Pick your favorite alter ego of Sam Winchester. Possessed Sam? Demon Blood Sam? Evil Sam? Mind-Controlled Sam? Discussing the many faces of Sam sounded like an easy topic for my latest Con-tinual panel of Supernatural media professionals... until I started listing the many times and ways that Sam wasn't the brother we all know and love!
Odds are that the same one or two images come to mind for all of us when we think of days when Sam "wasn't himself." But when challenged to really consider how often Sam had to fight for control of his body, mind and soul, I discovered that Jared Padalecki played an alternate version of Sam Winchester in at least one episode, and often in several episodes, in nearly all 15 seasons of Supernatural. That's a lot of faces for Sam!
What is the best way to do justice to all the versions of Sam we witnessed over the years? We could revisit Sam's journey chronologically. That would recreate the way he experienced his life being hijacked by supernatural forces. It's a bit more interesting, though, to look back at 15 years through the lens of accumulated memories. How many times was he possessed? How many times was he broken down by supernatural powers? All those traumas compounded each other. They could have insidiously perverted who he was as a person, yet, somehow, he chose to forge his trials into a more authentic, stronger, more compassionate Sam. No wonder he inspires so many of us.
So, I've chosen to group Sam's experiences into the categories of forces that overpowered him - both supernatural and human. Let's see how many I found, then you add the ones I've forgotten! Part 1 covered the times when Sam was truly a monster, by all the definitions that matter to a hunter (possessed, cloned, turned, etc.). Part 2 explored the faces of DemonBlood!Sam, followed immediately by post-demon blood, Soulless Sam in Part 3. Parts 4 through 6 study how the "Trials" affected Sam, how many ways he was "Broken" to the point of death, and how many times Sam was "Conjured" by the supernatural!
Broken Sam - Seasons 6 and 7
Reunited with his soul, it seemed Sam's world would return to normal,
6.12 "Like A Virgin"
but soon the nightmares crept back in,
until Castiel broke the wall that was Sam's only protection, and his mind crumbled into the horrors he had experienced in Hell.
When these images stream for a split second during his flashbacks, we are all horrified by Sam's pain, but a still frame of his nightmares makes you wonder why Sam didn't collapse earlier into a psychotic break.
4 images from 6.22 "The Man Who Knew Too Much"
and not being able to tell the difference between waking nightmares,
living or dying,
4 scenes from 7.02 "Hello Cruel World"
Sam hid his affliction, faked sanity and stumbled through one day at a time until Dean gave him the "Stone Number One" lifeline. That was just a finger in the dike, though. Sleep deprived,
and in constant pain,
Sam gave up hope and was ready to die.
Thankfully, a reborn Castiel was reminded of his angelic mission and, in an act of contrition, transferred Sam's psychic torture to himself.
6 scenes from 7.17 "The Born Again Identity"
Sam would be himself again for a few short weeks... until he lost Dean and retreated into a self-insulating world of a dog and a simple life. After the mental trauma Sam had endured, who could blame him?
What did you think of Sam's post-Hell storyline? What were your reactions to the broken wall Sam? Let us know below in the comments then study Sam's many other faces, if you missed them: Monstrous Sam, Addicted Sam and Soulless Sam! Part 5 will cover how Sam was broken by the Trials, then Part 6 closes out with all the Altered Realities (e.g. mind controlled) Sams! So keep your lists by your side!
Enjoy the full Con-tinual panel, "Who Wore Sam Winchester Best?" with panelists Michelle Crowley, Carole Stokes, myself and host Gail Z. Martin.
Continue the fun with more of Nightsky's Supernatural commentary!
If Sam is your jam, enjoy our deep character studies, "Breathtaking" photo essays and fun articles dedicated to Sam Winchester!
If Dean is your man, enjoy "The Many Faces of Dean Winchester"!