Hmm. Different strokes. I like Sam’s storyline. A lot.
I need to you meta it for me, Flutie! Tell me why it works and how it isn’t wildly OOC… :/
It’s not the leaving the life that’s the problem and it’s not that he was able to give up hunting seemingly so easily - OF COURSE Sam could do that, it’s what he’s always wanted to do.
It’s the NOT EVEN TRYING to find Kevin or Dean I’m stuck on. Because the Sam I know would only give up on his brother and on saving an innocent life once he was 100% certain there was nothing in his power he could do.
It’s nuts. THIS is what is stopping me using the season gr8 tag right now. Not Dean. Not Benny. Not the lack of Cas. THIS.
Well, it’s not a brave thing he does in leaving the Hunting life, or a heroic one, but it is, I’d argue, a healthy one. I mean, it’s about time one of the Winchesters acted like a normal human being, and tried to heal themselves before healing the world. First rule of caretaking – YOU come first, then your charge.
But to explain why Sam ditching Kevin makes sense, I think we have to step back a few seasons.
In “Dark Side of the Moon”, we see three versions of Heaven for Sam, all of which are iterations on Sam choosing to go it on his own, apart from his family. This is about more than just a child’s need to rebel. These Heavens are about Sam choosing independence, about defining what he wanted life to look like (Thanksgivings, dogs, college, normalcy) and not about taking what was handed to him. That these are what he considers his truest and happiest moments, that this was his Heaven, demonstrates that at the core of his being, Sam aches to be his own man; and that expressing his independence is the single most important thing that he needs to find fulfillment in life.
I cannot stress enough how different this is from Dean (and it remains the fundamental conflict between their two personalities). Dean’s Heavens were iterations of family, of togetherness, of unconditional, unrestrained love. Thus, at the core of his being, Dean aches to be joined with another; to be part of a unit, a family. He needs family more than he needs self. So of course Dean will feel a responsibility for people he doesn’t even know, because he’s all part of the same big family of humans. (Plus, it’s easier to worry about strangers than it is to worry about yourself.)
Sam, however, does not feel responsibility for the world’s safekeeping in the same way that Dean does. He doesn’t shoulder the same guilt or responsibility for strangers, and he never has.* His worry for the world has been primarily motivated out of love for his family, or revenge for those he’s lost. Now that his family’s gone, and he’s seen the fallacy in playing the revenge game, what motivation is there for him to stay in Hunting?
Don’t forget – just because we knew where Dean and Kevin were doesn’t mean that Sam did, and how was he supposed to have chased them down, anyway? Searching Heaven is right out, since Cas was gone, and his entire garrison dead or MIA. Looking up Hell would’ve gotten him nowhere either, considering it was in Crowley’s best interest to make sure everyone kept his secrets, and besides, one human, even a human-moose hybrid, doesn’t take on Hell’s forces alone unless he wants a fate worse than death. Crossroads demons and gods alike would’ve laughed in Sam’s face at this point, and no monster worth his or her salt would parley with a Winchester. Hunter network is a no-go either, since all the friendly Hunters like the Campbells, or Rufus, or Jo and Ellen are dead, and almost every other Hunter we’ve met (save Annie and Garth) has harbored a grudge against Sam for starting the Apocalypse (and judging how many no’s Dean got from Bobby’s Hunter network in his quest to save Sam in “The Born Again Identity”, I think it’s safe to say they’re still pretty pissed). I suppose Sam could have gone to the Leviathan, but one man against an army of chompers – even a floundering one – would have been suicide. So who does that leave? I honestly don’t see what Sam’s options were, even if he wanted them.
But he could have found a way if he wanted to, I’m sure. He just didn’t. Instead he decided to cut himself off cleanly and completely from the Hunting life – ditching his phones, even the Safe House – no exceptions, no matter what threads he’d left dangling. And I must say, it’s an understandable way of going about things – when you cut out a toxic element from your life, such as an abusive boyfriend, it’s best to just make a clean break of it as best as you can. Walk away, and don’t look back.
Yes, Kevin is Sam’s responsibility, but if Sam were to make an exception for Kevin, where does it end? How does he not simply get dragged back by the short and curlies into an enterprise that killed every single person he ever loved or even knew? (Which, of course, is exactly what’s about to happen this season.)
Sam probably rationalized it to himself much as he did to Dean – People will die, but they always have and they always will, and the world will in fact go on without me.
And you know what? He was right. Kevin did survive. He got stronger, more competent, more capable. He came into his own. Not just him — the Levi were apparently taken care of, monsters were dealt with, people were saved. Even Dean came back. Things did keep going without him. Sam is not a fixed point around which the universe revolves. He can be written out of the story, just as much as God can. (It’s an interesting parallel, I think, between a Hunter who abandons the Life and a God who abandons his Children. Must say, I didn’t see that one coming, but, on Earth as it is in Heaven, I suppose.)
So obviously, if Sam is going to stay in the Hunter’s life, he has to find a better motivation than, “without me, things fall apart”, because demonstrably they don’t. And that’s a crappy motivation anyway, because it’s reactive, not proactive – it means you’re constantly putting out fires, instead of putting up the matches, you know? A man like Sam can’t establish a life constantly reacting to things: He needs to choose, not react.
Sam’s choices here aren’t selfless, but then again, Sam himself is not selfless. He’s the opposite of selfless. He is self, constantly striving to establish who he is independent of those around him. (Ironic, considering he was the one thrust into the martyr role in “Swan Song”.) Dean is the self-less one, he has no concept of self, and he’s the one who would’ve gone back for Kevin, no matter what.
So yeah, not going back for Kevin? Totally a dick move. But I think it’s also entirely in character for Sam, and that the show was willing to go there, to allow their protagonist to demonstrate such fundamentally unlikeable qualities as ditching someone in need? I love the consistency of it, and it only strengthens my faith in the quality of the writing we have ahead of us this season.
* Obviously “The Born Again Identity” is very much on my mind here, and yes, even when tormented by Hallucifer, Sam does help Marin out of nothing more than the kindness of his heart. But I’d argue that Sam isn’t really alone in TBAI – he still has Dean, and Lucifer – and he’s long since accepted his fate to be a Hunter for life; so the circumstances aren’t really the same as they were at the end of “Survival of the Fittest”.