'Supernatural': Jensen Ackles reveals Dean's Mark of Cain side effects, continuing struggles with Sam

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supernatural-jensen-ackles-interview-blade-runners.jpg Season 9 has been tough for the once-close Winchester brothers on "Supernatural," and it's been a difficult journey for both the Winchesters and fans alike watching the brothers' toxic fight.

After Dean (Jensen Ackles) made the choice to let an angel possess Sam (Jared Padalecki) -- possession is a big no-no for hunters, be it from angels or demons alike -- that came back to bite them all in the butt when the "good" angel turned out to be evil and killed their prophet Kevin Tran (Osric Chau). Now, the brothers are still hunting together, but their relationship has been damaged pretty much beyond repair.

Zap2it got to pick Ackles' brain about how Sam and Dean's fight could get worse before it gets better (if it even gets better at all), plus the side effects of Dean's Mark of Cain, his shocking new relationship with Crowley and distance from Castiel. Check out our Q&A below (and read about Ackles' excitement for the early Season 10 renewal and "Supernatural" spinoff series here).

Zap2it: I'm extremely worried about Dean right now. He didn't stop to listen to Cain's warnings about how receiving the Mark might affect him, and he's been displaying some shockingly good hunting abilities recently. How will that continue to affect him? It's not going to be good, right?
Jensen Ackles: It's definitely messing with his inner moral compass, so to speak. We just saw recently that Dean, instead of sparing a human life, he killed a guy without so much as a thought. I think that plays into what he is going through inside: "If they're bad, they've got to go. I don't have time to weigh the pros and cons and deliberate over what's right and wrong. This guy was bad, so he's got to go." That's a far cry from where we've seen Dean in the past. He's always been a shoot first, ask questions later [guy], but that was with monsters, which is his line of work. 

When it just comes to crazy people, he doesn't necessarily fashion himself as a policeman. He would rather the authorities do their job there, but now at this point he doesn't seem to care. Everything is just a bit of a means to an end. He's punch-drunk on what he thinks needs to happen with the whole Abbadon situation that he's not really thinking clearly. That's going to get worse and worse as we get towards the end of the season.

What has it been like playing this darker version of Dean?
Personally it's been fun. To be honest, from the very beginning of the series, I always enjoyed Dean's comedic aspects and the humor in which he was portrayed, and whenever the situation got heavy or emotional, there was always a bit of levity that Dean was able to bring to the situation. And I really feel like he's been stripped of all that this year. He's going through something that he hasn't had to deal with before. It's heavy, and he's not able to find that lighter side in himself. As an actor, personally, after playing the character so much, to not being able to lighten it up, it's new territory. It's been dark in Dean's world for a while, and I'm hoping that someone will open up a window soon.

Adding to that darkness is the fact that his relationship with Sam has soured to a shocking point. Did watching the Ghostfacers fight in the exact same way that Sam and Dean are fighting have any effect on the brothers' relationship?
It was definitely a tip of the hat to what Dean and Sam are dealing with in the fact of doing something that may or may not ever be forgiven, so it's to be seen. We're in the middle of shooting episode 20 right now, and I'm seeing breakdowns of 21, which is really a more action-packed episode, but emotionally the story lines are going to start to come to a head here in the next three episodes. I have not seen past 21 yet so I don't know how it unfolds or what the resolve is, but I would imagine that it's leading towards a big resolution or a big cliffhanger. [laughs]

What has it been like to portray this damaged relationship with Sam when their strong, loving, brotherly bond has been the core of "Supernatural" for the entire series up until now? A lot of fans are taking it pretty hard.

It's tough. They kind of did something similar to this a few seasons ago where they stripped the brothers of all of their assets. They took the car away, they lost Bobby, it was all lost. But at the very least, they had each other. So to now sever that bond that seemed to be so strong has been really hard. Luckily it doesn't happen off camera. Jared and I can still joke about around like always, but playing that when the cameras are rolling is difficult. There's always been a camaraderie between the two brothers, and to have that basically shattered this season, it's been difficult to look at the pieces of what it used to be.

Do you think that's why Dean has forged this new relationship with Crowley? I've got to say, I never thought I'd see the day when Dean was almost ... well, friends with the King of Hell.
I think Dean and Crowley's relationship this season has really spawned from Dean's means to an end and the Mark of Cain. He sees Crowley as just a way to get the blade [that he needs to kill Abbadon]. He needs him as much as Crowley needs Dean, so Dean figures that he can salvage whatever's left to be salvaged by getting rid of Abbadon. He's going to do whatever he can to do that, and if that means having to make a deal with the devil, then that's what he'll do. 

At this point, Dean's relationships have gone off the rails. He doesn't have his brother anymore, so to speak; he feels like he's let everyone down around him; he feels like he's scraping the bottom of the barrel. And how metaphorically perfect, when someone's scraping the bottom of the barrel to get in bed with the devil. I think it's very telling where Dean is mentally that he could even entertain a relationship with Crowley the way he has, and whether that relationship goes any further remains to be seen. I think Dean is just really cut and dried and black and white right now. He literally just sees Crowley as a means to an end.

Dean's also been separated from Castiel for a while. When Cas returns, he'll have some opinions on Dean's new "friendship" with Crowley, right?
I would hope so! I don't know how exactly that's going to play out, but I assume that Castiel is not going to want to see Dean go down that road any further than he already has. If he can do or say something to Dean that can turn him around, I'm sure he will do it. Dean's had to do the same thing for Cas in the past, so I feel like it's only right for Cas to want the same thing and do what he can to not only salvage Dean as a person but also to salvage Dean and Sam as brothers. At this point, part of Cas' mission is to help these two brothers in not only what they mean to the bigger picture, but what they mean to each other.

"Supernatural" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Photo/Video credit: The CW