While Dean flirts with some serious evil, Sam tries to cope with Dean’s betrayal, Kevin’s death and how it all could have been avoided if he’d followed through with the last trial. In this buddy comedy, Castiel is cast as the affable best friend whose advice is cloaked in whimsical humor. Castiel understands the sheer magic of a PB & J that I’ve raving about since I was four, even if as an angel he finds it “overwhelming” as he tastes “every molecule.”
Sam still needs daily doses of angelic healing, but in doing so, he finds traces of Gadreel’s grace. It’s mighty convenient that while researching this situation, they find that the Men of Letters theorized that they could track an angel by their grace. Sam is the willing guinea pig. “You have a guinea pig? Where?” Castiel hopes.
The excruciating process of extracting the grace causes Sam’s body to regress to the state it was in before Gadreel when his organs were charcoal briquettes and his brain was mush. If we ever thought Sam wasn't a Winchester, just admire his deathwish. It's as big as Dean's and John's. Being human taught Castiel that "life is precious and it must be protected at all costs." "My life isn't worth more than anyone else's. Not yours or Dean's…or Kevin's. Please help me do one thing right. Keep going,” Sam pleads.
He digs the needle deeper until Sam screams and his nose and eyes bleed. When he can’t take it anymore, Castiel heals Sam without another word. It’s seems like Castiel chose not to complete the extraction to spare Sam any more suffering. He offers this bit of wisdom: "I want Gadreel to pay as much as you do, but nothing is worth losing you. Being human didn't just change my view of food. It changed my view of you. I can relate now to how you feel. The only person who has screwed things up more consistently than you is me. Now I know what that guilt feels like, and I know what it means to feel sorry. I am sorry. Old me would have jammed that needle in deeper until you died because the ends always justified the means. But what I went through, that PB&J taught me that angels can change so maybe Winchesters can too.”
They attempt the spell with the scant amount of grace. Unlike Dean’s spell the revealed its results after some wicked fire, this spell fizzles out with an impotent puff of smoke. It doesn’t work, but Sam knows they’ll find another way to stop Metatron and Gadreel, presumably without Dean. Sam offers Castiel the hug that he’s been wanting since season 6’s “Like A Virgin” because he was completely right. Castiel is stunned, probably because I imagine being hugged by Sam is like being embraced by a sweaty octopus made of angst and flannel and you need to be prepared. “This is the part where you hug back,” Sam reminds him.
The episode ends with Dean realizing Crowley played him like a fiddle ("You're good, but I'm Crowley") and was now tethered to some ancient evil without knowing any of the consequences. Brave but impulsive, that’s our Dean Winchester. I hope this quest goes better than the trials, but I'm not holding my breath.
“First Born” was wrought with eloquent parallels and dichotomies. Sam’s arc provided a dose of much-needed softness to temper the detonating bombs and cutting shrapnel of Dean’s. I can’t praise this episode enough, because it has completely rocked the foundations of our characters. Dean has always been mired in the light while Sam was always burdened with darkness. Now Dean (finally) has a dark quest, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
What did you think of the episode? Do were you surprised by Crowley played Dean? How bad will Dean's new burden be? What was your favorite quote from tonight? Did you miss Sam and Dean interacting together? Hit up the comments section below!