caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

10.23 Initial reaction: What does it sound like? Does it sound like a good thing?

We open with the lovely acapella version of "Carry On Wayward Son" from the Fan Fiction episode, and "The Road So Far" reminds us that the Mark of Cain is just a spell, and Sam will save his brother or die trying. And some other things too, but they're not important. Or at least they don't seem to be. (Spoiler alert... whatever.)

Sam has Charlie's files and he's making some kind of homemade bullets, which I assume are for Dean. Don't ask me why I made that assumption. I like Sam doing things with his hands - making bullets, cleaning guns, whatever. He's also got Dean's old family pictures, presumably for inspiration. Cas is worried about the consequences of curing the Mark, and thinks they should find Dean and then... do something other than cure the Mark? He doesn't say. And it doesn't matter, because Sam is sure the only way to save him is cure the Mark, and since neither he nor Cas are willing to kill Dean, and none of them actually know what the consequences of saving him are, he's decided not going to worry about them. I know how you feel, Sam, because sometimes I'm afraid to check my checking account balance, and I'm usually better off not knowing. It tends to end well.

Dean wakes up sweaty and hung over on the floor of a really bad motel room, with a slew of unread messages from Sam on his phone. He drinks a beer and tells himself what we've heard him say dozens of times: "I'm good." And he's not. He's very, very not.

We then see Dean in a suit, working a case, and this is when I know I'm not getting the brutal ending I wanted. Because any version of Dean who's still willing and able to put on a suit and work a case isn't the out-of-control version of Dean I was looking for. He's not violent, but he's definitely a jerk, saying that the victim was dressed like a slut (she's only wearing a spaghetti trap top and shorts or a short skirt, no big deal) and we meet Rudy in the flesh. Rudy apparently called Dean in for help, but Dean insists he's taking the job over and Rudy should split and let the "real hunters" do the work. Rudy decides Dean's a dick (which is true) and takes off, sending his regards to Sam. I don't think he's going to pass that word on, Rudy.

Sam and Cas show up at the Distillery of Doom and it turns out the bullets Sam was so lovingly handcrafting were meant for Rowena - they're hollow-point rounds filled with some kind of witch-killing substance. "How exciting for you," she snarks. "Your NRA will be beside themselves with pride." Oh, Rowena. Don't make me love you. I'm afraid you're not long for this world. Sam demands that she do the spell now, rather than waiting for him to kill Crowley, seeing as he doesn't seem to have a way to kill Crowley. Rowena's not impressed, since Sam can't figure out the Book or the spell without her, so the chances of him killing her seem to be pretty slim. And her new demand is that once she's done the spell, she gets the codex, along with her freedom. Much to Cas's chagrin, Sam agrees.

Dean visits the home of the victim, saying he's trying to find her friend who is still missing, and once again starts hammering on the fact that he thinks she's a slut. It's really hard to care about the case, because it's only here to show how poorly Dean is functioning. He ends up getting punched by the victim's father (and rightfully so, because he's really being a dick) but he does find out from her brother that she'd been to a cabin with some mystery guys. And also, this is kind of hot.

Back at the Distillery of Doom, Team Free Will + 1 figures out the the ingredients needed for the spell are the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden (seriously? someone kept this as a souvenir?) and the golden calf idol, and also, something Rowena loves. Which she claims is impossible to find, since she loves nothing and nobody. At this point, I have an idea where they're going - Rowena can't do the spell because she doesn't love anyone, so someone else (Sam or Cas) will have to do it, and sacrifice someone they love. And I can get behind this. (Spoiler alert: I was so, so wrong.) But Cas does a vulcan mind meld and discovers that she loved some little Polish boy named Oscar 300 years ago. Sam stands around looking confused and frustrated and gorgeous, until he gets a call from Rudy saying Dean is in Nebraska, working his vampire hunt, and Rudy's annoyed about it. Oh, Rudy, you don't know annoyed. But now that Sam knows where Dean is, he wants to retrieve him, so he leaves Cas with a package of Dean's hair and begs him to stay with Rowena and make sure the spell is spelt.

At the Vamp Camp, Dean bursts in to find the surviving vampire with a knife to Rudy's neck, and when Dean refuses to back off, the vamp stabs Rudy. Now, I know this is supposed to be an example of Dean going dark and sacrificing an innocent hunter, but really, what was he supposed to do? If he left, Rudy would have ended up dead anyway. Well, okay, he didn't have to yell and startle the guy. But the girl is saved and Rudy is dead and Dean returns to his really crappy motel, where his soul-searching look into the mirror doesn't reveal himself with black eyes this time; it shows bloodied Cas and dead Rudy. Also? Dean's wearing a black t-shirt and I like it. I like it a lot. He punches the mirror and trashes his motel room in a very, very awesome scene.

I may be a Sam!Girl, but Jensen, you are one handsome fucker.

Sam shows up at the Vamp Camp, and I'm relieved to see that Superior, Nebraska is only about an hour from Lebanon, because the kidnapped girl is still there, in the back of an ambulance, talking about the mean guy who saved her ass. The sheriff tells Sam that "one of your boys" got his partner killed and Sam sees Rudy's body and needs a hug. I wish I was there to hug you, Sam. I really do.

We then see Cas at a crossroads, summoning Crowley. "Who summons any more?" asks Crowley. Who indeed? But Cas says he doesn't have Crowley in his contacts. Dude, his number is 666. Everyone knows that. (I'm now fighting off the urge to dial 666 on my phone and see what happens.) Cas needs Crowley's help to cure Dean, but Crowley's not interested because Sam tried to kill him. Cas threatens Crowley with the smitey hand, but Crowley's not afraid of him, and this is the third time in less than 30 minutes that someone has threatened to kill someone and it hasn't had the desired effect. Crowley suggests Cas beg instead, and Cas doesn't go that far, but he does ask nicely. Crowley knows the forbidden fruit was a quince, not an apple (and shouldn't an angel have known that?), and he can get the golden calf, and oh, hmm, he does know something Rowena loves. How convenient. I wonder what it could be.

Castiel's hair is too flat in this scene. In this whole episode. I miss his fluffy, feathery hair.

Also, in the background, we have a new brand of beer. Instead of El Sol, we're now advertising Kingdom beer behind the King of Hell and the representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sam's driving around Superior, looking for Dean, and he spots the Impala at the crappy hotel. He breaks into the room, which seems like a really good way to get yourself shot, even if (or especially because) he announced it was him. The room is still trashed and nothing remains of Dean except the Impala keys and a note reading "She's all yours." Oh, Sam.

Dean's at a restaurant that's apparently named Juanita's, except some of the lights are burned out so the sign only reads Juan's. I don't know if this is supposed to be significant. But you know, Juan is the loneliest number. He's doing some summoning of his own - I covered the bottom of the screen during the guest credits, so Death is a lovely surprise. (Which I guess usually isn't the case.) Although, if I'd been paying attention to the Latin, I might have figured it out. They do a really cool thing here where the lights framing Dean burst simultaneously.

Dean made Mexican food as an offering, because he wants Death to kill him. (I'd kill you for taquitos, Dean. I love taquitos.) Death is amused that Dean has "tipped over his king," and maybe he thought of that analogy because this Mexican restaurant is also advertising Kingdom beer. Or maybe we're supposed to be thinking about kings and kingdoms now. I don't know. I do know that Dean's wearing his red demon shirt, which looks damn good on him as always, but really, Dean, you should have figured this out by now. Bad things happen when you wear that shirt. Like, when you roamed the halls of the bunker with a hammer, trying to kill your brother. (Wait. That wasn't a bad thing. That was an incredible thing.) Of course, he's asking Death to kill him. I guess he's expecting bad things. Death says he won't kill Dean because "that Mark on your arm is the first curse; nothing can kill you." Death explains that before there was life, there was "the darkness," a vast evil force that was locked away by God after a horrible war. The Mark is both lock and key, and was entrusted to Lucifer, but it revealed its own will and corrupted Lucifer. (So Lucifer was just as innocent as Dean? A good guy corrupted by the Mark?) Lucifer was banished to Hell, he gave the Mark to Cain, and you know the rest. Death could remove the Mark from Dean's arm, but he won't unless Dean agrees to give it to someone else, because the Mark must remain. And Dean won't do that to anyone. (Couldn't they give it to someone who's in a coma? Wouldn't that work?) So Death's other offer is to relocate Dean, put him somewhere far away from Earth, where he won't be a danger to himself or anyone else.

Sam's phone rings, and it's Dean. He tells Sam he tried, but he can't beat the Mark. "Brother, I'm done." He tells Sam it's time to say goodbye. {sniff}

Crowley appears at the cafe where he was trying to buy a soul last week and oh, for fuck's sake. The coffee guy is Oscar? Rowena's lost love? I'm done. Next!

Sam shows up at Juan(ita)'s, where it's daylight now, and as he pulls into the parking lot, my husband says "if he gets that car stuck in the mud, they're never getting it out." Heh.

And we're still pushing the Kingdom meme. Sam sees Death and tells Dean "You don't need to go with him, you don't need to die." "Funny you say that," Dean responds. "Truth is, when I left, I thought the only way out was my death. I was wrong, Sam. It's yours." This is a tragic scene, where Sam tries to understand why he has to die and Dean has to be exiled, but we do get one funny interaction:

The darkness.
What the hell is that?
What does it sound like? Does it sound like a good thing?

Death explains that Sam can't be trusted not to set his brother free or set his brother free of the Mark. And he also holds a grudge for "that time you stood me up." Oooh, cold. Dean tells Sam he was right when he wanted to die at the church, that the world would be better without them in it, and he's really going about this the wrong way. Sam refuses to believe that either he or Dean is evil, and rightly so. If Dean had just said "this is the sacrifice we have to make to save the world," Sam would have gone along. Because this is the same person who threw himself into the Pit to cage Lucifer, who was willing to die to close the gates of Hell, and was willing to undo his own birth to prevent the apocalypse. No matter how much he claims to love his life now, Sam is still okay with dying to save the world. But instead, Dean lashes out about "when you drove that man to sell his soul, or when you bullied Charlie into getting herself killed," neither of which is true, Dean. That must be the Mark talking. Sam punches Dean, who says "Good. Good. Fight." I guess because it's going to make it easier to kill him? (Also, another Emperor Palpatine shout out!) And they do fight, but either Dean is pulling his punches, or he's lost some of his superhuman strength and/or anger now that he's not fresh off the kill, because he beats Sam pretty easily, but doesn't pound him into the ground the way he did with Cas.

Sam finally gives up, pulls himself up on his knees, and says "You'll never, ever hear me say that you, the real you, is anything but good. But you're right. Before you hurt anyone else, you have to be stopped at any cost. I understand." And this, this is what the real Dean would have said in the first place, instead of trying to convince Sam that the world would always have been better off without them.

Also. Saaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!! I could literally cap every frame of this scene, with teary Sam on his knees, waiting for his death.

Death hands Dean his scythe (which he doesn't usually carry around, at least not the full-size version - he did have that little travel-size scythe we saw in Chicago) and tells him to do the honors and wow, that's cruel. Really unnecessarily cruel. Dean tells Sam to close his eyes, but first Sam takes something out of his pocket and says "Wait, take these, and one day when you find your way back, let these be your guide. They can help you remember what it was to be good, what it was to love." It's Dean's old family photos, and Sam puts them on the floor, where they're going to get all bloody when Dean cuts his head off. Looking at the photos, Dean hesitates, and his face softens, and his heart grows three sizes. Death notices his hesitation and says "Do it, or I will." Sam looks up at Dean and nods, and what's left of my heart cracks into pieces. So, there's no choice, right? Sam's gotta die either by Dean's hand or by Death's, right? Dean lifts the scythe, Sam finally closes his eyes, and as Dean begins his swing, I'm waiting for Death to say "No, wait, it's okay. I was just testing you." But he doesn't, and instead, Dean swings right over Sam's head and embeds the scythe in Death himself, who crumbles into dust.

Meanwhile, Rowena kills Oscar and does the spell and no one listened to me when I said she was working on more than just Dean's spell and they really should have, because now she's so much more powerful and she takes control of Cas and makes him attack Crowley and we're suposed to think he might be dead but come on, Crowley's not going to die off-camera, but this whole plot annoys me so much that I'm not going to discuss it any further, other than to say Rowena is apparently our secondary Big Bad next year, which is cool, as long as she spends plenty of time snarking with the Winchesters.

At Juan(ita)'s, a burst of lightning comes and zaps the Mark right off Dean's arm, and Sam is optimistic until the sky explodes and starts zapping the ground and black smoke bursts out of the ground and the guys jump in the car but Dean gets stuck in the mud (props to my husband) and they are overtaken by The Darkness.

And then Jeremy Carver says he hopes we liked it. {sigh}


I guess I should have been more specific in my previous post about what I wanted. Yes, I wanted Dean to kill Sam, or try to. But what we got was so unemotional on Dean's part (not that Jensen underdid it, just that Dean himself couldn't be emotional about it) that it may as well not have been happening to Sam as far as Dean was concerned, and while Sam's reaction was heart-rending and awesome, I needed some Dean in there too. And when I wanted sacrifice, I meant the sacrifice of someone we know, who our favorite characters know and love. Not Rowena sacrificing someone we met once, didn't care about, and didn't even know was a player, for fuck's sake. And I wanted death, but not Death's death.

It wasn't a bad episode, on rewatch. Apparently some of my flist really liked it. But after all the buildup, after this (IMHO) really good season, it just should have been so much better. And easily could have been. It feels like they used this episode to set up next season instead of letting the MOC story come to a really satisfying conclusion. Maybe my hopes were just too high?

Oh well. Unanswered questions:

Death says Dean can't be killed. Why, then, could Cain be killed? Yes, Dean had the Mark as well, so the darkness was still kept under control, but that doesn't explain why the Mark makes some hosts unkillable and others not.

Is Death really dead?

What's the deal with Oscar? I assumed he was the demon lover Crowley learned about from the hamster, but he called Rowena "aunt Rowena." Never mind. Don't answer that. Because I don't care.

How am I going to hear "the darkness" next season and not think about this?

Tags: 10.23 brother's keeper, initial reaction, season 10, supernatural
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