10.23 Brother's Keeper

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Title Brother’s Keeper
Episode # Season 10, Episode 23
First aired May 20, 2015
Directed by Phil Sgriccia
Written by Jeremy Carver
On IMDB Brother’s Keeper
Outline After Dean gets another hunter killed, he realizes that his only hope in stopping the Mark of Cain is summoning Death; an act which comes with repercussions for himself and Sam. While Sam searches for Dean, Castiel seeks Crowley's aid in finding the ingredients needed for the spell to remove the Mark.
Monster Vampires
The Darkness
Location(s) Superior, Nebraska
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Sam and Castiel have lost track of Dean who doesn’t want to be found. Castiel worries about the consequences of having Rowena remove the Mark of Cain using the Book of the Damned, but Sam points out that they don’t know what those consequences are and there’s no alternative. Meanwhile Dean wakes up on a motel room floor, worse for wear telling himself he is okay.

Dean in his Fed suit investigates the murder of Rose McKinley. He shocks the local sheriff with his cold demeanor when talking about the victim. Rudy, a hunter acquaintance, turns up at the murder scene as another Fed. Dean tells him to walk away and let the real hunters do the work. The sheriff tells them both that Crystal Thorrson was with Rose when she disappeared, and Crystal is still missing.

Sam and Castiel visit Rowena to threaten her with death to do the spell to remove the Mark of Cain. Rowena stands defiant, knowing she is the only one that can perform the spell, and only agrees to perform under the condition that she gains her freedom and as well as Nadya's Codex.

Dean talks to the parents of Rose McKinley in their home. He tells them that Rose was wearing a skank outfit and looking for sex because her home was pervaded by ”deceit and beatings and shame.” Joe McKinley punches Dean, who pulls his gun on him, but he gets no answers. Rose’s brother, J.J., intercepts Dean outside the house and tells him Rose and Crystal used to hang out with some guys in a cabin out by Cross Creek.

Rowena tells Sam and Castiel about the three ingredients for the spell: the forbidden fruit, the golden calf, and a sacrifice of something that the spellcaster loves. Rowena says there’s nothing she loves, not even Crowley. Castiel doesn’t believe her, saying ”Everyone loves something,” he touches her forehead and looks into her mind. He sees Oskar, a boy Rowena befriended 300 years earlier. Sam gets a phone call from Rudy, who tells him where Dean is and that ”he’s not playing well with others.” Sam leaves, asking Castiel to make sure the spell happens.

Dean surprises a vampire outside the cabin, and promptly removes its head. Inside he finds Crystal, tied up but alive, and a vampire named Reggie threatening to kill Rudy. Dean tells Rudy to man up and walk away, telling him Reggie won't kill him. As Rudy tries desperately to diffuse the situation Dean continues to taunt Reggie and spooks him into killing Rudy. Once Rudy hits the floor, Dean rushes and kills Reggie, freeing Crystal as he exits the cabin. Back at the motel Dean sees Castiel’s bloody face in the bathroom mirror, then a sneering Rudy, which leads to him punching the mirror and trashing the motel room.

At a crossroads Castiel summons Crowley to get him to collect the ingredients for Rowena’s spell. Crowley refuses, even as Castiel threatens to smite him he stands defiant, however he tells Castiel that he will help under one condition: Castiel begs and calls him King, only then will he agree to gather the ingredients.

Sam arrives at the cabin and finds out what happened, then he finds Dean’s motel room, Impala parked outside. Dean is gone, but he left his car keys and a note saying ”She’s all yours.”

Dean summons Death, offers him homemade Mexican food, and asks Death to kill him because he can’t fight the Mark. Death says he won’t kill Dean, as it is impossible even for him. Death tells Dean that before God there was the Darkness, a horribly destructive, amoral force that was beaten back by God and his archangels and locked away. God created the Mark to serve as both lock and key for the Darkness, and entrusted it to Lucifer. But the Mark was a curse and corrupted Lucifer, leading to his fall. God banished Lucifer to Hell, and Lucifer passed the Mark to Cain. Death says he will only remove the Mark if Dean shares it with someone else, so the Darkness remains locked away. Dean refuses, so Death offers to relocate Dean with the Mark far away from Earth where he will no longer be a danger. Dean calls Sam and tells him he’s done, and to come to him so he can say his goodbyes.

Sam arrives at the bar to find Dean and, to his surprise, Death. Sam tells Dean ”You don’t need to die!” Dean replies it’s not his death that is the way out – it’s Sam’s. Death tells Sam he believes Sam will never rest until Dean is free of the Mark, and so he has to die for the greater good. Dean tells Sam that the world would be better without them in it, that they’re followed by evil. Sam objects that they’re not evil. Dean says he let Rudy die and Sam drove a man to sell his soul and bullied Charlie into getting herself killed. Sam argues that Dean is not an evil man, he’s a good man trying to find a solution by summoning Death and calling Sam. But Dean won’t budge. Sam punches him and they have a vicious fist fight which ends with Sam on the floor. Sam tells Dean that he, the real Dean, is nothing but good – but he’s right. Dean has to be stopped at all costs before he hurts anyone else. Looking up at Dean from where he’s kneeling on the floor, Sam says ”Do it.” Death hands his scythe to Dean. Sam shows Dean a couple of pictures that he brought – of Mary Winchester, Sam and Dean as children – as a guide to remind Dean, some day, what it was to be good and what it was like to love. Dean asks Sam to forgive him, then swings the scythe over his head and stabs Death, who crumbles into dust as Dean looks on in shock.

Crowley brings the spell ingredients and Oskar to Castiel and Rowena. Rowena, showing unusual emotion, hugs Oskar and then stabs him in the neck with a pen. She collects his blood and completes the spell. Lightning strikes Dean’s arm and removes the Mark of Cain. Rowena, now free of her iron chains, immobilizes Castiel and Crowley, puts her signature attack dog spell on Castiel, and leaves with the Book of the Damned and the codex. Castiel, bleeding from the eyes, attacks Crowley with his angel blade.

As Sam and Dean leave the restaurant, lightning strikes the ground in multiple places throughout the nearby field. In each place, black, roiling smoke erupts from holes in the earth and forms a cloud that grows to obliterate the sky. Sam and Dean get into the Impala and try to drive away, but hit a pothole. The car and everything around them are engulfed by the cloud of smoke.




  • "Carry On Wayward Son" by Jay Gruska, Vivien Amour, Alyssa Lynch, Kelli Ogmundson, Katie Sarife, Rachel Warkentin & Nina Winkler
(plays during "The Road So Far" recap of events; also played in 10.05 Fan Fiction)
(plays during "The Road So Far" recap of events; also played in 1.21 Salvation, 2.22 All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two, 3.16 No Rest for the Wicked, 4.22 Lucifer Rising, 5.22 Swan Song, 6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much, 7.23 Survival of the Fittest, 8.23 Sacrifice and 9.23 Do You Believe in Miracles?)
  • "My Aching Heart" by Eric Vasquez & Corby Gallegos (5-Alarm / Imagem Production Music)
(playing in the diner when Crowley pays a visit to Oskar/Seth)


Sam: Cas, what are we supposed to do, huh? Just sit on our asses and do nothing?

Castiel: No, we find Dean.

Sam: And then what? The only thing that stopped Cain was death, do you wanna kill Dean, because I don't. And the only way I know how to save my brother is to cure the Mark, and yes I know there will be consequences; but not you, and not Dean, not anyone can tell me what those consequences are. So I'm not going to let my brother d-destroy himself on a guess... We save Dean.
Crowley: Who summons anymore? Couldn't you call?
Castiel: You're not in my contacts list.
Death: Before there was light, before there was God and the archangels there wasn't nothing, there was the Darkness. A horribly destructive amoral force that was beaten back by God and his archangels in a terrible war. God locked the Darkness away where it could do no harm, and he created a Mark that would serve as both lock and key, which he entrusted to his most valued lieutenant, Lucifer. But the Mark began to assert its own will, revealed itself as a curse and began to corrupt. Lucifer became jealous of Man, God banished Lucifer to Hell, Lucifer passed the Mark to Cain. Who passed the Mark to you, the proverbial finger in the dyke.
Dean: Truth is, when I left, I thought the only way out was my death. Well, I was wrong Sam, it's yours.
Sam: What evil?

Dean: The Darkness.
Sam: What the hell is that?

Dean: Well, what does it sound like? Does it sound like a good thing?
Death: Even if I remove Dean from the playing field, we're still left with you. Loyal, dogged Sam, who I suspect will never rest until he sets his brother free, will never rest until his brother is free of the Mark, which simply cannot happen lest the Darkness be set free. Then there was that time you stood me up.
Crowley: Why the long faces? Oh, let me guess, Mother showed you her 'mustn't touch it' again.

Castiel: Do you have the ingredients?
Crowley: The quince cost me a major IOU from a Palestinian warlock, the gold from the calf -- well let's just say I'll be hanged under certain sexual deviancy laws if I show my face in Jordan again.
Rowena: And the third?

Crowley: Ah yes. All my long life, I wondered what I'd done to deserve a mother that showed no love. I pained over it, I built my bloody kingdom on top of it. Then one day epiphany struck, my mother was incapable of loving anything, for the first time in hundreds of years I felt free. Then you showed up in my dungeon, we communed and I began to realize you weren't incapable of love, you're incapable of loving me.
Sam: You'll never, ever hear me say that you--the real you is anything but good. But you're right, before you hurt anyone else, you have to be stopped at any cost. I understand. Do it.
Death: It's for family you must proceed, Dean. To be what you are, to become what you've become is a stain on their memory. Do it, or I will.
Dean: Forgive me...
Dean: You okay?

Sam: I'll live. You?

Dean: Fantastic. I think I just killed Death.
Sam: This is good Dean, this is good. The-the Mark is off your arm, nothing crazy happened, you got your Baby back.
Dean: Yeah, I'm sure everything's perfectly fine.

Trivia & References

"Brother's Keeper" refers to the verses in Genesis 4:9 & 4:10:
"Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Where is your brother Abel?' 'I don’t know,' he replied. 'Am I my brother’s keeper?'"
"The Lord said, 'What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.'"
Dean attempting to wash imaginary blood off his hands due to his murderous guilt may be an allusion to William Shakespeare's Macbeth. In the play, Lady MacBeth does the same, prompting the famous quote, "Out, damned spot!"
The same scene, where Dean breaks the mirror of his hotel room after imagining that he sees Castiel and Rudy in it, is reminiscent of a similar scene in the episode "The Berrisford Agenda" of the sci-fi drama Dark Angel, also featuring Jensen Ackles.
Sam: Five things, actually. (Sam raised the gun and cocks it) Hollow tips filled with witch-killing brew.

Rowena: How exciting for you. Your NRA will be beside themselves with pride.

The NRA is the National Rifle Association - a gun-rights advocacy organization.
Castiel: I need your assistance to help cure Dean of the Mark.

Crowley: What's the expression? I gave at the office.

"I gave at the office" is an explanation for not contributing to a cause or organization, or an excuse not to donate or participate in anything.


Robert Moloney, who played Rudy, previously played Peter Warren in 3.06 Red Sky at Morning.
Roger Haskett, who played Mr. McKinley, previously played Dr. Paul Connelly in 6.06 You Can't Handle the Truth.
Despite Dean saying "you can't kill death" in 1.12 Faith and 4.15 Death Takes a Holiday, this episode proves him wrong.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts