I know a lot of people don’t understand where Sabriel comes from, and there’s a frustrating misconception among many that it’s merely a convenient side ship for the sake of Destiel, so I wanted to give my personal reasons for why I love this ship so very much and why I think it makes perfect sense in canon, in case anyone is curious.
A big reason for me is their similarities, and how well they should be able to relate each other. Sam and Gabriel both ran away from their homes because they were different, and they were trying to avoid who they really are, and the violence that was supposed to be their destiny. Sam always felt like a freak and tried to hide in being normal, Gabriel didn’t want to be an angel anymore and tried to hide in his trickster persona. Sam didn’t want to hunt, Gabriel didn’t want to have to fight against other angels. Redemption is such a big theme in both their stories. Both of them failed trying to do the right thing. After wanting to be normal, Sam started drinking demon blood because he thought he could save the world that way, and instead he nearly destroyed it and lost himself in the process. After leaving Heaven to avoid bloodshed, Gabriel ended up causing so much more death and chaos, and lost himself in being a trickster. Both failed and had to redeem themselves in the process of finding who they really are again, and both gave their lives for it. In a way, Sam and Gabriel are made of the same stuff, and to me, they’re even more similar than Sam/Lucifer and Dean/Gabriel, two pairings the show has drawn direct comparisons between on screen. If they truly talked and allowed themselves to be open with each other, I believe Sam and Gabriel would understand each other in a way absolutely nobody else can.
Gabriel always took more of an interest in Sam until, IMO, that got screwed with a little by Dandrew in 5.19, because they’re two writers who consistently prefer Dean and tend to focus the guest star attention on him.
But prior to that, it’s Sam he acts rather flirty with in Tall Tales until his identity is revealed. It’s Sam he tries to help by giving a lesson in Mystery Spot. That alone is interesting to me, by the way.
After all, Sam is just the one who ends it- why not try to get through to Dean way back in season 2, before he ever has the chance to make a deal, since Dean is the one who begins it? Gabriel’s family is never involved in the first place if Dean can’t kick things off with seal #1. Even now, Gabriel could try to teach Dean this same lesson he gives Sam, put him through 6 months of Hell on Earth without his brother to kill Dean inside so much that nothing they do in Hell could hurt in comparison, meaning Dean won’t ever break and say yes, knock over the first domino.
But no, Gabriel chooses Sam specifically to try to get through to; this is the one chance Gabriel takes to stop the apocalypse, which is the one event he doesn’t want to see happen more than any other. Gabriel left Heaven to avoid it, and in Mystery Spot Gabriel is essentially placing all of his hope on it not coming to pass on Sam’s shoulders, believing if he teaches Sam a lesson, Sam will be strong enough to keep himself together, to not break that last seal, and by doing so, to save them all. People focus so much on the cruelty of Gabriel’s actions in Mystery Spot, but honestly, when you look at it from this frame of mind, Gabriel is actually putting a hell of a lot of faith in Sam in Mystery Spot by resting all his hopes of the apocalypse being averted on his shoulders- and this is Gabriel, who hasn’t had faith in anything for thousands of years, and for good reason.
Remember in 5.08 when Gabriel pointedly asks whose fault it is that the world is going to end? I don’t think that’s him needlessly throwing Sam’s mistakes in his face the way some people do; I think that’s Gabriel lashing out because Sam was the one exception he made to his hopeless, pessimistic outlook, but Sam learned nothing from what Gabriel tried to teach him, still broke that last seal, and Gabriel feels like he once again got burned for trying to believe in someone.
And speaking of how Sam was Gabriel’s one exception, I feel like that’s a bit of a reoccurring theme with them, because as a beautiful ‘whyishipspn’ post once put it- Sam also becomes Gabriel’s first act of mercy in a very long time at the end of Mystery Spot. It’s Sam whose tears and pleading and stubborness break him and get him to turn things back to how they were. Let’s not forget, Gabriel could very easily keep Sam trapped in this universe however long he wants to, until he really believes the lesson has sunken in and Sam might actually make the right choices, thus keeping Gabriel’s family safe. But even though Gabriel acknowledges Sam is clearly still the same person he was at the start of this lesson, and thus likely to go down that same path, Gabriel still chooses to do Sam the kindness of bringing Dean back and hitting the reset button.
Back to the general idea of Gabriel having more of a focus on Sam- even though Dean is doing most of the talking, Gabriel directs more of his attention to Sam at the end of Changing Channels, IMO. He’s also far more sincere with Sam than anybody. He and Dean tend to stay at each other’s throats, fighting and snarking, but he actually TALKS with Sam. Look at Mystery Spot- when has Gabriel ever tried to calmly reason with anyone like that? Something about Sam seems to ground Gabriel and get through to the real angel, not the act.
And I believe Sam sees that, something deeper there- Sam, even after six months, still believes there’s a point to reasoning with Gabriel in Mystery Spot, and Sam is the one who wants to work with him in 5.08. And that’s another interesting thing; even once Gabriel has already put them into his little TV world, Sam is still asking Gabriel to please just give them five minutes to talk, hear them out, but it makes perfect sense from his POV, because Gabriel has listened before. Dean looks at Sam asking for a chance and is likely to think ‘Sammy, this is ridiculous, when has this jackass ever done anything but twist us around for his own amusement’ but Sam can see something more because Gabriel has shown him more, has shown him an ability to be sincere and listen.
Another interesting note on this front? When Gabriel tells them who he is, Dean’s reaction is to snark about what ‘daddy’s opinion’ must be, insult Gabriel’s brothers. Sam’s reaction is to ask why Gabriel left; Sam once again is carrying a real interest in who Gabriel honestly is at his core, wanting to have a real conversation, and I wonder if Sam might even be questioning if Gabriel’s reasons for leaving the family he loved might be like Sam’s own- an idea I wish the show had played with more because they are. And even when Gabriel makes it clear he’s rooting for the fight, doesn’t believe the world can be saved, there’s Sam, still desperately trying to get Gabriel to see there’s another way, that they could change things.
On a more shallow note, Gabriel’s focus on Sam also leads to some pigtail pulling like whoa, along with making it clear Gabriel is obviously obsessed with Sam’s genitals, seeing as how it’s Sam he gives the STD to, and Sam whose nuts get cracked. Like I said above, in 2.15, the way I read the scene, when Gabriel is playing the janitor and showing Sam and Dean around the office, his behavior with Sam, and just Sam, is honestly reading like really strong flirting to me. 5.08, he turns Sam into the impala, even though it’d make a lot more sense to turn Dean into his own beloved car, and first thing he does when he sees them again is stalk over to Sam with a whistle and make a dumb comment about checking out his rims- again, pigtail pulling if you ask me.
Oh, another thing; particularly after the 6 month period in Mystery Spot, I feel like there is literally nobody that knows Gabriel better than Sam does, and yes, that includes other angels and gods- because all of them only know him as Gabriel the archangel, or Loki the trickster. Sam is the only person that I believe sees both, which is who Gabriel really is after all this time, and who also sees the humanity that crept in there as well. I really wish the show had played with this idea more in 5.08 and 5.19; in addition to all those extreme similarities we Sabriel fans constantly discuss, Sam spent 6 months doing nothing but obsessing over Gabriel and learning how his mind works. And yet another interesting thing to note is Gabriel knows this, and for someone who’s spent millions of years running from himself, that should scare him, that should have him on the run from the Winchesters, but instead, it doesn’t keep him away at all- again, I believe he’s drawn to Sam. And all of this is why it should have been Sam in that car with Gabriel, getting through to him, why it honestly raises my hackles that it wasn’t. Sam and Gabriel parallel each other, Sam has always been the one interested in getting through to the real Gabriel he buries inside himself, and Sam is the one who has succeeded.
In addition to all of the above on the canon front, in general, I just think their personalities are well suited to each other. Sam definitely needs someone who can be a light to his darkness, the fun to his angst, but who isn’t all light and sweetness- they need to have a edge to match his, and they need to be able to kick his ass into line when he goes off the deep end sometimes. They need to be able to deal with the darker aspects of his life and personality. I love Sam/Sarah, for example, but I don’t think she could really work with a post S4 Sam, and especially not a post Hell, post soullessness, post wall breaking Sam, because I think there’s just more darkness and need there than someone who’s lived a happy, normal life can truly be capable of understanding and embracing. Gabriel needs someone capable of seeing the good in him and believing in his redemption, and I think Sam’s sweeter, puppy dog eyes side is something Gabriel needs for balance- if he were with someone like Kali or Dean, in my opinion, it would be a ton of snarking, fighting and sex, tiring and constant back and forth- Gabriel would have no pull to be genuine or to be better like I think he would with Sam. At the same time, anyone too kind or innocent would be scared off by Gabriel quickly; Sam can look right into his darkness and come back with his own, and he won’t put up with any bullshit from Gabriel. Plus, Sam Winchester, the boy with the demon blood, the abomination, and the archangel Gabriel, falling for each other, makes an absolutely beautiful story, IMO.
And finally, the chemistry just pulls me in, personally. Richard and Jared are fabulous together and they make Gabriel and Sam stand out in the little screentime they have.