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Performers Of The Month - Readers' Choice Most Outstanding Performer of January - Jared Padalecki

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The article was written by Ellys Cartin. Article edited by Donna Cromeans (@DJRiter). Article prepared for publication by Aimee Hicks.

Something incredibly special is required to keep a show on the air 14 seasons. Usually, it's that one element that takes a show from average and elevates it to greatness. In the case of Supernatural, the creators, producers, and writers of Supernatural tapped into the secret that other CW shows are wisely following. That secret is to make the sibling bond the core of your show and cast actors/actresses that share that great familial bond on-screen and off. Since its very first episode Supernatural has had two perfectly cast leads in Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles who are each half of the beating heart that keeps Supernatural alive. The brotherhood, friendship, and teamwork between Sam and Dean Winchester has consistently been considered one of the best acting teams on television, and the show has mined its richest stories from testing that bond. Prophet and Loss (14x12), found the brothers on one of their least cool road trips. To permanently disable the evil archangel Michael locked away inside his mind, Dean plans to have Sam bury him alive at sea, imprisoned for eternity inside a coffin. Having failed so far to change his brother's mind, Sam must find some dissuade him or lose the person he loves most forever to a horrific fate. Jared Padalecki gives a beautiful and heartrending performance that left Supernatural fans in tears and teeming with praise. For his performance, Jared Padalecki was overwhelmingly selected as SpoilerTV Readers' Choice Performer of the Month for January.

In the first scene of the episode, Padalecki brings big brotherly energy to Sam. He hears Dean screaming out for his younger brother in his sleep, but Sam plays it cool when he checks in. The tone of his voice stays casual, yet, behind Dean's back, his face is tightly perturbed. His words are low, measured carefully because he is being careful to not spook Dean. Whether you've been watching the Winchester brothers a few months or a few years, you know that Dean is determined to condemn himself to this awful fate. To protect Sam, he's capable of leaving him behind. Sam knows it too, but that doesn't stop him from pointing out the drawbacks. Padalecki has to have this restrained conversation with his costar, keeping his tone and pitch even, because Sam is being very cautious in how he expresses doubts. Simultaneously, he has to show the audience how Sam really feels, how each moderated statement is followed by a facial expression that is strained yet hopeful. Padalecki shows that not only is Sam trying to save Dean, but also Sam's own heart is breaking in the process.

The work he does in the first scene establishes the emotional foundation for following Winchester brother scenes. On the road to carry out his desperate plan, Dean asks Sam if he's still on board with the plan, as their conversation the night before did rattle him a little. Padalecki delivers Sam's response in a matter-of-fact way. Of course, he is going to keep his word to Dean. But there's a tiny indication that he panicked slightly when Dean asked him. He interrupts his regular blinking rhythm, holding his eyes open a millisecond longer than normal as if he very briefly held his breath. He also maintains this neutral level of disapproval in his voice. Sam continues to walk an emotional tightrope. The minute Dean is out of sight, Sam makes a call to their friend Cass (Misha Collins) to find out if he has found another way to stop Michael. Even in that quick conversation, there are several ways that Sam's fear is conveyed. His voice almost catches when he says he's never seen Dean like this before. It's the first crack in Sam's facade.

A trip down memory lane sets up the ending of the episode. Dean wonders if Sam ever thinks about their childhood. He expresses regret about not being a better brother. You see a little confusion cross Sam's face, and he firmly replies that Dean was always there for him. He gets this analytical look as if he's trying to piece together where this comment Dean made is coming from. Dean starts spilling out these regrets about how thinks he could have treated his younger brother better. Jensen Ackles weaves this brokenhearted longing into his voice that gives the scene this sharp agony. Sam's face, despite the tears in his eyes, tells a different story. He's actively listening, pondering everything that Dean is saying, noting these fears that his older brother is disclosing. The fact he is paying such close attention makes it surprising that he frostily shuts the conversation down. Those same tears, briefly visible again before he turns looks away, indicate how much Sam was impacted by the moment. Shortly afterward, he finds a case for them to check out. While acting almost nonchalant about it, he casually brings the case up to Dean, but they both know what he is doing, using a case as a delaying tactic to prevent his brother from carrying out his suicide mission. However, his tactic backfires on him somewhat when Dean agrees to go investigate calling it "one last mission" for the Winchester brothers. Hearing his brother describe the case that was is not what Sam was expecting and the devastation and realization that hits him are etched in his features as he fights to maintain control.

There is a murder to solve, and the first stop is visiting one victim's twin brother. Neither Winchester brother has an easy time listening to the young man talk about how he never imagined it could feel this bad to lose his sibling. However, Sam avoids acknowledging the glances that Dean keeps sending his way. Padalecki makes sure you are aware that Sam is deliberately choosing to hold his emotions in check, in order to create a vacuum that Dean has no choice but to fill with his own feelings. Sam is refusing to let his older brother play the strong one, hoping that Dean will choose on his own to take a different path. The situation is taking a toll on Sam though. When they catch up to the delusional murderer, Sam shuts him down very aggressively, close to losing control. And he's visibly distraught when they lose the man who thought he was hearing divine voices ordering him to kill his victims. This senseless loss of life hits close to home for Sam, and viewers are reminded he's running out of time to save Dean.

To prevent any more murders, the brothers realize they must take their friend, the prophet Donatello, off life-support. The doctor reassures them that letting go is the right choice, and Dean gives Sam a clear I-told-you-so look. The case has reinforced Dean's decision that he needs to sacrifice himself to restore order to the world. Cass joins them at the hospital and makes a strong plea for Dean to reconsider, but it's clear that the older Winchester is slipping away, disconnecting emotionally from his brother, his friend, and life itself. They then make an unexpected discovery. There is a chance to save Donatello. Dean and Sam sit down to wait, while Cass treats Donatello. Noticing that his younger brother is lost in thought, Dean asks him if he's alright. Sam admits that he's thinking about what it would be like--to be trapped inside your own body with nowhere to go, unable to do anything. Dean brushes the thought away with a cold smirk, and for just a second you see Sam's face filled with hopeless despair. It is a brief interlude, but Padalecki uses every inch of it to show Sam losing his grip on hope. Despite being clear how he felt about his brother's decision these are the first moments Padalecki has Sam truly let down all his guards and show Dean just how truly devastating an impact this decision is having on his brother. Padalecki. It's a masterful moment as Padalecki expresses all those emotions with few words, letting his face and his eyes do most of his talking.

Cass saves Donatello, and Sam slips away afterward. Dean goes looking for him, and He finds his brother leaning against their car, their faithful friend through hundreds of adventures, with beers waiting. Sam's demeanor has changed. He keeps his sentences short and sarcastic. A brief, bitter chuckle in response to Dean apologizing for joking about leaving. Padalecki gives one of the most heartbreaking speeches in the show's history, as Sam asks just how sorry Dean is and why. He struggles to briskly pour out his words, trying to keep them angry but unable to keep the huskiness out of his voice. When Sam says that Dean wants him to throw away faith and throw away family, his chest begins to rise and fall faster than normal, as if he's going to heave. He steps up to Dean and hits him in the chest. Padalecki makes this sneer that disappears almost as soon as it starts as if Sam is fighting to hold onto his rage. He begins to plead with Dean, telling him he's quitting and giving up too soon on finding another way. He beats his hands against Dean's chest.

It's as if time turns back and Padalecki becomes the little boy that Sam once was. The one beseeching his big brother to not leave him behind. He points at himself and tells Dean he believes in them. Dean looks away, down towards the ground. And the anger flares up, as Sam winds up and throws a punch right into his brother's face. Dean reels in surprise, but Sam is already winding up for a second one. Padalecki lets you see how determined Sam is to do whatever it takes. Sam repeats that he believes in them, even as Dean grabs his arms to block the next swing. But instead of struggling. Sam drops his shoulders and fiercely wraps his arms around his big brother. Gripping Dean's jacket, he chokes out a heartbreaking question through gritted teeth, asking Dean why he doesn't believe in them too. The fury evaporates, as he rests his cheek against his brother's neck, and he just holds on to his brother. Dean says he will go home with Sam. And Sam steps back, unsure if he can believe this, with his jaw still rigid and his eyes still wet. Dean says he does believe in them but asks Sam to promise him that if they don't find another way his younger brother will do then what he can't now. This time it's Sam who looks down. He sniffles and trembles, but he looks up to meet Dean's gaze squarely in the eye. He makes the promise, and a tear as big as his heart runs down each of his cheeks. Before getting in the car, Sam tucks his lip in and composes himself, relief and determination on his face. The fight to save Dean isn't over yet, but Sam's heartfelt plea has bought them some time. Padalecki's weary posture and hesitation before getting in the car show that Sam knows he may have won this battle but that the war goes on.

For over 13 years and through 300 episodes, Supernatural has prospered, and fans credit that to the superb work of the cast. Jared Padalecki gave one of his finest performances to date in this episode. He gave Sam courage and vulnerability, made you feel every bit of the fight to save Dean. The episode wouldn't have the dramatic stakes or the heart-twisting agony without his work. You've seen Sam is difficult predicaments before. You've seen him grieve. You've seen him protect his brother. However, Padalecki shows you a Sam you haven't seen, gives a new dimension both to his character and to the bond between the Winchester brothers. He keeps the viewer with Sam for every breath, every tear, every tense second. The ending wouldn't be as emotionally satisfying if you weren't feeling every quiver of his broad shoulders. When Dean hugs Sam in the end, finally yielding to his brother's love, he hugs the audience too. For all these reasons and many more, Jared Padalecki was voted January Performer of the Month by our Readers.

This article covers a small portion of the performance from this episode that earned Jared Padalecki this honor of being SpoilerTV's Readers' Choice Performer of the Month for January. What did you think of his performance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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