In the end, it was always going to come down to this moment. Dean, the current holder of the Mark going mano y mano against Cain, the world’s first murderer and from which the Mark gets its namesake. And, in truth, everything that comes before is an afterthought.

It starts in West Livingston, Texas, where serial killer Tommy Tolliver awaits execution. He never makes it through the night as a man in black traverses the corridors, the darkness following him. The ‘he’ ends up being Cain and has come to both punish and save Mr. Tolliver. He pulls a giant knife from its scabbard and liberates Tommy from this life and the two disappear.

Crowley’s having trouble with his nagging, duplicitous mother

Fast forward a few days and the Winchesters arrive. A serial killer disappearing from his cell is right up their alley and it doesn’t take long for them to recognize Cain’s involved. The bigger question is why. Doing a bit more research on Tommy, they discover that his daddy dearest Leon, a prize (or trashy human being) like his son, has been missing for a few weeks. The mystery’s solved though when Castiel calls up the brothers. His search into Cain’s whereabouts has led him to a mass grave—a grave of Cain’s progeny. The original recipient of the Mark tells the angel he’s “just cleaning up a mess I made a long time ago.” Before he leaves, Cain promises that he’ll get to Dean…”in due time”.

Now that they have something to go on, the trio finds out that Tommy Tolliver had a son, Austin Reynolds, who’s living in Ohio. They have to get to the boy and protect him and Dean will need to face Cain, but to do that, he’ll need the First Blade. But there’s danger in handling the weapon that nearly drove Dean over the edge in a permanent fashion. “Wielding the Blade against Cain himself,” Sam says, “win or lose, you may never come back from that fight.” It’s a chance Dean’s willing to take and is ready to call Crowley.

The King of Hell continues to be hounded by the bureaucratic aspects of, well, being King (who knew?). To add to his stress is mommy dearest Rowena, subtly (and no-so subtly) manipulating her son so he’ll give her resources to deal with the Grand Coven. When Dean tells Crowley that he’s on Cain’s list, the current Hell King decides mom can wait and takes the Blade to Dean.

There’s not much waiting as Cain arrives that night. To buy themselves time, the gang uses a Devil’s Trap to pin Cain in place. It’s all up to Dean now. Before getting physical, the two have a chat and we find out that Cain truly believes wiping a portion of his spawn from the earth is the best thing for humanity because, no matter who they are, they are of his bloodline and thus possess the gene of murder in richer quantities. And then the time for talking is done and the battle begins.

The only two men in history to hold the Mark of Cain

To say things are one-sided is in understatement as Dean is tossed, pummeled and stomped. Cain realizes Dean’s holding back and though he goads him to do more, the real prize is the First Blade. Abaddon’s return last season forced Cain into kill mode and he’s ready to satiate the hunger. He pounds Dean a bit more and, as Cain holds the Blade to his throat, suggests it will be a mercy as, like Cain, Dean would eventually kill his brother Sam. Cain readies the killing blow but, in a last gasp, Dean pulls Cain’s other knife from his sheathe and severs the other’s hand. Despite knowing what he must do, Dean gives Cain a chance to renege on his promises of bloodshed. “I will never stop,” he tells Dean and, bows his head as if giving Dean permission to deliver the killing blow. Dean abides and Cain, the world’s first murderer is no more.

Bedraggled and nearly out on his feet, Dean returns to the three waiting for him and gives up the Blade…to Castiel. Crowley’s none too happy with the development and more so when Dean admits to lying about Cain coming for the King of Hell. He returns to his den to find Rowena’s bags packed and her acerbic tongue ready to lash at him. “You’re no King,” she shouts at her Fergus, “not anymore. You’re their bitch.”

Back at the Bunker, Sam holds on to the hope that Dean can fight it, “even without a cure.” The elder Winchester nods but seems to be out of it and, after he walks off to sleep, Sam is alone with Castiel and admits to what we had to know was coming.

“Dean’s in trouble.”

A Bitter End

  • Cain, wielder of the First Blade, holder of the Mark, and known throughout history as the world’s first murderer, is no more. Even with the long odds, Dean was able to prevail in a fight where there were no winners. True, Cain had fallen back into the bloodlust cultivated by the Mark but, at the same time, he wanted it to be over. For his part, the physically and emotionally wrecked Dean, held out hope of there being another way. Dean saw himself in Cain, or rather what he may now come to be as the sole owner of the Mark. Though we weren’t given a definitive answer, Sam’s observation as well as final glimpse of Dean’s face is proof enough that the bad has only just begun.
  • And speaking of bad, after feeling the weight of what he undoubtedly sees as a Winchester betrayal and the accompanying derision from his mother, Crowley may have reached his breaking point. It’s been years since we’ve truly seen how bad Crowley can be and, for the past few seasons have been privy to the toned down King of Hell whose brush with humanity has muted his demony ways. It’s true that Crowley’s never been the bloodthirsty type but he’s done his fair share of murder. Will he reconnect with that aspect of his character after Rowena’s “you’re their bitch” rings over and over in his ears? If that’s the case, the Winchesters won’t be able to toss empty threats at their frienemy but will face off against him as they would any other demon. If that happens, it will be a sad day for the Supernatural universe.