So look who went all meta! After reading all the other great writers on this site take turns at character metas, it occured to me I hadn’t done one in a while. I’ve actually been working on this since the end of “Sam, Interrupted” but was inspired to finish it after Jasminka’s fantastic “Dean Winchester Is Dead – Long Live Dean Winchester.” What’s resulted even fascinates me. Who knew how deep Sam’s issues go? Fine, we all did. Prepare for something a little mind numbing. I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface, but it’s a start.
Itâ€™s not a stretch for me to say that Sam Winchester is a misunderstood character. Heâ€™s exactly what he joked about in â€œFree To Be You and Me,â€ a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a taco. After all, Sam is an internalizer. He shoves his issues deep and wonâ€™t deal with them unless theyâ€™re pushed out of him in a rather harsh way. So, we as viewers have to cling onto those precious times when the inner conflict is shown or even hinted. Like the recent reveal that heâ€™s very angry inside. Why is that and what exactly is all that pent up anger doing to the poor boy? Itâ€™s a question Dean refused to explore but hey, Iâ€™ll try it.
Anger is a primal emotion. It usually manifests into many other emotions on various spectrums, rage being one of the most extreme. According to Wikipedia (yes, this entry sounds accurate to me) â€œWhen a person experiences rage it usually lasts until a threat is removed or the person under rage is incapacitated.â€ Samâ€™s issues with rage have mostly existed in the past two seasons (one big exception being at the end of season oneâ€™s â€œSalvationâ€) and when heâ€™s raging, itâ€™s difficult to get him out of that mode. Heâ€™s lost and unable to control himself, the crazy eyes saying it all. The attacks against the hunters in the bar in â€œFree To Be You and Meâ€ and the doctor in â€œSam, Interruptedâ€ are good examples, but there are plenty of other cases too like when he wouldnâ€™t stop with Lilith in all of season four until she was dead. His desire to see her head on a plate bloody in â€œWishful Thinkingâ€ was a very cold and dark wish coming from something burning deep within. Sam is in an entirely different zone when he channels his anger towards something evil and itâ€™s frightening.
How did the rage start? Again from Wikipedia, â€œAnger is explained by current dissatisfaction in oneâ€™s life. This amount of anger or frustration is common. Rage, however, is caused from built up anger from past traumas.â€ Well, that scenario fits. Letâ€™s go through just the high level list of traumas. His mother died when we was a baby. He was dragged cross country his entire upbringing by his dad who hunted monsters. He was trained to hunt said monsters himself even though he didnâ€™t want to. He left that life behind and got pulled back when witnessing the love of his life charcoaled on the ceiling. He found out he had psychic abilities rooted in evil. He watched his Dad die. He had to kill the first woman he loved after Jessica. He learned he was infected with demon blood as a baby and is a major part of a diabolical demon war. He died. He watched Dean die. He gave into his resistance over using said dark powers, got hooked on demon blood and accidently started the apocalypse. While he suffered from the guilt over that and rejection by his brother, the one person in his life that matters, he found out heâ€™s supposed to be the vessel for Lucifer himself and will be a key part of the plan to destroy the earth. You think all that qualifies as the proper catalysts for rage?
There are two types of anger, passive and aggressive. Sam suffers from both. Wiki states, â€œOne can mask rage by appearing overly dominant, or by being depressed.â€ Letâ€™s face it, most of the time Sam is depressed. He has no joy in his life. He doesnâ€™t go after women like his brother, he doesnâ€™t socialize for fear of people close to him dying, he doesnâ€™t let loose in a bar or a whorehouse or even go fishing for a good time either. Heck, he even eats salads all the time. Thatâ€™s pure misery right there. He mostly sits in a motel room or in the car and either reads or thinks. And broods. We havenâ€™t even had signs since season two that he still has his pay-per-view porn habit. He doesnâ€™t dream of a happy future anymore. Heâ€™s maintained in both â€œWishful Thinkingâ€ and â€œSwap Meatâ€ whatever he hoped for once isnâ€™t his life anymore. If he isnâ€™t depressed, then heâ€™s certainly depressing.
Then thereâ€™s the other side of masking rage, being overly dominant. There are times when Sam is pushed to the limit and the depressed complacent state turns into a show of massive force, aka using his powers. No wonder he craves the power that his demon blood brings him. Think about it, in order to unleash the kind of wrath he did in â€œMy Blood Valentineâ€ he had to channel that inner rage. Itâ€™s got to be a big source of fuel for that power. Anyone think that using his abilities to exorcise five demons at once and take out a horseman was actually calming his inner rage? Heavens no. If anything, it added gallons of jet fuel to an already out of control fire. Itâ€™s only building and getting worse.
Where Did It Begin?
So where did it all begin? When did Sam start to lose control? Itâ€™s interesting in â€œMy Bloody Valentineâ€ when it was revealed that Dean was going through the motions. Sam is too. He doesnâ€™t know what else to do. Unlike Dean though, his void is filled with anger. He loses himself and who he is during those moments. It usually takes a rude awakening, like a wraith pointing out how deep his issues are or a horseman getting inside his head for him to realize exactly whatâ€™s going on inside. How wrong it feels. How messed up he really is. How far from normal he is.
That lack of normality is where it all started. All Sam has ever wanted is to be normal. That was decided not to be the case while he was an infant. After Azazelâ€™s fateful visit, after his mother died, he never felt right inside. He never had say on the path to follow, he didnâ€™t have a normal family life like other kids and his father was constantly absent. He probably didnâ€™t have much of an identity until he began rebelling against John and went off to Stanford. The frustration of being unable to live the life he wanted is the early manifestations of anger.
Sam dealt with his anger over Jessicaâ€™s death by seeking revenge. He gave up his chance at a safe life and took on hunting life on the road with his brother. The anger kept growing when he found he wasnâ€™t getting closer to his goal and there were awful plans for him by the yellow-eyed demon. He gave up on his dream life completely when his father died. A guilt ridden decision maybe? Oh yes (more on that coming soon). Then he eventually finds out the hard way that revenge doesnâ€™t satisfy that anger inside. In his case, it only manages to heighten it. When the yellow eyed demon died, when Lilith died, none of that seemed to quell the rabid monster inside. Remember Samâ€™s words from â€œSam, Interrupted?â€ â€œMost of the time I can hide it, but I am angry. Iâ€™m mad at everything. I used to be mad at you and dad and then Lilith, now itâ€™s Lucifer and I make excuses. I blame Ruby or the demon blood but itâ€™s not their fault. Itâ€™s not them, itâ€™s me. Itâ€™s inside me. Iâ€™m mad all the time and I donâ€™t know why.â€
So why? Having some evil demon blood pumping through his veins contributes, but one big reason is heâ€™s also the spitting image of John Winchester, another person too consumed by revenge and anger. Sam even understands what drove Johnâ€™s actions based on what he said in â€œThe Song Remains The Same.â€ John would have gone insane if he didnâ€™t try. So what keeps Sam going through all this then, knowing what it did to his Dad? Remember in â€œJump The Sharkâ€ when he told Adam it never ends? It never ends. At what point does Sam let go? What keeps him going?