Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S09E11 – First Born

In the eleventh episode of the ninth season of Supernatural, Dean teams up with Crowley to take on Abaddon; Sam teams up with Castiel to take on Gadreel. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

I have one thing to criticize about “First Born,” but goddamn, this was a really solid episode of the show. LET’S DISCUSS.

Sam / Castiel

As I said on video, it’s rare that this show puts Sam and Castiel into scenes where it’s just the two of them. Obviously, the Dean/Cas dynamic is more of a priority in the writing, and now I’m wondering why we haven’t gotten more of this. SAM AND CAS ARE SO GREAT TOGETHER. Of course, it helps that the story they’re given in “First Born” is so perfect for both of them. At the heart of their struggle is guilt. Sam is desperate to condone for his actions – even if they were committed without his consent – and is willing to risk his life to do so. In a sense, that’s typical of him and consistent with his characterization in the last few seasons. It’s been amplified by the most recent batch of events, particularly Sam’s decision in the season 8 finale to die so he could close the Gates of Hell.

Where does Sam go after that? How does he cope with what his life has become? Well, when Castiel suggests that they use Gadreel’s remaining grace (still inside of Sam) to track him down, Sam doesn’t hesitate to pursue. Initially, I just assumed that this was something to keep Sam busy and distracted, one he was well aware of. But why was Castiel so concerned about Sam’s willingness to have his grace extracted? The key to understanding that was in thinking about how Castiel and Sam are similar. (That’s not the only parallel in this episode, but I’ll get to the other one in a second.) Both of these characters are coping with disappointment in themselves. On top of that, Castiel now more fully understands human emotions because he was human. So when Sam talks about his worth as a person, it rings more true for Cas; he knows what Sam is referring to.

Despite knowing that the spell would work, and despite Sam’s insistence to keep going, Castiel pulls away from completing the extraction. Why? Because for the first time in his existence, Castiel has realized that ends don’t always justify the means. It’s so fascinating to think about what sort of character Castiel is now that he’s experienced being human because… well, look at his scenes in “First Born”! They’re a lot more tender than usual. We don’t really see him trying to comfort someone else because he’s always been – frankly speaking – really awful at it. There’s so much promise in this!!! And in Cas and Sam hanging out. It’s so compelling and interesting, and even if I hate how the show got us to this point (GRRRRRR KEVIN TRAN), I want to see more of this.

The Mark of Cain

Coming off that point, I want to say that I think the show is handling two separate Winchester stories incredibly well, especially if this is how its going to go down. While Sam copes with his own guilt, Dean is busy trying to bury his in reckless displays of bravery and foolishness. How does he do that? By seeking out the First Blade alongside Crowley. Like the Sam/Castiel scenes, I was really pleased with how the show played off the dynamic between Crowley and Dean, building off what we’d already seen in “Road Trip.” I mean, it’s basically a fucked up buddy cop movie turned into… well. WELL.

See, this whole episode is overshadowed (in a good way!) by Cain, played PERFECTLY by Timothy Omundson. (I was so distracted because IT’S CARLTON LASSITER.) Without his presence, this probably would have felt fairly average for Supernatural. But the show takes liberty with Cain’s biblical story to give us a character who is so goddamn fascinating because HE STARTED OFF AS A GOOD GUY. He might now be the Father of Murder, but that’s because he killed Abel in order to guarantee his brother went to Heaven and he didn’t. Oh, the Winchester parallels are TOO MUCH. (Unfortunately, that means yet another man on this show has a woman fridged to give them character development or a tragic backstory. YAWN.) That alone made this ridiculous. So it made sense in that context that Dean would volunteer to do something detrimental to himself in order to help his brother.

EXCEPT I AM REALLY WORRIED ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT DEAN HAS JUST DONE. Cain explains that the Mark makes him able to wield the First Blade, and that’s it. I highly, highly doubt that this is the only real affect of this Mark, and I’M SO CONCERNED. I also bet that Crowley knows what it does as well. Why else would he spend this entire episode manipulating Dean into getting the Mark? There has to be something else to it. I mean… why else would Cain feel like Dean was a kindred spirit? Does the Mark make someone more compelled to kill? Given what Dean went through in Purgatory, this might be a TERRIBLE thing. BUT I DON’T KNOW??? I feel like I have nothing else to go on, and it’s freaking me out.


The video for “First Born” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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