Pick your favorite alter ego of Sam Winchester. Possessed Sam? Demon Blood Sam? Evil Sam? Mind-Controlled Sam? Discussing the many faces of Sam sounded like an easy topic for my latest Con-tinual panel of Supernatural media professionals... until I started listing the many times and ways that Sam wasn't the brother we all know and love!
Odds are that the same one or two images come to mind for all of us when we think of days when Sam "wasn't himself." But when challenged to really consider how often Sam had to fight for control of his body, mind and soul, I discovered that Jared Padalecki played an alternate version of Sam Winchester in at least one episode, and often in several episodes, in nearly all 15 seasons of Supernatural. That's a lot of faces for Sam!
What is the best way to do justice to all the versions of Sam we witnessed over the years? We could revisit Sam's journey chronologically. That would recreate the way he experienced his life being hijacked by supernatural forces. It's a bit more interesting, though, to look back at 15 years through the lens of accumulated memories. How many times was he possessed? How many times was he broken down by supernatural powers? All those traumas compounded each other. They could have insidiously perverted who he was as a person, yet, somehow, he chose to forge his trials into a more authentic, stronger, more compassionate Sam. No wonder he inspires so many of us.
So, I've chosen to group Sam's experiences into the categories of forces that overpowered him - both supernatural and human. Let's see how many I found, then you add the ones I've forgotten! Part 1 covered the times when Sam was truly a monster, by all the definitions that matter to a hunter (possessed, cloned, turned, etc.). Part 2 will explore the faces of DemonBlood!Sam! Soulless Sam will continue the chapters in Sam's life in Part 3, with Parts 4 through 6 covering how the "Trials" affected Sam, how many ways he was "Broken" to the point of death, and how many ways Sam was "Conjured" by the supernatural!
DemonBlood!Sam - Seasons 4 and 5
One of the driving forces that defined Sam's perception of himself was a tiny drop of demon blood fed to him as an infant. Decades later, Ruby taught Sam how to use that "blackness" inside of him to save people and hunt things. Seeing only the good that he could do by more compassionately exorcising demons without killing their hosts, Sam ignored both the physical and emotional addiction to power that came with his demon blood powers. At first, using his exorcism ability was painful.
With only a small amount of demon blood in him, Sam struggled to exorcise Samhain in 4.07 "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester".
Sam continued to amp up his demon blood abilities, though. Motivated by the desire to defeat Alistair, in 4.16 "On The Head of a Pin", Sam became a lethal weapon against an extremely powerful demon - but at a considerable cost to himself.
Even though he was getting scared by what the blood was doing to him, Sam continued to use it to save human hosts,
4.20 "The Rupture"
until his brother and Bobby forced a cold-turkey detox on him in 4.21 "When the Levee Breaks".
Sam hit one of the lowest physical points in his life during his confinement and addiction withdrawal but, convinced he was the key to averting the apocalypse, Sam escaped and got a demon blood fix via Ruby. In the final showdown with Lilith in 4.22 "Lucifer Rising", Sam crossed the line from being the most powerful human being on the Earth,
to being a full-blooded, black eyed demon.
It was only after Sam realized that he had been lied to and used, and that Lilith's death enabled the apocalypse rather than prevented it, did Sam return to his brothers' side.
With one stroke, God then both saved and cleansed Sam of his demon affliction.
After his "detox", Sam succumbed to his addiction twice more. First, unwillingly, when the horseman Famine reignited Sam's thirst for demon blood in 5.14 "My Bloody Valentine".
That didn't work out so well for Famine.
Then, sadly after the anguish of twice cleansing his body of demon blood (plus that third time when it was accomplished painlessly by God), Sam had to ingest his supernatural "go-juice" by the gallon in order to become Lucifer's vessel in the storyline's climax, "Swan Song" 5.22.
Moments later, Sam said "yes" and transformed from DemonBlood!Sam to Samifer (see Part 1 for that part of Sammy's saga), but for a few brief minutes before his descent into Hell, Sam was himself again.
Study Sam's face in each scene. You feel every bit of nuanced emotion he is experiencing! Jared was a master at showing us what Sam was thinking and feeling in every stage of Sam's life!
Continue with what happens next to Sam in Part 3, Soulless Sam! Until then, share your favorite episodes or images of DemonBlood!Sam below!
You can hear a snapshot of this "Faces of Sam" series in the hour-long Con-tinual panel, "Who Wore Sam Winchester Best?" with panelists Michelle Crowley, Carole Stokes, myself and host Gail Z. Martin.
If Sam is your jam, enjoy our deep character studies, "Breathtaking" photo essays and fun articles dedicated to Sam Winchester!
If Dean is your man, enjoy "The Many Faces of Dean Winchester"!
Continue the fun with more of Nightsky's Supernatural commentary!