Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
It’s difficult to choose an access point for Supernatural’s eleventh episode, “First Born,” because the entire hour was hilarious, thrilling, and enriching for the season’s plot arc.
One thing that absolutely must be talked about is how much character development and brilliant parallel structure we saw tonight.
At the end of last week’s episode, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) had split up (again), deciding that working solo would best suit the dying moose and his deceiving elder brother. However, these promises to work alone are not easily kept, as Castiel (Misha Collins) wishes to help the newly unhealed Sam, and Crowley (Mark Sheppard) needs Dean to need his help. (Confusing, I know.)
With these pairings, we see just how much Sam and Dean balance each other out, and how apparent this is for other characters as well. There’s a great back-to-back researching sequence, where Sam and Cas are trying to pinpoint Gadreel’s location via research in the bunker, while Dean and Crowley are on the road, prowling around for the First Blade (a blade that should help them succeed in getting rid of Abaddon (Alaina Huffman), a Knight of Hell who honestly just won’t die).
In addition to having to fill the role of the other brother, Cas and Crowley also find themselves taking words out of each other’s mouths, constantly reminding their respective Winchesters that his brother might be useful in tracking down an angel or a weapon of mass demon-destruction. These parallels, while ignored by both Sam and Dean, do not go amiss for the audience! Brilliant writing, if I may shout myself hoarse.
Probably the most fascinating and exciting parts of tonight’s episode, though, revolve around the Cain mythology. Cain (Timothy Omundson) tells Dean the real story about his brother and him. Abel hadn’t been God’s favorite; he had been unknowingly talking to Lucifer. Cain wanted to protect him from becoming Lucifer’s plaything, so he sacrificed his own soul for Abel’s. He killed his brother, sealing their fates so that Abel could be safe in Heaven while Cain became a demon, the first Knight of Hell.
Does this ring any bells?
Dean Winchester, King of Sacrifice, has put his neck out for his brother countless times, and it wouldn’t be Supernatural if he didn’t do it ten or twelve more times this season. He would do anything to keep Sam safe. But could he kill him? Well, he just might.
In season 5, when the archangel Zachariah (Kurt Fuller) sends Dean into the near future, he sees what life would be like by 2014 if Sam said, “yes” to Lucifer. Unsurprisingly, Dean despises everything he sees. He meets Lucifer and Sam in a garden, where Lucifer tells Dean, “Whatever you do, you will always end up… here.”
There has been mass speculation as to whether Supernatural would somehow make its way back to that 2014 garden, just as Lucifer promised.
Could Lucifer come back? What could possibly cause Sam to say yes (again)? Would the world end in an apocalypse, after all? It didn’t seem possible. But now…
We know the angel Gadreel inhabited Sam, and though Sam was able to expel him, there is still some of Gadreel’s Grace left inside him. Cas didn’t extract all of it out for fear of killing Sam (let’s all pause to grin about the Sam/Cas hug!), which means there’s still some Grace left in Sam, keeping him alive. According to Men of Letters research, Grace should act like a tracking device to find an angel – could it possibly work both ways? Gadreel could potentially find Sam and persuade him to say “yes” (again) if Sam had gotten too close to the edge (again) and neither Dean nor Cas was able to talk him down; Sam would do just about anything for the greater good.
And honestly, we really have no idea who Gadreel is. For all we know, he could be Lucifer! (There was speculation to this, as well, before we knew that Ezekiel was really Gadreel. Even now, people haven’t given up hope that we’ll see more of Mark Pellegrino’s strangely charming fallen angel). If this were all true, then Lucifer would possess Sam (again) in 2014, and our favorite brothers would be back in that garden, and Dean would see his brother become Satan’s favorite ragdoll.
But WAIT. Doesn’t that sound like someone else we know?
Cain transferred his ultra-terrifying Mark of Cain to Dean, which means Dean now has the power to wield the First Blade once he finds it. However, Cain warned him the Mark came with a curse, though Dean didn’t have time to listen.
If everything falls exactly into the worst places, Dean’s younger brother would be in a position to be taken advantage of by the Devil. Dean would never let this happen, and he would sacrifice himself to save Sam, if possible. Knowing Sam would rather be dead than allow Lucifer to wreak havoc on innocent people, Dean would be faced with killing him.
In this scenario, the two brothers would fulfill the prophecy that Dean’s status as the new Cain calls for. However, and most excitingly, they would also bring back and reaffirm the idea that the archangel Gabriel (Richard Speight Jr.) yelled at them in season 5: “from the moment Dad flipped on the lights around here, we knew it was all gonna end with you.”
With the prospect of “The End” coming to pass as all the archangels always said it would, there is a lot to look forward to in the rest of season 9. Our favorite goofball hunter, Garth (DJ Qualls), will be back next week in “Sharp Teeth.” Make sure to tune in to the CW at 9 pm, next Tuesday, to see your favorite denim-clad warriors layering plaid on angst, trying to save the world one monster at a time.