JMI:What’s real for Sam?

Jenny Klein’s script “Just my imagination” dares to give us further insight into Sam’s current thinking about his fear going forward into the Cage. She stays true to the character of Sam even to the smallest details of his childhood like of marshmallows.*

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Each child who has an imaginary friend appears to be in need of a companion. Maddie, has caring parents who need a book to know how to raise a child.The restaurant reservation conversation shows how they are so out of touch with the needs of a young child. The swimmer appears to have a nice life, but her care giver seems only slightly interested in her needs. The bed wetter has a common childhood problem, but one that can often be socially isolating. There is Sam in flashback deciding that hunting is his life. And then there is adult Sam, who struggles with the decision to go to the Cage. In each case, a Zana is there to help guide their wards as a companion or sounding board for their worst fears.

The opening montage is complete with entities that exist in other realms that we have seen before like Leprechauns, and Fairies, as well as the current dark arc. We are reminded that not everyone sees these entities by Dean’s “microwave/nipples” reference. The initial scene of Maddie and Sparkle is shot so sweetly that the viewer is lulled into a sense of “this might be a humorous, adorable episode” especially since Richard Speight Jr is the director and  he has been associated with humor. Alas, what is Supernatural without death? What follows is a series of murders of Zanna, those imaginary friends from childhood, and a case for the Winchesters.

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Sam’s personal Zanna from childhood, Sully, comes to the bunker so Sam can help him find the culprit. Through the episode, the Winchesters help Sully and the culprit face their fears. Sully helps Sam face his challenge in one of the most emotional scenes of season 11 so far in a heart to heart that Sam cannot have with Dean. Mr. Padalecki’s performance shows  Sam’s vulnerability, insecurity, and fear with what he must do. Speight’s direction is superb as he has Sam sitting down on a box while Sully faces him. Sam looks child -like as he tells Sully that heroes are not perfect and that Sully is good at his job.  The body language reflects a hunched; inward, insecure, small man despite his actual height. Sam also confesses to the bad that he has done. Sully seems to know all about Sam’s hunter life-good and bad. He also reminds Sam that heroes feel these emotions, because the quest is important and that true heroes have the “balls” to go forward. Once again  Sully** helps Sam face his truth.  As a first time director, Speight nails it.

Another example of directorial success is Sam’s awakening in the bunker. His subsequent astonishment at finding Sully in the kitchen is another spot where the directorial decisions underscore the script. The bed scene shows us a sleepy Sam, alone, getting started at 6:30a.m. It is a very personal sequence which lets the viewer know that this is about Sam. Sam is kept out of the camera’s frame in the kitchen as he prepares his coffee. We see him from the point of view of  Sully and wonder has Sully always been keeping tabs on Sam? The feast Sully prepares for Sam is full of childhood goodies including marshmallow tacos,   (*Remember when Dean put marshmallows in Sam’s mac and cheese because Sam thought is was exotic), and so different from the health conscious adult Sam. Klein’s consistency of character traits keeps Sam so real and the directorial choices are the magic that lets the viewer see Sully as well.

Dean appears in the kitchen just in time to see Sam punching something he cannot see, but eventual he does. His appearance in the doorway in the MOL bathrobe and slippers as he admonishes Sam is hilarious. Again, a directorial choice followed by a scripted line that demands Sam’s presence in the library immediately to discuss. Sam is that child again. Mr. Ackles handles the humor of the episode with ease. From his delivery of Manicorn, to his Bert and Ernie comment, to his facial expression when the Mom unknowingly smears what is left of Sparkle on her face, and many more deanisms, these lines balance out a seriousness to Sam’s inner struggle. Dean can wrap his mind around terra firma- a girl in a car- but struggles with imaginary friends.

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The flashback to young Sam and Sully playing the did you ever game is shot in a wide angle to show the large room and the little, lonely boy. On the other hand, the shot is a tight, close up of young Sam’s face when Dean is on the phone or the hunting life enters the room/conversation. This is a cross road for young Sam and despite Sully’s encouragement that Sam can be anyone, Sam chooses hunting with Dad. (Remember “After school Special” and that English teacher telling Sam the same thing?) This moment defines Sam as a hunter and he no longer needs Sully, and breaks Sully’s heart. Sam grows up fast.

“Just my Imagination” is a metaphor for facing one’s true self and responsibility of choice. Young Sam needed Sully, now Sully needs hunter Sam, and Sam needs Sully to reassure him of his choices. Even Dean learns that he wasn’t always there for young Sam despite the belief he had been. This is a quick  camera shot of Mr. Padalecki’s  face as Sam showing this admission as ambiguous. Again, a director’s good choice to not linger too long.

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The transition from the barn to the Impala is a close up of Sam. There is pain in those eyes as Sam thinks the Cage is the answer to the Darkness. Despite Dean saying they will find another way, *** Sam’s close up tells us otherwise. Through his encounter with Sully, he will rise to the occasion with or without Dean’s approval. Hey, it is the holiday season and many viewers will be taking their shiny ornaments out of storage while show goes on hiatus after one more episode. A mid-season finale gives Sam the opportunity to show those shiny, hero balls Sully says he has.  It’s important.

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The script, costume choices of the Zannas’ characters, and direction make for an excellent episode that kept me interested for the entire episode. **Kudos to Nate Torrence who plays Sully with sincerity and believable expressions rather than silly. Both ‘Dylan’s’ play the young Winchester’s well, but young Sam is adorable and makes a good replacement for young Sammy. The pathos in “Just my Imagination” builds with each scene leading to Sam’s face in the Impala.***

***If you want a good chuckle, find the outtake of  we’ll find another way, where Jensen and Jared play with that line and find the obvious other way. Enjoy.

Written and Published By: Debbab

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8 thoughts on “JMI:What’s real for Sam?

  1. Loved everything about this episode – right from the cherubic Sully to Dean’s hilarious reactions and the high emotional quotient. But Sam’s little tête-à-tête with Sully has further assured him that his going to the cage is the only probable solution to defeat the Darkness from taking over the world ! Sam is again progressing towards something suicidal. This season is as stimulating as I expected it to be 🙂

    Keep writing good stuff ! 🙂
    Much ❤

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  2. I think Sam’s been walking into a trap for ages now. He hasn’t got time to think things through because he wants to put away the Darkness that he released before she does more damage that he ultimately feels responsible for. So time isn’t on his side. We know how Sam acts when on a mission??

    I can’t help but think some times that this show seems to paint our characters in a bad light rather than a good one. Dean has always been there for Sam, now they are making out that he understands that he’s not been there as much as he thought he was because he was out hunting with John. They painted out John to be a bad father because he was out hunting leaving a minor to look after a minor. Sam is always the one making big mistakes, I could go on.

    Nice article Debbab 😉

    B xxx

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    1. Characters realize something about themselves and their own truths in Just My Imagination. It isn’t so much that Dean is painted as not being there for little Sammy; it is a realization that Dean was his father’s robot before he thought of Sam. Both were under John’s command. Dean seems to realize that it was a good thing Sully was there for Sammy. I also think that Dean did not ask his Dad if Sammy could go on the hunt as a protection of little Sammy and only when John decided it was time did Dean let Sammy come to the hunt. I really think Dean was trying to protect Sammy as long as possible. Things are not always what they appear to be on the surface as JMI teaches us.

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  3. “What’s real for Sam?”

    His interpretation of the visions is real to him.

    I don’t understand why he’s so convinced God is the one talking to him. At no point does he give himself the permission to wonder who else could be toying with his mind. I will eat all the crow if it turns out God is behind this. I just think Sam is rushing into something he hasn’t taken the time to understand. He links prayer to God and forgets that if angels can answer prayers, so can archangels.

    I keep thinking about Cain’s line in “First Born”. “My brother wasn’t talking to God, he was talking to Lucifer.” I’m afraid Sam is walking into a trap because he ‘believes’.

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    1. I’m with you on this one. What one person sees as reality is not what another person sees as we learn so well in Just my Imagination. And Sam runs head long on gut reaction often. Yep. Next episode which brother is calling out? Lucifer/Michael, Sam/Dean Cas/ fellow angels? Amara/God. Leave it to SPN to be ambiguous.

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    2. Go back to “House of the Holy” I think for season2(may have the title wrong)- Sam wants to think it is God or angels. Always thinking and wanting to believe in the good usually brings him to a bad place.

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      1. “Always thinking and wanting to believe in the good usually brings him to a bad place.”

        This is what is scaring the CRAP out of me. Because I know something bad is once again going to come of his actions, and make him once more look bad. He’s already unleashed The Darkness unknowingly, and to put that right he’s entering into yet more danger what mistakes will be made this time to put right again in come the New Year. There is talk about Dean going after Sam and Crowley leaving Dean in the cage. So this is also scary. Especially after what Billie the reaper said about the Empty!!

        What I am trying to say is that they never seem to learn from a mistake. Trouble seems to follow them around, that lands them in yet more trouble. I love them to bits, but at times I could slap both of them. Both boys are supposed to be SMART, writers please make them look smarter, NOT “DUMBER!”

        B xxx

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        1. The WInchesters are smart but their passion for their jobs often obfuscates common sense. Hell, if they had common sense, they wouldn’t be the WINchesters as they would let it defeat their heroic deeds.

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