#2 – Sam Winchester
I hear you all. “You better have a damned good explanation for this one, Alice!” I do, and I think I’ve got a point. We’ll see how much of a good one.
Sam’s greatest enemy is himself. All it takes is a viewing of “When The Levee Breaks” and “Lucifer Rising” to see that. Come to think of it “I Know What You Did Last Summer” has some pretty good clues too. If Gordon Walker started the graying of the fine line, Sam pretty much obliterated it. Why Sam went that route though is the most intriguing part. It’s because he could no longer live with himself.
In seasons one and two, Dean plays the role of Sam’s center, the one that keeps him in check as things slowly spin out of control. Then Sam dies and comes back, and Azazel hints to Dean that Sam came back different. Of course he did. That’s because Sam finally learns through Jake that showing mercy is only going to get him killed and maybe Dean too. He realizes when learning of Dean’s demon deal that he can’t rely on Dean to protect him anymore, and he’s the one that will have to save his brother this time. That’s why in season three Sam doesn’t hesitate in killing Casey, the Crossroads Demon, Gordon and others. He has to go against that gentle nature of is. It’s a necessity.
Once Dean dies though and Sam has to accept that he couldn’t save his brother, his center is gone, and through his pain he declares without hesitation he’s ready to use his abilities. His intentions are good, but his weakened frame of mind can’t grasp Dean’s warnings about where the path to good intentions leads. Ruby, being the true demon she is, has him pegged, and preys on that raw nerve of his again, and again, and again, knowing exactly what it would take to coax Sam to using those dormant abilities to their full strength. She finds out his inner fears, his motivation, and twists it against him. It turns out Dean isn’t Sam’s weakness. It’s his intense desire for revenge. Dean, just like Jessica and Mary, become an excuse to carry out that so called “justice.” As soon as Ruby hones in on that need, she could get him to do anything.
I know Sam fans, I hear the outcries. It isn’t his fault! Sam was duped, Sam was manipulated, Sam was an innocent victim. Yeah, except he wasn’t. He went along with Ruby willingly, and as she said, kept making the right choices every time. At least what he thought were the right choices. The difference between Sam and Dean’s way of thinking is best shown in “Jus In Bello.” Dean remembers there’s still a rule book, and there’s a human element that should never be ignored. Sacrificing an innocent to save many isn’t an option, because that’s not the human thing to do. Sam could never see past that, and allows himself to be turned into the one thing he never wanted to be, a monster, all for the sake of the greater good. Except it wasn’t.
As is eluded a few times, Sam likes the power he has. It’s likely the only time he’s felt a sense of control in his life and that power becomes a powerful drug. Sure, so does the demon blood, but addiction is hardly anything new in human nature. If anything, that addiction exacerbates the desperation within. No matter how many told him that using that power and sucking the demon blood is wrong, he keeps doing it anyway. He can’t make it stop.
Sam only thinks he’s harming himself for the bigger picture, but the farther he gets into it, the farther he becomes willing to cross the line. His actions turn reprehensible and he kills innocent victims because he’s saving the world. Every time Dean tries to set him straight, even locking Sam in the panic room, Sam can’t see past his own desperate desire for revenge and to do something good with that evil burning inside of him. He convinces himself (with Ruby’s help) that he’s the only one that can do it. Dean’s too weak because his time in Hell took something away from him. He’s on a lone crusade. Even though doubts surface within, Sam loses control, and learns how dangerous he actually is. Now in season five we get to see him deal with that. Awesome!
Oh, but Sam’s slow descent started long before he unknowingly releases Lucifer by killing Lilith, going full demon in the process and finally turning into that monster. He’s been fighting those personal demons ever since the pilot. Sam’s greatest enemy is going to continue to fester, and no matter what he tries it’ll never be killed. He probably wonders if it’ll ever be controlled now. No wonder he was ready for self-sacrifice.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scolding Sam for his actions. If anything, his story makes the show as good as it is and makes me love his character more. He might have demon blood in him, but he’s still a flawed human with weaknesses. When the show’s hero also can be the show’s villain, that’s a story worthy of being told. Given how Sam’s slow descent has been well played for the last four seasons, especially the last two, it’s impossible to pick just one or two scenes that are indicative of his spiral. So, I’m showing my absolute favorite scene from “When The Levee Breaks.” This one appeals to me most because the theme goes straight to my heart; a boy needs his mama.
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