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Like a Virgin
There's the brotherly hug! Sam has returned, or has he?
Sam doesn't remember anything that happened to him after "Swan Song." So, he likely doesn't remember the instructions by Death not to scratch that wall in his head, right? Sam's got some pretty keen instincts and instantly knows something isn't right. You think he's not scratching that wall? Did we ever think differently?
Despite the fact he's loose and just thrilled to be back with Dean again, it doesn't take Sam long to figure things out. He even tricks Castiel to tell him the truth. He was soulless for the last year, doing who knows what. Sam wants to make things right. "I kind of feel like I got slipped the worst mickey of all time and woke up to find out that I had burnt the whole city down. You can say it isn't me, but I'm the one with the zippo in my pocket so I'm not sure it's so cut and dried."
So here's an interesting debate. Is this Sam with his sense of redemption in overdrive after coming off of his massive sacrifice, or it this an unbalanced Sam that's missing the soulless part of himself? The part that hardens him a little, makes him more accepting of such acts. Could be both, but I'm leaning toward the latter.
Of course all of this was interrupted by the Mother of All drama, so it goes to the next episode. Boy, does it.
Wow, wow, wow. Talk about getting your lesson learned with a sledgehammer to the skull.
Sam and his aching soul needs to set things right. When a mysterious text takes him and Dean to Rhode Island, where Sam and Samuel worked a case within the last year, memories come flashing back as soon Sam reaches the city limits. He should have turned back, but a wall was itching like crazy.
Sam doesn't get much time to enjoy his freedom from Hell, for this little adventure triggers the memories of the evil sociopath know as his soulless self. The debate begins, is it really Sam? Dean doesn't think so, but Sam makes it clear without a doubt it was him. Bobby even echoed the same point in "Like A Virgin." It may not have been all Sam, but it was Sam. It's an interesting dilemma, what happens when you run amok with only a part of you in control, the part without the moral compass or regard for humanity? As Sam unfortunately finds out, some really bad things.
Each triggered memory shakes Sam harder to the core, messing with that wall. He responds like a trauma victim, and despite his good intentions, there is no redemption. It's a parallel to him taking down Lucifer. He did that and now monsters are running amok. Whether on purpose or not, what he did ruined lives and he can't fix it now. The most powerful line to come out of this, "You killed one monster, you made so many more." Good intentions are failing Sam.
Sam gets to see first hand what pure evil he's capable of and it frightens him. No, it devastates him. For remember, this isn't a complete version of Sam either. He doesn't have a lot of those hard memories of recent times, especially of Hell. This is the empathetic, feeling, caring side and he can't relate to the hardness of his counterpart. Tragedies, death, heartache, it affects him a lot worse.
Because of all this, Sam goes and scratches that wall. He learns first hand what happens with he does that - A massive seizure and a flood of memories of burning alive in Hell. Granted that seizure freaks out Dean more than Sam, but it still wasn't pleasant.
Mannequin 3: The Reckoning
No more scratching the wall. Dean's orders. Sam reluctantly agrees. So it's time to back his brother. Be supportive, help big brother straighten out some of the issues in his life. Just like old times.
The French Mistake
Just like Dean with "Frontierland," when was the last time you saw a goofy smile on Sam's face? The alternate reality may have been disturbing, but at least he had one fun night in a mansion, spending his money, and going to bed with his hot wife. Oh, Sam so needs more of these moments in his life.
And Then There Were None
Sam gets to confront Samuel, who isn't exactly won over that Sam has his soul back and can't remember what he did. Samuel still remembers and it sickens him. What's interesting is the intense remorse Sam feels when he kills Samuel, who was infected by the Khan worm. He doesn't remember anything pleasant about the man, but he was family, and can't help but wonder what his mother would think. Lucky for Sam, Dean is around to give the pep talk. Blood doesn't make you real family. Dean later gives forgiveness for all things past and present. Sam is surprised to hear Dean say that and appreciates the words. He really needed to hear this, especially with all his lingering guilt of late.
You know what got me the most about Sam though in this episode? When they were interrogating possessed Bobby. They make the decision to kill the worm by electrocuting Bobby, because that's the way he would want it. Sam is so distraught over seeing Bobby suffer, he turns away. Soulless Sam would have probably smirked in fascination. It's so wonderful to see this side of Sam, even if it was happening during a very upsetting moment. You do have to wonder though, would he have reacted so emotionally if it had been all him? He would have had some reaction, but I'm not sure if he would have turned away.
Sam plays his part while humoring big brother, but I only mention this episode for one reason. Sam on a horse.
That poor horse indeed.
Again, it's sympathetic Sammy being there for his brother. He like Dean felt the impact of the orphaned boys, and it took him back to his own losses. Like those boys, they're left with each other.
You know, at this point, I'm waiting for the shoe to drop for poor Sammy. This supportive, overly sensitive, caring side, it's the Sam of old, seasons one and two, but he's been through too much since then. His dark side has been missing. By this episode, that's very obvious, to me anyway.
My favorite bit though, I love how Sam let the others know that they were not being arrested by cops but being taken by monsters by adopting Dean's pet name. "Jefferson Starships!"
The Man Who Would Be King
Sam learns the truth. It's Castiel that pulled him from Hell, without a soul. Castiel obviously didn't do that on purpose, but the hurt and betrayal is too raw for Sam. He accuses Cass of doing that. Sure he doesn't take Castiel's lies with the same offense as Dean, but it stings nonetheless. Like he told Cass, he doesn't know what to think.
Let It Bleed
It's very hard for Sam to see Dean struggle over Ben and Lisa's disappearance. He tries to calm Dean down, but Dean is too over the edge. He goes to Castiel behind Dean's back but that doesn't help Dean much either. Sam even gets desperate and pours himself a glass of whiskey, the first time that's happened all season. But its the end, that's what hurts him the worst. He could have tried to be supportive of Dean's decision to wipe Ben and Lisa's memories, but instead it hits a sore spot. "Dean, you have pulled some shady crap before, but this has got to be the worst. Whitewashing their memories, take it from somebody who knows-" Dean cuts him off. "You ever mention Lisa and Ben to me again I'll break your nose." Another brotherly issue swept under the rug. Unfortunately for them, bigger fish are coming!
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Once again, poor, poor, Sam Winchester can't catch a break. Nothing stays good for long, does it? Neither Dean nor Castiel will back down in their battle of wills, so Castiel goes for Dean's weakness, Sam. He removes the Hell wall in Sam's mind purely to distract Dean and get him to back off. Sam instantly falls into a coma, technically breaks into pieces and has to figure everything out on his own in his head. It ain't pretty.
Talk about a character test. What do you do when three separate parts of your existence, kept apart by a barrier of well being, all fight each other in a battle of survival when it falls? There's sympathetic Sam, the current version resurrected by Death without any of his memories, there's soulless Sam, who thinks souls are weak and would rather be a predator than prey, and then Hell Sam, the broken, crushed, skinned alive piece that keeps the memories of that horror away from the pure soul out of protection.
Sam's mind has other built in protections too, including the bartender that tries to keep him away from the truth. Sam's determined though, because Dean needs him and the clues are there to what his real state is. He kills soulless Sam and takes in his memories. It's at that moment that we see the real Sam again, at least the Sam that fell into Hell. His dangerous, not so pleasant side is reunited with his sympathetic soul. The pain, the sorrow over what he's done, it's all too real, but it's not overwhelming him. "I'm so sorry," he tells Robin, the innocent bartender that soulless Sam killed. "Not as sorry as you're going to be." Foreshadowing a bit much, are we?
Sam can't wake up from his coma until the third piece, the Hell Sam, is part of him too. He has to know that pain, that unspeakable horror, in order to exist. "Humpty dumpty has to put himself back together again." Sam is terrified but he agrees, because "I'm not leaving my brother alone out there."
When Sam arrives to save Dean from Castiel, he can barely stand. Those raw memories, just as was warned earlier, are ripping Sam apart. He musters enough strength to stab Castiel, but as he, Dean and Bobby learn, Castiel is too powerful for that now. They have bigger problems.
Sam is going into season seven finally whole, but with a tainted soul now that has been "skinned alive" in Hell and the full memories and guilt of his soulless atrocities. This is worse than last year. He may have fallen into Hell, but he was on the front end of that worst nightmare after earning his long desired redemption. I'm extremely curious how Sam will pull himself together and whether Dean will be able to help. Maybe both of them can draw from their past experiences and help each other through their lingering PTSD. In the meantime, Sam's internal struggle is just beginning. I don't believe Hell Sam though. I think Sam is strong enough. Only time will tell I guess.
Read the other "Deeper Look" articles from previous seasons:
A Deeper Look at Season Five Sam Winchester
A Deeper Look at Season Four Sam Winchester
A Deeper Look at Season Three Sam Winchester