You want to know how freaking impossible it is to critique season six Sam Winchester? I mean, how in the world to you characterize a character that wasn't a character for an entire half a season? It just blows the mind.
Nah, there's certainly something more to soulless Sam than meets the eye. After all, it's an intriguing notion. What exactly is a soulless man? Still, I hit the wall of soulless fatigue right around episode 8. Considering Dean's fatigue came much sooner, I shouldn't complain.
(Read A Deeper Look At Season Six Dean Winchester)
After getting his soul forcefully shoved back into him, the real Sam wasn't really there either. He was a guy with this wall in his head, keeping back the trauma, the pain that defines who he is. He also didn't remember that other side of him that he often doesn't like, the dark, strategic thinker that doesn't let the human element into the equation. He becomes this doughy-eyed, "I've got your back", obedient (for the most part) little brother, the part of Sam that Dean needs the most. Not that I'm complaining, for there are some really great brotherly moments that come out of it, but it wasn't until the finale, when soulless Sam and Sam merged, that the real Sam appeared. However he's got another part of himself now too, the brutally damaged Hell Sam. It's just not looking pretty.
Let's dig into this completely bi-polar season for Sam Winchester, shall we? The only pretty in it is the hair.
Exile on Main Street
I spent a good portion of this episode yelling, "WTF???" Sam is so vacant. He just pops out of nowhere to save Dean from an hallucination, gives Dean a wooden hug after proving to Dean he was alive and well in a very cavalier fashion, and then tells Dean as if there's no problem that he's been alive for a year and hunting with relatives they didn't know about previously. Then, after they thwart the bad guy, Sam with a very cold "It's really good to see you again Dean," takes off (in a Charger nonetheless!) as if he just said goodbye to a casual acquaintance?
Yeah, yeah, it all makes sense now. This is, as the term is coined later by Dean, RoboSam. He's a walking, talking, killing shell. The only spark of personality comes in his mocking of Dean's new golf skills. You did have to wonder, what was burned away in Hell? Is it really Sam? It makes for a good mystery but in the meantime, it's very uncomfortable to see Sam like this. One thing's for sure, whatever is there, this ain't Sam Winchester. At least all of him.
Two and A Half Men
RoboSam can be pretty fun. Thank heavens. Soulless or not, it's clear Sam has no clue what to do with a baby. His pleasant surprise over seeing that Dean does know mirrors our own. It's the Dr. Huxtable vibe! It's still obvious though this Sam isn't right. He vocalizes objections now, something he was very skilled at keeping to himself before. His ill tolerance of a crying baby proves that. Plus, he doesn't think twice about plugging a bad guy in a room where a baby is. He's able to convince Dean to help him though, and that's enough to get Dean back on the road with him. Sam clearly doesn't know what he's getting into.
This episode also shows Sam is a pure strategic thinker that's willing to risk anything to achieve his means as a hunter. Like an innocent baby. Dean picks up on this rather easily, but if there's one thing that Sam, soulless or not, is very skilled at, it's lying. He denies. Let the moral ambiguity begin!
The Third Man
Sam once again let's his irritation surface into a new level of jerkiness. Granted, Castiel's actions warranted such behavior, but it's another clue that this Sam isn't normal. Granted "not normal" got no objections from us when he was doing his oh so very hot morning workout shirtless with those low riding jeans (still drooling) but Sam spent the night with a hooker? Really? Oh yeah, something isn't right. Then there's the massive, hit you in the face clue. Castiel needs to hurt a young boy to get to the truth about who owns his soul. Dean objects, Sam has no problem with it. Uh oh. Red flag waving.
Sam does learn one thing. Castiel has no clue what pulled him out. He seems genuinely bothered by this. He's also bothered about the destruction of his car. So, somehow, having no soul means getting disappointed and mad can still happen. However, when it comes to Dean, he's stone cold. When asked if he's alright, if he wants to talk about Hell, Sam gives a very chilling, "It tortured you. I think it still does. But Dean, I'm okay." I really don't want to know his definition of okay.
Live Free and Twihard
Sam stood by and watched his brother get turned into a vampire on purpose, and smirked about it! Enough said. Sam ain't right.
You Can't Handle The Truth
Now this version of Sam is starting to piss me off. "Hey Sammy, your jerkiness is showing!" He's super rude to the witness they're questioning and makes her cry, he finds remnants of a dead cat and can only joke about it, and he flat out lies to Dean about the vampire thing even when he's supposed to be under a truth spell.
FINALLY though, we get some clues. What episode number is this? Sam and Dean have been captured by Veritas, the Goddess of Truth. Dean is forced to tell the truth because of her power and its heart crushing. Sam gives a line of bullshit about how the job is hard and they look out for one another. The shocked face of Veritas is the kicker. "How are you doing that? That's not possible. You're lying to me! What are you?" Exactly what we all want to know. Sam denies, but she knows better. "You're not human." No, Dean doesn't take this well.
I find it interesting that only when threatened with harm will Sam come clean. He's had a good charade going for a while now. Funny how a large knife waving in front of him jogs the memory. He admits, something's wrong with him, has been for a while. He let Dean get turned by the vamp because he wanted into the nest, knew about the cure and knew Dean could handle it. He didn't think of the consequences (aka harm to Ben or death to Dean) because he can't feel anything. "Ever since I came back, I am a better hunter than I've ever been. Nothing scares me anymore because I can't feel it. I don't know what's wrong with me. I think...I need help." He turns on the fake puppy dog eyes and tries to convince Dean he's being sincere. Dean thinks about it and that's enough for Sam to let his guard down. He never sees his vicious beating coming. I'm not entirely certain souled Sam would have missed that. Of course if it was the souled Sam puppy dog eyes, that would have been enough to calm Dean down. At least soulless Sam still feels physical pain, cause he got plenty of it.
FINALLY, an answer! Sure, Dean has to tie Sam to a chair and enlist help from his angel BFF, but that works. Sam's soul is missing. It's probably back in the cage with Lucifer? Really? That's not good. That means part of Sam, the touchy feely part, has been enduring the worst possible torture ever for a year and a half. That's like 150 Hell years (please tell me if my math is wrong). Yeah, not a lot of fairness, is there?
Soulless Sam is learning though. He tries to deceive Dean again, not telling him about how he and Samuel have been catching alphas. He gets caught in another lie after Dean sees covertly him and Samuel catch the alpha vamp. Sam wisely decides to play it Dean's way, especially when Dean can tell that Samuel is hiding something. Sam's instincts are a little off, given that he can't read human signals (although he could with that lady in "You Can't Handle The Truth" so there's some inconsistency there). It's nice that Sam wants to stay in his brother's corner, but given his unpredictable state, who knows how long that will last?
All Dogs Go To Heaven
This is the episode that I wish sniper Dean would have taken out soulless Sam. What an insufferable bastard! Sam is characterized as the biggest jerk in the world, and I still don't know why. At this point, I've had enough soullessness. We get it. At the end Sam tells Dean he's willing to get his soul back, and then immediately changes his mind the next two episodes. Whatever. I want off this ride, I'm getting ill.
Clap Your Hands If You Believe
So what is soulless Sam going to do this week? Aside from have sex with a hippie chick while Dean has been abducted by aliens? (Okay, that was funny) Being over the shock of his abduction within a half hour? (My guess it was more like two minutes). This is after telling Dean he survived on his own for a year just fine? I'm with Dean, I don't want to know his definition of "fine." I do forgive him though for jumping on fairy lady and her "wackadoo." I would have loved if while they were having tea there were cats climbing everywhere (sorry, veering off topic).
Sam is given an opportunity. Evil fairy leprechaun (that still gets me every time I say it) claims he can get Sam's soul back. They have ways of getting in back doors. Sam responds to the offer by shooting the leprechaun (not a deal breaker), pulling out the grains of salt (best way to thwart a villain ever) and eventually sends him back to the fairy world (can you imagine what this sounds like to someone who doesn't watch the show?). Dean has a right to be curious as to why Sam would do that. Sam's answer is perfect. "When has a deal ever been a good thing?" Yet his expression gives an entirely different answer. He doesn't want his soul back. Goodie, we're back to lying. Oh, and soulless Sam, HAVE A FREAKING BEER WITH YOUR BROTHER, okay?
What soulless Sam shall it be this week? Why the confident, dealing with demons, fighting leader Sam. Even Meg is spooked the whole episode because she can't quite put a finger on what's different about Sam, until she finds out his soul is missing (love her line, "I here I just thought you grew some balls Sam."). One bonus did come out of this. I sincerely doubt souled Sam would have used his own blood to make a devil's trap so creepily. Wow!
Sam hears from three different sources, Castiel, Crowley, and Meg, that getting his soul back might not be the best idea. He chooses to confront Dean at the end when Dean assures him they'll get his soul back. "You know what, when angels and demons agree on something, call me nuts, I pay attention." This is clearly Sam thinking strategically. How can he be a strong hunter when a weak and damaged soul will "smash him to bits"? He can't have that, no matter what Dean wants.
Appointment in Samarra
Oh goodie, this week we get homicidal maniac soulless Sam. Dean is risking all with Death so Bobby gets to play babysitter. Good thing Bobby is a paranoid bastard because every instinct he had about soulless Sam proves to be correct. Sam hates the wall idea. It's too risky to him. He sneaks off to summon Balthazar (I'd love to know how he figured out how to do that). He needs to know how to prevent his soul from entering his body. His act is every bit as desperate as Dean's, especially when the answer is acceptable to him. Patricide? All he needs is a father figure, not a blood dad? What a setup!
Sam and Bobby play this game of cat and mouse for half an episode. Sam tries to do the unthinkable and kill Bobby. If Dean succeeds he'll become a drooling mess and his survival is more important right now than anyone else's, including Bobby. Just by acting this way, Sam has surrendered his rights as a human being. Dean comes to Bobby's rescue and Sam's strapped down to the cot. He no longer has a say in his future. His soul is forcefully put back in by Death. It's interesting to see soulless Sam plead desperately for his life before this happens. It's out of character from what we've seen from soulless Sam, but then again his characterization hasn't exactly been even. This side of him isn't ready to give up control and as we find out later, never really goes away.