Episode Review – First Born

Hmmm….

Ok, let me get this out of the way: On a purely visceral level, this was an enjoyable episode, probably the most “manly” one they’ve had in awhile.  Heck we had actual fight scenes that were well done and you could tell what was happening!  That’s better than most major films nowadays.  Timothy Omundson did an excellent job and I could easily see him as having ended up being John Winchester had Jeffery Dean Morgan been unavailable.  However… Ok, I’m going to have to break this down by character.

the Show – One suggestion I nearly made in my resolutions post was for the show to majorly shake up the status quo and use it to tell stories they normally couldn’t.  Off the top of my head I two sci fi shows I enjoyed did this to great effect: Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (the dominion war & kicking everyone off the station) and Farscape (doubling AND LEAVING 2 john chritons).  These changes weren’t neccesarily ones that covered an entire season, but a sizable chunk of it and allowed the show to grow.  I’m somewhat hoping they’re going to do this with the brothers’ split this season.  Although the split in S5 lasted only an episode and a half so there’s no telling how “serious” this shake up is going to be until we get to the end of the season.  Still, on the whole this is at least a positive development.  What isn’t…

Dean – Long ago (in internet time it’s practically prehistory) I once said that after all the character development of the previous 4 seasons, it would have made a bit more sense in S5 for Dean to have been tempted by Satan while Sam would be more tempted by Micheal.  Well here we see it now with Sam having the angel on his shoulder, and Dean having the devil on his.  Again though we have to ask why Dean’s caring so much about Abaddon.  Sure she/he/it killed his grandfather but we didn’t see him going this gung ho for killing her back when the wound was fresher.  There is the more general concept of needing to fight her/him/it “for the sake of the world” but then where was that concern earlier in the season?  The only reason Dean seems to have such a drive to get the blade this episode is because Crowley is pretty much “making” him.  However this I won’t quite count against it since I’ll acknowledge that this could be a long con to set up not killing Abadoon, but Crowley (surely by now Dean must realize that if you’re a powerful enough demon, the knife won’t work – and if Crowley doesn’t get this immunity for being “king of hell” then what good is the position?).

Sam – Actually not really a lot to say as he was fine this episode and seems to be back to the Sam we all know and love.  Though I was disappointed that he didn’t point out the resurrection ability Cas should have (btw, which Sam performed TWICE as Gadreel), it can be forgiven as having a needle shoved into your brain and a body racked with injuries would probably make it hard to think straight.

Castiel – Oh brother… Ok let’s get all on the same page.  Last episode was really nothing more than a glorified cameo for Misha Collins.  For all context related to Castiel, this episode should be thought of as following directly on the heels of 9.09 Holy Terror (no really, the previous episode makes a lot more sense if you pretend Castiel isn’t there or is only a hallucination of Dean’s).  A big question has been (at least among the fans I’ve run into) is Castiel’s stealing grace.  A big plot hole with it is why does he chomp on grace then and not when he had the angel at his mercy in episode 9.01?  The current best explanation is that nom noming on grace is a huge taboo among angels.  So… why in this episode is Castiel going on about how the ends don’t always justify the means?  Especially when he is talking about killing Sam, something we know Cas should be able to easily reverse.  It’s sort of like watching Hannibal Lecter suddenly complaining about how wrong it is to steal! (hint: you can sort of reverse the theft by returning what you stole – you can’t really reverse cannibalism)  In other words, we have that worst of all long-running media: conflicting plot holes!  (you can’t close one plot hole, without opening the other)  The worst is that my rewrite of episode 9.03 STILL fits better with everything this season than what we actually got (namely that if we saw Castiel experience the finality of death, his statement would have more meaning).  Heck in keeping with S5, the angels should be weakening and growing more mortal the longer they are out of Heaven & more they use their powers so I’m a bit surprised we aren’t getting a retread of Sam’s addiction only with Castiel this time.  It would be logical and add conflict had the attempt failed because Castiel consumed the grace for more juice than refused to draw enough of it because he didn’t want to kill Sam for 3 seconds.  I mean don’t get me wrong, part of me is glad that we’re seeing something new with Castiel’s character and what would normally be called growth.  The problem is that what we saw this episode does not follow organically from what has been built up earlier in the season (the addiction thing does).  And an honest writer must always hold to what is organic, no matter how much they might prefer an alternative…

Crowley – Not much to say here as it’s always hard to complain about Mark Sheppard (who reminds me of Micheal Caine in his ability to take ANY part and make it a masterpiece).  Any “problems” with his character actions this episode could easily be explained by his conflicting natures (assuming he has something of a soul still inside him after the finale of S8) and a long-term plan we still don’t know yet.  Really we should all start a betting pool on what Crowley’s current goal is. (I’m thinking… either making Dean his new knight of Hell under his kingship or just making Dean take his place as KoH – I’ll put $20 on the first, $10 on the last.)

Cain – Well let’s be honest, this isn’t about him, it’s about the weapon.  After all, he is the 2nd demon to ever exist so there’s no telling how truthful anything he says in this episode is.  I was going to complain about the whole “archangels killed the knights with the First Blade” but once it was revealed to be a lie by Cain, it was more bearable (after all, it makes sense to spread rumors that only 1 thing in the world can kill you).  After all, do we REALLY believe that an archangel blade couldn’t kill a knight?  Really?  Lucifer – the poster child of pride – would create a follower that he couldn’t kill?  No, no way that’s the case.  I could maybe believe that a regular angel blade might not be strong enough but not an archangel (though it seems odd that a reaper could die to one while a demon can’t).  Heck why is Dean going through all this trouble instead of just looking for the Colt?  Wherever it is, it’s probably NOT at the bottom of the ocean!  And I need to sit down and do an inventory tally of the weapons because where are all these angel blades coming from?  Crowley had 1 but then melted it down into bullets, so where did his 2nd come from?  Where did Abaddon get hers?  After all the angel turf wars seen in 9.09 are the angels just leaving their weapons laying around on the ground? (in which case, why bother dealing with the angels? they’re clearly too dumb to live)  Also, Cain says the knife is indestructible, but that it only has power with the Mark.  So what would happen if he stabbed himself with the knife?  Wouldn’t it then lose its power and be broken as easily as any regular blade?  Does the knife HAVE to be wielded by the one with the Mark to have any effect or can anyone use it just as long as the Mark is still “active” on someone?  If the power comes from the Mark, can the person with it use the Mark to power up a regular knife?  Could Dean use it to make Ruby’s knife even MORE of a demon killing weapon?  ARGH!  It’s like they took all the lessons I said they should have learned from the Colt, and applied them wrongly.  Heck part of me wishes we’d get a season where Cain was the main villain since this actor does a great job of acting and could pull off a believable threat while adding a new take on villain performance (though my pick for best arc villain performance remains Frederic Lehne – seriously that guy needs more prominent work).

In the end…

Plenty of good in the episode brings it up to the average rating, but an over reliance of “it’s in the script” motivations and plot explanations keep dragging this season down.

At least we get to look forward to Garth next episode…

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3 thoughts on “Episode Review – First Born

  1. You summed up a lot of the issues I had with this one as well. Although, I have to say that given the quality we got earlier in the season, I still mostly enjoyed it.

    I don’t understand Dean’s hard on for going after Abaddon either. Maybe his pride is still hurt over her putting him on his knees and threatening to wear him as a meatsuit back in “Devil May Care.” What bothers me more was that he had apparently given up on finding Gadreel when the trail got cold and decided to just get trashed instead. I mean, what? I probably shouldn’t jump ahead, but Sam doesn’t question Dean’s change of mission in “Sharp Teeth” or seem all that concerned that Dean got the mark of Cain in the few days they were apart. I know he’s mad at Dean but come on.

    More and more, I feel as though these are not the characters I came to know over seven seasons. It’s not the same show.

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