When last we left the Winchesters they were having their yearly breakup. Dean drove off in the Impala while Sam and Castiel bounced to the bunker listening to the dulcet sounds of N.W.A.
Jasper Springs, Mississippi, Civil War era. Soldiers scramble to protect a knight in a cabin. A knight? This is America, not Medieval England. Anyway, no sooner have the soldiers flanked the door than a man saunters in with a fancy knife and burns the apparently demon soldiers back to Hell. Interesting dude.
Back in the present, Dean is bellied up to Metatron’s generic bar, while a generic waitress checks him out and he smirks back sexily. Before she can slip him a napkin with her number on it, Crowley appears, slightly stung that Dean’s seduction skills aren’t aimed his way. Crowley tells Dean that not only is the waitress a clinical risk, but Gadreel has squared away his tab and fluffed off. He has a better way to while away the hours by taking out Abaddon. Dean is wary, not only do he and Abaddon share ginger traits, but Knights of Hell aren’t exactly killable. Crowley agrees, mostly, however according to him there is something that can punch her clock. The “First Blade”, the original Knights of Hell execution weapon.
Crowley’s been on the hunt for this blade since the Stones first rolled, but unfortunately his trail was ganked by none other than John Winchester, so Crowley flippantly wonders if there’s any info in Dean’s personal bible that would help out. Smooth Crowley. Dean does find the entry in John’s Journal and a code for a storage locker, that much like the one in Mystery Spot is what, magically paid up for all eternity? Can Dean trust Crowley? Well, they can either scratch at their matching beards and see who can pitch their voice the lowest or Dean can suck it up and try.
He’s not doing anything else anyway.
So he bags Crowley’s head and they head off to the storage unit. Crowley is saddened that Dean doesn’t trust him, he’s been in Sam after all, doesn’t that mean anything to Dean? Not really, I’m sure. I mean, who hasn’t been inside Sam? That’s a shorter list.
Dean finds the info he needs. Turns out John was hunting Abaddon’s little lackey with another hunter, Tara. So they’re off to find her.
Back the bunker, everything is coming up domesticity; Castiel has made himself a PB&J (crusts not cut off, first misstep) and Sam apparently went out for stuff and things. They have a serious heart to heart about how Castiel’s sandwich tastes like parts, not a sum. Sam dips his finger into the sandwich to verify it’s made properly, it mostly is (crusts!), and empathizes with Castiel’s plight. In thanks, Castiel tries to finish healing Sam, but he can’t. He tries to wave it off with suberterfuge, but Sam calls his lie out. Castiel is offended. Do you know who you’re talking to? Castiel has successfully lied to and betrayed you boys numerous times; do not question his ability to seriously snow you.
This time, however, he opts to be straightforward. Castiel suggests calling Dean for assistance, Sam shoots that down. If Dean is off wandering the desert, let him, he knows where home is and Sam hasn’t changed the locks. So the duo research on their own and Castiel discovers a MOL document regarding angel possession and its effects on vessels. When an angel bails on its vessel, for whatever reason, it leaves a bit of itself behind. This fades over time, but the document also gets into the MOL theory that extracted the grace could be made into an angelic homing pigeon.
Only one, very sharp, way to find out and after a quick lesson on human colloquialisms they set off to find scary ass, pre-modern medicine needle pictured in the document.
Dean and Crowley have tracked Tara down. Which isn’t that hard apparently, since it’s her name on the pawnshop storefront. She’s not exactly rusty though: shotgun behind the counter, Devil’s Trap under the faux-fancy rug, holy water at the ready. She’s a bit thrown to find out that John’s lovely lil son is working with a demon of his own volition. She’s not keen on Dean bringing a demon to show and tell, but nevertheless she offers up what she knows. She has a spell to locate the First Blade, but Whole Foods was all out of Kraken essence.
Is that all? Crowley’s got a surplus of the stuff. And I’m really curious as to why?
Anyway, all the ingredients are present and accounted for, time to scry for a First Blade. Thankfully, it’s conveniently located in the United States. Missouri, to be exact. Once they’ve arrived, Crowley’s venomy senses start tingling and he recognizes a force darker than his own. Seriously, darker than the King of Hell? Can only be one entity: The Father of Murder, Cain, son of Adam (or possibly of Lucifer, it’s all still up in the air, paternity tests are pending), semi-professional keeper of the bees. He seems to have the bees under control though, no swarming, no chasing from Seir to Hormah. Just honey.
(fun fact: Seir La’Azazel is Hebrew for “scapegoat”)
Basically, what I’m saying is, if you stare at your navel long enough, the meta writes itself.
Crowley goes Hank McCoy on Dean and explains that Cain was made a demon after slaying Abel. He was feared, rightly so, and then vanished. Presumed dead. Cain comes back, rumors of his demise, blah, blah, greatly exaggeratedly, monosyllabic blah, my tea floweth with milk and honey and I want to know why you’re here, blah. Dean asks for the knife, Cain dismisses him, literally.
Crowley, ever the logic seer, is ready to tuck tail; Dean on the other hand is a hunter first, a con artist and thief second. Wait for Cain to run a few errands and B&E what’s rightfully, in Dean’s opinion, theirs.
So they do.
Of course, in the meantime, Abaddon’s henchman has been tailing our bosom buddies. He’s offed Tara (people REALLY need to stop helping the Winchesters, it always ends goopy for them) and tracked them to Cain’s house.
Dean and Crowley come up with a big, fat zero on the blade front, but Dean does find a picture of a homely woman with a ring to match Cain’s. Why do men do what they do? Give up who they are? For a woman. Always for a woman.
Before they can leave with their insides where they go, Cain returns and magically locks them in. Just in time for Abaddon’s crew to show up. Cain’s barricade will only last so long, so Dean prepares to fight.
Cain opts to prepare dinner. What more do you expect from the original horticulturist? Dean demands to know why he won’t help, Cain is thoroughly unimpressed. This is not the Dean Winchester of legends. Does that Dean still exist? Did he ever? Cain is curious. So lets the demons in. And watches passively as Dean, with a wee bit of badassery from Crowley, takes them out methodically. Cain feels that he and Dean are kindred spirits, Dean disagrees, because while both where jealously of their brothers and both deal with implied incestuous undertones to their relationships, Dean didn’t kill Sam. Dean feels like he’s passed a test, ergo he should get his prize, but there is no prize, there is no Dana, there is no blade.
The blade is nothing; it’s the Mark of Cain that powers it. The physicality of it is nothing more than an old bone. The same bone he murdered his brother with because he was jealous.
Plot twist: turns out he wasn’t. Abel was well on his way to paving the same path Sam was set to walk and, like Dean, Cain put a stop to it. A soul in Hell for a soul free from it, Even Stevens. So Cain killed his brother, sent him to Heaven and began his reign in Hell. And he was good. Until he met Colette. Of course, she wanted him to give up his friends for her. So he killed them.
Except for one.
Remember the Knight that the demons were protecting in 1863? That was Abaddon in Colette’s body. She offered, near begged, for Cain to come back to her. He declined, so she broke Colette from the inside and fled. Cain swore revenge, but Colette asked that she not be avenged. Very altruistic of her.
Dean doesn’t care. Just because Cain is retired doesn’t mean Dean is ready to grow a beer belly and glue a remote to his hand and his ass to a recliner. He wants to end Abaddon.
So Cain, against his storied judgment, transfers the Mark to Dean, tells him the blade is at the bottom of the deepest ocean, lets the remaining cadre of demons in, TARDISes them out of the house, and lights it up.
Over in Kansas, Sam and Castiel are discussing, well, Sam and Dean. Castiel seems to think that the fact that the brothers hauled off and married each other in that church, thus opting to hang out with one another in lieu of closing the gates of Hell, means something. Sam’s still jilted and now with added guilt, as if there’s anymore room in Sam Winchester for MORE guilt. Maybe having Castiel lipo Gadreel’s grace the rest of the way out will free up some additional space. Castiel begins the extraction, but he needs more than he’s willing to take. Taking the full amount will mean Sam’s body goes back to pale on the outside, extra crispy inside. Sam is building a cross, Castiel is hiding the wood. He doesn’t want to kill Sam, he wants to hang out with Sam, maybe have Sam eat PB&Js and describe them to him, who knows. The fact is that Castiel, whether he removed all he could or not, doesn’t think anything is worth trading Sam Winchester’s life for.
The Abomination himself finally has the approval of the first angel he was in awe of. What he had faith in now has faith in him.
They try the spell, but it doesn’t work. Lack of grace. Sam and Castiel hug out their feelings and it’s kind of beautiful really. Castiel vows to track down and take out Metatron, but he knows he may not be able to do it alone. The implied, “hey Sam, call your brother, ask him to come home to you”, is only barely implied.
Crowley and Dean have their own heart to heart. See Crowley knows that no matter how much he and the demons and the monsters and the angels loathe Dean, no one does so more than Dean himself. Not that he’s wrong, but Dean isn’t stupid, he knows Crowley worked this chessboard like Bobby Fischer. Crowley doesn’t deny it or the fact that he could care less about the collateral damage. He’ll find the blade, they’ll all samba over Abaddon’s corpse and then it’s game on.
Of course the real question is, the ocean breathes salty, so how is Crowley gonna pull this one off?