To say that Supernatural’s second episode of the season, “Reichenbach” was a stunning and brilliant hour of television would be an understatement. The episode alternated from making us afraid of Dean, the hero who never gives up and will do anything for family, to being in awe of Sam, whose courage, determination and love in the face of unrelenting hate and evil was almost beyond belief. How could Dean have changed so much? How could Dean ever, ever threaten to deal with Sam without mercy? How could Sam stare down Dean, taking steps closer and closer to him, knowing the Mark of Cain made Dean virtually invincible?
A heartbroken, determined Sam
The tension was intense; the writing was witty, fast and tight; and the acting was superb. Jensen’s Demon!Dean was utterly chilling. Jared’s Sam was heartbreaking. It’s as if we lost Dean but found Sam. The story was about breaking one bromance while trying to rescue the other. The story was about the brothers. They were in real trouble, lay-it-all-on-the-line trouble that will get worse before it gets better, versus the contrived squabbling we’ve witnessed for so long. Mark, Misha and Travis so superbly portrayed their characters’ own dilemmas that there was no break in the emotional tension or the storylines. I am happy for this triumph for Andrew Dabb. Free of the pressure and distraction of writing a series spin-off, his writing talent soared in this episode.
So what did this episode tell us? I’m going to address Castiel’s storyline first, since for now it is the easiest to understand.
Castiel and Heaven
A smattering of left over grace will restore Castiel? Won’t a little grace make him a little powerful? Metatron said of the grace that there’s “Not a lot, but enough.” I believe that not all of Castiel’s grace was used in the spell so I accept that Metatron is telling the truth about it being available. We are back to last season’s thread, or question, though. Will Castiel’s grace reverse the spell put on Heaven since it was used to close Heaven? Will it be instrumental in restoring Heaven completely, thus opening the veil and releasing trapped souls, including Kevin’s? Will it open the gates so that the angels don’t have to take the “express elevator” in a playground sandbox to get in and out of heaven?
The focus has been on keeping Castiel from dying. What if that is a misdirection? Reintroducing the subject of Castiel’s grace seems to plant the seed for a whole new plotline. Yes, he might get his grace back and miraculously be healed. He could then be the leader of Heaven. That doesn’t solve the “little grace left” problem, though. Will a little grace be enough to save Castiel? I propose instead that Castiel’s destiny is to save Heaven, just as Sam and Dean’s destiny was to save Earth. Castiel could sacrifice himself, just as Sam and Dean both did. If Castiel sacrifices his grace and himself to restore Heaven, might he not be resurrected again by God, as was done in “Swan Song” when Cas sacrificed himself to save humans from Lucifer and Michael’s apocalypse? Let Castiel die. Let him go. Good will come of it.
By the way, I very much liked Castiel’s conviction to what’s right versus what’s wrong. He hasn’t forgotten the lessons he’s learned and this time he will passionately be guided by his moral compass. I was so happy to see Castiel express himself:
“I’ve made deals born of desperation and they always end in blood, and tears. Always.”
I also love that Castiel told Metatron: “You, shut up!” Finally!!! Castiel later told him, “You talk too much”. I agree!
I don’t mind Hannah or the angel storyline, but to me Metatron is the house guest who has overstayed his welcome. I will applaud loudly when he fulfills his ultimate purpose and someone “removes” him from the story (hopefully Castiel)!
Demon Dean….or not?
The “Deanmon” issue has been universally confusing. The Mark, the Blade, Dean is a demon, Dean isn’t yet a demon…
Many of you have expressed your confusion and certainly I have shared your bewilderment. If the “Threads” series is dedicated to examining clues to the major plotlines, I think we should look at what has been said about the Mark of Cain to try to reconcile the seemingly conflicting information about Demon!Dean. So put your thinking caps on and let’s take a stab at this!
Going back to the finale of season 9, “Do You Believe in Miracles”, Crowley stated that the Mark wanted Dean to kill:
DEAN: "I can't turn it off! Ever since I killed Abaddon, it's -- it's like this whole...other thing. I get this high and I-I-I need to kill. I mean, I really, really need to kill. And if I don't --"
CROWLEY: "you yak your guts out. It's the mark."
CROWLEY: "It wants you to kill. The more you kill, the better you feel. The less you kill, the less better you feel."
DEAN: "How much less better?"
CROWLEY: "One would imagine the least-best better."
DEAN: "So dead? Well, Cain had the mark. He didn't die."
CROWLEY: "Cain was a demon. Your body's not strong enough to contain the blade's power."
DEAN: "What if I got rid of it?"
CROWLEY: "You want to get rid of it?"
Reinforcing the canon about the Mark, Crowley again stated in this quote from season 10’s premiere “Black”, that it was the Mark that was requiring Dean to kill:
“The Mark needs to be sated, otherwise…”
If it is the Mark that is driving its bearer to kill, then why did Cain separate himself from the Blade when he wanted to rehabilitate himself? The distance seemed to lessen the Blade’s addictive power over Cain. Just to add to the confusion, when Cain threw the Blade into the deepest ocean, he was able to resist the desire to kill without dying himself even though Dean was becoming deathly ill when he didn’t kill often enough.
Crowley explained this seeming contradiction in the above exposition. He clarified that there are two aspects of the Mark of Cain and the Blade pairing that need to be understood separately. Crowley said that since Cain was a demon, his body could contain the Blade’s power. That clearly states that the Blade’s power, not the Mark, was killing human Dean. Apparently the Blade transfers power into the body holding it (remember that euphoric look on Dean’s face when he first touched and killed with the Blade?). A demon’s body can accept and store that power. A human body cannot. I’m reminded of the legend of the immortals in the movie and TV series “Highlander”. Killing resulted in a “quickening”, i.e. a power surge into the killer’s body. Immortals were strengthened each time they killed. The Blade seems to do the same thing. The Mark corrupts the soul and drives its bearer to kill but a demon’s body can contain, can store, the power it receives from the Blade after each kill. IF you are a demon, your body can bear the Mark without the Blade’s resulting “reward” killing you. So the Mark is clearly the corrupting force that is urging Dean to kill and turning Dean into a demon; while the Blade supplies the addicting, reinforcing drug. Cain also exhibited substantial super-strength and faster reflexes that seem to be a side effect of bearing the Mark of Cain. So Dean will be an unstoppable force for a while?
So if I got this straight, the attributes of each half of this deadly pairing are the following:
1. Drives the bearer to kill
2. Corrupts the soul, making the bearer lose all their humanity until they are a demon
3. Strengthens fighting skills superior to all other demons
4. Grants immortality through instant physical healing
When fed with death, transfers a surge of evil power into the body of the bearer of the MoC. This “high” is addictive. The more the bearer feeds the addiction by killing, the more they need to kill. A never ending spiral of killing. As with any addiction, physical dependence on the Blade’s high lessens the longer the bearer goes without a “hit”. So separating themselves from the Blade’s “reward” allows them to manage their addiction. Crowley strategically (and inconveniently) never answered the question of what happens if the bearer gets rid of the Blade but this drug analogy fits the facts. Since Dean has lived through several recharges from the Blade’s energy, we must conclude that Dean is now a demon…or is he?
The second half of that critical sentence from the season 10 premiere was delivered by Dean:
Crowley: “The Mark needs to be sated, otherwise…”
Dean: “…otherwise I turn into a demon. Yeah, yeah. Sort of got that 6 weeks ago.”
What did Dean mean that otherwise he would turn into a demon? The line was repeated in the “Then” recap for 10.02, indicating to me that it is important! They specifically chose to emphasize this quote out of all the dialog they could have repeated in the recap! I know this is going to drive some of you crazy because you accepted Dean as a demon in “Black” and were already politely telling me I was crazy for looking at the ambiguity. The fact that this dichotomy was brought up again in “Reichenbach”, though, is undeniable. Crowley reiterated this human vs. demon conundrum later in the episode:
Crowley: What do you think you’re doing?
Dean: Well, whatever I want.
Crowley: Really, because I think you don’t know what you want. Tell me Dean, what are you? A demon? If so, why isn’t Lester’s wife dead? Did you feel sorry for her? So maybe you’re human, except you have those pretty black peepers and you’re working alongside me. Why don’t you do us all a great big favor, and pick a bloody side!
In two clear statements now, Crowley and Dean have both said that being a demon is Dean’s choice. That implies that he can redeem his soul by his own free will, if he chooses to do good instead of evil. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to want to be cured.
Dean: “If I wanted to be cured, I wouldn’t have bailed.”
Sam: “That was Crowley”
Dean: “It really wasn’t.”
Dean then made his choice:
Cole: What are you?”
Dean: “I’m a demon.”
He decided…but what’s interesting to me is why and how could he do that? Is the Mark clouding his thinking or does Dean hate himself that much? I deeply hope that he tells us once he is himself again. For now, I believe the Mark has erased Dean’s conscience, i.e. his soul, making him into the sociopath discussed last week, so Dean’s actions are being driven by the Mark.
Yet Cain also bore the Mark so how did he just decide to stop killing? When talking to Sam later, Crowley said, “Dean’s uncontrollable. Must be the Mark.” Crowley usually finds it easy to “control” demons. One logical implication then is that the Mark of Cain leaves it bearer with some free will, or intellect, to make choices. The Mark needs its bearer to be smart, not a mindless soldier, so the MoC demon retains some mindful will. Cain remains a demon who has chosen to “retire” as he put it, or just not act on his hedonistic desires. He seems to be living proof that the MoC bearer can be a demon without acting like a demon. That would also be consistent with Crowley’s warning that keeping but sating the Mark keeps the bearer from becoming a full-fledged demon, a creature of evil with no free will and no choices. Cain didn’t and doesn’t feel guilt or consequence from doing evil things because his soul is “dead” but he still chooses not to do those things because of a promise he made versus because of morality. This at least is one theory to explain the new canon we are being given.
We have concluded that both Dean’s and Cain’s bodies are capable of channeling the evil power of the Blade as long as their souls remain corrupted, i.e. the definition of a demon. In season 8, the brothers learned that curing demons, i.e. returning the soul’s purity, requires incantations and an infusion of humanity in the form of purified human blood, not just a “choice to be nice again”. Since Cain was never cured, we seem to have further evidence that the MoC bearer can remain a demon but, freed from the Blade’s constant reinforcement of evil, can choose not to do evil things.
So the Mark corrupted Dean’s soul, physically making him into a demon, but Dean hadn’t yet reconciled his human instincts with his demonic tendencies. In other words, there was still a little Dean in there somewhere. That would account for last week’s bad boy spree that was coupled with a few reflective moments. This is why Crowley told Dean he had to decide which way he wanted to go. With Dean’s declaration to Cole, Dean decided this week to fully embrace and act as a demon. Likely, the additional hits of evil energy he ingested after killing again with the Blade wiped away more of the lingering humanity in him.
So if any of this tracks, season 10 can go one of two ways:
1. Dean makes the same choice as Cain, i.e. Dean stays a demon yet acts human. He chooses good over evil. As long as he is the MoC demon, Dean
· will have super human fighting skills
· will heal instantly, making him virtually immortal
· will want to kill, but can choose not to (as Cain did) because of a promise he makes (to Sam?) after some trauma brings him to his senses (almost killing Sam?)
2. Sam quickly cures Dean of being a demon, returning him to human form. As such,
· I think he will still have super human fighting skills
· will not heal instantly, but will continually be resurrected by the Mark (I think??)
· will want to kill, but can choose not to, guided by his own humanity and Sam's watchful eye
With the Blade gone, its lethal infusion of evil power won’t be an issue. So both options seem virtually the same until the brothers can remove the Mark. Either way, Dean will have to resist the corrupting influences of the Mark while they look for a way to remove it permanently. Since season 10 has been promoted as the year of the “Deanmon”, it seems that the first option is most likely. The boys will spend the year trying to find a way to reverse/contain the effects of the Mark and cure Dean. Yet we know that Dean is himself by the 200th episode, so...
Crowley tells Sam that Dean is his problem, now and forever.
Got it? That was a painfully long path to make sense of all the MoC demon contradictions. Do you agree with my theories and conclusions? Which way do you think season 10 will go? I promise that the rest of this article will be easier to digest!
Giving away the Blade will make it hard to kill Cain, but he couldn’t be killed by the Blade anyway so maybe we’ve seen the last of the Blade, forever.
Cole now knows about demons. Was that “let Sam escape” thing true? He chose to not go after Sam, but Sam freed himself on his own.
Castiel’s conversation with that little girl was absolutely adorable and so MISHA! Dreaming about snot?! Misha had to have input into that idea! It’s so “Cooking with West”’ uninhibited! Yet that was Castiel’s smile, not Misha’s (which we have seen so many times in convention photographs). Separating himself from his character when talking to an adorable princess was wonderful acting.
Young Dean was wearing the Samulet!
Kudos to casting a female as the tow truck driver. Woman caring for herself, raising a child in a stereotypical male occupation. Appreciate the strong woman role.
The “Roadrunner” cartoon! Way to reuse licenses that had already been purchased (“Hunteri Heroici”).
Crowley’s boredom at the statistics demon was laugh out loud hilarious!
My family also laughed hysterically at the cowboy pic and Crowley pining over Dean to “Lonely Girl”!
So, again, I’m way out on a limb trying to make sense of Demon!Dean. Test, question, push and pull at these theories to see if they hold up…or correct them if you have simpler or more logical conclusions. We have one week to make sense of all this before we find out what Dean wants to do to poor Sammy!
Screencaps courtesy of www.homeofthenutty.com
Past dialog transcripts from www.supernaturalwiki.com