season 8 premiere had several bombshells. Dean seemed to enjoy his year
in Purgatory and even made a new friend, a vampire named Benny. And
prophet Kevin Tran discovered a spell to close the fates of Hell
forever. But the most disconcerting revelation came from Sam.
Season 8 Premiere Recap: Back from Purgatory>>
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In the year since the season 7 finale, Sam gave up hunting and didn't search for his brother, Dean. This wasn't viewed favorably by many fans or Dean himself. Sure, the brothers always tell each other not to look, but as Dean pointed out, "we always ignored that because of our deep, abiding love for each other."
Does Sam not looking for his brother and giving up the "family business" make him a bad guy? Despite popular opinion, I say "No." I defend Sam's decisions, and here are several reasons why.Sam Wasn't To Blame
In the past, Sam carried the burden of blame with him, When Dean was sent to Hell at the end of season 3 it was because he made a deal to bring Sam back to life. If it weren't for Sam, Dean wouldn't have gone, so he owed it to his brother to bring him back. This time, however, Sam's conscience was clean. Dean disappearing wasn't on him.Bobby's Death
The biggest difference between this time and all the other times the brothers did whatever it took to rescue each other was the lack of Bobby. In season 7, the Winchesters' entire support system was destroyed. Bobby's house and Bobby himself are gone. As Crowley pointed out, Sam was all alone at the end of season 7. He's never been in that situation before. There was nothing tying him to the family, no place to go or person to turn to. As a younger brother, Sam is more of a follower, and without anyone to follow, he just have up.Bobby's Warning
The last words Bobby said to the boys, echoed in the Road So Far" montage, were "When it's your time, go." The death of a surrogate father certainly changes a man, and for Sam, he most likely took that warning to heart, not just for death, but for life. Sam viewed the end of season 7 as his time, and so he went. Everyone in his family always sacrifices for each other and does things that hurt them in the long run, and Bobby's final words of wisdom were basically a plea for the boys to stop the cycle. If you stay too long, you'll be corrupted. Sam heeded Bobby's warning and got out when he could.Sam's Desire to Escape His Family
Going all the way back to the pilot, Sam has tried to escape the family business. When the show started he was trying to go to law school, on the run from his father and brother. Sam's original psychology was of a boy who desperately wanted to live his own life, choose his own path. Dean, the older, protective brother, was the one devoted to his destiny. He was always more committed to the hunt than Sam. He was always more committed to the idea that he's responsible for saving everyone (most likely a result of his father handing his baby brother to him during the fire that killed their mother).
When Sam was left all alone, he was finally free to pursue the life he'd always wanted. He didn't have to worry about hunting monsters. And more importantly, he didn't have to worry about disappointing anyone because there was no one left to disappoint.
You may not like that Sam apparently chose a veterinarian and a dog over the family business, but I appreciate it because it makes sense. It's too early to tell what the larger themes of season 8 will be, but I suspect one of them will be about the basic psychological differences between Sam and Dean. Dean is a Hunter, the older brother who is in charge of protecting Sammy and everyone else. And he has accepted that role gleefully, now to the point of almost enjoying the simplicity of "Hunter vs. Monster."
Sam, on the other hand, is more fragile, less concerned with the family business and more concerned with starting over. He was born in blood and, in a perverse way, his mere existence caused their mother's death because of the deal she made with Azazel. It makes sense that Sam's deepest driving force is to escape this life and find a new one.
I hope this season continues to explore this great divide between Sam and Dean. It's not about plot. It's not about drinking demon blood and being destined to fight each other as Lucifer and Michael. It's not about good vs. evil. This season, it's about who Sam and Dean are as people and the inherent traits that cause them to make different choices.(Image courtesy of the CW)