Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, Sam, Poor Sam, Satan's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad

Don't read this if you're not caught up on Supernatural.

As I readied myself for work this morning, an early episode of Supernatural played in the background. In 'Something Wicked', the Winchester boys find themselves up against a shtriga, a kind of vampire witch that steals the lives from children while they sleep and can only be killed while it is feeding. This is the second time Dean has encountered the monster, the first having been when it attacked Sam, on Dean's watch, when they were small children.

After the sthriga attacks the younger of a pair of brothers who live at the motel the Winchesters are staying at, Dean comes to the conclusion that it will return to attack the elder. Sam, with all the glistening-eyed puppy dog enthusiasm of his early-years self, asserts that they must immediately remove the boy from the motel and the encumbent danger. Dean disagrees. The following exchange is had:
Sam: Then you wanna use the kid as bait? Are you nuts? No! Forget it, that's out of the question!
Dean: It's not outta the question Sam, it's the only way. If this thing disappears, it could be years before we get another chance.
Sam: Michael's a kid, and I'm not gonna dangle him in front of that thing like a worm on a hook!
The emotional punch of the episode comes from the fact that Dean blames himself for the monster attacking Sam and then escaping when they were but wee, but after watching the subsequent five seasons up to last week's deliciously titled 'Live Free or Twihard' (just more proof that the Supernatural writers have their fingers dug deeply into the pulses of their fans and popular genre culture), it was Sam that put my little fangirl heart through the wringer.

In last week's Supernatural, Sam's 'Came Back Wrong'ness reached a new level of disturbed. Seeing his brother be attacked by a vampire, Sam stops to watch. He watches as the vampire opens his ow vein and holds it to Dean's mouth. eventually he yells stop and moves to intervene, but not before we see this:

Which begs a few questions, the first and more glaring being WHAT THE %@#, SAM?

@%#&#$^%! Are you @#$! serious?! What is your childhood trauma   damage problem THIS time, Apocolypse Boy, goddamn?!

We're faced with a dilemma. Yes, Sam has been One Cold Bastard since he came back and yes, the distance between the brothers has been palpable, uncomfortable for both them and the audience. But the expression on Sam's face up there- look at it again, LOOK- implies something is much more wrong than previously anticipated.

When I had the chance to interview the cast at San Diego, Jared Padalecki assured us he was coming back as Sam, not a monster in a Sam suit, but my question now is, to what degree is he Sam? The expression on his face leads me to think that maybe Sam is sharing headspace, and oh hosanna what a clustercuss of fun that would be, if true. An infinitely more troubling consideration, of course, is: What if that's all Sam?

What if spending so long in hell has quite simply bled the humanity out of him? He does the 'right thing' by hunting, protecting people by thinning the heard of predators, but in the first six episodes of this season we have seen Sam:
  • Use a baby as bait.
  • Use his brother as bait.
  • Let a young boy undergo excruciatingly painful, invasive Angel surgery.
  • Let his brother get turned into an undead monster so as to use him to infiltrate a vampire nest, a combination of letting Dean undergo excruciatingly painful, invasive transformation for the purpose of becoming bait.
 Freaking God, Sam, go crawl back into your devil pit.

In a further twist, Evil Pappy Campbell even balked at Sam's behavior, putting his shady ass one rung lower on the 'I kind of hate you' list than Sam's is right now.  Through my annoyance and flabbergasted exasperation, however, is a genuine sadness for the loss of Sam. I loved Sam's character, even when he was a giant moron. As thick and blinded as he could be, as out of control as his anger could get, he still mostly did things out of a sense of what was right, what was best. He tried, with a universe worth of odds stacked against him.  This cold, lying facsimile of Sam is so far the most disturbing spectre haunting the season. Now that Dean is aware that the problems run deep, that Sam may not, in the most fundamental ways, be Sam anymore, though it have nothing, I fear, to do with possession, I hope the season really takes off so that by episode ten I have my boys back and we can get to Edlund's Irish murder horse.

So, what is it? What do you guys think is wrong with Sam?


Scott said...

Having not heard that answer for JPads, I was starting to wonder if we were looking at Lucifer. Maybe a fusion? That smile is... devilish.

Answers probably relate to whoever pulled Sam out. But I have no freaking idea, there, I was betting on Crowley and straight-up lost that bet, 'cause why wouldn't he have brought it up when they had his bones to ransom?

Lora said...

Remember how Sam said to Dean that hell isn't the same for everyone and lo he wasn't disturbed at all?

This leads me to the horrifying conclusion that Sam, in fact, learned to like it. Dean came back with nightmares, and I think Sam came back craving more.

If it were possible to be animated without a soul, I'd ascribe that to him.

EruditeChick said...

Crap. Now Lora's got me thinking he's some kind of Homonculus.