For Sam fans, as promised, I’m taking on the common concerns many have voiced over the younger Winchester brother recently. I’ve been struggling with this analysis for a week now, unsure how to capture my views into coherent thought. Then I saw “Criss Angel Is A Douchebag” and all the pieces fell in place. Poor Sammy!
First, the ground rules. Any analysis of Sam’s character will not come at the expense of Dean. This isn’t pitting one brother against the other. Second, I won’t be blasting the writers, Kripke, directors, casting, etc. I’m going off what we’ve been given, and will avoid comments that harp on supposedly lazy writing.
This works simply: I list a common complaint in bold and then give my analysis.
Sam has been relegated to guest star in season four.
Season four is more than officially half over, and yes, the main parts of the story line have focused on Dean’s saga. Season four isn’t over yet though, so I’m holding all official judgment on that one until I see the entire package. This season hasn’t been without golden Sam moments, though. Allow me to share a few.
In “Lazarus Rising,” which was clearly a Dean-focused episode, whose jaw didn’t drop over seeing Sam use his demon-pulling powers for the first time? It was awesome and a long time coming. Remember, he didn’t use his abilities at all for the second half of season two and all of season three. We almost forgot he even had powers. That’s cool Sam character development.
The entire episode of “Metamorphosis” was a Sam fan’s delight. He was finally pushed far enough where he exploded at Dean, telling him exactly why he didn’t tell him about the demon blood and why he’d been lying all this time. We’d been waiting for that conversation for a long time. He always thought Dean saw him as a freak and that he didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. Come the end, when Dean wanted to talk about it, Sam’s natural instinct to internalize and sweep issues under the rug kicked in. It was his burden and he wasn’t sharing. Dean wouldn’t understand.
Sam said something else during that conversation too, one that resonated clearly in “Criss Angel…” He told Dean he wasn’t going to use his abilities anymore. He wasn’t doing it for Dean or the angels. It was his choice. That’s what I think season four Sam is all about. He’s making his own choices. He’s not letting big brother protect him or take charge anymore. He’s still going to keep secrets from Dean, because Dean will try to stop him and tell him what to do. He has his own path to follow, and that may or may not include his brother.
In “It’s The Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester,” we got a great glimpse of Sam’s crisis of faith. Everything and everyone was letting him down. Angels, God, and yes, even his brother when Dean told him to not use his abilities. He was left to trust only his instincts, so he used his powers in that intense struggle with Samhain despite what he was told. He chose to do what it took to get the job done and save people, even defending this mindset to the powerful Uriel who berated him. Sam holding firm was a good thing and a great sign of his growth.
“Wishful Thinking” had one terrifying glimpse into Sam’s psyche, and for a second there we believed he was John Winchester. Sam’s chilling mention to Dean of his wish for Lilith’s bloody head on a plate hinted he’d been on a crusade for revenge against Lilith ever since Dean died, much like the one his father went on after Mary’s death. That would explain what has driven many of his actions this season, and gives hints about what’s to come.
I don’t like Ruby and how Sam’s story revolves around her.
That leads me to what I believe is the most pivotal episode of Sam’s character development, “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” Many missed the points of that episode because Ruby was a distraction. As a matter of fact, anytime Ruby comes on the screen she’s a distraction.