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Supernatural is truth
Carry On, My Wayward Son: Sam in “Salvation” 
24th-Sep-2006 05:16 pm
Jensen It's okay
Wayward Son: Sam in “Salvation”

I find it telling that the montage to “Carry On, My Wayward Son,” finishes with Sam’s determinedly uttered, “Yes, sir.” John Winchester's wayward son is temporarily back in the fold.



In the opening scene John is briefing the boys. Dean questions while Sam stands back and listens. “I was six months old that night?” he asks, at one point. Interesting that he hasn’t made that connection before. However, he shortly concludes that his mother and Jessica were killed because of him, and starts to react to that. Dean has to reassure him that it’s ‘not your problem, it’s OUR problem,” which pacifies him, at least temporarily.

You can see the tension in Sam – he’s still listening, but he’s strung out. The news that the signs of the Demon’s coming were going on in Palo Alto a week before Jessica died does little to relax him. He’s the one that asks where the next advent will be, and it’s plain that he’s invested in the destruction of the demon.

Sam’s reaction to the news of Pastor Jim’s death is tellingly greater than Dean’s. He’s almost hyperventilating in the background as Dean asks about the circumstances, leaning against the car looking totally devastated. One assumes that Pastor Jim took care of Sam rather more than Dean when he was a wee one and that the blow is greater, although we know how Dean shows emotion, don’t we? He seems to have lost his analytical abilities as he tries to deal with the shock. John tells them they need to check all the kids coming up to six months old to find the right one, and Sam says, “How?” as if he’s completely clueless, and admits he doesn’t have a better idea than checking them out individually. He looks and sounds defeated here.

He seems to have recovered a little when we next see him. He’s researching, back in his comfort zone, and gives the librarian a grateful smile as she brings him the materials he needs. It’s as he’s emerging from the hospital that he begins to have a vision. The visions obviously are accompanied by a good deal of pain, and they confuse him enough that he’s unable to move. When it passes, he’s seen enough to have found the location of the next victim. Identifying that on a map, we see him head in that direction. A few minutes later, with the vision happening intermittently still, he’s found the house, and sees the mom and baby coming down the street. It’s raining, and he’s getting wet, but he’s too focused to care about it. You can see him wondering what the heck he can do right now, and he dives in without apparent thought, proving that Dean isn’t the only impulsive Winchester by any means.

He holds the handle of the buggy while the baby’s mom folds her umbrella away, and introduces himself as someone who has just moved in. “She’s gorgeous; is she yours?” he gushes, and then, “Well, hi,” to Rosie, the baby, who is suitably underwhelmed by this creepy, twenty-something man that apparently notices babies!

[Actor meta note: I’ve often wondered if those lines gave Jared trouble.]

Introductions continue. Monica is the mom’s name. Sam observes in tones of wonder that Rosie is “Such a good baby.” That would seem to be enough to warm Monica to him, and she begins confiding to him that Rosie never cries, just stares at everybody and that sometimes it seems as if she’s reading your mind. (There’s an implication here that the children targeted by the demon are special in some way, before the Demon does his thing.)

Sam carries on his probing. “What about you, Monica? Have you lived here long?” Monica happily divulges that they moved in just before the birth of the baby, and that Rosie is six months today. Sam looks horrified. She babbles on for a moment and then catches the vibe. Sam is starting to try and tell her something, while she looks on confused. He evidently searches for words that won’t come, and ends up telling her to, “Just take care of yourself, okay.” Monica still seems a little confused as he takes his leave. As Sam watches them greet Daddy, who has just returned home, the vision strikes him again.

When we next see Sam, he’s back in the hotel room with dad and Dean, and telling John about the visions he has. It looks as though he’s still having one as the scene begins. He seems a little shocked as John asks when they were going to tell him about the visions. He’s still a little out of it, and it’s Dean who blasts John for his words. Sam doesn’t take part in Dean’s outburst, indeed he makes an attempt to head off a possible battle of wills between Dean and dad. “Look guys, visions or no visions, we know this thing is going to happen tonight, and this family is going to go through the same hell that we went through.” At this point he appears calm, reasonable and not particularly affected by the mini-squabble.

When Sam’s phone rings, and it’s Meg, Sam doesn’t quite realize who it is at first, unsurprisingly, since they left her for dead. Sam expresses surprise when he finally identifies her. “Just your feelings? That was a seven story drop.”

Meg wants to speak to John. Sam says he doesn’t know where he is, but then as John approaches him, he hands the phone over, looking mildly sick. He looks utterly astonished when John, who has just listened while she killed Caleb, says he’ll give her the colt. Later, when John has told them what happened, Sam puts two and two together. “So you think Meg is a demon?”

John says they need to go to Lincoln to meet her. Sam remonstrates. “Dad, the demon is coming tonight, for Monica and her family.” He’s met Monica and Rosie, and his thoughts are obviously with them; they’re real to him in a way that they aren’t to John and Dean. It suddenly dawns on Sam, when John says he wants to buy a little time that he and Dean will get to go up against the demon alone. “You want us to stay here and kill this demon by ourselves.” He seems a little overwhelmed at that thought.

He’s silent when John is ready to take off to Lincoln alone with the fake Colt. When Dean is telling John that he’s, “No good to them dead” Sam’s face tells it all. He’s scared for John, but you can see that he’s determined he and Dean will finish the fight, and he tells John, “We’ll see you soon, Dad,” he murmurs, but his face tells us that he doesn’t believe it.

Sitting in the car, watching outside the house, Sam suggests that they tell Monica and family that there’s a gas leak, and when Dean asks him how often that’s worked, he suggests tentatively as an alternative that they could always tell them the truth. There’s a beat, and then they both agree that’s a dumb idea. He frets about what’s going to happen, frets about what could be happening to his father, and is increasingly nervous, while Dean is his usual, laconic self. It’s a telling scene, beautifully understated by both actors, showing us how each of the Winchester boys deals with nerves.

“This is weird. After all these years, we’re finally here. Doesn’t seem real.” As showtime gets closer, Sam begins to get fired up with enthusiasm. As he says, “Yeah, but this isn’t like always,” he smiles in a “bring it on,’ sort of way. He starts to thank Dean - “You’ve always had my back. Even when I couldn’t count on anyone, I could always count on you,” and the way he does it makes one think that he really doesn’t expect to survive. Dean can’t handle the idea that they might fail and takes him to task. Sam looks slightly relieved as he hears the familiar protestation from Dean, of, “Nobody’s dying tonight.” It’s as if when big brother says it, it’s got to be true.

They attempt to call John, and Sam tries to find reasons why he isn’t answering. “Maybe Meg was late. Maybe cell reception’s bad.” He’s the first to notice that the demon is coming, and he’s visibly scared as they leap out of the car. Inside, the man of the house attacks them, and Sam tries to reason with him. “Mr. Holt, please…” Dean takes the man as Sam high-tails it up the stairs. Monica is already on her way up the wall as Sam confronts the demon. He shoots it, but it seems to dissolve before the bullet hits it. Sam gets Monica out, while Dean grabs Rosie.

As they’re watching the house burn, Sam sees the demon in the flames and tries to go back. “It’s still in there.” Dean stops him, and tells him it’s suicide. Sam says he doesn’t care and Dean tells him, “I do.” Once again, Big Brother’s words ground him.

In the hotel room later, Sam is still brooding, sitting sullenly as Dean tries to call John. “If you had just let me go in there. I could’ve ended all this” “The only thing you would’ve ended is your life.” “You don’t know that.” “So what? You’re just willing to sacrifice yourself, is that it?” “Yeah. Yeah, you’re damned right I am.” “Yeah, well that’s not going to happen. Not as long as I’m around.” “What the hell are you talking about, Dean? We’ve been searching for this demon our whole lives. It’s the only thing we’ve ever cared about.”

He’s incredulous when Dean says it’s not worth dying over. “That thing killed Jess. That thing killed Mom” When Dean gives him back his own words. “They’re gone and they’re never coming back,” Sam breaks, and there is a reverse of the scene in the pilot, with Sam throwing Dean up against the wall and getting into his face. “After all this, don’t you say that!”

This scene is so compelling, even though Sam doesn’t say anything further. His emotions are written on his face – he appears somehow relieved that Dean has broken, even though he can’t bear to hear it. It’s as if he had to verify that Dean actually cared. He strokes Dean, tries to soothe him as he resonates with Dean’s pain.

Once he’s verified that Dean does still care, he’s able to think about other things again, and Dad’s predicament is given some attention.

All through the episode we see that Sam depends on Dean for reassurance rather than on his father, and that when Dean isn’t showing emotion Sam is uncomfortable. At the climax of the show he goads Dean until he breaks, and it’s only then that he’s able to settle himself and carry on.

We see throughout the episode that Sam is still apparently testing things out, most especially the bonds between himself and Dean. He’s growing up – and the last scene as he pushed Dean into his breakdown let me see just how much Sam loves his brother. His impotence and his love both shine through. We can also see that he's impulsive and hot headed.

Comments 
25th-Sep-2006 01:00 pm (UTC)
“I was six months old that night?” he asks, at one point. Interesting that he hasn’t made that connection before.

Because it`s not like demons are big on numerology or something like that. Or you`re researching this for 20 years now. The Winchesters, master investigators. *headdesk*

then, “Well, hi,” to Rosie, the baby, who is suitably underwhelmed by this creepy, twenty-something man that apparently notices babies!

*g* That was one of this Come on incidents where normally the young mother would have run home screaming and bolted the doors shut instead of spilling her life story to some random creepy stranger.

All through the episode we see that Sam depends on Dean for reassurance rather than on his father, and that when Dean isn’t showing emotion Sam is uncomfortable. At the climax of the show he goads Dean until he breaks, and it’s only then that he’s able to settle himself and carry on.

Very interesting point. He wants reassurance but the perceived aloofness is too much for him.
25th-Sep-2006 04:44 pm (UTC)
There are other things about Salvation that jarred with me, but I think that Sam not knowing he was six months old on *the* night was the worst, especially after Max, and the opportunities to know that which came up in Nightmare.

I would certainly be wary of an apparent college boy type showing that kind of interest in my baby. I realize that the show is only an hour long, so they have to hustle to get it done, but no. Sam Winchester, baby lover, didn't ring true.

Sam seeking reassurance from Dean as if he were his father did though, bigtime!
25th-Sep-2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
There are other things about Salvation that jarred with me, but I think that Sam not knowing he was six months old on *the* night was the worst, especially after Max, and the opportunities to know that which came up in Nightmare.

Exactly. Even if the fact that Sam had been six months old didn`t mean anything to the Winchesters at first, it still should have been something they all knew and had filed away at the backs of their minds.

Then Jess died exactly 22 years and it would have been the time for Sam to revisit the night of Mary`s birthday under every possible angle. When he didn`t even know Dean had carried him out, I gave up. Do these people never talk? And of course there was Max, whom they should have investigated like crazy.
Gotta say I was underwhelmed here.

Sam Winchester, baby lover, didn't ring true.

I thought he came off a creepy as Dean did to the couple in Scarecrow there. And then imagine the mother seeing this suspicious car parked in front of her house with apparently the weird dude from earlier in it. In a normal world they would have so gotten the police called on their asses.

Sam seeking reassurance from Dean as if he were his father did though, bigtime!

Aww, the wall-slam role reversal and the "I could always count on you" car speech, coupled with Dean keeping him from kamikaze his ass, that alone made the episode worth it.
25th-Sep-2006 04:36 pm (UTC)
I also seemed to noticed the reaction from Sam but it also seemed to tell the family more. There seemed to be a certain unsureness in both John and Sam. (to me telling how much more they are alike) When John made his announcement about the death of Pastor Jim, the look upon Sam's face was hurt but also seemed to be one of fear? If you want to call it that. Or more like a realization that these Demons are not bound to regular religious boundries like others. Able to walk onto holy ground.

Though I find it rather odd that, one, John was able to burn the two demons with holy water. Two that Meg was able to be trapped with that 'demon roach motel' on Bobby's ceiling. And at the end of the season finally, the Demon makes a comment to Dean, "What are and God gonna do? and another, "Do you really think something like that would effect something like me? Another telling sign but also a bit of inconsistancy on the writers part to me.

As I would take it, it would be kind of like Dracula? His children would have more weaknesses and bound to be effected more than he. Like making copies, the more you make, the lesser the quality.

I also think with the death of Pastor Jim, it shook some of the faith in the family. If you read on exorsisms, in order for it work, you must have strong faith, belief. It appears John does have that strong faith in God, clearly from being physically shaken on Jim's death. I don't think Dean does and Sam does seem to have that faith.

But what I do know, Dean does seem to be the grounding factor in this family. He is the one that seems to think more clearly. And if you notice, he does use the same line that Luthor the vampire did as well about revenge.
25th-Sep-2006 04:52 pm (UTC)
I take your point as far as the likeness between Sam and John is concerned. They both show their emotions in a similar way at any rate, although you could argue that they have both lost their women to the same cause and therefore have more in common than Dean.

Certainly there has been a constant trend so far when there's an exorcism to be performed that Sam gets to do it. I wonder if that will continue into Season 2, or if there will be an opportunity for Dean to show his faith. Dean has to have some belief system - he was healed by a faith healer for heaven's sake. He's seen the grim reaper up close and personal. He does tell Layla that he will pray for her even though he doesn't pray much. I get the feeling that Dean believes, but he doesn't trust, if you see my distinction.

The "does holy stuff work or does it not" thing definitely deserves to be discussed and examined further. To me, the holy water shouldn't have worked on Meg and her associate. It certainly didn't work on John in Devil's Trap later.
25th-Sep-2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
I have to say, John and Sam are alike in some ways but not a whole lot. I think both sons have qualities that are shared. Just depends how you look at it.

I think at the time, Dean really didn't have too much faith. He might have believed in God, but he has seen what evil has done to good people. And it makes him question, where was God then to protect them? (I also think that is why Sam does all the reading of spells, because most of those spells only truly work if you have strong faith.)

After Sam tells Dean he thinks it's time to have a little faith, Dean says he believes in reality. Knows what is really going on. Sam asks him how he can be a skeptic after what the see everyday and Dean says that is it, they see them, they know they are real. And Sam goes on saying they know Evil is out there but so is Good. How could he not believe that. And Dean says, he sees what Evil does to good people. Dean believes what he can see and touch mostly. It isn't till the end of the ep that we see a realization wash over him.

At the end of the ep, Layla talks to Dean. He sees the faith she has, even when miricles don't happen. Dean tells her, he is not much of a praying type, but he would pray for her. I think that was the turning point for Dean. He saw something in Layla, something more in her faith than just using it to fight off evil, which is pretty much mostly what that family has been using it for. He saw in her that she was believeing something good came out of it even if that miricle didn't happen. It was in a way, seeming to say, 'I might have not gotten healed but it helped heal you... and not just physically.'

As I said before, perhaps, like copies, the children of the demon are more pron to have problems with holy stuff where he, himself, is not. Which makes me wonder, was he the "First" Demon, or one of the firsts, in other words, a fallen Angel. Satin? Or another since there are several. One has to question those things. Would kind of suck if it just turned out to be Satin, because everyone uses that and there are so many other beliefs out there to pull from.
19th-Mar-2007 11:05 am (UTC)
anteka and I have decided to put a collection of metas, essays and other fandom related projects that explore the world of Supernatural in detail. The book will be available in either a print-it-yourself .pdf format or a bound book available at-cost from Cafe Press.

I particularly loved this meta of yours so I thought I’d ask you if you’d like to be involved in this project. You might like to put forward this meta, or some others or write a new one. Or even rec someone else!

We are accepting up to 3 submissions per person. At this point we just need you to put forward links to the essays you would be interested in being considered for the collection by 31st March. If accepted we’ll get back to you and give you time to edit/polish the piece.

There is a sticky post at the top of my LJ with the submission guidelines, but feel free to email or comment with any questions you have.
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