Spoilers for "All Hell Breaks Loose" Parts One and Two. I have no idea if this makes any sense but hey it was fun!
caps thanks to marishna
Now before you get excited, don’t worry I am not about to try some fancy manoeuvres to try and demonstrate canon support for Wincest (that would be too easy!) But take this little trip with me as I look at where this sequence of images took my addled mind.
A kiss is not only a show of love, or lust. It has many meanings throughout history, and in art and literature. A kiss can be a sign of respect and loyalty from a subordinate to someone in a position of authority such as a parent, or ruler, or senior religious figure. Like all symbols it can be subverted, as it famously is in Christianity when, through Judas, the kiss became a symbol of betrayal.
In folklore, vampirism subverts the kiss by turning it into a way of taking life.
In fairytales, kisses are very powerful. They are used in two main ways. One is to revive someone who is dead, or under a sleeping spell such as in Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. The other use is transformative, to break a curse such as in The Frog Prince or Beauty and the Beast.
Interestingly in all these stories it is actually the act of being loved that is the triggering event. In their original forms, none of them involve a kiss, but over time this romantic symbol became the signifier of love in the stories.
Ahem. Yes well back to Supernatural. Let’s have a look at Sam at the beginning of the episode.
Now Sam is dead, yet he has not been covered as is usual. He is on a bed, his arms on his chest, not laid out like a body in a morgue. His posture is of one asleep, not dead. The image closely matches those associated with Sleeping Beauty.
"Sleeping Beauty" by Edward Fredrick Brewtnall Disney version of Sleeping Beauty
Now in fairytales, the kiss is a way someone is redeemed when they have been cursed. There is an interesting distinction to be made here with the Christian notion of redemption.
In Christian beliefs, when someone is flawed because they have sinned, they can redeem themselves through the performing of good acts. In fairytales, someone may be cursed though no fault of their own, in fact it is often innocents that are so targeted. Their redemption comes through being loved, not through their own action.
We see both these redemption narratives in TV and movies. The flawed hero, may be redeemed who through his struggle and good deeds or by the love of a good woman. (and yes, usually the hero is a man).
In Supernatural, Sam thinks he has been afflicted by the demon in some ways. In fact, in a subversion of the Christian notion that people can be redeemed by the blood of Christ, which is drunk symbolically during Communion (I John 1:7 "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin."), Sam has been tainted by the blood of the demon. It is this which he needs redeeming from. (although he doesn’t realise how literal this contamination is until the vision YED gives him in AHBL1 of Sam being fed the Demon's blood).
Sam has been trying to redeem himself by doing good - saving as many people as possible:
The more people I save, the more I can change! (Sam in “Plaything”)
But good acts won’t redeem Sam because he was an innocent who was cursed. What he needs is redemption through love.
So we come to the kiss. Dean makes a deal with the Crossroads demon, and seals it with a kiss. In this scene there is a quick edit to Sam’s eyes opening as he is resurrected.
So - Sleeping Beauty/Snow White is revived by the Prince’s kiss. In effect Sam is revived by Dean’s kiss. Because that is how it works in fairytales.
Later we find out that maybe Sam has come back with a bit more demon in him. In some ways we have moved to the second type of fairy tale – where the transmogrified Prince must be transformed back through obtaining someone’s love.
I’ll be interested to see how that works out.