Supernatural has explicitly laced Biblical lore through its mythology since season four---and season nine has shaped itself around that of Genesis. The Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man was a focal point for the story surrounding the fall of the angels, Castiel's stint as a human, and the serpents let into the various Gardens such as Gadreel's possession of Sam and intrusion into the MOL Bunker. As we transition into the back half of the season, we're watching the story unfold around the aftermath of the serpent's infection. In “First Born,” we are given yet another Biblical story---also from Genesis and after the Fall of Man---for the show to use as framework: that of Cain and Abel and the First Murder.
First, let's examine the Biblical story.
Cain and Abel are the first brothers in Biblical history, born of Adam and Eve---and tainted by the Fall of Man. Unlike life in the Garden, where food, shelter, and safety were provided for, the world has become a place of danger and hard work. Cain is a farmer and Abel a shepherd.
Each brother prepares an offering to the Lord, hoping to please Him and gain favor for their efforts. Genesis tells us, “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering---fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”
It creates tension between the two brothers---Abel is favored by God and pleasing while Cain is rejected by the Lord, despite his hard work tilling the soil. It leads to a fatal encounter. Genesis tells us, “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”
This is a consequence of the serpent's invasion into the Garden and the Fall of Man. Now that humanity knows of good and evil, they can be ruled by their darker emotions---such as jealousy, envy, and pride. It can lead to dire outcomes---as it does with Cain and Abel here. We're told that Cain killed his brother out of jealousy, that since he could not garner favor from God, he would punish Abel for receiving it. It's a horrific moment---and one that will change humanity even further.
Cain is punished for this crime. God tells him, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Much as mankind had been banned from the Garden, Cain is banned from his home and family---and his livelihood. He is cast out into the wilderness further---and he is marked so that “no one who found him would kill him.”
Cain and Abel's story makes for a great framework to build the story of the Winchesters around. The story is simple but powerful---with its details open to interpretation. After all, we're not told precisely in these passages what Cain's weapon was---or what his mark entailed. Supernatural doesn't simply want to use this Biblical story as simple allegory, however---instead it takes this story and adapts it to fit into their mythology in a beautiful way.
Let's examine how Cain appears in “First Born.”
Even though we're not told that it's Cain just yet, we're introduced to him in violent fashion. The episode begins with a flashback to 1863 as Cain storms into a house, bent on murder and destruction. It's clear that he's not human. With a simple touch, he burns his way through each demon. In his other hand is a wicked jawbone blade.
In the present day, Dean and Crowley hunt down clues to find that very same blade. They end up gaining assistance from a hunter named Tara. She and John Winchester exorcised a demon together---but not before it said something about the First Blade. It intrigued her enough to put together a location spell to find it. Dean and Crowley help her execute the spell---and they get the clue to head to Missouri.
When they get there, however, it's not a blade they find. Instead there's a man---a bee keeper---and Crowley is deathly afraid of him. He's “dark,” and as Dean scoffs at the King of Hell's alarm, Crowley tells the hunter just who that is: the Father of Murder, Cain himself.
Cain isn't pleased to have a hunter and the King of Hell on his doorstep and demands that they tell him how they found him. He's been in hiding since he retired from being a Knight of Hell and he wants nothing to do with them. Cain is an imposing figure, and even though he isn't exacting the violence we saw in that opening sequence, we can tell that he can at any moment if he so desired. This becomes evident when Cain silences Crowley with just a gesture.
Dean informs Cain that they're not there for him, but for the First Blade. The spell was meant to locate the Blade---and was a “one time deal.” They had no idea that Cain was there when they arrived.
Cain knows there's more to the story and demands they tell him why they seek the First Blade. They tell him that they need the blade the archangels used to kill all the Knights of Hell---save Abaddon of course. It's the only thing they've been able to find that has any properties that could kill her. Cain tells them, “If your friend here could talk, he would tell you that I trained the Knights of Hell. I built that entire demonic order with my own hands -- Abaddon included.” He even goes on further to tell them that it was him, not the archangels, that slaughtered the Knights of Hell.
Supernatural takes its lore and weaves it intricately with the Biblical story of Cain and Abel here. By committing the first murder, Cain becomes a demon of the highest order, powerful, immortal---and most of all deadly. He became, “the best at being the worst,” and it all started with his long ago crime of fratricide. In many ways, this transformation is an elaboration on his punishment---and it fits right in with the structure of the show's mythology beautifully.
Cain refuses to tell them anything, commanding that they, “Never return.”
Crowley seems more than okay with that, quipping, “Can we leave the country now?” But Dean isn't ready to give up. He knows Cain is hiding the weapon somewhere and they decide to break into the house after Cain leaves. They need that weapon, and Winchester stubbornness wins out again.
As they fruitlessly look for the First Blade, Dean realizes a truth about Cain. He comes across a picture of a woman---taken around the time of the Civil War---and notices that her ring matches the same one that Cain was fiddling with on his ring finger. Cain had “retired” for a reason. He had found love.
Cain is non too pleased to find Dean and Crowley snooping through his home---especially since they brought trouble with them. Demons are after both, and one wants to serve them up to Abaddon to gain her favor. Cain only has the power to keep them out for so long---and so Dean and Crowley set to barricading themselves against the incoming onslaught.
In this whole sequence, we can tell that Cain is vetting them. He's watching to see how they react to this turn of events. Dean kicks into full hunter mode, putting on a magnificent display. As Cain lets in the demons to test Dean Winchester, he watches carefully as Dean uses everything around him as a weapon---and that he won't quit no matter how dire. It is a dance of death, a thing of terrible beauty to behold---and it is the very action that Dean must execute in order to be worthy in Cain's eyes.
Once it's over, Cain tells Dean, “I felt connected to you right from the beginning. Kindred spirits, if you will. You and I are very much alike.” This draws an indignant response from Dean---considering that he never killed his brother. Cain turns this on Dean, asking, “You saved yours. Why?”
Dean simply replies, “Because you never give up on family. Ever.”
Supernatural takes the story of Cain and Abel, and the story of Sam and Dean and begins to blend them beautifully together. Cain tells them that the spell brought them to him because he is the source of the Blade's power---and then he tells them that it is gone. Dean knows what this weapon was---a jawbone of an animal---and he scoffs, “The jawbone you used to kill Abel because he was God's favorite.”
Cain simply replies, “Abel wasn't talking to God. He was talking to Lucifer.”
Lucifer. The archangel tampered with another set of brothers---the very first pair.
It turns out that Lucifer wanted to turn Abel into his pet---into a monstrous demon. Instead, Cain offered up himself. All he wanted in return was for his younger brother's soul to be delivered up into Heaven---and away from Hell's clutches. It comes with a price, however. In order for Abel to go to Heaven as Cain has asked, Lucifer demands that he kill his brother. It has to be his hand that ends Abel's life---nothing else will do.
It's a brilliant twist of the Cain and Abel story, making it fit the Supernatural framework with elegance and subtly. Cain goes from being the jealous man we see in the Biblical story to a man desperate to save his brother from a fate far worse than death.
Cain reveals his Mark---the one the Bible tells us that God gave him for his crime. Once again, Supernatural adapts this to their mythology wonderfully. God didn't mark Cain. Someone else did. Cain tells Dean who gave it to him, “From Lucifer himself.”
Satisfied with Dean's skill and reasons for wanting the Blade, Cain decides to give Dean his Mark. He must do so as it is the only method in which to use the First Blade. Without it, the Blade is useless.
But Cain has one more thing to do first. He must apologize to his deceased wife. We learn the truth of what killed her---and why Cain turned on his Knights. Dean was right. Cain had fallen in love with a woman---one that “knew who I was... and what I was. She loved me unconditionally. She forgave me. ” He had decided to eliminate his Knights and retire for Collette---but Abaddon didn't make it easy.
She possesses Cain's wife, killing her while still inside. She snaps Collete's neck, taunting Cain. Before he can deliver the killing blow, however, she exits, leaving Cain to hold his dying wife's body. It is a heartbreaking moment as we see the Father of Murder break down. In the present, we watch Cain tell her to look away now as he must kill yet again in order to make it possible for Dean to leave as there are yet more demons flocking to his home.
The transfer of the mark is a profound moment as Cain and Dean grasp hands, almost in their own dance. Once it is complete, we see him teleport Dean and Crowley away, leaving us to witness the horrific red flashes of light as Cain kills his way through each demon invader.
Cain clearly reflects Dean Winchester beautifully. Cain is the older brother. In this interpretation, we can tell---despite his violent action---that he clearly loved his brother. He was put into a difficult situation with no winning choice. Either he allowed Abel to be tricked into becoming an evil being by Lucifer, posing as God, or he took his brother's place---and life. It's not hard to imagine how this exchange would have happened. Lucifer would have held all the cards, and Cain desperate to protect his brother from becoming a creature of darkness would have done anything to prevent it.
And so, he became a vicious monster.
We can't help but feel deep sympathy for him and his situation, though. Cain didn't kill Abel out of spite. He didn't do it because he was envious of his brother's accepted offering. It wasn't because God saw Abel as “his favorite.” Cain killed his brother out of love.
Dean may not have taken this action---in fact we've seen him consistently take the opposite approach---but we can tell that when he hears this story it touches a nerve deep inside. After all, Lucifer had toyed with his own brother. He could clearly understand Cain's agonized decision to kill Abel after Lucifer threatened to turn him into a violent monster. Dean had considered the very same thing once learning that Sam was Lucifer's chosen vessel. He would do anything to prevent his brother from becoming Lucifer's puppet.
Cain's story doesn't stop reflecting Dean's there, though. For his crime against Abel we learn that he is banished from his home and family, left to wander the earth and unable to farm. In Supernatural, Cain is banished from humanity, forever changed into a monstrous demon. He is banished to wander the earth, looking for a place to call his own. It's why he's so defensive of his home when Dean and Crowley burst in on it. It is his and he has settled comfortably into his anonymity. He has no desire to be banished again---and yet we see just that. He tells them, “Join me for the last meal I will ever have in this place.” After they leave, he will, too---never to return.
At the end of “Road Trip,” we see Dean banish himself from Sam. He is also banished from his home, the MOL Bunker. He let in the serpent that is Gadreel---and for his crime he must now pay by being exiled. It is a punishment he ascribes to himself. He will suffer the consequences of what he did alone. No other punishment can be anymore harsh than this for Dean. He cherishes family---and has come to do the same with the Bunker. To be cast out into the world without his family next to him is a cruel fate.
Much like Cain suffered becoming a demon, however, Dean will endure this punishment in order to save his brother. This time he's not saving Sam from Lucifer or his soulless self---or the Trials. Instead, Dean is saving Sam from himself. Simply put, he'd rather not turn his brother into him.
Crowley hits this issue on the head when he tells Dean, “Your problem, mate, is that nobody hates you more than you do. Believe me, I've tried.”
The King of Hell knows what self loathing feels like, and he knows what it looks like when someone else wears it. And yet, he stands up for the brothers in various ways. He tells Dean that they “need all the help they can get,” and “You are worthy.”
Crowley knows that the only way for things to work out in the end is for Sam and Dean to work through their issues---and if they are to have any hope of overcoming what Cain and Abel could not---they'll have to do it together.
Meanwhile, we're watching Sam smart from the knowledge that Dean had him possessed by Gadreel. He is Abel in this story. His brother chose his path for him. Dean chose to save him even when he expressed a wish to die. Cain killed Abel in order to save him from Lucifer's lies.
The Bible tells us nothing of Abel after his murder. His story ends there. It's this fact that allows for Supernatural to weave their story as they see fit. The fact that they tie Abel and Lucifer together fits in brilliantly with the canon already established. Abel is the younger brother, as Sam is, so it makes sense that Lucifer would target him. Lucifer is a younger brother, himself.
But what makes Sam's story in this episode so powerful is his interaction with a different angel: Castiel.
The angel coaxes several times to reach out to the elder Winchester. He says, “Maybe we should call Dean,” and each time Sam backs away from that proposal with a rebuff.
They are trying to extract the tiny bit of grace Gadreel left behind---his “angelic fingerprint”---so they can cast their own location spell to find him. Sam is focused on finding the angel that decided to deceive his brother---and to take over his body to commit horrible crimes.
During the process, we can tell that this is eating at Sam. He is feeling guilty. This is beyond what Gadreel did to Kevin, however. As Castiel extracts the grace, Sam slowly starts to regress both physically and emotionally to where he was during the Trials. During them, he told Dean that he was feeling purified for the first time ever. He had always felt unclean, unworthy. The Trials were meant to redeem him from everything he's done.
And yet he chose to stop. He chose to stop for his brother. For Sam, that choice has led to Kevin's death, to the murder of other angels---and their vessels---and to Abaddon and other demons wreaking chaos and death on others in the world.
Even when Castiel wishes to stop, Sam refuses, telling him, “My life's not worth any more than anyone else's -- not yours or Dean's...or Kevin's. Please. Please, help me do one thing right. Keep going.”
It's a heartbreaking moment to witness, and we realize how earth-shattering both his decision to stop the Trials and Dean's decision to allow Gadreel to possess him are for Sam. He sees himself as worthless and a hindrance. Sam sees his being alive costing too high a price.
While we don't get to see Abel's side of the story, we know that what Cain did in order to save his soul meant that many thousands---if not more---died. To send Abel to Heaven, it meant that Cain would have to murder many. It's something we see reflected tragically in Sam's story in season nine. He is alive at the cost of others.
And yet, Castiel points out a truth to Sam. The angel may no longer be human, but this experience has clearly changed him forever. Much like Crowley, this brush with humanity has changed his perspective. The angel isn't as single-minded as he once was. He's not willing to sacrifice someone to justify the ends. The angel we saw frustrated over Sam and Dean trying to save the two little boys in “Mommy Dearest” has been replaced by a much more understanding Castiel.
As Sam's condition worsens, Castiel decides to stop extracting the grace and finishes healing him. They'll have to take their chances on the spell with what they have---but Castiel won't let Sam sacrifice himself to find Gadreel. It's not worth it. They will find another way.
Before the spell can even be tested, the angel tells Sam, “Sam, I want Gadreel to pay as much as you do. But nothing is worth losing you. You know, being human, it didn't just change my view of food. It changed my view of you. I mean, I can relate now to how you feel.” It's a crucial statement that the younger Winchester needed to hear, especially after the crushing weight of his guilt about stopping the Trials----and for the guilt that comes with what Dean chose to do in order to save his life.
Sam rewards Castiel by hugging him, conveying his gratitude with the gesture. It's a start for the healing process---although he still has a long way to go as he rejects Castiel's attempt to reach out to Dean again with a firm, “We got this.”
What makes this introduction of Cain and Abel into the Supernatural mythology so special is the truth it reveals. Throughout season five we're told that Sam and Dean were reflections on earth of Michael and Lucifer in Heaven. They are the older brother obedient to an absent father and a younger brother who rebels. They were meant to end the squabble between the two archangels by allowing each one to possess them and face one another at an appointed time and place---to fight to the death.
Instead, they choose their own path. Dean refuses to say Yes to Michael---even if he teeters on the edge. He will support Sam's decision to say Yes and throw Lucifer back into the Cage. It will cost Sam his life---and over a century of torture in Hell---but it works. They stop the Apocalypse in their own way and lock both Michael and Lucifer in the Cage.
In “First Born,” however, we learn that Lucifer tampered with Cain and Abel's brotherly relationship. We're not told too much here by Cain. We know that Cain killed Abel to save him from Lucifer's evil. It's clear that this violent act was done out of love---and Cain suffered the consequences for it.
But what does this story say about Sam and Dean? What about their brotherly unit?
Sam and Dean are currently estranged. After what has happened with Dean's choice to let in Gadreel and to keep that secret, the brothers have gone their separate ways. Dean chose to banish himself for what he's done while Sam chose to let him go. It will be difficult for them to repair this rift---but not all hope is lost.
Each companion---Crowley and Castiel---that accompanied a Winchester in this episode continued to push them to reach out to the other. Crowley waited until the very end to suggest to Dean that they will “need all the help they can get,” while Castiel prodded Sam several times. And as we watched the brothers react to these hints, we saw them remain the “pig-headed” Winchesters we know and love. Yet, there was obvious pain in both of them at the separation. We could tell that they missed the other---not unlike a phantom limb.
Sam and Dean are struggling to cope with the aftermath of the serpent invading the Garden of their brotherhood, but it is also an opportunity for them to do something Cain and Abel simply couldn't: fix things.
In many ways, they were meant to stop Michael and Lucifer's prize fight. Both of them were archangels---absolute and unwavering in their point of view. Michael saw it as his duty to kill Lucifer for his crime of invading the Garden of Eden and Lucifer saw it as his right to rebel against their Father. Neither would change no matter what was said or done.
But Cain and Abel were human. They were men. They understood, in the aftermath of the expulsion from the Garden, what good and evil were. They could experience everything that humanity had to offer. It meant that they could adapt. Most of all, as humans, they knew what it was to love freely.
It is this that Sam and Dean are meant to reclaim. They weren't born to be Michael and Lucifer's vessels. They weren't born to be puppets in the scheme of the Apocalypse. Sam and Dean were born to reclaim the brotherhood that Cain and Abel had stolen away from them by Lucifer.
They are to do what the first brothers couldn't: take back what it means to be brothers.
Timothy Omundson is best known for his role as Detective Lassiter on Psych. Here, as the fabled Cain, Omundson is an intimidating figure. Even before we're told that's who he is, the opening sequence as he moves through the demons is a terrifying sight to behold. When we first encounter him, he seems rather friendly---except for the deadly tone to his voice and the piercing gaze. There's a deadly grace in the way Omundson carries himself, making Cain a very powerful presence in every scene he appears. While we can tell that he's dangerous---even when he's doing something innocuous like drinking tea or talking about bees---there's sorrow and an odd gentle nature under the surface. Confronted with Dean and Crowley in his home---and with their problem with Abaddon---we can tell that Cain is tired. There's a nonchalant beauty in the way Cain sits as a still figure amidst the carnage being wrought in his home as Dean dispatches the demons. He's unflappable in the face of this violence, and Omundson adds a wry humor to Cain when he delivers the line, “Oh don't mind me. Enjoy yourself.” This may be the Father of Murder, but Omundson makes us feel a deep sympathy for Cain as we learn his story. Not only did he have to choose between two losing choices---either watch your brother become Lucifer's “pet” or kill your brother and take his place---he has had to endure the tragic loss of the only woman he's ever loved. Omundson makes us feel that loss best when we see him at his wife's grave, telling her, “I've tried. I've tried, Colette, to see myself as you did. But I know who I am -- Seen what I am. I know you watch over me still. But I need you to look away now.” The timbre of his voice conveys everything we need to know. As he reenters his home, we can tell that Cain has changed into The Father of Murder once more just by the look on his face. Omundson makes Cain his most frightening here, even if we don't get to see the actual killings beyond the bright red flashes from inside his home. Hopefully we'll see him again---before he calls Dean back to end his life. Omundson was an excellent addition to this week's episode---and to the Supernatural Family.
Mark Sheppard makes Crowley as charming as ever. There's still the lingering near-cure---and perhaps what Kevin's blood did to the demon---evident in the King of Hell in this episode. Sheppard has great chemistry with Ackles throughout, both in comedic and dramatic moments. Part of what makes Crowley such a great character is his expert use of wit, and it's in full force here from his line about “Hunters Hogwarts,” to “You're good, but I'm Crowley.” Crowley isn't just about the tinge of humanity still affecting him---rather we see the King of Hell return to his manipulative form---all hidden under a suave charm. He knows just how to push Dean to do what he wants, and we see Sheppard portray this beautifully---as we watch him taunt Dean at the bar, as he tells Dean about Cain, and as he watches Dean fight the demons. It's so subtle, but we can tell that Crowley knows what makes Dean tick and he uses it to his advantage completely. Sheppard also shows Crowley's fear and reverence for Cain wonderfully. It takes a lot to truly frighten the King of Hell, and here's an intimidating figure that does that. He takes this fear and shows it best, however, when Cain silences Crowley. Sheppard gets a giggle out of us as he makes a gasping expression, almost as if he's afraid he may never speak again. This shines again when we see Crowley cross himself upon seeing Cain's Mark, labeling him the Father of Murder. Sheppard does this gesture with great reverence, setting up Ackles for the punchline. Sheppard has a subtlety that shows well here, too. While Crowley never actually comes out to say that he cares about Dean, Sheppard makes this clear best when we see him address Dean at the end of the episode. The sincerity in his delivery of the line, “Your problem is that nobody hates you more than you do---believe me I've tried,” sums up everything that the King of Hell feels about his current hunting partner. Sheppard's Crowley, much like Collins's Castiel did opposite Padalecki, stands in for the fans when he pushes Dean on “needing all the help we can get,” a not-so-subtle hint that perhaps the elder Winchester ought to reach out to his brother and solve their problems.
Misha Collins shows us that while Castiel may have returned to his angelic form, that taste of humanity is still lingering somewhat. Usually opposite Dean on screen, here we see the angel with Padalecki's Sam. As they determine the next step in finding Gadreel, they are setting up their base in the Bunker---allowing them to interact without interference. The typical endearing awkwardness we've come to expect is front and center once more---particularly when we watch the angel try to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich only to taste just its “molecules.” We see this best, however, when we see Castiel ask, “Sam, may I ask you a question?” only to be told he has and to ask, “Can I ask you another question?” But Collins makes Castiel connect with Sam---and us---emotionally when we see him try to extract Gadreel's grace. Unlike in the past, we can tell that this bothers Castiel greatly. Collins shows us that Castiel is having a hard time seeing Sam in pain here. It's written all over his face and in the hesitant actions he takes while using the syringe. There's also a new compassion in Castiel conveyed best in soft looks and the gentle voice the angel uses in these scenes. As Sam insists they keep going---even as his body regresses back to its state during the Trials---we see Collins give Castiel's frustration voice. He puts it all into the line, “Why must the Winchesters run towards death?” As he looks away and sees the sandwich from earlier, it triggers the humanity he's experienced, and we see a beautiful moment unfold. Collins makes Castiel gentle and benevolent here---and understanding of why Sam wants to push so far. We can tell this in how he delivers his lines or in how he carries himself. And even though they've failed to extract enough grace, Castiel tells Sam what he needs to hear about finding Gadreel another way. As Sam hugs Castiel, Collins shows the angel's befuddlement and awkward nature best in the hesitant returning of the hug. What's so funny about a lot of their exchanges is how they've made Collins, much like Sheppard, the voice for the fans. He tries again and again to convince Sam to reach out to his brother---but he does so in a way that makes it gentle, as if he's planting the seed into Sam's mind rather than commanding him. Collins and Padalecki shared great chemistry in this episode and both built that chemistry between their characters well. Perhaps we'll see more of Collins opposite Padalecki going forward!
Jensen Ackles builds on his performance from “Road Trip” beautifully in “First Born.” We can tell, just by how Ackles sits at the bar, that Dean is nearing total rock bottom. It's apparent, in how Dean is indulging in all his vices, that he's about to hit the self-destruct button soon. It doesn't help when Crowley encroaches---but it will give Dean something to do other than wallow. Ackles and Sheppard have great chemistry and it bears both great comedic and dramatic fruit. The humor is dry between them, especially when they're at the lock up or breaking into Cain's house. Ackles really shines best comedically against Sheppard when we see Cain take away Crowley's voice or when Crowley expresses his religious devotion upon seeing the Mark of Cain. Ackles makes Dean boyish when he tells Cain, “Oh, you gotta teach me how to do that. ” We can't help but giggle when he expresses his disbelief at Crowley crossing himself, either. Dramatically, we can sense a lot of tension between the hunter and demon---and Ackles shows us through sheer body language and facial expressions how uncomfortable Dean is with the situation. This shows best in the scenes where they're talking to Tara at her pawn shop----and we can tell that her line, “If your daddy could see you now,” really hits hard just by the crushed facial expression that crosses Dean's face. Ackles puts it all in that expression and he doesn't have to say a single word to convey that pain. We can tell that he wants nothing more than to either stab Crowley in the heart or ditch him in a Devil's Trap---and that shows best when Dean shoves Crowley against the fence and declares, “We are the furthest thing from family. You got that, dickbag?”
But Ackles shines best when Dean's fighting the demons in front of Cain----it's no wonder Crowley sat back and watched! Knowing that Ackles performed his own stunts makes this scene all the more powerful. It's an elegant dance of death as Dean twists and turns using everything and anything at his disposal to kill the demons attacking. He makes Dean a whirlwind, showing off the hunter's skill and making it seem effortless in the sequence. Even when Dean gets knocked aside or pinned, Ackles shows us the hunter's focus and fury all by action and facial expression. The way Dean shoves the last body onto the floor is the punctuation mark to the deadly dance. Ackles made this violent scene beautiful---all by how he executed the stunts that put it together.
Jared Padalecki presented us with an emotionally drained Sam. Fresh off the reveal that Dean had lied to him---and consequently had an angel possess him---we see Sam struggle to cope with his brother leaving. Padalecki shows us Sam's hurt well---especially in how he tenses up whenever Castiel suggests that they call Dean. There's an exasperated patience in Sam, too, when he's faced with some of the angel's quirks without his brother as buffer. It sets up for great subtle comedy between Padalecki and Collins---particularly in how Sam gently tells Castiel, “Me, Cas. I'm the guinea pig,” or “You just did,”or “Well, technically, you -- yeah, go ahead. What's up ” but it hits us with both laughter and tears when Sam tells Castiel, “Now's the part where you hug back. ” Padalecki shreds our hearts, however, when we see him push himself---and Castiel---in order to extract the grace for the location spell. There's deep sorrow and pain in his voice as he delivers the lines, “My life's not worth any more than anyone else's -- not yours or Dean's...or Kevin's. Please. Please, help me do one thing right. Keep going.” Padalecki takes Sam to a dark place here, and as he endures the physical pain of the needle and the extraction, we can see it etched all over his face. There's almost a form of ecstasy in that expression, and Padalecki conveys that Sam feels he is paying his debt here and now by enduring this. We see such hope in Sam's expression when they cast the locator spell only for it to crumble when it fails. Padalecki also makes his whole frame sag, as if defeat is suddenly crushing down upon his broad shoulders---showing us without having to say anything how devastating it is to have not gone far enough. Yet, as we see Castiel tell Sam “you're not worth losing,” Padalecki makes sure to let us see the flicker of hope illuminate his expression, making us hope with him. As he embraces Castiel, we can feel Sam not only taking the forgiveness that the angel is offering---but offer some of his own in return. We haven't seen Padalecki and Collins on screen as a duo very often, but here it worked beautifully, giving Sam and Castiel a chance to build their own friendship. Hopefully we'll get to see more of that going forward.
Best Lines of the Week:
Dean: Oh, you gotta teach me how to do that!
Dean: Really? Now?
Castiel: I miss you, PB&J.
Castiel: You have a guinea pig? Where?
Crowley: This is by far the dumbest idea you've ever had.
Sam: Being human, it means settling your debts.
Crowley: You're good---but I'm Crowley.
Crowley: Your problem is that nobody hates you more than you do.” Check quote
Cain: Since when does the great Dean Winchester ask for help? That doesn’t sound like the man I’ve read about on demon bathroom walls.
Sam: Now's the part where you hug back.
Crowley: Didn't they teach note-taking at Hunters Hogwarts?
Next week we get to welcome back a familiar face: Garth!