Page 1 of 2Part one can be found here:
â€œHow sure are you that what you brought back is one hundred percent Sam?â€ (Azazel, â€œAll Hell Breaks Looseâ€)
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 â€“ 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 Samâ€™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 â€“ 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 Deanâ€™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 â€˜ever since YellowEyes diedâ€™ â€“ â€˜not gone. Dormant.â€™ 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 â€“ when the first organ would need to be replaced, at the latest, which would transform Dean into some kind of Frankensteinâ€™s monster, respectably Winchesterâ€™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 Samâ€™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: â€˜Youâ€™re here, going through the motions, but truth is, youâ€™ll be a tiny bit relieved when heâ€™s gone. â€¦ No more desperate, sloppy, needy Dean. You can finally be free.â€™
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 â€“ he didnâ€™t want his brother to die â€“ 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 brotherâ€™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 Samâ€™s soul which was tantamount to trying to tap whatever powers were hiding in Sam. And â€“ it was also too late to start any training. â€˜
Itâ€™s gonna get darker and darker, and God knows where it ends.â€™ (Dean, "Metamorphosis")
Dean died at the claws and teeth of hellhounds, while Sam was forced to watch, unexpectedly immune to â€˜demon ray gun stuffâ€™, the horrific picture lodged in his brain like a bullet â€“ and all of a sudden he was alone. He distanced himself from everyone, even Bobby.
He was terrified, lonely, angry, desperate â€“ 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 (weâ€™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 â€˜tried everything. â€¦ I tried opening the Devilâ€™s Gate. Hell, I tried to bargain, but not demon would deal.â€™
He tried out â€“ probably various â€“ 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 didnâ€™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 â€“ 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 â€˜Lilithâ€™s head on a plate. Bloody.â€™
But he was â€˜a crappy studentâ€™. He didnâ€™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) â€“ 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.
Iâ€™m not saying she took the place of Dean, but she became an ally he needed â€“ and, of course, she knew how to kill Lilith. She did not tell Sam, though, why Lilith had to die.
Itâ€™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 othersâ€™ eyes. It is held together by the fear of being humiliated, and eventually the fear of losing someone dear â€“ when the â€˜secretâ€™ 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 weâ€™re ashamed of. And judging from Deanâ€™s harsh reactions concerning Samâ€™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 downstairsâ€™ mothersâ€™ milk, furthermore Sam did so himself â€“ 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: â€˜Iâ€™ve got demon blood in me, Dean. This disease pumping through my veins and I canâ€™t ever rip it out or scrub it clean. Iâ€™m a whole new level of freak. And Iâ€™m trying to take thisâ€¦ this curseâ€¦ and make something good out of it. Because I have to.â€™ ("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 â€“ the angels had warned him to cease his â€˜extracurricular activitiesâ€™. 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 â€“ that is before he learned that the angels were not exactly the trustworthy kind.
â€˜I thought theyâ€™d be different. I mean, I thought theyâ€™d be righteous. â€¦ This is God and Heaven? This is what Iâ€™ve been praying to?â€™ ("Itâ€™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) â€“ and Sam was not capable of enduring that again.