Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

Sam Winchester: Women, Normal Life, and Love

Sam and women: It all started with a mother he doesn’t remember, who loved but unintentionally cursed him, and died trying to save him. He was left with an obsessed, neglectful, abusive father, a brother who loves him more than his own soul, and a life of fear, violence and isolation. All he wants is the normal life his mother once represented. Women play a big role how that manifests itself.

Jessica Moore – (Pilot) Jess represented everything that Sam had ever wanted for himself – safety, security, stability. She embodied an idealized way of life that Sam had never experienced and gave him companionship, affection, support, without any of the obligation of family. They chose each other. For a boy who didn’t remember his mother, she was his first female relationship. She will always loom large in his heart and memory for that, but he never told her the truth about himself, and it is questionable whether they could have made it as a couple in the long run if she had lived.

Lori Sorensen (Hookman 1.7) – Just seven eps after Jess’ death, Sam is feeling some pretty strong attraction to another girl, but he won’t let himself act on it. Part of the reason is that he’s mourning Jess, but there’s something else to it. Lori mentions that people around her keep dying, and Sam says that he thinks he knows how she feels. Despite not yet knowing the truth about Jess’ death, he feels responsible and is avoiding a relationship because of it. At the end of the ep Dean suggests that they hang around so Sam can spend time with her, but Sam shakes off the suggestion.

Meg (Scarecrow 1.11) – Does Meg count since she was a demon dressed as a cute blonde hitchhiker? Sam was attracted to her certainly, but he didn’t hesitate to walk away from her, despite her pleas to join her on her trip to California, the moment he thought Dean was in danger. Without a backward glance, he hotwired a car and went to save his brother.

Sarah Blake (Provenance 1.19) – Throughout Season 1, Dean encourages Sam to hook up with girls, but Sam doesn’t consider it until he meets Sarah. She’s smart and funny and doesn’t freak out about the Truth. She insists on being a part of the hunt and does okay for a civilian first encountering the supernatural. My feeling is that she would have actually been a better choice for Sam than Jess. Dean was all proud “That’s my boy” when Sam kissed her at the end. Still, Sam’s on a mission to find John and what killed Jess, and he leaves.

Madison (Heart 2.17) – Sera Gamble wrote this one, and holy shit do I miss her sometimes. She got Sam, and this was a nice piece of exploration. S2 deals a lot with the idea of monsters and whether they can be anything but evil, and it is a crucial exploration because Sam’s slow slide to becoming a monster has begun. He falls hard for Madison, and part of his desperation to save her is a belief in her humanity, but also the need himself to hold onto his humanity when he isn’t sure he can. Dean stopped encouraging Sam to hook up with girls after Madison. Perhaps their lives just got too hairy, or maybe Dean realized that Sam was incapable of casual hook ups. He gave his heart, and Dean couldn’t bear to see Sam hurt that way again.

Bela Talbot (Dream a Little Dream 3.10) – Sam dreams of Bela showing up in a trench coat with lingerie beneath. This little scene is played for laughs when Sam awakes and Dean teases him about what he was dreaming of and because Sam is jumpy when Bela actually arrives, but it’s interesting in that we actually see Sam as a sexual individual when he is normally portrayed as touchy feely, only associating sexual attraction with emotional intimacy. Sam and Dean don’t even like Bela, certainly don’t trust her, she shot Sam, but his libido still responds to her. It is interesting seeing Sam portrayed as a just a guy with random sexual urges. Gamble was involved with the story on this one as well.

Ruby (season 4) – Ruby gave Sam what he needed when Dean went to hell – a cause, revenge. She twisted things around to make his cause fit her cause. In her evil way, she loved him. She gave him something else, something he’d always needed: Someone who believed in him, and that is what came between him and Dean. While Dean doubted him, Ruby believed in him, and that is what Dean couldn’t understand no matter how many times Sam begged him to. (Interestingly enough, that is coming into play in S8 with Sam asking Dean to believe in him. Wonder if Carver will have it play out differently or whether Dean will fall back into the same old trap of doubting and alienating Sam.)

Dr. Cara Roberts (Sex and Violence 4.14 was written by Cathryn Humphries who wrote so many great eps. She’s missed.) – While Dean was off getting seduced by a siren that patterned itself on Sam, Sam was getting a quickie on the doctor’s desk. This is I think the only time we see Sam have a casual sexual encounter. Sam is pretty screwed up at this point. He’s been conspiring with Ruby, drinking her blood and having sex with her, and I’d think that the hook up is Sam attempting to make a connection with a human and his own humanity.

Season 6: Annie and the other women that Soulless!Sam hooked up with hardly seem to count, except to say that it shows that Sam does have a healthy libido. I think that we can see Soulless!Sam as representative of Sam’s id. He’s what Sam would be without all the self-control, self-doubt and repressed impulses. Sam is a victim of his own desire for ‘normal’ in many ways. He’s obsessed with it. Growing up he accepted sitcom families and the families of classmates as representative of a normal life, and that idealistic kid inside believes that normal people follow the rules.

Amy Pond (The Girl Next Door 7.03) – The first girl Sam ever loved, his first kiss, she saved his life by killing her own mother, and she turned out to be a monster. This ep is really more about Dean and Sam than it is about Sam and a woman. Dean kills Amy despite telling Sam that he trusts him. He clearly doesn’t, still. Maybe it’s about Sam’s head being broken or all the times his heart’s been broken; maybe it’s just the same old thing with Dean. Whatever. In the end, Sam agrees that Dean did the right thing, and if he hadn’t been so close to her, he probably would have done the same. Dean admits that lying to Sam felt wrong. We think maybe they are making progress. We’re wrong; welcome to S8.

Amelia Richardson (Season 8) – On the surface, Amelia is supposed to harken back to Jess. She represents a normal life of security and stability, but she’s nothing like Jess. She doesn’t build Sam up. Her first words cut him down. She’s manipulative and bullying, far more like Ruby than Jess. It’s only Sam’s belief in “the rules” that caused him to do the honorable thing and leave her to her husband. And as with the Ruby situation, it was Dean’s lack of faith in him, putting Benny above Sam, that had Sam considering going back to her. Meg’s use of the term ‘unicorn’ to describe Amelia and Castiel in Goodbye Stranger  (8.17) indicates to me that she recognized them in that context as mythological creatures, something idealized and unattainable. Sam has failed to recognize that. It isn’t just his life as a hunter or his devotion to Dean that prevents him from having a normal life with Amelia. It is that she isn’t what he’s imagining her to be.

Now it is easy to see that Sam will never love anyone the way he loves Dean, and that will come between him and any woman that he attempts to have a relationship with. That is part of the problem with these romantic storylines that the showrunners keep coming up with (and why Sera Gamble stopped because she understood the boys and moved them past that shit). But until Dean accepts that Sam is an adult and has faith in him, he will continue to push him away. Notice how Dean let go of Sam in Scarecrow and again in Torn and Frayed (8.10) and both times, Sam chose to return to him. All Sam wants is for Dean to believe in him as he begged in Trial and Error (8.14).

If the boys were able to close the gates of Hell and Heaven and any portals to Purgatory, if the world were no longer threatened by monsters, demons or angels, maybe Sam and Dean could reach the light at the end of the tunnel; have normal lives, wives, children. Maybe in that world, their love for one another wouldn’t have to trump everything else, their lives and the fate of the world wouldn’t be hanging on it. Maybe … but then what would they do with all that anti-social aggression and repressed violent tendency? How long would it take to heal the trauma of their lives and how many innocent people would be hurt in the process, those closest to them, the ones they love? The idea that they could just go live a normal life – either of them – is unrealistic at best. I don’t know if Carver believes it or whether it is just a carrot he’s dangling in front of Sam to keep him going and by extension to keep Dean going. I’d like to think so, because I hate to think that he misunderstands them that much.

We’re being presented with a Sam who appears to be pretty much healed of his time in the cage and Lucifer riding shotgun in his head and the trauma of losing Dean again. But then Dean doesn’t seem to be much affected by the PTSD from Purgatory anymore either. I realize that those are things that aren’t always at the forefront of an individual’s consciousness, but at this point, the ball seems to have been dropped, but realistically Sam and Dean are the only ones who can come close to understanding what the other has been through, and it would be really satisfying if that were recognized within the narrative. A lot of time is spent exploring how they are different, but they are more like one another than anyone else. While different, their experiences are extraordinarily similar – from their isolated, transient childhood to their tortures in Hell.

Besides, they are soulmates. They keep each other human. Jess with her big green eyes and blond hair and bright smile couldn’t replace Dean nor could Madison or Ruby or Dr. Bad Vet. Shipping aside, they couldn’t give Sam what he needs from Dean. Dean is comfortable with needing Sam right there next to him driving down Crazy Street, but he hasn’t yet recognized that Sam needs him to have faith in him – not to be his little brother but his partner, equals – in order to be satisfied riding shotgun again.

Sorry this got so long and rambling and off topic … sort of. I think I’m done now.


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