I’ll begin by saying I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Whether other fans agree or not, I’m not sure, but aside from Sam and Cas’s subplot, I praise the team for giving us a new twist on some old lore that further enhances Supernatural’s already rich background of demons and angels. Both brothers confronted and maintained their beliefs that the journeys they must contend with will be done so without the aid of the other. I’m not torn by this development. If anything, I’d like to continue seeing how they manage alone before their eventual reunion. One deals with the angel plot while the other suffers through the demon tale. Hopefully it all merges into a messy blood bath that opens the floodgates for endless seasons to come.
My only initial complaint was mentioned earlier in trying to give Sam equal screen time in the episode. The effort was genuine, but it felt too rigid for me to invest into. Sam’s suffering will always be the worst of the two only because much of Sam’s pain isn’t what he does freely but what he does when he’s not in control. Yet, in this episode, I wasn’t feeling his pain like I normally do. The growing plot with Dean was entirely too fascinating and when Cas drew in to reflect on his learning’s of humanity, I just wanted to get back to the demon storyline. Let’s get started.
A flashback in Mississippi 1863 shows a small group of confederate soldiers held up in a cabin. A man arrives holding a bone-jaw blade and proceeds to kill the soldiers who are revealed to be demons.
In the present, Crowley finds Dean at a bar and convinces him to research his father’s journal in regards to the jaw-bone dagger that can kill a knight of hell. Dean tracks down an entry to a storage room where he finds a file about a demon that John and another hunter, Tara, tortured and killed, who referenced the blade before dying. Dean and Crowley find Tara at a shop and she reveals that she was working on a locator spell that could find the dagger but she was missing an ingredient. Crowley locates the ingredient and the spell directs Dean to Missouri where he and Crowley travel to and encounter a man at a farm who Crowley says is Cain, the father of murder.
Meanwhile at HQ, Cas researches and finds that Sam is carrying some of Gadriel’s grace that was left behind when Gadriel left Sam’s body. Sam finds notes detailing a theory and device that could extract grace from a vessel and offers to let Cas try it on him. Cas agrees but finds it difficult to complete the extraction as it causes Sam a lot of pain.
At the farm, Cain reveals that after he killed Abel, he became the first demon and slaughtered thousands before disappearing. Dean explains he’s hunting Abaddon and needs the blade to kill her. Cain tells Dean and Crowley to leave. Dean complies but returns after Cain left to search the house. Inside, he discovers a picture of a woman named Colette who is wearing a wedding ring similar to Cain’s. Cain finds them as demons arrive demanding Dean and Crowley be released to them. One of the demons had followed them after killing Tara.
Cain allows several demons to enter and face Dean to see what Dean is capable of and watches as Dean fights and kills three demons all with Ruby’s knife. Crowley faces and kills a single demon with an angel blade. Afterward, Cain reveals that he no longer possesses the jaw-bone blade and that his mark from Lucifer is what gives the blade the power to kill the knights of hell. He also reveals that Abel was speaking to Lucifer and Cain offered himself to Lucifer if Abel was allowed entry into heaven. Lucifer agreed so long as Cain killed Abel. After, Cain became a demon and created the knights of hell and slaughtered in the name of Lucifer, but Cain met Colette in the 19th century and swore to stop the killing. The knights of hell corner Colette and after Cain killed all but one, Abaddon had possessed Colette but escaped the body just as Cain tried to kill her. Colette died telling Cain he’s better than this and Cain retired from killing.
Cain explains that the blade is buried in the ocean and can transfer his mark to a worthy person. Dean agrees without knowing any of the consequences and the mark is switched. Cain helps Dean and Crowley escape as long as Dean agrees to kill Cain when the time comes. Cain then lures the remaining demons in and slaughters them. After reaching a safe distance Crowley says he’ll find the blade when Dean confirms that Crowley set the entire meeting up, pretending to be afraid and knowing a demon was following them. He strikes Crowley over Tara’s death and after Crowley leaves, he feels something from the mark and stares abroad.
Back at HQ, Cas stops his extraction and heals Sam, unable to let him suffer through any more of it. The locator spell doesn’t work and Cas reflects with Sam about learning of guilt and that being human taught him that angels can change. He then tells Sam that he’ll find Metatron himself.
It’s always fascinating to know that in the world of Supernatural, Lucifer’s influence spans across so many people affecting things on micro and macroscopic levels. I never thought I’d picture a sympathetic Cain in this story. Such a biblical character has been rooted in a dark light through countless other stories, but I thought SN’s attempt was very well done. The archetype of the tragic hero is one of my favorites and turning Cain into one felt more appropriate than turning him into a baddie even more bloodthirsty and evil than Abaddon. I say keep the true villain centered at Abaddon as planned. The only struggle I have with “redeeming love” is that the kind of connection an immortal has to make with a mortal who “forgives” and “loves unconditionally” is almost an unfathomable concept. It’s a love to aspire to and I’d like to see those kinds of developments over arcs and not “just accept it, it’s true love” short segments where we don’t have time to understand it. Was it more poetic that in the flashback we were treated to a confederate region? I suppose they could have picked any number of past events and location as the actual time held no specific significance to the plot. I half thought we were going to be treated with another appearance by Colt himself, but that was not to be.
Now that Dean has received the mark of Cain I’m very interested to see where this is going. Is it a death sentence? Will Dean be forced or destined to kill Sam, his own brother as Cain killed Abel? Seems a bit too dramatic and predictable, so we’ll see where they go with this. I like how Ruby’s knife had no effect on Cain. I think Alastair was the only other demon who was unaffected but my memory is a bit foggy on that. I know the SN team stated they’d never dive into the origin of that blade, but it’d be nice to know after 9 years what the hell is up with that weapon. At least we know it doesn’t predate or affect the first demon.
When Tara was introduced as another partner of John’s I almost groaned. The last thing I wanted to hear was some twisty moment where we come to find out Dean and Sam are only half brothers. I’d have shook my head a thousand times if that was the case. I think Tara’s death was their way of saying “Don’t worry, she’s not his mom.” So even though it sucks, I’m thankful they didn’t do something truly terrifying with Tara’s character. Her knee twitch to demonic presences was a nice touch though. My only gripe here is I was under the impression Dean had read that journal front to back a hundred times and through all the searching and storage units that Dean would have had some knowledge of Tara already given John’s shady past with pretty much every hunter he’s ever teamed with. It was good to see the journal make an appearance.
I was a bit divided on how I felt with Crowley’s set up of the entire episode. On the one hand I think Crowley continues to earn his place as the king of hell by doing things that Lucifer would do as well. Manipulation is the primary power of such a king and Crowley performed admirably. Yet, I felt some tinge of disappointment when all his fear to Cain was an act. I’ve found over the years that what gives an audience justification to be afraid or fearful is the belief in the characters that are showing that fear. We empathize and go along with some feelings and for Crowley to say “Yeah I was just kidding,” felt like it was a bit of a rob on that fearful presence that Cain “should” have had. Granted he had a much darker and prominent look in the flashback and you can only do so much when a man says he’s retired. Still, I liked Crowley’s subterfuge but I didn’t like it. It’s hard to describe my thoughts on it any other way.
Now onto Cas and Sam. Again, restating from earlier, I wasn’t into any of either character’s plight in this episode. It took such a backseat that I didn’t feel anything new or different with either character. I think it’s great that Cas realizes how being human taught him new values and feelings and I think when he told Sam that if he were a normal angel who never became human, he’d have gone through with the extraction with no sympathy at all. That part made the most sense and was good to reveal, although I do find it a little hard to believe wholeheartedly that Cas was or would have been indifferent to Sam’s suffering entirely. With the lack of grace proving ultimately useless, this subplot didn’t feel very justified to me. I didn’t need to know that Cas had reflections and understanding of humanity having returned to his angelic form. And I don’t really buy Sam’s refusal to let Dean back in the fold. The brotherly bond has stood the test of time too many times to really believe that both brothers don’t want to ask help from the other. I believe Dean can do that till the cows come home, but Sam isn’t so believable. I get that he’s super hurt from his experiences, but he’s more likely to be the one to get over it first than Dean, my theory anyway. Oh, one other thing. Not trying to nitpick how grace works but if Cas was able to retrieve grace from another angel/vessel to revitalize himself, what’s stopping him from taking the leftover grace from Sam? Would that kill Sam? Maybe I’m missing a key piece of Angel powers that I’m not getting.
Overall, I enjoyed the episode. They brought in new lore and a new character who has a place among the demon and angel war. In one episode, Cain proved to be a more valiant effort of an addition than Gadriel has in all his appearances, and I was on Gadriel’s side from the beginning. Maybe I’m still bitter over his turn to Metatron’s side. Still, I like tragic heroes and Cain fits the bill. So far, if I had to wager a guess on the finale, I’d say there’s an equal chance that the demon and angel war will finally spill over the other and force both sides to collide. Okay, that’s what I’d like to see, but my brain wants a huge budget out of this. What I really expect to see is somehow the angels returning to heaven and some threat contained with the closure of hell. Maybe it’s not permanent, but nothing ever really is. Will Abel make some kind of appearance in Sam’s plot? That’d be interesting to see. And bring back Bobby for another cameo, or Death. Yeah, more Death.
No more words