'Supernatural' star Jensen Ackles on forgiveness, the internal effects of the Mark of Cain: 'Dean's putting on blinders and taking steroids'

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Image Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Last we saw of the handsome Winchester brothers, things were … complicated. Let’s just say that Supernatural‘s ninth season is full of battles: Sam’s inner battle, Dean’s inner battle, the brothers’ battle with each other, the battle in hell, and the brewing battle in heaven, to name a few. So as we head into the end of the season, what can we expect from our favorite hunters, their angelic sidekick, and a blood-addicted demon?

For starters, Tuesday night’s episode focuses around the search for The First Blade, aka the weapon that pairs with the Mark of Cain to kill Abaddon. But do we want Dean to find the blade considering we’re yet to see the consequences we know come with the Mark of Cain? We’re not so sure, which is why we caught up with Jensen Ackles to talk about the end of the season, Dean’s dilemma, and all things pertaining to that pesky (but kind of badass) Mark of Cain:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This season has so much going on, with bigger stuff in heaven and hell, and somehow Sam and Dean still finding time to work smaller cases. From here on out, is it still this mix of heaven and hell sprinkled with smaller cases, or are we getting back to the bigger dilemmas and dropping the episodic stuff?
JENSEN ACKLES: As we start to near the end of the season, all of the big storylines start to culminate and start to intertwine a little bit more. The climax is building, so to speak. So yes, we are going to start to get back into those storylines. They are going to start lining up with one another, so the heaven and hell is going to directly affect whatever happens with Abaddon, the First Blade obviously being a key to unlock that problem, and then it will snowball, domino effect – however you want to put it – it’s all going to start to come to a head here pretty soon.

We know that the Mark of Cain comes with a “burden” and a “cost,” but we’ve yet to see it in action. So where is this going to take Dean? The last time something was on somebody’s arm it was Sam and he was about to die.
[Laughs] Yeah, we’re always about to die at some point. There’s always something creeping up on one of the brothers, but this particular thing, it’s more of an internal thing, much like Sam’s issues. It’s something that’s happening inside. I think Dean’s becoming less compassionate. He’s becoming a little bit more primal in his dealings with good and bad. He’s becoming a little bit more tunnel vision, and he’s getting really really amped up very quickly. You might want to say it’s almost like Dean’s putting on blinders and taking steroids. So it’s a dangerous combo.

Like in the last episode, Dean seemed to kill a guy pretty easily…
Yes, so therein lies a bit of the issue that Dean’s struggling with. Normally, he might just chain the guy to a pipe because he’s not an actual monster, he’s a real guy, or turn him over to the authorities or let real people handle real people. He’s not in the business to do that; he’s in the business of hunting and killing monsters. So that being said, because of what this mark is doing to him and his judgment and his moral compass, it’s a little askew. He doesn’t have a problem with offing anybody that stands in his way, anybody that’s doing bad. He’s become very cut and dry, and cut and dry doesn’t necessarily mean right and wrong. It’s a tricky line, and he’s having a little trouble navigating it, I think.

The last episode also had this great parallel with Ed and Harry and Sam and Dean, which ended with the realization that some things can’t be forgiven. Can Dean be forgiven at this point?
I don’t know. And that’s something that he’s been struggling with all season is what he decided to do for Sam at the beginning of the season, which was trick Sam into allowing this angel to occupy his body. Obviously, Dean was tricked as well, which spun the whole thing. In fact, I kind of joked with Jared [Padalecki], I think [that] episode 10 this season was actually the first time that we saw the real Sam, because all nine episodes leading up to that it was somebody else speaking for Sam, so that’s been a real jagged pill for Dean to swallow. He’s having a real hard time with that obviously. You saw, he kind of went on his own and [it] didn’t really matter who he worked with, i.e. Crowley, to get some revenge or to try to right some wrongs or to try to do something that gives him a sense of purpose or a sense of right. In doing so, he invited the Mark of Cain and now that’s kind of sent him into a bit of a tailspin. Whether or not Sam is able to forgive and forget is to be seen. I’m not sure that Dean is counting on it, which is another log on the fire of his dilemma of everything else is just kind of a means to an end.

Are you crying in every episode? Not that I’m against it, but I feel so bad for Dean this year.
[Laughs] Yeah, he’s definitely … although I don’t necessarily know that there have been tears shed but there’s definitely the emotional aspect of sniffle, sniffle, which can be a bit of “cue the eye roll” kind of thing. Yeah it’s been kind of a tough season for Dean, and it’s been a tough season for me having to play Dean, because a lot of times Dean has a lot comic one-liners. Dean doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he can joke around and he can use that devil-may-care attitude, and this season, not so much. It’s been a pretty big burden that he’s had to carry this year, and it’s taken its toll on him. He’s not real thrilled about his life, and whether or not that’s going to result in something devastating, I don’t know. Right now, it’s pretty bleak in Dean world.

I’m also looking forward to digging further into the Men of Letters Lore. This next episode introduces another member, does it not?
It does. Yeah we dive a little deeper into that; we peel another layer of the onion back from the history behind the Men of Letters. I thought that when they first introduced that, it was such a smart way to unveil a whole new world to these guys, a world that they thought they knew a lot about, but obviously there’s so much more to learn. I still think that we have that as a possibility. This next episode, I don’t necessarily think that there’s some massive big discovery, but it does shed a little bit more light on what it was and what it could potentially be for the brothers. But like we were just talking about, the brothers have some issues that they’ve gotta deal with first before they can start grave digging and history hunting.

We’ve been getting a lot of throwbacks recently, a few familiar faces. Will we see any more familiar faces by end of the season?
If we are, they don’t tell me, because they know I’ll tell you. I have a big mouth when it comes to that stuff, because I get really excited about it. I would say I hope so. I think that it’s been well-received by the fans, and I think also people enjoy coming to work on the show. I get phone calls and text messages and emails from a lot of different people who have A) Either worked on the show before or B) Want to work on the show, and they’re always like, “Hey when are you going to get me on the show?” And I’m like, “Hey, it’s not in my hands.” It’s up to the writers and whether it fits the storyline and will work and that’s great. I do know that it’s worked really well for us, and I hope we continue to see faces from the past and also really interesting new faces.

You can tell them Samantha would like some more Lucifer.
Yeah, absolutely. The problem is we have such good actors come on our show that we can’t keep them around because everybody else wants them, so they go off and do other shows.

Supernatural airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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