Supernatural Review of 10:23 “My Brother’s Keeper”
Directed by Phil Sgriccia
Written by Jeremy Carver
It’s all about the love one is willing to sacrifice in order to keep that one true love. Besides their brotherly love, there has always been one love that the Winchester brothers were willing to die for. There is one love both brothers would sacrifice each other for. There is one love motivating all that the brothers do. This is their love for the good and the innocent of the world and this love requires their wholehearted commitment and protection.
“The Keeper”: Sam methodically concocts “hollow tips filled with Witch Killing Brew” and sends futile messages to Dean. Castiel enters to discuss their commitment to using the spell to rid Dean of the Mark of Cain. Sam has taken on the responsibility helping his brother. Is he his brother’s keeper? Well, he is trying to be.
“Face Down”: His face planted on the rug of a No Name Motel floor, Dean looks rough. Beer bottles litter the room where he’s literally fighting his demon. He drinks the stale bitter remnants of the night before. “I’m good.” He lies to himself.
“Gang of Fang”:Agent Dean appears at a crime scene to assist Rudy with clearing out a nest of Vampires; but, Demon Dean is only there for the kill. Dean doesn’t conceal his contempt for the dead Rose, slut shaming her for “looking like a whore”. (TWEET: Briana Buckmaster: “Sorry? A short skirt makes a gal a whore?”) The Officer chastises Dean for being callous, speculating that previous dark work has left a ‘mark’ on Dean. Dean rudely tells Rudy to leave.
“Rowena Calls the Shots”: Sam and Castiel enter with a loaded gun to encourage Rowena. Rowena is having none of that. She has a wee cup of tea to drink. They renegotiate and an agreement is reached: her freedom, and the Codex, in exchange for the spell.
“No Sugar Coating”: Dean interrogates Rose’s parents about her whorish behaviour. He assesses the situation and lays it out for them, “I came here and I smelled the deceit and the beatings and the shame that pervade this home and you know what, I don’t blame Rose anymore. No wonder she put on that skank outfit and went out there looking for validation right into the arms of the monster that killed her. Joe, who did this?” This isn’t Dean; it’s Demon Dean, and he’s craving a kill. Rose’s brother, guilt ridden, tells Dean where the Gang of Fang is.
“Ingredients”: The forbidden fruit, the golden calf, and the death of someone Rowena loves is not impossible because “Everyone loves something.” Rowena loves Oskar, a Polish boy. Rudy calls to tell Sam that Dean’s “not playing well with others” on the Fang Banger case. Sam gives Castiel Dean’s hair to work a crossroads conjuring.
“Fang Bangers Domicile”: A vampire washes his guilty, bloody hands and sniffs Dean too late. Demon Dean decapitates the vampire and kicks in the door. Crystal screeches on the bed while a vampire puts Rudy in a chokehold. Demon Dean could care less. “Do it!” He goads the vampire into stabbing Rudy and then decapitates the Vampire. Crystal: You coulda just talked. You just… Dean: You’re Welcome. Demon Dean callously steps over Rudy on his way out.
“Washing Hands”: As Dean washes the guilt from his hands images appear before him in the mirror of a bloody Castiel and Rudy. For a brief heart breaking moment, we see the real Dean as horror and fear flash across his face. Then Demon Dean takes over elbowing the real Dean in the mirror. Demon Dean and the real Dean thrash it out in the motel room.
“Love For Love”: Sam takes in Dean’s damage trail, while Castiel summons Crowley to the crossroads. Classic Castiel and Crowley lines reminds us that we’ve been missing them this season. Given an option of “Blast or Beg” Castiel, weakened, but desperate to save the brother he loves does his best to plead for Crowley’s help. Crowley, reflecting on his love for revenge, agrees, “I’m in.” Sam sees the destroyed motel room. (TWEET: Alaina Huffman: Dean’s going to lose the deposit on that room.) Sam finds the keys to the Impala and a note on a Curtis Motor Court writing pad; “She’s all yours.” Dean loves his Baby but he gives her up to the brother he loves. Sam, however, is not ready to let go of the brother he loves.
“Date with Death”: Dean miraculously found time to decorate a deserted roadhouse and cook a “Bad fat” Mexican feast for Death, who loves a good snack. He summons Death to a “Party at Juanita’s”. “Kill me” now. Death, perfectly personified by Julian Richings, is unable to kill Dean. He retells the story of Genesis, yes for real, and reveals that the Mark is both lock and key preventing the darkness from entering the world.
Death tells Dean he has the option of giving the Mark to someone else; but, Dean cannot do that to anyone. Death then offers to relocate him somewhere far away, off the planet. The catch is that Sam has to die to ensure Dean and the Mark remain far away. Dean calls Sam to the party telling him, “Brother, I’m done.”
Phil/ Seth/Oskar/Nathan Dales’ Diner: If you were wondering about the expense of this set’s decor in the last episode, now you know. Crowley enters with a smack down and outs Oskar.
“Outer Space”: Dean and Death fill Sam in on the plan. “What? He’s gonna send you into outer space? This is madness, Dean.” (I have to agree with Sam here.) Sam is unconvinced that he should die for the greater good.
“The Cost”: Crowley has the ingredients.“The quince cost me a major IOU from a Palestinian warlock, the gold from the calf — well let’s just say I’ll be hanged under certain sexual deviancy laws if I show my face in Jordan again.” Crowley came to the realization that his mother is capable of love, a moment the audience was not privy to, and that she simply does not love him. Rowena claims to have never loved anything, ever. Crowley snaps and in walks Oskar. (Would you give up an Oskar for Magic?)
Death tells Sam he must die to prevent further interference and “Then there was that time you stood me up.” Dean tries to convince Sam that the world would better without them because they are evil. He reminds Sam about the man he convinced to sell his soul, and how he bullied Charlie. Sam disagrees saying they were trying to do good and that Dean has done everything he could to remain good. Inexplicably, Sam punches Dean and they physically fight. Demon Dean kicks Sam’s butt to the floor. Sam gives up but refuses to say that Dean is anything but good. (Rather pointless violence.) Sam horks a blood gob on the floor and agrees that Demon Dean must be stopped. “Do it.” Sam echoes Dean’s earlier words. Death offers Dean the scythe. “Close your eyes.” The real Dean peeks through. Dean is unable to look at those puppy dog eyes and kill him. Sam cries. “Sammy, close your eyes.” (Ok that got me.)
“Wait.” Sam takes out Dean’s treasured photos telling Dean to keep them to guide him and help him remember goodness and what it was to love. (TWEET: Ryan Curtis “I imagine Dean being on a tiny planet. All alone. Looking at those photos.”) Aww, just like the Little Prince. “Do it” Death says “or I will.” Sam nods. Dean says, “Forgive me.” Then, in a surprising twist for everyone, including Dean, Demon Dean paradoxically kills Death. Death crumbles to dust. The Winchesters were willing to sacrifice themselves and each other for the good of the world. The Mark was not.
“Love Sacrifices”: Rowena must kill the one person she loved to gain the magic and freedom she loves more. With a hug and vicious stab to the throat with a fountain pen, Rowena makes her choice. Castiel looks away from the brutal blood spilling, willing to sacrifice his principles for the love of Dean. The incantation produces a knock down explosion and a streak of light that descends on the Mark and removes it upwards through the ceiling of Juanita’s roadhouse. Rowena, released from her chains, binds Castiel and Crowley. “Attack like a beast!” she commands Castiel while scoffing at Crowley’s disbelief, and ours, that she could be this powerful. She is delighted that Crowley will see what a true witch can do as he dies under her order, “Erase this evil.” Off she goes, headed into another well-earned season.
“Famous Last Words” “This is good. You get the mark off your arm. You get your baby back” Meteorites from Smallville descend into the earth. Streaks of black smoke rebirth, congregate, and begin to roll towards them. (TWEET: William Shatner: It’s like that Once Upon A Time Curse.) Dean and Sam rush to the Impala. Reversing, Dean hits a plothole sinking Baby up to her axles. (I’m sorry did I say ‘plotholes’, I meant ‘potholes’.) The Evil Darkness rolls over them. Back into the Black Abyss.
Confronted with wrapping the season up, tying loose plot points together that seriously tugged in many directions, plus formulating a cliff-hanger was no easy task for Carver. It was disappointing. There was excessive back-story catch-up and not just for this season but the whole Supernatural universe. Although the Book of the Damned plot flowed smoothly and predictably, the bargain with Death was overloaded. “Genesis was a lie? Shocker!” Although Death made a dead on delivery, there was too much information and Biblical knowledge jammed into the plot too late.
There were rather inexplicable events, too, such as the fistfight between brothers. Perhaps it was a late attempt to reproduce the Cain and Abel scenario. And, although there were some brilliant and memorable lines, there were many disturbing ones. We are accustomed to hearing misogynistic slurs while watching TV and movies but to have so many complied with in such a short time frame is repulsive. Was this intentional on Carver’s part? Does he know who makes up the majority of this fan base?
Dean: They let her leave the house looking like a whore.
Joe: By suggesting my daughter was a slut.
Dean: …skank outfit.
Dean: What the hell are you doing here Rudy?
Rudy: Oh, you know. Just this thing I got for dead girls.
Crowley: There once lived an evil bitch, sorry, witch.
Crowley: That lying manipulative whore mother of mine.
Crowley: Mother showed you her “mustn’t touch it’, again.
Death: Proverbial finger in the dyke.
Add some Oedipal complex, incest, Crowley’s sexual deviancy, and something “crawling up [Dean’s] ass” and it became excessive, rather like a teenager showing of their newfound knowledge of perversion. There was also some lost opportunities with signage: the No Name motel in Superior, Nebraska. Why? The signage of Kingdom Beer at the Crossroads, why, and Juanita’s. Why?
Acting/Characterizations: The real vulnerable Dean peeking through the Demon Dean: Jensen Ackles
Fiery Rowena: Ruth Connell
Angelic Castiel turning into a beast: Misha Collins
The old Crowley we love: Mark Sheppard
Delicious Death: Julian Richings
The heart breaking, weeping, brave Sam: Jared Padalecki.
Best Performance: (Super tough choice this episode) Jared Padalecki
Horror Element: The sniffing Vampire EWWW.
Special FX: The incantation’s after effect . The Darkness rolling in.
Great Lines: Gang of Fang, Fang Bangers,
Castiel: You’re not in my contacts list.
Rowena: Poor Dean. (sarcasm dripping)
Goodness, Fergus, save it for the stage.
Not my literal heart, Feathers.
Allusions: Biblical – Pontius Pilot hand washing
Cain and Abel:“Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Whore of Babylon
Chess – Death: Dean Winchester has tipped over his king
Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos)
The red light on Crowley, Dean and Death:
The light that shines on Castiel:
Staring down the gun barrel:
Bloody knuckles and dead Rose high angle shot:
The POV shot on the bed with Crystal:
Foreshadowing the pothole:
High angle shot at the end with the Impala and darkness:
Music/Sound FX: “Carry on My Wayward Son” and the howling sound of Darkness.
Relatable Moment: That swig of the morning after, leftover beer.
Set: Juanita’s Day of the Dead décor and wall mural
All stills property of CW’s Supernatural TV Series