HOW FUCKING GOOD WAS THIS EPISODE? I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD, WAS IT REAL? COULD IT HAVE BEEN REAL??? I won't front, I've enjoyed a few episodes this season. Some of them quite a lot. Even the worst of it cleans the floor with the irredeemable mess that was last season. But the mytharc episodes have still been--well, The Cas and Crowley show, or even worse, The Metatron and Claire Show (srsly, wtf?). So I was not looking forward to last night's episode, not one bit. BUT WOW, I WAS SO WRONG. I AM SO HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE FROM EVERY ROOFTOP THAT I WAS WRONG WRONG WRONG. This episode was a masterpiece. That's not hyperbolic language, this episode was deftly handled, emotionally wrenching, compelling on the plot front. This was the first mytharc episode I have enjoyed in two seasons, and I was actually crying last night over how good it feels to care about the plot and actually feel a burning need to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
I just have to throw up my feelings about it, even though I'm sure by now everyone and their mother has already picked apart every moment in more intelligent terms than I can offer.
We started with the boys in the car having the most charming little debate over Sam's serial killer hobby. And then Dean was like, "NEEDLEPOINT, THERE'S A HOBBY" so of course now in my head, I've got this lovely picture of Dean sitting with a blanket over his legs, making a nice needlepoint as Sam waxes poetic about Jeffrey Dahmer. And Dean teases him about how weird this hobby is, even as he is up to his balls in needlepoint and Sam isn't saying a goddamn thing about it. And then Sam will quiz him to make sure he's paying attention, like, "How many did Dahmer kill?" "17." "*Dean gets 17 kisses*" AND THEN FOR CHRISTMAS DEAN MAKES SAM A NICE NEEDLEPOINT LIST OF ALL HIS FAVORITE SERIAL KILLERS WITH THEIR KILL COUNTS AND THEIR BIRTH/DEATH DATES WITH A TASTEFUL BORDER OF BLOODRED FLOWERS TO PUT UP IN HIS ROOM. Yes, these are the things that warm my heart. I used to be a person before I watched this show and now I am a trashcan.
I sort of alluded to this above, but the use of Crowley and Cas in this episode was exactly as it should be--significantly less than Sam and Dean time, and always relating back to the brothers storyline. Instead of Sam and Dean eating a sandwich while Cas carries the plot into the territory of I Couldn't Give Fewer Fucks. This is how these characters were meant to function.
Cas is off searching for Cain...I cannot believe that it took this long to find him when he has been killing this many people and Cas has been tracking him down for weeks. Prompting me to ask Cas:
Anyway, he finds Cain and it is SPOOKY. I find Cain to be one of the least terrible things about last season, so I was really glad to see him back and handled so interestingly. Then Cas tried to blast him with his SUPER BADASS ANGEL POWERS and all it did was ruffle Cain's hair. I had to pause to laugh for about five minutes. To be fair, if I were hair that luxurious, I, too, would be hard to ruffle.
I like Rowena. She's been a relief to me in all the Crowley scenes since she was introduced. Not that I don't like Crowley, but he's been dipping toward becoming as obsolete to the plot as Cas has. I think it's great that she's in there making Crowley's regime in Hell less toothless, because SERIOUSLY. How do you be King of Hell and that unscary? I was relieved, though, as it seems many were, to see him acknowledge that she's been playing him and he's known. Because she has not been subtle, and it was getting embarrassing for everyone involved that this is a character who we have had to buy outsmarting Sam and Dean before. Anyway, I can totally see him going along with her plots even though he knows she's trying to play him; like I said, it's never made sense to me that he's let his regime get so cuddly, why WOULDN'T he wanna raise a little Hell with his momma?
Tried though I did to convince Dean not to go after Cain with the Blade, I was just shaking with happiness at every Dean moment in this episode. Once a Dean girl, after not seeing the character I fell in love with once all of last season, this episode was scene after scene of the brave boy I fell in love with. So tough and so strong for his brother, but then willing to talk to him. None of this tired lying routine. "Sam, I'm scared." Just like that. Unprovoked. But going to do it anyway. Self-doubting and self-loathing, but stomaching it because he'll go down swinging. PULLING A DEAN WINCHESTER, ONE MIGHT SAY. Ugh, so many feelings. I might die. I missed that character. I missed him like a chunk of my heart just got sewn back into my chest and OH WOW THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE A PULSE, I'D FORGOTTEN.
Sam then matched him in Samness. Talking reason, but eminently supportive and SO MUCH FAITH IN HIS BIG BROTHER. THIS WHOLE SEASON. LIKE WOW. TUNE IT DOWN, SAM, WE GET IT. YOU'RE REALLY SUPER IN LOVE WITH YOUR BRO. IT'S GETTING OBSCENE (says the girl who has never once written anything obscene about brothers and certainly not these brothers, no sirree). i DON'T EVEN HAVE MORE TO SAY ABOUT THIS BECAUSE WHAT ELSE CAN BE SAID THAT HAS NOT BEEN EXPLICITLY STATED IN THE ACTUAL CANON I MEAN.
I thought the illusion with AUSTIN!!1!! was really clever, but I just read someone else's post ask why they didn't use the same spell to make it so Cain was fighting a bunch of Deans and couldn't tell which was the right one. This has been as damaging to my brain as the time someone asked me why they polyjuice potioned a bunch of Harry's traveling through magical means in The Deathly Hallows instead of just having Harry polyjuice into a completely random muggle and taking muggle transport. I don't have an answer to this. STOP MAKING MY BRAIN HURT WITH LOGIC.
Every conversation Sam and Dean had was gold. That moment where Dean tells them they may need to take out whatever comes out of the barn and Crowley instantly agrees while Sam and Cas avert eye contact and Dean looks at him gratefully--such a gorgeous, subtle moment (and thanks to zubeneschamali for bringing it to my attention).
The whole showdown between Dean and Cain was fantastic. The plan was smart. Cain was well played and truly scary, but also sympathetic and a little sad. The guy who plays him kinda looks like a giant huggable teddy with that hair/beard combo, I think the only thing that helped keep him creepy was a) strength of the performance and b) his piercing blue eyes. The choreography on the fight told a whole story on its own, first with Dean, clearly holding back but not in a such an obvious matter that it was silly or stupid. Just sad because you could tell he was trying to pretend this would cut it, out of such a strong fear to let the blade take him over. Then when it got down to it, the mix of powerful, cutting dialogue and fighting but without either overpowering the other/making me wonder why they have stopped to monologue. I was so in the moment. Absolutely on edge and needing to know what would happen and one hand over my eye tensed up and terrified. They gave just enough suspense, and then Dean triumphed in such a powerful way, trying so hard to let Cain live so he didn't have to give that Mark a Blade kill. GORGEOUS.
But, of course, laying my agenda bare, the most important thing in the whole episode came in that horrifying moment when Cain was bearing down on Dean, telling him he was living his life in reverse. SO SURE DEAN IS GOING TO END THIS BY KILLING SAM AND GOING DARKSIDE. DEAN BELIEVES IT, TOO. You know from that pained, pleading way he whispered "no" before Cain got around to "the kill he won't survive". My poor baby never believes in himself. But I seriously, I cannot get enough of the Season 5 turn around, with everyone on God's green Earth telling them they will have to kill each other, even the boys from time to time, but no, in the end, their love is going to knock this all down. Dean doesn't need to have faith in himself--he never has. Sam has that faith for him, faith he has given up on anything else he ever trusted in, but NEVER NEVER NEVER on his big brother. And Dean is gonna be my very fucking favorite Dean. He is going to be strong because he's got a little brother who is goddamn depending on him. I cannot. begin. on. how. fucking. powerful. this plotline. has just. gotten.
Anyway, so yeah. A lot of feelings there.
I loved Dean's return, the way he gave the Blade to Cas instead of Crowley (because, seriously, why did they ever trust it to Crowley? this was much smarter and I need my smart!boys). Plus, someone (can't remember who or on what platform) mentioned that if Dean had given it to Crowley, he may have slipped and killed him instead, setting Cain's prediction in motion. Dean rejected that. Anyway, he kept it together just long enough to stick it to Crowley all tough and then. He just. Looks in Sam's direction for half a fucking second. And Sam knows what he needs. Is right there catching him and holding him and whispering all those sweet reassurances Dean so desperately needs to hear. I loved that Dean as he was slumped in Sam's arms looked at anything but Sam. I could hear him doubting himself, believing he would hurt his brother, thinking "you don't deserve this, you don't deserve Sam, you don't deserve his faith." But not being able to resist it or turn it away either. So fucking powerful. Jesus fucking christ.
Rowena's wardrobe should be my wardrobe. That cape was fly as fuck. I'm guessing Crowley is now going to be a problem for us since momma castrated him, but mostly I was interested in the cape.
BACK AT THE BUNKER, Sam is just drooling love and pride in his big brother out of every goddamn orifice, and you can tell Dean needs it so bad. He's trying to keep it together, pretend he deserves all that praise when he doesn't believe he does. God, is that my boys or what? Are those the fucking precious babies I got carved into my arms on Sunday or fucking WHAT?
As soon as Dean walks out, though, Sam drops it. Lets Cas know his brother's in trouble, because when has Sam ever been fooled? (LOL, I may also be a bit smug that Cas had to ask how he is but Sam knew right away.) Do you stuff, Sammy boy. Help yourself save himself.
My theory on the Mark of Cain is as follows: Cain couldn't find a cure because he'd already killed his brother. Dean hasn't--that's not HIS sin on his arm. He thinks Dean is doomed to repeat his destiny, become damned by recreating that murder. But he's Zachariah and Lucifer and Michael--he doesn't understand the bond between Sam and Dean. I believe that by trusting in Sam the way Cain did not trust in Abel, they can neutralize the Mark. They can undo the first evil. I mean, they've beat crazier odds, haven't they? I'm here for the return of Swan Song, not even playing.
Anyway, the performances and chemistry by Jensen, Jared, and Timothy Omundson were knockouts. Editing was well-handled. It was beautifully shot. And the writing was solid as a mountain from the first moment to the last. I don't have a bad thing to say. If the rest of this season can just deliver on the promise this episode showed, we're in for a knock-out second half. I can't even believe I'm saying this, but I have no idea how we'll all be able to wait a month to see how this picks up.