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Two Reasons I Dislike the Winchesters, by Elle2
I don’t need my main characters to be perfect.  Perfection is unattainable by human beings so I don’t expect it.  We should strive for perfection in all we do and how we behave for in that we’ll achieve the exceptional.  Sam and Dean are flawed and more often then not their flaws make them accessible as well as heroes to cheer for.  I love watching them grow, develop, think, rationalize and learn. Our beloved Sam and Dean usually learn from their mistakes and do not keep making them; however, after this past week (as well as what I’ve seen all season) I’m seriously doubting Sam’s ability to learn, really learn, and correct his behavior.  For me, Sam is on the road to becoming unredeemable in my book.  Dean on the other hand is on the road to becoming boring, depressing and frankly exhausting.
So, I have one reason for each brother why I’m concerned that I may soon find their characters frankly unlikable.  This article is not intended to convince you of my way of thinking, but simply to ride the recent trend of really awesome dialogue that has been going on since Ardeospina wrote the first speculative thread after Live Free or Twi-Hard and now after the recent airing of You Can’t Handle the Truth and the great discussions for and against Dean’s beatdown of Sam.  I’m moved to open up my own feelings on both these characters and hope for some great discussion.
People airing their thoughts on a subject tend to cause me to examine my own thoughts and I can choose to change my mind, bend my thoughts or remain steadfast…or simply get bored and not check in.  I’ve decided to have some fun and read the comments and decide if it changes my mind a bit.  Since the comments have remained utterly non-personal, it’s been easy to stay engaged and let them filter and sift in my brain.
It led me to this article, which some of you may think, sheesh, wish it hadn’t.  ?  But here we go anyway, remember, these are my feelings, I’m not trying to convince any of you about anything.
First off (and slightly off topic) the Beatdown:
Did Sam deserve “A” beatdown by Dean?  I remain firm in my “YES”.  Did Sam deserve “THAT” beatdown by Dean?  Uh, that’s easy, “NO”.  I’m not going to try to pick an arbitrary number here, was five hits enough, how about six, what about four, he should have stopped after ten, a dozen is a nice round number, what about….there’s no point.  Here’s what I do know, as a court reporter having listened to jury instructions about what is and what is not premeditated…Dean was premeditated in his attack.  Sure, he had his reasons but that’s not my point.  Dean is guilty of premeditation in his attack.  Had he killed Sam (besides the show being over) he would be convicted of premeditated murder.  Done.  Over.  His reasons would not matter, however justified he may have been in those reasons.  Crime of passion would not apply, Dean had time to stop.  He took time to stop.  He took the time to stop waving the knife, turn slowly around, set the knife quietly on a shelf and then turn back to Sam and continue to stand there processing all that he’d just learned.  Then he attacked.  It was utterly premeditated.

While the attack was vicious and way overboard I do believe it was meant to be.  I believe we were meant to witness this horrific event for what it will do in the future.  At least I hope so.  What exactly that future is I have no idea but the SPN writers don’t typically take their characters this drastically down a road without a purpose, let us all remember the disgusting Sam drinking demon blood road.  There was a purpose there.  
Here’s the problem I have with Dean:  If this is a season all about his self-esteem (or lack thereof) I’m going to be bored.  We’ve been here already, time and time again.  The slow build of Dean’s self-esteem issues from "Faith" to "Something Wicked" to Azazel’s taunts in "Devil’s Trap" brought us his mission of saving Sam throughout Season 2 and his realization that John died for him which lead to Dean’s sacrificing of his soul to bring Sam back from the dead to his refusal to save himself throughout most of Season 3 because A, he feared the crossroads demon making good her threat to kill Sam and B, because he truly felt like his life would finally have meaning in the sacrifice.
"Dream a Little Dream of Me" was a nice bend in the road for Dean, he faced his inner self and decided he did want to live, he did want to try.  It relieved a lot of the tension between the brothers that had been going on since Magnificent Seven in that they now had a common goal, save Dean.  Season 4 brought us a resurrected Dean who at first struggled with an angel of the Lord saving him to Dean in "Monster Movie" enjoying the idea that perhaps he had a new calling, he had a purpose.  This new-found joy and purpose received a cold dose of reality as his memories of hell surfaced and he realized the monstrosities he committed followed quickly by the revelation that he broke the first seal thus triggering the apocalypse.  
Dean’s downward spiral continued through the end of Season 4 and well into Season 5 as he carried the burden of beginning the apocalypse and shouldered the burden of being the one and only who could end it (at least as he believed) and thus he must let Michael ‘wear him to the prom’.  Thankfully that trend finally ended in "Point of No Return" where Dean finally hit bottom and after trying to drive Bobby, Sam and Castiel out of his life and finding their support and love resolute he let go his solitary quest and decided to join forces with the very team he initially formed…Team Free Will.  At last, Dean’s self-esteem issues seemed to be on the upswing.
I didn’t expect candy canes and lollipops from Dean at the beginning of Season 6.  He lost his brother, walked away from hunting and was trying to navigate a path through unfamiliar territory, domesticity; of course it wasn’t going to be easy.  However, it did seem as though finally Dean had a chance at letting go of his self-esteem issues. 
The trend backwards has been subtle this season but it is becoming clearer each successive episode and that concerns me.  While under the influence of djinn poison in Exile Dean’s inner-fears come to the surface, Lisa and Ben are in danger because of him.  This is further manifest by the very real deaths of Sid and his wife at the hands of the djinn.  In "Two and a Half Men" Dean is well on the path of beating himself up after moving his little ‘family’ and then putting them on lockdown.  There’s a light though amidst the darkness for Dean agrees with Lisa’s plan, hunt but stop by when you can; that’s the better choice.
However, we seem to have come back to familiar territory in "Live Free or Twi-Hard" and "You Can’t Handle the Truth" and while it is necessary in order to move the story, I hope we don’t get stuck emotionally for Dean.  Dean, having been turned into a vampire nearly killed Ben, terrified Lisa and those actions led to the abrupt removal of Lisa and Ben from his life.  I always knew they were going to go but it is painful, especially for Dean.  
However it’s not just the loss of Ben and Lisa; it’s Dean’s confession to Veritas that worries me.  He’s a killer not a father.  He wanted a family but now he knows that is never to be.  Those are brutal truths to face.  I’m fine with Dean facing them as long as the result is that he gathers his hunter’s wits about him and realizes that he is doing exactly what he’s good at, saving people, hunting things, the family business.  If it turns out that his direction is “I’m not good enough to be a father, I’m too violent, too damaged to be a husband”; then that’s a whole lot of been there done that.  
In short, I want Dean to grow from his past five years’ experiences and now into his sixth year to realize what Zachariah said of him in "It’s a Terrible Life" is true and it’s good:  He’s a hunter, it’s what he’s good at and he’ll find his way to it every time.  I don’t mind Dean a little sadder at realizing what he’s lost but I don’t want him depressed about what he has.
Now, for the younger Winchester...

Sam, I’ve loved you from Season 1.  But you are liar and you have been since the moment we met you…well, the moment we met 22 year old you.
Season 1 Sam’s lies aside from Jessica were more deflections, telling Dean there were some things he needed to keep to himself in "Bloody Mary" is honest.  Dean respected that and he dropped the conversation.  
Sam did come clean in "Home" after Dean refused to go back to Lawrence until he told him why it was so important.  I love that moment for it showed that, when push shoves, Sam and Dean respect each other’s needs.  Dean respected Sam’s need for privacy in "Bloody Mary" and Sam respected his need for more information in "Home."  That’s love.
In "Faith" Sam lied by omission, he allowed Dean to believe the ‘specialist’ was a doctor.  Granted Dean enabled that lie by not asking for specifics but it shows us that we’re on a slippery slope.  Sam lied because he knew he’d have a fight with Dean otherwise.  
In "Route 666" we find out just how capable and committed a liar Sam is, he lied to Jessica the entire time he was with her.  
In Season 2 Sam does pretty well with the not lying.  His confession of grief at his abrupt course change into embracing hunting at the end of "Everybody Loves a Clown" is a great moment for the character.  Since Sam had been such the reluctant hunter throughout much of Season 1, we need a reason for his new focus on hunting in Season 2; guilt over John’s death and a desire to be a better son going forward are plausible reasons for the character change.  
Sadly though Sam is not done with lying in Season 3; he lies to Dean repeatedly.  Each and every time Dean asks him if he’s all right or if he feels all right were opportunities for Sam to tell him about what he learned in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part I," Azazel dripped blood in his six-month-old mouth.  But Sam assures Dean he’s fine, never once telling him information that Dean needed to know.
It’s tragic that Sam has so little regard for Dean’s love and willingness to trust him even after the events of "Born Under a Bad Sign."  Still he remains mum on the demon blood.
Then there’s Ruby, Ruby who claims she can save Dean’s life and thus Sam trusts her.  Ruby knew just what string to pull and Dean didn’t help things by not ‘outing’ her lie to Sam when he learned it at the end of "Malleus Maleficarum;" nothing Ruby knows of can save Dean from the pit.  Dean, lies are bad, you should know better too.
(For the record, I could easily write a second article on all of Dean’s lies and Sam’s self-esteem issues as well, both Sam and Dean have those as character flaws as well.  My goal here is to keep the article streamlined to the one character flaw I find most distasteful so thus I’ll not reverse the discussion on the brothers, but they do mirror each other to lesser degrees.)
While Sam fills Dean in about Ruby’s information on the Campbells and her being a demon he conveniently leaves out crucial information, there’s a new up and comer (Lilith), this is information Dean needs to know.  Also, Sam earlier shows just how independent (rebellious) he is by confronting a crossroads demon and then killing her, all the while knowing the danger.
Lies always get found out though and in "Jus in Bello" Dean learns that Sam knew about Lilith and in "No Rest for the Wicked," when it’s too late because it’s all about emotions and last chances, Sam learns that Ruby can’t save Dean, that she was manipulating him all along (add to the foolishness of lies, Dean knew Ruby was lying about this and didn’t tell Sam either)  This is what lies get you, Sam was placed right where Ruby wanted him to be and in part because Dean failed to communicate important information.
Season 4 begins with lies right off the bat.  Dean specifically asks about Ruby and Sam lies right to his face.  She’s gone or dead:  lie and lie.  Lies always get found out though and in Supernatural there are no exceptions, by "Metamorphosis" Dean learns not only that Sam is working with Ruby but he also learns that Sam knew for a year about the blood in his mouth incident. 
Sam initially says he’s done with Ruby but when a case brings her back into the game it’s not long afterwards that Sam decides he needs to be stronger, thus he renews his demon-blood dependence which leads to stunning consequences (for Alistair at least) in "On The Head of a Pin."  It isn’t until "The Rapture" that Dean learns just what Sam has been doing with Ruby but he’s known for awhile he’s been doing something, remember his comments in "Death Takes a Holiday."  Dean at that point admits he doesn’t care if Sam works with Ruby, just stop lying.  But Sam doesn’t stop lying and Dean knows it as well.  Lies, lies and lies lead to distrust, disaffection and disunity.
Sam spends much of Season 5 telling the truth, he admits he screwed up with Ruby.  He painfully confesses to Bobby – he didn’t know it was a demon up front – and he promises Dean that he will work to make it right.  He admits to being hungry for demon blood and decides to leave hunting.  Then, when confronted by Lucifer himself, he calls Dean and tells the truth…ah, refreshing.  Does Sam lie in Season 5?  I can’t remember one. He tells Dean that their relationship isn’t going to work if Dean treats him like a little kid.  He’s right and it reworks their relationship a bit.  In Episode 6 of Season 5 he stands his ground to tell the little kid the truth rather than lie to him to ‘save him.’  Sam has learned, lies are not the way to make things better.  Sam tells Dean he trusts him to do the right thing when push shoves in Point of No Return and he gives Adam all the information he knows about angels, and John and what is going on.  Sam goes into the pit having told the truth all season…so nice and refreshing.
But then Season 6 arrives and I’m worried and frankly chilled.  Bobby’s statement to Dean last week, “Maybe it’s just Sam” is worrisome to me.  Which Sam is Sam?  The Sam who lied from Season 1 to Season 4, each season the lies getting bigger, or the Sam who told the truth in Season 5?  I dearly hope that it’s the Sam of Season 5 who is the real Sam.

I have a few rules I live my life by:  One of the first and foremost of those rules is:  Don’t lie to me.  Lie to me once, I’m on guard with you; lie to me twice, I’m done with you.  
Sam has shown a disturbing penchant to lie and to keep right on lying.  In Season 6 Dean has asked him time and time again if he’s all right.  Sam has said he’s fine, all the while knowing he’s not fine.  Dean needed to know that Sam wasn’t fine.  It may have caused him to not separate from Sam during "Live Free or Twi-Hard" which may have caused him not to be turned into a vampire which put him in mortal danger.  Dean’s becoming a vampire not only could have led to his death but along the way to others as well.
Is Dean justified in his beatdown of Sam, for the cold calculated way that Sam used him in "Live Free or Twi-Hard" to gain access to the vampire lair, for the tactical advantage Sam saw in using the baby as bait in "Two and a Half Men," for the brutal torture of that child in "The Third Man," no…for Sam’s continuous lies after all their past, hell yeah!  (Still too many hits though, won’t condone that, perhaps something more akin to Metamorphosis and then a “See you never, Sam”, as he walked out of his life.)
Sera and Company, this is starting to look a lot like been there done that territory.  You’ve managed to twist and turn the road so far quite well each week and I dearly hope that as the next weeks unfold you’ll twist and turn the story so that Dean’s return to ‘I’m a terrible person’ and Sam’s lie of the week will disappear into something far more engrossing.
Perhaps making this Sam’s doppelganger with the real Sam locked away somewhere would be a good idea.  Not only would that redeem Dean’s violence of last week (‘cause he was pounding a monster then) but it would also get rid of the idea that soulless Sam is just as good a liar as Sam with a soul.  Sam with or without a soul should know that his brother loves him and will take him as he his, demon blood or not, visions or not, ‘not right’ or not; Dean wants his brother.  I’d be thrilled if the brothers team up together to search for Sam’s soul…that’s a journey I can get behind, leave the self-esteem and the lies in the pit.
Thanks for reading, Elle2.


# maggie 2010-11-02 15:41
ok I just read the part of Dean cause I have to go... hehe, but I will be back,

But in the part of Dean when he beatdown Sam, I also think it was premeditated but Dean didn't know if he was hitting Sam or another creature using Sam as a vessel. Veritas told Dean Sam wasn't human later Sam told him that he watched Dean got turned to a vamp, after that, how Dean was going to believe to Sam that he was really Sam?
# Suze 2010-11-02 15:43
I'm afraid you're not going to get any well-reasoned arguments to the contary here, Elle2, as you just articulated ( rather better than I was managing ) what's been bugging me about the last couple of weeks.

I thought we've moved past the whole Sneaky-Lying Git Sam Vs Self-Destructiv e Gloomfest Dean thing but it seems to have bubbled up to the surface again. I suppose from the writers point of view it's quick and easy, gets the fandom in a right old tizz and doesn't need any CGI so what's not to like but personally I'd rather they binned this storyline and moved onto the Alphas and Grandpa C's mystery backer. All this inter-sibling mayhem is SOOO season before last, dahlings ... ;-)
# Bevie 2010-11-02 16:02
Hi Elle2 - Good analysis of the lies of both brothers bringing more problems each and every time.

Your last paragraph I agree with wholeheartedly. You see, I don't believe Dean beat his brother senseless but what he believed to be, as you call it, Sam's doppelganger, who he believes to be responsible for the loss of his brother. Dean put the knife down because he realized he couldn't kill off the only clue he has as to the whereabouts of his brother, or what was done to him. "You're not human" said Veritas to Sam. Dean hearing this would bring out the rage he feels every time something threatens his brother's well being. Remember the vicious beating of the ghoul/Adam in 'Jump the Shark'.
I just don't believe Dean would use that kind of force upon Sam no matter what he did if he thought it was really Sammy wearing Sam's face.

Whatever is the truth, we are getting some great analysis and discussions from this season so far.

I also have doubts about Cas telling the whole truth right now, as I am sure his problems have a higher priority than the Winchesters right now. He could say Sam is missing his soul to cover up whatever else is going on that perhaps involves his mission of uniting the forces of heaven. Perhaps he knows what is going on with Sam or not/Sam and is unable to tell the truth as it would disrupt some heavenly plan to gain control up there. Perhaps it has something to do with the collecting of the Alphas. Just conjecture on my part.

This season needs a lot of thought and a lot of guts to suffer through the Winchester pains and tribulations that we thought would be fixed by the writers this year. Hope that can still be achieved. Love the brothers dearly and hope we can soon find again the love between the brothers that was what brought us to this show in the first place.
# Jasminka 2010-11-02 19:41
Elle2, first of all: Kudos to you for taking on such a hot topic. I agree in many points and disagree in others, let me see if I can explain…

I see your point in the Dean’s-self-e steem-issue question. We’ve been there before, indeed. And I believe that viewers might get bored with it. On the other hand, Dean did not actually do anything to find help to revise that view of himself. Instead he has been nurturing it, because – I believe – he feels (in a quite psychologically dysfunctional way) comfortable with it. The problem is: it might make him less likeable in the future, if he doesn’t try to do anything about it.
I got a tad cross with him as I realized that he still expects the universe to evolve around him and Sam. Cas has to appear right away. Bobby has to be there, too. Etc. On the other hand, a man living like this, prone to see the guilt rather than the achievements will not get better in that department. So, in that case, the show stays true to their psychological continuity. I understand, though, that it might get difficult for some to follow that with the same interest as before.
Well, Dean might think he’s a killer. But what if he actually tried to be a father? He has been. Lisa told him that he had been wonderful with Ben. So – he would have to let go of his self-image of being a killer and trying to come to terms with being something else.
Might be hard when you know what’s out there.
I think fear is preventing him from doing that. Not his inability.

As to the lies Sam told…
I have to defend him here. And I have to defend Dean. Both are masters in the lying department. Dean has also lied to his brother countless times.
The main reasons have always been – protecting the other from unpleasant truths. This doesn’t work always, sadly, and to my mind they have never ventured onto the path of lying because of malicious reasons.
Sam was believing he did the right thing with Ruby. Then, finding out what he actually did, he felt too ashamed to look truth in the eye. To my experience, shame and embarrassment are some of the strongest, most painful emotions around. Hard to break. People will do pretty much anything to not have to admit shame and guilt. Especially when they see themselves as another person, a good person , essentially.
Sam didn’t tell Jessica about his prior life because he wanted to forget all about it, didn’t expect his life to haunt him, wanted to protect Jessica and probably was ashamed of what he had done (killed, deceived, tortured, demons, well, but still). He didn#t tell Dean about being demon-blood-fed as a baby as he was himself freaked out, realizing to be a ‘monster’, a ‘new kind of freak’. He didn’t trust his brother, who reminded him so much of John at the time, to embrace him with that flaw. He was too afraid dean might turn his back on him, I’d say.

I think he trusted Ruby because she accepted him the way he was, demon blood and all, while Dean declared ‘if I didn’t know you, I would wanna hunt you’. And, as Jared once pointed out (don’t remember the exact Convention) that Sam was also to some extent in love with Ruby and wanted to believe she was real.

Lying has been their life, I’m afraid. From childhood on they were trained to lie about their lives – to their school mates, to other people they met, to potential girlfriends, to sheriffs, civilians, doctors, you name it. They needed to use lies as means to get what they needed. They used it like a bullet, too.
Alas, both have had different approaches to this life. Dean embraced it as the only family he might ever have and was ready to protect that at any cost. Sam wanted something else and really saw their life more as some kind of trap, a hated job, something like a stopover, while he was striving to build another life, another family of his own – becoming a lawyer. A profession you need to be a good liar, too, to do a great job ,actually. Manipulation is a big part of the deal, too, often bending the law without actually breaking it to – perhaps – get a guilty man a mild sentence. Sam has learned to conceal his emotions more than Dean has, since Sam grew up with the idea that John preferred Dean and never thought he, Sam, was good enough (he didn’t know that Dean had kind of the same problem).

Dean grew up, learning to vent his emotions more, while Sam trained to keep them in and deal with them more intellectually. And a part of that is: how do I keep my pain in? That’s also a part of lying.

I don’t like to be lied to, either. In fact , it hurts. It’s treason to friendship. But is it actually possible to be totally honest all the time? When I feel bad and someone asks me, I don’t always answer truthfully. I say: I’m great. That’s a lie. When something terrible happened to me a while back , I didn’t tell my parents because I knew it would leave them worried out of their wits. So, I lied by omission. I would do it again given the same situation.

I have been lied to by friends. There have been relationships I had to break up because of that. But there have been many more that are still there and just as trusting as ever, as I learned to understand the reasons.
I don’t think one can look at it with a black or white perspective. Most of the world is grey. Everyone lies. And sometimes a truth can be far more terrible than a lie. I agree, when it’s done out of malice, there is hardly any apology to be found. But if someone tries to protect another by leaving something out or lies because he’s so afraid of the reaction, I can understand (though I might not like what I find) and might have to ask myself: what have I done to not evoke enough trust in others that they don’t dare to tell me what they truly think? Or what haven't I done to help others trust me enough.

I can’t condone or defend everything Sam has done (or Dean, for that matter), but I think I can understand why he did it.
Personally, I don’t like to accept there is only a bad side to people (the moment I find a lie), even when it finds it manifestation in lies. I try to look to the bright side of their nature and find out why they behave as they do.
If I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t be able to do my job, I suppose. And I love the warmth of forgiveness. Receiving it, but also giving it. To my mind, it’s one of the greatest gifts of all. But that's just me.

I agree that the writers should find a path out of this, soon. It’s becoming difficult to love these characters, however, I still do. It’s becoming very painful to watch this. So much mistrust and actual hatred where brotherly love used to be. It’s just hard to swallow. And I would like to have some of the fun, the humour back. I miss that and the compassionate, kind, warm Winchester brothers, too, as cheesy as that may seem.

Thanks for this thought provoking piece, Elle2, and sorry for the loooooooooong ramble! Love, Jas
# nancyL 2010-11-02 20:06
I like the idea that the 'real' Sam (with his soul) is still in the cage, trying to get out, and that the 'Sam' that Dean beat is just a persona that Lucifer created to try to corrupt Dean. That would take some of the sting of the beating away and maybe 'justify' Dean's complete lack of restraint (somehow Dean knew that it wasn't his brother)

Also, that would allow Dean to once again come to Sam's rescue and then give us all the happy ending and hugs that we could use right now. :sad: :sad:
# bookdal 2010-11-02 23:09

I always love reading your commentary. This is no different. Great observations. I think, though, that the anxiety that feeds your dislike is actually intended from Sera, et al. To my mind, the unpacking of the characters has always led to this breakdown. And I think that also, Dean is our lens into the storyline, meaning that we (the audience) are to adopt Dean’s perspective since he has often been the watcher to the story. Although he has been participant in later seasons that participation evolved from the storyline; it was not at the heart of the initial story.

Let me clarify what I mean. I think there are three parallel storylines: Dean, Sam, and then Dean and Sam and us. These storylines intersect in the brotherhood, and the affection they/we hold (held?) for each other allow each to bear witness to the other’s struggles, which is why I think that the Chuck character was important and actually a natural outgrowth of the story that was told. He was a way for the story to point to itself as story, but even moreso, as allegory. And allegories are always more heartbreakingly close to us than simple story. Although I could go on and on, I’d like to restrict my comments to how I see Dean and Sam and how they got to this point.

For me, Dean’s struggle is all about redefining himself in opposition to the Winchester legacy. Is he mother? Is he father? Is he brother? At the moment the story of Dean begins, we see the break between the Dean that could’ve been and the Dean that is. When John places the infant Sam in Dean’s arm, he dramatically changes the course of the boy’s life. From innocent child to immediate savior, Dean becomes the nexus for the family, and we get glimpses of that role via flashback. Dean is caretaker for the family (and as we see again and again, Sam is the base definition of John and Dean’s notion of family).

I have no doubt that Dean wants a normal life; he remembers the time before. And since his natural inclination is to care for, his position of hunter allows him to be a caretaker in ways that are much more universal than local, i.e. savior versus father. Now, for Dean, this life (and this role) is singularly represented by one thing and one thing only: Sam.

And as caretaker, Dean must continually refrain from experiencing his own emotions. Why? He must suspend his own reactions in favor of what is good for the group. To indulge in the anger is just that, an indulgence, which explains his advice to Sam in “Sam, Interrupted,” about pushing down those emotions and Lisa’s observation about him last week, when she points out how he keeps those feelings inside. That is his defense mechanism and his tool for survival. However, as we see in certain moments, he cannot carry those emotions for too long before he explodes. Since Sam is Dean’s touchstone, as evidenced by that horrible image of him in hell during “No Rest for the Wicked” when he screams for Sam, the story of Dean relies on this relationship (which has been jokingly referred to as co-dependent but which I choose to believe is ultimately the ideal of platonic devotion). As a consequence the violence he shows at the end of last week’s episode, while hard to watch, is an extension of that struggle. If Sam is not Sam, then Dean is not Dean. And Dean’s inability to negotiate his own emotions over a long period of time displays itself in the beating of Sam. It’s not about Sam. It’s about Dean.

Now Sam, on the other hand…..A funny story. My 79 year old mother watches the show with me. She’s hard core now - won’t even watch previews because she’s afraid it’ll ruin the surprise for her. She went through the entire series over the summer with me, and at some point, demanded I start dvr-ing it so we can see them again. Well, she’s a “Sam girl.” I mean she loves Sam, even now in his soulless state. So we were having a random discussion about the show, geek-girls that we are, and I asked her why she’s still so pro-Sam. I mean, I like Sam too, and I really don’t consider myself partial to either brother, but after “Live Free or Twi-Hard,” I was having my issues with the guy. She responds with an interesting observation. She tells me, “Linda, he’s just lost, but he’s always been lost.” And ta-da, I got it.

Sam is the central component of the story. We know that from the fact that the series begins with him. His struggles are what we witness and to a great degree, his struggle is about not re-defining himself, but simply defining himself. Is he son? Is he brother? Is he part of a family or is he loner? A lot of dialogue is spent, especially in the first seasons, dissecting Sam’s difference, which we see come to fruition with the demon blood/Lucifer story. He experiences an emptiness that infiltrates his daily life; his body and his spirit have been the subject of public disputes. He is owned by others – always. And he resists that control – resists John’s control, resists Azazel’s mission, resists destiny, and finally, resists the apocalypse by not resisting. But that resistance was tempered by his relationship to Dean, but again, Sam resists Dean. And his resistance comes in the form of the lie. The lies he tells are the weapons he launches. As I said in my other reaction to your episode review, I think that the position of the lie, especially for Sam, comes down to a utilitarian value. But now, all Sam is (if he is indeed soulless) is utilitarian, so of course he just lies. It’s the most efficient way to effect the mission.

And actually, I find that I like both characters more right now. I find myself really feeling for Sam. What he is now is the culmination of all that he has been: empty. This is a perfect metaphor for his development. He has tried to fill himself up in so many ways – with Jessica, with truth (about himself and Azazel), with Dean, with demon blood, and finally, with Lucifer, but to no avail. He is the saddest of heroes and I think that’s why we and Dean want to take care of him. He’s lost. Whereas Dean is entrenched (and trapped), Sam is always wandering, always lost, always close to empty.

So I think we are meant to dislike them, but for a purpose – to love them again.

Sorry for the long post...hope it makes sense. I'm still trying to figure out my reactions as well and working on how I see the show defining the soul, which I think is fascinating in and of itself.

# BagginsDVM 2010-11-03 00:27
Wow, some really wonderful posts here!
Amen to your reasons, elle2. You put into coherent words the thoughts that have been tumbling about in my mind this season.
As I mentioned in a post to Jas' open couch, I love these guys dearly & will fiercely defend them to the end, but right now it is difficult to actually like them!
But once I get past my initial reactions to these recent episodes & think about the show in terms of the great drama that it is, I think Linda is right about the writers' purpose in currently trying to drive us batty with worry. I feel so heartbroken for both brothers.
I guess I just need a little more comic relief & light-heartedne ss thrown in here & there to help me survive the season.
# CitizenKane2 2010-11-03 02:42
Hmm ... definitely food for thought. Thanks. :-)

In my tired frame of mind (coupled with the fact that I have no access to Supernatural - even online - for the this week and next), I write the following rant. :P

For once, I would like the Winchester brothers to go through a Season (like Season 1 - and Season 5) - without having one betray the other.

Sure, they can argue, tell each other white lies and perhaps beat up each other (a little). But, c'mon !I thought the Winchester brothers were supposed to be like the "Dukes of Hazzard"; not "Cain and Abel". Give the Winchester brothers a break. :-)
# Jasminka 2010-11-03 05:18
Supporting bookdals post here… Thanks, Linda, for this amazing journey of thought. To my mind, you hit it dead on.
I’d like to add a hypothesis, if I may. From a psychological point of view, we have witnessed from the very beginning the internal definitions of the characters. They, sadly, have developed what we would call ‘maladaptive schemas’, that is patterns of regarding themselves and their relationship with others according to early childhood/youth experiences, mostly highly dysfunctional, that are elaborated throughout their one’s lifetime. Plus the innate temperament of the child and the social/cultural influences co-define those schemas.

I’ve said something about it in my Open Couch article, so I think I might be redundant to repeat it here, however, it’s so true to the theory how both brothers continue to create situations in which they are ignored/mistrea ted/misundersto od/exploited/be trayed etc. thus creating situations where their basic needs, again, will be frustrated.

Dean’s core need, I’d say, is to be recognized for what he does, in a manner a father would. To get that ‘hug’ that tells him that he is doing a great job. That probably stems from the childhood understanding that his emotional needs are not to be met except when he sacrifices himself (like the innocent child that became the family’s protector the moment he ran out of the burning house with Sam in his arms).

I agree that he needs (desperately, if he wants to find anything remotely in the neighbourhood of contentment) to redefine his role. But, still, he didn’t find the courage to follow that road, as it would mean breaking with the largest part of this self-image. And he still clings to that, dysfunctional and harmful as it might be. Perhaps now, after he somehow hit rock bottom, as they say, he could try. The trailer for next week, alas, speaks of something else. Dean still is overcompensatin g, and in doing so he externalizes the schemas by blaming others (in particular Sam) and becomes aggressive – in order to protect his own mental stability.

This holds true for Sam, also, though his role has always been another, defined by the self-image of being different. As a child he wasn’t able to put a finger on it. Ever since Azazel informed him about the addition to mothers milk he got as a baby, he found some strange kind of peace with that definition, as he had an explanation for it.

The notion of being internally flawed and inadequate (as he was feeling so different from the men supposed to be his role models) made him draw back into himself, not even sharing his most intimate self (as to what he did as a hunter, etc) with the woman he loved, Jessica, for instance. Because (and that’s probably the core fear here) had he opened up more and shown Jess (or any other person he was hoping to develop a closeness to) those ‘flaws’ that make him different, he would have risked losing her – the idea being: when others realize the presumed defects they will withdraw from the relationship.

As a child he wasn’t able to escape the family business much. He did it occasionally, running away, but basically he escaped into a world and a goal of his own – to eventually become something else, to go away and leave the family to start a life of his own, a life he would have designed without the hovering influence of father and brother.

Early on, probably fueled by being taught to lie and deceive in order to be good at their job as hunters, Sam learned the elegance of the lie as a tool and a weapon, whereas Dean had always been more hands-on in defending himself. Choosing an almost Machiavellian approach suits his intellect more.
His lies are more refined than those Dean tells. He perfected lying as a means to survive, to find a purpose and replace the uncomfortable belief of not being quite right and not at the right spot (aka – lost in his world), not only physically, but mentally, too. By holding on to those, he also avoids triggering the early schemas that define his self. It’s like children do it: if I can’t see it, it can’t see me.

It’s not like these issues are always in their awareness. They operate in subtle ways, out of their sentience. But when an issue of old flares up, being triggered by life events, our thoughts and emotions are governed by these schemas. It’s wonderfully depicted in this show and even more so in the course of the present season.

Like you say, Linda, right now I feel even more affection for the brothers growing in me. After an initial shock and oh-my-god-I-wan t-to-slap-them phase, I have begun to understand their emotional state better and I changed into protective gear.
It hurts me to see these characters go through their ordeal, much like I would feel affected when I had to witness dear friends suffer. Personally, I have always had a great deal of fondness for the supposedly lost cases, for the misunderstood, the tormented. Apart from a human wish to just hug them, I would love to help them sort it out and make them believe that it’s still possible to redefine their lives and heal.

Another long ramble. Forgive me. Love, Jas
# Karen 2010-11-03 07:58
Hi Elle2

I have to agree with much of what you have here.
I was hoping to not have another season of Brother vs Brother and with Dean tail spinning into another bout of self-loathing and depression.
Like you said ‘been there, done that’. After two years of this I just don’t know if I have the strength emotionally to go thru it again. I just hope this part will be resolved quickly and we can move on and get into the storyline of Castiel’s/Hea ven, the Alpha’s and the Campbell’s.

As for Dean’s beat down on Sam, I really think he believed that this wasn’t Sam, but some kind of monster. I think he only put down the knife because there was that little bit of doubt and therefore he couldn’t kill him. However if he did believe it was Sam, I am in no way condoning his actions but I do understand them. Between the lies and deception he was pushed to the brink.

And the truth shall set you free, unless you’re a Winchester.

As for Sam’s lying the problem is that both Sam and Dean not only have been exposed to lying their whole lives, but depending on the circumstances they were expected and given permission to lie. They learned very young that they had to lie or keep secrets from the outside world in order to protect their family. They were expected to lie about what John did for a living and were he was, when leaving them on their own for days at a time.
Even Sam was lied to for the first 81/2 years of his life about how his mother really died and that monsters were real and John hunted them. And although they were just trying to protect him from the horrors of what was out there, it made it ok to lie to your loved ones if your intentions were to protect them.
And with John’s going with this ‘need to know’ rules, they learned to keep things to themselves, to not fully disclose information unless it was absolutely necessary.
Once they were adults they followed in there fathers footsteps in deception, using false id’s to portray law enforcement, Doctors or what ever it took to get the information they needed to solve a case.
How do you expect someone to distinguish what is a good lie and a bad lie when there whole life is based on them?

Lying + deception + keeping secretes = The Life of a Hunter.
# anonymousN 2010-11-03 08:32
bookdal , your mother summed sam perfectly. I am a fan of sam's character.I just felt sad for them after the latest episode .Waiting to see an episode where they are just content and happy.
# AndreaW 2010-11-03 10:00
So many great comments. There's not much I can add. I can only say that I find Dean's words to Veritas very interesting. He says that he's not a father, he's a killer. Also, that Sam is acting like him. We all know that Dean has been kind of a father to Sam, or at least he tried to. I think that, deep down, he takes the blame for failing Sam as a "father", allowing Sam to become a killer like he believes himself to be. Maybe his beating of Sam is a way to release his anger for himself. Do I make any sense?
# Sablegreen 2010-11-03 10:31
Great comments here. Don't have time to read them all but saw a few I really liked.

Dean has always been the leader, and leaders aren't allowed to have emotions. They have to be cool and calm, and that takes it's toll. So when Dean finally explodes he has a wealth of feelings to unload. But when those emotions surface, I would prefer they be focus on bad guys, not his brother. That bro vs bro is strictly the showrunners call. All of the bro vs bro stuff was supposed to end with season 5. Seems that part of it, they feel is to 'good' to let go.
# elle2 2010-11-03 13:04
Hi, Maggie, Suze, Bevie, Jas, nancyL, bookdal, BagginsDVM, CitizenKane2, Karen, anonymousN, Andrea and Sablegreen,

Ah, as I hoped, a wonderful set of comments that keep me thinking as well as offer me hope. I'm so glad I'm not alone (alas, I knew I wasn't) in having these myriad of emotions that collide and reshape and reform only to splinter and reform. I have no idea where we're going and I remain confident that I need not worry -- although I slipped a bit -- I'm very eager for the next episode as well as reading more comments that come up on this site at whatever location they do.

Awesome discussions we're having this week.

# Bevie 2010-11-03 13:32
bookdal -- Another great insightful post. I really appreciate your analysis of why my beloved brothers are acting as they are.

anonymous - I too am waiting for an episode where they are just content with each other and happy. What a relief that would be. Perhaps another episode resembling one of my favourites, "Hell House". What a feel good show that was!

I still love them dearly. How could I not? Although the Sam or not/Sam has been pushing that envelope since the season began. I just remember the way they were in the first 3 seasons and long for that feeling to come back to me again. The love was front and centre in those 3 seasons and began to deteriorate in "Lazarus Rising" and exploded in the last two episodes. If it is gone, I will be devastated. Is that what the writers want? I so hope that it is not! To see a truly heartfelt hug would be greatly appreciated right about now.

Please writers, throw us a bone to keep us sane.
# nancyL 2010-11-03 19:33
Forget about a hug, just let them look at each other with something other than hate.
Remember when they looked at each other and the love they felt for each other was almost tangible?

To name just a few episodes:
'Skin', 'Home', 'Mystery spot', 'In my time of Dying', 'a Very Special Christmas', 'Benders', 'Nightmare', 'Croatoan', 'All Hell breaks loose part 2', 'Swan Song', 'Ghostfacers', 'Something Wicked', 'Faith', 'Pilot', 'What is and What Should Never Me', 'Fresh Blood'.

I need to watch these in order to get ready for Friday.
# nancyL 2010-11-03 19:35
sorry, the episode is called 'What is and What should never BE'. :oops:
# AndreaW 2010-11-03 20:22
And I thought they were "fighting" in Tall Tales. I miss THAT sort of fight. :sad:
# Julie 2010-11-04 06:10
There are lots of cans of worms being opened here but I must admit to feeling differently to a lot of the posts in that some of the reasons given for disliking the Winchesters are, in fact, the very reasons why I like this show so much. It is not because I enjoy watching these characters suffer, indeed it is quite the reverse, watching their struggle is not easy and at times its almost painful to watch.
I do agree that some of their faults are interchangable, they really are both `Gold Standard` liars, but in this `job` they have to be - they lie `professionally ` . The `self esteem` issues also apply to both, whether it`s Dean with the resonsibilty of being the caretaker , the older brother trying to keep Sam safe, or Sam, also struggling, living in the perceived shadow of his elder brother and trying to become his own man. Both brothers have displayed these `flaws` or `faults` since season 1 but here I am judging on where we are now.
Season 6 Sam I dont feel I can judge yet. Yes he has lied, and how! But I cannot criticise him for this until we know who or what he actually is. I am still hanging onto my mantra of `this is not Sam`
The questions of lying have been very interesting. I am convinced everyone lies every day, it is the thing that oils the wheels of society, I know I am guilty of this , someone asks, `are you ok?` and I answer `I`m fine` very often this is a bare faced lie, but how many people want to actually hear the truth there, so I do what I am sure many others do too, I say what people want to hear, but often, it is a lie. There are different kinds of lie, sometimes we lie to protect others feelings from facts they would find painful, at times we lie by omission, again often to protect but the kind that are said to hurt or betray trust are in my opinion, unforgivable and inexcusable.
Then to Dean and his self esteem, PSTD, depression, call it what you will issues. It is no secret here that I love this character, but that fact he has all these issues and the way in which they have been written are what , for me, makes the character so believable and `real`. These have been present from the beginning of Season 1 and, in fact, most of his life, but, again just looking at Season 6 here. We are still dealing with the fallout from Swan Song, pretty cataclysmic events, here he saw the death of the person he was closest to in the world under extreme circumstances, and then lived for a year dealing with grief and the guilt of not being able to stop these events or bring his brother back , now `his brother` is back , or is he? After all this if he was not having the problems he is, I would dislike him . To me the writers have keep true to the character here and I do not find his behaviour boring or gloomy but entirely real. There are no easy fixes to these type of issues and just `snapping out of it` is not always an option, you just deal with things and get through each day in any way you can and no, it is not going to be fun to watch at times but it is for me very `real`.
Of course I hope the writers will show both boys dealing with these issues, and being able to move on , but not by some magic quick fix. I really do want to see some happy Winchesters soon!!
Sorry to ramble but this has been a very thought provoking topic and I could go on and on and on ........ Ju
# Bevie 2010-11-04 13:13
Julie -- What a wonderful post! I so agree with your analysis. Boring is not a word I could ever use in connection to this show. The reality of what these two go through makes them very real to me as well.

Hope we get some happy Winchesters soon too, and a couple of smiles and maybe a laugh or two before too long. ;-)
# elle2 2010-11-07 02:07
Hi, Bevie, nancyL, Andrea, Julie and Leslie92708,

I'm glad I wrote this as it helped me 'cleanse' of some of my sorrows over the sad state our brothers are in. I'm enjoying reading everyone's comments and finding hope as others find hope, Julie, your comments are fabulous...more please.

I'm finding therapy in these comments (as well as Jas' ever therapeutic 'Couch')