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  3. Wednesday, 29 April 2015
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In my two most recent reviews, I’ve touched upon how in season ten Sam’s quest to save Dean has gotten so focused, he’s thrown out the notion of saving others and playing the hero. None of that seems to matter, leaving us to ask, what happened to the heroes in the story? Has it just become a raw quest for survival? Is there no such thing anymore as being the hero?

I just read this most fascinating review of “The Werther Project” from MaryAnn Sleasman over at TV.com, and her exploration of this very topic is perfectly articulated. It’s kind of mind blowing. Here’s an excerpt:

http://www.tv.com/shows/supernatural/community/post/supernatural-season-10-episode-19-the-werther-project-review-142972018203/

Rowena's sudden appearance, the raging ghost of Susie berating Sam for justifying her death with Dean's survival, and the knowledge that the box drove intruders to suicide should've all pointed Sam in the right direction, but I guess we can attribute this gaping oversight to the incredible stress that comes with saving your brother from damnation... again. Sam is desperate for a solution, and while his slide to the dark side in Season 4 was motivated by similarly good and just intentions, his descent here in Season 10 has managed to avoid rehashing those old issues by avoiding the overt displays of eeeeevil that characterized demon blood junkie Sam.

Sam didn't set out to get Susie killed, and he is guilty for his role in her death—he's just not that guilty. He isn't teaming up with Rowena so much as using her for his own devices. This Sam isn't as naive as the one who tumbled headfirst into doing hell's bidding because of some shady promises about Dean's salvation. This Sam knows he's playing with some bad mojo.
He just doesn't care.

The starkness of Sam's mission became clearer in "The Werther Project," where there was no big heroic image to hide behind. There's no saving the world or locking up hell; the episode was literally about saving Dean, and when the most direct way to save Dean was "just kill yourself" Sam was there. He didn't even bother to think about the consequences: Dean would be devastated, there was no guarantee that Rowena would actually use the codex to decode the Book of the Damned without Sam around to force her hand, the anarchy is heaven is far from over, and Metatron is still on the run.

"The Werther Project" took that self-sacrificing trope that Supernatural has built around the Winchesters and stripped it down to its most alarming core. When do Dean and Sam finally look at themselves and the mess of their lives and realize how screwed up they've become? When does this cycle stop? For a veteran series like Supernatural, these are all the right questions to be asking.


How does Sam come out of this with any sanity? It does seem scarier that the potential damage he’s doing this time as opposed to season four is because he’s making conscious choices on his own, without any kind of manipulation. When his hallucination of Suzie berated him for causing another innocent death for the sake of his quest, Sam’s mind ended up erasing all that by bringing Rowena into the mix. That’s a fascinating parallel to the season four episode, “When the Levee Breaks.” In that one, coming off the demon blood, Sam managed through his hallucinations to justify his actions and why he had to embrace his inner evil powers to kill Lilith. The end justified the means and it led to his escape. “The Werther Project” seemed to be the antithesis of that. His mind had fake!Rowena come along and blow all that guilt away so he could carry on the mission. That’s not justification or addressing the problem. That’s sweeping it under the rug and dealing with the consequences later.

Is just the idea of losing Dean again the only thing driving Sam this time to ignore all the obvious warning signs? What has to happen for him to see the light, or is he too far gone now? The fact that he chained up Rowena means that he learned his lessons from Ruby, but in a screwed up way. He’s still making deals with the devil so to speak rather than avoiding them, but now he’s taking better pre-cautions. He isn’t as dumb or naïve, but as far as risks go he seems to be more reckless than ever. What he’s doing will hurt others and have gross negative impacts. He isn’t thinking through the worst that can happen, just that he’ll deal with it should that come to be. No doubt about it, desperate Sam is very dangerous.

Sam spent all of season five in damage control mode. Yes, his actions still resulted in an extraordinary loss of life, but in the end he took responsibility and jumped into the cage to save the world. Will this inevitably become Sam in season 11? Will he be as remorseful, more vigilant in his task to save the world if he manages to save his brother? What has to happen to make him care?

Are Sam and Dean even capable of knowing anymore what “screwed up” is? I think they’ve grown that dysfunctional where they don’t know normal and rational behavior. They’re so consumed by the darkness, evil, and horrific things they’ve had happen in their lives that perhaps those lines of right and wrong aren’t recognizable anymore. Or, maybe it’s just Sam.

In “Book of the Damned” Dean saw that using the book was too much of a risk, knowing that it’s mere existence will release some very negative things (like biblical) into the world. Sam couldn’t let it go though and was willing to take that risk. I’m wondering if this implies that Sam’s “psychosis” so to speak is far more progressed as Dean’s. Or did Dean already learn his lesson in season nine and is still suffering the consequences because of it? If the situations were reversed, would Dean be using the book to make a deal with Rowena like Sam? After the events of season nine, I’m not convinced he would.

I have to admit, I’m far more frightened by Sam in season ten than season four. He’s losing his sense of being, his sense of right and wrong, and he seems to have no stopping point. Plus, we still aren’t sure what his real purpose is. Why is he still hunting? Because he doesn’t know what else to do with his life? Because he says he loves it? (I don’t’ believe him BTW.) Sam believed he was saving the world in season four and did it all for the right reasons. All that logic seems to have escaped him now. I do wonder if Cain’s prophecy of Dean killing Sam comes down to this very issue. Maybe death is the only way Sam can be stopped from risking others.

So, what do you think? Is this notion right on, couldn’t be more off base, or somewhere in between? What is your hope for Sam’s character after all this? What sort of life lies before him? One of hunting forever with his brother? How do both Sam and Dean stop the cycle of self-sacrifice or worse to save each other, or can they?
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Some thoughts leap to mind. One is that it is not necessarily about just saving Dean. It's about saving Dean from becoming perhaps a Knight of Hell, the heir to Cain, who when last seen had decided to murder a sixth of the world's population just because they were his descendants. So while this might not be Sam's primary motivation, it has to be factoring into his decision. I don't see him taking these types of risks just to save Dean from cancer, for example. My next thought is that it's unfair to Sam to frame this as "what the hell is wrong with him, didn't he learn his lesson?" The writers have gone out of their way to have Dean throw a lot of accusation and judgement and guilt at Sam for 3 years now about how he has let Dean down. Dean still throws Sam's mistakes and failures from YEARS earlier in Sam's face. Truly, it is emotional abuse. The cumulative effect of that is that Sam was very happy to die in Sacrifice just to avoid letting Dean down. Now because Dean has repeatedly confronted Sam with his Purge statements, and because Sam had to suffer through Dean being a demon, I think Sam is incapable of doing anything but going all out to save Dean. I think he feels torn about the risks he's taking, but he's willing to proceed because he literally couldn't live with himself if he lets Dean down again. That's why I will be so damned angry if he's scapegoated about any terrible consequences while Dean comes out smelling like a lily. The brothers will be equally to blame for any horrors that ensue, in my opinion. What bothers me about all of this is that it upends Sam's character. He has typically been more measured and thoughtful in deciding moral issues, but as you said he now seems to be losing his sense of being, and of right and wrong. This portrayal of Sam completely undermines what Kripke accomplished by Swan Song--proof that the brothers had matured and understood how "the Winchester Way" of saving each other at all costs had led to nothing but heartbreak and disaster. Under Carver, Sam has become an emotional basket case, to the extent that he's been allowed to show any emotions at all. I really think he is just about the most tragic character on TV.
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cheryl42
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Very thought provoking. I wondered what it would take for Dean to have to kill Sam and this might be it. Sam might become so influenced by the evil of the magic he is playing with that Dean will feel compelled to stop him no matter the cost. The same decision Cain was forced to make with Abel. And I would guess that the only way to stop Sam is to use the Blade. Yes this is a much darker Sam than S4. This is all Sam. I am assuming that the trials cleansed all of the demon blood from his body and the angel is gone so for the first time Sam is dealing with fate as a human. I agree with SamnDean Dean has brought up Sam's "sins" for 3 seasons now and there is no way Sam is going to fail this time. Just like Dean did with the angel possession Sam will try to deal with the consequences of his actions after Dean is saved. Where Dean's life is concerned it seems all logic tends to fly out the window. Although I'm not sure how chaining up a powerful witch with 2 of the most powerful spell books that ever existed is going to end well. This is the most interesting Sam we have seen in a long time. We were all waiting for Dean to go full on demonic and evil when it looks like Sam is the one that is "going there". I can't wait but I don't want the season to end. I am sure the brothers will survive and hopefully they will go back to saving people instead of each other going forward....oh who am I kidding they will always put each other before anyone else.
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Jen
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Interesting insight. Looking back through S10 episodes and now having this pointed out - I can see how my Sammy is really got problems.

I'm thinking maybe just maybe Dean may have been able to control the mark (this has been metioned by others on WFB) and used it as another weapon against evil. His charcter is strong enough, and Cain did, he only changed because of Dean's push for the blade. Cain controled it for eons. If Sam had have backed off - Dean might have been ok, but Sam's constant pushing could be doing more damage.

I wonder if we have been looking at the season the wrong way around. We feel that Sam has not been vindicated by the writers, he appears to have had very little to say and has always been in the background, this season. Maybe this was to take the lime light off Sam so we couldn't see what was happening. And right from S1 Ep1 Sam has always had Huge anger issuses. So this must have had a affect on him.

A angry Sam is more frightening then a soulless Sam or a Demon Blood Sam. Who can reach him now he has become so singel minded that anyone who gets in his way watch out. I'm also wondering if this may tie in with the delicate matters of suicide & self sacrifice that SPN have been showing in the show this season. Also Jared's and now Dean's campaign TWLOHA. :( :( :( There was a hint of the MOC being carried over to S11. Maybe its gonna be Sam thats doomed. :( :(
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njspnfan
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Interesting review by MaryAnn Sleasman; as far as your question goes, I'm not sure, my guess is that the truth is somewhere in between but we haven't really been shown enough to make that assessment of Sam. And it would be very generous to say this story is playing out in the background as we've only recently been getting some glimpses/PoV from Sam. From his hallucinations of Suzie, the decisions/consequences are weighing heavily on him, and he is clearly willing to sacrifice his own life for his brother, but the question remains is he willing to unleash consequences of biblical proportions to save Dean from the MoC?

I would have hoped some lessons were learned along the way but that doesn't appear to be where this story is headed, Dean has as much told Sam that in saving him in S9, he'd do the same thing all over again. I took that as also meaning he would willingly sacrifice Kevin's life for Sam's. This is really, really fucked up when you think about it, a perverse sense of right and wrong, a twisted sense of morality, consequences be damned. And, since Sam has never really been able to "reciprocate" in saving Dean (curing him from being a demon was like putting a band aid on a gaping chest wound), it does make it somewhat understandable that Sam is in his current state of mind and would go to such extremes to save Dean.

I'm also confused about Carver's "maturing of the brother's relationship" that he discussed in S8; have been seeing absolutely none of that by either brother. Is this his idea of a mature adult relationship, or did he change course because this is what most fans want to see?
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Yes Season 10 Sam is darker than Season 4 Sam. He has lost the optimism of youth. Quite common for intellectuals like Sam after they've experienced the things life can throw at you. And Sam has had more thrown at him than most.530
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I agree with you njspnfan. Carver made such a big deal of that arc for seasons 8-10 and we have seen ZERO signs of it. If anything, the brothers seem even more screwed up. Maybe he's accordioning that arc as well as the MOC arc into next season. Or, as you suggest, he's either decided that the fans don't want a mature, more healthy relationship between the brothers, or he has decided that their screwed-up relationship lends itself better to interesting story telling. I'd love it if someone would question Carver about that. I really am curious about what has happened to that supposed arc.
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sugarhi15
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Dark...that word is always being thrown Sam's way, but thinking on it, I don't find that word appropriate to describe Sam Winchester.

Not so very long ago, quite recently as a matter of fact, Sam Winchester was one step away from ridding the world of demons and Crowley. Then like a bull in a china shop, Dean came storming the church and stopped Sam from completing his mission. Dean warned Sam that he would die if he continued, and Sam was ok with the consequence and had appeared to have accepted this notion some time back. He was willing to die to save others. Now as eloquent and loving as Dean's speech was to stop Sam from continuing, declaring that the knowledge they had was enough to stop demons.....when it came down to it, Dean told Sam that no one came before him. He killed Benny to save him. He was willing to let Crowley and all the other sons of bitches that were responsible for the death of their mother walk because of him. Dean put Sam above all others and he disregarded the consequences for others as a result. How many people have died since then at the hands of demons and Crowley. Every innocent killed, was collateral damage for a decision Dean made, to save his brother above all else....and yet, not once did I ever hear or see posts regarding Dean as dark.

Here we are in the exact circumstance, only in reverse. Now it is Sam who is putting his brother first and he's labeled as dark because he is disregarding the possible consequences. The exact same thing his brother had done for him....nothing different, except maybe for the fact that Dean is in fact a ticking time bomb and him turning back into a demon/knight of hell can also be considered a biblical consequence....otherwise Sam is in the same mindset and doing the exact same thing that Dean did in Sacrifice. So why is Sam considered dark and Dean not?

So I have to say, dark is not the word I would use to describe Sam Winchester....I think the more appropriate word....is Dean....Sam is more Dean...;)
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Sugarhi15 you make an excellent point and I agree with you. Part of the problem is that TPTB have framed Sam's role this season as "who's the REAL monster." And they still consider Sam as the Sam of the earlier seasons who had a "darkness" inside, even though there has been no evidence of that since Season 5. But if people are going to question Sam's morals/ethics because of the measures he takes to save Dean, they should ask the same questions about Dean.
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Jackie
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For me, this season has been a reversal of season 9, in which now Sam is making a reckless choice in order to save his brother's life. We saw Dean last season faced with the prospect of losing his brother and making a desperate, reckless decision that put other people in danger, and now Sam is doing it. I think what we all have to remember in respect to Sam is that he has suffered from an inferiority complex for a long time, in respect to feeling like he was an inadequate son, brother, discovering he had demon blood, etc. We saw how far Sam was willing to go to avoid letting Dean down in season 8, and I don't think he can bare to let him down this time, either. Dean's depending on his brother to save him, whether he knows it or not, because Sam is really the only other character on the show that will never give up on Dean. In respect to the Book, it's the only real solution that has presented itself; nothing else has arisen that even looks promising. The one disappointing thing about this season is that, once again, Sam is being made out to be "the real monster," even when Dean is infected by a demonic Mark.

In the end, I don't really see a happy ending in the forecast for the Winchesters. It should come as no surprise that neither brother is willing to accept the death of the other, and that this leads them to make reckless decisions. Will that continue? Probably, so long as one or the other's life is at stake. And, quite frankly, would we want to watch if all of a sudden Sam said, "Sorry, Dean, the consequences of saving you are too high, so why don't we just start planning your funeral?" People were angry at Sam for accepting that Dean was gone in season 8, and now they're angry at Sam for not being willing to let Dean go--what the hell are we expecting Sam to do??
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sugarhi15
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I think sam is doing exactly what he should be doing. ;)
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Sharon
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Guest wrote:

I think sam is doing exactly what he should be doing. ;)


Based on what ? guilt , redemption because that was the result of last season's possession sl or that the brothers relationship cannot be based on anything else but actions done in the name of some twisted idea of love.
So if Sam gets hurt or worst in some way to save Dean then what ?
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sugarhi15
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I have no doubt some of that is mixed in there too, but I also think love has a lot to do with it. all I can say is that I support sam....always have and always will.


happy birthday sam Winchester......:D
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Sharon
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sugarhi15 wrote:

I have no doubt some of that is mixed in there too, but I also think love has a lot to do with it. all I can say is that I support sam....always have and always will.


happy birthday sam Winchester......:D


It is not a question of support but what Sam deserves and actions based on a guilt he should not of been shouldered with by the writers is not one of them . He will yet again come out of this on the wrong end of a situation created by Dean last season . I love Sam I just merely do not believe he has deserved the last two seasons.
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I do wonder if Cain’s prophecy of Dean killing Sam comes down to this very issue. Maybe death is the only way Sam can be stopped from risking others.


I can see it now. Sam becomes so obsessed that the lines of good and evil become blurred to him and so he begins his tumble into darkness that only Dean can stop with his death.

Buuuut as I've said another Winchester death would be a joke..

I am assuming that the trials cleansed all of the demon blood from his body


Why do people insist on that? If it truly was the case I think the writers would of made a bigger deal of it. Sam thought it was purifying him? Try slowly burning him from inside out.

There was a hint of the MOC being carried over to S11. Maybe its gonna be Sam thats doomed.


Maybe Sam gets the mark. The demon blood within him + mark forces him to go pure evil. The mark strengthens the demon blood possibly giving it enough power to devour his human blood!
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