Second thing I have to say is that I am in AWE of the Supernatural writing staff. Every reviewer, analyst and fan I follow said they had to watch the show over and over again to try to understand the implications of what happened. Even the smartest, most experienced analysts I know are still processing that episode! The Supernatural writers came up with an arc that has our heads spinning. Let me see if I can get a handle on it all…
Dean as Cain:
- The Mark of Cain – I believe the writers are now purposely dangling angst-packed sentences for us to ponder and stew over! First the “that’s not the problem” line in “Road Trip”, now the “great burden, great cost” line in “First Born”:
Cain: The mark can be transferred to someone that’s worthyDoes the mark itself corrupt the wearer? After all, Cain said that the mark was “from Lucifer himself”. I’m thinking the “burden” is something else, some other aspect of Cain’s existence, though, like being exiled or always being sought after by demons. Maybe the burden of being immortal? Is Dean immortal as long as he has that mark? At the end of the episode, Crowley told Dean, “He was right, you know. You are worthy.” (Is there something about the passenger seat of the Impala that makes people all touchy/feely and wise??). That didn’t sound like an insult or a warning about turning into a killer. It sounded like a compliment about being worthy to wield great power and carry a great responsibility.
Dean: You mean a killer like you?
Dean: Can I use it to kill that bitch?
Cain: Yes, but you have to know that with the mark comes a great burden, some would say a great cost”.
- Is Dean Going Evil? Does this reopen Dean’s time in Hell when Alastair “corrupted an innocent soul”? Cain “Became a soldier of hell…a knight” after he killed Abel, per the deal with Satan. Dean is wearing the mark, but he hasn’t killed his brother, so I’m thinking he gets the mark’s power but he isn’t immediately a Knight of Hell. After all, Cain’s soul completed the deal with Lucifer. The mark may be transferrable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the deal got transferred…or at least I don’t think so…
- “The deadliest demon to walk the face of the Earth”- That is how Crowley described Cain. If Cain!Dean is the most powerful demon/human in the supernatural universe now, does that mean he can wipe out as many demons as he chooses, thus fulfilling his prediction to Sam (in “Sacrifice”) that they can “turn the tide on the war” without Sam dying to close the Gates of Hell? Will Dean use his powers to end demons on Earth, as Cain used his powers to end the Knights of Hell?
- The First Blade - Cain: “Your spell brought you to the source of the blade’s power…me. The mark and the blade work together. Without the mark, the blade is useless.” Then later he said, “Nothing can destroy the blade”. That means that Dean is the master of an indestructible weapon against evil. Well, that has to be a good thing…
- Cain and Abel – vis-a-vis Dean and Sam. One brother condemns himself to save the other brother…then has to kill him! I can’t even think about the possibilities here!
The Reversal - Dean has a demon side to him now, even though he is the vessel for the strongest angel; and Sam had angel grace in him even though he is the vessel for the strongest demon. Irony, and brilliant story telling.
Divide and Conquer – Sam wants to find Gadreel, and Cas has committed himself to finding Metatron so they are now the front lines in the war over Heaven. Dean has been put on the path to finding Abaddon and is front and center in the fight over Hell. Sam+Cas=Heaven, Dean+Crowley=Hell Is it divide and conquer, or “divided we fall”?
Dean’s Guilt – Did Dean accept the Mark of Cain solely because it would give him the power to wield a weapon that could kill Abaddon? He would probably say that he did. Sam and Cas might have a different view, though, believing that Dean thought he deserved the mark because of his damaged self-image. In the quote above, Dean immediately volunteered that he thinks of himself as a killer. Dean’s experience in Purgatory confirmed his already single-minded vision of himself as a cut-throat warrior. He didn’t ask Cain to (quickly) spill the “cost” of the mark because he still doesn’t think of himself as worthy of anything but killing. “Nobody hates you more than you do” is how Crowley saw it.
Sam’s Guilt – “Dean made a choice for me. I could have put a stop to all of this. I could have closed the gates of hell. Dean’s gone. This is on me now. If I can find Gadreel, I can fix this. Being human means settling your debts”. Fix what? Revenge for Kevin? Undoing the harm done because Sam lived instead of died? In the “THEN” flashbacks for “First Born”, Sam’s speech on the pier contained a sentence not aired in “Road Trip”: “The thought of somebody else being hurt because of me…I can’t live with that”. By the end of the episode, though, Sam conceded to Cas, “You were right about everything” referring to Castiel’s speech about the value of human life. Maybe Sam is remembering that he wants to live? Cas then redirected their search saying, “Metatron is the key to fixing everything that’s wrong. I’m going to find him.” implying to me that revenge for Kevin is no longer the misguided motive driving Sam.
“Please help me do one thing right.”- It was heartbreaking to hear Sam beg this of Castiel. (Sam, you defeated Lucifer and stopped the Apocalypse. Doesn’t that mean anything to you??) Ultimately, though, Cas did the exact same thing as Dean - Cas didn’t allow Sam to die for the cause. Without asking Sam, without discussion or consultation, Cas immediately finished healing Sam, knowing that would erase whatever remnants of Gadreel were left in Sam. When Sam realized that “whatever grace was left inside you is gone now” and that Castiel had not honored Sam’s wishes to extract grace even to the point of death, all he said was “Damn it.” Cas replied with “Sam, I want Gadreel to pay as much as you do, but nothing is worth losing you.” People keep telling this to Sam. Maybe Cas will help Sam believe, understand and forgive Dean for feeling the same way? Maybe this is what will help Sam come to terms with himself for not completing the trials? The ends do not always justify the means, as Cas realized and Sam began to remember at the end.
Brotherly Relationship - Cain might have given Dean something to think about regarding his recent split from Sam:
Cain: “I felt connected to you right from the beginning. Kindred spirits, if you will. You and I are very much alike… You saved [your brother]. Why?He really caught Dean off guard with that question. I think it hit home. It reminded me of “The End” when Dean learned why he needed Sam at his side.
Dean: Because you never give up on family…ever.”
Cain: “Where’s your brother now, then?”
Redemption – Season 8 set up Sam’s aching need for redemption. Crowley also contemplated salvation when he asked Sam “where do I start to even look for forgiveness”. In “First Born”, Castiel admitted to his need for redemption when he said to Sam, “The only person who has screwed things up more consistently than you, is me”. Of course we know that Gadreel is desperately seeking redemption for his one, catastrophic mistake. Well the stage is now set for the last character to seek redemption. Dean may have started down the road of self-destruction by insisting that he had to do things alone, but we know that won’t work well. At some point, he will come to terms with himself and his actions. Spoiler Alert***** In a recent interview, Jared said that the brothers’ relationship is not even at 100% in the episode they are currently filming, which is 9.16. I bet that means that we are in for heartache for most of the rest of this season. *****End Spoiler!
Jeremy Carver said he had a three-year plan. I believe we just saw the core of that new arc; the twist that will take us through the end of season 10! On the down side, does that mean that the brothers’ relationship won’t be resolved, healthy and “mature” (Jeremy’s word) for another year and a half? I just can’t.
“First Born” didn’t really spend a lot of time advancing existing threads. It was way too busy establishing the myth arc for the rest of the season (and beyond!). Still, let’s not lose sight of all that has been set up before now:
Will someone else turn out to be who they aren't supposed to be? Dean?? He just “became” Cain!
“You’ve seen everything that he’s seen!” – Sam might have knowledge to use against Metatron, now that Sam and Cas are on Gadreel’s trail.
“Don’t go thinking that’s the problem, ‘cause it’s not” – Well it certainly isn’t anymore! The boys have much bigger problems now for sure!
Is Gadreel a “good guy” or a “bad guy”? The discussion on “Road Trip” raised the possibility that Gadreel did not really kill Abner. Instead Gadreel released Abner then killed his vessel to make Metatron believe he was loyal. He also didn’t immediately kill Dean in Abner’s house, even though Metatron had expressed his desire that it be done. This gives new hope to the possibility that Gadreel is smarter than he is letting on, and that he really does have a grand plan to beguile and defeat Metatron and restore Heaven. It may also mean that he just has limits to how far he will go against his own instincts, even for Metatron. Either way, there may still be hope for him and his redemption.
Why did Crowley want Kevin’s blood instead of Sam’s? Crowley also insisted that Kevin be the one to give him the massage instead of Dean. We added the possibility that Crowley might have been playing mind games with Kevin, or been curious about him because he was a relatively new player on the board. “First Born” didn’t not give us any new evidence, but I’m holding onto these idiosyncrasies. “The devil’s in the details”!
Is The Angel Banishing Spell Reversible – Is Crowley the key, because he read the Angel Tablet, or is Castiel’s grace the key?
“I did what I had to do.” I can SO hear Dean saying this to Sam when he tries to explain why he took on the Mark of Cain to kill Abaddon!
“Here is the FIRST name on your to-do list.” – Our discussion added one more good point to this thread. Thaddeus and Abner were the only angels who knew Gadreel. Metatron cut all of Gadreel’s ties to anyone other than himself. (Thanks, Cat!)
Letting Go – I’m convinced this will circle back and be important to the brother’s relationship.
- I SO called it with that Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich! I had to laugh when looking at the sandwich reminded Castiel how important human life is!
- The prior comments from Abaddon (“War is what I do, it is my job”) and Crowley (“[Abaddon is] immortal…at the moment”) are coming together. In “First Born”, Crowley recruited Dean to retrieve a weapon that could kill Abaddon. Seems he isn’t willing to bet his crown on just winning the hearts and minds of demonkind. He is engaging in a war as well as a campaign.
- You reminded me that Abaddon may knows the location of the bunker because she was possessing the wife of the MOL guy when he wrote down the coordinates. This might be a problem for Cain!Dean.
I included a lot of direct quotes from the episode because I believe we need the exact words to accurately understand the writers’ intentions about this arc. Have you recovered enough to share your thoughts?
Screencaps courtesy of www.homeofthenutty.com