“First Born” left me with a lot to think about in terms of character development and real life applications. In a way, I think “First Born,” more than any other episodes this season, has managed to reach a deep part of me and interact with what is going on in my life currently which is a little bit creepy but leaves me pondering.
I don’t know why this dynamic hasn’t happened before, but the teaming up of Sam and Cas while Crowley and Dean hit the road is genius. It shows us why these pairings don’t work long term. Both Castiel and Sam are scholarly, practical, and primarily thinkers. Crowley and Dean are more oriented toward action, thinking on their feet and ruled (somewhat) by emotion.
While Dean and Crowley stake out the bar formerly attended by Gadreel’s vessel, Castiel and Sam talk about the human experience of eating, and how Castiel can no longer enjoy it because of his grace. This is halted by an unwelcome discovery about a lingering effect of the angel possession. Dean and Crowley give up on the bar and have a chat about Crowley’s closeness to the Winchesters, only to hear this retort from Dean: “We are the furthest thing from family.”
“First Born” introduces us to a new character and a continuation of the angels vs. demons vs. humans mythology, but I’m not going to spoil it. Let me just say I loved the twists and turns with this character and I hope we get to see more. He was too good to be a one-shot. His interaction with Dean was fascinating, particularly when their stories intertwined in an unexpected way.
While all of that was highly interesting, what I found drawing me in most was the conversation Castiel continued with Sam. In an attempt to locate Gadreel, Sam allows Castiel to extract the grace, a process which could end in his death. Normally, Castiel would have allowed Sam to die in order to find Gadreel. However, being a human and dying has changed Castiel. He misses eating, he realizes that life is precious, and he won’t let Sam sacrifice himself because, as Castiel says, “…nothing is worth losing you.”
It seems Castiel has a bond with Sam. Both Sam and Cas have made some pretty monumental mistakes while thinking they were doing the right thing. Sam began the apocalypse. Castiel wanted to become God so that he could bring order to heaven. Neither decision ended well, and both of them have to endure the guilt and the consequences of their actions.
I’d never thought about that before – whereas with Dean, we know that he will do anything to keep Sam from dying. We can forgive him because his motives are more outward focused (even though Dean is, I think, codependent and relies on his relationship with Sam to survive). With Sam and Castiel, their decisions were based inward, and we know that, while they meant well, their choices were inherently selfish.
What choices have I made that were selfish? What decisions have been selfless? Which were the better choices? How are they going to affect my future? These are heavy thoughts, but they are worth considering. What if they help me further along down the road?
I definitely understand where Sam and Dean are coming from. Life is one long fight, and some days I’m just too tired. I want to throw in the towel. I haven’t found the answers to the questions I’m asking, but, like Castiel, I’m beginning to understand that there are people I don’t want to lose and that life is precious. It matters what we do with ours.
One other interesting note: there might have been a flicker of this in earlier seasons and episodes, but “First Born” brought it to my attention in full force. Isn’t it interesting that Dean is, for all intents and purposes, an orphan? He isn’t rich but has enough money to pursue vengeance and/or justice. There’s an underground lair. He drives a black Impala, he has a “butler” (angel) and a sidekick (Sam)…Dean Winchester is basically Batman. Which means that Crowley is the Joker. Crowley enjoys playing with the boys. He nicknames them (Moose and Squirrel). He can’t help himself. They are fun toys to bat around.
I’m not saying Dean Winchester and Crowley are blueprints of my favorite hero and villain. But that dynamic is definitely there. Where would Dean be without Crowley? Where would Crowley be without Dean? They may want to rip into each other’s throats, but right now they just have each other. Dean and Crowley have to work together to survive.
I’ve got a bad feeling about what’s coming next. But I’m utterly mesmerized and I can’t tear myself away.