Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

SPN7.14: Plucky Pennywhistle Put the Fear of Clowns in Sam

welcome to Plucky's

When Sam’s fear of clowns was first mentioned back in Everybody Loves a Clown (2.02), it was presented as a phobia like Dean’s fear of flying, but in Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie (7.14), I think there are hints that his fear has a concrete cause.

They boys are investigating a series of weird death’s that Dean has linked to kids’ birthday parties at a popular pizza chain. He calls Sam on the phone:

Dean: Hey. You remember a chain called Plucky Pennywhistle’s?
Sam: No.
Dean: Really? Could have swore you loved those places.
Sam: No, dude, I hated them. Uh, you would dump me and go trolling for chicks.
Dean: It’s not like I left you in jail. I mean, those places are supposed to be fun.
Sam: Fun? Uh, they’re lame. And they smell like puke. And the ice cream is all grainy.
Dean: All right, don’t have one of your episodes, okay?

don't have one of your episodes

Sam stammers and looks freaked out throughout the conversation, and it comes across strongly enough so that Dean senses it through the phone.

The fact that Dean left Sam while “trolling for chicks” suggests that Dean was 14-16 or so, which would have made Sam 10-12. He was old enough that Dean felt comfortable leaving him in a public place that was for kids.

It’s interesting here that Sam first denies remembering Plucky’s but then reveals that he remembers it in detail right down to the vomit smell and gritty ice cream. It has left an indelible memory that is linked to fear. Now, we have to remember that by this age, Sam was aware of the supernatural and that monsters are real, but what sets him stammering and sweating is clowns. It would be helpful if we knew for sure whether Sam feared clowns prior to Plucky’s, but I’m guessing that Dean wouldn’t have left him there if he had been.

1pervy

2pervy

Just a lame pedo joke or a hint that there’s more to Sam’s fear of clowns than Dean will ever know? There’s no way to say for sure.

There are two parallels set up in the ep. First, the boys learn about a mom who works at Plucky’s and takes her little boy to work with her, leaving him at a table to do homework, draw on placemats, and eat bad pizza much as Dean left Sam as a kid. Dean sees just how miserable the kid is. Plucky’s is known as a place where bad parents leave their kids even to the employees.

The other parallel is toward the end. It isn’t clear to me how it relates to Sam and Dean exactly, but the guy who is responsible for the deaths has his own fear. When he was a kid his brother drowned. He says he yelled for help but his parents didn’t listen to him that his brother was drowning. Dean throws Howard’s drawing and a figurine of Plucky in the fire and the drowned brother appears and moves menacingly toward Howard, who drops to his knees and begins choking on water coming from his mouth.

I don’t quite know what to make of this, but I don’t think that siblings ever appear on Supernatural that it isn’t supposed to mean something. Although Howard blames the parents for never listening, he seems to take responsibility as well for his brother’s death. Maybe it is as simple as that. We know that John was negligent and Dean felt responsibility for Sam. Perhaps Howard was given an unreasonable responsibility for his younger brother as well.

it was therapeutic

When Sam and Dean meet back up, Dean apologizes for ditching Sam at Plucky’s as a kid. He admits it was a dick move. Sam just says that fighting the clowns that night had been therapeutic. “What else could a clown ever possibly do to me?” he says. That line sits wrong with me because somehow it feels like he’s left off “that hasn’t already been done.” Maybe I’m making too much of it, but I do feel that there are hints that something truly traumatic happened to Sam at Plucky’s as a kid. We’ll probably never know, and Dean certainly won’t if Sam can prevent it.

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4 responses

  1. MLR

    ..wondered the same. I do remember an episode that Sam admits to Dean that some secrets he would like to keep to himself. Was Sam molested as a child?

    December 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    • Well, it would only be speculation.

      When Sam said that to Dean though, he was specifically referring to the dreams he’d been having about Jess’s death in the days before she died.

      December 26, 2013 at 8:20 pm

  2. Darlene

    I think the parallel with the drowning boy was that his brother screamed for help, but no one could hear him (Now.. I’m just assuming this here… But…) and I doubt the kid that was actually drowning died quietly, he was almost definitely making some noise of his own before he drowned… Maybe Sam had practically been screaming for help back then after whatever perceivable act may or may not have happened with one or more clown and no one, not Dean, not John, no one heard him. Or would hear him. Maybe they just wouldn’t listen when he tried to tell…. Maybe Dean didn’t hear him, because he had been (metaphorically) drowning back then too.

    I’ve written a story that has things that reveal exactly what you think happened at Plucky’s and how it’s plausible that actually IS what happened at Plucky’s…It’s callled “Because it hurts.” by 3DBABE1999 it’s over on Fanfiction dot net. You might like reading it.

    Also, it’s not the only area of the show that suggests that Sam had been possibly molested as a child. In Season 2 Episode 15, during Sam’s and Dean’s first encounter with the “Trickster”, A.K.A. “Loki” and more importantly, actually the ARCHANGEL, Gabriel, Sam and Dean have a “fake’ fight to ‘trick’ the Trickster’ and during that fake fight, Dean yells at Sam… “Why do you always have to be SUCH A TIGHT ASS?!” and Sam, freezes, almost blowing their act in the process, like the words ‘Such a tight ass.” triggered something, Sam had actually looked like he had been slapped, struck mute, in that moment. Like he had heard those exact words before… Maybe if Sam was molested (or raped) by a clown (or clowns) when he was a child that clown (or clowns) penetrated him somehow and said the words “Such a tight ass.”…

    There’s also the fact that in Season 1 Episode 1, Sam was the one to think of looking up a ‘Suicide’ on Centennial Highway instead of a ‘murder’ (people who have been sexually molested or raped as a child (or at all) are more prone to suicidal thoughts and/or actions). Later on in Season 1 Episode 8 “Bugs.” Sam was the one that suggests the boy “MAKES” his father listen, Dean snatches the phone and instructs the boy to fake an attack of appendicitis… Now… Why do I get the feeling that maybe, Sam had tried “MAKING’ his own father listen, then when his dad wouldn’t hear him out he faked an attack of appendicitis and Dean somehow had known he was faking, but in all these years never called him out on it and never asked why Sam had really needed to go to the hospital (or at the very least a doctor, like Doctor Robert, from Season 6 who somehow apparently already knew Dean AND Sam)?..

    And there have been several moments throughout all of the Seasons that imply that Sam did indeed go through ‘something’ traumatizing around the ages of 10-13 (I say 13 because I think that maybe it might have happened the day before Sam’s 13th birthday and that’s why Sam says that “Sammy” is the name of a “Chubby 12 year old” in Season 1 Episode 1, because maybe the clown (or clowns) who molested (or raped) him liked that he was ‘chubby’ (If you’ve seen Season 9 “Purge”, there’s a woman who says she was with an extremely obese man because ‘sometimes it’s nice to feel a little give’ and Sam gets that ‘stricken’ look on his face that suggests he might have been molested (or raped) at a point in his life where he had issues with his weight and his body image).. So , Sam says that “Sammy is the name of a chubby 12 year old.” like he somehow believes that the little ‘chubby’ boy that he used to be (metaphorically) died right before he turned 13…

    ANYWAY… It’s all just theories until TPTB give us actual conformation.

    April 13, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    • These are some really interesting points. I hadn’t thought of that moment in the Trickster ep, but it was an odd reaction. The problem is that all we get are hints with Sam, so who knows. Certainly Sam has been set up canonically as consistently being violated — from Azazel giving him blood at six-months of age to Gadreel, his life is a string of physical, psychological, and emotional violations. That’ what makes Dean’s deal with Gadreel so horrible. It would surprise me if both of the boys had escaped their transient and relatively isolated childhood without at least one of them being the victim of some sort of stranger abuse, but as you say, without solid info from tptb, we’ll never know for sure.

      April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

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