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curled around these images
just enough to make us dangerous
Musing... 
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. :)
Comments 
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.
15th-Mar-2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
the initiative has to come from the other party.

We don't know how his Stanford friendships formed, of course, but I wonder if that may always have been true of Sam. It's certainly the case that, for all his assertive style when it came to sex, the romantic partners we've seen him hook up with have usually taken the initiative in getting the encounter going. And between Dean's protectiveness and John's expectations, Sam has been so formed by having his relationships coming at him, as it were. Not that he's passive by nature -- in a lot of ways he's far, far more proactive than Dean -- but he's sort of reactively proactive, with rebellion or response a foundational element in all that goal drivenness.

In my usual unwholesome way of projecting my own issues on Winchesters when I write, I was meditating the other day on the thing that happens in canon where often we not only know more about how Dean reacts to Dean's stuff, we even know more about how Dean reacts to Sam's stuff. And I think to some extent that's a narrative choice on the show, but on the other hand -- my mother is a very fiercely protective type. And that means that it would often happen when I was growing up that she would react very emotionally to things that happened in my life, often more strongly than I myself would. And I've realized since that that has left me with two interrelated tendencies: to be secretive about things that I think others might respond to emotionally, and to underreact to things myself. Maybe it's pure projection, but I see some of that in Sam. Dean and John both did so much boundary-blurring reacting to both things that happened to Sam and to Sam's choices, I wonder if that's at the root of Sam's tendency to keep secrets (even as far back as Bloody Mary), to downplay things, and maybe even within himself to be alienated from or have difficulty accessing his own primary reactions.

I think that's part of how Sam does both forgiveness and anger: in a way, they are both distancing reactions that involve defining something quite analytically (when he was angry at John in the earlier seasons, for all the bias that entailed and the emotion it involved, it was also part of a more outside perspective on how their childhood looked in relation to abstract norms than Dean had; when he forgave Cas in s7, he was working very much by empathy through analogy). My latest theory is that while Dean often gets stuck in the complications of dealing with hurt, Sam often tries to skip the experiencing hurt part and move on immediately to a more proactive process, whether that takes the form of anger or even vengeance or whether it takes the form of figuring out and understanding and forgiving. And the post 7.23 crisis gave him a situation where his usual channeling mechanism snapped, and he dealt with shock and helplessness by running off altogether into escape.
15th-Mar-2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
My latest theory is that while Dean often gets stuck in the complications of dealing with hurt, Sam often tries to skip the experiencing hurt part and move on immediately to a more proactive process, whether that takes the form of anger or even vengeance or whether it takes the form of figuring out and understanding and forgiving. And the post 7.23 crisis gave him a situation where his usual channeling mechanism snapped, and he dealt with shock and helplessness by running off altogether into escape.

Wow...yeah, that makes so much sense...wanders off to mull that over a while...
16th-Mar-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
So I think he is still open to emotional attachment, but the initiative has to come from the other party.

This is very true. We see in Sam's younger years he finds it difficult making friends in new schools where as he idolizes Dean's ability to get the girls and become 'popular' even though really Dean didn't care about it at all.

I wonder if this isn't something that developed over the course of his child hood and has just become compounded due to everything that has happened to him?

He seems perfectly content with letting Dean interact with others and handle them, yet when they respond to him like Jody and even Ellen, who was pushy with him but he responded a lot to it.

Funnily enough, and maybe this is a whole OTHER question, ironically Sam deals with a loss of control over his life throughout the show but on the one hand people like Ruby, Lucifer, Ellen, Jody etc. have to make the first move and control the situation and parameters of their friendship before Sam responds.

I guess the poor guy may be so used to having no control over his life that he adapted to it and expects other people to take control/initiate contact first before he does anything?
16th-Mar-2013 02:25 pm (UTC)
As usual, you have the most perfect way of saying stuff.

I adore this:

Maybe, with his tendency to fragmentation, Sam feels like the only way he can hold himself together is to keep himself bottled up

I often feel like Sam could just explode but keeps himself together. Not just for his own sake but for Dean's as well. I think it's been perfectly within character for him to keep what's happening to him from Dean - and for exactly the reasons you've stated here.

I think the way Dean bonds with secondary characters generally is important and I love to think this has been a deliberate part of his characterization (as well as Sam's). I know there's been some fuss made about Dean bonding with Charlie and not Sam, but I think it's all part of who they are and where they've been.

It's also curious that when Sam does reach out to people it's to lend a sympathetic ear, to console, to provide support - but Sam doesn't take that in return. He takes so much on the chin and internalizes so much that's going on with him. I wouldn't be surprised if one day he does explode.

And yay BB! I look forward to it. You have a wonderful grasp on Sam.
16th-Mar-2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
Talking about Sam is one of my favorite things.

I get why so many people think of it as having much more emotional access to Dean and wanting the same for Sam, and I do sometimes feel that way, especially when there are scenes that we know HAPPENED in the fiction but we aren't shown them. But I can't really think of it as an overall injustice to Sam because one of the things that gets me crazy addicted in love with Sam's characterizations is how he experiences deep emotional things in screwy, sidelong, cognitive ways. And I think the show, for all it sometimes falls down on one side or the other of balancing and developing Sam and Dean, has also shown a lot of brilliance in reflecting their different ways of experiencing and reacting through its different ways of telling their stories.
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