Odessa is a young man traveling to California, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who came to New York from Odessa, located in modern-day Ukraine. He is described as being a dreamer who is searching for meaning.
When the player first meets him, Sam is sitting on a rock, playing the harmonica north of The Scratching Post. He's apparently been in New Austin for several weeks, "or several generations, I guess," and is on foot because his horse was recently lamed during his travels. It is suggested he is homeless, or is looking to completely restart life in California and because of that has decided to forget about his life before; when asked if he is a long way from home, he states "I would be, if I had a home to come from". He wants to reach California and see the ocean -- "from the Black Sea to the Pacific in three generations!" Taking advice from Marston, who suggests he gets out of Gaptooth Ridge before one of the local gangs takes note of him, Sam leaves Marston and heads for Benedict Point to go get on a stagecoach.
In the second meeting, Marston finds Sam on the side of a trail in Cueva Seca, where he looks slightly disheveled and is rambling. He explains he found a coach but "it was a little bit slow, a bit predictable, a touch mundane". He also remarks that the local cacti are "quite palatable", possibly hinting that rather than simply being drunk he has been consuming peyote, a type of hallucinogenic cacti native to southern Texas and Mexico. Marston says he should get a horse and go west if he's headed to California, "Follow the settin' sun. It ain't that complicated". Sam walks away, slightly aggravated by Marston's oversimplification of his goal.
The third meeting takes place when Marston stumbles upon Sam drawing in the dirt with a stick in Gaptooth Ridge, his clothes and general appearance in worse disarray. It seems that his sanity is waning from his time spent wandering in the desert, presumably without food, water, or any shelter from the sun. Though he is speaking fast, he often stutters, and he frequently stumbles while walking and gesturing. He has not, however, given up on his dream for California and the sea, and desperately wants to emulate his grandfather. "He followed a star. That's still me! I'm still following. Still dreaming. Still free! You can't cage us!" Marston then offers to take Sam into town, concerned for his safety. Sam says that he was just careless, but he will find his "paradise." When Marston insists, Sam pulls his pistol out and demands that Marston stay away. Sam shouts that he will find California and stumbles away.
Slightly outside Gaptooth Ridge, Marston will find Sam's lifeless body as the fourth and final meeting. He is not very recently dead; the color from his skin is completely gone and the area around his eyes is dark. Marston takes some money and a letter from Sam on his body, addressed to his wife. It speaks of their "beautiful baby boy" and how Sam felt driven to pursue this dream that his grandfather had when he came to America, a region which Sam describes as "a terrible land of broken promises." It also contains an apology about Sam's unannounced departure, saying "it was not a choice to leave, but an obligation". Sam says he had everything and threw it all away in the pursuit of nothing. He has begun to question this dream, and wonders if we are all "condemned to walk in circles, chasing the skyline." The final step of the stranger mission "California" is to deliver this letter to the Armadillo post office, out of respect to Sam.
|“||Trying to get to California. See the ocean.||„|
|“||I hope I die laughing. I do.||„|
|“||I'm gonna make somethin' of myself there! I'm gonna find... something.||„|
|“||But these... these cacti are quite palatable.||„|
|“||If I could just have a trusty steed like that who could take me to the... to the shining... sea.||„|
|“||I will find my California... I will!||„|
- Sam Odessa's voice actor, Holter Graham, was also the voice actor for Leo Kasper a character from Rockstar's Manhunt 2. He also voiced extras in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and The Warriors.
- The "Letter from Sam" refers to Sam's ancestors who started "the journey" from Odessa on the Black Sea, which is a city located on the southern Ukrainian coastline.
- Sam's wife, Elena, places an ad in The Blackwater Ledger hoping to gain any information on his whereabouts. The ad says Sam Odessa is missing from his homeplace, and is probably headed to California.
- Sam's last name, Odessa, could be a play on the word "odyssey" which is a long, wandering, and eventful journey.
- The model of Sam's corpse appears several times throughout Red Dead Redemption and its expansion pack Undead Nightmare:
- Sam's body can be seen in one of the coffins that Seth loads into his wagon, in the opening cutscene of the Seth Briars mission "A Gentle Drive with Friends".
- In Undead Nightmare, his corpse can be found in between the mail building and the train station of Armadillo.
- In Undead Nightmare, when John finds a cannibal's camp, Sam's corpse will be in a pile of corpses. However, Sam's coat is now dark grey and covered in blood, his pants are now black, and his shoes are still missing.
- If the player begins Odessa's Stranger mission as John Marston and then encounters Sam later as Jack Marston, Sam will know Jack is John's son.
- In his second encounter, Sam calls Marston "Mr. Mansion", which amuses him.
- When Marston comes across Sam's body, his shoes are missing.
- After the second encounter if you follow him, it is possible for him to be killed by some wolves. However he will just spawn again at the third encounter. His body usually contains $5 after looting him.
Complete a task for a Stranger.
Complete 15 tasks for Strangers.
Attain 100% List in the singleplayer game completion list.