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The episode opens with Sam and Castiel at the Men of Letters bunker. Cas enters a work area and finds Sam at a bullet forge making witch-killing bullets. Sam informs Cas that he has left several messages for Dean, but his brother hasn’t responded. Dean has also apparently deactivated the LoJack that was in the Impala, so Sam can’t trace the car that way. Castiel expresses doubt about Sam’s plan to let Rowena use the Book of the Damned to remove the Mark of Cain from Dean, reminding Sam that using the Book will come with significant risks. Sam is adamant that although they’ve been told there will be consequences if they use the Book, nobody knows what those consequences are, so he’s not prepared to let Dean destroy himself without taking the risk.
Elsewhere, Dean wakes up on the floor of a motel room. He’s sweaty and seems initially disoriented. He checks his cell phone and notices several missed calls from Sam. Tossing the phone aside, he reaches for a mostly-empty beer bottle and finishes its contents. He tries to clear his head and tells himself that he’s fine, but he clearly is not.
DEAN: Superior, Nebraska
As the scene opens, Dean is standing by a roadside, talking to the sheriff of Superior, Nebraska about a case. The body of a young girl (wearing a miniskirt and tank top) lies dead in a ditch near where they’re talking. We learn that the victim was a local teenager named Rose McKinley. The sheriff tells Dean that Rose is from a good family, and is taken aback when Dean asks why Rose’s parents let her leave the house dressed like a wh**e. The sheriff subtly asks Dean to have more respect and walks back to his patrol car to confer with the other officers there. As the sheriff walks away, Dean is joined by Rudy, a fellow hunter pretending to be a federal agent.
During a brief but hostile exchange, we learn that Rudy called Dean to ask for help with his vampire case, but Dean suggests that Rudy is incompetent, so he should leave and let him work the case alone. Rudy is insulted, but before he can reply, the sheriff calls to Dean and Rudy to tell them that Rose McKinley wasn’t alone when she disappeared. There’s another girl named Crystal Thorson who is also missing. The sheriff informs Dean and Rudy that he’ll go talk to Crystal’s parents and suggests that the agents not join him. As the sheriff leaves, Rudy also storms off, leaving Dean to work alone.
CASTIEL and SAM:
Castiel and Sam arrive at the abandoned warehouse where Sam has been holding Rowena. When they find Rowena casually drinking tea, Sam threatens her with his gun, which is loaded with witch-killing bullets. Rowena dismisses Sam’s threat, reminding him that he needs her to work the spell and save Dean, so she knows he won’t shoot her. Realizing that she has the upper hand, Rowena wants to renegotiate their original deal. She tells Sam that she knows the right spell to use, and if she performs it, she wants her freedom, and the codex. Despite Castiel’s objections, Sam accepts Rowena's deal.
Later, Rowena reads the spell and tells Sam and Castiel the ingredients. They are something made by god but forbidden to man, which Castiel surmises is the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden; something made by man but forbidden by god, which Castiel suggests is the golden calf; and the life of something that Rowena loves. Rowena insists that the spell will remove the curse, but the Book wants something in return from the person performing the spell. She further insists that she has never loved anything or anyone. Castiel doesn’t believe Rowena and touches her forehead to read her mind. In Rowena’s memory, we see a vision of a small boy calling Rowena and waving to her from a field.
Rowena admits that the boy in her memory is a Polish peasant boy named Oscar. She says that when she fell on hard times 300 years ago, Oscar’s family took her in. As the group is talking, Sam gets a phone call from Rudy. He tells Sam that he’s working a vampire case in Superior, Nebraska, and Dean is also working the case, but not behaving normally. Sam makes excuses, telling Rudy that Dean is not himself right now. Rudy agrees to text Sam details about the case and location.
When Sam hangs up, he returns to Castiel and Rowena. He leaves Castiel in charge, asking him to make sure Rowena gets the ingredients for the spell, and to make sure the spell happens, whatever it takes. He also gives Castiel a lock of Dean’s hair, which will also be needed for the spell. Castiel reluctantly agrees.
Back in Superior, Dean interviews Rose’s parents, trying to learn who she was seeing when she disappeared. Unfortunately, Dean is hostile and unreasonably blunt when dealing with the family. When he asks about any possible boyfriends, both parents deny that Rose had any boyfriends, but Dean comments crudely on how Rose was dressed and says bluntly that not only was there “someone”, but there was sex involved. Dean also accuses the parents of creating an abusive home environment that encouraged Rose to seek validation from the monster that killed her. Enraged, Rose’s father punches Dean in the face for his words, but it’s clear that the parent’s don’t know anything. As this is happening, we see a teenaged boy, Rose’s brother, eavesdropping on the conversation.
Moments later, we see Dean leaving Rose’s home. Dean realizes he’s being followed and draws his gun on a young man – Rose’s brother. The boy tells Dean that he introduced Rose and Crystal to some guys he met. He says the guys were rehabilitating a house by the lake, and were looking for girls to hang with.
Later, Dean arrives at the cabin where the vampires are keeping Crystal. He kills one of the vampires outside, but when he enters the cabin, he finds the other one holding a knife to Rudy’s heart. He also finds Crystal tied to a bed. Dean taunts the vampire, saying he won’t kill Rudy. He also tells Rudy to run, but Rudy tries to calm the situation down, suggesting that they can talk things out. Belligerently, Dean continues to taunt the vampire until the creature eventually stabs Rudy. As soon as Rudy falls to the ground, Dean kills the vampire and cuts the ropes holding Crystal. Although the girl is freed, she is hysterical and berates Dean for allowing Rudy to die.
Sometime later, night has fallen in Superior. Dean is back at the motel, washing his hands in the bathroom sink. His hands appear clean, but he keeps scrubbing them anyway. Suddenly, he starts seeing faces in the mirror – Castiel’s bloody face after the beating Dean gave him ("The Prisoner") and Rudy’s angry, bloody face with the bleeding hole over his heart where the vampire stabbed him. We realize that Dean is experiencing tremendous guilt over his actions. Suddenly, he punches the mirror with his bare fist, breaking it. Then he angrily trashes the motel room – throwing chairs, destroying the television, and breaking things -- until he appears exhausted from the effort.
Elsewhere in Superior, Sam (dressed as a fed) has arrived at the cabin where the vampires were hiding. He walks by Crystal, who is sitting in the back of an ambulance muttering about how “he just let him die”, and starts talking to the sheriff. Sam is reluctant to try to explain Rudy’s dead body, and two beheaded corpses on the floor. He allows the sheriff to accept Crystal’s version of events – that one federal agent entered the cabin where the other was being held hostage and somehow killed everyone. Sam is clearly horrified by what Dean has done, and doesn’t say anything.
At a deserted crossroad, Castiel performs a summoning ritual to speak with Crowley. Castiel updates Crowley on their plan, and asks him if he can get the list of ingredients they need for Rowena’s spell. Crowley agrees to obtain the items (informing Castiel that the forbidden fruit is a quince and not an apple) in exchange for hearing Castiel beg for his help and address him as King. Castiel capitulates, and Crowley abruptly disappears with the list.
Sometime later, we see Crowley appear at a coffee shop. A young mam who works as a waiter is startled by Crowley’s appearance, and even more alarmed by the fact that all the customers seem to have suddenly dropped dead – or perhaps fallen unconscious. Crowley quietly tells the young man a story: long ago, there was a witch who was driven from her home because she was horrible. Starving and destitute, the witch was taken in by a Polish peasant family, who nursed her back to health. The witch was moved by the family’s kindness, and smitten by their 8 year-old son, Oscar, whom she grew to love. Tragically, Oscar developed a terminal illness. The witch cured him, and also granted him immortality, so that once he reached adulthood, he would never age further or die. By the time Crowley is done talking, it’s clear that the young waiter is Oscar.
DEAN and SAM:
Back in Superior, Nebraska, Sam is driving around looking for Dean when he spots the Impala parked in a motel parking lot. Sam enters Dean’s motel room to find it destroyed. He finds a small note pad on the bed, with the Impala’s keys on top of a handwritten note that says “She’s all yours” in Dean’s handwriting.
Elsewhere in Superior, Dean is in an abandoned Mexican restaurant. He has assembled the ingredients to summon Death, and performs the ritual. When Death appears, Dean tries to cajole him with homemade queso, taquitos, and tamales. Death is amused by the food, but demands to know why Dean summoned him. Dean asks Death to kill him.
Death explains to Dean that the Mark of Cain is the “first curse”, so nothing can kill him. Dean then asks if Death can remove the Mark. Death says that he could, but he won’t. He explains that before there was light, god, and the archangels, there was The Darkness – a horribly destructive, amoral force. In a terrible war, The Darkness was beaten back by god and the archangels. God locked The Darkness away where it couldn’t harm anyone, and created the Mark as lock and key to keep the Darkness confined. God entrusted the Mark to Lucifer, but Lucifer became corrupted by the Mark and turned against humanity, which forced god to banish him. Lucifer passed the Mark to Cain, who centuries later passed it on to Dean. Death tells Dean that removing the Mark would release the Darkness, so he can’t remove it unless Dean is willing to pass it on to someone else, which Dean refuses to do.
Death then offers to send Dean far away – outside of earth, to a place where he would still be alive but would never be able to harm anyone.
Next, we see Dean calling Sam on his cell phone. Sam begs Dean to not do whatever he’s thinking about doing. They talk about Rudy and the other things Dean has done, but Sam insists that they can work things out. Dean quietly tells Sam that he is done, and tells his brother where to find him.
The sun is up the next morning when Sam arrives at the abandoned restaurant. Sam is shocked to find Dean with Death, and again tries to talk his brother out of whatever he has planned. Dean informs Sam that Death’s plan is to banish him and kill Sam. Dean and Death go on to explain that once Dean is banished, he can never return. But they all know that Sam will never stop looking for his brother and trying to find a cure for the Mark. Since the Mark can never be removed and the Darkness can never be set free, the only solution is to kill Sam and then banish Dean.
Dean looks at the pictures and at Sam on his knees waiting for death. Death tells Dean that what he has become is a stain on the memory of his family, and if he doesn’t kill Sam, he will. Dean prepares to swing the scythe, but instead of killing Sam, he runs Death through with the blade. As the Winchesters watch in shock, Death turns to dust and crumbles to the floor.
CASTIEL, CROWLEY, and ROWENA:
Back at the warehouse, Crowley arrives to find Castiel and Rowena waiting for him. As he tells them how difficult it was to find the forbidden fruit, and a piece of the golden calf, which was destroyed, Rowena begins preparing the spell.
As Oscar’s lifeless body falls to the floor, Rowena begins the incantation and works the rest of the spell. As the spell is completed, the bowl begins to glow. Suddenly, a blast of energy knocks Rowena, Castiel and Crowley to the floor, and a bolt of lightening erupts from the bowl and pierces the ceiling.
DEAN and SAM:
Back at the restaurant, Dean helps Sam to his feet. The brothers are still amazed and shocked by what happened and by the fact that Dean seems to have just killed Death. As they’re talking, they hear a strange sound. Suddenly, a lightning bolt comes through the ceiling and strikes Dean on the arm, extending his arm. Dean groans loudly in pain and falls to his knees. Within seconds, the lightning bolt suddenly escapes back through the ceiling, and when the brothers look at Dean’s arm, the Mark of Cain is gone!
CASTIEL, CROWLEY, and ROWENA:
Back at the warehouse, Crowley and Castiel pick themselves up from the floor. As this is happening, they see Rowena’s shackles fall to the floor. She gathers the Book of the Damned and the codex, and uses a spell to freeze Castiel and Crowley in place while she prepares to leave with the items. She taunts them, calling them pathetic and saying that they have never seen what a truly powerful witch can do.
Before she leaves, she utters her attack dog spell and Castiel’s eyes start to bleed. Crowley realizes that she’s put the angel under a spell. As Rowena dismissively exits, she orders Castiel to kill Crowley. The scene ends with Rowena scampering out with the Book and Codex, and Castiel drawing an angel blade and attacking Crowley.
DEAN and SAM:
In Superior, Nebraska, Dean and Sam exit the restaurant. At first, it seems like everything will be alright. But suddenly, lightning bolts start to strike the ground all around them, and the ground starts to rumble. Then, pillars of black smoke erupt from giant holes in the ground. The towers of smoke consolidate into a large, bubbling cauldron of black smoke that moves across the landscape like a tornado. The Winchesters race to the Impala and try to outrun the storm, but the Impala’s rear tire gets stuck in a hole, stranding them. They try in vain to drive away as the tornado-like smoke cloud closes in on them and overtakes the Impala with them inside.