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This Sam sees himself as a completely autonomous character. Deanâ€™s brother is â€˜that other guyâ€™ whoâ€™s to be brought back. Could it be entirely possible that some other kind of soul eventually began to be established in this vessel? And that wants to survive?
He almost kills Bobby. He truly would have done it. In that case â€“ I am very relieved that Dean pulled Deathâ€™s ring off earlier than expected. My goodness! Does the emotional turmoil never end?
We are where weâ€™ve been before â€“ Sam shackled to that cot, Bobby and Dean outside with steaming heads, pleading with themselves what to do. Except this time the relationships are severely changed. Will Bobby be able to put that experience away when he looks at â€˜realâ€™ Sam? Will he trust him the way he used to? Iâ€™d hope he would, but then again â€“ we havenâ€™t been in a situation like this before.
Dean doesnâ€™t know what to do, either. Heâ€™s had this one hope for now and he blew it (or so he thinks). As looks into the panic room and at his awakening brother there are pages of dialogue going on between those two.
I am again, and for the umpteenth time, astonished and in awe watching these two amazing young actors work. What both show here and in the whole season so far has been some of the best acting talent one could imagine.
â€˜Heavier than it looks, isnâ€™t it?â€™
And thereâ€™s the catch, sitting there having fast food and inviting Dean to join him. Strangely enough it verges on the absurd to have a distinguished, dignified and powerful creature as Death consume hot dogs and beer.
It has dawned on Dean that he might not get another chance like this to get his brotherâ€™s soul back. And heâ€™s sitting there in Deathâ€™s presence like a little boy whoâ€™s shy and now quite sure what to say.
Death, on the other hand, has a lot to say. â€˜You throw away your life because youâ€™ve come to assume it will bounce right back into your lap. The human soul is not a rubber ball. Itâ€™s vulnerable, impermanent but stronger than you know. And more valuable than you can imagine.â€™
He must know, as heâ€™s been reaping souls for ages. Death, what exactly is he? When we look back at ancient times, we find Thanatos in the Greek civilizations, the twin brother of the god of sleep, Hypnos, a impartial and calm entity. In Abrahamic religions (including Judaism, Islam and Christianity), Death is an angel, sometimes identified with Satan. In the New Testamentâ€™s Epistle to the Hebrews we find the belief that Satan holds power over Death. The Roman Catholic church claims that the archangel Michael is the good angel of Death who carries the souls to Heaven.
I wonder how this might add up in our show. Is Death another player in Luciferâ€™s game of chess? Preparing whatever plan because souls are the most precious currency of all? This reminds me of the Chris de Burgh song â€˜A Spanish Trainâ€™: â€˜â€¦and far away in some recess, the Lord and the Devil are now playing chess, the Devil still cheats and wins more souls and as for the Lord, well, heâ€™s just doing his best.â€™
There is more going on behind the curtain, and we will be led to it in the course of the following episodes, I dare say.
â€˜You and your brother keep coming back. Youâ€™re an affront to the balance of the universe. And you cause disruption on a global scale. (â€¦) but you have use. Right now youâ€™re digging at something, intrepid detective. I want you to keep digging, Dean.â€™
â€˜Youâ€™re just gonna be cryptic?â€™
â€˜Itâ€™s about the souls.â€™
The Lord and the devil are now playing chessâ€¦.?
And because Death (and in all likelihood someone else in the wings of this global stage) wants the Winchesters to keep on digging, he collects Samâ€™s soul in his old-fashioned medical doctorâ€™s case. But Sam, still chained as he was, is freaked out. He doesnâ€™t want this torture forced upon him.
I felt my tears well up the moment Death speaks about the vulnerability of the human soul and they wouldnâ€™t stop flowing and increased in quantity as Sam was about to get his soul back. As I am writing this, they knock on my door again.
It took me a while to figure out why I reacted in this manner to it. Looking into it was painful, and I understood Sam better than I believed possible.
Have any of you, kind reader, experienced traumatic events of any kind? Judging from my work and the high amount of traumatized patients Iâ€™ve treated so far I would assume there are a few among you who have had to go through something deeply traumatizing.
Well, so have I. In my life, if I count them, there have been three events I would describe as traumatic. One cost me my career on stage as it took my singing voice, another weakened the possibility of ever having children. I learned to cope with those moments in my life that left me scarred, and â€“ I guess thatâ€™s a very human trait â€“ I put them behind a wall, too. Not in the sense of suppressing them, as I am constantly aware of what happened, but in the sense of putting them away in order to not think about them on a daily basis. Thatâ€™s how I survived. Go on living and find it beautiful nevertheless because you donâ€™t want the pain to win. But thatâ€™s just me.
Knowing the depth of sadness and pain thatâ€™s behind that wall and knowing how it feels like when itâ€™s awakened in times when I feel vulnerable or when I am stressed out, I would give everything sometimes to get rid of those memories for good. But I canâ€™t.
I understand from a very personal viewpoint why Sam doesnâ€™t want his soul back.
On the other hand â€“ when I look at my own experiences I also see that I grew through those. I became the person I am today. Very vulnerable but also strong, deeply flawed but compassionate, loving.
Knowing that Sam, despite his youth, is a man of exceptional strength of character and taken from my own knowledge that you can overcome horrific things I just want (and need) to believe that he will be capable of learning to live with whatever is hidden behind that wall he isnâ€™t allowed to even scratch. And I believe, Dean has still a lot to learn in that department, as he remembers his days in hell, too. And I donâ€™t think is has got easier for him, heâ€™s just better at putting it away.
A question of dignity
This episode poses a variety of philosophical, theological or political questions, and what strikes me most is the element of human dignity thatâ€™s mirrored in several scenes. Are we allowed to disrupt the natural order to save someoneâ€™s life (you could also see the question of a humane or decent process of dying and how that might be achieved)? Is it acceptable to force anything (or what we think to be the right thing) onto others?
The first line of the German constitution says: â€˜The dignity of men is unimpeachable.â€™ The United Nations General Assembly of 1948 founded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaiming in its first article: â€˜All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.â€™ Similar articles are to be found in the constitutions of many countries.