This Isn’t About You: Sam in Something Wicked
The title of this meta is a line that Dean says to Sam, but I also think it’s true of the episode in general. Something Wicked
focuses on Dean, so Sam has a lot of little peripheral roles throughout the episode.
At the beginning of the episode, Sam is the Snarky Guy. He’s complaining about John sending them coordinates and making comments about how unlikely it is that John would show up. As the case develops, Sam is also the Idea Guy. He notices the lack of kids on the playground, which leads to the discovery that several area children were sick with pneumonia. It’s his idea to check out the most recent victim’s house while the family is at the hospital.
[Actor meta note: I love, love the slip-through of Jared’s accent when he says, “You were riiiiiight,” to Dean. So cute. Anyway.]
The flashbacks in this episode gave us some great insight into what Dean and Sam were like as boys, but like the episode in general the flashbacks were more focused on Dean. In the first flashback, we saw Sammy only as a little kid who looked extremely spaced out on cartoons while John made sure Dean knew his responsibilities.
In the second flashback, we learned more about Sammy. Interacting with his big brother, he was rather demanding, asking pointed questions and artfully manipulating Dean with his puppy face. On the other hand, he was also very sweet when he offered Dean the prize from the cereal box. In that scene, it felt to me like he loved his brother a lot, and that he knew Dean would do anything for him.
In the third flashback, Sammy was just sleepy and confused, after the shtriga attack. However, it’s interesting that he doesn’t remember the incident at all. He was old enough there--five or six probably--that I would think he might remember the shock of being woken up by his dad, John yelling at Dean, them taking off in the middle of the night. Throughout the episode, Sam claims to have no memory of the events, and I believe him, but it also makes me curious.Something Wicked
holds several revelations for Sam. The first surprise for him was learning that the shtriga had gotten away from John in the past. He asked Dean, “Why is it still breathing air?” He was clearly shocked that John had failed, and from that point on he seemed very suspicious of what Dean might be hiding from him.
He was paying close attention to Dean when Dean interacted with Michael. He clearly knew that there was a lot going on with the shtriga case for Dean, and it frustrated him not to have all the details. Nonetheless, he was making an effort to be gentle with Dean, and he tried to help Dean see that he hadn’t been responsible for Sam’s near-miss with the shtriga. When Dean told Michael that he would do anything for his little brother, Sam quirked a little smile and looked really touched.
As the episode wrapped up, Sam and Dean discussed the recent and past events in a manner that was surprisingly open and sincere. Sam apologized for giving Dean a hard time about following Dad’s orders, since he had apparently realized why Dean was so deeply driven to do what John told him to do. Sam also told Dean that he was sorry that Michael had to know about evil things like shtrigas and that he wished he’d never had to learn about them either--that he “could have that kind of innocence.”
At first glance, this felt selfish to me, like he wished he could have been untouched by evil, but that he didn’t seem to have much concern for Dean. On further analysis, I think that in expressing concern for Michael, who was presented as so much of a reflection of young Dean, Sam was talking about Dean in a way that Dean wouldn’t brush off.
As Sam moved through his roles in Something Wicked
--Snarky Guy, Exposition Guy, Idea Guy, Little Guy--he always came back to being Concerned Brother Guy, very often focusing his thoughts and his gaze on Dean.