man in the Angel standoff and damsel in distress the rest of the time.  The whole thing was very, very tough to watch.  

In prior seasons, writers have taken stories to bring that withdrawn side of Sam out, to give us an idea of what’s going on in his head.  In season nine, only Jeremy Carver in the two episodes he wrote decided that Sam’s POV was worthwhile.  As a result, we weren’t able to connect with Sam in season nine or know what his motivations and pains truly were.  There weren’t a lot of hints either and the wasted potential of what could have been with that setup is a travesty. 

In going through the episodes this season, you’re going to see a lot of “could have” or “should have” from me.  Just going through the basic plots you have to wonder where the writers lost total interest in grabbing those opportunities for character defining moments.  Where shout-outs, cavalcade of bad guest character returns, and fan service all took priority over a main character who’s development has a vital 50% stake in this series.  But that’s a moot point.  We’re here for a deeper look at Sam Winchester, and deep we shall get.  Warning, you may see a lot of tears and outright frustration here folks.  And some primal screaming.  Definitely some primal screaming.  

As I go through each episode, just to keep things fun, every time Sam is unconscious, look for the special "DING” and photo.  Collect them all and you’ll get angelic protection for life from ever having a head injury, because it looks like that’s what Sam got.  That’s the only reasonable explanation as to why he's not a drooling mess in a wheelchair by now.    

“I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”

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DING!

This is Sam’s “In My Time of Dying.”  He’s in a coma and hopes of recovery are nil.  While Dean explores options for survival, much like the spirit Dean in IMTOD, Sam takes a different path.  He’s always been practical, so he weighs all sides.  Dean is telling him to fight, but is giving him no good reason to go on other than he shouldn’t give up.  Sam needs more, he needs a plan.  Bobby becomes to Sam what Tessa became to Dean, the one that tells him why it’s time to move on.  This Bobby appeals to Sam’s practical side, the one who’s tired of fighting and knows the consequences of cheating death.  

I find Sam’s inner argument interesting, considering this is a complete 180 from “Trial and Error.”  Sam was facing the front end of the trials and is determined to do the trials and live.  He saw that having a real life was possible, and that outlook only changed because of how worn and broken he was from the grueling effects of the trials.  It was obvious during his internal debate that he didn’t want to die, but he was waiting for Dean to give him a good reason to go on.  I’m not sure I understand this, since he chose to have a normal life after Dean went to Purgatory.  Is it because of the commitment to Dean made in the church?  Without Dean it was time to die?  Is it possible this was the personal decision he made when he went into that church with Crowley (the unaired outtake in the church between Sam and Crowley hints this was his decision, as well as his ‘So?” reaction).  

I adore Sam standing up to “Dean” and telling him that dying was his choice.  This was what he wanted.  It’s understandable, he’s worn and tired from the trials and doesn’t have a lot of fight left, but it kind of invalidates Sam’s true persona too.  While I applaud his declaration of independence and taking destiny into his own hands, I was waiting for Dean to throw back in his brother’s face (even if it wasn’t the real Dean), “What about seeing that light at the end of the tunnel?”  We’re half way into the first episode of season nine and I’m already deliberating continuity.  Later Sam tells Death that if he accepts dying, he doesn’t ever want to be brought back.  Really?  This disappointed me greatly to see that Sam’s new resolve of having a life in season eight just completely dropped and forgotten.  It set any progress he made as a human being backward, as if season eight never happened.  That short term recollection of character continuity ends up being a huge problem in season nine.    

When the season kicks off with such a perplexing take on Sam, then no wonder the whole rest of it was just a hodge podge of whatever Sam felt like that day.  It just keeps getting worse.  

On a side note (and will be explored further in my overall Season Nine review), I’m disappointed that the season nine didn’t slow down to explore more stories of consequences of messing with the natural order.  I wish Sam and Dean really got to see what the ramifications were for not closing the gates of Hell, mostly that it was probably a good thing they didn’t.  They would have learned that bad souls destined for Hell would have been  trapped with the souls that were bound for Heaven, and that would have caused catastrophic chaos in the world.  You know, something cosmic and fun.  As Metatron said last season, they were “pulling one of the great levers.”  It was another big case of wasted potential.  

“Devil May Care”

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DING!

The beginning of the whole being possessed by Ezekiel (later revealed to be Gadreel) stuff.  While I give huge props to Jared for flipping between characters on a dime like that, and his super bad ass decimating of the demons attacking Sam was cool, this one didn’t really do much for Sam the character.  He was in the dark and didn’t have a clue what was happening.  

There was an attempt to explore through Tracy Sam having to live up to his past.  Her family was murdered by demons, who she said were celebrating the fact that “some dumb kid let Lucifer out of his cage.”  The issue is, those demons would have probably killed Tracy’s parents even if they weren’t celebrating, so her hatred is kind of flimsy.  Also, if something like that is going to be brought into a story, there needs to be some type of emotional connection between the characters and the circumstances.  Would some puppy dog eyes have hurt?  No relevant time was taken for any serious soul searching in Sam or any pangs of regret.   It was almost like he scoffed at her and said “that was so season five” (he didn’t, but you get my point).   He moved on , and so should she.  Could it be that was Andrew Dabb’s message to the fans, get over it?  

It’s all better though when they have that awkward exchange at the end (“You okay?” “Yeah, you?” “More or less, yeah,” “Good.”) and I had to make sure I was watching this show called “Supernatural.”  That’s emotional writing?  That means everything is okay?  It ended up being pointless filler that could have gone toward the rest of the plot.  Sure, Sam told Dean Tracy was right in the end, but then he said that he felt good, best in a long time.  So was this Sam saying he’s put his past mistakes behind him?  Was it a setup to show how overprotective Dean was of his brother when he told Tracy to go after the real monsters?  It was almost like Dabb was working the Writing 101 checklist and thought this whole thing would satisfy the “character parallel” item.   

On another side note – I’m just not sure what happened to Andrew Dabb this season.  It’s almost like his writing mojo was sucked completely dry.  Half hearted and disorganized plots, disregard to anything written in prior recent episodes (okay, he’s always been guilty of that), hare brained ideas (and I’m not even talking about Bloodlines), and the general quality in his writing took a massive nosedive.  Almost all of his episodes (excepting “Road Trip”) made my season’s worst list.  Could it be “Supernatural” is getting too stale for him?  TBD.      

“I’m No Angel” 

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DING!  

Sam feels great.  And he’s still utterly clueless as to what’s going on, even though he’s catching Dean in a few lies.  He’s just not doing anything about it!  Maybe because he keeps falling unconscious. 

“Slumber Party”

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DING!

I loved the “Hanging out with Sam and Dean on movie night at the MOL Bunker” feel.  First, Sam isn’t accepting the MOL bunker as home.  His room isn’t unpacked and it’s missing the warm touches of home (although the flat panel TV looked like settling in to me!)  His issue is very understandable.  He even spells out it to Dorothy for those of us that forgot, he hasn’t had too much luck with homes.  One “This is close to home as we’re ever gonna get,” from Dean later and Sam comes around.  He’s writing his own story now, not living in the past (get the theme here?).

In the annoyance factor, Sam again has a “Zeke slip” and again accepts Dean’s lame story that he was knocked out by the witch.  He remembers Dean saying “Zeke” though.  He dismisses.  Sam in prior years would be beating the truth out of Dean by now.  This is getting very annoying, and it’s only episode 4.  Enough dragging out character arcs for entire half seasons!  That should have been on my season ten list of demands.  Just get on with it.  

“Dog Dean Afternoon”

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DING!

Sorry, I’m primal screaming now.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the episode, and I loved that Sam was blackmailed into giving a Yorkie a belly rub plus the bitch face he gave while doing that (that’s some real acting, you know Jared was loving it!)  Let’s just get to the encounter with the Chef Leo.  I both loved and hated this scene.  It was so brilliant, the way it was shot. The acting was extraordinary and the tension was high, the way everything went down was so well done.  That’s when I get to the hated it part. NOTHING came from that setup.  Nothing!!  What the Hell?  It was brushed under the rug and never spoken of again!  We finally get an arc break through scene like that and no one runs with it???  That’s why season nine struggled big time. That’s why I lost a lot of faith in this season by episode five.  

But still, for those few glorious minutes.  Sam finds Chef Leo, but is surprised by suddenly having his throat slashed.  The way Sam is gasping for breath, he’s a goner.  He’s clutching onto blood oozing from his neck and fading fast.  Then Zeke takes over.  He heals Sam, falls unconscious since all this healing is zapping his strength, and a perplexed, shell shocked Sam is left with a bloody neck and a healed wound, wondering what the heck just happened.  Chef Leo is utterly stunned.  “How the Hell did you do that?”  “I want to know what you are.”  Sam has no answer, so Charmelo and Snyder rip something from the every day “Supernatural” playbook.  Sam is unconscious.  Go figure.    

Sam does wake up eventually, in an interesting parallel to the opening of “Mannequin 3” (same writers), and HE HAS NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT’S HAPPENING???  He doesn’t even ask how a fatal slashing of the throat healed itself???????  He just wonders what Chef Leo meant by “I want to know what you are”??????  GAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!  Primal screaming!!!!   Nope, Sam drops it.  It never comes up again.  Just kill me.  

 “Heaven Can’t Wait”

I don’t know, Sam was in it.  That’s all that I pretty much remember.  I still wonder why he doesn’t remember his throat was slashed.  I’m still wondering why he doesn’t realize an angel is in him.  I still wonder why he hasn’t strung Dean up by his thumbs and demanded the truth.  I still wonder why all these writers still have jobs.  

“Bad Boys”

Sam didn’t know Dean was in a boy’s home?  I’m not going there.  Not going there. *Rumbles under breath, wonders why they got the age difference wrong** Not going there.   On a plus side, Sam’s  thank you for always being there and having his back is sweet, classic brotherly bonding, and gets totally erased a few episodes later.  Oh, and Sam STILL doesn’t know an angel is inside of him.  At least he got to remain conscious the entire episode. 

“Rock and a Hard Place”

SPN 1420

DING!

All fun aside ("Well, I guess because every woman I've...ever... had relations with, uh...it...hasn't ended well.") , the relevant scene is the ending one.  The very relevant scene.  Finally, some movement! Oh, and Sam is unconscious again.  

Yes, he eventually wakes up (with remarkably all his brain cells in tact), and one touch from the monster should give Sam enough evidence that something is VERY VERY wrong.  She pulls a similar stunt to Chef Leo, telling Sam his liver is no good and he’s being held together with “duct tape and safety pins” inside (one of my favorite expressions is duct tape and chicken wire).  Sure he has to stop wondering what’s happening to save Jody, but that leads to his heartbreaking talk with Dean.  Sam is growing to except that something’s wrong with him, AGAIN, and maybe he’s never going to be okay.  Or, if we ran with the theme of this show, he’ll never be normal.  This is enough guilt for Dean to come clean, but Zeke won’t let him.  He gives Sam another lie, and Sam leaves dejected.  

Poor Sam.  He’s had two supernatural creatures tell him he isn’t right and he’s asking questions like “maybe it’s just me?”  This is where I wonder, has Sam really been pondering all this time what could be wrong with him and we just haven’t been seeing it come out in the episodes?  It this just a case of lazy writing glossing this stuff over and letting the fan believe this is happening?   He’s suffering from all sort of time lapses and he knows Dean is lying.  Too bad that by the time his concerns get serious, it’s too late. 

“Holy Terror” and “Road Trip”

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DING!  Fine, I know it's really Gadreel, but it still counts!  

These two episodes are essentially a two part saga, and both have Sam being under full control of Gadreel.  “Holy Terror” starts things off exactly right.  Sam is still questioning what the Vesta said to him, and he now realizes something is really wrong when he has another Zeke slip that lasts 50 miles!  Dean should have known better.  All I can say is it’s about freaking time.  He is more confrontational with Dean, but Dean gives him an inexplicable “Would I lie?” line.  The answer, YES!  If that conversation had been allowed to go on, Sam’s answer would have been “Yes.”  But that’s the trouble with a lot of these brotherly conversions, especially with Sam.  They trail off into nothing…then it’s too late.  Or it’s interrupted by a phone call.  I would have loved a scene like in “Metamorphosis” where Sam demands Dean pull over and they hash it out by the side of the road.  Of course “Zeke” would have prevented that, but that’s what fan fiction is for I guess.    

Since Gadreel takes over shortly after this, Sam is gone and literally left in the dark until Crowley weirdly (and awesomely) takes possession of Sam in “Road Trip.”  It’s Crowley that gets through to Sam, convinces him that he’s being possessed.  When Crowley tells him to remember, his first thought goes to Gadreel killing Kevin.  “Did I kill Kevin?”  Sam asks, and that’s the fuel for all of Sam’s anger and feelings of betrayal for the rest of the season.  Crowley sets Sam straight in time to deal with Gadreel and cast him out, which ends up being a rare moment of total Sam awesomeness ( Gee, why don’t we get a lot of these anymore?)  

The most significant part of all this though is the ending scene between Dean and Sam, with Castiel close by with watchful eye since Sam is still physically weak.  As I’ll cover in “A Deeper Look at Dean Winchester”, Dean’s guilt in this episode is pretty much through the roof.  By the time he gets to talk to Sam on the dock, his self hatred scale is burning at a 100.  Sam knows it, but he’s woozy, tired, and the realization that he was the one that killed Kevin is burning in his brain.  He wasn’t ready to deal with Dean’s self loathing and vow to go it alone.  He was barely dealing with what happened to him.  His lashing out at Dean was rather reserved, but it still got a steely point across.  “You lied to me.  Again.”  That was enough for him to let his brother go and not stop him.  

SPN 1628

Sam’s last words to Dean are, “But don’t go thinking that’s the problem, ‘cause it’s not.”  Looking at the conversation, it’s addressing Dean’s claim that he’s poison.  So if Dean isn’t poison, what does he mean?  In the simplest form (and probably the right one), it was Dean’s deception that was the problem.  That’s why they’re in this mess.  That’s why people get killed.  Again, Sam’s frame of reference is Kevin, but that’s likely what Sam was addressing.  All this kind of goes back to “Appointment in Samarra,” where Dean causes the death of an innocent nurse to save a little girl.  Here, he essentially traded Sam’s life for Kevin’s.  

Would he have knowing the outcome?  Of course not.  But every time Dean messes with the natural order, there are consequences.  Sam in his funk the rest of the season is dealing with one core issue, the choice was taken away from him.  Because of that, someone close to him died.  It’s a repeating pattern in his life, starting in the very beginning with the nursery fire that claimed his  mother Mary.  Something horrible happened to him because of another person’s choice.   He made the choice to die.  Did Dean strip that away from him?  Yes and no.  Sam ultimately made the choice to go with Dean, so he does shoulder some of the blame for not sticking to his resolve to die.  But it was done under false pretenses.  Sam took a blind leap of faith for Dean and was burned by it.  What he’s not truly absorbing at this moment is its burning Dean too.  Could it be that Sam sees what Dean did was a violation of their brotherly declaration at the church in “Sacrifice?”  Is this Sam disapproving of Dean essentially “figuring something out” because it led to others dying?  Or is Sam just being an unreasonable, selfish ass?  (I think the answer is no, but some think that way).  

That brings us into the second half of the season, where Sam has to wrestle with all these questions and his inner demons.  Sadly, if he does, we never get to see it.  We only got to see where he came out from it on the other end without really knowing the process in between.  There are some clues, but some of them require real detective work and stretching of the imagination, but if you squint hard enough they’re there.  I’ll do what I can to show Sam’s path from here to “Do You Believe in Miracles?” but if it looks like I’m stretching, that’s because I probably am.  

Comments  

nappi815
#281 nappi815 2014-06-30 07:37
I agree with a lot of what you said, but I have to disagree on this one point, I do not believe that dean at heart thinks that sam is a d-bag snob who is only a decent human being because of hunting. I actually believe that's what dean believes about himself, but not sam. I believe that most of his need for his brother stems from how negative he feels in regards to himself. in wiawsb sam and dean weren't close true, but their distance from ea. other was in fact due to dean's behavior. dean was the one who took sam's atm card, dean was the one who slept with sam's prom date...given sam's reaction to dean, it felt to me that dean's actions towards his little brother while growing up in his dream world had it's part in creating the disparity between them. even in his dream world, dean portrays himself to be the one that' the loser while sam is the one who is going to school and getting married, which ironically a part of dean does want for sam, but the other part fears this because of his belief that the only way to keep his brother close is to literally keep his brother close. dean does have abandonment issues as well. his mom died, but he sees it as she left him. dad left him and I don't only mean in the physical sense either...but when john lost mary he seemed to have lost himself and he disconnected with his children, as his mission of revenge seemed to take over his life....sam and dean got lost in that somewhere....bu t dean, he didn't want to lose his father the way he lost his mother, so he followed in his father's footsteps. he adapted john's stance regarding hunting and revenge. he dressed like john. he listened to the same music as john. he has his car. dean asked himself once...do you even have an original thought? seems that dean tried to hold onto his dad the only way he knew how. sam was different though. the loss of his parents affected him in a different way, it scared him and scarred him and he wanted to run from the life that was taking everyone he loved away from him. he wanted safe. dean and sam were affected differently . dean feared sam's reaction. he did everything to try to convince sam dad was a hero. the family business...blah blah blah...but deep down, dean just didn't want his brother to leave him so he did everything he could to keep him and that included going back to get him at college and at times emotional manipulation.

I think carver said it in I think i'm going to like it hear and it goes back to my theory that the last two seasons has been about the boys coming face to face with their own demons. look at the words dean/zeke/gad used to get sam to stay......there ain't no me if there ain't no you. I think that says it all regarding dean's psyche. he said it. he feels he's nothing without sam. yes, hunting gives him purpose. he saves people and he does feel like he's making the world a better place and this is all true. but I don't think dean embraced hunting because it was his true calling, because as we've learned he does have other skills that make him happy and feel good. dean's issue of lack of worth and his own self hatred are the contributing factors in his need to hunt and save people. because he's also admitted to being a killer, someone you don't want at your dinner table. dean has said that the boys keep ea. other human. it's dean's lack of worth that drives him to keep sam with him. it's part of why he's conflicted...he 's so up and down in regards to sam and his own dreams. because I really do believe he wants sam to have safe and normal, but the other part of him is stronger and won't give sam up.
njspnfan
#282 njspnfan 2014-06-30 10:49
wow... a lot of this discussion thread certainly went off on a tangent about Bad Boys. Probably in the minority here but I didn't think it was a bad episode; it really didn't advance the story line in any meaningful way but was fine as far as a standalone episode goes. Yes, they messed up on Sam's age at the end of the episode, and there were serious problems with the logic of the the lie that John and Dean told Sam, but, since it was primarily a flashback episode about Dean, it didn't bother me that much. On the list of Sam Winchester writing/charact erization screw-ups in Season 9, this didn't come close to making my top 10.
amyh
#283 amyh 2014-06-30 11:12
Hi. I just wanted to weigh in on how Sam could be NOT worried about Dean being gone for two months. Putting about 30 seconds into this...which is 30 seconds more then the writers obviously did.

John: Sam....you are going to Bobbys for a few months.
Sam: Cool... Dean and I love uncle bobby.
John: Dean isn't going.
Sam: what? Why?
John: I'm sending Dean to a survivalist camp for training.
Sam: Training? what kind of training? Can I go with Dean? Where is this place?
John: No. Your going to Bobbys.
Sam: But where is this training camp?
John. I said enough, Sam. Go pack your bag.

Present day: Sam. I remember...Dad sent you to that survivalist camp for traiining and i got shipped to bobbys for two months.
Dean: It wasn't a camp. I wan in a boys home. I got caught stealing.
cheryl42
#284 cheryl42 2014-06-30 11:14
I agree those two issues aside I thought it was very sweet episode.
nappi815
#285 nappi815 2014-06-30 11:29
I agree as well...;)
nappi815
#286 nappi815 2014-06-30 22:16
you know there could be one other explanation for sam's uncharacteristi c behavior......w hat if it wasn't sam reacting to dean's trip down memory lane. what if it was zeke pretending to be sam. didn't jared make a comment once that he was trying to make zeke more human? what if zeke /gad started practicing? do you think it's possible that sam wasn't even sam in this eppy? that it was zeke pretending to be sam...practicin g becoming more human? this was the first ep that gad didn't appear and it was only sam so I gotta wonder about that...maybe gad did appear in this eppy...maybe he used this eppy as a trial run...

or not and it is what it is....and the writer simply screwed up. :p;)
E
#287 E 2014-06-30 22:46
Yes amyh, I could see this working better than what we got. Still though, Sam said "you disappeared, then dad came" so Sam still would have noticed that Dean was gone for a time before his dad could come up with an explanation. Poor Sam, alone at 9 years old for how long? How long would it have taken for the police to arrest Dean, break down his defenses in order to get John's number and then for John to get back to Sam? Its pretty clear that Dean did not tell the police about Sam as Sam surely would have remembered sitting in a police station waiting for John to come get him; so Dean goes missing first, Sam presumably has a freak out, then John comes back. Whatever story he told was still crap when compared to having a nine year old drifting around for a day? two? without food and all alone not knowing what was going on. To me the only way to have salvaged the situation would have been to come up with another story altogether; one that didn't re-write Dean's foundation canon, one that did not show child AND adult Sam as so OOC; one that did not trash John for absolutely no reason other than he had to be mean and unfair to get Dean to hate hunting to begin with and one that didn't retread old ground without showing us one new thing. Can you tell I hated this episode? ;)
E
#288 E 2014-07-01 09:04
You know, this could have been an interesting way to go with it, and I did wonder several times if they were going to make an issue out of Gadzeke becoming more human but they didnt. If they wanted the plot to be about Gadzeke taking over Sam more and more, they would have had to have made that an obvious plot focus that showed that at some point. We'd have had to see that it was Gad and not Sam and there would have had to have been a significant reason that it was Gad and not Sam. Since we got nothing like that (it was just Dean and his destroyed canon), I am sorry to say that it makes more sense that its just bad writing. I love your optimism though and your willingness to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. :P
nappi815
#289 nappi815 2014-07-01 09:10
i know..he really blew it in terms of characterizatio n... still i did like the eppy....what can i say....i'm pretty easy.
E
#290 E 2014-07-01 09:17
Id watch this too… but at the risk of being pessimistic and cynical (who? me?) whose going to write it? Not even Carver could pull off such in depth Sam focus.

Question: when was the last time an episode was written in which Dean learned something about Sam in the way Sam supposedly learned something about Dean in Bad Boys? (although, Sam in fact DIDN'T learn anything about Dean that he didn't already know other than he was complicit in a cruel lie told to him as a child and is just find out about 23 years later, but that's what the episodes aim was...). So, can anyone tell me the last time we saw an ENTIRE EPISODE that was devoted totally to Sam's background and POV in which Dean was made aware of something about his brother that was not previously known? Anyone? Mystery Spot? I Know What You Did… although Dean didn't learn much….I got nothing since season 4. Plucky's had it's moments but Dean and we STILL have no idea why Sam's afraid of clowns.
E
#291 E 2014-07-01 09:19
Exactly!! we are definitely on the same page on this one. :)
E
#292 E 2014-07-01 10:31
Well… not entirely off track, it's still about how poorly Sam was written in this season as a whole and Bad Boys did air in the first half of the season, which is what Alice is focusing on. We just got a little….um… specific. :P
Dion7
#293 Dion7 2014-10-22 16:48
I hadn't really noticed that Sam faints so often. It's quite stupid that so many movies and series use these Hollywood truths. One of those is that you can be knocked out for several hours or even days and not have damaged. I get really annoyed by another one that is often used: the way people in movies and series use a needle. They never stick the needle in a vein, they slam it into someone like they're trying to stab them to death. Despite the serious scenes I laughed during the third trial, extracting the grace from Sam and curing Dean. It just looks so ridiculous the way they use needles, I half expect the needle to come out of the other end of their arm or neck.
Your review of Sam in season 9 is pretty insightful though. I try to understand why he does things the way he does, but it just comes down to the writers making him do things that are completely out of character. By season 9 I'm kind of used to it, it bothered me the most in season 7. I don't know how the writers can expect someone to be okay after 180 years of hell, never talking about it. It's like it's just forgotten. Things do seem to be improving a bit in season 10 though. I liked seeing the return of a determined Sam.

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