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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
15th-Mar-2013 01:17 pm
Thinky thougts
I wonder if it's deliberate that Sam doesn't haven't any male friends.

I mean, I figure he had good friends at college (we know there was Zach and Brady), but we've never seen him with a male "buddy" like we have Dean. We see Dean bonding with other males - Bobby, Gordon, Frank, Cas, Garth, Benny and even John, but Sam is seen as either butting heads with them or being downright enemies of them (Lucifer, Walt, Roy, Gordon, Kubrick, Greedy).

I know that Sam was close to Bobby but not in the same way that Dean was. Same with Garth and Cas. Both Garth and Cas attached themselves to Dean first, then got to know Sam. I figure they are as close to "friends" as Sam has in the show, but they're not just his friends.

I wonder if that's because Dean fulfils that role completely? Maybe Sam doesn't need anyone else (whereas Dean possibly does?).

I'm sure not if this is because there's never been a story line that has allowed Sam to develop a male friendship or because they have deliberately made this part of Sam's character (like his disastrous relationships with women).

It's not a complaint - just an observation.

Hmmm. *hugs* Sam. Maybe books are his other companion.

This is what happens when I enjoy a day off (yay back to 4 days a week!) and get my hair done. :)

I hope they don't use Cas to miraculously "fix" Sam this time. Surely the effects of these trials can't be fixed with a mere touch to the head (I mean, they could if they wanted them to be, but I hope they can't).

That is all. :)
15th-Mar-2013 05:35 am (UTC)
I remember noticing that and deciding it was just a repercussion of the way Sam was sheltered by Dean while growing up. I figured that as a kid, part of the way Dean protected a younger and smaller Sammy was to put himself - Dean - out there first, kinda of like a road block between Sam and anyone new and getting to know the guys first; keeping Sam kinda tucked out of the way and behind him, and once the newbie friended Dean, he would get access to Sam. So I think it is just a part of that. Sam is just used to Dean feeling out male newcomers first and when Dean is around, Sam just defaults to the background like that.

Another thing I suspected is that while Sam is friendly, he is hard to get to know because for all the crap we give him about being EMO, Sam actually keeps himself pretty well hidden and isn't easy to get to know - he is pretty emotionally cautious like that. I think that once he left Stanford, he didn't let himself open up again to making buddies. Dean is a lot more in your face and his brashness lends itself to a charm that draw people to him; getting to know Sam is more work.

Edited at 2013-03-15 05:36 am (UTC)
15th-Mar-2013 06:22 am (UTC)
Yeah - that makes a lot of sense to me. I find it interesting that Sam is the one we see comforting the victims and being accessible and yet he is actually pretty closed off when it comes to sharing himself with anyone else. I think that goes for women also. It was pretty telling that Sam didn't give a lot away to Amelia - he keeps everything close to his chest. And as we've seen, Dean knows Sam so well Sam doesn't really have to say much. When Sam does talk, it's usually about wanting Dean to open up.

I like the consistency we've seen with both Sam and Dean when it comes to making friends.
15th-Mar-2013 05:35 am (UTC)
Don't forget Luis. (Zombie-costume dude in pilot.)
15th-Mar-2013 06:24 am (UTC)
Oh yes Luis! So Sam seems to have had quite a few friends at Stanford and pretty much none since then. Kinda sad I think. (but fitting because Dean once told him he can't get close to people).
15th-Mar-2013 07:36 am (UTC)
I think Sam did have male friendships in the early seasons, when they were still doing the whole 'psychic children' thing. He was able to bond with the likes of Max, Andy and Jake over their shared experiences in a way that Dean couldn't. Jake in particular strikes me as a sort of 'Gordon-esque' figure for Sam, in that the two of them clearly got on and understood each other - and then ended up in conflict.

There's also After-School Special, which shows little Sam developing a close bond with another kid and a bit of hero worship for a male teacher. There are the Campbells, too, because they were much more Sam's people than Dean's, but I'm not sure how much that counts, given that Sam's behaviour was abnormal there pretty much by definition. But he and Samuel were a pair for a while.

But, yeah, I think there's a combination of things here - that Sam is more naturally reserved than Dean, that his friendships seem to have ended catastrophically even more often than Dean's (which is impressive, considering), that he has often been led to doubt his own nature and therefore withdrawn, and that in some cases where Dean has been let down late in a friendship, Sam has been let downright away (Castiel, say, turned on Dean eventually, but acted like Sam was a piece of dirt the first time they met).
15th-Mar-2013 12:14 pm (UTC)
I had forgotten about Andy, Max and Jake. And you're right, he did connect with those guys through a share experience.

I always think of Sam as being the one to connect with people - and it's probably from those early relationships that make me think like that. It's just when I stopped to think about who Sam could turn to if he wanted to talk to someone that wasn't Dean I came up blank.

I also think it's perfectly right that we saw Sam bond with friends in school and makes it more poignant that we don't see him with "friends" now. Whereas I imagine it might have been opposite for Dean - he would never have taken the time to make good friends because he knew he'd be moving on.

The missyjack mentions Kevin, who I suppose Sam might consider a friend (maybe?).

And, tbh, I pretty much blank out anything that soulless!Sam did because I in my mind it wasn't Sam. /o\ Though his relationship with the Campbells is interesting. I wouldn't have said that was mateship, but he did turn to them when he was Dean-less.

and that in some cases where Dean has been let down late in a friendship

Oh yes. I think there could be some very interesting meta written about Dean and friendship. I am particularly interested in Dean and Benny. I think they got that combination so right - I am really curious to see where they take that from here.

15th-Mar-2013 07:47 am (UTC)
My take on the boys friendship patterns, has been that they look different for a few reasons – one being that maybe Sam had the chance to form more normal friendships at school and at college, while Dean didn't really have that – he was hunting most of it. At school I think Dean probably mainly had (fleeting) connections with girls, because they were the easier ones for him to form.

I think this partly led to Dean maybe diving in more quickly to intimacy with people, partly because he never knew how long those people would be around.

I think maybe another difference is that Sam's sense of self is more internally formed, whereas Dean derives his from how he thinks other people see him.

Post Stanford there hasn't been much chance for either to form friendships. Of course when Dean was bonding with Cas, Sam had Ruby. And when Dean met Garth, Sam had Becky. Sam did of course, even sans soul, hook-up with the Campbells.

This season started with a particular point being made about Sam making friends with the family who ran the motel. And I would certainly say that Sam is as close to Kevin as Dean is.

For me, I see both Sam and Dean as being capable of both functional friendships and romantic relationships, in the right circumstances. Which makes it even more tragic that their life works to precludes these, but also more wonderful that having these options they choose each other.
15th-Mar-2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, these are all good points. I like the way they have shown the different ways the boys form friendships and the development over the seasons.

I didn't consider Kevin or the Campbells I have to admit. I suppose I don't think of the Campbells as actual friends (and I never know how to take anything that Soulless!Sam did or experienced as I find it hard to connect him with actual Sam). I suppose Kevin is a friend - though I think he's yet to cross over to that real buddy or mate. Though I think they are perhaps developing that.

I was thinking about this because I was pondering Dean and Benny's friendship (which I think has been really well developed) and then I thought about who Sam has that's like that.

Which makes it even more tragic that their life works to precludes these, but also more wonderful that having these options they choose each other.

Very much so. :)))))
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15th-Mar-2013 08:46 am (UTC)
Sam doesn't really open up to others. He is not the having buddies type to me, but rather with himself, his thoughts and observations of life. I think it really fits his overall character and knits in nicely with the demon blood curse that made him withdraw even further from friending easily.

But wait, no, the real reason, of course, is that he is sparing himself for you. Your icon gave it away.. *g* ;)

It would be disappointing if they make Cas come in whenever they get stuck with the story telling to just save the day. I hope they keep him busy with his own issues so that he adds to the story rather than be a quick solution at hand.

Day off and getting your hair done sounds great!
Have a hug as well! *squiiidge* :D

15th-Mar-2013 08:50 am (UTC)
Oh, and I forgot to say I got my friend Olly in England interested in the show by constantly saying stuff like:"Can't talk now, must watch my fav show" and generally pointing out how good it is. So he borrowed the DVDs from his friend, (who is also a fan) and started watching. Right from the start. S1E1. His comment:"Brilliant!" He is hooked now... :D
16th-Mar-2013 07:58 am (UTC)
Yeah - good points. I think being raised by a father only (well, mostly for Dean and Dean and John for Sam) has to have an impact on how they form relationships later on. I sure they take that into account when looking at they way both of them interact with other people.

15th-Mar-2013 09:41 am (UTC)
I think over the course of the show Sam has become more and more isolated, and I always thought that made sense, given that most of Sam's relationships either ended disastrous (Jess, Ruby) or were revealed to him as not real (Brady and all the others that were pointed out by Lucifer in Swan Song). Sam already saw himself as cursed back in Provenance and I think that feeling was only reinforced by his personal experiences these last couple of years.

I hope they don't use Cas to miraculously "fix" Sam this time.
Ugh, I am going to throw a fit if that happens.
16th-Mar-2013 11:35 am (UTC)
I think over the course of the show Sam has become more and more isolated

Yes, I agree. He probably can't trust himself when it comes to making close friends. They've both lost so much and it must be safer to not get too close as he knows what usually happens.

It's curious to me that they mostly give Sam women to connect well with (Ruby, Madison, Sarah, Ava, Jody) and Dean men. Though I suppose Dean has Lisa, Cassie, Jo and now Charlie. Hmmm... not sure there's any real pattern there. Dean just seems to get on well with most people.

I think as Cas "fixed" Sam last time they won't do that again - but, I won't rest easy until we actually see that he can't.

15th-Mar-2013 12:01 pm (UTC)
Flippant answer: Because when Dean is around, Sam doesn't need anyone else. ;)

Serious answer: I really think it's part and parcel of Sam's character. While Dean is outgoing like whoa and likely to form a bond over a beer (Gordon), Sam is more introverted. The friendships he forms are deeper and more caring (Barry, Amy). Younger Sam eventually gave up on in-depth friendships, because why bother to form deep connections when Dad's only going to drag you away in a few weeks. But while on his own at Stanford and out of John's influence, Sam again allowed himself those friendships . . . and after Jess's death, once he hit the road with Dean, the old patterns re-emerged and Sam disconnected again. He tried for a while to stay in contact, but eventually let the Stanford friends go. It may not be very healthy, but Dean is his world.

Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with your point that "books are his other companion." Books, libraries, his beloved laptop, and the Batcave library -- they all seem to make him very, very happy. :)

Edited at 2013-03-15 12:06 pm (UTC)
16th-Mar-2013 12:53 pm (UTC)
Flippant answer: Because when Dean is around, Sam doesn't need anyone else. ;)

Hee...tbh, I think there's something in that. I mean, the show revolves around these two so they can't really give us much of them developing relationships outside of themselves (yay). I think it's interesting to see how they resolve the, I suppose, "problem", of keeping them together (considering the first half of the season was all about showing us that they really can't be with anyone else but each other).

And well put re why Sam doesn't form relationships now - whereas he did at Stanford. *nods*

And I LOVE that the batcave library makes Sam so happy (and Dean!- if Sam's happy, Dean's happy....).

Oh boys...

15th-Mar-2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
It's not just male friendship and not just deeper and ongoing friendship, either: Dean has bonded more with Charlie, and he reveals a lot more in passing to characters of the week (the bartender in the Osiris ep, the stripper in Time for a Wedding, Krissy in adventures in babysitting, he had conversations with Frank in a way Sam never did, he interacted more with Henry Winchester). The vast majority of what we know about Dean's feelings comes from hearing Dean tell someone, whereas a huge amount of what we know about Sam's feelings come from times when he's trapped with bits of himself through hallucinations or coma. And we generally do know more about Dean's feelings; Dean is more of an open book, Sam more of an enigma. (This is sometimes a criticism I have of the show, but I also think it's a characterization point -- I do wish, though, that they'd make more of a point of how isolated Sam has become, because sometimes it seems like they don't even notice that most of the significant exchanges with secondary characters fall to Dean.)

Maybe, with his tendency to fragmentation, Sam feels like the only way he can hold himself together is to keep himself bottled up: if he didn't practice rigorous containment, the dam would give way. And I think part of him may feel that precisely because he's so often the one in external crisis (the aftermath of s4, the Wall, Hallucifer, now the Trials), he needs to be the one who is not making demands of Dean emotionally. If someone keeps saving you from peril, I think it gets harder and harder to also call on them for more emotional forms of support.

I've been mulling some of this over as I try to work on both my last year's BB and my this year's BB: last year's is more about why Sam lies sometimes and how it has affected him to be lied to, but this year's is more about why he's secretive, which is a different kind of thing.
15th-Mar-2013 03:03 pm (UTC)
If someone keeps saving you from peril, I think it gets harder and harder to also call on them for more emotional forms of support.
Very true. Especially if that someone is in a perpetual state of depression and in need of emotional support himself. These last couple of years there has been a tendency of Sam holding back in order to disburden Dean and offering himself as emotional support in spite of his own issues. As a result Sam has become even more isolated than before. However, even though he doesn't initiate friendships anymore, he still reacts favourably when someone reaches out to him, like Jody in Time after Time, for example, and he bonded with Amelia as well, despite his emotional issues. So I think he is still open to emotional attachment, but the initiative has to come from the other party.
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16th-Mar-2013 01:54 am (UTC)
I think it's simply Sam has never had a motherly figure in his life. Dean, try as he might, still isn't a woman nor does he have a woman's soft voice, their touch. Which is why I think he responded to Jody and Ellen a lot more than he did with men on the show where as Dean, who adored John was always looking for that fatherly figure which he found in Bobby, and also I think it's because of the job. Interacting with mainly male hunters all his life, he might find it hard to interact with women when he's not in the role of the flirty bad boy.
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15th-Mar-2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Sam's lack of friendships with men - or women - on the show other than Dean *is* a sore spot and a complaint for me. If we ignore the blatant fanservice to the Dean Show fans (which a great majority of the fandom happily does) I have to say that it has always rubbed me wrong how fans go on and on and ON about how Dean only having Sam for a relationship is so unhealthy, but nobody every says that Sam just having Dean is unhealthy. Which just goes back to meta esorlehcar (on lj) and weecesting on tumblr have written about how Sam is being written as the female lead of the show. And then it makes sense because we all know how misogynistic the show AND the fandom are. So of course Sam has no one else because he has Dean, what else could he need? What else does a woman need but a man? But Sam is never enough for Dean, and frankly it's selfish for Sam to expect Dean not to have relationships with everyone else on the show. And it's not going to get fixed because the fans give the show too much credit, as this post does, and just try and write meta and shape Sam's personality to "Sam just doesn't like having friends". "Sam just prefers to be alone". And it works because the show gives us so little about Sam as a person (therefore making it easy to write Sam meta that's "canonical"), he's just a passive, reactive prop, mostly to Dean, sometimes to a secondary character. Ha, I might as well say ANOTHER secondary character because that's basically what Sam is. It's just a vicious cycle and since we're in S8 of 10 seasons, it's never getting fixed, both because it's gotten this far and no one even cares, and because the fans of Sam that are left in this fandom seem to happy to eat the shit and then try and meta about why it's a culinary masterpiece of Sam characterization.
16th-Mar-2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
I'm not really sure how to respond to this as I can't really agree with it. I appreciate your viewpoint of course, but, as a die hard Sam!gal, I've never felt that Sam has been treated as a secondary character. In fact, of the two, I think Sam has been given the more rich and varied journey. I think Sam and Dean are very different and therefore have to be treated differently. There's no doubt it would be good to see both characters move forward but with 1, if not 2, seasons more to come they need to keep some of their issues open for them. Whether everything will be "fixed" in that time it's hard to say but I think it leaves options open.

I think their relationship with each other is very unhealthy - for both of them - but for me that's what makes them so compelling. The show has to be about the two of them so they have to keep finding ways to keep them together. I admit that sometimes they get that wrong (*yikes* the beginning of this season) but , for me, they mostly get it right. I feel that Sam not having many male friends is part of his charactisation and as many have pointed out here there are good reasons for that.

I most certainly can't get into any character bashing because it's not what I'm here for. I can get mighty pissed off with the show at times but I've never felt one character is given more than the other. And I love both characters equally - just in different ways. :)
16th-Mar-2013 01:48 am (UTC)
It's debatable that Sam had any friends, ever, period. Says a bitter mostly Sam gal who really really wants to get into that big beautiful head of his.
16th-Mar-2013 02:38 pm (UTC)
Hee...I'll fight ya for some time in Sam's head. (Though I don't think it'd be a place anyone could stay for long).

16th-Mar-2013 01:51 am (UTC)
If you also notice, early in the seasons Sam bonded with the victims a lot more. Dean had trouble empathizing with them and talking to them, unlike Sam who excelled at that.

Now, it's almost as if Sam alienates himself from others. He doesn't actively try to talk to people unless he needs to. Dean interacts with a good portion of the guest stars and does most of the talking and bonding while Sam just stands behind him. I think Sam is perfectly okay with Dean fulfilling that for him. We see when John died Dean desperately tried to fill the void and latched onto Gordon way to easily because of it. With Bobby Dean was looking for that father figure, with Castiel and Garth Dean is looking for those allies/friends.

Sam on the other hand? We see his last relationship with Amelia, which was kind of painful to watch end up in the rubble. I wonder if Sam does it on purpose?
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16th-Mar-2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
Interesting observation! I'm not sure what to do with it without thinking on it further, but I think I conceive Sam as more... Withdrawn? Self-sufficient? I think both boys take a long time until they consider someone 'friend' and I think the way friendships work in a hunter environment is less conductive to the way Sam bonds than college was. Uhm. Does that even make sense? XD Like, I see him have an easier time bonding with a study buddy to geek out with at Stanford, than I have him bonding over a beer or five with a fellow hunter.

Edited at 2013-03-16 03:24 pm (UTC)
17th-Mar-2013 10:00 am (UTC)
Yeah - I'd definitely say Sam is self sufficient. I think he always has been actually. He doesn't seem to need other companions. I don't see him as particularly standoffish but I would agree that it takes a while for them to consider someone a friend.

And yes yes - finding someone to geek out with at Stanford would sit easier with Sam than sitting taking (or bonding) with someone over hunting. He attempted to with not!Adam, but that was more about being a protective brother I think.

16th-Mar-2013 09:39 pm (UTC)
I've found it a very odd evolution myself. If you look at their childhood it was Sam who made friends and was part of other social circles, the same in college -- so much so that the episode with Zach was all about Dean wanting to cut him off from those contacts. I've always assumed it had more to do with assigning workloads to the actors.

17th-Mar-2013 10:04 am (UTC)
I've always assumed it had more to do with assigning workloads to the actors.

Hmmm - yeah, it could be I suppose. I'd be really interested if they have ever been assigned different work loads. I would imagine that when Jared's baby was born he was scheduled for less time, but I'm not sure if that would have been the case earlier than that. It could be that there's just not been an opportunity for Sam to make males friends. He's turned to Ruby and Amelia when Dean's not been there (and the Campbells).
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