Episode 10.23

Brother’s Keeper Review

By Annie Kenney

Tonight’s finale was – again – a show of two halves. Excellent scenes involving Sam and Dean, a few distracting and, to be frank, boring scenes between Castiel and Crowley and an appearance from Death that just took my breath away!

First congratulations to the finale for using that lovely version of ‘Carry on my Wayward Son’ from Fan Fiction. An excellent way to get me crying before the show had even started. Then the opening scene between Sam and Castiel (who had obviously healed himself after last week’s beating). Sam’s pain and desperation was palpable and it was really hard to watch. Harder still was the scene with Dean and the Sheriff, Dean’s cruel words proving just how much the mark was now affecting him. This wasn’t the Dean of old, no empathy, no silly quips, just someone who was hard, harsh and unfeeling. Cut to Sam threatening Rowena and it was easy to see just how bad the situation had become. Both brothers were acting out of character and it was hard to see just how things could be fixed.

Watching Dean’s fall from grace has been difficult but tonight was harder than ever. His interaction with the missing girl’s father, his cold blooded behavior in the vampires’ nest and then going all rock star in his motel room. It was clear that Dean wasn’t able to control the mark any longer and that he really needed to do something about it. Meanwhile Sam wasn’t having much luck with the spell, the ingredients being almost impossible to find. Things appeared to be coming to a head but the situation was about to get much, much worse.

I really wanted to see more of Sam’s reaction to Dean’s motel room and the fact that his brother had vanished leaving him the keys to the Impala. This – to me – was one of the most important scenes of the night and it was ruined by a sudden cut away to Castiel summoning Crowley. As with the last two finales, the writers seem determined to use everybody equally and it is very jarring. Just as you are getting emotionally involved with one scene you are dragged kicking and screaming into another one! I didn’t really want to see Cas and Crowley at that point and I found it really irritating.

Castiel, Brother's Keeper

Then we had Dean summoning Death and giving him offerings of food (and boy had Dean gone to town with his baking!) I adore Death and Julian Richings is absolutely excellent in the role. I really believe in his character and love his dry sense of humor. Obviously the sight of Death isn’t the most reassuring sight in the world and it was clear what Dean had in mind. However Death wasn’t going to reap Dean because, apparently, the Mark wasn’t just a curse but a lock that held the Darkness, unspeakable evil that God and his archangels had once defeated (why had no one even mentioned this before?) Therefore Dean would have to be transported to another planet and Sam would have to die as neither brother could be trusted NOT to change the natural order!

Death, Brother's Keeper

Again though, the moment was broken by a sudden return to Crowley and Rowena’s one true love. Was it just me or did that storyline seem somehow shoehorned in? Why did it have to be something Rowena loved? Was it because she was casting the spell? I found these scenes rather unnecessary and rather distracting but that might just be me! I did realize that we had seen the boy before but there was nothing to hint that he might be connected with Rowena. Sometimes the writers tell – what could be – a very long story in about two minutes! This doesn’t sit well in a season finale when you want the action to be rolling along at a fair pace but still…

The scenes between Dean, Sam and Death were the stand out scenes in this episode and they were agonizing to watch. Dean trying to blame Sam for not closing the gates of Hell when it was Dean that actually stopped him, Sam clearly suffering because he could see his brother wasn’t acting like himself. Death talking wisely about the greater good. The problem was that the action kept swapping between these scenes and the ones with Rowena, Crowley and Castiel. Again it was much too distracting and I would have preferred to see one or the other. I know that all these threads had to be drawn together but I want to see Sam and Dean not the other characters.

Sam and Dean, Brother's Keeper

Sam and Dean, Brother's Keeper

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Then there was the fight between Sam and Dean; it had been a long time coming and it was almost over too quickly. I felt that Sam perhaps gave in too easily but it was easy to see why he did it.

“Sammy close your eyes”

Those four words absolutely broke me; I was in tears and gripping the arm of the chair so tightly that my knuckles were white. Sam’s tears and his expression of resignation tempered with a tiny bit of hope just made me sob harder. Kudos to Jared in this scene. If the man doesn’t get some sort of acting award for this there is no justice in the world! I was so sure that Dean was going to kill Sam that I couldn’t actually watch (I’d closed my eyes!) and when I opened them again I was shocked and horrified to see that Dean had actually killed Death –shocker!

Meanwhile, back at the bunker, Rowena proved that she really was as evil as Crowley claimed, plunging a pen into poor Oscar’s neck. It appeared that she was quite upset by having to do it but not that upset! She then completed the spell and, finally and very dramatically, Dean was free of the Mark. Not satisfied with her freedom, Rowena proved that she really was a powerful witch by setting Castiel on Crowley. I didn’t’ quite know how to feel when I saw Rowena walk away…this means we might see her again next season and I’m not altogether sure I want to see her again. Her character has never sat right with me and, although she is meant to be powerful and evil I’ve never been that convinced! However there are more pressing matters in hand like has Cas killed the King of Hell? And will Cas die like all the other poor victims of this particular spell?

Sam and Dean didn’t have very long to celebrate the removal of the Mark as, all of a sudden, the threatened darkness started to appear. This was quite spectacular and it reminded me of All Hell Breaks Loose Pt. 2 when the Devil’s Gate was opened and all the demons escaped. It was scary too but there was some comfort in knowing that the brothers are now on the same page and working towards the same thing. When the Impala got stuck I was on the edge of my seat and I really wanted Sam and Dean to hug or hold hands or something! Instead they just sat there looking at each other as the darkness enveloped them. I’m pretty sure they’re not dead but I don’t know what the future holds for them right now.

I really enjoyed the finale, but it wasn’t quite up to the standard of say Season 5, Season 8 or Season 9. On the plus side, the mark is gone and the brothers are together so it looks as if it will be them against the darkness rather than them against each other. We are not so sure of Crowley’s fate, but I’m not betting against seeing him again next season. Castiel too, as I am sure the writers have plans for him (let us not forget that Metatron is still on the loose).

So, with some caution, I’ll say I am really looking forward to next season. I hope that the writers will keep the brothers together and I’m excited to see what chaos the darkness is going to bring. I also hope that there will be more excellent scenes like the stand out one this week. Jared and Jensen have fantastic chemistry and it should be used to its best effect. That one scene saved the finale from being just average and raised it to awesome. Sam’s tears and Dean’s final refusal to kill his baby brother was worth the viewing time alone.

Here’s to another Season and – fingers crossed – it’s going to be a good one!