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I've read a lot of commentary that Sam is just setting down boundaries and rules on the relationship that he has with Dean... and watching the episode, I can see why people say that. Only, he’s doing so by demanding changes in Dean and predicating your own happiness on the changes in other people NEVER WORKS. As in, not ever. Never ever. NEVER.

The only way to find happiness is to base your happiness on things that YOU CONTROL. So for Sam to be happy, he needs to decide want he wants and he needs to want things that he can control.

My problem is this: I don't know what Sam wants. More than that, I don’t think Sam knows what he wants. I don't think he knows what he wants out of life, what he wants out of relationships or even what he needs to be happy. He knows what he doesn’t want – and that’s usually whatever he has right now -- but he doesn’t really have a goal to work towards.

Quite honestly, that's been true for Sam all of his life. Sam was always fighting with or running away from or hating his life. You can point to Stanford and say there that was when he was happy and content. However, we know that once Jessica died Sam never discussed a passion for becoming a lawyer or going back to school or anything, really.

It’s understandable that it would be hard to talk about going back and realistically he really wouldn’t be able to go back to what he had. Only Sam never talks about going forward, either. Outside of the monster of the week or the villain of the season arc, Sam has no direction -- except for hating everything about the life he lives.

True, his life is often hate-worthy and he has every right to want to change it. Yet, from everything that he's been saying in the past several episodes and everything he's been doing -- he's not trying to change his life, he's trying to change Dean. Sam didn't go to Dean and say "Listen, Dean, this is what I'm going to do differently and you're going to have to deal with it or you’re going to have to go it alone." No, he said "Listen, Dean, this is what YOU are going to have to do differently."

Sam is trying to redefine the people in his life to be what he wants them to be. Or rather what he thinks they should be. He wants Dean to behave and to believe and to act exactly the way Sam wants him to. And that's not healthy. Not for Dean. Not for Sam. Sam needs to define his own happiness based on things HE CAN CONTROL.

Is Sam pissed at Dean? Yes. Should Sam be pissed at Dean? Absolutely. Is Sam justified in feeling that he should never trust Dean again? Sam is justified in feeling any way he wants to. The problem is that instead of trying to figure out how to change HIS behavior and situation to make sure that never happens again, he's going around trying to change DEAN'S behavior so that it never happens again.

And that's just going to fail.



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Feb. 15th, 2014 09:19 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I am struggling so hard to get Sam, and I rarely come across meta that makes sense to me regarding Sam.

This is one of those rare gems.

And seeing as how this makes so much sense to me, I wholeheartedly agree.

The only way to find happiness is to base your happiness on things that YOU CONTROL.

Good real life advice there, too :)
Feb. 15th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
Advice I try hard to follow in my life that's full of obligations to and pressures from others!
Feb. 15th, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
I agree that one of Sam's major character flaws is how he views the world and his own problems, and that he feels he doesn't have any agency in it. He wants to be in control, because to him, being out-of-control or unaware of something is a horrible thing. If he doesn't know something or have something there for him to see, then it either a) doesn't matter to him or b) is not something he has to focus on, unless it somehow affects him. His problem right now is that, in his mind, Dean took away his agency (which he did with Gadreel, not with the church/Trials because that was on Sam to say yay-or-nay to) and so he has to establish boundaries again. It's what makes it possible that he doesn't/didn't notice a lot of Dean's problems, or that, for someone who argues for a more grayscale view of monsters, he seems to have a very black-and-white outlook on people and 'human' monsters.
Feb. 15th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
for someone who argues for a more grayscale view of monsters, he seems to have a very black-and-white outlook on people and 'human' monsters.

I've never thought of it this way, but it's true.

Boundaries are great and Sam definitely needs to establish them. He's never managed to do that, though. Not ever. Sam has always crossed the boundaries of what is in his control and is not in his control.

The other boundary-breaking things Sam does is accept the guilt and responsibility of how people act towards him. He'll say "You can't blame [whoever did something terrible], because I was [whatever Sam was at the time]". Sam can't do that, it's not healthy to Sam or the people he's dealing with. Each person is only responsible and capable of controlling THEIR OWN ACTIONS.

Maybe what Sam is doing now is just the flip-side of that strange logic. He's attempting to modify how Dean behaves and thinks because he feels somehow responsible for them? I don't know. I just know that the boundaries he's setting up now are not under his control and that's going to be a problem, eventually.

Edited at 2014-02-15 05:28 pm (UTC)
Feb. 15th, 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
The main problem is that Sam does have a very odd focus on himself as the outlier, as either a solution or a problem. A lot of that comes from him being the focus of Dean and, probably, their dad but as the one to keep 'safe'. He seemed to be in the dark about a lot of things, and he felt betrayed by John and Dean at various points for not letting him be 'normal' or for not telling him the full truth. Sam seems to believe that he has to get the full truth without giving back the same thing, or by telling 'the truth' as he sees it, which has to be because he's obviously that much smarter then his father or Dean. (sorry, i'm running on coffee and sarcasm)
It's not that Sam didn't tell the truth in a way - Dean can't really live without Sam, no matter what, and does have issues with being alone and away from family - but the last part and what he said vs. what he might have meant is what, I think, has a lot of fans upset with him. He doesn't seem to think that Dean's issues are big enough for him to worry about, because Dean betrayed him, and that's going to have far-reaching consequences for him in the end.
Feb. 16th, 2014 10:29 am (UTC)
It's not I think that he doesn't think Dean's issues are big enough to worry about but that yeah you have issues Dean and when you do exactly as I say they'll be gone. Depending on your point of view that's either creepily abusive or it's Sam drawing the line in the sand.

In neither case, as noticed so well by partly, is he letting Dean have a say. An opinion. Anything. You could be forgiven for thinking that Sam's reaction to "Bad Boys " was 'of course Dean gave up everything to continue to raise me. Duh. That's what he's here for.'

And we can also say like father like son. John didn't understand his sons but probably more Dean. Sam doesn't get Dean either.
Feb. 15th, 2014 02:33 pm (UTC)
Very good analysis. Thank you.
Feb. 28th, 2014 07:58 pm (UTC)
One hint of something that Sam seems to actually want out of life: he was putting out feelers to take more college courses back at the beginning of season 8. Dean found the evidence on Sam's laptop and was very pissy and dismissive about it.

I would love it if Sam took some online courses on the side. Even if he never got a career in any field other than hunting, I think he would enjoy the process.

Mar. 1st, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
I don't think taking classes just to take them would be good for Sam. He needs a goal. He needs a purpose, one that he actively chooses, not just one that he allows to be pushed on him.

Sam needs to want something and to work toward it. And he has to want it enough that he's not stopped as soon as someone (even Dean) gets "pissy" about it. Hell, if I stopped doing things every time my sibling gave me a hard time, I would never do anything. It's the nature of siblings.

And really, since when is "hunting" just for the dumbasses, anyhow? From what I've seen mythology, history, chemistry, biology (especially xenobiology), horticulture, archeology, anthropology... they are all branches of study that would come in handy for average hunter. Hell, even knowledge of the law would help with the stuff hunter's run into. Being a lawyer and a hunter would be a very good combination.

The last thing Sam needs is to see academia as an escape from the hunting life. He needs to see it as a way to make his life better and he needs to want it enough to stand and fight for it.
Mar. 1st, 2014 10:49 am (UTC)
This brings up another issue (and kinda circles back around to your original post).

If Sam cannot and should not try and change Dean, and the burden is on himself to take action, then the only thing that would prevent Dean from taking away his agency and potentially violating him again if Dean thought the situation called for it, would be for Sam to leave. But we wouldn't have a show. and he would be crucified by fandom for abandoning Dean and running away again. (Though its iffy where the line between actively removing yourself from a dangerous situation crosses the line to running away. )

Mar. 1st, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
WOW! I have had this sitting in my email inbox now for awhile, and just now got around to reading this. THANK YOU! so much for this wonderful insight. I am having a hard time with the brothers' disconnection, and it is taking me in places and feelings about the show I never thought I would be. Being an avid Dean!girl, I am really struggling with Sam's behavior and comments toward Dean. I do understand why he has said what he has said, but I haven't really agree with much of it. But your analysis here, spot on. I hadn't thought of it this way, and I don't know why, but it is obvious. I lived this way exactly - trying to get my brothers to change and act the way I WANTED them to, but was met with frustration after frustration, until one day, I just let it all go, and I have never been happier. Sam really does need to recognize this in himself and LET IT GO! He needs to accept Dean for who he is and what he does, and change himself accordingly, and control what he can control, because trying to control Dean and his actions is only going to lead to more heartache. We can't change people, we can only change ourselves.

Thanks again for this. I really needed to read something like this right now.
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