Sam and Dean tend to fall into specific roles on Supernatural. Dean is the more pessimistic (or realistic) of the two and Sam usually tries to bring his brother out of his slumps by looking on the bright side of the monster hunting life. However, in the episode “Breakdown” the roles reversed. Dean is in the position of being the more emotionally stable one as Sam is focused, far too focused, on the likelihood on how everything can go wrong as a hunter. Sam and Dean flipping roles on the emotional spectrum is nothing new but the current status quo should stick around in season 13.
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The Depressing Shoe Tied to the Other Foot Brother
It could be a bit discouraging that Supernatural is putting Sam back in the same emotional headspace as Dean was at the start of season 13. Season 13 began in a very dark place for the brothers and it made the show hard to enjoy. Even if Dean being completely miserable during the season premiere and beyond was understandable, it wasn’t very enjoyable or all that interesting.
Supernatural has had Dean doubting the point of his life many times before. So doing it with an obviously temporary situation, the loss of Cas and disappearance of Mary, just felt false. There was nothing about Dean’s depression or anger that felt like it was breaking new ground for the character, even if he was dealing with the existence of Jack and directing all his rage onto him. Yet putting Sam into the same emotional headspace works, where it didn’t with Dean.
Sam being down is nothing that new for Supernatural. It is a rare situation though as the series typically keeps the brothers in the roles they do best. Sam is the dreamer and Dean is the grounded one. However, Supernatural could really use a lengthy personal story for Sam as it’s been a long time since the younger Winchester has been given the spotlight. Sam being hopeless is a far more novel and interesting situation than Dean being in the same place.
Sam Getting His Emotional Due
For a very long time on Supernatural, Sam has been the cheerleader and the one who supports Dean. It’s about time that the show explores the dynamic from the other side where it’s Sam who needs a pick-me-up and Dean is the one who provides it. So much of the emotional angst usually ends up on Dean’s shoulders but Sam is just as important a character as Dean on Supernatural. Sam can often be overlooked when he’s just there to support Dean emotionally but if Sam’s the one who’s “in a bad mood” Supernatural has to focus on him.
Sam is best used as the optimist but there should be more to his character than just believing the best always. Simply because Sam being depressed is so out of the norm, it makes the situation so much more interesting. The surprise of Sam being so hurt by everything that has happened lately on Supernatural allows the show to be more complex and nuanced in its storytelling.
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Sam being depressed also ends up benefitting Dean as well. It puts Dean out of his comfort zone and requires him to rely on his own development as a character to pull Sam out of his tailspin. Sam struggling with his emotions and Dean trying to help shouldn’t last all season. It should, however, be an ongoing storyline for a handful of episodes. Maybe Dean will even fail to bring Sam out of his slump and it’ll be up to the return of Cas, Mary or even Jack to finally bring Sam back to emotional equilibrium.
But what do you think will happen with Sam’s new depression? How long will it last? How long should it last? Will Dean be able to bring Sam out of it or will another character do the job instead?
Supernatural season 13 airs Thursdays 18 at 8/7c on the CW. For more SPN updates, follow BuddyTV’s Supernatural Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of the CW)