?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Heavy Meta Poisoning
Supernatural is truth
Sam in Scarecrow: How the hell would you know how I feel? 
23rd-Oct-2006 08:50 am
myboys

Sam in Scarecrow: How the hell would you know how I feel?


A retro-meta as I finish my pinch hitter duties from Season One.

Consider Sam. Yeah, you know him pretty well but I just want you to reflect on the place Sam was in at the beginning of Scarecrow. It’s April 2006, 6 months after Jess’ death.

 

Sam’s had his life and his lover ripped from him, he’s dealing with grief and guilt while hunting evil and trying to find his father who may be the only way for him to take vengeance on Jess’ killer.

 

At the beginning of Scarecrow, which follows on directly from the events of Asylum, John Winchester calls. Sam answers Dean’s phone and, for the first time in possibly four and a half years speaks to his father. It starts with each reassuring the other that they’re okay, although Sam’s answering we’re fine indicates he is not really interested in small talk – I mean remember yesterday Sam with you and the shooting and insulting of your brother?

 

And, after everything, what does Sam get from John? Exactly what he always has – the opposite of what he wants. Sam wants to find John and the demon. While finding John was initially a means to finding Jess’ killer as time has gone by, and Sam has learned more about his father and importantly the love and pride John has in him, finding John has also become about Sam wanting to re-establish this important relationship. And John shuts him down – telling Sam that he shouldn’t look for him or and that he can’t help fight the demon.

 

Is it any wonder that a crisis is precipitated? (and of course it is poor Dean who is there to bear the brunt of it and not John). As the brothers proceed on the John-initiated mission, Sam decides enough is enough – he is going to pursue what he wants and he tries to explain his need for vengeance to Dean.

 

Dean: Alright, look, I know how you feel.

Sam: Do you? How old were you when Mom died? Four? Jess died six months ago. How the hell would you know how I feel?

 

I think we learn two things from this accusation. Firstly Sam feels neither Dean nor his father is really acknowledging his feelings. I also think this gives us an even further insight into the boys’ childhood. We know that growing up Sam had a difficult relationship with his father - he felt he couldn’t please John, and that John didn’t accept him for who he was. He also saw Dean as being the ‘perfect’ son (as he says in Bugs). I imagine he felt even more separate from John and Dean because they shared memories of Mary – they could share their grief in a way Sam never could. Interestingly we see this swing around when John and Sam unite in Dead Man’s Blood, when they acknowledge what they now have in common, grief over having lost the women they love.

 

I also want to mention Dean’s statement to Sam:

You’re a selfish bastard, you know that? You just do whatever you want. Don’t care what anybody thinks.

Is Sam selfish? Well he is doing what he wants, but I would challenge that this is inherently a bad thing. Acting in our own self-interest (which we all do), need not mean we don’t care for others, or that we are mean-spirited in some way. I think this statement says more about Dean. He reveals to Sam in their later conversation when he says You stand up to Dad, and you always have. Hell, I wish I…Anyway - I admire that about you.  Part of Dean struggles with his obedience to his father, part of him want to follow his own desires. This conflict causes him to hate the part of Sam that is able to do what he can’t.

 

At this point I don’t think Sam is leaving Dean per se, his grief makes him feel powerless and he needs to act. Pursuing John (and the demon) seems like something active to do.

 

After leaving Dean, we have Sam encountering Meg. Remember how isolated and vulnerable Sam is at this point – having left his brother and heading towards a father who doesn’t want to be found. Her strategy with Sam is clever – firstly reject him (you could be some kind of freak) and then later bond with him over the pretence of shared family experiences. But even this is not enough to win Sam over and this is not the last time the Demon will underestimate the fierce bonds in this family.

 

When we next see Sam and Dean speak on the phone, we don’t know who initiated the call. Does it matter who did? We have seen both of them contemplating calling the other. I think the important point is the: one of them called and the other one answered. A significant change from what kept them apart for four years - their relationship is different now than it was then.

 

However Sam does not freely offer help but says “if you’re hinting you need my help, just ask.” This moment is echoed later in Shadows when it is John, not Sam, who makes the move to apologise and embrace Sam. This seems important, although I’m not exactly sure how. It says to me something about Sam seeing himself as the aggrieved party and wanting/needing his family to be the ones who make the first move to make things better.

 

We then have Dean giving Sam something Sam says he wants, when he lets Sam go with his blessing “You’ve got to do your own thing. You’ve got to live your own life.” and “You’ve always known what you want and you go after it. You stand up to Dad, and you always have. Hell, I wish I…Anyway - I admire that about you. I’m proud of you, Sammy.”

 

*sniffle* What an awesome big brother.

 

Sam’s reaction is telling: “I don’t even know what to say.” I don’t think he can actually take in what Dean is saying, what Dean is giving him. This is confirmed for me when Meg asks what Dean was saying and Sam sums it up as “Goodbye”.

 

As I have discussed in my meta on Sam in Shadows, I think Sam wants to be with his family more than he can admit to himself. When he left for Stanford, he cut of all contact because he feared any contact would lure him back.

 

Here, he can’t admit how much he wants to stay, Sam wants them to fight to keep him, he doesn’t want them to let him go. So while Dean gives Sam what he thinks Sam wants (You’ve got to do your own thing) what I think Sam really wants Dean to say is “don’t go Sammy” or “I’ll come with you Sammy”. And when this doesn’t occur, Sam goes to find Dean.

 

And after finding Dean, Sam decides to stay with him:

 

“I still want to find Dad. And you’re still a pain in the ass. But Jess and Mom—they’re both gone. Dad is god knows where. You and me; we’re all that’s left. So, if we’re going to see this through, we’re going to do it together.”

 

This episode is important in the arc of Season One. Hunting with Dean has been incidental to finding John and the demon. If Sam’s desire for vengeance was to remain a strong, motivating emotion for Sam later in the season, he needed to make a choice about how things were going to go forward. Otherwise it would be unbelievable for him to continue tagging along with Dean, with John nowhere in sight, as the season progressed.

 

But it also signals an important shift in familial relationships. Four years ago Sam left – he didn’t need (or thought he didn’t need) John or Dean. Now Sam is admitting to himself that he does.  At least for now. 



Comments 
23rd-Oct-2006 09:15 am (UTC)
Anonymous
oooh, yes. That's some really interesting stuff that I'd never thought of before & I agree with you totally.

This?

However Sam does not freely offer help but says “if you’re hinting you need my help, just ask.” This moment is echoed later in Shadows when it is John, not Sam, who makes the move to apologise and embrace Sam

I agree, I thought this was significant too because the way I saw it, Sam's holding back in both these cases. He's standing still and waiting for Dean and John to come to him first, instead of him going to them, thereby tipping the scales to a more even balance of power (at least in his eyes). Like a validation that Dean and John do need him, and do want to include him in their John-Dean partnership.
23rd-Oct-2006 09:16 am (UTC)
this is me, btw. Hi! *waves madly*
23rd-Oct-2006 09:37 am (UTC)
*waves back*

mmm I orginally wrote it to say that Sam sees himself as a bit of a "victim" in the family dynamics, but took it out coz I think its a bit harsh. But i like your expression of it as a tip in the power balance. *nods*
23rd-Oct-2006 09:26 am (UTC)
Very nice. Quite sensible thoughts, I think. I don't really have anything all that intriguing to add.

One thing, though. I think your comments on why Sam is pulling away are reasonable (he can't admit that he needs them), but I also think it has a lot to do with just being stifled. His whole childhood was spent largely without choice aobut his life, years and years veritably spent backed into a corner. I think part of the reason he lashes out against Dean is because he feels like Dean is just one more person who, like John in the past, is trying to keep him caged. So, when Dean basically says that he'll still support Sam whether he chooses a different path or not is a signal to Sam that his brother respects his right to have choices, even when they don't agree on what it is that he should choose.

Am I making sense?
23rd-Oct-2006 09:41 am (UTC)
yes I agree - i think that's why Sam cut off all contact for so long. He did see the family as a "trap" and saw both John and Dean as able to capture and keep him captive (to beat the metaphor to death!).

And I think his conflict is that dark (well dark to Sam) part of him that wants to be 'captured', wants to never leave them.

(ps have been away and haven't seen TW yet - when I do I'll be over for some squee)
23rd-Oct-2006 09:48 am (UTC)
GAH! Some dark part of Sam wants to be captured?! My brain? Is totally in the gutter! I'm like Kinkee Galore over here! Why do you say these things, MJ? Now I've got kinky Wincest on the brain! GAH!

Oh, and yes. You must come over for TW squee when you see the show. And I'm pretty sure you're gonna squee. I squeed so hard there were tears. Seriously. It was that glorious. *squees just thinking about it* I'm already mourning it's end and it only just started! *squees myself to sleep at night*
23rd-Oct-2006 10:35 am (UTC)
Oh you so ARE Kinkee Galore! And I am Madam J mistress of kinky Wincest *g*
think I Sam and this fandom needs to embrace Sam's inner sub. (or take a good flogging)
23rd-Oct-2006 11:21 am (UTC)
What's even more funny about all this is that I totally have a WIP set where's Sam's a hardcore dominant. *sigh* Now I need to put a whole knew kink!verse on mt to do list. ;)
23rd-Oct-2006 10:31 am (UTC)
Nice meta! It was a great way to start a Monday. :)

Something about S1 that always bothered me was the fact that, most times when they addressed Sam's independence as it relates to Jessica's death and his quest for vengeance, they smacked it down via Dean as "selfish" or implied as much. They did that as early as Wendigo and Dead In The Water, which grated on my nerves something fierce and didn't do Sam (or Dean) any favors. (Contrast this to how S2 is handling grief, and my god, it's a completely different level of writing.) Final straw was their brainless argument in Devil's Trap, where Dean accused Sam of being selfish, and Sam said Dean was the one who brought him back to hunt the Demon. Let's hope they don't retread the "selfish" tag in S2. Looks like they won't.

Here, he can’t admit how much he wants to stay, Sam wants them to fight to keep him, he doesn’t want them to let him go.

That's a great point. He's certainly just as staunchly by-your-side as Dean is when his family welcomes him back in. I'm not sure how fully Dean had welcomed him back up until this point, in the sense of feeling secure that Sam wants to be back. They each presumably give the other what he needs to feel accepted as a part of his life, but they're still crossing signals. I think, if Dean had gone after him, it might have been what Sam wanted, but it would have pushed them apart even more so than they were, because of what effect that would have had on Dean.
23rd-Oct-2006 10:42 am (UTC)
Thank you ;) I firmly belive that the 'selfish' accusation is used by Dean because it is how he (Dean) sees himself whenever he does something for himself. He hates and envies the part of himself and therefore Sam that is free to not put others first all the time. Also, i think he uses it when the fear of losing Sam (again) is high - what he means when he says selfish is "don't you care about me?"

And I agree that if Dean went after Sam it would've pushed them apart, becuase Sam would see that as being "trapped" by the family again.
23rd-Oct-2006 10:48 am (UTC)
And I agree that if Dean went after Sam it would've pushed them apart, becuase Sam would see that as being "trapped" by the family again.

Yeah, it would have been a double whammy. Dean would have felt powerless to do anything but run after his family in the hopes that someone will stay, and as much as Sam may have appreciated the olive branch, as it were, he'd still feel as if he couldn't get away from expectations and the general claustrophobia of their family dynamic.
(Deleted comment)
23rd-Oct-2006 12:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. While I know a lot of discussion has focssed on Dean's emotional age being stuck at four, I think Sam's is, as you point out, stuck in adolescence. And hasn't our boy grown up this season ;)
23rd-Oct-2006 01:12 pm (UTC)
Great points there.

finding John has also become about Sam wanting to re-establish this important relationship. And John shuts him down – telling Sam that he shouldn’t look for him or and that he can’t help fight the demon.

True. The phone-call was maddening for everybody and their kitchen sinks would have known that that was exactly the wrong way to approach Sam in anything. I bet Sam felt like pre-Stanford all over again, nothing had changed. Disappointing after the things Dean told him in Bugs about John, I imagine.

In the fight in the car, I could understand Sam`s feelings but did dislike his or better the writers wording here. It made pain seem like a race: "my six months trump your 22 years." Meaning if someone came along whose wife died 2 weeks ago he could tell Sam to shut up?
Not to mention the: "how can you know how I feel?" which is always true and always makes the speaker sound like some self-absorbed whiner.
I gotta say I was more upset here with the writers putting these words in Sam`s mouth because as I said the character`s motivation I can understand.

But it also signals an important shift in familial relationships. Four years ago Sam left – he didn’t need (or thought he didn’t need) John or Dean. Now Sam is admitting to himself that he does. At least for now.

Maybe he`s starting to realize that he can have both worlds, at least with Dean who pretty much gave him an all-out validation of his choices so hence there would be no need to cut Dean out of his life to have his own life.
23rd-Oct-2006 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading. I can accept Sam's words in the car as a real outburst of his grief and frustration at feeling he's not doing anything to avenge Jess, and also that Dean and John aren't helping him.
if these boys would just have a good hug and get on with things...
23rd-Oct-2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
if these boys would just have a good hug and get on with things...

I can just see it, the Season 5 Finale ends with the greatest cliffhanger of all: the boys moving in for a real hug, being almost in each other`s arms aaaand...cut. ;)

23rd-Oct-2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
and they're wearing towels ;)

Seriously i do udnerstand why they don't hug. becuase with everything they go through they would be in each others arms all the time - and we couldn't have that could we ?
23rd-Oct-2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
and they're wearing towels ;)

Bwahaha.

Seriously i do udnerstand why they don't hug. becuase with everything they go through they would be in each others arms all the time - and we couldn't have that could we ?

I guess so. Well, lets picture them hugging all the time between episodes. :)
24th-Oct-2006 05:38 am (UTC)
This conflict causes him to hate the part of Sam that is able to do what he can’t.

I think hate is a strong word. I don't think he hated it. I think he was hurt by it but I don't think he hated it. I don't think he suddenly came to the realization of the words he said in his apology in Scarecrow just because of that argument. I'm pretty sure these were things he thought about previously because if there is one thing that came through over the season, it's that Dean did put alot of thought into trying to figure out his father and his brother in order to try and do what he thought they needed him to do.

Sam wasn't terribly good at putting himself in other people's shoes, at least if they belonged to his brother and father. :) Sam had the "freedom" to be able to do that because he had Dean, which is ironic. That Dean's doing what he did all those years while they were growing up kind of allowed Sam the space or cushion to be that person which in turn caused him to be able to leave. Which is basically what I think part of S1 was doing for Sam, all people in growing up come to terms with the fact that other people made sacrifices or helped them in ways they didn't necessarily appreciate at the time. :D Sam was doing that and also realizing that he and Dean, even though they lived together, their experiences were different. Which was also ironic, in finding out how much of Dean's world revolved around him, he came to see Dean as his own person. And he came to see how much he and his father shared.

So I don't think they were doing an injustice to Sam because I think Sam's was in many ways a teenage rebellion taken too far because of his father's attitude and Sam's stubborness, not some great philosophical "cause". And we saw Sam growing up alot over the course of the year.
24th-Oct-2006 06:02 am (UTC)
I take your point about 'hate' being too strong a word, but dislike just didn't seem strong enough.

Excellent point about Sam being able to do what he did because of the space Dean created for him. Such a complex relationship ;)
This page was loaded Jun 25th 2019, 6:03 pm GMT.