In last week's episode, Lucifer tried to manipulate Sam by convincing Sam that he was too weak to take on the Darkness. He wanted Sam to believe that he no longer had the fight that he once had which had enabled him to save the world. Lucifer did this by taking Sam for a walk down memory lane, showing him what Lucifer to perceive as Sam's boldest, bravest moments and then showing him when he lost it all. Lucifer showed Sam with Amelia and in that moment Lucifer did his damnedest to convince Sam that by choosing to run from hunting, by giving up, this was the moment Sam became weak, he lost his will to fight and he no longer has what it takes to beat Amara.
Lucifer's attempt to get to Sam failed, but it did manage to cause Sam to feel guilty all over again, this as we saw in the moments when Sam couldn't sleep and the conversation between him and Lucifer kept swimming through his head. The guilt is still with Sam as we all saw and finally got to hear in tonight's episode, but I don't think it's all black and white and I feel that both Andrew Dabb and Robbie Thompson have at last showed the fans what most of us have believed all along, so thank you for finally letting us see for ourselves what we've been saying all along.
Weakness has been a hot topic concerning Sam and Dean this season. They both believe that one point they have been weak and thus perceive themselves to be a failure/disappointment to their brother. As we have seen in the last two episodes, and all those previously in one form or another, both these boys are still guilty of this false perception. I think Sam and Dean share the same basic flaw and it's THIS flaw that is their weakness at times, it's their own perception of their own self loathing which often leads to guilt. Lucifer had Sam thinking his moment of weakness came, not by keeping a promise, but by running away from hunting and hiding in a fantasy world that included a woman Sam never truly loved and a dog. Sam as he admitted, imploded and ran. He didn't have the strength at the time to stay in the life that killed his family, and he didn't have the strength any more to care about the rest of the world. At the time of his grief, until he hit the dog, Sam seemed to stop living and caring about anything. The truth of the matter is, hitting that dog saved Sam's life. Sam shifting his focus to start caring again, to start helping again, as is why he chose a broken Amelia, who had lots of similarities to Dean. In that time he chose to run, he found the strength to get through and even before Sam knew Dean was alive, he left Amelia and went back to the cabin. We saw Sam coming to terms with his need to stop running during his conversation with Amelia's father even before the call came in about dear dead Don's magical reappearance. Amelia's lost husband returned and the bond they shared was no longer there. Sam knew it was time to get back to his real life or at the very most he couldn't share a life with a woman he didn't truly love because love was never what brought them together.
If Lucifer tried to convince Sam that his greatest weakness was in leaving the hunting life and running from it, I disagree with Lucifer's assessment and I think Sam might have too. Though Sam was broken, he found a way to survive. He found the strength to live again and when the time came, he left the life of normal and headed back to the cabin. Finding a way to survive a devastating loss is possibly one of the strongest things a person can do and not too long ago, Dean did the same thing in order to find a way to keep going, to survive as well.
The flaw here in Sam is his own perception of self loathing and guilt. He did nothing wrong in believing his brother died. He did nothing wrong in keeping a promise they made. He did nothing wrong when he broke and ran away from the life that killed everyone, Mum, Dad, Jess ,Dean, Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Ash etc....he did nothing wrong in finding a way to survive. What he did do wrong was allow himself to feel guilty over all of it, to believe that he was a failure to his brother. His flaw was in allowing his self loathing to take over and fall victim to misperception. He did not fight back when Dean constantly ragged on him about not looking. He doesn't give his brother a beat down when Dean doesn't get that he was keeping a promise to his brother and that Sam doesn't tell Dean himself that he imploded and ran, that it was hell, that all he wanted to do was look for a way to bring him back but they made a damn promise and that's what Sam believed Dean wanted.
Sam's flaw was allowing his low opinion of himself take the beating he felt he deserved and for believing that his brother saw him as a failure. (which was never the case and Dean's issues were not about Sam, they were about him...but then that goes back to Dean's flaw...same as Sam's ..self loathing....only it's worn differently on each of them...but the result is always the same....misperception and the false belief that they are a failure to the other).
If the stroll down memory lane did anything, it was having Sam recognize this guilt that stems from how he sees himself and not how his brother actually sees him. Showing Sam the moment with Amelia seemed to have the opposite effect on Sam....the way I saw it, it seemed to clarify once and for all that his time with Amelia wasn't about weakness, it was a sign of strength, Sam found a way to survive, because of his love for his brother. Sometimes one just needs a little time to regroup, by Sam focusing on Amelia, we see Sam not giving up on life, but as a means of surviving it, even he if had to do it by living a life that wasn't a reality. ;) But of course the guilt is still there. Lucifer did remind Sam of the guilt that he does feel. The guilt for breaking in the first place. The guilt for running away. The guilt for seemingly disappointing Dean.
I think Robbie Thompson has continued to use the double meaning method of writing in which the story can be interpreted in two ways, depending how you choose to view it. No matter how one chooses to view it, the same message is there.
Sam: "I should've looked for you . When you were in purgatory, I should've turned over every stone, but I didn't ...I stopped." This statement can be interpreted in two ways.
We have option A.
One can look at it like this; "I should've turned every stone but, I didn't, I stopped"...Does that mean Sam in fact did try? Those first months when Sam said the just got in the car and drove, did he make the attempt to look but failed in that attempt? He stopped because he had no information, no clue, no help, nothing....did he convince himself that his brother had died because he couldn't face up to Dean just being missing and Sam not able to find him.?
"I should've looked for you." (as in I should've looked for a way to bring you back). "When you were in purgatory, I should've turned over every stone" (meaning, I should've looked for other ways besides demon deals to bring you back from the dead. I should've tried other methods, promise or not.) But I stopped (but instead I ran. I stopped hunting. I couldn't do it. I was weak and I failed you.) *This is of course how Sam sees himself, not at all as I see Sam.
I believe with all my heart that it's the latter, Option B. But no matter how you look at it, Sam has borne the burden of this guilt to this day....and even though it would've been nice for Dean to admit that a promise was made, I think by telling Sam to let it go...he's long forgiven him...and all that matters is that they're together, was his way of letting Sam know that Dean loves him and never has truly seen Sam as a disappointment. So, I'll take it. :D
So thank you both Andrew Dabb and Robbie Thompson for finally giving Sam a voice and Dean an ear, and for finally putting all that guilt to a much needed rest. Season 11....moving on.
I just had to clear that up foremost. Now onto other thinky thoughts.
I liked this episode. Dee Wallace was a joy. I think she may have represented a lot of the more season members of the fandom. We might be older, but we ain't dead! We know pretty when we see it. I really think she had a great outlook on life and it was something Dean needed to hear. I really enjoyed the hearing impaired character as well. I love that she's a legacy of the MOL. It's nice to know that Sam and Dean aren't alone out there. She showed herself to be quite capable and sensible. She too knows a beautiful thing when she sees him/them. She's deaf, not blind. I think the boys benefited greatly from taking on this case.
I thought the Banshee was pretty creepy, so the scare factor was also in place here tonight, in more ways than one. I think Luci is someone to be scared of. I don't know exactly what he was looking for, but I don't think he's out to help anyone here but himself. What's scary is the information Cas has. I don't know if the First Blade can come into play, given that Luci is the original bearer of the MOC, but Cas knows it's whereabouts and I wonder if it can be used on Amara. Could it be that easy? I don't think so. I do think it's a scary concept that Cas knows the whereabouts of both the First Blade and the Demon Tablet. Those items in Luci's possession cannot be good for anyone.
I have to wonder, if the angels can see Luci's true visage, will it be an angel that tells Sam and Dean that Lucifer is free? It seems so simple right? Sooner or later the boys will make this discovery either on their own or with some assistance, but in the meantime, Lucifer is getting the upper hand with each moment he roams free. Dean confessing to Cas about the hold that Amara has on him. Dean, confiding in the wrong person. Here's that flaw at work again. The fear that both boys share, that fear of disappointing the other, it's a hard habit to just break. I get why Dean was able to confide in Cas and not Sam. Cas doesn't mean the same to Dean. Dean doesn't really care the same way what Cas might think of him, or how Cas might see him. We kind of got a hint of that in PONR. Cas had noted that he didn't have the same faith in Dean as Sam had, and that really didn't seem to phase Dean all that much. It was Sam that Dean couldn't let down. So here we are again, Dean thinking that his inability to be in control of the situation will have Sam think Dean weak or incapable. Of course this is just Dean's own misperception, because as we know nothing and no one can ever make Sam think any less of his brother or see him as weak. I think Dean knows this in his heart, but in his head....Dean will eventually tell Sam the truth and all his worry would've been for naught, but I guess this is just a case where Dean has to come to understand this for himself. I think for the most part, this was basically about getting Dean to spill to Lucifer, and now Lucifer has ammunition that he can use against Dean whenever he sees fit....which makes Dean vulnerable.
I think Dean's inability to sleep at the end is not only because of his fear of this hold Amara has on him, and now that he's said it aloud, it becomes a reality he must deal with, but I think it also stems from Dean withholding the truth from Sam. He's said it before and we've seen it before, Dean does not like to lie to Sam. I can only hope that soon he comes to understand that he never has to. Sam's there, so it's a good sign that Dean will follow. Sam has been know to learn from his mistakes a tad quicker than Dean. Or perhaps it's more in line with Sam's faith. His faith in his brother. His faith in his friends. His faith slowly returning in himself. Dean's got faith in his brother. He may even have faith in his friends....but faith in himself? I don't think he's there just yet...but he's close.
This was a very good episode with lots of humor and tenderness from all characters, (sans Lucestiel) involved. It felt like a love letter to the fans and to the boys, finally giving us all closure regarding a plot line that wasn't very popular with a lot of the fandom, and doing it in a way that was both cathartic and loving. With that behind everyone, we can now enjoy the new relationship the boys share now and the new fight that this relationship will triumph over.
Til next week.