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Supernatural “First Born” Conversations: Trials and Marks and PB&Js Oh My 

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

I thought last week’s Supernatural was good. And it was. But this week’s “First Born” was everything. I loved the odd pairings — the Sam and Castiel scenes were stellar and enlightening. The Dean and Crowley scenes were super snarky, scruffy and significant. I’m sorry. Did we actually get to hear Sam’s POV for a change? I’m sorry. Did Dean just get his own mytharc? I’m sorry. Did Cas just get a hug from Sam? Yes to all of the above. The show has been listening to the fans and in this case I’m all for it.

There was also the introduction of Cain to this SPN universe. Psych‘s Timothy Omundson hit a home run. He knocked it out of the park big time. I’m not sure if that ball has even landed yet. And it seems like we’ll get at least another episode out of him at some point, right? I’m just loving that we live in a world where Omundson and Tahmoh Penikett (Gadreel) are Supernatural season nine guest stars. And John Badham directs an episode. How spoiled are we?

Plus, I just want to give major kudos to Robbie Thompson who penned the script for this episode. He gave us everything and then some. This might be my favorite Supernatural of the season so far. I say so far because there’s so much more to come. But the bar is set.

In “First Born,” Crowley convinced Dean to temporarily abandon his search for Gadreel in order to take care of another obstacle: Abaddon. Meanwhile, back at the bunker, Sam wasn’t quite free of Gadreel. Cas’ goal? To extract the grace the troubled angel left behind in Sam. It involved a huge ass needle. And Sam’s brain. It wasn’t pretty.

For me, there were some key conversations from the episode that need to be singled out for the oodles and oodles of character development that kept me giddy the entire hour.

The PB&J Reflections

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Cas: “It tastes like molecules.”
Sam: “What? What are you talking about?”
Cas: “When I was human. I’d eat constantly. It was pretty annoying.”
Sam: “Yeah, a lot of human things are pretty annoying.”
Cas: “But I enjoyed the taste of food. Particularly peanut butter with grape jelly. Not jam. Jam I found unsettling.”
Sam: “So what? Now you can’t taste PB and J?”
Cas: “No I-I taste every molecule.”
Sam: “Not the sum of its parts, huh?”
Cas: “It’s overwhelming. It’s disgusting. I miss you, PB&J.”

First, let me say that I adored the Sam and Cas quality time at the bunker scenes. They were fun, scary, quirky, awkward and probably a whole other set of adjectives. And I just loved this little insight into how different things are between human Cas and angelic Cas. Something ordinary like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich becomes extraordinary (but disgusting). While human, it’s the best thing ever. But in angel form, it becomes overwhelming and Cas is unable to enjoy. That’s probably how Feathered Cas is with everything. What a cool convo. And then Robbie Thompson brought the PB&J back full circle later in the episode:

Cas: “Sam. I want Gadreel to pay as much as you do. But nothing is worth losing you. You know, being human. It didn’t just change my view of food. It changed my view of you. I mean, I can relate now to how you feel.”
Sam: “What are you talking about?”
Cas: “The only person who has screwed things up more consistently than you. Is me. And now I know what that guilt feels like. And I know what it means to feel sorry, Sam. I am sorry.”
Sam: “I know.”
Cas: “You know, old me. I would have just kept going. I would’ve just jammed that needle deeper until you died because the ends always justified the means. But what I went through. Well, that PB and J taught me that angels could change so…who knows, maybe Winchesters can too.”

Just so well done. Cas has come a long way from the major God complex he had going on in season six. In “First Born,” Cas even mentioned how good a liar he was. After all, he betrayed both Sam and Dean. And he did stupid things for the right reasons — or so he thought. One of those was to cause Sam’s wall in his head to crumble. That distracted both brothers while he could go on and do his thing. I’ve been waiting for this Sam/Cas conversation to happen. I can’t believe it took so long to get here. Cas apologized to Sam for what he did. And he also seemed to be learning from his mistakes. That’s why he saved Sam and healed him all the way and took a chance with the grace he was able to extract. Go Cas.

The Trial Confrontation

Cas: “Sam, the trials. You chose not to go through with them for a reason, didn’t you? You chose to live rather than to sacrifice yourself. You and Dean…you chose each other.”
Sam: “Yeah, I did. We did. And then…Dean made a choice for me.”
Cas: “What Dean did…”
Sam: “It doesn’t matter what Dean did. Look, I could have put a stop to all this, Cas. I could have closed the gates of hell.”
Cas: “Oh, Sam.”
Sam: “Dean’s gone. OK? This is on me now. And if I can find Gadreel. I can fix this. Now…being a human means settling your debts. Let’s start balancing the books.”

OK, so my thing with the trials is — and I’ve said this a million times — that Sam made a case for him being the one to take them on. He told Dean that he wanted to survive them, while Dean was very fatalistic about the whole thing because he felt he was a grunt and expendable yada yada yada. Dean had no problem dying as long as Sam was safe and Sam could go on and live a rich, full life. Fast forward to season nine and in the premiere he goes from wanting to survive to making the decision to let Death collect him. And he even asked the big guy if he could make this death permanent. Sam has major guilt over anyone being hurt because of him. Plus, he’s been brought back so many times, he wonders why his life is more important than anyone else’s.

In “First Born,” Cas touches on those trials with Sam. And I’m still not sure how I feel about Sam’s answer. But it’s clear the youngest Winchester feels a massive amount of guilt over Kevin. Over everybody who dies and doesn’t ever get to come back. With each time he’s saved, he feels he owes a debt. But as far as I’m concerned, when he sacrificed himself to save the world from the apocalypse, he cleared all debts for forever and beyond. But Dean and Sam, they constantly carry the weight of the world around on their broad and beautiful shoulders. And there’s an extensive amount of collateral damage that collects along the way. I guess the debt always begins again and Sam isn’t someone who wants to let it pile up until it becomes unmanageable. He’s on a mission to get Gadreel. And in this episode, he came up a little bit short but the man did everything in his power to locate the angel. He suffered and almost died once again. But he won’t give up. Dean’s not around so he’s going to take it upon himself to do what needs to be done. I, for one, do love a Sam that’s this determined. And I’m ready for him to be back in the action once again. However, I hope he truly understands why Cas saved him this latest time. And I hope that we get to hear Sam and Dean hash out some of this stuff sooner rather than later.

The Cain and Abel Chronicles

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

In the quest for The First Blade, Dean and Crowley arrived on Cain’s unwelcoming door. The Father of Murder was understandably surly but we found out his story anyway.

Cain: “Your spell brought you to the source of the blade’s power. Me.”
Dean: “Really? Now?
Crowley: “It’s the bloody Mark of Cain.”
Cain: “From Lucifer himself. The mark and the blade work together. Without the mark the blade is useless. It’s just an old bone.”
Crowley: “Bone?”
Dean: “The jawbone of an animal. The jawbone you used to kill Abel because he was God’s favorite.”
Cain: “He wasn’t talking to God. He was talking to Lucifer. Lucifer was gonna make my brother into his pet. I couldn’t bear to watch him be corrupted so I offered a deal — Abel’s soul in heaven for my soul in hell. Lucifer accepted. As long as I was the one who sent Abel to heaven. So I killed him. And became a soldier of hell. A knight.”
Dean: “And Lucifer ordered you to make more.”
Cain: “My knights and I…we did horrible things for centuries. Bringers of chaos and darkness.”
Dean: “And then you met Colette. She knew who I was. And what I was. She loved me unconditionally. She forgave me. She only asked for one thing.”
Crowley: “To stop.”
Cain: “When the knights found out they took retribution. They took Colette so I picked the blade back up and it felt so good in my hands and I slaughtered the knights of hell.”
Dean: “Not all of them.”
Cain: “No.”

The only reason I’m including this Cain character exposition is because I love, love, love the twist that this show put on the Cain and Abel story. It explained what really went down between the famous brothers (in this universe anyway). It explained Cain’s mentality as well. He obliterated the Knights because they killed his woman. And it’s because of Colette he’s sitting on the sidelines; he no longer wages war and causes death and destruction (except for special occasions). And it’s also why he was ready and willing to give up the mark. Which brings us to…

The Dean/Cain of it All

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

After Cain let some of the gathered demons slip inside his house, Dean faced them down in what Crowley called a “Fight Night.” Cain sat back and observed Dean in battle mode. Once the hunter made mincemeat of those demons, Dean knew this whole tableside smackdown happened for a reason.

Dean: “So what was this some kind of a test?”
Cain: “I felt connected to you right from the beginning. Kindred spirits, if you will. You and I are very much alike.”
Dean: “Right. Yeah, except I didn’t kill my brother.”
Cain: “You saved yours. Why?”
Dean: “Because you never give up on family. Ever.”

Isn’t it fun when you go into an episode and you have no idea that all of a sudden a character is going to make a life-changing  and game-changing decision? Cain wanted nothing to do with offing Abaddon. So he did the next best thing.

Cain: “The mark can be transferred to someone who’s worthy.”
Dean: “You mean a killer like you.”
Cain: “Yes.”
Dean: “Can I use it to kill that bitch?”
Cain: “Yes. But you have to know that with the mark comes great burden. Some would call it a great cost.”
Dean: “Yeah, well spare me the warning label. You had me at ‘kill the bitch.”
Cain: “Good luck, Dean. You’re gonna need it.”
Dean: “Yeah, I get that a lot. Let’s dance.”

OK, Dean. What have you done? You accepted this Mark of Cain that comes with the power over The First Blade mighty quickly. With no thought of the consequences. What in the world does “great burden” mean? What does “a great cost” going to entail? These questions scare me right now. But they excite me as well. I can’t wait to see where this story goes. How is Sam going to react when he finds out? When is he going to find out? How formidable is Dean going to be once Crowley finds that First Blade? I’m anxious to see what kind of AbadDean scenes we’re going to get as well. By the way — Alaina Huffman? Another one of those stellar Supernatural guest stars that often remind me of how spoiled we are. And I hope we see her again soon. But I digress. Dean’s world is about to change. It’s going to be interesting to see how quickly and how much.

The Crowley Commentary

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Crowley: “He was right, you know. You are worthy.”
Dean: “Oh, great. Now you’re gonna get all touchy-feely, too?”
Crowley: “Your problem, mate, is that nobody hates you more than you do. Believe me. I’ve tried.”

It’s easy to take Mark Sheppard for granted. He’s good in everything he does. But, man, this season on Supernatural he’s been better than ever. I wish the Emmys would take notice of genre series because there are so many performances they simply overlook because they don’t take them seriously. Sheppard downright dominates the world of snark. And I enjoyed the buddy comedy that was Dean and Crowley on the hunt together in “First Born.” But then, at the end of the hour, the show threw us a quick curve by letting Crowley get real and profoundly observational with Dean. Dean does hate himself. And it’s beyond sad because he’s awesome. It really felt like Crowley was trying to get Sam and Dean back together much like Cas did with Sam. And I appreciate that. They are going to need to put a halt on this Winchester brother separation tour. They’re all going to need to reunite and work together if they want to find Gadreel, beat Metatron, defeat Abaddon, close the gates of hell, open the gates to Heaven and figure out what consequences Dean’s going to have to face for accepting the Mark of Cain in his life. Exhausting, right?

Congrats to the show for the uptick in ratings. It got the best numbers for an episode in over three years. This truly is the little show that could. Supernatural airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.

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  1. Cainfan

    I’m so happy with this episode. Actually my hope was renewed with the supernatural. :’)

    1. Tina Charles

      I’ve been liking a lot of episodes but I looooved this one and I’ve been rewatching it. I haven’t done that in a while.

    2. Tina Charles

      I’m so with you there. What a great episode. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. lassie91

    Did Dean just get his own storyline? Holy cow, I didn’t think that would ever happen again on Supernatural.

    Jensen, Mark and Tim were great together, great chemistry. Tim had some great things to say about Jensen and I can see why he said he’d jump at the chance to work with him again, they had some of the best scenes together.

    Can’t forget about the fight scene, so well acted and directed. Apparently, that was all Jensen (no stuntman) and it took about 9 hours to film.

  3. Teri

    What a great episode! I’ve rewatched and reread your “What They Said” article, Tina. Everything about it was stellar.

    I began typing out what my favorite scenes were, and I could list every single one of them. The episode was full of everything you could ask for, drama, comedy, action, etc. I’ll just mention a couple. 🙂 I loved seeing Sam and Cas together. And actually just seeing Sam, as Sam. It’s great to have him back and in his normal character. The hug was cute and a long time coming.

    As Tina said, the Dean/Crowley scenes were great and full of the classic Crowley snark. He’s the ultimate love to hate him character. I laughed with the VD comment in the beginning. haha

    Even though I loved the Dean/Crowley and Sam/Cas separate scenes, I can’t wait until they’re back together. Dean and Sam need to talk about everything that’s happened, and get back to kicking butt. I am worried as well about the consequences for Dean with the Mark of Cain.

    Thanks for the recap, Tina! I’m looking forward to the next new episode.

  4. Haleh

    Loved the episode and awesome recap! As a Dean fan it feels so good to be excited over “what will happen next” after a long time. I can’t wait to see some Abaddean scenes…Alaina & Jensen nailed it last time. and OMG how could you forget to mention badass Dean(Jensen) in that fight scene, I mean no stunt double at all, how cool is that? And I enjoyed Sam & Cas conversations, I love how Cas has changed after experiencing human world!

  5. MByerly

    An excellent show. It’s understandable that the Emmys keep missing this show, but I don’t think any of the episodes have been nominated for a Nebula (Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation) which is a crying shame.

    When Dean refused to know the details of the Mark of Cain, I wanted to kick his butt. Cain had to kill his brother as part of the deal to receive it so that was a remarkably stupid decision not to ask. It also reeked of writer expediency rather than character personality since Dean, of all people, should understand deals with the Devil.

  6. Arafel

    Dean is repressing like crazy. He’s so angry. He was vibrating with it in this episode. I love this Dean like there’s no tomorrow and I’m so happy that they’ve decided to deal with his anger in this way. Jensen Ackles owns the show for me when he gets to play Dean like this. And they’ve brought Dean into the myth-arc again. Wow. I never thought they would. I just hope they don’t drop the sl or hand it over to another character again. It has the potential to be epic. Loved the fight scene. So badass. Loved that Cain and Dean are “spirit animals”. I’ve always felt that Dean had a certain “wildness” about him that made “normal” something he could never truly tolerate, and that made Purgatory “pure” to him. I can’t wait to see him wield that weapon. He looked dark in this episode. I expect him to get darker because of The Mark. I’m thrilled with this show again. Hope they don’t blow it. Oh, I also loved the “twist” on the Cain and Abel tale. Looking forward to seeing that character again. Dean/Crowley/Cain rocked this one for me.
    Thanks for the review, Tina.

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