Article Index

 
    Open Couch  - Unforgiven

Or

Of course it was me!
 
This episode is hard to digest. And I have a feeling there will be more like this coming. Perhaps I should keep a bitter at hand, just in case. We are given another psychogram of Sam, the man without his soul and the one with it. 

pastedGraphic.pdf

Sam, shooting the arachne victims unflinchingly, Sam not caring about his bleeding wound (‘don’t bleed out’ – ‘Yeah, that’s the plan’.), Sam not influenced at all by the pain in his arm, beating the deputy to the brink of death. Yes, he is ‘as cold as they come’ here. He is.  A strange sensation creeps up my spine – this Sam we witness here is related to the Sam we encountered in MysterySpot and in episodes of season four after Dean was gone. In the past Sam forced himself to become hard-hearted, unbreakable, as unfeeling as possible (and he sometimes, like in MysterySpot, pretty much was cold, as he managed to suppress his moral emotions and rules that would keep him from e.g. killing an innocent to acquire their blood). 

pastedGraphic_1.pdf

What he relied on in those days was not his compassion, his morality or his conscience. It was more or less dispassionate, purely rational intellect. The one entity that would guarantee his capability to go on. He would suspend his moral concept to be able to do what he thought was necessary – to get Dean back from Hell, and, after that failed, to at least get a shot at Lilith, and then later to save Dean from breaking in the Apocalypse, as Sam deemed the traumatized Dean to be incapable of succeeding in the task assigned to him. In addition to that, Sam did like the power the demon blood gave him. We remember the conversation in GoodGodY’all where Sam admitted to Dean that he missed the feeling, the power. 

In this episode we are reminded of the life tasks of these two men – Dean and his struggle to keep his family safe, Sam and his aspiration to redeem himself, in the eyes of John (for leaving the family), to atone for the potential evil he might become (the psychic period) and his acts in league with Ruby. 

For now, though, it appears just like another day at the office. Dean bringing home some sort of lunch, Sam catching up, both discussing the case at hand and Mel Gibson’s downfall. Until a mysterious text comes in. Just like in the old days when John would send his boys coordinates. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one getting reminded of dad here. Dean’s freaked out look allows me to assume that old memories came back. Sam, on the other hand, goes down a more rational road – ‘could be another hunter looking for backup on this case, who knows how many hunters I even met work with the Campbells’. He rejects Dean’s considerable protests, ‘we can’t just ignore a bunch of missing girls, right?’


pastedGraphic.pdf

This scene reminds me of Playthings, actually. Sam, afraid what his psychic abilities could make him become, felt compelled to save as many people as he could to find some sort of redemption. This time the difference is a matter of personal definition. He knows he committed terrible deeds, and he needs to find ways to atone for that.  He can’t undo what he did, but he can try to change the fate of others in need. He has to try, it’s the very essence of who he is. 

pastedGraphic.pdf

‘Welcome to Bristol, Rhode Island – Where Memories Are Made!’ Sam freaks out as he sees this sign (wonderful pun, writers, really – memories surface where memories were made! Thanks for this moment of laughter in a dark episode). Something is coming back. He can’t yet identify what’s happening. It’s enough, though, to put him in deep distress. He manages to put it aside to focus on the job, but The Buccaneer is not the safest place for that. In a town where he made some considerable history that restaurant is nothing short of a goldfish bowl. 

While Dean takes a stroll to the Poop Deck (okay… this is wonderfully camp, I love it!) and discovers the eminent ‘Eat a whole 72 oz. surf ‘n turf, get it free’ challenge winners’ wall – and probably feels challenged (come on, if someone could eat that, it would be Dean, eh?), before finding a revealing polaroid, Sam’s past meets up with him.

He doesn’t know the woman who walks up to him, her husband in tow, but she, yes, she remembers him. She has every reason to do so. They did it in a bathroom, perhaps even in this one, who knows, and it clearly was a satisfying experience for the lady. The memories hit home as she touches Sam’s shoulder. She obviously would like to relive those moments. 

pastedGraphic.pdf

Dean’s notices her ‘cougar-eying’ him while Sam tries to combine the pieces of this infernal riddle. What they don’t know, yet, is that this woman will go missing, too, and very soon.

Sadly, I’m really annoyed that this idea of a ‘cougar’ even surfaced in our society. It’s just about as derogatory as the MILF expression. When men have a younger girlfriend it’s considered almost normal, but when women find love with a younger man (or even just sex) it becomes a target for ridicule. Isn’t it important that someone is able to find and feel love at all, and does it matter whether the other is younger or older, of the same sex or colour? Get a grip, Jas. Sorry, kind readers, diva moment over. 
 
There are some interesting parallels to be found. Back when Sam and Samuel were working the case, men disappeared. Now women disappear. We will learn later that the arachne back then was female while this one is male, obviously these creatures have a preference of the opposite sex. A very spidery trait – eat your partner after mating. Usually this applies to female spiders, but, well, it’s Supernatural: take facts and give them a twist. Dean’s right, it’s a completely different m.o. (and he just wants to get Sam out of there), but Sam sees an unfinished job. A job HE has to finish.

‘This creature is walking around because of me. I let it go. Dad also said “You finish what you start”.’ There is it again – the spirit of John hanging over their heads. As mature and grown up as they are, John is always there. In their souls, in their minds, a part of their psychological moral compass. 
 
Moral values are never neutral in regard to emotion. There is no such thing as a human being  without emotions because reason and emotion are partners, they are at work when the mind is, sometimes in line, sometimes at odds. Emotions are the binding agent that unites our various thoughts. If we had no emotions we would be incapable of acting, actually, and wouldn’t know what to think. Even psychopaths, and Sam was compared to those occasionally, have emotions.

Neurobiologists differentiate between sensation and sentiment. Sensations are, according to brain researchers, a complex play of chemical and neuronal reactions, similar in human and animal, more stereotype patterns. Sentiments or feelings, if you like, however, are a completely different matter. They are always accompanied by a part of our consciousness. They are personal. Sensations are controlled by neurotransmitters: acetylcholine (something like a trainer, transporting neuronal arousal between neurons and muscles), dopamine (a motivator, an important role in circulation), serotonin (a diplomat and intermediary, regulating blood flow, our circadian rhythm and stress) and noradrenaline (a race car driver, accelerating our reactions).

pastedGraphic.pdf

What we call emotions, however, emerges from a complex interaction of brain regions and chemical reactions and their meanings for the individual. And that meaning is determined by what a person is made of in terms of their consciousness, and, in addition, their unconscious. 

The problem with unconscious issues is: you can’t articulate them, as they are, well, unconscious. And there are therapeutic methods, like psychoanalysis, that are capable of finding words for them.  Our perceptions are filled with unconscious impressions and feelings, as we are only aware of fractional parts of our environment, the rest goes straight to the unconscious. What we are made aware of, however, happens in accordance to our personal goals or needs. 
 
In the light of this, Soulless Sam paid attention only to those elements that would bring him closer to getting what he wanted, be the perfect hunter or finding the alpha monsters.  Now that Sam’s soul has been returned to his body, connecting his reason to his emotional part, how long will that wall Death put up hold?

If we look at it from a psychological point of view, and not only a philosophical, this wall represents the border between the conscious self and the unconscious. Such a wall often is built within a human’s psyche – when something so terrible happened that the conscious self could not deal with it. We often find that with trauma survivors. 

But that wall rarely holds for a lifetime. Behind that wall, pain, disappointment, rage, confusion, etc. are banging against its doors. That kind of wall would need to be of indestructible material to hold. A human’s essence is not indestructible. It can be broken, and so can a wall built within it. 

Just recently I had a young male patient who had experienced – most likely – horrific things as a child. But he could not remember details. He knew, though, that something terrible had happened. But that vague idea alone produced so much stress that he was shaking so hard, he almost fell of his chair. Somehow he felt the horrors behind that wall were about to break through.

pastedGraphic.pdf
 
Sigmund Freud postulated that man is not his own master, but dominated by his unconscious and that we can become our own worst enemies – how unconscious, symbolic reactions stimulated by experience cause pathological symptoms. 

To explain his theory, Freud developed the concept of a three-part psyche: three entities determine a human’s inner life: the Es (id), the Ich (Ego) and the Über-Ich (Super-Ego).

Id corresponds with the unconscious, the instinctive element, hunger, libido, envy, hatred, trust, love, etc. The basic drives. The mind of a baby is regarded as entirely ridden by id. And we found it in Soulless Sam’s behaviour, too. In many ways, bereft of his other psychological entities, he was like a new born child and all he knew was to follow the commands of his id.

Its opponent is the Super-Ego which embodies all the ideals, rules, roles, conceptions of the world, principles, moral concepts, laws, etc. that are established by education, breeding and nurture. 

In between we find the Ego, which is more or less a poor lad, really, triturated by overwhelming adversaries. It is basically trying to satisfy three masters: the id, the Super-Ego and the social surroundings in which that person lives. 

The Ego is the entity more or less correspondent to the conscious thought of everyday life, common sense, self-consciousness, it mediates between the demands of the Id, the Super-Ego and the social community to dissolve and harmonize psychological and social conflicts. With this train of thought (to simplify a very long and complicated thread), Freud claimed that the primary motivation of human behaviour emanates from an unconscious conflict between the basic drives and the human conscious mind.

The unconscious existed long before our conscious did, and it collects all our automatic, peripherally noticed, traits, abilities etc. and is therefore a strong power we can hardly (if at all) control. It also stores memories, in particular those we’d like to forget, the painful ones. We can’t really control our memory into forgetting something deliberately. 

At this point Sam knows, theoretically, that having spent time in hell means to have suffered horrifically. But he doesn’t (at first) remember. He will fight to remember. We know Sam. The man with the intensely inquisitive mind. 

‘You’re afraid I’ll stroll down memory lane and I’ll kick this wall in my head so hard, hell comes flooding through and all of a sudden I’m some drooling mess on the floor.’
‘It’s not a joke.’
‘Okay, I know. But listen. What’s happening here right now is because I messed up, somehow, in some big way, so every person who gets taken, every person who dies, that’s on me. I have to stop it, And you’d do the same thing.’ 

pastedGraphic.pdf

Dean actually did the same thing. This conversation very much resembles the moments when Dean decided to say yes to Michael. He was driven by a similar pressure – if the Apocalypse happened and the planet got destroyed, it would have been on him, because he could have done something about it. He believed it back then as much as Sam believes it now. 

If you like, those are the moral issues their Super-Egos consist of, implemented by their dad and ripened by their own personal moral compasses and experiences, a deep sense of justice, honour and personal responsibility.

To follow their plan, they split up. Dean finds out about Sam’s ‘loud and athletic’ relationships with the missing girls (which is more evidence for Soulless Sam being driven by the Id during that year and a half), while Sam investigates – or tries to – the role of the cops. Well, the guy he beat to a pulp survived and is still in service – and recognizes him in a flash. He’s not amused. Yes, Sam, ‘it’s a misunderstanding’ and ‘I don’t remember’… well, that’s what they all say. The cop doesn’t believe him, and why should he. 

But the sheriff’s wife who works there cares, she needs to find her missing husband Roy. And she knows about what Sam really does. Another flashback hits Sam and he remembers how Samuel and he spoke with Brenna and Roy Dobbs about their secret job. Unfortunately Soulless Sam was not one to linger on manners or tact of any kind. Governed by Id, remember? Such issues as manners belong in the Super-Ego and Ego department.

The difference is evident in Sam’s consternation. He sees himself in that flashback, but knows that it wasn’t entirely him. The compassion he feels now was gone. And Brenna responds to it finally. People respond to authenticity and honesty, they do. Even a grieving wife who at first wanted to lay all the blame she had on Sam’s shoulders is willing to listen. It’s not only the puppy dog eyes (and we get a lot of those in this scene), it’s his trustworthiness that is palpable to her. That’s enough for her to do something illegal – letting Sam out and making it look like a breakout. 

pastedGraphic.pdf

Comments  

Richard
# Richard 2011-02-14 21:05
I haven't the time at the moment to read your entire article (I'll be saving it for later), but I came to this part and I wanted to let you know how happy you have made me. "He knows he committed terrible deeds, and he needs to find ways to atone for that. He can't undo what he did, but he can try to change the fate of others in need. He has to try, it's the very essence of who he is."
Truer words were never written. Thank you.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 00:40
Thank you, Richard. I'm happy you felt touched by that particular paragraph. I have to admit when I wrote it, there was that warm familiar feeling in my stomach - a deep emotional response to Sam.

Have fun reading the rest of it. I know it's quite long, ahem... :o
Cheers, Jas
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2011-02-14 22:16
I enjoyed reading this. Thanks :)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 00:41
My pleasure, CitizenKane2, thank you for commenting!
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2011-02-14 23:37
Oh ow.

Ow Ow Ow OW?!

You know, I thought my heart was already hurting all it could over this ep, and then I read your wonderful, in-depth, insightful article and Nope! More hurting. Oh Sammy. Oh Dean. *Plants self on couch.* Ready for therapy doc. Where’s the tissues?

Sniff.

Sniff.

There so needs to be some kind of Winchester mail order hug available for fans. It’s the humane thing to do.

Ok, I now realize WHY I dislike RoboSam so much. It’s because he does represent that rational side of our Sammy. Only taken to an extreme. Scary. Very, very scary. And I can really empathize with Dean in NEEDING to believe that SoulSam is entirely separate from RoboSam. Man, this is a dark, dark road the show is walking. It’s poking at things, monsters, real monsters. The monster in us all. How extremely unnerving.
And I love how the lighting on Sam was used to depict this in that photo you have up of Sam in the cell. (Sammy in cage! Floor. Thud. Me.) Half his face in light, open, honest, empathetic, SOULFUL. Half in dark, unknown, questionable, a bit frightening. You rock Serge!

And thank you for your small tribute to John. He is always with them isn’t he? (((John)))
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 00:47
Awwwh, Yvonne, thank you. There's plenty of room here on my couch, make yourself at home (why am I smiling at the thought of you planting yourself on it? The sweetest pictures come to mind ;-) ).

I think every person is capable of commiting horrific deeds, it's just a matter of the extreme situations that require them. If it's cutting off your own arm to survive or kill someone to survive.

Perhaps that's why, as you wonderfully mentions, we disliked Soulless Sam so much. Because he is a mirror in which we see the darkest parts of ourselves?

Just love your comment, dear. You send me from welling up to laughing tears. Well done on an early morning before I have to go to another heavy day at work (I'm getting a new patient today who's just as troubled as my poor Sammy...)

Love, Jas
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2011-02-15 22:56
*iz at home*

Tell me, does that sweet picture include a certain Winchester next to me?

And yes, the 'mirror' is what I was getting at. Makes me wonder if, in part, that is where all our legends and stories of scary creatures come from. These are just tales of what we fear within ourselves. Fear is the mother of anger and hate. So instead of owning our own broiling mass of dark emotions within, we project it out into the night. "Something else, something slithery, or frightful is responsible for this thing I feel. But not I. No, not I."

Really just rambling now. But it would be an interesting study.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:47
of course, dearest Yvonne. He comes by every once in a while and I always encourage him to stay to meet you. And - it doesn't take much persuasion. He feel quite comfy next to you! :-)

There are actually various theories that say exactly that - that most monsters came to life to mask our own dark sides. Sounds plausible, doesn't it?
Love, Jas
Kalixa
# Kalixa 2011-02-15 00:05
Great informative article!! Thank you so much for bringing your knowledge of the mind and applying it to the show - there was so much in here that I did not know about...such as the existence of dissociative seizures.

I hadn't realized that Sam's jumpiness was a symptom of trauma, I just thought it was a little funny how jumpy he was - it makes much more sense now, and I really have to commend the writers/Jared for giving it thought.

I loved this episode and all the questions it brings up about the nature of the self and the soul. I can't wait to see how they develop the theme further...but I do want my poor Sammy to be alright.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 00:49
Thank you, Kalixa! This is how I read Sam's reactions and when I look at patients I have had and still have, I recognize many parallels.

I don't know if the writers give it all that much thought. They're all the more brilliant if they do, and if it's all creative instinct, wow, then I'm rendered speechless.

:-) , Jas
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-15 07:22
Hi Jas!
Did you see Sam after his seizures? Is he somewhere on this big couch?
Well I liked your thoughts about SoullessSam. And I have to admit even I didn´t realy liked him, he had his moments (I liked to watch him alot).
Your artikel about "Es, ich and Über-Ich" is very informativ. I once read that the bad is there where no empathy is. So what part is the soul and like Cass sad that´s an philosopical question.
Sam has to aczept his SoullessSelf as a part of himself and I´m hoping he can do this without tearing the wall down
Jas
# Jas 2011-02-15 08:08
Hi, Junkerin, thank you for your comment. Why, of course, Sam feels very much at home on my couch, so he decided to move in… ;-)

It’s difficult to answer your question about bad or evil – and what part the soul is. I think a soul is combined of our capability to feel empathy, our moral codes, and the like (if you like check out my article on Sam and the Mystery of the Missing Soul, I have said a lot about it there).

And what is evil – is a philosophical (and often theological) question people have been pondering for ages. You know, you just inspired an article, dear. I’ll write something about that, soon! :-)

In a few words – evil might just be the opposite of good. But the definitions of what is what differ from culture to culture.
I think that basically everyone might be capable of committing evil deeds is driven to ther brink of what they are able to bear. I have heard it from patients often and found it in countless case studies.

The phenomenon of duality is found all over the world – without good there is no evil, and would we recognize evil if there was no good? There are some deeds universally considered as evil, like for example murder, child abuse or rape, but even with these examples, we have to take into account their social/cultural /moral context.

And the answer is never easy – nor should it be.

Since empathy is the capacity to understand and, to some extent, share emotions experienced by another person, it probably is the very essence of compassion. And that, well, is one of the core traits of Sam.

I’d say, from what we know of the younger Winchester, that Sam already accepted his soulless self as a part of himself – would he try to make amends if he had not? I don’t think so.

Alles Liebe, Jas
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-15 08:22
Hi Jas,
Yes I think you right that Sam accepted Soulles as a part of him.
Did Freud said where the soul is or what part?
As for good and bad, or lets say ethics, I don´t think there is a diffrence between culture. As you put it murder is bad in every cutures. Every relegion tells you to be good and even the rules are mostly the same.
Yes it is hard to define good but usuly it is easy to point out bad.
Discussing with you is almost so much fun as watching SN :-)
Jas
# Jas 2011-02-15 10:13
And what about the - for example - Maya that murdered their own to sacrifice them to the Gods? Or the fanatic terrorists that think murder for 'the cause' is justified? I think it is a very fine line...
Viele Grüße, Jas
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-15 10:23
Well I don´t know about the Maya but for the fanatic terrorists their religon (bible,coran etc.)doesn´t justified murder.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 15:18
I agree that their religion doesn't justify murder, but for ages people have been committing deeds of utmost brutality in the name of whatever god.

I don't mean to bash any religion, don't get me wrong. But people are flawed, and they sometimes use religious messages to justify what they do, even kill and torture.
And it's people who bring any religion to life, and, unfortunately, that sometimes has very little in common with the original words of prophets.
Mstngsali1
# Mstngsali1 2011-02-15 14:30
Jas,

As always, wonderfully thought through and I just love how you can look at the characters from the psychoanalyst point of view.

I think a lot of the reason RoboSam was disliked so much is because Sam has always been the sensitive brother that empathizes with people. To have Dean become RoboDean wouldn't necessarily be all that different. Dean ponders in "My Bloody Valentine" that he's not falling victim to famine because he's "well fed". Now we find out later that Dean isn't affected because he's "dead inside" but even before Dean's stint in hell, he's never been one to abstain, from anything.

What all that rambling comes down to is that RoboSam and Sam are a real study in contrasts. If the positions were reversed, would RoboDean and Dean would there be as much dislike? I know this much, I would really miss his sense of humor! :)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-15 16:00
Interesting idea, Mstngsali1, what if their positions were reversed?
From my personal point of view, I'd say the conflicts within me as a viewer would be similar, as would my compassion.

But, we'll never know, since I don't believe that in a possible season seven the writers would reverse their roles. Or would they? ;-) Ah, you never know with Gamble & Co.

Thank you so much for commenting. Cheers, Jas
alysha
# alysha 2011-02-15 19:21
Great insight! If any episode deserved some tie on the couch, it was this one. Soulless Sam was so driven by his Id, like an animal almost but with all those memories. I'm glad you've brought up souled Sam's behaviors under extreme stress and grief. Souled Sam has shown a few times when he lets cold intellect lead him. Unfortunately, that cold intellect is always in him and was what the soulless man basically ran on.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-16 03:45
Thank you, alysha, for your kind words. More and more I understood this man better (I hope) and that is making it possible to accept Sam as a whole, the tender, compassionate man and the cold-hearted killer. These are facets of him. And now, with his soul back, he has more control over it, since he's not governed entirely anymore by his Id. I really feel for that man.
Thanks, Jas
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-02-15 22:09
Hi Jas,

Very thoughtful article, and wonderfully insightful comments.

At first, I totally agreed with Dean that Sam shouldn't be held to account for RoboSam's actions. But, I think I'm changing my mind on that.

Something was bothering me about absolving Sam of all blame, and you identified it when you pointed out the fact that many of Soulless Sam's actions mirrored what he did after Dean's death in Mystery Spot, and what he did with Ruby and the demon blood. He has behaved coldly, and almost without emotions in the past. He just took it to the extreme, when the moral compass of his soul was missing.

That being said, I think it's reasonable to expect Sam would feel guilty for the wrongs he's done, and want to atone for them. Dean said exactly the same thing in "Family Remains". No matter how many people he saved it would never make up for all the hurt he had caused while torturing souls in Hell.

So, both brothers have a desire to right the wrongs of their past, and seek redemption.

Also, both brothers were forced into doing horrible things. Sam's soul was taken from him, and that's what helped set RoboSam loose to wreak havoc. Dean was systematically tortured until he broke, because that action was needed to break the First Seal. Neither brother acted totally of their volition. But they both feel as if they had full control, and full choice.

I think most of us would react in a similar way. If you couldn't have control over the traumatic situation you find yourself in, at least you can give yourself control over how to fix the mistakes or tragedies it brought about.

Like others have said, I too wish the writers would have Dean talk to Sam about his own time in Hell. I think it might help Sam understand some of the fear that is driving Dean now. After all, he does have firsthand knowledge of the horrors of Hell. As well, it would serve as a reminder that Dean suffered in the Pit too. And he might have valuable information to share with Sam about living with the bad things you've done. (And if there's a Great Wall of Sam, you can bet there's a Lead-lined Chamber of Dean, or something like that. I might have to thihk of a better name.)

I also think Dean HAS to believe that Soulless Sam and Sam are two distinct entities. Otherwise, he has to find a way to accept that his beloved brother allowed him to be turned into a Vampire, which almost killed him, and very likely may have cost him his bit of domestic happiness, his opportunity to convince himself he is more than a killer.

For me, it's like what goes through your mind when you're attacked by someone you know. You really want to believe it was the alcohol or the drugs that caused them to hurt you. For awhile that explanation seems plausible and the wall holds. But one day, you come face to face with the realization that they still had a choice, and choose to harm you. That takes a while to work through. For Dean, it would be just one more thing he pushes down, seals over and decides he'll deal with "tomorrow".

And, we may yet see that come to pass. Or, instead we might see what happens when the Mount Vesuvius of Dean's Emotions actually erupts.

Finally, there must be something in the air (or on the airwaves anyway) becaue I've been musing on Evil as well..

Cheers, and thanks for listening.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-16 04:01
Hi Pragmatic Dreamer and thank you for your kind and elaborate comment!

That’s exactly what I felt – a shift in my position in regard to Soulless Sam. It was too easy to absolve Sam completely of all blame, and people/situatio ns are never this simple. That made me think after noticing the parallels between some of his actions over the last year and those in the past. And, as you wonderfully point out, there are similar parallels in the brothers’ acceptance of blame, too.

You are right, actually is all about control in the aftermath of a trauma. A traumatic experiences boils down to an utter loss of control, to victimizing a person (be it by some other’s hand or a natural disaster), and that fact leaves a major impact.

Dean has regained some of that control in the meantime. He lives with it. Though it has rarely been a topic in their discussions, from what we see how Dean goes about his life, it’s safe to assume that he has found a way of coping. The inner demons of terror are still there, but he’s not become a drooling mess himself. I would love to see him advise Sam on how to live with it.

You know, I’d expect Dean’s volcano of emotions to implode rather than erupt, actually. He has always been the quiet sufferer, the one who would swallow his biggest pains, while Sam has been the more openly aggressive and angry one (except in those extreme situations where he became dangerously quiet. I can relate to that very well, as this is how I react. Don’t be afraid when I vent loudly, but when I am angry and very quiet, run. My words will hurt. More and more I understand why I feel so close to Sam. I hope it doesn’t mean that I’d be capable of what he did :oops: ).

I am very curious, though, how the writers will bring on the ‘moment of truth’ – if they plan to do it – when Dean realizes what we’re discussing here. Poor lad.
Interested in hearing your musings on evil, too, dear, to bring our various points of view together here at the WFB will be fun! Thank you. Best always, :-) Jas
Yvonne
# Yvonne 2011-02-15 22:47
Oh wow, the "Lead-lined chamber of Dean."

Well put. He certainly is an expert stuffer. An admitted expert stuffer according to "Sam Interupted". And Lisa certainly picked up on that. Considering that she brought it up, maybe the show will comment on his own well buried memories. Ugh, it'll be messy if it all does come up. But the poor guy needs something other than liquor, that's for certain.

Interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing.
Julie
# Julie 2011-02-16 04:34
Well Jas you have really gone there with this one, you should not make me think so much this early in the morning.
You have included so much information here and it does help to explain the behaviour and rationale of `RoboSam`. I am very interested in the analogy of `him` and a new born as in many ways he was almost child like in his simplistic attitudes to everything, of course no new born could be held responsible for any behaviour they exhibit, but he is a grown (or overgrown) man, here the similarity ends. Children learn and absorb like eager sponges Robosam had no desire to learn anything he was laser focused on what he saw as his quest at any cost, no concern for any collateral damage this may incur.But I still do not see him as evil, the acts he committed were but he had no concept of right or wong as we learned, no moral compass to centre on , nor did he want one , this explains his reluctance to have Dean with him- `family slow you down`.
Some of this information does throw up grey areas challenging my long held black and white views that I share with the elder Winchester that this was not Sam. This is going to be debated for so long and will never be answered to everyones satisfaction. For me though, where as there can never be any doubt that physically Sam was present, and indeed did commit all the acts we know about (I dread to think of the ones we are yet unaware of, part of me does not want to know), It was an empty shell there, The Essence of the man was totally absent and for me that is what matters.
The question for me now lies in whether the real Sam is actually culpable in the events of the last year ? I think absolutely not. No more than he was in shooting Dean, attacking Jo and the murder of Steve Wandell in Born Under a Bad Sign. But the problem is he actually feels he is and no matter what reassurances he recieves from Dean, he believes it. Until he can free and forgive himself from this imagined guilt things are dangerous as he is going to try to atone for them and in doing so scratch at that damn wall.
He has made difficult and sometimes the wrong decisions in the past but often these were made under extreme circumstances. Yes, we saw him as cold and calculated in Mystery Spot, but here he was battling through extreme grief after watching his brother die many times, then, when he thought he had broken that cruel cycle, he did lose Dean, this time for real. This version of Sam always seemed to me to be on automatic pilot. The Sam who, with Ruby, killed and drained Cindy Mcllellan was then under the influence of the demon blood. This changed him, almost beyond recognition, as Dean told him `It`s not something you are doing , it`s what you are`, and he did things like this, which had he not been `hopped ` up he would never have contemplated.
I just hope that the horrific glimpse behind the wall will make him listen to Dean and not persue his quest to right the wrongs that were comitted in `his`abscence as this is literally `The Road to Hell`.
Ok here endeth a long ramble that could go on and on , this one seems to have really inspired these doesnt it?
As a footnote, I loved the `poop deck` referance, but that brought up a question which has puzzled me for so long, why does Sam never go to the loo? 6 seasons and he has not `been` once!
Oh and Dean could so have taken that 72oz surf`n`turf. ;-)
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:48
Sorry for stressing you on an early morning, Julie! ;-)

Yet, I’m actually happy to have been (a bit at least) successful in challenging your black and white views, since I am, as you know, a champion of the grey areas in life.
I think it’s going to be a huge metaphysical/et hical question to be addressed in future episodes, and you’re quite right – there won’t be satisfaction for everyone.
You make my point – people are capable of extreme behaviour under extreme circumstances. And Sam was forced in the past to act extremely for reasons he didn’t like but accepted.

Thanks a lot for elaborating on your thoughts. Next time we’ll feed that surf’n turf to your boy, eh?
Love Jas
AndreaW
# AndreaW 2011-02-16 05:04
Jas, from all the theories I heard about RoboSam, who he is and who isn't, yours is the one that makes the most sense for me. So Good Sam and Bad Sam are both... Sam. OK, it's disturbing, but I still love my Sammy and I know in my heart that his good side is the winner. But he has to believe it too himself. Dean, I think, already does. But not Bobby.

I heard some spoilers about episode 16 which I don't want to comment on, but I'm under the impression that that is gonna be an important and defining episode. Dean, Sam, Bobby and Samuel together, with so many unresolved issues between them all. What do you think of the possibilities?
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:55
Thank you, AndreaW! I’m happy that you found something for you here! And, you know, I never stopped loving Sam, even though the Soulless version of him was difficult to accept, and it was hard to like that person. Somehow I still couldn’t shed my affection for the man, perhaps because it has grown now for some years and I always believed that there was a good reason for his behaviour. And there was.
Cheers, Jas
Junkerin
# Junkerin 2011-02-16 06:27
Hi Jas,
What an interesting way this discussion is taking. Nazis, Ethics....
Maybe you can get your hands on the "Geo Magazin" it dealt recently with the thema Good, Bad, and why we are both. It althought tryed to established some "basic rouls" for mankind.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:54
Thanks for pointing that out to me, Junkerin, but I already have that issue of Geo Magazin. It's a part of my job to read stuff like that.
Cheers! Jas
Suze
# Suze 2011-02-16 07:36
Good artical Jas, I was never clear about Ids and what not before. They sound a lot like Transactional Analasis' Parent/Adult/Ch ild states. It's an intersesting take on the whole soullessness thang and makes a lot more sense of all the Was-That-An-Emo tion-I-Saw-Befo re-Me? stuff we shoved around a few weeks ago.

Yume, you sound like a good egg, but your Grandad's bad choices were his load to carry. Don't beat youself up over stuff that happened before you were born, or there's no end to it. We've just got to keep an eye out for what's going on now.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:56
You see, Suze? It so is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion when you paraphrase Macbeth! Thank you, dear! Love Jas
sonia mary
# sonia mary 2011-02-16 13:48
eles retrata sam que é apaixonante literalmente si transformar em monstro, coisa que sam sempre lutou pra não si transformar porque tinha coinciencia .quando não a mas conciencia ele poderia ser realmente o vaso de lucifer e tudo daria certo pro lado do mal como o sangue do demonio mas ele lutou até o fim pra estragar os planos de lucifer eo demonio. pensou que mesmo com tudo que sam faz ele tem meu apoio pois outro sucumbiram com o poder ele poderia ser poderoso tem tudo que queria poder sexo mas não ainda com sua alma ainda tem crise de remorso por tem feito tudo errado .sente dor de ter feito algo monstruoso e sabe la oque ele mas fez . mas culpa sempre foi seu inimigo numero um então haja remedio para depressão gosto de spn porque me divertia agora fico triste por tanta culpa pra cima de sam como ele aguenta não sei mas jared faz um excelente trabalho. gostaria de ver os pontos a favor sobre sam alguém poder escrever um antigo defendendo ele .
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:58
Sonia Mary, I would love to answer to your comment better, but I don’t speak Portuguese, I’m sorry. But – thank you for commenting! :-)
Best, Jas
magichappening
# magichappening 2011-02-16 15:16
An unexamined show is not worth living.

Wow. Every time I think I know Sam and Dean and this show and its fans, I am blown away again. Thank you so much, Jas, for writing this. And to everyone who has commented so insightfully and courageously. I am truly in awe.

Once again I have been forced to re-evaluate my own assumptions and my reactions to this wonderful show. Whoever made the point about us reacting so badly to Soulless Sam because he gave us a glimpse of the monsters that live within us made me sit back. Wow. Is that why I was so sure that he was not human and not Sam?

Your answers about the human capacity for evil are definitely food for thought, Jas. Supernatural ‘personifiesâ €™ evil (in a way) by often portraying it as other than us - as monsters and ghosts and goblins and ghouls. But those ‘creatures’ and that potential exists within each of us, and Supernatural also explores that dimension. And that is why Dean becoming a torturer in Hell and Sam becoming a merciless killer are so much more difficult to deal with than vampires and dragons.

The point that someone made about the need for Dean to separate the two Sams, otherwise it would mean that he would have to accept that his little brother was capable of anything, up to and including Dean’s own ‘murder’, was a good one. Another commenter mentioned the fact that Dean had never met Mystery Spot Sam or the Sam when Dean was in Hell. So this cold version of Sam was completely new to Dean, and he was horrified. This is the baby that was put in his arms, he helped raise and has watched over and loved his whole life. How could that person and this cold, ruthless hunter be the same person? They MUST be different people or the universe, Dean’s universe, would not make sense. It begins spinning backwards.

Soulless Sam looked Dean in the eye and lied to him (repeatedly), watched with a smile as Dean was ‘killed’, felt no remorse for his actions (indeed could not), admitted to killing innocents, and worst of all, to not caring at all for Dean. To Dean, his family (Mary, John and Sam, and the surrogate one he found in Bobby, Lisa and Ben) is the most important thing in the world and makes his life and the fight worth it. If Sam, as the most important member of that family, does not care for him and indeed is doing harm, what is the point in any of it? Does Dean have to look for new meaning in his life or a new lodestone? Tough things to face.

I liked your point of us all having walls, Jas, and how Sam worked to get through Dean’s own wall after Dean came back from Hell. And Dean’s admonitions to Sam to not scratch the wall are perhaps echoes of his own efforts not to open the door to the lead-lined chamber of Dean (brilliant, Pragmatic Dreamer!) Those memories of Hell would seem to strains the limits of Dean’s own sanity and they, and the feelings they bring in their wake, appear only to be drowned by whisky (but perhaps they have learned to swim). Sam’s insistence on wanting to know to put things right, stirs the murky depths of Dean’s own memories and forces him to face what he is capable of himself again. He almost died inside the last time he did that. To think of doing that again or Sammy doing that…Sammy’ s seizure must be his worst fears realised.

Perhaps part of being someone’s soul mate is keeping them sane, as well as human. Perhaps Sam and Dean feel the horror and regret for each other’s actions that would be too overwhelming to go through themselves. They can forgive and love the other despite the mistakes made and wrongs done – otherwise, in their own souls, they would truly remain unforgiven. This way they give each other the ability to continue the fight. I do hope the writers give them some respite and redemption soon.

They have earned it.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 03:59
It might well be, Magichappening, that the resentment concerning Sam within the fandom stemmed from one function of the Soulless version: he was a mirror to our own evil facets, in a way. And a reaction like that often is unconscious until a certain train of thought digs it up…

And I share your respect for the comment above. Actually I expected that I was going to stir up another controversy and am so glad that this didn’t happen. Because it wasn’t meant to be controversial, but, well, you never know within this fandom of ours…
We all have survival strategies, and Dean likes to use avoidance, even in his assessment of Sam, and alcohol, which was also Sam’s drug of choice. And, well, avoidance is the classic, and pretty much everyone of us uses that when our own inner walls get scratched – until that technique doesn’t work anymore or we decide to change it.

Let’s hope that Sam and Dean find some peace, really. They can grow here. Love the other despite whatever happened. Isn’t that the core of that particular emotion?

Thank you so much, take good care, Jas
Karen
# Karen 2011-02-17 11:24
Hi Jasminka

My knowledge of the human psyche is as masterful as my ability to bake.
Burnt cookies anyone? :-x
I guess when it comes to soulless Sam, how can someone be responsible for things when their true essence isn’t there?
When their conscience, empathy and moral compass has been removed?
I would have to stand by Dean on this one, be it denial, but to me it wasn’t Sam. It wasn’t the real Sam, the true Sam that we have all known and loved.
I know we have seen some reflection of a robosam prior to him being soulless, but never once did I feel that Sam had lost his humanity. I guess the closest to that would have been the killing of the nurse, but between the affects of the demon blood, the constant nattering of Ruby telling him this was the only way to stop Lillith and the fake voice message from Dean, I truly understood why Sam followed through with it. I didn’t condone it, but I did understand it, and I also don’t doubt for a moment that the guilt was ripping Sam apart.
I guess what it all boils down to, is no matter what I will always love both Sam and Dean, despite all of their flaws and their mistakes. I will always find a way to defend them, or at least try to understand their reasons behind their actions.
Thank you Jasminka for this wonderful, in-depth article.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-17 14:16
Karen, dear, thank you for your comment!

You know, what I’m saying is, that it was a part of Sam, not entirely him.

It was that part that is able to commit terrible deeds, and perhaps the part every one of us owns, too. I’ll be elaborating more on the ability of turning evil (even as a heartily good person) in a future article, but let me just say this – in extreme circumstances people can react extremely. Even against their nature.
Sam did that in earlier seasons, and of course he never lost his humanity (I’m sorry if it came across as if I meant to say that which was not the case), and this soulless version of him, well, was he less human because he was able to do what he did?

Humans are capable of horrific things. It’s a part of who we are. I think if we think of the term human (respectively humanity) as an idealistic description of a soulful person, then the Sam we saw in the earlier episodes probably can’t be described as human.

But if we look at the term as a description of the Homo sapiens in general, then he was nothing but. His limitations were gone, just like they go with other people capable of bad deeds.

For me that was equally painful to watch. But the more I wrapped my mind around it, the more I understood the various phenomena that are a part of the human nature, even Sam’s, as I explained.

And as for defending Sam and Dean – I guess I’ll do that as long as there will be show to watch. :-)
Thank you! Love Jas

P.S.: I can’t bake either…
:-x
Karen
# Karen 2011-02-17 15:41
Hi Jasminka
Maybe we should take a course in baking together. I promise I won’t burn the place down. :lol:

I know you were not implying that Sam had lost him humanity, I’m afraid I didn’t express myself the way I wanted to and I do apologize for that.
I will have to rethink my wording…
Thanks again for your article…love Karen
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2011-02-18 00:33
Ah, don't worry, Karen! I don't see any reason for an apology, really.

But I love the idea of a course in baking. Just imagine the fun we'd have, plus the dough in our hair and on our clothes... ha, good times :D !
Love always, Jas