Open Supernatural Couch â€“ The Man Who Knew Too Much
(Season 6 Finale, Part II)
Let there be light
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle
Or the mirror that reflects it.
A soul is a most fragile thing and still a strong reflection of wisdom, endurance, scars, joys. It needs time to heal when wounded, and it suffers the wear of time, crude hands, and the arbitrariness of the elements of oneâ€™s life.
To me it sometimes feels that, when we come to life, we enter a vast and often raging sea. The currents differ, and the water temperature tends to change ever so often. Waves sometimes rise up like furious, thundering swells, their momentum flinging us to coasts we donâ€™t knowâ€¦ Against the pull of the ocean we try to swim, to find solid ground, and when we manage to stumble to shore, coughing and exhausted, we perhaps realize that life is truly simple. There are only a few essentials. Love. Work. Devotion to something and/or someone. Family. Kindness. Caring for another. Being looked after.
These are the elements that give us light. And light, always, conquers darkness. We need it to be able to stand up under the strain of what life makes us put up with. And when I look at our Winchester boys, their dearest friends and this last episode of the sixth season of our beloved show, I have to say â€“ through my eyes itâ€™s all about light. I wrote about that before, in other words. I called the Winchesters warriors of light a few times, and to that I hold.
In this episode, light, again, saved lives. Their own light, awoken and spread in dreamlike states, in a panic room and through neon signs of storage rooms or hotels. Another light destroyed lives. A perversion of an angelâ€™s power, used to kill, to force, to submit.
I can only try to put in word what this episode did to me while I watched it and the thoughts it provoked in me. Please, help yourselves to some cookies, some tea, hot chocolate or a glass of wine and breathe with me.
One more time the glass of the opening credits breaks and throws us onto a dark street where Sam seems to be running for his life, the police on this tail. He had been sleeping on a park bench when a cop shoved his flashlight in his face and woke him. He overwhelmed the cop and his partner and ran. He doesnâ€™t even know, why. His instinct is telling him to run, to hide.
But itâ€™s not a dream. Sam is trapped in a state that is often found with people who experience horrific trauma. I would call it a dissociative seizure or fugue. We will see him later having fits lying on his cot in Bobbyâ€™s panic room. But at the moment he is simply lost, in the clothes he wore when Castiel brought the protecting wall in his mind down, caught in a state of amnesia for his whole personal identity, though memories he doesnâ€™t have conscious access to have led him to a place he knows â€“ the storage room where he once lost his lungs at the hands of an angel named Zachariah, and a bar where his soulless persona once killed a Ruby lookalike.
Heâ€™s scared out of his wits, has no recollection of anything, but flashbacks are whipping at him with immense force, unleashed by triggers like a Lovecraft book, in their wake not only pictures but also unbelievable emotional impact that takes Sam off his feet. He doesnâ€™t know yet why he reacts like this, but he senses enough to be aware that there is more to the most likely unpleasant story.
Though without clear memory, he knows that heâ€™s used to using a computer and finds The Nite Owl Hotel where he stayed with his brother once â€“ during their unfortunate vampire encounter when the soulless version of Sam allowed Dean to be turned. We also learn a tad more about the Winchester tactics â€“ when you choose a room, make sure itâ€™s â€˜ground floor, corner room, nearest to the fire escapeâ€™.
The gutsy bar-girl, Robin, who insisted to help the handsome stranger is not only a little astounded to find the room, enter it by credit card and spot various IDs that belong to the same guy who seems to go by different names. None of those ring a bell with Sam. His confusion, if possible, grows even more disturbing. He knows this room. He just doesnâ€™t know why. The newspaper clipping about a missing Dr Visjak triggers another memory. Oh, boy, not a cocktail of mixed images this time. No, this is a full blown scene from Samâ€™s painful past.
A tragic one on many levels â€“ Sam, Dean and Bobby find lethally wounded Eleanor Visjak. She tried to stand her ground when Crowley tortured her, but when Castiel took over, she broke. We donâ€™t hear what torture techniques the angel administered, but we can assume they were more than ugly when they were able to get answers from a 900 year old purgatory native.
She dies, and Bobby doesnâ€™t take it well. I feel so sad for this lovely manâ€¦ I can understand why he hoped that Dean could go on living â€˜as close to happiness as Iâ€™ve seen any hunter getâ€™, since he has not experienced that mercy. At least two of the women he loved died. Thatâ€™s enough for any heart to break.
There is no time for grief, though, as Castiel appears â€“ and he truly seems changed. In the last episode there was still something left of the angel weâ€™ve grown to love and care for, the ally in this unbelievable war. But this one actually feels different. This one severed the bonds to these men, bonds that used to be strong enough for him to step up and risk his own existence for them. Misha Collins adds another layer to his portrayal of Cas. I am amazed at what he does here, in so small a scene, but I also feel that I have grown cold towards the angel. Perhaps I am reflecting what goes through Deanâ€™s mind.
And another terrible thought sneaks into my brain â€“ what if Castiel planned all this long ago, even before he resurrected Dean (and resurrected him for another purpose than the one he named), let Sam out of the panic room, got in league with Crowley? This idea scares me more than I expected.
But I donâ€™t have time to ponder on it at this point â€“ because Castiel does the most wretched thing: he makaes the wall in Samâ€™s mind that Death carefully erected there collapse.
The eyes may be confused in two ways â€“ by a change from light to darkness
Or from darkness to light.
The same thing happens to the soul.
With the wall collapsing, Samâ€™s consciousness disintegrated. He begins to realize, slowly and through painful experience over the following scenes, what happened to him and whatâ€™s going on â€“ without yet understanding.
How I see it, what happened to Sam â€“ under the influence of the, without doubt, unspeakably terrible time he spent in hell â€“ was a perverted Supernatural version of what psychiatrists call a multiple personality (or, in clinical terms a dissociative identity disorder) mixed with complex post- traumatic stress disorder. But â€“ Iâ€™ll get to that later.
The hotel room holds some more answers and â€“ car keys for Sam, and Robin insists to accompany him. She has a purpose to fulfil here: to guide Sam and to warn him. She is one part of Sam, a tender and caring one that tries to shield him from the atrocities he is about to discover. She is his inner voice, the one that questions, one that articulates a counterpart to his confusion, doubts his plans of breaking into an â€˜unknownâ€™ hotel room or going off looking for an old guy named Bobby in South Dakotaâ€¦
His subconscious gave her this appearance (please remember: we are in Samâ€™s mind, this whole time), (though I am not certain, yet, why the creators chose a girl of similar type as Ruby had been. Hair, size, style of dressing resembles his demon ally of old), as sheâ€™s one of the innocent victims Sam killed while roaming about bereft of his soul.
Perhaps she is the one that his subconscious highlighted as remarkable and important to remember, because her death, indeed, was cruelly unnecessary and probably one of Soulless Samâ€™s ugliest deeds. â€˜There goes your leverageâ€™. My Godâ€¦
Robin links Samâ€™s mind of today to the Soulless Sam. Her voice merges occasionally with Deanâ€™s pleading. And she disappears when Sam is about to recover the memories hidden in the deep back of his mind, behind the ever more collapsing wall.
With Samâ€™s memory approaching the agonizing unfeeling deeds, the soulless persona re-appears. Fighting for dominance.
Dean, imploring his unconscious brotherâ€™s mind to return, in Bobbyâ€™s panic room is beyond himself with fear and doubt. Where before he somewhat carried himself in the apprehensive and alarmed way of a man braced against catastrophe, now he seems to droop, as if already fallen victim to catastrophic despair. He has no idea what might be going on thereâ€¦ only Samâ€™s occasional twitching gives a hint of the turmoil behind the curtains.
Heâ€™s not conscious and still he is receiving information in his uncoupled state â€“ he smells the whiskey the men drink and the Old Spice, and the song playing on that old radio. Heâ€™s there with them, but incapable of establishing contact.
With Sam in this terrifying state, Dean would be about to lose his marbles, were it not for Bobbyâ€™s voice of reason. At a point where Dean is almost unable to see any kind of hope, Bobby calls him back to arms, reaching out to the soldier (of light) that the elder Winchester has always been. And in a way only Bobby can, he manages to persuade Dean to do â€˜what Sam would wantâ€™.
And Dean, in a desperate, perhaps last attempt, tries to get any kind of reaction from Sam, a reflex, shining into his eye with a flashlight. Heâ€™s not doing it the first time. Iâ€™m sure the policemanâ€™s flashlight that woke Sam on that park bench was also Dean trying to wake him up. And he did. Just not as he planned.
And â€“ there is a reflex, a major one, actually, since Sam canâ€™t deal with the sudden light at first, but a heartbeat later the light in his inner imagination changes, and he is able to see more, to orientate himself a tad more. But, of course, he is not yet able to combine the facets. The light only triggers another reaction in his subconscious and is immensely helpful.
This Samâ€™s senses are sharpened now. He seems to actually feel the presence of danger â€“ his alter ego. Samâ€™s responses are automatic, instinctive â€“ he finds the arsenal in the trunk, chooses the weapons needed. He is astonished, but quite certain about what he is doing, searching the forest where he will be ambushed by his soulless alter ego in an instant.
I am absolutely amazed about what we are given here by this incredible young actor Jared Padalecki. Heâ€™s excellent in scenes like this â€“ playing against himself, finding the other character in so fine nuances that he convinces me to be the cold, soulless guy and the petrified, confused Sammy. Everything is different â€“ body language, look in his eyes, and itâ€™s simply outstanding what he does with his voice. These are two men who donâ€™t have anything in common.
â€˜This is impossible.â€™
â€˜Cold. Try again.â€™
â€˜Warmer. But see â€“ normally youâ€™re awake when youâ€™re tripping balls.â€™
â€˜And someone just won a copy of the home game. Weâ€™re inside your grapefruit, Sam.â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t remember anything.â€™
â€˜Well, your BFF Cas brought the hell wall tumbling down and you, pathetic infant that you are, shattered into pieces. Pieceâ€¦ (points at Sammy) piece (points at himself).â€™
â€˜I have no idea what youâ€™re talking about.â€™
â€˜Why would you. Youâ€™re jello, pal. Unlike me.â€™
â€˜What are you?!â€™
â€˜Iâ€™m not handicapped. Iâ€™m unsaddled with a soul. In fact, I used to skip this meatboat for a while. It was smooth sailing. I was sharp. Strong. That is: till they crammed your soul back in. Now look at you. (â€¦) Thatâ€™s because souls are weak. Theyâ€™re a liability. Now â€“ nothing personal. But, run the numbers: someoneâ€™s gotta take charge around here. Before itâ€™s too late.â€™
This is a confrontation that takes a lot for Sammy to endure. The mercifully oblivious Sam has no idea what the soulless one is talking about, but itâ€™s beginning to dawn on him that he is confronted with a part of himself that will stop at nothing. A ruthless killer, who then aims his pistol at him, indeed ready to kill him.
Nothing to do but get away. Sammy might be without clear memory, but he is not without instinct or ingenuity. He hides, then pulls his wits together and builds a trap for his antagonist. The strong, but at this point not so sharp one (since his hubris of being convinced to be entitled to take charge here weakens his senses) shoots the dummy and is overpowered by Sammy who does something extraordinary: he shoots his adversary in the back. This shot it not meant to wound, no, this bullet is meant to kill.
What was this like, for Sammy â€“ to shoot at himself, in the back? Iâ€™m sure in the short moments since the soulless one told him where they are, what he is, the pieces of this puzzle were beginning to form a picture and clear the clouds in his mind.
Did he think â€“ this evil part of me has to die? There is no room for this cold part of me? We can only speculate here.
â€˜You think Iâ€™m badâ€¦ wait will you meet the other one.â€™
Then, a second later, he experiences what Juan SÃ¡nchez Villa Lobos RamÃrez named the quickening as he instructed Connor MacLeod about what happens when you cut off an immortalâ€™s head. All knowledge, experience, all deeds basically are being absorbed by the man standing. I know, this is not Highlander. I am a fan of the original Highlander movie and the tv series, though, and this scene reminded me wonderfully of that other paranormal storyline.
Sam receives the whole lot of what soulless Sam did. It must come as a thundering storm. Every evil, truly soulless deed, every atrocity, every drop of innocent blood spilled at the hands of his soulless alter egoâ€¦ the unleashed part of every human being. Every man is capable of this, I believe, given the necessary circumstances. There have been tendencies of all that in Sam throughout the seasons. He learned to be more reckless, sometimes considered to actually kill innocents for the sake of the greater good (as in Jus In Bello)â€¦ contemplations taken to the extreme without the moral junction of his soul.
It seems to me as if these scenes have been written particularly for Jared â€“ he is always fantastic in them. Whether he is playing two persons against each other (probably with a stand in while filming) or thrashing about on his cot â€“ Jared brings an intensity to each moment that cuts through me. It is so real. Many times in my professional life I have seen scenes like this â€“ a man caught in a seizure or dissociating, non-responsive. Itâ€™s a scary sight, no matter how experienced one is. Itâ€™s never easy to decide what to do and if thatâ€™s going to be the right thing, much like Dean has no idea whatsoever of what he could or should do. Itâ€™s worse for him, since there is this inseparable emotional bond that ties him to his younger brother. It will get worse still. Luckily, he doesnâ€™t know, yet, how bad it will get.
â€˜Didnâ€™t I tell you to turn back? That you wouldnâ€™t like what you found?â€™
â€˜Iâ€™m sorry. Iâ€™m so sorry.â€™
â€˜Not as sorry as youâ€™re gonna be.â€™
Robin, the ever present connection between Soulless Sam and Sammy did warn him, indeed. But the stubborn man he is wasnâ€™t able to turn back. Something he canâ€™t yet understand drove him onward. He will learn that when all is said and done, itâ€™s the love for his brother that keeps pushing him forward, even at very high a price.
Sometimes we find an extraordinary relationship between an actor and the camera. Finding the essence of the scene and playing it, the lens transforms him, captures the mystery of his craft and allows him to gain access to the audienceâ€™s emotions. Jared has always done that in the most astonishing way and he has learned so much as an actor. He is able to reach out with raw instinct and sophisticated reaction, being genuine and very much alive. Watching him here I see clearly how much he has grown and will continue to grow.
Faith is the bird that feels the light
And sings when the dawn is still dark.
With Dean and Bobby on the verge of utter exhaustion, Balthazar suddenly turns up. Itâ€™s not sitting well with the angel, since he is about to do one of the foulest acts â€“ become a traitor. He gives the two bewildered hunters an address: 221 Piermont Ave, Bootbock Kansas. And, well, they will be in Kansas once more, Toto, though in a non-existing place. The show invented that town to my knowledge.
The address is all they get from the angel turned Judas. Heâ€™s not ready to go any step further, but Balthazar will still pay for his deed, unfortunately.
A few moments later, Dean will leave this address and a pistol at Samâ€™s side. He knows that he has to go, to stop Castiel. What painful irony â€“ they need to stop the angel that so often helped them stop someone else. In a moment like this Dean needs an assignment. He is on the verge of going crazy with worry and guilt.
I think Dean is aware that Sam would want him to go and do what needs to be done, but still it probably takes all strength Dean can muster to leave his unconscious brother, knowing that something awful must be going on inside Sam that causes him to shake, twist, moan in agony. He doesnâ€™t know that he has given Samâ€™s inner turmoil light and courage by simply being there and doing what he did. I can only hope that Sam will be able to tell him one day.
Castiel, being handed his purgatory power shake: half monster, half virgin, knows that Balthazar betrayed him. The way Cas holds himself, Iâ€™m inclined to believe that he already knows of Balthazarâ€™s actions. There is disappointment and some hurtful quality in his face, as he informs Crowley that he renegotiated the terms of their contract. â€˜You get nothing. Not one soul.â€™ Oh, hello, Nero. â€˜You think Iâ€™m turning all that power to the king of hell? Iâ€™m neither stupid nor wicked.â€™ Oh, but you are doing your best to become exactly that.
â€˜You either flee or you die.â€™
â€˜We made a pact. Even I donâ€™t break contracts like this.â€™
â€˜Flee or die.â€™
â€˜Boy, you canâ€™t trust anyone these days.â€™
At this point Iâ€™m reminded that mostly there has been honour among demons. They use to keep their contracts, even when they donâ€™t like them. Mostly. But angels are made of sterner stuff, which will become even more obvious very soon. I donâ€™t like where this is heading. I feel alarmed, shaken. A terrible sense of foreboding is poisoning my mindâ€¦
I deem it quite possible that Sam feels the same way as he enters Bobbyâ€™s deserted house. Furniture covered with sheets to shield them from dust, but there are countless candles burning. Itâ€™s a warm, gentle light, the kind of light that soothes scars and encourages the soul. For me, this is Bobby Singer. If Bobby were light, heâ€™d be a warm fireplace or a long burning candle.
Sam, though, does not feel the kindness of this light, he approaches, tense and bewildered, the battered figure sitting at the kitchen table. The man there is responding slowly, his voice broken, a hush only, rough like sandpaper. And yet it is unmistakeably Samâ€™s voice. Coming from afar.
â€˜So, which one are you?â€™
â€˜Donâ€™t you know? Iâ€™m the one that remembers hell.â€™
He is barely able to get up, his balance unstable, agony all over that beautiful, scarred, tormented face.
â€˜I wish you hadnâ€™t come, Sam.â€™
â€˜I had to. Iâ€™m here, right? Out there in the real world Iâ€™m at Bobbyâ€™s, arenâ€™t I?â€™
â€˜How do you know?â€™
â€˜This whole time I smelled nothing but Old Spice and whiskey. I figured if I could get back here, back to my body, I couldâ€¦ I donâ€™t knowâ€¦ I could snap out of it somehowâ€¦â€™
â€˜But first you have to go through me.â€™
â€˜Humpty Dumpty has to put himself together again before he can wake upâ€¦ And Iâ€™m the last piece.â€™
â€˜Which means: I have to know what you knowâ€¦ What happened in the cageâ€¦â€™
â€˜Trust meâ€¦ You donâ€™t wanna know it.â€™
â€˜Youâ€™re right. But I still have to.â€™
â€˜Sam! You canâ€™t imagine. Stay here. Go back. Find that bartender, go find Jess. But donâ€™t do this. I know you. Youâ€™re not strong enough.â€™
â€˜Weâ€™ll just have to see.â€™
â€˜Why is this so important to you?â€™
â€˜You know me. You know why. Iâ€™m not leaving my brother alone out there.â€™
Yes. Thatâ€™s the truth that keeps Sam going. One of the most beautiful lines Jared ever had to speak, and, to my knowledge, his favourite line ever. Thatâ€™s the essence of Sam Winchester. Itâ€™s also the essence of Dean Winchester. Itâ€™s their connection, their driving force, their faith.
Though this scene is utterly devastating to me and makes me reach for tissues now regularly, it is also one of the most moving and beautiful scenesâ€¦ Sam knows deep in his bones that he probably wonâ€™t be able to handle what he is about to learn. The figure before him was tortured beyond imagination, exposed to the kind of agony only hell can muster. Everyone breaks under torture. Everyone. A patient of mine who had undergone the kind of torture humans make up once said to me in tears â€˜Everyone breaks on the third day.â€™
He doesnâ€™t want to know. He wants to do what the man from hell is advising him to do, as he knows what Sam has kept yearning for all these years: Jess. Sam wants peace. The kindness he felt when Jess was a part of his life. But to find that would mean to stay in this place, disconnected from the real world and abandoning his brother. He has left Dean before. He wonâ€™t do it again.
My own emotions are raging at this point. I want to stop this. I want to find some magical device to step in and make Sam learn about his time in hell without the re-experiencing the pain. I want to apply ointment to his terrible burns and help him forget againâ€¦ Now, Jas, pull yourself together. This is fiction. This is just a tv show. Sorry, Other Jas, then why are we so affected? â€“ Well, because this show has always had the power to reach out to our soul and keep it in a firm grip.
It continues to do so.
Defeated, the tortured Sam hands his counterpart the knife. â€˜Iâ€™m not gonna fight you. But this is your last chanceâ€™, says he, knowing that Sam is not going to change his mind. â€˜Good luck. Youâ€™re gonna need it.â€™
He stabs him with the knife â€“ this is no distance. He feels the blade go into the body of this tortured part of hisâ€¦ how dreadful must that feel? And then taking in all the painâ€¦ Oh, Sammyâ€¦. He is alone. And thatâ€™s very real, too â€“ in real life, we are always alone when it comes to deal with pain. Friends and family can be at our side, hold our hand, tell us that they are there for us, but at the end of the line we have to live through whatever kind of pain on our own. In our bodies. We have to find the strength needed for that within ourselves. Just like Sam.
He will wake up, confused, scared and in pain and try to find some kind of balance on his feet, then get somehow, stumbling and weak, to the Kansas address Dean left for him. The place where another huge showdown is about to take place.
When you canâ€™t make them see the light, make them feel the heat
In a heavily guarded mansion Castiel makes his final step to becoming Heavenâ€™s alpha male. Heaven has never been a democratic place, and Cas is not going to make it one. He rids himself of Balthazar first, the angel who had the audacity to betray him and act it down. I am still hoping that Balthazar isnâ€™t entirely dead. I liked the fellow. I wouldnâ€™t mind to meet him again come season seven.
With Bobby and Dean arriving shortly after the huge blast of light that indicated an angelâ€™s death, I assume they might have seen it. A welcome committee of T-Rex-proportions awaits them, not really paying attention to them, though, but thrashing the Impala about as if it was nothing but a toy. Oh, babyâ€¦ I only hope Dean will not have to spend half of season seven repairing her. She deserves better, this old beloved lady.
I have no words to describe how relieved I am to see both alive, Dean and Bobby. A dark part of my mind has been afraid to lose Bobby along the way.
The demons are only interested in getting their part of the deal that Castiel planned to change. Crowley just wants to re-renegotiate their terms, and he brought support: the archangel Rafael. And here Rafael voices for the first time what it is really about â€“ itâ€™s about becoming the new God. Itâ€™s â€˜Lâ€™Ã©tat câ€™est moiâ€™ all over again. The epitome of absolutism fought for by creatures that were originally designed to follow.
Now, there was a time that Castiel was trapped in a permanent state of infancy, an innocent, really, in the world of scheming and plotting that is very much human and should not be divine. I used to think that Castiel stumbled into the whole thing unaware how quickly he would be corrupted by this immense power in his reach.
Castielâ€™s story reflects Season Four Samâ€™s like a painful echo. His betrayal of loyalty, trust and friendship cuts deeper, though, because he willingly bought into fundamentalist dogma. Youâ€™re either with me or against me. There are no subtle shades, no shades of grey. It very much reflects the way Castielâ€™s whole existence was coloured â€“ there was only black and white. Obey or fall. He never made the experiences a human child makes on his way to adulthood, questioning their parents, deciding what rules to follow and what rules to dismiss. He never knew what it means to make your own decisions until he met the Winchesters and became their ally.
Castiel has been motivated by what he believed to be of utmost importance and the highest ideal, much like those who kill in the name of religion. This path he embarked upon was shut off from the process of thinking it all over. He has fallen victim to a lust for power.
The freedom he gained with his human allies was not safe in his hands. He wasnâ€™t capable of handling it well, as this season of Supernatural shows.
The freedom of free will they fought for is now in danger of being perverted into heavenly fascism by their angelic former partner. It saddens me beyond words.
As Dean and Bobby find a way into the house they donâ€™t prove a threat to the ritual Crowley and Rafael have begun. Even Sam has managed to somehow gather enough strength to get there. Heâ€™s barely able to walk, tormented by yet another flashback from hell. It isnâ€™t the first on his trip here. And it wonâ€™t be the last for a long time, if the show will follow some kind of psychological continuity in regard to Samâ€™s heavy trauma.
â€˜Gate of purgatory closed to us, your light is kept from our eyes. But now we stand at this threshold of the great and lowered gate, reliably bringing you honour, we prepare to open it. Terrible creatures, whose teeth never touched human flesh, open now her gorge to our world. Great door be now opened!â€™ (and I hope my Latin didnâ€™t leave me entirelyâ€¦)
Butâ€¦ nothing happens, and how could it â€“ Castiel exchanged the blood cocktail for useless dog blood. As ineffective as the trick was worthy of the King of Hell, actually. And since neither Crowley nor Rafael made any attempt to listen to Castiel and see the light of his plan, he makes them feel the heat. Only a taste of the power he now calls his own.
Undoubtedly a good pupil to absolute power, he remembers the way Lucifer divested himself of the liability of one rebel angel a while ago and uses the same gory trick to kill Rafael. He will get after Crowley soon enough.
I donâ€™t know who this Cas is anymore. His bearing, even is face is different. We see the quiet tranquillity of a creature completely convinced of his power and his right to that muscle.
â€˜So you see, I saved you.â€™
â€˜Sure did, Cas. Thank you.â€™ Deanâ€™s innate sense of danger commands him to treat lightly here. Their lives depend on it.
â€˜You doubted me. Fought against me. But I was right all along.â€™
â€˜Okay, Cas, you are. Weâ€™re sorry. (you have never been a good liar, sweet hunter) Letâ€™s just defuse you, okay?â€™
â€˜What do you mean?â€™
â€˜Youâ€™re full of nuke. Itâ€™s not safe. So, before the eclipse ends, letâ€™s get those souls back to where they belong.â€™
â€˜Oh, no, they belong with me.â€™
â€˜No, Cas, itâ€™s scrambling your brain (I donâ€™t think itâ€™s a good idea to tell the crazy one that he is crazyâ€¦)â€™
â€˜Oh, Iâ€™m not finished yet. Rafael had many followers and I mustâ€¦ punish them all severely.â€™
â€˜Listen to me: It wasnâ€™tâ€¦ I know thereâ€™s a lot of bad water under the bridge, but we were family once. Iâ€™d have died for you. Almost did a few times. So, if that means anything to youâ€¦ please. Iâ€™ve lost Lisa, Iâ€™ve lost Ben, now Iâ€™ve lost Sam. Donâ€™t make me lose you, too. You donâ€™t need this kind of juice anymore, Cas! Get rid of it before it kills us all!â€™
His words donâ€™t even reach Castiel. â€˜Youâ€™re just saying that because I wantâ€¦ Because youâ€™re afraid.â€™ Actually, Cas, he is saying that to buy Sam more time to stab you with an angel blade. â€˜Youâ€™re not my family. I have no family.â€™
No, Cas. You did have a family. Not the one that comes from a connection via blood, but one established through mutual love, suffering, fight and survival. The kind of family that canâ€™t be bought. Itâ€™s given. Itâ€™s earned. Now, Castiel, you throw it all back into the faces of those that truly loved you.
Unfortunately, Samâ€™s weak attempt to kill Castiel bears no fruit. He is not an angel anymore. He canâ€™t be killed. Not by that blade, that is.
â€˜Iâ€™m your new God. A better one. So you will bow down and profess your love onto me, your Lord. Or I shall destroy you.â€™
A better one? Pleaseâ€¦ How can a vengeful, absolute, cruel, selfish, belligerent, jealous God be a better one? Itâ€™s barbaric bronze age, Castiel, dear. I doubt that our Winchester clan will bow down. They havenâ€™t done so in the past, and I canâ€™t imagine them doing it now when the story is far more personal than it used to be.
The angel we fell in love with over the last seasons is gone. But for me, there is still hope. I wonâ€™t be among the followers of this â€˜Godâ€™. But I will be among those trying to safe him from the power that corrupted him.
The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation
Is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.
I have no idea where they will go with this still unfinished story in the upcoming season. The wait is already killing meâ€¦
But I expect the actors to continue their amazing performances. This episode, again, was a joy to watch. Jared Padalecki excels in those scenes when he is given the opportunity to give Sam more shades and obviously revels in doing so, and Jensen Ackles with his moving, understated style in his reactions to his co-stars took my breath away once more. This episode, much as the ones before, was a promise of acting quality that will â€“ undoubtedly â€“ be fulfilled in the upcoming season. I expect nothing less of this kind of talent.
What happened to Sam - built on his experiences in hell - was something very much alike to what people who suffer from multiple personality disorder describe (today named dissociative identity disorder). The human psyche is an economically working entity. It establishes defence mechanisms against traumatic events. The classic and most popular mechanism is simple avoidance - trying to stay away from potentially threatening surroundings or people. That is a conscious decision mostly, though.
Other mechanisms include non-conscious elements like dissociation which is characterized by a disruption of a personâ€™s cognizant functioning. This allows the mind to distance itself from experiences too terrible to bear at a certain time. This symptom is part of an instinctive survival strategy, creating states of arousal or numbing. Dissociative moments occur unexpectedly (triggered by an element connected to or as an echo of dealing with the trauma) and patients describe that as disturbing. They lose control, much like they lost control during their traumatic experiences, and need time to understand that dissociation serves as a shield against the most horrific memories at times.
This was/is happening to Sam, it seems.
Now, how can someone lucky enough never to experience something so dreadful understand what this is like? Most of us have had their rather harmless encounter with that occurrence. People get into situations of extreme character - the sudden snap of anger that makes you break something, driving home in a kind of autopilot-state without remembering that you actually did the driving, excessive sexual experience, a crying fitâ€¦ These are moments you might wonder â€˜Who is this person, acting like this? Is this really me? No, I couldnâ€™t do that!â€™, but you also might not remember any of those moments at all.
So, in a non-pathological way each of us possesses the ability to become a multiple personality and be capable of dissociating - our psyche enables us to separate emotions and/or behaviour from our conscious knowledge. We sometimes repress or split them off and donâ€™t remember (and that happens unconsciously).
But we are not a so-called multiple personality, though we often know about our various roles: family persona, work persona, circle-of-friends persona â€“ a phenomenon psychologists call a patchwork identity. For most of us, the different parts are linked; we know that all these parts are a part of our self, activated in their respective environments. Very rarely a person is the very same person at home and at work. There are differences, sometimes only slight, sometimes big, between these two personas. But we know about it.
A multiple personality, though, is not aware of these links, the patches are, indeed, split off, with one part taking charge over the behaviour of the affected person - in Samâ€™s case the battle for dominance was fought out inside his mind, much like it can happen in a multiple personalityâ€™s mind, and Soulless Sam felt entitled to supremacy.
Caused by Samâ€™s horrific experiences in hell (the moment his subconscious had access to them when Cas brought the wall down), his soul split up. He became Soulless Sam, a powerful, dissocial, sharp, remorseless creature, Samâ€™s Mr Hyde.
Another part was Innocent Sam (as I like to call him), the one roaming about in a state of amnesia, unaware of what had happened to him and the agony he has been through.
And the third part was Tormented Sam who lost all innocence in the fires of hell. This one had to be repressed at all costs, because he hell experience was probably more than Sam would have been able to handle. Therefore he was the last part to be re-integrated into the whole that is Sam Winchester.
In terms of this seasonâ€™s storyline, we learned that every part of Sam was able to function as a separate individual â€“ without his soul, Sam was the epitome of a cunning, fast, reckless hunter. With his soul returned to him, he was an even better hunter because animal instinct is not all he needed. Without empathy he was only half as effective. But still he was not whole. To be the Sam we love and the Sam loved and respected by his close circle, he needed to be re-united with the part that suffered. Only then he is able to be stronger (and not abandon his brother) â€“ if he survives the echoes of the pain that will lash at him in dreadful flashbacks.
Now - as a trauma therapist I face a problem here: one of the criteria of diagnosing a multiple personality is: the disorder begins in childhood (as any other personality disorder does), on the grounds of heavy, mostly severe physical abuse, as a child. In regard to Sam, this is not the case.
This is where Supernatural takes creative license, but within psychological possibilities. The show combines elements of a multiple personality with symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. And, boy, they do it well!
People that have been exposed to a long time of repeated heavy traumatisation (as in war, genocide, repeated torture, repeated natural desasters, long-term child abuse, etc) often appear to be different. Almost a different person reacting in utter contrast to what they are known to be. Even changing in a way that you could easily believe their personality was split in more than one. And yet itâ€™s not a multiple personality. But changing is a part of the process when the experienced atrocities are to be integrated into the personâ€™s life and understanding.
Itâ€™s too early to say at this point what will happen to Sam after all three entities of him were reunited. I trust (and hope) that season seven will deal with this, and then I surely will delve into Samâ€™s psyche another time with another article based on Supernaturalâ€™s â€˜factsâ€™. It is safe to say, though, that Sam will not emerge from this ordeal unscathed.
Dean is still suffering from symptoms of PTSD, and he has had some time to adjust and less time in hell to digest. Still he is not his old self, he has changed â€“ and I salute the writers for keeping the psychological continuity here. Dean still shows the scars his soul has taken down there.
With Sam it canâ€™t be different. I could imagine him becoming someone else, within his emotional range, perhaps indeed split into different personalities - even though in real life, according to research, that wouldnâ€™t be possible.
The time that comes now for the Winchesters and their friends will be a dark one. In many ways I have thought it canâ€™t get any darkerâ€¦ but I also believe the writers will dig extra deep into jet black colour.
Sam will be trapped in the darkness of the horrors he faced, and Dean will be enveloped in the kind of darkness that takes possession of you when a loved one suffers and you canâ€™t help him.
But I am also absolutely certain (and full of hope) that they will find the light needed to lead them out of the mazeâ€¦ It happened in this episode, too. Deanâ€™s flashlight reached Sam in his dissociative state, helped him find his way. As Sam took in the identity of the Soulless Sam and Tormented Sam, it was done with blazing light, not scarring darkness. In the end, family was all that mattered. Love was all that mattered. Love with the faces of sacrifice, loss, endurance, reaching lost ones even in their darkest hour, because somehow stillâ€¦ there was light.