Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 11: “First Born”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by John Badham
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW
While the split between the Winchester brothers that ended last week’s episode could have felt like a retread of past seasons, numerous other factors added potential to the idea. Not only was Castiel back and in Angelic form, but Sam’s continued recovery from the trials necessitated Castiel’s stay with him. Along with Crowley’s freedom and Kevin’s death, the group was significantly more shaken up than it was just a few short weeks ago. This week picks up on the character relationships once again, in an intriguing episode that feels like an almost new start to the season.
Giving Dean the mark of Cain adds an interesting dynamic to the show. While the current purpose of killing Abaddon is clear, the mark and the weapon associated with it are bound to be invaluable additions, particularly since nobody else is able to wield the weapon, unlike angel blades. This has the possibility of making Dean more of a scary entity to other supernatural creatures, depending on the effectiveness of the First Blade. However, it also allows for the possibility for people like Crowley to try and manipulate Dean to their own ends, and it’s a new angle he will have to be wary of when people ask for help from here on out. It will be intriguing to see how Dean’s new ability affects not only his relationship with new people he meets, but the relationship with people he already knows. While power-hungry people like Crowley will be easy to spot, many hunters, including John Winchester and Bobby Singer, enter the business after the death of a loved one, and it’s not inconceivable that they may seek out Dean’s help to kill creatures that seem otherwise unkillable. How Dean handles situations like that will be very telling, particularly in light of his growing understanding of supernatural creatures.
Watching Sam and Castiel this week is also fascinating. The two characters are very similar in how they process guilt, and having the two of them work together is a welcome change to the standard dynamic of Dean and Castiel. With Castiel helping Sam this week come to terms with everything Gadreel did while possessing him, it will be intriguing to see if Sam does the same for Castiel. Since averting the apocalypse, Castiel has done a lot he feels guilty for, from killing other Angels to aiding Metatron in closing the gates of Heaven, not all of which he may feel he’s paid for with his time as a human. Castiel’s relationship with Dean is not one where the Angel can lean on him for emotional support, but the bond Castiel and Sam form with each other this week allows for that possibility. This, in turn, allows for the potential for both Sam and Castiel to become better-adjusted individuals, and how they cope accordingly will be worth watching.
Overall, this episode is a fascinating one, particularly in how it feels like a restart of the season. The addition of Cain is very well handled this week, and hopefully it’s not the last time the character makes an appearance, as his story is a compelling one. The quick removal of Colette and Tara, however, is disconcerting, particularly the latter’s offscreen dismissal after being noted as a partner to John. The extraction of Gadreel’s grace from Sam is well-displayed, and the effectiveness of the Man of Letters headquarters continues to be used well. It will be intriguing to see how Dean handles Crowley after killing Abaddon, as Crowley clearly retains his hunger for power and his cunning, but has also shown signs of humanity following the trials. It will also be fascinating to see the First Blade in action with Dean, and how effective of a tool it is. The possibility of Abaddon partnering up with an Angel faction also rises this week with the one thing that can definitively kill her re-emerging. How Abaddon handles the news of Dean now bearing the mark of Cain, as well as what steps Sam and Castiel take next to find Gadreel and Metatron, are promising stories that make the rest of the season something to keep an eye on.
– Deepayan Sengupta