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Supernatural Fodder

Supernatural: What About Sam?

Padalecki-McCoy.jpgSupernatural is character driven drama. And that character, so far, is Dean.

Yes, Sam is supposed to be the special one. Yeah, Sam is the one who resisted taking up the "family business." But this has become Dean's story behind the scenes.

Season 1

It started slow, in Season 1, with 2 brothers with different wants. Dean's outright motivation in tracking Sam down at college was to find John. But along the way, we find out Dean is kind of missing having a family. We find out about Sam's desire to be normal, and he just wants to get the job over with and return to school.

Then Jess dies. Now Sam is fully invested in getting revenge, and finding John. At the end of the season, the brothers find out that they can have their revenge, but it will require sacrificing their dad.

And they aren't willing to do it. And they pay the price with Dean's life, until John sacrifices himself to save Dean.

Season 2

Now it's all about Dean. Dean doesn't know to live with his guilt over John's death, and he also has to live with knowing he may have to kill Sam. By the end of the season, Dean has learned several things - that he really wants a normal life, but knows he can't have it; that his brother is the most important thing in his life; and that he's willing to die to protect Sam.

And Sam.... well, Sam finds out he's basically a monster, but mostly just seems along for the ride. Shotgun, of course.

Season 3

This really should be Sam's season. Dean learns that he really does want to live, and that the family has to stop sacrificing themselves for each other. But Sam gets short-changed. He learns the importance of family, and that he's stronger than he knows - able to defeat Lilith with his psychic power. But his character is scarcely revealed.

Season 4

So here we are. Dean is once again learning things about his character, like he's capable of great evil. But Sam... well, Sam finally may be about to reveal some character.

We're finding out that Sam is afraid of the demon side of himself. He doesn't want to become a monster, but isn't sure he'll be able to overcome the darkness inside.

So maybe, maybe, Sam (and the audience) will finally learn something intimate about his character.

Big message time

I think Sam, and Dean, have to learn that The Greatest Evil is Within Ourselves.

I put that in caps because it's an old theme - maybe most famously explored by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But the show will have a fresh take on it - 2 brothers who consider themselves monsters, hunting monsters. How do they hunt what's inside them?

So maybe Sam has to learn this year that he's not unique in being capable of evil. We all are capable of evil, but we have to actively fight it. And he'll learn to live with himself.

Dean is the one who's going to teach it to him.

Dean, the teacher

Dean has to learn to live with the knowledge of what he's capable of. He'll either learn to live with it - or die trying to rid himself of the guilt. Either way, he's an example to Sam. Sam is starting to learn already that the struggle against evil never relents. He learned that in the Metamorphosis episode. But he hasn't learned that his capacity for evil isn't unique. We all fight evil, every day, it's just sometimes we don't recognize it as evil. See the Gordon storyline.

All this is tied up in YED's grand plan.

Did YED want more than the Earth?

Maybe YED's grand plan is take over the Earth, and Heaven.

Now that we've been introduced to the concept of an angel's Grace, we know it can be freely given up. And what can be given up can be taken. And if angels are Heaven's warriors, what defends heaven from Lucifer if all the angels are gone?

YED's grand plan could be to recruit angels to his side, by making them lose, or taking, their Grace (thus turning them human), or making them into demons by bringing out their capacity for evil. After all, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Can the angels do evil, by doing what they think is good? Why not? Humans do it. And the angels are a different kind of evil, a passive evil. They're evil through indifference.

Sam and Dean's role

That may be why God wanted Dean pulled from Hell. Dean is special in a couple of ways now - he's uniquely capable of controlling Sam, and helping Sam learn to deal with his guilt and fear. He also has sympathy, or at least empathy, now for those who give in to their capacity for evil.

Maybe that's the key to defeating YED's plan. I'm still thinking about how that could work.

Posted by Miller on January 16, 2009 7:29 AM
Permalink |

Seeing it broken down like this makes me wonder why I'm still watching. Yes, unfortunately, I'm a Samgirl.I keep trudging along hoping for a little love. Absolutely not happening this season, either. I now know how Starsky fans felt. But even they got Starsky worrying over Hutch. Samgirls get inundated with Dean evolving into Sam, while Sam devolves to wallpaper.

-- Posted by: pizzapixie at January 22, 2009 3:48 PM

Ok.. I just need to start this by saying from the get-go, I have always been a bigger fan of Sam than Dean. I've always liked both brothers, but was partial to Sam.

But this article just strikes me as way off the mark.

Season 1:
Seems to me as all about Sam losing Jess, needing to find his Dad so he can get his revenge. Dean's story line only revolved around how he had to help Sam thru his loss, thru his anger, and thru any snags Sam got into. Yes, Dean wanted to find Dad, too, but was much more concerned with Sam. Getting to know Sam as much as we were able to in Season 1, made me fall in love with Sam so much, as he was the primary character.

Season 2:
This season was centered around Sam getting his psychic abilities, what they meant, how many psychic children (like SAM) there were, and how ultimately Sam was the YED's favorite, and one he saw as most powerful of the children. And again, Dean's main focus was how he was going to take care of his brother.

Season 3:
In this season, we see that while Dean is going to go to hell (for SAM), the story line seemed more about how Sam was going to have to live without Dean, become more like Dean, complete with characters brought in (like Ruby or the recurrence of the Trickster) to help Sam. And even knowing his death was necessary, Dean's only concern was again Sam.

Season 4:
I finally feel like I'm getting to know Dean. You see more into his soul than just a desire to take care of his brother and his wishes for a better life. You see characters brought in not only for Sam, but also for Dean's welfare.

I just want to end this with a hopeful wake-up call to all of those out there that cannot see that BOTH brothers are integral to the story line of this show. Without either, it would be out and out stupid. I think if people would quit worrying about who's getting more screen time and pay attention to the details, they would realize that this show has less to do with the "supernatural", and much more to do with the bonds of family, brotherhood, and the best friendship that could be hoped for.. Which Sam and Dean share.

-- Posted by: SamGirl at January 22, 2009 6:20 PM

Huh. Arewe even watching the same show?
Season 1 - Dean gets Sam to go hunt for Dad. Sam's girlfriend is killed, he wants to find Dad. They hunt because Dean wants to do what Dad tells him.
Season 2 - Dean angsts over Dad's death and the big secret. Forever. Sam's grief is ridiculed the few times he tries to discuss it.There are a few psychic kid stories, but Kripke is bored with it. He kills them off. Sam dies and the finale is Dean inconsolable selling his soul.
Season 3 - Get Dean out of going to Hell. Oh-you're Sam. You can't. Dean dies.
Season 4 - Dean is "raised from perdition" by an Angel because it's Gods Will.
I see where Sam is one of the 2(two) leads. I just don't believe it.

-- Posted by: pizzapixie at January 22, 2009 6:41 PM

I hope this wasn't supposed to be an objective article, because what I see is a biased opinion piece.

As someone who watches the show for the storylines, I have to completely disagree with this article, especially about Season 1 and Season 2. Season 1 and Season 2 were especially all about Sam, Dean was just the protective big brother, he had no real role (other than to be emotional). Even when John Winchester died to save Dean's life, it was also about Sam (the secret). Season 1 was about the search for John (Sam wanted to find John to get revenge on the thing that killed Jessica), Sam's guilt over what happened to Jessica, and the beginning of Sam's visions. Season 2 may have had Dean dealing with emotional fallout of John's actions, but we also had Sam and his physic powers and the kids like him, Sam concerned about the "big secret" and what he could become, then there was also Madison, there were many storylines and episodes that were focused on Sam. Season 3 was a mess for both brothers (Kripke basically had Dean just wanting cheeseburgers and sex, like that's a real storyline) because of the writers strike, but even still we got Sam working with Ruby, Sam did the rescuing in a number of episodes, Sam got to fight and kill Gordon (which was a nice tie to Hunted, when Sam didn't kill Gordon), we saw Sam face losing Dean over and over again in Mystery Spot, we saw Sam remember and overcome some bad to him childhood memories. Now, Season 4, which we've only seen 11 episodes, Dean was rescued by an angel, angels who have a mission for Dean and don't like Sam using his powers (and have confronted Sam about this), Sam has confronted his idealistic view of angels (which we learned about back in Season 2's Houses of the Holy), we have seen that Sam has grown more powerful with his powers, who's working with Ruby and using his powers on demons, and until ep 4.11, Sam has done a lot of the rescuing. So, I see both action and characterization for Sam during all 4 seasons.

-- Posted by: Shelby at January 22, 2009 6:43 PM

Wow. Way to completely ignore your boy's characterization, article writer. How did you just skip over everything Sam did and felt in seasons 2 and 3? I guess it didn't fit your argument, but come on.

-- Posted by: Ali at January 22, 2009 6:52 PM

I would say that SamGirl, Shelby and Ali offered very good counter arguments against your biased article. The show has been about Sam for three years and maybe if you weren't paying attention to how much they were giving to Dean you would have been able to see how much they had given to Sam.

I find it amusing that this season, when Dean finally has a role that isn't all about Sam, the Sam fans cry foul because Sam is not the center of the universe anymore. Now there's Dean too and how can that possibly be? Isn't Dean just Sam' sidekick? Well, of course, the Sam fans have always looked at Dean as Sam's sidekick, there only for Sam. Now that he has his own story, the Sam fans feel that their precioussssssss is being ignored. Watch the show and pay attention. I don't want the Sam Winchester show. They tried to do that last season and it was a dismal failure.

-- Posted by: littlelady at January 22, 2009 7:00 PM

If this is the show you've been watching, I don't even know why you would be a Sam fan. This Sam is clearly barely worth a mention. Lucky for me, I've been watching a completely different show. But go ahead, put this on a post card and send it off to Kripke. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to see what a complete failure his lead character is.

-- Posted by: Muse at January 22, 2009 7:24 PM

Way to write a completely biased article. Most of the previous posters have stated very well the ways in which this article completely misrepresents Sam's characterization on Supernatural and conveniently ignores all the evidence which does not support it's biased and unrealistic viewpoint.

Sam was clearly the focus on Season 1, what happened to him is what drove the plot. His girlfriend died. He mourned her. He dealt with his issues about his father. He started to his family and his life in a different way. Dean angsted a bit about Sam and his mostly absent father.

In Season 2, they focused on Dean's grief for his father for part of the season, why shouldn't they? He is one of the two leads, he needs to be doing something. However they focused at least as much, if not more, on Sam's role as a Psychic Kid, on his fears for what he could become, on what the YED might want him for.

In Season 3, there was more about Sam's "boy king" of the demons mentioned. Ruby came along to whisper in his ear. Told him about how important he was. Sam also worried about how to save his brother. We saw how he felt about Dean's deal. We saw a childhood flashback from Sam's point of view, about how he found out what his father really did and what happened to his mother. We saw how he felt about Dean's deal. There was plenty of insight into Sam in Season 3.

-- Posted by: Toni at January 22, 2009 9:03 PM

Oh please. Why is it the Sam girls always whine and complain about Sam being on the show 20 seconds less then Dean or Dean stood in front of Sam OMG...gasp. Get over it.

I for one am a Dean girl and it's funny how mature the Dean girls are yet the Sam girls act like rabid fangirls.

-- Posted by: Lee at January 22, 2009 9:10 PM

Can we please get over the fighting?!!!! This is so old and so NOT what the show is about. You cant have Dean without Sam (even Dean said that) and you cant have Sam without Dean. The brothers both make the show!

-- Posted by: KT at January 22, 2009 11:50 PM

Please don't misunderstand, I am NOT saying the show should be about one or the other. It absolutely SHOULD be about both, and it is. The show would be worthless without the interaction. The thing is, Dean gets his character filled out when you don't see it happening.

-- Posted by: Miller at January 24, 2009 9:30 AM

There is a reason why Kripke put Jared's name first and the "All about Sam"'s that been thrown to our face for three season. Supernatural is about Sam, who happenned to have cool and badass brother named Dean. Look it up!
And Miller, please don't back out from what you are saying just to explain to bunch of Jensen Girl.

-- Posted by: ima at January 25, 2009 8:37 AM

Sorry, I think you're dead wrong on this. It's about both. I've given it more thought, and I think they're splitting the seasons. See today's post for my reasons.

-- Posted by: Miller at January 29, 2009 6:52 AM

I agree with the poster who said that S2 was more about Sam than Dean. In S3-4 we got more about Dean, I welcomed that, particularly as Dean's trip to hell required some character insight and Jensen's acting is always fun to watch...BUT!

What the hell Season 5! There's NO Sam centred episode (where Dean disappears for the duration, as Sam has for at least two or three outings now) the season RIGHT AFTER the Ruby Incident and the setting Lucifer free and finding out that Sam is Lu's vessel. I mean, come on, I'm hanging here.

I like them both. And I REALLY liked when Jensen got more to do and Dean got developed more (prior to that, his atttack dog stylings had me wanting to smack him around the head more often than not and actually I just couldn't stand the show because of it and gave up and stopped watching it - I came back because of S4: where Dean went to and returned from hell and the angel storyline).

BUT again, I haven't really learned anything about Sam since S2. All the development he's got is that he's made a lot of mistakes - some hubris-rooted - and feels really, really guilty. It would be nice to learn more of Sam than him just being the Guilt Guy. It's actually getting annoying now.

I love Ackle's acting - and have since Dark Angel's Pollo Loco - BUT I feel like Sam is turning into a stock character called The Guy Who Makes Mistakes A Lot And Feels Really Guilty About Them. Evolve his character past this after S5 - he's been carrying this burden since before he crawled out of the crib and it's tiring to watch now. Some atonement and finally absolution for the character please.

-- Posted by: FF at April 4, 2010 2:41 PM

I love supernatural. I like Dean more but I like both of the brothers. they both are hot. but Dean is hoter. I know ever thing about supernatural. I'm a biger fan than you can ever a imagine. Realy. Dean is cool. sam needs too loosen up a little bit more.

-- Posted by: Rose Perrine at October 27, 2011 10:29 AM

I love supernatural. I like Dean more but I like both of the brothers. they both are hot. but Dean is hoter. I know ever thing about supernatural. I'm a biger fan than you can ever a imagine. Realy. Dean is cool. sam needs too loosen up a little bit more.

-- Posted by: Rose Perrine at October 27, 2011 10:30 AM

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