Supernatural, S9 Ep11 – First Born

Dean bent over a table by demons while Cain watches

Family. Family, family, family. That’s always been the heart of this show. No matter what, Sam and Dean are always willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. Another thing at the heart of this show: crippling guilt. Both of these themes come into play this episode, and they’re sending the Winchesters on a course of self-destruction. So, business as usual.

Sam hugging Castiel

Someone give this man a guinea pig.

The normal dynamics were shaken up this episode with Sam hanging out with Cas and Dean going hunting with Crowley. And that brought a nice change. Don’t get me wrong, I live for Dean and Cas staring longingly at each–same for Sam and Dean (Dean just has that habit)–but we’ve never really gotten to see Sam and Cas interact on their own very much. We all know that Cas and Dean have a profound bond, but that often overshadows the fact that Cas and Sam are friends too. We even got a hug out of them—once Cas figured out how to hug. It’s good to have the brothers apart now and again and for them to have other people to talk too (*cough* co-dependent). It was like two buddy comedies—first, the straight-laced, literal-minded tax accountant of the Lord and the self-sacrificing moose; second, the sass master of Hell and a vengeful male model.

But in addition to hugs and buddy comedy tropes, we also learned something new about angel lore. Apparently, when an angel leaves its vessel, part of that angel’s grace is left behind. Which leads to the question, how the hell does angel grace work? Since Cas can steal an angel’s grace, it doesn’t sound like it’s an angel’s soul, and now you can leave parts of it behind? And it’s something you can remove with a syringe? Where is the grace usually stored? What is this stuff exactly? And will we ever find out? Probably not, so…moving on. The Men of Letters knew about angel grace and how it can be used to track an angel down, which is odd because none of the hunters had ever known if angels were real or not, though I guess the knowledge must have died with the MoL, along with a lot of other things.

peanut butter and jelly sandwich

The real star of this episode

Using this knowledge, naturally Sam decided it best to almost kill himself so that he could find Gadreel. But Castiel refused to push Sam over the edge and stopped pulling out Gadreel’s grace (that…sounds dirty). Then they bonded over shared guilt and screwing things up. Castiel’s time as a human did not live up to my hopes and dreams, but at least it’s changed his perspective on things. He knows that life is fragile but still worth living. And he helped Sam to see that. He also tried to help Sam see that they needed Dean back on their side, but Sam’s not done being upset with Dean, so that was a no go. Funny, because Cas wants the brothers back together and so does Crowley. When both the powers of Heaven and Hell want something to happen, it’s going to be hard to stop it.

Speaking of Dean and Crowley, they make a good team, even when Crowley is playing Dean the entire time. Crowley even offered deep insight into Dean’s psyche: Dean hates himself more than anyone else is ever capable of doing. These two good bros went on a journey to find a way to kill Abaddon. Along the way, they dredged up the past with memories of John Winchester. They brought out his journal for the first time this season and met with a cool hunter lady who worked/slept with John back in the day. And because she was cool and a woman, of course she had to die. But this stuff with John was the first hint that family was going to be important, especially with the talk about Dean being like his dad (and John not calling back his lady friend shows where Dean gets that part of his personality).

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