We Will Always End Up Here – Supernatural’s ‘The Executioner’s Song’


I’m so torn. Do I gush first about the writing of this episode that laid the groundwork for so many powerful scenes? Or the brilliant cinematography and direction and set dec and visual effects? Or do I marvel at the acting performances of ALL of the main players, who collectively blew me away and kept me so sucked in that I was holding my breath for most of the second half of the episode?

Not a bad dilemma to face on a Friday morning. I think I’ll gush about all of the above.

My only quibble was a teeny tiny one. Sam’s indignation about using a 12 year old as bait seemed odd, considering the Winchesters have been doing that since Season One’s ‘Something Wicked’. Sam wasn’t all that happy about it then, either, but he probably hasn’t forgotten. Anyway, that’s tiny. I loved this episode.

Robert Berens’ script was delicious. He says he felt somewhat intimidated when given the task of writing the return of a character like Cain, whose introduction was so powerful and who looms so large in the mytharc of his season. I don’t blame him, but wow, the writing totally did the character justice. In fact, it showcased all the actors, giving each a chance to shine and to show their true colors – each character reveals who they are and what they’re feeling in this episode, some overtly and some quietly, but it’s there. And even better? The reveals make sense. I got a glimpse into each of them, and there wasn’t a moment when I wanted to scratch my head and say “huh. Really?” Instead I kept nodding, most likely mumbling to myself things like “I knew it!” and “That’s my boy!” Good thing I was able to watch without company this week, since the mumbling most likely kept up throughout the episode. I was engaged, what can I say!

The other great thing about the script is that it set up each of the main characters’ stories and then wove all those separate strings together, so that the plot and the mytharc were coherent again. That’s when Supernatural works best for me, when I can see the threads woven together – and that’s where some of the tension comes from. Once threads are tangled, there’s hell to pay when one starts to unravel, after all. Each impacts the other, so I care about all of them. That’s been missing in some seasons, but it’s coming together beautifully in S10.

The episode itself was gorgeous, full of scenes that took my breath away just in how beautifully they were created and filmed. The over-the-front-seat shot of the brothers bickering in the Impala; Cain in shadow walking slowly down the prison hallway; Crowley and Rowena strolling down the imposing corridor of his dark and dingy seat of power; Cas alone in the field of buried bodies, looking for Cain; the perspectives that made the fight between Dean and Cain both realistic and almost graceful. All of these looked like a feature film.

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Tweet Ryan Curtis
Tweet Ryan Curtis

And sounded like a feature film too! Supernatural’s brilliant Jay Gruska and Christopher Lennertz set a new high bar for themselves with this episode – the score gave those scenes their power and gravity. Having just come from an academic conference where there was a fascinating panel on how Supernatural uses music to enhance emotion, I was acutely aware of when they were doing just that. And let me just say that my emotion was very enhanced! The VFX crew always comes through, and this episode was no exception. I never even know exactly what is VFX until Adam Williams kindly lets us know, but I can tell you it all looked fantastic. Cas with his blue eyes going even more blue as he tries to overpower Cain was certainly one of them (I don’t think Cain’s hair dramatically waving in response was VFX, but it was awesome!)

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And then there was the acting. There’s always the acting when it comes to SPN, but everyone went above and beyond this week. You broke me, people. Seriously.

On first viewing, the episode started off slowly, building momentum as time went on. Cain’s reappearance gave me chills; the scene wasn’t hurried, and the sense of dread and anticipation got stronger with his every step down that darkening hallway. Tim Omundson, who was so zany and hysterical in Galavant, transforms himself as Cain. That wild mane of hair and beard and those piercing blue eyes – it all comes together to make you absolutely believe that this is the Father of Murder himself. He’s fearsome, but Omundson brings a vulnerability to Cain too. We know he’s capable of love, and there’s sorrow in those blue eyes along with the murderous zeal. It’s a chilling combination.

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We got a little brotherly bickering between the Winchesters as they drive to the prison, and another glimpse into Sam’s geek boy side with his fascination with serial killers. I have no idea why Dean is so surprised by this – I mean, what else would Sam develop a bit of obsessiveness about? And hey, his obsession comes in handy too. (Why yes, obsessions can come in very handy, even in real life….no, really…) I enjoyed Dean’s teasing and Sam’s refusal to be bothered by it.

Sam: “It’s called true crime, Dean, it’s a hobby!”

xxxxx 10.14 scn 3 banter d eat

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, Sam. Remind Dean of his fondness for Dr. Sexy M.D.

We catch up with the other major players too. We find out that Crowley, thank god, has been on to his mum’s manipulations all along – though I still think that he’s been simultaneously craving her approval anyway, despite his intellectual awareness that she’s using him. I feel for Crowley right now. His past (or lingering) humanity and all the hurt he experienced as a child are making him vulnerable to Rowena, even as he struggles not to be. Sheppard shows us that vulnerability with just a subtle facial expression, a fleeting look in Crowley’s eyes.

xxxxx 10.14 scn rowena

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I’m glad he’s still the smart king of hell we all fell for, though. I’m sad to see Rowena pushing a wedge between Crowley and the Winchesters for her own purposes, but at the same time, I think it had to happen. Crowley can’t be a bad guy and also their “bitch”, as Rowena so delicately puts it. Dean’s rejection (“There is no us”) and admission that he lied to and manipulated Crowley seems to actually sting him. There’s enough of Crowley that still cares about Dean that the sting hits home – and will probably motivate his slide back to the truly dark. I both dread and anticipate that – and I can’t wait to see where it takes us!

Ruthie Connell’s absolute mastery of the character, and her inspired ad libs, made every scene with her and Mark Sheppard sizzle.

Rowena: “Well, you were a very chunky child, darling. A bit of a bloater.”

I simultaneously muttered “ouch” while laughing anyway.

This episode also saw the return of a Castiel who was both caring and badass. Once again, it seemed like a glimpse into the character I recognize. Misha Collins managed to convey a sense of just how worried Cas is about Dean with every expression, and his interrogation of the captured demon let us see just how determined Cas is to find answers. (I still don’t really understand why nobody tries exorcising a demon who’s already trapped instead of angel-blading it and its host to death, but I loved seeing Cas be a badass angel again.)

The confrontation between Cas and Cain was beautifully shot, and both actors made it a powerful and emotional moment. The dialogue was concise in this episode, and it really worked to let the visuals and the music tell their part of the story without too much exposition getting in the way. Cas and Cain didn’t say a lot, but their every word carried a wealth of meaning, and the actor’s expressions were as full of meaning as their words.

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Same goes for the scenes between Sam and Dean. They didn’t say a lot, but that fits perfectly with my ten-season understanding of who these brothers are. They don’t use a lot of words, but they convey whole novels in the few they exchange and the looks on their faces when they do. Ackles and Padalecki are masters of the nonverbal communication at this point, saying more with their eyes than most actors can say in pages of dialogue.

This is the Dean I fell madly in love with, full of self doubt and self criticism, but determined to ‘do the right thing’ no matter what. Brave and tough and at the same time, frightened and vulnerable. For once, he shows this side to Sam instead of lying or covering with false bravado.

Dean: “Sam, I’m scared.”

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Edit @margab92
Edit @margab92

He doesn’t want to lose himself to the blade; he doesn’t want to face Cain. But he will. It’s not the first time he’s “pulled a Dean Winchester” and we all know it won’t be the last. But he realizes he doesn’t have to do it alone. He may be the one who has to walk in there by himself, but he looks to Sam for reassurance before he does. He takes his brother’s belief in him – and Sam’s strength – with him when he walks into that barn.

That little smile he exchanges with Sam as he goes up the stairs says it all. They’re looking at each other with tears in their eyes, knowing it could be goodbye, both of them accepting that it has to happen anyway. How many times have they been at this place and still had the guts to make that impossible decision?

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It was Dean’s faith in Sam that let him tumble Lucifer into the pit. Now it’s Sam’s faith in Dean that lets him walk in there and take on Cain.

The fight scene between Cain and Dean was magnificent, so seamlessly choreographed that you could feel Dean’s initial reluctance to give in to the blade’s lust for power and go all out, and Cain’s playing with him like a cat with a mouse, urging him to give in. Again, there wasn’t too much dialogue – and what there was hit as hard as the punches. I might have held my breath through the entire scene, I was so on pins and needles waiting to see what would happen.

xxxxx 10.14 20 deandown

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And those last few moments, when we were suddenly in a Star Wars moment and Cain was calling Dean ‘son’ and Dean was cutting off his hand! I gasped out loud, sat there mouth open while Cain bowed his head and Dean struggled with the decision. Ohgod, Dean’s pleading with him, begging him to tell him that he can do it, that he can stop. Begging with Cain to tell him that he, Dean, can stop too. And Cain can’t.

Cain: “There is no cure. There’s only remission….and relapse.”

Dean’s absolute agony at that moment, when he fears that it’s the truth. That Cain is right about Dean’s story ending where Cain’s began – killing Crowley, killing Cas, killing his brother. Cain knows. Knows that killing Castiel would hurt him terribly, knows that killing Sam would be the last straw, the thing Dean couldn’t survive with his humanity intact.

We know it too.

Dean’s broken, gasped “No. Never.”

xxxxx 10.14 23 killbrosam

No. Never.
No. Never.

It broke my heart. Pretty sure it was right there on the floor next to me, shattered. Thanks Robert Berens and Jensen Ackles.

There have been so many times poor Dean Winchester has been told that he’ll have to kill his little brother. And each time, he’s refused. Each time, he’s found a way, preferring to sacrifice himself instead. And even now, ten seasons in, there is nothing that gets to me more than making Dean face the horrifying possibility once again. It invests the mytharc with the kind of emotional power that makes me a fan of this show, harkening way back to Michael telling the brothers that it’s in their blood, their family’s blood, stretching all the way back to Cain and Abel. This is where we’ve been headed, and I effing love that ten seasons in, this is the epic place we’re at.

The last scenes, unbelievably, were even more emotional. Dean rejecting Crowley and giving the blade to Castiel – Crowley’s betrayed look, and the look on Castiel’s face when he takes the blade. We remember instantly the promise that Dean extracted from Cas – the same thing that John so devastatingly said to Dean himself. “If you can’t save him, you’ll have to kill him.” Cas knows it too; dreads it. You can see Castiel’s emotional struggle, how much he cares about Dean. Dean has just handed over the power to destroy him, and they both know it.

xxxxx 10.14 _dwinchest

Edit @margab92
Edit @margab92

And then the last of Dean’s strength falls away. He looks at Sam, and Sam instantly moves forward, anticipating Dean’s collapse. He’s there to catch his brother, and it looks too much like that scene in AHBL that gutted me, and that scene in Sacrifice when Sam fell into Dean’s arms, and the way Dean died in Sam’s arms at the end of last season. All those past scenes made this one even more emotional, as Dean looks agonized and Sam murmurs all the reassurances that he knows Dean needs to hear. “You did it, Dean. You did it.”

Sam doesn’t know that Dean has just been told that his destiny is to destroy the brother who’s the only thing holding him up.

Shit, I’m crying again.

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Cap @cheree010
Cap @cheree010

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But Show is not done with me. Not yet. Sam continues his reassurance back at the bunker, along with Cas. Dean puts on a brave face; they all do. He claps Cas on the shoulder as he leaves, trying for some reassurance of his own. And then we see Dean’s face when Cas and Sam no longer can – the utterly hollow, blank look of terror that falls over his features. In a two second shot, we see everything that Dean is really feeling and trying desperately to cover up. Oh god.

Cas looks as worried as I feel.

Cas: “Sam, how is he?”

And then Sam lets his own mask fall. We see all the terror that Sam is feeling for his brother, as Padalecki lays it all bare, and ohgod, it hurts.

A few notes of ‘Americana’ play in the background, and I’m done. I’m done.

Sam: “Cas, Dean’s in trouble.”

xxxxx 10.14 end scn cas

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We’re all in trouble! And I mean that in the very best way possible. There’s nothing better than coming to the end of the episode and absolutely DYING to know what’s going to happen next. I might have made an inhuman sound when I realized we have to wait a month to find out. WHAT????

This episode would have worked well as a mid season finale – it had that feel to it. As it is, it worked very well for an unwelcome mini-hiatus, which I will reluctantly persevere through (since I have no choice).

In the meantime, my awesome twitter feed gave me a few laughs to cheer me up.

Cain: I care about you, Dean. I truly do.

My feed: Even Cain is a Dean Girl.

Dean cuts off Cain’s hand.

My feed: Awesome performances. Let’s give @Omundson a hand. Too soon?

RuthieConnell: Not so handy anymore…

Rowena ruthlessly manipulates Crowley into being a bigger badder King of Hell.

My feed: So Rowena is like the demon version of the stage mother for Toddlers and Tiaras.

William Shatner live tweets.

RobertBerens: @WilliamShatner is live tweeting my episode. DIES.

I totally didn’t blame him. Love that the Shat watches along with us, especially when Misha graces his screen.

There was also a surprise appearance by Guanaco Truck, which makes the best food – if you’ve never tried it, make sure you do when you can. I love when Show pays homage to its own cast and crew.

xxxxx 10.14 scn guanaco pupusa

So now we wait….In the meantime, some of you lucky people are at Phoenix Con. Those of who aren’t are (im)patiently waiting for some pictures and vids, especially of Jensen and Jared’s first time joining in the Saturday Night Special. Don’t let us down, fandom!

Stay tuned for some giveaways and interviews to help get us through mini-hellatus. Happy Friday, SPNFamily!

Read more about Supernatural in Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls,
Fan Phenomena Supernatural and Fandom At The Crossroads –
info at the links at the top of the page!

Caps by screencapped.net

71 thoughts on “We Will Always End Up Here – Supernatural’s ‘The Executioner’s Song’

  • Umm, I don’t think what Sam and Dean were doing in the car can be called bickering. it seemed more like talking to me. Sam tellling Dean about his obsession and Dean making fun of him for it. Normal brother behaviour. I love their closeness this season. its a balm to the soul after season 9.
    I had a little ditty in my head for yet another person who tells Dean he has to kills Sam:
    Millenia of big brothers who have killed their little brother: Dean, you’re just like us.
    Dean: I am really not.
    Fandom: For serious.
    Millenia of big brothers who have killed their little brother: hubris
    Dean: Proves them wrong.
    Fandom: breaks out more fanfiction smut.

  • Heart, heart, heart…broken heart. I feel like Dean must have felt when he was ripped to shreds by those nasty hellhounds. After I watched the Season One Fnale, “Devil’s Trap” that many years ago, I was a limp dishrag on the couch, feeling absolutely gutted. That feeling was enhanced by not knowing whether or not they would be renewed for a second season. Here we know they HAVE been renewed for their 11th season and even with that knowledge I am a limp dishrag all over again. EVERYTHING about this episode, EVERYONE involved with this episode…perfection, absolute perfection.

    Thank you for this thorough review that got my emotions, all revved up again. 🙂

    And, to THE SHOW, as Pat Benetar would say, “Hit me with your best shot. Fire away!”

  • Well done! I agree with your review. This episode felt like a mid-season finale. I thought the writing and acting were awesome. I’m glad Sam knows that Dean isn’t okay and will undoubtedly try to find a way to help his brother.

    Cain was a great “big bad.” I’m kinda sorry to see him go. I think the show has been lacking in some terrifying big bads since season 5. I know Lucifer is hard to top. Abaddon had potential, but they got rid of her too early to see it through. I also wish the Show would make Hell scary again. I want the to see the place that broke Dean, not this place that has been used as a bit of comic relief (the demons and their issues). I hope we get bad ass Crowley back because he can be very scary.

    I have a feeling we’re headed to some sort of Sam and Dean showdown in the finale given what Cain told Dean. I don’t know if I can handle brother v brother again. I’m really looking forward to how this will all play out!

    • Me too – and I was also very ambivalent about Cain. I can’t help hoping we haven’t seen the last of him and his amazing hair (facial and otherwise) 🙂

    • I agree that Hell needs to be more terrifying. It’s Hell! Hopefully a scorned Crowley is a vengeful, wrathful Crowley who can get Hell back to what it should be. Or at the very least the CW can start using the expanded VFX budget to make Hell look less like a Goth prom.

    • Very true about Hell – even in ‘Taxi Driver’ it had been reduced to a load of jail cells. Although I guess anything could have been happening in those cells. Bobby was being tormented with apparitions of the boys, after all. But yeah – we need Crowley back to his scheming, evil best.

      Cain was simply fantastic, as a character, and Tim Omundson’s performance. I cling to the fact there was no blood splatter on Dean’s face, something didn’t seem quite right. I don’t think Dean lied about getting the job done, but a part of me hopes we see Cain again somehow…

      Some of us were wondering where he would go: he surely wouldn’t be accepted in Heaven, and we would know if he were in Hell, so Purgatory seems the only option. And I’m all for popping down there and seeing Benny again – haha!

  • Now that I’ve broken the commenting ice (so to speak) you’re never going to get rid of me. 😀

    You always notice things that I don’t, though I am trying to figure out how the hell I missed the SW nod when I’ve been a SW fangirl for going on thirty years.

    First, the guest stars. I have developed A Thing for Tim Omundsen. How can a guy go from King Richard to Cain? He was utterly terrifying the entire episode. I know it’s unlikely, but I really hope they find a way to bring him back (though Robbie Thompson tweeted #CainLives after the ep was over. One can hope, right?). Ruth McConnell is an absolute gem. She’s just amazing and her ability to ad lib is brilliant. Her last scene with Sheppard was electrifying. They’re so well-matched. Tim and Ruth (and Travis Aaron Wade, whom I’ve also fallen in love with this season) further my theory that the casting directors sold their souls to get exactly the right people. (And Tim and Ruth’s twitter feeds are hysterical and well worth following, which I’m sure you both do.)

    Jensen and Jared have been on point the entire season, but what they did in this episode was in a class by itself. What really got to me was the way Sam was always moving, shifting his weight from side to side, the way he was opening and closing his fists, always leaning towards Dean, like he wanted to go to him the entire time, but also knew that it wasn’t the right thing for his brother so he held himself back, only lunging forward when Dean makes the first move. Like you said, so much was done in this ep without words. The last shots of each of their faces left me near tears. How is Jared able to make himself look so young and vulnerable in those kinds of scenes? I’ve been wondering that for years. Stunning work from all involved.

    What are your thoughts on what’s coming? I know I’m awful, but I do hope for some sort of adherence to the Cain and Abel story (oh, the angst! Bring it on!) But I think they’ll turn it slightly and have Dean accidentally kill Sam – Sam steps in front as Dean goes to kill someone else maybe? I have images of Dean holding Sam knowing he’s murdered him.

    I am an awful, awful person.

    Completely off the topic of the ep, when I heard Jared and Jensen were going to be at the con on Saturday night was that I hoped both of you were going to be there too (honest to god, that was my first thought.) After that very thoughtful post from a little while ago on why the Saturday night festivities are so important, I was really hoping you would be there to both witness it and report back on it. Not to be I guess, but I hope you get to see one soon! 🙂

    Oh, and one last thought: why are the conferences you go to so much better than mine? I think this is vastly, vastly unfair. :p

    • Wow, sorry for the length. I may have gotten a little carried away. But in my defense, I have no one to fangirl over Supernatural with, so I need to find other outlets. 😀

      • Hey, in answer to your question below (that I can’t answer in thread), YES! Was fascinated to hear part of the discussion about the class that was asked to comment on fanfic without informing the authors. I’d love some links!

      • I would LOVE it if they made Dean kill Sam. This show used to do some pretty shocking things, especially with Dean *sells soul* *dies* *literally goes to hell* it would be cool to see them do this. Mostly because I want to see how the aftermath would go down: what would Dean do? Where would Sam go (heaven, hell, purgatory)? Would Dean have killed Cas already (probably)? And where would season 11 go? Ugh. I really want then to do it.

    • Believe me, I’m very sad that I’m NOT at the Phoenix con right now! I think my article talked them into it and now I’m not there. Unfair! lol

      I noticed that too about Sam – how he keeps moving, clearly wanting to go to Dean right away, but making himself wait. It’s those little subtle bits of nonverbal acting that make this cast so amazing.

      • Wasn’t it brilliant? Like you said though, the entire ep was like that. Great acting, great writing and great direction. And the lighting, music and everything else was just as good. It’s too bad the awards people pretty much refuse to acknowledge genre television because that was as good in its way as more ‘normal’ shows are.

      • Did you ladies see the storm that started brewing on Tumblr this evening? Apparently an undergrad-taught course (and seriously, is it a thing to let undergrads teach in the States? I’ve never heard of that before) at Berkley on fanfiction required students to read fanfics and then leave unsolicited ‘concrit’ responses. They did not ask for permission from the authors, just had their students comment bomb unsuspecting authors. Let me know if you want either a copy of the post on Tumblr or the link to the fic where this really blew up and is continuing to be discussed.

      • In response to your post up there, here’s the link to the post put on Tumblr by a user named Waldorph who was one of the authors put on the course syllabus:


        Here’s the link for Waldorph’s story on AO3 where she allowed the comments section to be used for the discussion. The original inflammatory comment from a class member is on page 2 of comments and the discussion gets started on page 3. There’s a post from one of the ‘teachers’ of the course outlining what they were trying to do, and I believe there’s a link to the syllabus. I really want to know if they went through some sort of ethics review since they were dealing with live subjects and if they had a faculty advisor. If so, how the hell did this get through?


        I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

    • Did Dean chop off the Mark? I can’t help but think that means something.

      Or maybe it was just an awesome “Luke, I am your father” moment.

    • No worries about missing some SW references – I actually live-tweeted during that scene calling him ‘Darth Cain’ and still didn’t make the connection with the severed hand! What? How?!?

      Love your observation about Sam constantly moving – another of those wonderful little things. And honestly, their faces just kill me. I mean, on a regular basis just from being unfeasibly pretty, but specifically when they are actively trying to, with emotion, during the show. Dean’s goodbye smile, and when he collapsed onto Sam? I was done. Instant waterworks.

  • I’ve been waiting for your review, and you didn’t let me down. What an incredible, emotional episode. They could almost have left all the dialogue out, and I would still not have missed a nuance. Except, if they had left out the dialogue in the last scene, I wouldn’t still be shredded over it days later–and yes, I mean that in a good way. I may have been crying and fist pumping at the same time when Sam said, “Cas, Dean’s in trouble.” Because Sammy knows his Dean, and that said it all right there.

    • It’s true, that’s how talented this cast is. I loved that the dialogue was sparse in this episode, so that every word really packed an emotional wallop. Oof!

  • I always suspected that Sam was going to be the one killed by the Blade. Ever since the whole Cain & Abel storyline was brought out when Dean first met Cain. History always repeats itself, especially on Supernatural. As you said, the acting was great although I have to admit I’m getting a little annoyed with Rowena (mother dearest) and her pretend concern for “Fergus”.
    I always hoped that Sam would dig up Collette’s bones and threaten to burn them to get Cain to take the mark back. I know, too simple an answer but I guess I just wanted Sam to stir some crap up with Cain.
    Great review and great show. Hate the break- but really looking forward to what happens next. Metatron still needs a serious beat down, and Cas still needs his grace back. Maybe Michael could come back out of the pit and straighten stuff out in heaven? That would be cool.

  • As always Lynn, you have me in tears…again. Thanks for crawling inside my brain and writing exactly what I was thinking and feeling! LOVED this episode! Perfect! Can’t imagine it any better except maybe if it weren’t mini-hellatus time.

    • You’re welcome! And yes, it’s an awful time for a mini-hellatus. But then again, is there ever a good time??

  • I was just gutted. GUTTED! when Cain just vomited out Dean’s fate like that. To the point where I am seriously considering not watching. I just cannot go though anticipating 5×22-like pain for another well…year and change. I don’t want to abandon my boys but if I don’t am I abandoning my sanity? ARGH!!! I am also over Rowena. I feel like the long con is on us. :sigh: Though the actress is hilarious. “Little Sausage” LOL Thanks for the wonderful recap!!

    • Show really does know how to put us through the wringer, doesn’t it? Have faith, though – Dean has Sam and Cas on his side, something Cain never did.

  • I think “trust” was a big theme in this episode and on a meta level, there was trust demonstrated by Robert Berens in the script. He wrote scenes and dialog trusting the actors to deliver. And boy oh boy did they. Like those last 5 seconds. We don’t need dialog to tell us what they are feeling, it’s all over their faces. And Robert KNOWS that’s how it’ll go down.

    Jensen’s face during the entire fight was masterful, but in the end, when Cain had him pinned? How does he come up with new expressions that I could write a thesis paper on? Just, stunning.

    If I have one nitpick, it’s that I wish the thunderclap would have been bigger. Cain was a big fish and I think some folks may have missed that we got a cosmic omen when he was killed.

    Excellent review as always.

    • Errr, yes, some folks may have missed that. Awesome!! I agree with you about the trust the writers have in the actors and vice versa – it’s truly a collaboration that works after all this time.

      • I totally missed it! Just went back to rewatch. Wow – thanks for that!

        And was it my imagination, but there seemed to be a sort of Lost-style whispering when Cain gave one last (longing?) look at the Blade?

    • “Jensen’s face during the entire fight was masterful, but in the end, when Cain had him pinned? How does he come up with new expressions that I could write a thesis paper on? Just, stunning. ”

      This! Jensen killed me with the whole Dean/Cain scene, but especially that part!

  • I have so many feels for Crowley.
    Beautiful episode, lovely Cain and the end left me raw and open… Sam’s face… “Dean’s i trouble” and I was kind of dead on the spot.
    Kudos to cast and crew – it was amazing

  • Totally agreed, EVERYONE did a phenomenal job with the episode. I was just agog. Love those four men (and Omundson!) so much, they keep me riveted. I can’t imagine the show without J2M2 and their incredible chemistry.

    RE: giving Cas the blade, I think Dean did it more to keep the blade safe than to remind Cas of what he asked (which.. come to think of it, Cas never actually agreed to. Hmm. I mean, we all know he wouldn’t REALLY kill Dean). I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the blade can only be used fully by someone who holds the mark? Which is why Cain gave it to Dean then made him promise to come back and kill him. So my hope/thought is that unless Cas somehow gets the mark (noooooo), then the blade would be useless for him. Anyone?

    • I can’t see Cas doing it either, but I think Dean believes he will. Which is heartbreaking just in itself…

    • I would think that it’s not so much that Dean is expecting Cas to use the blade to kill him, but by giving him the blade, Dean weakens himself a little to make it easier for Cas to kill him when the time comes. The blade is him at full power, after all. But I also think the blade would want to seek him out, so I’m sure it won’t be easy no matter how Cas to do it. But he won’t do it, daggummit! TFW will find a way!

  • Hell of an episode! I was thinking through the whole episode, how are they going to get out of this story arc in one piece! I am fascinated by the journey they are on this season, but at the same time, I am dreading the conclusion. But that is what makes me addicted to the journey and feel guilty at the same time. That is what a good show is supposed to do! Nice review Lynn! Your analysis of the visuals was spot on, breathtaking. Each week I try to think up new descriptions for how great the scripts, acting, special effects, etc. are, I am running out of adjectives. And the music, wow. The original scores as well as their choices of songs and how they use them is incredible. I can’t think of another show that uses music as adeptly as SPN. So many songs I grew up with that bring such emotion back when I hear them on the show. I read an interview where Eric Kripke talked about his love of classic rock and how he felt as a kid growing up in the Midwest (Ohio, a fellow Buckeye!) and just flying down the back roads blasting the radio and how it makes you feel. He is so right. Every time I hear “Slowride” by Foghat or “Renegade” by Styx it brings back memories of driving along Lake Erie without a care in the world and nights on the beach doing, well you get the idea. Well that is more than my two cents, until next month, sigh!

    • The music has such an impact, so much emotional resonance, in this Show. The thing is, it’s everything – it ALL comes together to make this such a unique piece of storytelling. I feel so lucky!

  • Thank you for another wonderful review! I learn so many things when I read these reviews of yours and am so grateful for all the insights! They help me understand why I was literally on the edge of my seat for this entire episode, and on the edge of weeping at the same time.

    When Cain pronounced Dean’s fate I couldn’t help feeling fiercely defensive because when have Sam & Dean ever obeyed their fates? When have things ever gone the way the angels and demons destined for the Winchesters? So I’m actually feeling a little hopeful that having things spelled out so clearly virtually guarantees they won’t go that way. I am a little worried that Sam may jump in and sacrifice himself somehow at some point in order to satisfy the curse and set Dean free, but I’m fairly convinced Dean won’t kill Sam.

    But that’s just me being really really hopeful!

    • I’m gonna join you in your tentative hope – and I kind of love not knowing what’s going to happen and being on the edge of my seat waiting to find out!

  • We will always end up… here… please dont say that. It breaks my heart in so many ways. And Dean’s face when he looks at Sam right before turning to face Cain took me back to S3 No Rest for the Wicked, when Dean says good bye to Sam telling him to remember what he and his dad taught him. Heart broken again. A forced smile and love and longing pouring out his eyes. I just cant… when I’m so caught in moment I actually miss some details, but I seem to recall even Crowley said something reassuring before Dean entered that barn, and for a moment I could see the four of them as a team and thought maybe Crowley could hang on to his humanity and be a part of team free will. But after his disappointment about Dean giving the blade to Cas, I’m not so sure. Rowena is deliciously evil, but I just cant figure her out. What’s her end game? What is she building up to? What’s her angle? Cain and Abel story has been looming over them for a long time but I cant see how Dean is ever gonna kill Sam. That would go against Dean’s very DNA. And that hug/catch/hugagain of Sam when Dean falters. And me participating in a poll amongst fandom to decide whether it qualifies as a hug for hugging statistics. The things this fandom debates over…
    My only quibble, as you would say, is when Sam says to Cas that Dean’s in trouble. I love Sam’s silent sob. But I’d’ve liked for him to say why. I love to hear Sam’s insights on Dean.I love it that Sam actually cares about Dean just as much as Dean cares about Sam, and that he knows Dean just as much as Dean knows him. We dont always get to see it, but its there. Last, there’s no such thing as a short-hiatus. When it comes to Supernatural, all hiatus is long.

    • Excellent point. Mini hellatus is still hellatus!

      That scene and that small smile did indeed remind me of No Rest For The Wicked, which made it pull at my heartstrings even more. Oh, Show!

    • This is purely speculation, I have nothing to back it up, but I hope that Rowena’s end game involves getting Lucifer out of the cage.

  • This episode was the first episode in a long time that I had to watch twice. That’s not to say that I don’t frequently rewatch episodes, but this time I had to. It sucked me in and instead of zeroing in on the details trying to see how they’d all fit together I more or less just filed those away as I went along for the ride. The first watch was just purely emotional, and my rewatch the next night for those details did not disappoint either. The little things I thought I remembered fit together even better than I expected.

    So much has already been posted in the previous comments that I’ll just focus on my big takeaways from the episode. (And that will still be crazy long. Sorry. As I said, it’s my thing. 😉 )

    My main quibble has nothing to do with the show, but did everyone see the Sprint commercial with the narwhals or was that a local market placement? It was hilarious and hilariously misplaced. As I blurted out to Hubby at the time, “Way to shit on the mood, Sprint.”

    Lynn’s quibble (yep, still loving the term) about using the boy as bait hit me, too. The big difference though between what Dean suggested in “Something Wicked” and what he suggested here, was that this time he didn’t plan on telling the kid he was bait. They gave the kid at the shtriga motel a chance to say no. This time, he was just going to sit back and wait for Cain to show up and hopefully not kill the kid.

    Speaking of that kid who was supposed to be bait, was it just me, or was he listening to the same song that played over the scene where Sam mourned his brother’s death in the Season 9 finale?

    Now, the things I need to get out there before I blow 😉 :

    Did the warden in the prison seem weirdly okay with magic as an answer? Is he going to turn out to have worked with the guard from “Folsom Prison Blues” or possibly be a hunter? Was that addressed and I just missed it?

    The boys’ banter in the car heading into the prison included the line “That’s not a hobby. Needlepoint is a hobby.” Rowena was then shown doing needlepoint (Madam Defarge style) in Hell’s court.

    I’m hoping Rowena has finally forced Crowley back into being Crowley. He used to be scary, now she’s right: he’s not. His redesign of Hell isn’t working for me. Where’s the lake of fire? The rack? Every horrible thing associated with Lucifer? Get creative Crowley – let’s see some horrible plague-years-inspired Hell options.

    Why does Rowena need to strike while Olivet is in the States? Guthrie was able to get to Guam… although that is part of the US. Are there demon quadrants?

    As for the big showdown with Cain, I still can’t get over the “I’m scared Sam” speech. The “I didn’t think it would be so soon” line crushed me. And I’m not an emotional kind of gal. Once the fight started I was surprised that Dean could get out of the devils trap. I’ve been waiting for the Cain and Abel parallel/bloodline issue to pop up again for some time. The boys are still fighting a destiny, but one of the things that hasn’t been addressed yet is that they are a step out of time. Grandpa Henry disappeared into the future, John was supposed to die in 1973 – the boys really shouldn’t have been born at all. Then they were and both of them have come back from the dead (a few times). Are they coming back from the dead so that they can fulfill this destiny? Or have all these consequences been a result of messing with, as Death put it, “the natural order?”

    As for the big killing off of Cain… um, we didn’t see a body!! We didn’t see the kill shot!! If this was another show I’d assume that was for effect, but Supernatural does NOT shy away from on screen violence. The show opened with a murder… of a murderer who threatened to murder. This show is big on murder, gore, torture, etc. Dean is in trouble alright. Because Cain is either still out there, or in Dean, or somehow connected to him in some way yet to be determined.

    • I hadn’t thought about using the jacked timeline to actually fulfill their destiny, very interesting twist! Your observation about Cain could be great twist too, nice catch!

      • BL, I was the same way with the ep! I started downloading it about ten minutes after it ended, which I have NEVER done before. Re the warden, I thought it was more exasperation: “I don’t know, might as well have been magic for all I know!” type thing, if that makes sense. Or maybe he’s just a fan of Sherlock Holmes (“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” :D)

        You have an interesting theory – I wouldn’t mind seeing Death come back again to set things right somehow. Julian Richings is wonderful. And thank you for providing hope we might see Cain again. I love me some Tim Omundsen (did you watch Galavant? He was amazing!)

      • I don’t think the warden is necessarily going to turn out to be anything important plot-wise, I just found it odd that he was so cool about the mysterious figure who vanished through the walls. But then again, he works on death row – if anyone is likely to have seen a thing or two it’s the guy who is surrounded by death and people who likely created a few vengeful spirits.

        Sadly, I didn’t see Galavant, but I really think Cain is still out there at least in spirit. (A bearded spirit preferably.)

    • Oooh, you raise such good points! I don’t know the answer to them, but I’m immensely intrigued to see if anything you’ve questioned actually pans out. I especially hope you’re right about Cain – I was relieved they at least left the door open. Who really knows what happened after they cut away??? I love how this show can still get my brain whirling ten seasons in 🙂

      • I rewatched it again tonight (third time’s a charm…) and Sarahjay55 is right: there’s some whispering-like demon chatter sound in the background. When Dean walks out of the barn, the blade does have blood on it, but he never actually says he killed Cain. Sam says “you did it” but Dean does not answer him. Dean is certainly owning the scene – but it’s all nonverbal. I also think Dean’s expression after he walks past Cas in the bunker is little more barely contained rage than hopeless terror. I’m standing by my Cain is coming back idea, and I think we’ll get some more Demon!Dean out of it, which would be stellar.

  • Can’t say it any better than you did. I just remembered when souless Sam could have cared less about young children- such as when one sold his soul to Gabriel for half of Moses’ staff- Perhaps we need to remember that Sam not only hobbies with serial killer information, but that he has a soul that just aches for kids you have their innocence taken at a young age- he identifies. It is also the part of Sam that won’t kill Dean and Dean knows it. My hope for Dean- not all of Cain’s sons are murderers- and although we have seen Dean kill, he is not indiscriminate unless he is under the mark’s influence. Cain says he is both saving and killing Dean. We are in the same spot as in “my time of Dying2.1. John tells Dean: if you can’t save Sammy, you’ll have to kill him. Now Dean is in that predicament and has handed the tool to Cas. What nobility, but again Dean is keeping this big secret from Sam. Heavy burden.

    • Heavy burden indeed. I agree with you about Sam – as a younger brother, I think he really does feel a special kinship with children. It’s part of his tremendous empathy.

  • What an amazing episode, and I loved this review, and all the comments. You’ve genuinely made me notice new details, go back and rewatch to check them out and then spot more!

    And Berens is simply a god. He’s close to being up there with Edlund. Every episode he’s written so far is pretty much flawless… He may have been nervous about writing Cain’s return, but it’s no fluke he was asked to do so.

  • I’ve already watched the ep 3 times and it’s more awesome with each viewing!! My heart, on the other hand is shredded. Jensen Ackles may be the death of me. He plays us like a virtuoso…breaking hearts and making tears! Robert Berens is my new fave writer, he brought a new level of nuance and Show carried it all! I’m starting to ramble/gush but it was beyond wonderful to have so many amazing actors and favorite characters come out to play for for 42 minutes in SPN heaven! Thank you Show. Now to prepare for the bleak mini-hiatus. *sighs* We’re frozen in a deep freeze here in Ohio but my heart glows warm after spending time with our Boys.h

  • Late to the party, but lovely review!

    One thing I strongly disagree with is WHY Dean gave the blade to Cas. I think Dean gave it to Cas for safe-keeping. To keep it away from Dean’s grasp so Dean can’t use it to hurt those closest to him, especially Sam – to make it harder to Dean to go completely off the rails.

    I also feel strongly about Cas not killing Dean. I think Cas could actually do it if he needed to. Would he want to? Hell no, but I think Cas – as an angel – would be able to see the necessity in the act. And in a way, it could be seen as Cas “protecting” Dean from becoming the monster he so fears he will become. Kinda how Cain thought he would be doing Dean a favor by killing him then rather than allowing Dean to “follow his destiny” & kill Sam.

    Main reason I don’t want to see Cas kill Dean is I’m not sure the show could come back from – especially in the Sam & Cas dynamics. While Dean might be thankful to Cas for killing him (it was what he wanted after all), I don’t think Sam would ever be able to forgive Cas for killing his brother. I just think it would throw a wrench into character dynamics & allies/friends too much. Even in tv shows, I think there are some lines that really can’t be crossed without consequences you can’t really bounce back from.

  • Loved reading this review, and your description of Dean collapsing into Sams arms brought tears to my eyes again. Such an emotional and moving scene. I was on the edge of my seat and felt like I was holding my breath throughout the Dean/Cain fight scene. I loved everything about this episode, the acting from Jensen Ackles was outstanding, although they were all great. Defo go down as a classic episode.

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