Article Index

Part one can be found here: 

http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/articles/36-sam-winchester/6591-the-enigma-and-cruelty-of-sams-winchesters-powers-part-one.html

Part Two

“How sure are you that what you brought back is one hundred percent Sam?”  (Azazel, “All Hell Breaks Loose”)
 
 

Wherever Sam was, it did change him. The man who returned from the grave was a different one. Not blatantly visible, but his reactions changed. He killed Jake in cold blood. He grew less sensitive when it came to destroying demons or using them – as he intended to do with Ruby, in order to save Dean from hell.

The impending fate of his brother served as a path to Sam’s development into a more Dean-like type, but the catalyst to be able to do that must have been his time in death (allow me to put it that way, as we have no idea where he was, what he experienced – I hope to have the chance to ask that at the Con in March, that question has been bugging me for a long time now).  

Ruby pushed all the right buttons. She dangled the possibility of saving Dean in front of Sam like sweet meat on a hook. She eventually made him believe that he was able to actually help Dean, but still it took Sam to be desperate enough to even consider to use whatever was in him (shortly before Dean’s time was up and they had not found a way to free him from his deal). Even though Sam began to change, he had to believe in what he had always believed. And he must have felt on the safe side (at least for a while) since his powers were gone ‘ever since YellowEyes died’ – ‘not gone. Dormant.’ Ruby pointed out.

At least for the third season Sam got a break from visions assaulting him in dreams or in the street and those horrific headaches. But, of course, this is Supernatural, he was not at ease at all. He tried and tried to save his brother from his deal, he even considered alchemy, thereby risking to turn Dean into a creature that would slowly cease to be entirely human – when the first organ would need to be replaced, at the latest, which would transform Dean into some kind of Frankenstein’s monster, respectably Winchester’s monster.

Sam knew how absurd this idea was, but the fear of having to live without his brother (and probably of the building amount of guilt, as Dean would die because of him) was too devastating. There was another aspect that added to Sam’s guilt account: in Bedtime Stories he went after the Crossroads Demon to force her to release Dean (unbeknownst to him, she did not hold the contract), and she rubbed a sombre truth in: ‘You’re here, going through the motions, but truth is, you’ll be a tiny bit relieved when he’s gone. … No more desperate, sloppy, needy Dean. You can finally be free.’ 

She had a point. In the state of mind Sam was in he was too angry (and probably too shocked) to even consider whether she might be right, but later he would tell Dean that one of the reasons why he went off with Ruby was to get away from his brother, because Dean would not let him grow up.  Trying to save Dean was an act of love – he didn’t want his brother to die – but also an act of autonomy: the roles would be reversed. Sam would be a stronger part in their relationship. He would be able to meet Dean as his equal, in his older brother’s eyes; so far Sam was still the baby brother. Unfortunately, that did not work out. Dean refused to fall back on so desperate a measure that would involve risking Sam’s soul which was tantamount to trying to tap whatever powers were hiding in Sam. And – it was also too late to start any training.   ‘

It’s gonna get darker and darker, and God knows where it ends.’
(Dean, "Metamorphosis")  

Dean died at the claws and teeth of hellhounds, while Sam was forced to watch, unexpectedly immune to ‘demon ray gun stuff’, the horrific picture lodged in his brain like a bullet – and all of a sudden he was alone. He distanced himself from everyone, even Bobby.  

He was terrified, lonely, angry, desperate – in the darkest place he had ever been. He was squatting in some old, dilapidated house, surrounded by garbage, and one might wonder when the last time was he actually showered. He lived on fast food (we’ve seen pizza boxes on table and floor) which was most unusual for the guy who had always eaten healthily. And he drank a lot. Actually, Sam was pretty much drunk for most of the time. Unable to accept the fact of Dean rotting in hell, he ‘tried everything. … I tried opening the Devil’s Gate. Hell, I tried to bargain, but not demon would deal.’  

He tried out – probably various – crossroads, killing the demon employed there along the way, and when Ruby found him he was downright suicidal. He was not only in mourning, he was depressed and forlorn and he didn’t care much for his own life. He went on path revenge, but, as we have learned in "I Know What You Did Last Summer," he was ready to die when trapped by demons. Scared, but ready.  

In a moment Sam had reached the end of his road, he found something that helped him go on: Ruby gave him compassion, warmth, a goal to fight for (take revenge on Lilith), desperate, at times violent sex, she cared for him, saved his life more than once, found the words to get through to him, acted like a protective sister – and, of course, she taught him how to use his powers and enhanced them with blood (well, she made him believe that he needed the blood, not telling him that he had it in him the whole time). And she gave him a new purpose, as his life was empty: get ‘Lilith’s head on a plate. Bloody.’  

But he was ‘a crappy student’. He didn’t pick up on exorcising right away, he paid with bad headaches for it, and his nose did bleed from the exertion. I suppose the first time Sam actually managed to get it right was the moment Ruby was in danger, and he took out the demon about to kill her. Again, under duress, his power emerged like a punch (not unlike the cabinet-moment) – he had to save her, as she provided the only stability he found during that time, so he did, and what had begun as some kind of telekinetic premonition asset turned into Jedi force. The dark kind.

    

I’m not saying she took the place of Dean, but she became an ally he needed – and, of course, she knew how to kill Lilith.  She did not tell Sam, though, why Lilith had to die.  

It’s safe to assume, that Sam was ashamed of what he was doing. The moment Dean came back, the lying began. Ruby, who opened the door to Sam and Bobby, was discarded as some bed-fun chick, to keep their secret safe. Repeatedly Sam stole away to train and to do what he had done best after he had picked up on exorcising with his mind, saving the victim.  

Sucking blood was wrong, he knew that, and he probably grew more ashamed about it as he began to realize how addictive demon juice was. So, in order to be able to live with himself (apart from his wish to strike Lilith) he needed to do something right.  

Shame, as I found often, is probably one of the strongest emotions around. It serves as an impenetrable wall behind which thoughts, interests, abilities, preferences, etc. are hidden from others’ eyes. It is held together by the fear of being humiliated, and eventually the fear of losing someone dear – when the ‘secret’ gets out, will the people closest to us be able to handle it? Or will they turn away? What will they think? Will they look at us differently? Will they treat us differently? It takes a huge amount of trust to be able to voice something we’re ashamed of. And judging from Dean’s harsh reactions concerning Sam’s Jedi mind tricks, Sam must have thought it too risky to open up.  

He knew now for sure that he was a freak, though he still fought to be normal in the deepest ravines of his soul. Not only had Azazel bled into his mouth and given him downstairs’ mothers’ milk, furthermore Sam did so himself – he had gone far already. And judging from the fear and rage constantly enveloping him he might have already thought that he was going too far. But he saw no other choice: ‘I’ve got demon blood in me, Dean. This disease pumping through my veins and I can’t ever rip it out or scrub it clean. I’m a whole new level of freak. And I’m trying to take this… this curse… and make something good out of it. Because I have to.’ ("Metamorphosis").  

The encounter with the rougarou however shook him. Sam tried to step back, do decide not to play with fire anymore, as the powers grew more seductive. And for a while he managed to stick to that resolution. He needed to believe, scared as he was, that everyone, no matter how huge the monster might be they kept inside, was able to choose. Free will. He had hoped so for Montgomery before he gave in to that urge inside of his, and Sam hoped for himself.  

Furthermore – the angels had warned him to cease his ‘extracurricular activities’. This came as a blow to the devout believer Sam had always been. Angels were real, and that obviously gave him hope. His prayers might have actually been heard. There was a greater power, a greater good watching (really?). So, there was hope – that is before he learned that the angels were not exactly the trustworthy kind.  

‘I thought they’d be different. I mean, I thought they’d be righteous. … This is God and Heaven? This is what I’ve been praying to?’ ("It’s The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester")  

The problem was, Sam had already noticed, in all likelihood on day one, that Dean had changed. That he had returned from hell broken and wounded (albeit he did not know the full extent of that fact, yet). Sam feared that Dean was not strong enough to fight this war, so he found to be the one on whose shoulders everything rested. He was the one who had to gain enough power to kill Lilith, stop the Apocalypse and save Dean from another gruesome death (which Sam assumed waited for his brother at the end of the road) – and Sam was not capable of enduring that again.  

Comments  

Freebird
# Freebird 2010-03-03 15:21
Beautiful piece, Jas, as always :-)

When you look at Sam, and Dean for that matter, too, the state they are in, the things they have been going through, one has to wonder what will come out of it. The fate of the world and over 6 billion people lie on the shoulders of two broken men. One wonders whether the goal (to save the world, in this case) justifies the means. I'm torn between Sam using his powers and not using them. He did save people by pulling demons out without hurting the host. But he was using a demonic power to do so, jeopardizing his own humanity.
I loved what Dean said to Sam: "We are keeping each other human", which might be the key to survival. I also believe that love conquers all, and that might be the key to the brother's healing.
Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-03-03 15:46
YES!! A big YES to everything you say.
I love this, a very fascinating look on our Sammy.
Too thrilled by this awesomeness to give any sane, intelligent response :-)

Thank you Jas.
alysha
# alysha 2010-03-03 18:03
Sam is favorite of mine too! I love the thought you put into your essay, lovely!

Sam is both terrified and ashamed of his abilities. He’s felt this way from the get-go because it was so ingrained in him to loath and hold suspicious anything supernatural. I had hoped Sam would come to accept himself, but I think the high point of his acceptance came under Ruby’s tutelage and that has peaked already. Now he is ashamed of himself and convinced he is evil.

I very much agree with your assessment that Sam has distanced himself from others for fear he is a curse to them. And of your assessment that Dean was incredibly freaked out because he was in over his head with something he could not explain that involved the closest person to him.


You wrote: "So far Sam has understood his powers as a dark tool, since they were hell-given, but has not yet thought of them as powers of light – which they would become, if he chose so." ***


YES! As Jedi can choose to use the Force either dark or light, why can’t Sam use his powers for good? Of course it’s not that simple because when he does use them, he appears to get a high from it and a sense of smugness and pride that seems unhealthy.

But I’d like to ponder, what if his powers were angelic and not demonic? Would he be wrong then? What if his powers are left over from Lucifer’s grace? What if he is carrying Lucifer’s grace? Would the powers be angelic, would they be dark or light?

And how will Sam feel if he discovers he never had demonic powers to begin win? Well, that's just a crazy idea of mine, but when I read your title I was thinking how much a cruel irony that would be.
Karen
# Karen 2010-03-04 09:21
Hi Jasminka
Great article. Once again you’ve got the old brain cell working in overdrive.
So many questions and so many directions one can go.
What did Ruby mean?
Was Sam born with these special gifts or is it from when Azazel fed Sam the demon blood.
If Sam was born with these powers, would these powers not of shown up at any point of Sam’s life prior to when he turned 22.
Why did these powers only come to light when it was involving Azazel or the other special kids?
Why did the premonitions and powers disappear or go dormant after Azazel was killed?
Back in Devils Trap, when Azazel was possessing John, he taunted Sam to use his powers, being so smug like he knew Sam wouldn’t be able to use them.
Is it because he some how had the control over them, being from his blood?

Or was Sam simply suppressing his inner powers because in his mind they could only be related to something evil and with that he would have to be destroyed.
After all he was raised to hate and kill everything supernatural, and seeing this hate so prominent in his Dad and Dean, I could see why Sam would subconsciously not want any part of these gifts, fearing them.
To release Sam from his inner conflict, is this why Ruby used the demon blood as a vise, so in Sam mind it was something outside of himself he could blame for the powers and not something that was within him.
On that note how could Sam have ever told Dean what he had been doing with the demon blood. To Sam, Dean would never of understood and would of thought him as a monster. Look at Metamorphosis “If I didn’t know you, I would want to hunt you…”
You can’t blame Dean either after all drinking demon blood isn’t exactly your normal power drink.
Ok I’ve got to stop, my brains hurting. I feel like Jim Carrey’s Riddler with his mind melting over ‘too many questions’. :shock:
Randal
# Randal 2010-03-04 11:49
Jas, you hit a grand slam with this two-parter, though I'm sorry Deutschland doesn't have a baseball team. :D

I, too, think that Sam being away while dead is more than just a plot detail. Since he was presumably not in hell, but a limbo type place, how is time measured? If at the same rate, then each hour equals a shade over 5 days (the ten years in hell is one month up here gig).

The key is going to be what you say towards the end: that Sam realizes that these powers are *his*, not Azazel's, not Lucifer's, not hell's. His. Period. End of discussion. And that his brother will come to understand this as well, that because we are what we do, if they are used in helping to save the world, then they're pretty goddamn human.

Now, off to contemplate Canada's 752 questions.
Suze
# Suze 2010-03-04 17:43
A surgeon can save a life with his knife, or end it. It's his choice though, the knife's just a tool. Same goes for Sam's powers. Ultimately he has to claim them and use them just like the salt or the holy water or whatever and sod what anyone else thinks about it. Or not ... You know, a stiff letter of protest might do the trick ...

Dear Lucifer,
I was very annoyed to notice ... :lol:
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-03-06 17:27
Freebird, Supernarttu, alysha, Karen, Randal and Suze – thank you so much for your generous comments!

Lara, I agree that keeping their humanity will probably play a crucial role in their healing. Frankly, I don’t believe that Sam will ever be able to really jeopardize his humanity. He has always tried to hold on to that, it was a part of his character. I don’t believe this powers-thing will change his personality. I don’t want to believe it, you know.

Supernarttu – :lol:

Alysha, thanks – what a great idea that Sam might be carrying Lucifer’s grace! This is a unique thought, well done! Now I’m even more curious to see what the writers will come up with – this idea of yours seems very logical… I hope any of them read this and give it a good thought!

Karen, I love to put your brain to work, you know that – it always comes up with interesting thoughts…
You just give it back, eh? As I said – interesting thoughs, ahm ,questions… Perhaps Sam need to come of age to feel the existence of his powers (there’s a movie, The Covenant, where this is played out). Maybe Sam was born with it, but Azazels presence served as a catalyst (as his blood might have done to spur on the development?)

I can imagine Sam shying away from anything supernatural and perhaps he was suppressing it…Fear might do that easily. That’s what I meant, you know – if he can blame the demon blood then it’ not from within him. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across more clearly.

Randal, I guess I should at least watch a baseball game while I’m in the States, eh?
Agree wholeheartedly – our actions define us, it’s what we make of the traits within us that make us a good person. Or not.

Suze – oh yes, just a tool! I’m ready to sign that letter to old buddy Lu when you got it…

Thanks, y’all! Love, Jas
Karen
# Karen 2010-03-08 22:49
Hi Jasminka
I do love the issues/articles that get your mind working and give you much to contemplate and question. Your article was excellent and you made your points very clear.
I’m afraid it was me that was a little off that day. I had no intentions of coming across like a person who either fell off their meds or had way too many cocktails. I do apologize for that. Lets just say I was not having a very good week.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-03-09 11:45
Leslie92708 and Karen, thanks, ladies!

Leslie, I’m moved that you enjoy yourself here so much – it’s great to hear. We’ll do our best to keep it that way. ;-)

Karen, dear, please don’t worry – I never had the impression of you coming across as either, no need to apologize, really! I loved your questions. They raised some in my head, too.
I do hope, though, that you are better and more relaxed. Best wishes from all across the Atlantic…. They’ve come a long way, but are most heartfelt…

Love Jas
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2010-03-11 19:02
Jas, like I said in Part One, Sam is MY weak spot too. ;-) I'm hopeful that the writers will give him the peace and redemption he so sorely needs.

Suze's comment about the surgeon and his tools reminds me of Changing Channels. Sam had to act as a surgeon in order to save his brother. He didn't want to because, according to Dr. Ellen Picollo, he was afraid to use his skills because some girl had died in his operating table. Such girl might mean Jessica or, by extension, all people affected somehow by his "freakness". Anyways, he used his medical skills (powers??) and did save his brother. Just thinking... I don't know what the writers have in store, but my guess is that Sammy will master the forces within him and ultimately put them to a good use when time comes.
ElenaM
# ElenaM 2010-03-15 23:59
Jas, this was beautiful, and fascinating. read it a while back, but I was thinking (warning: :geek:-), this is power that does kind of have a profane origin in demon blood, unlike the Force which has this holistic Taoist yin-yang quality to it... Could that perhaps cause the use of his power to have a corrupting influence a la Baron Acton? You know, the "real magic is a lot like crack" angle...

I'm basically playing Devil's Advocate here, though, because personally I'm inclined to agree with you, and would love to see Sam own his power!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-03-18 04:56
AndreaW and ElenaM, thank you for your comments!

Andrea, I would love to see Sam master his force and grow confident there…. I guess he’d be an even weaker spot for me…. Muah

ElenaM, I know ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ – it’s a universal truth, we’ve seen it through the centuries. But since this is a tv show, I hope that they will get Sam to overcome the lure of corruption and take his power into his own hands and, according to his still present, good nature, use it to change the course of this war for the better… (although I love to watch Jared play Dark Sam…)

Love Jas
Janaya
# Janaya 2010-04-07 00:40
Wonderful analysis here. I think you really captured Sam's character, especially where his powers are concerned (and when you can capture that theme properly, you have most of his character in a nutshell). I think that this was well-paced and accurate, and the use of quotes to show your point was very convincing. I've always felt that Sam - despite being the "sensitive" one - is also the most misunderstood Winchester of the bunch. Considering all the behavior-change s and ups and downs of the character it is very hard to get a grasp on his persona and motives, but I think you did a great job. I've always had a soft spot for Sam, and seeing someone take the time to do this is really nice. Thanks for this!