It is sometimes difficult to reconcile the character called Sam Winchester in season nine with the boy who was introduced in season one. Re-watching those early seasons, we see someone full of life, snarky, rebellious, clever – brilliant even. As much as he wanted out of the hunting life, he enjoyed being with his big brother. He rolled his eyes at Dean’s lame jokes, but laughed with him too, sang with him, looked on him fondly and for protection and guidance, even as he insisted on making his own path.
And now … sure, he’s been through hell, literally and figuratively. He’s been demon blood addicted, soulless, suffering with hallucinations of Lucifer in his head, and possessed by an angel. Dean has betrayed his trust and lied to him. Painful as it is to accept, one can understand how the fire in him has been quelled. What’s harder to take is the way everything around Sam has been constructed to lessen Sam’s importance and self-worth.
Not only was season eight written to destroy Sam’s belief that he’d redeemed himself by showing him as having let Dean down repeatedly, but Kevin and Charlie were pushed forward in the narrative to take over Sam’s role as researcher and computer hacker. Remember when Sam could effortlessly hack into all sorts of police and other databases and knew numerous obscure languages and texts? Season nine had him asking Kevin for clarifications like some kind of civilian.
Call it poor writing or call it character assassination, the Sam Winchester that’s being written barely resembles the one introduced in the series. It’s understandable that he’d change given what he’s been through, but he’s done a 180 from the guy season six who was at peace with what he’d done, was pragmatic enough to see that there was no way out of the life, and wouldn’t leave his brother out there alone.
I have to say that I don’t have much interest in the Sam that is being written this season – what we’ve seen of him, which isn’t much. Sam without some fight in him isn’t compelling. Sam not using that big, brilliant brain isn’t interesting. Sam without that snarky humor isn’t any fun. He isn’t really Sam at all. I feel like I don’t know this character, and the writers and other fans can justify how he got where he is, but that doesn’t make me any more invested in what happens at this point. I feel as though Sam died when Dean disappeared into purgatory. You can’t imagine how it pains me to say that.
So, Sam has lost his will to live, lost his trust and faith in Dean, and lost his delusional belief in the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how the writers can write Sam out of the corner they’ve put him in. I can only echo a lot of other fans when I say that I’m not sure they even want to. He seems to be more of a plot device or chew toy for the writers than a complex character with consistent development. While Dean’s character has stagnated, Sam has morphed to mirror his brother’s lack of self-worth and willingness to die. Along with that has been lost the affection, humor, and fondness leaving only the co-dependence, lies, and betrayals. If that’s what Jeremy Carver calls maturity, he can keep it. I’m not interested.