Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

For posterity: Nana’s Sam/Dean Manifesto

One of the best looks at Sam and Dean’s relationship was done some time ago by stickingupforsammy over at Tumblr. When she deleted that blog, it was lost. She’s recreated it (mostly) on her current blog theongreyjoy. Shipping aside, this piece is 99% canon brother relationship. I’m posting it in its entirety with a link to her blog post because I’d hate to lose it again.

I’ve been afforded free time and would like to discuss wincest. I’ll probably build on this post as time goes on, but I want to treat it as sort of my own personal manifesto/testimony. For those who love the relationship, many of these arguments will ring a familier bell. For those less involved with the fandom, it may do a better job expressing the feelings and emotions that surround the love between Sam/Dean and why we love it so much. In a word doc, this essay covers about 5-6 pages of content.

ALSO This is a repost of an old essay. I deleted my tumblr, thus lost it under a read more. Many of you have been asking for it, and thankfully,a wonderful tumblr user saved it on her computer. This appears to be the first draft, so if you were looking for it, keep in mind that it’s missing some citations and links, but is generally decent. also, this was written before the clusterfuck of sloppy canon that is season 8

The complex history of Sam/Dean:

“Dean still hardly talks. I try to make small talk, or ask him if he wants to throw the baseball around. Anything to make him feel like a normal kid again. He never budges from my side — or from his brother. Every morning when I wake up, Dean is inside the crib, arms wrapped around baby Sam. Like he’s trying to protect him from whatever is out there in the night.” –John Winchester’s Journal

If you want to talk about a relationship, you need to start at the beginning. A sidenote: the history between Sam/Dean is incredibly complex and tends to only get glossed over in the show. I highly and deeply suggest that anyone interested in getting into the deeper, inner workings of the early years of Sam & Dean pick up John Winchester’s Journal, which provides more textual evidence relating to how these boys grew up, and exactly when they relationship began to deviate from what might be considered a normal brotherly relationship.

What we know about Sam/Dean’s childhood is that it was incredibly difficult, and that it demanded that the brothers break that barrier between brothers in order to survive. The boys were emotionally abused and neglected by their father, and pressured against any interest in normalcy as if the very thought of going to school or enjoying their life was a sin against their own family. John Winchester’s philosophy was simple: live in isolated and violent life. A rejection of this is spitting on the grave of your mother, and will result in an immediate expulsion from the family. Your family. The only ties you know and understand and recognize. This pressure resulted in the boys growing up with a deep seated guilt and poor sense of self worth.

“Sammy took his first steps yesterday. He walked toward Dean.”-John Winchester’s Journal.

Meanwhile, while their father left them in slummy motel rooms for weeks on end, the two boys lived and work and grew together. Children were taking care of children. There was absolutely no sense of family structure within the Winchester household, and no establishing of traditional roles. This coupled with their extreme isolation lead to Dean acting as a father, mother, brother, best friend, and central figure of absolute love for Sam (who grew up literally knowing no other lifestyle or personal relationship) Every ounce of understanding of affection that Sam ever got was from Dean: the only consistant living creature in the world that Sam was able to recognize.

For Sam, the relationship with his father began taking a volatile form when he began to recognize the tyrannical conditions that the boys lived under. Unlike his brother, he had no memory of a happy or positive relationship with John, allowing him to build that sense of resentment towards him that would later result in being the trigger allowing him to leave the family. Interestingly enough, it becomes Sam by the later parts of the show that adopts more of his father’s cruel and anti social attributes, while Dean begins to devalue the merits of hunting in favor of a normal life.

In a very simple sense, the boys lived in a rough environment with no structure and an entire religious code of conduct. Despite their different ways of experiencing that environment and how they ultimately shaped them as people, the only thing that they were ever allowed to truly love was the memory of their death mother and each other. As time went on, You can see both Sam and Dean lose faith in John’s glorification of Mary Winchester, while placing more and more value on the one tangible love they knew: each other.

Let’s discuss “soul mates”.

“Wait, if I’m in Heaven, then where’s Sam?- (Dean Winchester 5×16)

Sam and Dean are soul mates, which can mean many things for many different people in terms of your personal or religious beliefs…but we know that the world of Supernatural, a “soul mate” has distinctive qualities. We know that Ash is a special super awesome wizard that has managed to “hack” heaven, though not without extreme difficultly thatmakes it nearly impossible for him to track down people with ease, thus we know that non soul mates can’t simply find each other’s heavens by walking down a road.Dean: So everyone gets their own slice of Heaven?

Ash: Pretty much. A few people share. Special cases. Whatnot.

Dean: What do you mean special?

Ash: Oh, you know, like soul mates.

So what does it mean that Sam and Dean are soul mates? That if the two of them were to fall in love with someone on earth, it wouldn’t matter. Those people are just stop signs on the road to each other. The two of them are meant to br together until the end of time without anybody else. Most people are meant to live their eternities alone with only their ideals and memories as their comfort, but not Sam and Dean. Even if your idea of the brothers isn’t romantic, that doesn’t take away from this canon. If you think that the two of them will be bro fisting in heaven and that they will lack intimacy, that doesn’t change the fact that they are, in the eyes of all of the heavens, meant to be together in any and all context. That means that whoever you want them to be with, they won’t stay with. They are by all means and definitions, meant for each other.

Sam and Dean’s relationship in comparison to how they view “family”

“Because what we have — love, family, whatever it is — they are always gonna use it against us.”- Dean Winchester 5X4

To put it simply, I see people who say that they see the brother’s as just that. Brothers. While I am certainly able to respect that, I also reserve the right to respectfully disagree. I’ve discussed a bit about how the traditional roles of Sam and Dean’s bond have been polluted since their childhood but you can see this especially in how they are able to relate and connect with other people. To put it bluntly, Sam and Dean have literally been willing to sacrifice the world for each other. Sam, despite already living without his brother for several months in mystery spot, was willing to slaughter an innocent person in cold blood to bring his brother back to him.

Comparatively, the boys have had incredibly lukewarm reactions to the rest of their family. The boys have often been given the option to revive or be with their dead mother. In every instance, this was an easy option to reject for them- especially for sam, who has nothing but his mother’s ghost to remember.

“so what will motivate dean to sell his soul? there’s only one thing-the death of Sam.” – ERIC KRIPKE,

After the death of John (resulting in him being tortured in hell) the boys mourned his loss, but never made an attempt to revive him or sacrifice themselves in his place. While his death affected them perhaps for the longest any death has, the prime focus of the brothers remained each other. This contrasts deeply with how the boys would react to each other’s death’s (Dean selling himself for Sam at the end of season 2, Sam begging to take Dean’s place during the flashback of season 4, or Sam going on a warpath against Gabriel in season 3)

Then you have Adam, whom not only have the brothers not given a second’s thought about, but whom Dean didn’t even bat an eyelash over leaving in hell when forced to choose between brothers, damning the boy forever. The same could be said for the various friends they’ve lost (and loved) along the way. Bobby, Cas, Jo, Ellen, Rufas, etc.

There is no sense of self sacrifice between Sam and Dean and these people. There is love of course, but in a sort of horrifying and terrible way, none of them would even be chosen if it came down to eachother and them. None of these people are valued so much that Sam and Dean would go on a warpath for them. None of them are enough for the brothers to change and deviate from their normal activities for…and in many cases, their relationship with their friends is largely selfish. Sam and Dean tend to be especially careless in abusing their friends affection for them. This likely relates a lot to their poor early socialization and inability to form lasting bonds with outsiders.

While the Winchester brothers can be completely selfless in terms of each other, they are always willing to accept and move on from the death’s of others, even their own kin. Their deaths are painful for them….they aren’t cold, but they would sooner move on from these deaths than put themselves in a situation where one sibling is left alone.

This of course, doesn’t make them bad people, but it does show that their obsession with self sacrificing starts and ends with each other, and that they place each other at a much HIGHER value point than their own flesh and blood family members and friends. If the boys were truly “just brothers”…if it didn’t stand to reason that their relationship wasn’t more complex than “love between brothers”. this would not be the case. Am I saying that they are sleeping together?

No, because as you know, romance doesn’t always equal love, but let’s not write them off as simply having family relationship. We know what the Winchesters would do for their family. We know that what they would do for each other extends far beyond that.

You can also see that the bond between them grows though the series, stemming from Dean feeling obligated to treat Sam as a foolish boy in need of protecting, to an adult man capable of his own decisions. In the same light, you can see Sam go from someone who looks up to his brother become disillusioned with him; often feeling as though he is stronger or more capable of doing the protecting.

SAM: Something happened to him downstairs, Ruby. He’s not what he used to be. He’s not strong enough.

RUBY And you are?

SAM I will be.

You can see Sam’s change in how he sees his brother happen largely in season 4, while Dean comes around in season 5 while watching Sam’s recovery. As Sam begins to see Dean as a flawed person who needs to be protected, Dean begins to look at his brother as a strong man capable of making his own choices, who doesn’t need to be coddled. With age, the two go from their childhood ideas of what their brother represents, to seeing each other as men first; abandoning their juvenile roles as guardian and child.

Codependency and the “two halves of a whole” issue.

The Winchesters are both obsessed with their earthly bond, I mean absolutely and completely OBSESSED with it…so much so that even the illusion of not sharing the same parentage in an alternative universe is enough to make them want to reject it all together.

“I mean, we’re not even brothers here, man.” – (Sam Winchester 6×15)

In the face of nearly every alternative universe scenario, the impulse towards each other seems to drive them, be it French Mistake or It’s A Terrible Life. Every ideal scenario that the boys are thrown into is knocked off course when that realization hits: they’d rather spend their horrible, tattered fucked up lives with each other than be happy. If they forget who they are, they can’t pull themselves away from remembering that they were meant to be together.

To tackle this issue, we first need to lay out who Sam and Dean become when they are separated. By “separated” I don’t mean “with the possibility of re uniting on earth”. I mean death.

Sam’s experiences with Dean’s death are a lot more telling, largely because he can be borderline sociopathic without his brother. I’ve expressed this many times, and will use an exert from a previous post to illustrate this [x ]

– In Mystery Spot, Sam was willing to hunt down an innocent human being and murder them to bring his brother back

from the dead. Dean was gone.

– While Dean was dead, Sam ran around with Ruby experimenting with demon blood and using human beings that were

possessed by demons as subjects. His belief was that the ends justified the means, but he was absolutely willing to be ruthless during that time

– During both of these encounters, he cut himself off from the people who cared about him despite having much of a good reason to. He became 150% self focused and self interested: his prime objective becoming the only thing in the world that mattered to him. He was more or less unemotional when it came to what he had to do to achieve his goals.

– When he believes that he is justified in killing, he has on occasion enjoyed taunting his victims and making them suffer.

– He has made it fairly clear that he is willing to sacrifice as many people as possible for his brother. When it comes to the whole Lucifer/Swan Song thing, he took the plunge to save his brother. This goes for Dean a little bit too, but the world can go fuck itself for Sam as long as Dean is okay.

I feel like when Dean is threatened or Dean is “dead”, Sam absolutely goes off the deep end in a violent, angry way. He has expressed his issues with rage and violence before, and that he needs to constantly suppress them. I think being with his brother or knowing that his brother is okay is really how he manages to do that. I think about what he would have become if Dean has never come back from Mystery Spot or during season 4, and I can only see him as villainous. With

Sam I feel like he has a very fragile thread of sanity protected by a single man, and as long as that stays in tact, he is this kind, sweet, mature person. Once that snaps though, he basically loses his shit and becomes unrecognizable.

Dean’s reactions to Sam tend to be slightly more tempered, but also laced deeply in self hate and mutilation. In both instances of Sam’s death, Dean’s response was to hurt himself. The first was to sacrifice himself. The second (when sacrificing was no avail) was to drown himself in alcohol while still making some attempt to carry on Sam’s wishes despite himself. While Dean can appear to act more rationally after losing his brother, the reality of it is that while he may not be manic, he is willing to kill himself to bring Sam back to him.

But more than just how they react when apart, who they are together is equally important. Sam’s greatest flaw resides in his violence and rage. Dean’s is his self righteousness, but also his inability to open up and connect with people.

“If neither of them are at 100 percent, then they’ll figure out how to be 100 percent together” -Sera Gamble [x]

I’ve expressed this before as well, but Dean is essentially Sam’s head. He’s the one who brings him back to earth when he goes astray. He acts as his brothers moral compass, emotional guide and the one single living creature that tempers his ever expanding rage, violence, and obsession.

Sam is Dean’s emotional compass, and the one person that Dean has who actively encourages him to embrace and express his emotions. Dean is by all accounts, an incredibly guarded person who can react harshly and push away the people he loves.

SAM:I saw your eyes. You were totally rockin’ the “yes” back there. So, what changed your mind?

DEAN:”Honestly? The damnedest thing. I mean, the world’s ending. The walls are coming down on us, and I look over to you and all I can think about is, “this stupid son of a bitch brought me here.” I just didn’t want to let you down.”

Sam is also Dean’s faith. The person who believes in him even when he can’t believe in himself. Sam’s faith is a long running part of the show, and has acted in Dean’s favor in his darkest hours. Dean has always been known as the man without faith, while Sam’s can be so blind that it can borderline foolish. For a person like Dean Winchester who seemingly can not even comprehend the concept of faith (whether earthly or not) Sam’s unshakable belief is a cornerstone of his life.

When one Winchester is down and out, the other has always remained strong. This is a theme of the show that has never changed. There are times when one boy is tired. The other picks up the slack. There are times when one is weak or gives into temptation. The other will stop him. They call each other out, they protect each other from the bad things. At some point, the Winchesters have sort of melded into one singular personality split into two bodies. Their reliance on each other to carry their weakest traits is self evident. They do not function well apart and tend to become the worst versions of themselves without the protection and love of their sibling. Is their relationship perfect in every aspect? No. Absolutely not. these kids have hurt each other just as deeply as a person can hurt another..but nobody said that love was perfect.

Healthy

Lisa: “You two have the most unhealthy, tangled up, crazy thing that I’ve ever seen.”

It has been argued that this relationship as a while is unhealthy. You have to understand that while being traditionally framed as an unhealthy love capable of being harmful and destructive, it is also a love that has saved the world, and each other many times. But even if you simply look at the relationship for what it is, it’s hard to criticize it for being unhealthy.

The boys put each other first, and have a hard time maintaining romantic relationships outside of each other. The first time we see the full extent of this is in season 6. Despite having a comfortable life and being unaware of any threats on the world, Dean chooses to stay with his brother over his relationship with his long term girlfriend. He does this even though Sam had expressed that he was more than capable on his own, but the impulse to simply be around his brother physically was able to override the family that he had previously committed himself to. Pleasure to Dean was with Sam, not in a woman he had fallen in love with.

But that’s just the thing. So what if they will always choose each other. So what if they won’t ever be able to date or get married or have a functional relationship? Taking issues with that is putting a certain amount of stock in the idea that one needs a sexual based relationship in their lives to be fulfilled. The boys can make friends and form connections ( Dean more than Sam, but that is largely attributed to his own personal anti social issues rather than his relationship with his brother) and by all means, they recognize the value of other people despite not having the ability to put anyone over each other. The main problem with Sam and Dean’s relationship is that they are placed in circumstances that constantly challenge them. Most relationships that are toted as “healthy” would not be able to survive what they’ve been through. It is their  relationship that has allowed them to survive. You have to understand that these two are being attacked at every angle: fighting to survive, being manipulated and abused by the forces of heaven and hell, carrying the fate of the universe on their shoulders. On top of that, every force of nature imaginable is trying to pull them apart.

Placing the Winchesters in a normal setting, and their relationship wouldn’t seen destructive….because it isn’t THEM who are destructive. It’s the world around them that is constantly challenging and damaging them. They have no time to appreciate and cultivate their relationship in a safe, comfortable, and happy setting…so they fight and argue and sacrifice for each other because they have no other choice. But the relationship itself? It’s the kind of love that we dream about as kids but few of us ever have. It’s the kind of relationship where you are able to grow and develop your own identity while remaining deeply connected and growing with the person you love. It’s having someone to pick up after your faults and protect you from the worst parts of yourself. Nothing will convince me that the Winchesters at their most raw are the postboys for destructive; as they have remained each other’s strength even when everything else in the world is trying to sever that.

SEX:

And this is also where you know, the discussion of sex can come into the mix, because though i’ve puked an essay of words out, I haven’t said a damn thing about whether or not their relationship is sexual. I don’t think it is. I think it COULD be though. But then, why “ship” it? Why attach the sexual intimacy to it? My appreciation of the sexual part of this relationship, or the potential of one revolves around the amount of emotional intimacy that exists between them. A physical relationship is a tangible expression of that emotional intimacy- as is the case for any relationship. I think there is an unquestionable difference between the emotional “love” they feel for most people, and the emotional “intimacy” they feel for each other.

We know that sexual/romantic relationships are nearly impossible for these brothers, and a large part of that is the emotionally intimate relationship they maintain. Should they attempt one, it would be incredibly unfair to the third party, especially given the fact that that party will always be consciously aware that the two brothers won’t hesitate to but each other first. No matter how understanding a partner claims to be, that is simply NOT how a relationship works. A spouse is supposed to be the most important person in your life, or at least equal to that of your closest family and friends. They aren’t someone you use for sex and cute moments while someone else truly holds your heart.

As they will never have a healthy, comfortable, real relationship with another person that doesn’t result in accidental emotional abuse or pain of said person, I prefer to think that they would be together. Their relationship is one that breaks several traditional barriers: even Dean could not appropriately define their relationship as “family”, because it’s an all encompassing love that staggers and stifles their ability to put anyone else first. I truly believe that all encompassing means all encompassing, and while they aren’t engaging in sexual activity, the romantic aspect of their relationship undoubtably exists.

”Supernatural is the epic love story of Sam and Dean.”- Sera Gamble

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2 responses

  1. nancy

    Wow. Just wow.

    September 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    • Yep. Nana knows her Sam and Dean. Unfortunately, she stopped watching the show because of the way Sam was being treated by the writers. Sad.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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