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05 February 2009 @ 12:23 pm
Workin' For The Mandroid  
I finally got into the swing of fab_feb_friends yesterday, having missed the three previous days (unfortunately, I don't tend to check my f-list much Saturday-Monday). I can't do today's yet, though, because my favorite cookie recipe is at home on the other computer! Unless Meg still has it around to send to me. ;)

Here's a little something for you all: one of the best combinations of "Awwww" and "Uh-oh" ever! Work-safe and very cute. :)

Supernatural's on tonight (and then on mini-hiatus until March 5—grrr!), and I have some thinky-thoughts bordering on Sam-meta about last week's 4x13 episode.

First, to anyone who ever thought Dean was not a chauvinist, I offer H.S. Dean and note that not a lot has changed. Dean often tends to treat women dismissively or as if he's only interested in them for one thing, and boy did that rankle here. I'm more peeved on behalf of the teacher—that rudeness was undeserved, and she shouldn't have tolerated it. And overall, it makes H.S. Dean come off as a total ass.

That's pretty much my only irritation with this episode, but NOT because I don't find that view of Dean realistic. I totally do—it's just a part of Dean that I've never liked.

Now, for the younger!Dean, I wouldn't have minded them casting Jensen as himself in the past. This guy showed some resemblance, but honestly, once you've gone through puberty you pretty much look how you're going to look. Haul out the makeup and cut Jensen loose, I say! OTOH, I loved the return of young!Sammy from last year's Christmas episode. No idea how old that kid is, but he successfully played "8" last year and successfully played "14" this year.

My husband thought young!Sammy looked too small for high school, but he's forgotten how different things are before those big growth spurts hit. For instance, the kids in what shall forever be known as the "This whistle makes me their God!" scene look like midgets compared to Dean—as many H.S. Freshman boys would. HSH had no quibbles about the acting, though—young!Sammy was quite convincing as a 14-year-old.

It was really nice to have more actual Sam in an episode for a change, and I don't mean just the presence of Sam or actual plot-related things for him to do. I mean the REAL Sam, the character we've known since Season One. I've really missed seeing him and who he is, in and of himself.

This made me wonder for a bit. Yes, Season One Sam was broody, but he had good reasons. His girlfriend had been flambéd, his future was gone, and he was back in the hunting life he'd tried so very hard to escape. Who wouldn't be depressed and resentful about that?

We know Dean used to bug Sam about being all "emo," but really... the only part of Sam that fit that description was the way he expected Dean to keep supporting him and taking the brunt of the world for him, even after ignoring Dean for years and acting like he couldn't care less that they were reunited again. A lot of that is the typical baby-of-the-family sense of entitlement that isn't unique to Sam. Yes, it can be irksome, but on the other hand it creates great 'Dean-angst' opportunities for writers.

But, and here's the real question, did TPTB misunderstand and decide that ALL of Sam's behavior was "emo" and something that fans complained about? Did they forget that Sam's genuine concern for other people and his worries about the larger effects of what he and Dean do was part of his humanity and not some kind of emo-whining?

Because it seems to me that we haven't seen as much of "the real Sam" as we'd like since Season One, and it's as if the writers/producers have shied away from that because they somehow saw those aspects of Sam as negative.

They're not negative! They're an inherent part of Sam's nature. Those aspects are why he saw his childhood in a different light than Dean, and a huge part of why he ran away. They're why Sam will always want to be sure that his "judgment" of things others assume to be evil or wrong stands the test. Don't kill unless you're sure, and unless there's no better option. Nothing is entirely black and white—it's important to analyze and understand the shades of gray.

Sam's unchanging humanity is part of the wonderful contrast between him and Dean, and one of the reasons this show is so interesting.

And in a larger sense, Sam is also us. He's the outsider looking in on his own life and family, standing with one foot in the world of "normal" and the other in the world of "Winchester." He understands the general "why" of the whole hunting thing, but he doesn't follow it blindly, and he reminds us not to become inured to it either.

Back in S1 and S2, there were those rare moments when anger or sorrow drove Sam to just react to something in a way that was the antithesis of his true self. Remember the pangs that would cause us as viewers, knowing that for Sam to deny or subvert his humanity was to lose an important part of himself?

That is why we miss the real Sam. We felt for that Sam, and we understood his pain and loved his level-headedness.

With 4x13, we saw a return of the real Sam—a man who beat himself up over having (rightly) judged a bully, and worried that he'd contributed to making everything worse. The viewer knows that even when bad things happen to someone, that is still no excuse for bullying other kids. Let's not forget Sam's friend Billy, who committed suicide as a direct result of that harrassment.

But Sam will always worry that he had a hand in the bully's fate, because it's who he is. We don't agree with his worrying, but we love him for it. It's his nature to want to do the right thing, and to be upset with himself for having missed any factors in the choosing of "right" (even when he could not have known those factors existed).

Not 'emo.' Just Sam.

Now I ask you, why as a creator of such an interesting character (whose dilemmas pull viewers in) would you reduce that character to a sounding board for the other half of the Yin/Yang dynamic you set up so long ago?

Why would you ever think that was an improvement?

I hope this episode was the beginning of a return to the full-fledged Sam instead of the cardboard-cutout Sam we've seen so much of in Season Four.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has missed him.

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MacByrnemacbyrne on February 5th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with your points on Sam; it was his very humanity that we were drawn to; Dean tends to be a little larger than life sometimes, and while it's fun to watch someone like that, it can be difficult to relate to them. Sam is, as you say, the viewer's conduit to the life of the Winchesters. I can only hope that the writers of the show decide to wake up and bring back the real Sam on a weekly basis. It would be nice to get cozy with him again!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Samhalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
It would be nice to get cozy with him again!
I've really missed the alternate viewpoint he brings to the episodes and to the show as a whole.

I just have the feeling that at some point the show's creators/writers/producers forgot why having that balance between two different characters was a good thing. It makes the show complete, and it helps draw us in!
I can read Sam's mindwendy on February 6th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: JSquaredLovehalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
Hee! Now there's a greeting I didn't expect to ever see in my lifetime!

*snuggles you*

I can read Sam's mindwendy on February 6th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
AWWWWW!! *huge hugs*