My SPN S8 Top 10 #6 is Sam. In particular early S8!Sam, because he is perfect. Like, I understand why Dean would disagree with me on this one. But given how shit Dean is at expressing why this is so upsetting to him*, it's interesting to me that Sam being equally as shit at expressing where he's coming from does him so many ill favors in fandom.**
* hint: it doesn't have a whole lot to do with the broken record he keeps playing--or at least it doesn't end there. even if he thinks it might.
** "I had a happy, normal life and it was great" is a telegraphic summary of what Sam thinks he came to, but it elides entirely the 'from.'
For me, watching S8 requires that you remember what S7 felt like: Shut down; stripped bare; bereft of their friends (various), home (the Impala and/or Bobby's), what was ever left of their identities (thank you for your kind services, Frank, RIP); and their small comforts (gross motels, as opposed to gross shacks), isolated from each other by their respective deadening exhaustion. Sam was concerned that Dean was drinking too much, passively suicidal, and stressed enough to be hallucinating Bobby; and Sam was actually, for sure, hallucinating Lucifer. And then of course, Bobby--by the time they burned his bones everything was so twisted up and worked over and one big, ugly flatline that there wasn't even a crisp tragedy to the moment. Just sickness.
So then Purgatory ended up "pure" and Sam ended up in Texas. It's not about "not loving Dean enough," or "not showing that he loves Dean," but not being able to. Have you ever felt that way?
I've shared this on Tumblr, but I'll put it here, too. My belated reaction post to 8x01:
Sam heads up I-19, the Impala’s rumble carrying him over the crackle of newly paved roads—roads he knows are new only because they had recently been eliminated. He thinks about finding the Grand Canyon, somewhere out there in his and Dean’s stupid southwestern fairy tale. He thinks about pulling a Thelma and Louise. Or just a Thelma. But he knows what he’s really doing is pulling a Dean Winchester, and he’s driving himself into the ground. He’s driving himself, and the car, and the $2000 it took to fix her straight into the ground.
Sam stops at the next turn-off and sits. The Impala cools. The sky loses its luster. The the neon comes on across the lot, red and blue sickened by the bright fluorescence of Sam’s Flying J. Finally, Sam figures it out:
The Key to Everything.
He and Dean could have lived months on that $2000. (Gas is, has always been, a separate budget. Gas is, has always been, the reason Sam has suffered. Has lived long enough to suffer.) Alone, Sam could stretch $2000 to almost a year—longer, actually, as his appetite has yet to come crawling, defeated, back. Eternity. Eternity on repeat.
Sam has, on his person, another $2000. He doesn’t know where it’s from, who gave it to him (though he suspects it was him. He suspects it was Sam Winchester), but it’s slick in his pockets, well-handled. A combination of ones and one-hundreds.
Sam has $2000. He turns the radio off.
He’s on this way to the Grand Canyon, semi-conscious, inhabiting five miles ago, five days ago, five years ago, not quite caught up to the road in front of him, when a ghost sprints toward him. Light, wispy. Waiting for someone to take her home. To find her husband. To listen to her story. To save whatever scraps of nothing matter most. To scorched-earth his way into not having to choose, to wonder, what was supposed to matter.
Then it’s corporeal. Then it’s bone, crackling like split asphalt. Then it’s a dog.