Sam Winchester — “who you really are”
Scenes from the Pilot
Dean: Does Jessica know the truth about you? Does she know about the things you’ve done?
Sam: No, and she’s not ever going to know.
Dean: Well, that’s healthy. Pretend all you want, Sammy, but sooner of later you’re gonna have to face up to who you really are.
Sam: And who is that?
Dean: You’re one of us.
Sam: No, I’ m not like you. This is not going to be my life.
There’s something kind of chilling about Dean’s question, “Does she know about the things you’ve done?” I like how open ended that statement is. It leaves it up to the viewer’s imagination to speculate on the kinds of things that Sam has done in the course of his young hunting life. We like to think about Sam as the innocent, puppy Sam, but he wasn’t, not compared to the average guy his age. He’d seen and done things that would make most people hide under the bed. He and Dean only seem innocent in retrospect.
I love how Dean comes across as the pragmatic big brother as he pronounces Sam lying to his girlfriend to be unhealthy and gives him advice about facing the truth of who he is. We don’t know at this point that Dean knows the cost of being honest with the girl you love and neither does Sam. We don’t learn until later that he’d told Cassie the truth and she dumped him.
Sam doesn’t know either that his mother tried to get out of the life too. That she’d sworn to not raise her kids as hunters. How differently he might have thought and acted if he had.
There’s a really telling moment in the pilot that shows us that Sam isn’t so sweet under that puppy face.
We tend to think of Sam as the empathetic one who gets people to spill their guts through sheer adorableness, but in this scene, Sam breaks the philandering husband down. The guy’s lip was trembling and his voice shaking when he told Sam to get the hell off his property. Sam may be empathetic, but he also had a hard streak that I think unfortunately got lost somewhere along the way.
I suspect that Sam suppressed the tougher part of himself as time went on and he knew about the demon blood. He was so afraid the effect that was having on him that he tried to deny it. That less empathetic side to him only comes out when he’s in hunter mode or when Dean is in danger. He’s done everything that he can to not use it against humans.
It’s one of the things I liked so much about Soulless!Sam. He just said whatever he thought. I suspect that even when we see sweet, empathetic Sam, those kinds of thoughts go through his head. He just doesn’t speak them. It would be kind of nice if — now that the sides of his personality have been fused together — he’d let that toughness out a little more. Some people don’t deserve to be treated with kid gloves after all and keeping all that in isn’t healthy either.
This is a really small thing, a split second, that tells us something about Sam, I think. Something that he wouldn’t want to admit. This is the scene from the pilot where Sam and Dean encounter the supernatural for the first time on this hunt — the first time for Sam since leaving Stanford. They’ve seen the woman in white disappear from the bridge, and then the Impala with no driver is chasing them. They jump from the bridge but Sam hangs on and pulls himself up. He leans back over and calls out to his brother. Dean answers that he’s okay, and Sam laughs.
He laughs with giddy relief and adrenaline and just maybe some joy because maybe it was just a little bit fun — the rush and familiarity and bond with his brother.
You know, adrenaline can become an addiction like any other drug. The brain becomes accustomed to it, craves it, and I’ll bet Sam and Dean are adrenaline junkies. I wonder if Sam would have ever felt truly alive in a normal life.
I can’t help but wonder about Sam and Jess sometimes. She had to have realized that there were things that Sam wasn’t telling her. He had scars and nightmares. Perhaps she thought he’d been abused and tried not to pry. She’d try not to wonder why he never came to trust her enough to tell her the truth. Or would he?
I think of how Dean was with Ben and Lisa, checking the sigils every night when he locked up. Would Sam have secretly been like that with his new family? Would he have been able to ignore signs of monsters in his city? Would he have been able to forget that he had a brother, someone more important to him that anyone, out there in danger? Would he have gotten bored without the thrill of the hunt?