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  2. Season 11
  3. Saturday, 05 December 2015
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Editor's Note: I moved this post here from the spoiler discussion page so these ideas could be freely discussed. Thank you Ehiblin for sharing these views.

From: Ehiblin
I am putting this here so as not to derail the conversation on Alice's post.

Here's the thing, Sam is scared to death, and needs support. I see lots of people talking about how Dean is shutting down Sam at every point because Dean is hurting, and afraid and will suffer if Sam goes to the cage. Does nobody see the flaw in this argument?

It would be nice if people could take a step back and look at the relative suffering that is about to occur. Mention occasionally that Sam is the one in the Garden of Gethsemane at the moment (like Dean was end of season 3). When Sam was THERE for him in every way he could be, trying to solve the problem, both then and after Dean went to hell. Sam didn't go find a family and make scrambled eggs for breakfast and go to the pub, he spiraled and tried to exchange his soul for Dean's in hell. There weren't even hints of comfort in Sam's life the way there were in Dean's, he just wanted to die or get revenge.

Now Sam believes he knows what awaits him - the show is showing what awaits him - and he has to chose to do it. The show is pointing this out with flashbacks and in the intro - fire, hooks, blood, screaming. Dean could at least give him something in support. Has Dean ever even asked about Sam's time in the cage. The way Sam was there to listen when Dean was ready to open up about hell?

The conversation with Sully is Sam asking is there any other way? With Sam believing that there isn't but hoping anyway. So yes Dean is going to suffer if Sam goes to the cage but it isn't the same thing. And yes his unwillingness to listen is adding to Sam's burden. He could be more supportive, and so could the viewers. The important thing here is NOT that Sam gets to go to hell and be tortured if Dean says it is ok because 'Sam has finally made the right decision'. Empathy people!

Let's remember that Sam is not a possession of Dean's, like the Impala. He is a person. If the Impala got completely destroyed into a mangled wreck Dean would be devastated, but the car in the end is a piece of metal and gears. The car itself wouldn't suffer as it was destroyed.

The show has yet again rewritten history so that all the issue is Sam 'saying the spell that released the darkness' (ref Dean (we remember that happening don't we? Sam saying a spell that released the Darkness? It is in the 11.1 transcript, check it out)), and since before that point everything was PERFECTLY FINE therefore it is 'all Sam's fault' (ref Sam) and so Sam has to fix it.

I have to say at this stage Sam does look like he is 'dying to atone for the sins of mankind' because like with the original release of Lucifer, this disaster is NOT all on Sam, the Mark was doing perfectly fine on the person who knew how to control it until SOMEONE demanded it be given to them. Sam is just the one who gets to be the sacrifice. I am sorry for using this allegory because it looks like hyperbole and raising Sam to a Christlike figure, and more than anything Sam wants to be a normal ordinary person. But in a Christianity based show the link is hardly difficult to find. So here we are, Sam believes he is about to be crucified and, yes, ok, Dean will have to watch. One of these things is actually worse than the other. But hey, if Dean says it is ok for Sam to go back to the cage then we can all breathe a sigh of relief, right? Sam will have finally made the right decision (ignoring all the other no-win decisions he had to make). And how Dean will suffer knowing Sam is in the cage. Being tortured. Poor Dean.

I have a lot of sympathy for Dean, I don't have sympathy for those viewers (and some of the writers) who can't see that Sam is suffering, and is also atoning for things that almost invariably others instigated. I would have more sympathy for Dean if he SHOWED that his closing down Sam when Sam needs to talk was out of any empathy for Sam and not simply because he is himself afraid of being hurt. Because after 3 or more seasons of really skewed perspective I think the viewers need reminding that Sam is a person.
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Nogadamo Bhitia
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This is a great discussion topic.

I don't think Sam is the only one who is scared. Dean is too.

When Dean is around Amara he has that deer-in-the-headlights look terrified people get. Fear can paralyze-a plot thread woven through many episodes this season. Most discussion of fear centers on Sam, but to me it applies equally to Dean and Amara. Cobras hypnotize their victims. Dean certainly looks dazed and thoroughly spooked around her. We aren't used to our guys getting freaked out, but if anything would do it it's the Darkness and the cage. The first is a mystery and the second is a known horror.

Hypnotized people do not remember what happened when they were in a trance. An outside stimulus has to bring them out of it. Like Sam getting thrown into a solid object, a very familiar sound to Dean.

As to talking between Sam and Dean about the cage, from the very beginning the two men have had different ways of coping with problems: Sam wanting to talk and Dean wanting silence. When Dean finally does say something, it's always clear he's thought about it a lot. In many ways Dean, the classic extrovert, is really a classic introvert. And Sam the opposite. That's why these characters are so deep and interesting after 10+ years.

I think Dean knows what happened to Sam in the cage. He did everything he could to help Sam recover from the trauma. He'd experienced Hell himself so he had enough knowledge to figure out what his brother went through was many, many times worse. It was hard enough for Dean to let Sam jump in that cage the first time, when it was absolutely clear ther was no other way. That clarity is missing this time, at least for Dean.

Like any of us would do when a loved one is facing a repeat of a terrible experience, Dean is saying, "Not gonna happen. Not on my watch." With that point of view, what's to talk about?

And I think Sam gets that message. He gets that Dean doesn't want him to go revisit all that torment and the experience of whatever consequences there are. And he knows Dean can't stop him from doing whatever Sam really wants to do. Sam has been strong enough to do it in the past. Like Season 10! He also knows Dean will be there to help him pick up the shattered pieces. That's just who Dean is.

Sam sucked it up and dealt with the clown in "Plush." He'll suck it up again. Like they said in Die Hard 4 (the one with the computer hackers) "that's what makes him that guy."

And that's what makes this the show so many of us love.
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Nogadamo Bhitia
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I don't believe we know if Sam and Dean ever did or did not specifically discuss what happened to Sam in the cage. I also don't believe Dean needs to know specifics to understand the effect it had on Sam. My father would never discuss the specifics of the action he saw in Ww2 or Korea, but we knew by the look in his eyes and his tone of voice that it was pretty bad. He'd only tell us funny stories about those years.

I agree that Amara's control over Dean isn't absolute. These Winchester men are strong in mind, body and soul.
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Talos
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A fascinating commentary, Ehiblin. While I'm sure Sam is scared, I don't think he's as terrified by the prospect of his revisiting the cage as Dean is. As Nogadamo Bhitia points out, Dean wants only silence on the issue. The idea that his brother would actually choose to return to that torment is too absurd, too inconceivable, for him to contemplate. So it's "Not gonna happen. Not on my watch."

As I see it, the difference between the two brothers is that one is a man of faith and the other is not. I don't think Sam is drawn to the cage to punish or sacrifice himself. He simply believes that, for whatever reason, God is calling upon him to do this thing. Sam seems convinced that the universe is controlled by a benevolent Father, one who truly cares about him--and his brother. So strong is Sam's faith, he's willing to expose himself to unspeakable, perhaps even endless, torment because this is the will of God.

Dean, on the other hand, might like to believe in a caring God, but he can't. For him, the existence of a benevolent deity is illusion. If God exists, he's totally indifferent to human beings and their needs. As Dean said to Sam in "Houses of the Holy,"

"Okay. All right. You've got faith. Hey, good for you. I'm sure it makes things easier. I'll tell you who else had faith like that--Mom. She used to tell me that angels were watching over us....She was wrong. There was nothing protecting her. There's no higher power. There's no God. I mean there's just chaos and violence, and random, unpredictable evil that comes out of nowhere and rips you to shreds."

Sam's fear of the cage is mitigated by his faith that he's in the hands of a loving, all-powerful Protector. Dean's fear of the cage is magnified by his conviction that he and Sam have no one to protect them but one another--which is why Dean believes he always has to be there to take care of Sam. No one else will be, just as no one was there to protect their mother.

As for Lucifer and the cage, there's no telling which way the writers will go, but Carver may want to complete the S5 arc in which Kripke echoed Revelation 20:

"Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain. He overpowered the dragon, that primeval serpent which is the devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed. At the end of that time, he must be released but only for a short while."

Has Lucifer been in the cage for a thousand years hell time? If so, maybe SN's God is urging the Winchester who locked the devil up to set him free for a short while. Revelation goes on to say,

"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth...and mobilize them for war. His armies will be as many as the sands of the sea; they will come swarming over the entire country and besiege the camp of the saints, which is the city that God loves. But the fire will come down on them from heaven and consume them. Then the devil, who misled them, will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are, and their torture will not stop, day or night, for ever and ever."
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I agreed with much of your post, but I just wanted to mention a couple of things. First, Dean did try to discuss Sam's time in hell, in Exile on Main Street. He told Sam that if anyone could understand Sam's experience, it was him. But Soulless Sam shut him down. Then when Sam got his soul back Death explicitly warned him not to scratch at that "itch" of his hell memories lest the wall break, so Dean naturally did everything he could to prevent that from happening.

As to your point that some viewers think that Dean is suffering more than Sam over the prospect of revisiting the cage, I hope you don't believe that anyone who finds Dean's dismissive reaction to that prospect understandable is more concerned with Dean's feelings than with Sam's. In my case, I was merely surprised that people think Dean is being a total dick, because I believe his reaction is totally motivated by his love for Sam. While Dean has certainly said and done awful things to Sam at times, the underlying thread of the first 10 seasons was that Dean would do anything for Sam and that he places him above everyone and everything else. Until Dean does or says something to the contrary, I will assume that we are seeing the Dean who sold his soul for Sam, the Dean of Trial and Error, and Sacrifice, rather than a Dean who is merely concerned with his own pain at the prospect of Sam going to the cage. Of course it would be better for Sam if Dean would at least discuss this and consider the idea. But Sam's own fear about revisiting the cage is palpable, so maybe it is that which has convinced Dean that it is out of the question that Sam revisit the scene of the worst, most unimaginably horrible experience of his life.

As far as anyone who thinks that Dean's fear and pain in this regard trumps, or even equals, Sam's, I find that attitude patently ludicrous. They must be watching a different show than I am. Jared has blown me away with his portrayal of Sam's fear and anguish, emotions which he has conveyed mostly through his tone and his expressions because Sam is unable to give voice to them. Even to Sully, the perfect confidant, Sam could not complete even one sentence about what happened to him in the cage. I have found this whole story line to be incredibly wrenching and heartbreaking. While I do think Dean is afraid and horrified about what might happen to Sam should he return to the cage, his feelings are dwarfed by what Sam is going through.

Finally (yes, I'm just about done!), I loved your analogy of this being Sam's Gethsemane. It feels so true to me. I've always thought that Sam is the most tragic TV character ever, and he has dealt with a seemingly endless series of tragedies in such a selfless, heroic manner that he has captured my heart. I am a Sam girl to the core. Yes, Dean too has had a life of unbearable tragedy, but at this point it is Sam who is primarily.in the crosshairs, and who should be the focus of concern. In that, I also completely agree with you.
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LEAH
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" I had a lot more difficulty accepting Dean's actions in Swan Song. Yes, he accorded Sam the respect of treating him as an adult and acceding to his wishes, but at the cost of eternal torment for Sam."

Hi Samandean. This cage situation reminds me of that in many ways. It sometimes feels as if Dean is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't. This could (as far as Dean knows) be a situation that could result in pain and torment for Sam. It may not. But Dean doesn't want to take that chance any more than he did back pre Swan Song. Now I am sure he will come to the place where he is supportive of whatever Sam wants to do in spite of the risks involved. And some people will then think that it's OK by Dean to let Sam suffer.

I also feel that for some fans Sam is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't. How many times can I work damn into a post? Dammed if I know.:)
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ScifiSpirit
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Wow! I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion! I love all the insight from different people. I highly doubt what I have to offer to the conversation will compare, but here are some of my thoughts.

Sam is a thousand times a stronger person than Dean in many ways, but not all ways. It becomes, in its simplest form, a case of Brawn vs. Brains.

Dean is the brawn. He outwardly projects all of his strength with his "tougher than nails" attitude and keeps a very strong shield up to protect everything he feels on the inside. On the inside, he's not 'strong' at all. He can't cope with the absent father, or the needy baby brother, or all the people that he sees suffering that they've spent their lives helping. In my honest opinion, Dean is not strong enough to handle any of that. So, he built a wall that would be strong enough to handle it for him. And he lives inside that wall. On the outside, he is strong. Strong in a fight, strong in attitude, strong in will. In fact, I would argue that Dean definitely has the stronger willpower. But, clearly, he has a softer side - one that wants a family and maybe even children. We always see Dean get paired with the children, whenever there are any in the show. He has a better rapport with them and is able to enter their world more easily. He is definitely a 'big kid' himself. But, it's ok because he's comfortable with all that. He's happy living inside this strong wall that he's built for himself in order to survive in the world. Dean prefers things to be very black and white (good vs evil), but the world isn't that way. It's really more grey and that's where Sam comes in.

Sam is the brains. His strength though, is different than Dean's. Emotionally, Sam IS able to cope with the harsh realities of their world. He dealt with the absent father by letting him know how angry it made him. He doesn't need, nor does he have, a brick wall that he lives behind. He doesn't shield himself nearly as well as Dean does and that's mostly because he doesn't have to. He will make the tough call and cross the proverbial 'moral line' if he has to. He has no problem living in the grey world that is their reality. Sam has had a very different life experience than Dean, of course, and because of that, he is able to make decisions that others aren't. He is able to face his fears and accept the consequences and say goodbye to loved ones and move on from tragedies. I'm not saying he can do any of those things with "ease". No no no. But, he 'can' do them, and he 'can' walk away from them remaining the person he is, keeping himself intact. That is the kind of strength he has. And, in many ways, that makes him stronger than Dean, imo. He will face whatever life or God or the devil throws in front of him. To me, he's an example of that cliche: if you throw him to the wolves, he will come back leading the pack. Dean might come back as 'part' of the pack, if he has to. But, Sam would come back leading it. He's got the brains for it and the heart. That's just who he is.

Dean has strength of will. Sam has strength of character. To me, those are two different things that balance each other out beautifully. Dean has gumption. Sam has spirit. I love them both and couldn't imagine one without the other.

Those are my thoughts for now. I can see why Dean is trying to shut Sam down. I'm not saying I agree with it, but I get it. Dean is NOT strong enough to risk losing Sam. Sam wants to fight and accept his responsibilities because he IS strong enough to make the tough call. That's kinda where I'm at with all of it.
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leah
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ScifiSpirit, you got me thinking. I wonder if either one of them would want to hunt if they didn't have to. The show has made it clear that they both are committed to that life at the moment. It seems to give them a sense of purpose. BUT what if there were suddenly no supernatural threats left (for whatever reason, haven't thought that part through) what would they do? Would they become vigilantes? Are they addicted to the danger and the rush? Would they settle down into a life with some semblance of normalcy.Could they? Anyway just mulling over that idea.
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