Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S10E23 – Brother’s Keeper

In the twenty-third and final episode of the tenth season of Supernatural, this was surprising, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to catch up to everyone else when it comes to Supernatural. 

I honestly didn’t expect a great deal of this. A part of me doesn’t want to get excited about the snippets of hope I’ve seen in “Brother’s Keeper,” since they might not actually be storylines pursued in the eleventh season. But we’ve got Dean openly admitted his flaws and telling Sam his, too. We’ve got Dean accepting that his own death might be the most moral option available to him. AND THEN THERE’S ROWENA. Y’all, I was convinced that Crowley would kill her by the end of the season, but thankfully, she survives, gets more powerful, and then she goes off to do whatever the hell she wants. AHHH, MORE ROWENA, I’M VERY THRILLED ABOUT THIS.

But let me back up a bit, because a lot happened in “Brother’s Keeper” that might have an influence on upcoming storylines.


I understand why Rudy happened here, but I think his introduction was sloppy enough that I was initially confused. Dean and Sam had mentioned him before, and then, all of a sudden, Dean is on a hunt? With Rudy? Or for Rudy? How did this happen? Was I missing something? I finally did figure out what I needed to know, but the opening scenes of this episode were confusing, especially since it was a season finale. I didn’t get why we were suddenly spending time on a “normal” case when there was so much at stake and so much to resolve.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that “Brother’s Keeper” is cluttered at times, but ultimately, all the information given to us does serve a greater story. In Rudy’s case, he’s the impetus for Dean’s decision to die. (And for what it’s worth, he’s a near-perfect stand-in for Charlie in terms of a character death fueling a story, so whatever, apparently Charlie had to die, too, even though Rudy’s death could have gotten us to this ending anyway.) Dean truly hadn’t given up on himself until he flippantly dismissed Rudy’s concerns and Rudy got killed by a vampire in the process. And the show portrays all of this in brutal detail to us; it’s meant to unnerve and disturb. It’s a bit repetitious, given that we’ve already seen Dean do questionable things while hunting, but the show aims to tell us that this was the definitive last straw for him.

So Dean summons up an old friend to help stop him.

The Bargain

I honestly thought it was going to be Crowley. I REALLY DID. Of course, I was endlessly pleased by Death’s re-appearance on the show. (Which should have been a sign. DON’T ENJOY ANYTHING ON SUPERNATURAL, MARK. JUST DON’T.) His inclusion here was a delight at first, and then I thought his whole exposition monologue about the Darkness (and not that absurd power pop rock band) stretched a bit too long. I mean, this is Death we’re talking about. He doesn’t really show up just to explain a plot to us, does he? But, again, I understood his purpose. Dean summoned Death, certain that Death could end him and rid the world of the power of the Mark of Cain.

And that’s when Death reveals that he can’t. Well, he could, but in doing so, he’ll release the Darkness into the world, since the Mark of Cain acts as a lock and key for this preternatural force of amoral evil. (Hey, LOST fans, was all of this just a little too on the nose for you? Because I could only think of the Smoke Monster and “Ab Aeterno” as this was unfolding.) I admit that until the final scene, the threat of the Darkness didn’t really hold much weight for me. It was so ambiguous that I couldn’t really appreciate the risk. What did this force do? Why was it so awful?

But I didn’t need that to be clear to understand the deal that Dean made. He got that his survival was important because he’d act as a stopgap for… well, shit. Forever. He knew he could do that – with Death’s help via a transfer to some “place” where he’d pose the smallest threat – as long as the other variable was eliminated, too. (I really want to know where Death was gonna stick Dean. I WANT TO KNOW.) That variable?


I wonder, then, if this episode and this season’s arc was written with a possible cancellation in mind, given that it was highly likely that the show could have ended with Sam and Dean, gracefully and willingly bowing out of hunting and out of life, all as a final sacrifice for the world. I think it would have fit as a conclusion to this series, though I imagine many of the details would have been different. We may not have had the characterization we got for Sam here. Sam resists this plan right up to the end, begging Dean to let him live so that he can find some other way to get rid of the Mark of Cain. Sam fought this because he was so certain that his plan involving Rowena would actually work and that the cost to be paid was worth it. Why wouldn’t he fight? As Death told Dean, Sam would always be the dogged little brother, eager and desperate to find a solution.

Unfortunately, that solution would always end with the Darkness being released.


I am excited to think of Rowena as a rogue agent in the next season, a variable that the Winchesters and Crowley have to contend with because… well, Ruth Connell is just a lot of fun, y’all. I don’t know what sort of role she can play within the season-long arc involving the Darkness, though, and I also don’t know how Castiel fits into this anymore. What’s his arc? Actually, let’s just go a step further: What was his arc this season? He just sort of drifted from episode to episode, and I think he lacked the development or growth he got in earlier seasons. And what of Crowley? Is he just back to being a regular ol’ demon now?

I don’t think I was supposed to get answers to these questions, since this subplot is mostly to keep the possibility of the removal of the Mark alive. Which made me wonder why Sam didn’t just phone someone and say, “HEY, MAYBE DON’T DO THIS, BAD IDEA.” It’s not like cell phones aren’t a thing in this world!

Regardless, Rowena, Castiel, and Crowley are not the major players in this story; they just push the story over the edge when it needs to be.

The Point of No Return

Which is precisely when DEAN KILLS DEATH INSTEAD OF SAM. WHAT THE FUCK CAN YOU EVEN FUCKING DO THAT? Does another Death take Death’s place? Is this Reaper Man all over again??? (Couldn’t resist.) I was 100% surprised by that twist, so bravo, Supernatural. You got me, and I feel like it’s been a while since the show has done that. But what does it mean? Can anyone die without Death? What does that mean for the Darkness? WHAT DOES THE DARKNESS DO? I honestly expected the episode to cut to black once the Darkness burst out of its cage, but N O P E. The writers go way further than I expected, cutting to black after this force envelops the Impala. WHAT. DOES. IT. DO. How can this be hidden from the rest of the world?

There’s a lot of potential in this, especially if its something that spills out into the world at large. And what of the Winchesters? If they have both accepted that perhaps they do more harm than good, does that mean season eleven could finally tread new ground between these two? With the Mark gone, can there not be any more ridiculous interpersonal shit between Sam and Dean? WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN???

Well, in the interim, we’ve got a massive Supernatural comment party this Friday, first of all. Come prepared with fics and links to things I’ve missed and BLOOPERS and everything! When the show begins airing again this fall, videos and reviews will be released the day AFTER each episode airs. WHICH IS VERY EXCITING. But for the next few months, reviews at this time will be all Star Trek, all the time, which will help cut down on how long it will take for me to get through the rest of the Star Trek canon.

Thank you, Supernatural fandom. I’ll have more to say on Friday, though.

The video for “Brother’s Keeper” 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. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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