Supernatural: Brother's Keeper

"We save Dean."

Now that was a season finale.

I mean, really. Death finally explained what the big deal was with the Mark of Cain, and it freaking made sense. In fact, The First Evil The Darkness existed before God, before the archangels, and the Mark was the lock and key that kept it imprisoned. Its evil took down Lucifer, then Cain.

And now The Darkness is free. It's shooting into the air over Nebraska like black nuclear missiles, or possibly the Smoke Monster from Lost, and pooling into a big black pile of very Dark Darkness. And it's about to roll over Dean and Sam and their beloved Impala, and probably most of the American Midwest. Tune in next fall.

Dean was genuinely looking for death as an alternative to hurting anyone else ever again, and going to Death himself was a smart move. I was honestly a little shocked when Death said that even he couldn't kill Dean. I was even a bit worried that Dean was actually going to kill Sam with that scythe. I should have known better. The Winchesters will ultimately always choose each other. Although I bet the consequences of killing Death himself won't be good. Does this mean no one can die now, like in the old movie?

The Mark of Cain has been such a long-lived plot element and I was tired of it. I am *so happy* that the Mark is finally off Dean's arm, and that it has been transformed into another and hopefully better plot element, the Dark Darkness of Dark. Where was Death going to send Dean after Dean killed Sam? Purgatory, maybe? The Box? Are we ever going to get back to the Box? How's Adam holding up these days?

And why was Death's price for imprisoning Dean Sam's life? A little callback to Cain killing Abel? I was a little confused about that.

I particularly liked Sam and Dean having the "evil" discussion. Are the Winchesters evil? Of course they're not. Even though Dean started the season as a demon and spent a lot of the major episodes going back and forth... and even though he killed Rudy in this episode, a hunter and friend who certainly didn't deserve it... and even though nearly everyone who befriends the Winchesters dies... okay, so it's not a black and white situation, and I think that was the point.

Rowena played Sam like a really big ukelele, and she even killed the one person on Earth that she ever cared about. How convenient that Crowley had recently been trying a crossroads deal on the guy. (Okay, that was what the hamster told him.) At any rate, Rowena now has the power that she wanted and I bet she'll be an even bigger pain in the ass next season. And I'm going to bet that Castiel won't kill Crowley, or vice versa. Unless one of them isn't available for season eleven.

All in all, I was surprised and pleased by how much I enjoyed this episode. I've always loved Supernatural and I still enjoy watching and reviewing it, but the show has been around so long that it's getting repetitive, let's admit it. But the reason for the Mark of Cain made so much sense and fit beautifully into the Supernatural story, and I'm very much looking forward to what they're going to do with the death of Death and the release of The Darkness next fall.

Bits and pieces:

-- The episode title is "Brother's Keeper". You'd think they'd have done that title before in ten seasons, but no. The Road So Far started with Carry On, Wayward Son from the episode "Fan Fiction". Very nice.

-- It's too bad about Death, played so beautifully by Julian Richings. I so loved the junk food feast with the bad fat that Dean made for him. His last supper.

-- Too bad about Rudy, too, whom we finally met before Dean killed him.

-- I was really uncomfortable with the "slut" talk and misogyny coming out of Dean's mouth while he was possessed. He was never, ever like that.

-- Dean giving Sam the car made me go "aww." Sam giving it back to him also made me go "aww."

-- This week: Superior, Nebraska, and I'm not sure where else. I especially liked the bar with the skeleton mariachi band Dance of Death mural. Dean destroyed a very generic bad motel room that featured cinder blocks and wood paneling. I was thinking that he was trashing it like a bad rock star, even though there were no rock aliases this week.

-- Loved the Supernatural actors in the Poltergeist movie commercial. Is that online anywhere? I'd love to see it again.


Crowley: "Who summons any more? Couldn't you call?"
Castiel: "You're not in my contacts list."

Death: "God created the Earth out of nothing, or so your Sunday School teacher would have you believe."
Dean: "What? So Genesis is a lie? Shocker."

Dean: "The Darkness."
Sam: "What the hell is that?"
Dean: "What does it sound like? Does it sound like a good thing?"

Four out of four quinces, golden calves, and immortal guys named Oskar,

Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.


TheShadowKnows said...

"Does this mean no one can die now, like in the old movie?"

Or (ugh) like in Torchwood: Miracle Day. I hope that comparison isn't apt!

Thank you for your thoughtful reviews. I guess we'll all be back for another season of this ridiculously long-lived show.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons why SPN lasts so long is their gorgeous finales, and this one is superb!
Death wanted Sam dead because 1)he knew that Sam would never stop until he finds Dean and cures him of Mark and because 2)Sam had practically promised Death to go with him when Dean appeared and didn't let it happen. Death is a reaper, he doesn't like his deals not concluded.

TheDarkShape said...

"As old as God. Maybe older. Neither of us can remember anymore. Life, death, chicken, egg - regardless, at the end, I'll reap Him too."

LOL no sorry bro.

Between Death's fate here and the Reapers-as-angels retcon last season, the show's casual disregard of things that made it interesting is really off-putting.

Needless to say, I really didn't like the last ten minutes (how telegraphed was that Dean/Sam/Death scene?), which is sad because I enjoyed most of the episode. Sure, things could have been set up before (Rowena really could have used an "origin" episode that set this stuff up more gracefully earlier in the season), but the drama worked, and the moral dilemma involving the Darkness was interesting even though it guaranteed Rowena's spell would work to set up a cliffhanger for Season 11.

Jeremy Carver's finales have generally been among the show's weakest, but this was 30 minutes of a good one. Shame about the last 12.

Juliette said...

I liked this a lot. I'm more interested in the consequences of killing Death than the Darkness (partly because I don't want I Believe in a Thing Called Love in my head all next year!) but I enjoyed it all. I hope some time is spent saving Cas from whatever Rowena did to him next year, if only as a break from saving Sam or Dean!

Loved the Dance of Death on the walls, and I thought Dean trashing the hotel room was very Apocalypse Now. I kinda like that Death was brought down by the hubris of making Dean use his own scythe (presumably so Sam could never ever come back ) as well.

I really hope they do something about poor Adam next year.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Supernatural writers nowadays save all their imagination and creative writing skills for the finales an djust coast through the rest of the season. With a proper lead-up, this could have been a great finale. But now it just feels like an ass-pull.

1. I don;t think Death dying would have any major effect - after all, reapers were doing their jibs when he was sealed away.

2. So, Rowena is now an extremely powerful witch capable of breaking her witch-binding bonds, trapping an angel and the king of hell and enchanting the former? Where was all this power before now?Why didn't she just walk away with the book and the codex before?

3. The whole "darkenss" thing needed a proper lead up. We spent an entire season worrying about Lucifer getting out. A whole season focused on Azazel's master-plan. A lot of season 6 about what would happen if they opened purgatory. And half of season 8 about closing the gates. The "darkness" wasn't even hinted at before this episode. There was ni indication whatsoever that the Mark was a "lock and key". Even the angels falling got three episodes worth of buildup.

This kind of writing makes me fear that they'd do the same thing to the "darkness" that they did to the angels. We thought we'd get to see some grand angelic war taking place on earth after they fell, but that just fizzled out and I fear the darkness might fizzle out as well.

TheDarkShape said...

I'm always wary about previously-secret new threats that just happen to be way badder than anything previously established, because that's exactly how the Leviathans were introduced.

Anonymous said...

A lot of this episode left me questioning things. I think I missed the emotional punch other people felt because I've said all season Dean couldn't kill Sam, no matter the Mark or Death or whatever. There's a better chance of Dean turning into Julie Andrews playing Peter Pan than him killing the brother he has spent his whole life protecting. But I am excited about the Darkness as a big bad for season 11.
Oh, and Dean didn't kill Rudy. The vamp killed Rudy. Dean didn't stop it, but he didn't actually do it and he did seem sorry later when he saw Rudy's face in the mirror

Tisherey said...

Before God and the archangels came, there was darkness. God was able to seal it away with the mark before.

Is it too much to hope that Sam and Dean will need God's help to banish the darkness? And that we'll finally meet SPN's version of God?

Juliette said...

If it was up to me I'd have Chuck come back, and Gabriel would turn out to be really alive, and the angels could actually be helpful and fight against the Darkness. But it would all also be really soppy so it's probably good it's not up to me!

I hope they decide to finish the show and finish it next year (before they actually kill the actors from sheer exhaustion). It would be so frustrating if it went on so long and never got a proper series finale!

Henrik Bennetter said...

Juliette: Try "Black Shuck" instead, it's a better song anyday (and would fit in nicely as a Supernatural-song.

I really liked this finale. It made this season worth watching.
What I'm really, really, REALLY, hoping for in season 11 is;

1. That it's the last season.
2. Post-apocalypse. If the darkness is so badass then I'm hoping all bets are off and that there is true mayhem in the streets. Total anarchy and not much of society left. And therefor:
3. NOT "monster of the week" but a tighter and longer narrative.

Fingers crossed!

Juliette said...

That is better!

I'm a dinosaur who loves Monster of the Week episodes myself, but I do hope they come up with a final storyline to round it off next year - you can do so much more if you're heading towards a definite end point (see season 5!).

I just want them both - all three, that is - to get to Heaven at this point. I am very glad Swan Song wasn't actually the end, but I hope the eventual end doesn't end up even worse!

Heather1 said...

I can't even begin to imagine the specifics but I agree with everyone who said that it needs the hand of God (AKA Chuck). But I think it wouldn't be a ponderous, overly profound God... but well... Chuck. A thought just entered my head: could it be a sort of "lesson learned" by all involved? Like Men in Black... but with monsters instead of aliens. Some follow the rules, others don't. And the hunters/men of letters keep the peace. A realization that to have a wonderful world, it takes all kinds... but we have to learn to play together. Even as I write it, I don't know. I work in a collaborative, creative field, so I'm used to brainstorms where no idea is a bad idea because it serves the brainstorm. But believe me, there ARE a lot of bad ideas... and that last one might be one of them. If next season is the last one, I'd like to see some of the dearly departed: Jo, Ellen, Kevin... and of course, Bobby and Charlie. And yes, poor Adam. I also always felt bad for how Meg ended up. I didn't like that the boys just sacrificed her and didn't give it another thought. Please show me Meg. Maybe she and Cas can play "Pizza Man" for all eternity. Wouldn't it be great to see John? Maybe even some sort of reunion between John and Henry? OMG, I'm going on and on. I'll stop now.

LadySidhe said...

I don’t even know where to start…

First off, I don’t see how a being of pure celestial energy can be affected by Rowena’s spell. You’d think an angel would be immune to things like that, otherwise, what’s the point? And Crowley has TK…he doesn’t need to be able to move to snap Rowena’s neck or smoke out.

Second, I don’t care how badass of a witch you are, this is an ANGEL and the KING of HELL….don’t you think they’d have a little more power than that? Crowley controls every soul in Hell. Souls are power. When Cas controlled all the souls in Purgatory, he ended the war in Heaven …You think Crowley couldn’t shake off a chintzy little paralysis spell? .I think the writers haven’t written Crowley and Cas as BAMFs for so long that they’ve forgotten how....gettin' real sick of the lack of internal consistency, writers....

And if Death is truly dead, then no one can die. It wouldn’t be like when he was just locked away, like before…if he’s really dead, then that opens up a whole new can of worms. Although it would save Crowley and Cas, so it isn’t all bad.

And Rowena….can someone just put a bullet in her head, please? She’s gone from being mildly amusing once in a blue moon to being annoying all the time. There have been villains on SPN whom I’ve loved to hate, but I just hate her. I hate her face. She’s beyond predictable. She uses the same attack dog escape spell every time, and she has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. She can’t even spare the life of the only thing in the world she supposedly loves, and then she has the nerve to blame Crowley for her choices, as if it’s HIS fault she’s a treacherous, lying, sociopathic monster? Dafuq?

I want Cas to shake off the spell, like the BAMF angel he IS, and I want Crowley, like the BAMF King of Hell that HE is, to end his bitch of a mother while I watch. If they get rid of a great character like Crowley and keep the likes of Metatron and Rowena, I will be beyond disgusted.

Then there’s the Darkness….I found myself supremely uninterested in the rise of the Darkness when faced with the Crowley/Cas cliffhanger. Okay, so the Winchesters broke the world…again…. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what about Cas and Crowley? Are THEY okay? Because, honestly, that’s the only thing I care about at this point.

I didn't HATE it....but it felt like the writers just crammed everything into the finale, and I understand now why Jensen said he didn't know how the writers were going to dig themselves out of this one. If they can manage to grasp the concept of internal consistency it might work.

I’m so frustrated and aggravated right now, I can’t think of anything else to say.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I did like the finale, although I agree that it needed more build-up. It felt like a "We need to get this mark off somehow and we only have one more episode" Hail Mary moment, pardon the pun. (I can't believe that they haven't used that one yet!) I did feel like they wasted the Cain and Abel parallel in this one, though, although I guess the boys can only die so many times before it loses the drama of the consequences.

I also loved Rowena this episode. I liked her all right before, but I finally feel like she's someone with whom to be reckoned. And of course Crowley should be more powerful than her, but it seems to me that his near-conversion might have softened him up a bit. (I liked the red eyes two episodes ago.) Forcing Rowena to kill Oskar also doesn't bode well for Crowley's son. And yes, Cas needs to be powerful enough to shake her off, but she needs the power to at least do him damage, or we're back to the deus ex machina thing -- i.e. the Winchester's powerful friends will prevent any harm to them so where's the suspense?

I am looking forward to the darkness plot line... very cool. I can't wait to see what the writers do with this idea -- how might it be different than the physical rules of demon possession?

I am dreading the end of this series; they've done so many excellent episodes. I, too, would like some closure on Adam... hey writers -- are you reading this stuff?

And finally, I guess I'm in the minority, but I just don't see Chuck as God, the Junior High episode notwithstanding. I liked Chuck as a prophet, but unless you can get George Burns or Morgan Freeman, I'm not so sure that I want to see the boys have a face-to-face with God. I mean, talk about having powerful friends...

Thanks for the excellent commentary from you and from your readers. I've enjoyed our conversations very much!

Jerry Winchester said...

Only thing I want to say about this is that I really hope that next year would be the last season. I say it's better to go out with a bang and finish while you're still on top of your game. They need to bring Eric Kripke back to close out the season. Both Jeremy Carver and Sera Gamble were good but undeniably the Kripke years were the best years and I feel like his imagination and creative juices is what's needed at this point to revive the show and give it a satisfying ending. You've had a great run boys, but it's time for the curtain call, swan's song, final bow or whatever.

William Russell said...

I am starting to think the boys are really the big bads of the whole series. How many bad choices can two people make?

Mallena said...

I watch SPN for the brothers, and once again, we got a great dramatic, emotional closing for the boys. When Dean beat Sam to the floor, and Sam put his hands up in front of his face and said, "okay, that's enough, it's enough", I start tearing up. It gets worse. Sam kneeling, crying, won't close his eyes, telling Dean to go ahead and kill him. Placing the pictures in front of Dean telling him to remember what it was to love. Dean looking down at him sadly and then deciding to kill Death instead. My show, my heart. Some people say that Sam is being selfish, wrong, bad, again...I say he had to do it. He had to make up for not looking for Dean in season 8. He had to get the mark off his brother. The mark could not be defeated just by Dean's death, that would be horrible, but okay. No, the mark was forever. Sam could not let his brother suffer the effects forever. Hopefully Death is not really dead, just faking. Also, someone open up heaven. It's the DMZ in the veil. That can't be fun.

Marianna said...

Smoke monster! That's exactly what I said!

Killing Death seemed too easy so I suspect he isn't really gone, especially because Oskar died after they showed Death crumble.

Netflix no longer shows The Road So Far, which overall is good because they tend to spoil things, but this time I missed hearing Carry On, Wayward Son.

Thanks for another great season of reviews, Billie!