October 24, 2019
“It’s given me clarity. It’s shown me that everything I did before. For wealth. For Magic. For myself… meant nothing. And it took everything from me. Everyone I loved. My family. Oskar… My son… I’m a flawed, petty, evil creature, Samuel. I don’t know if I can be redeemed. But I have to try. And I do wish there was another way. ”
A group of hunters stand watch as the ghosts pummel the warding, trying to break free. Team Free Will is in the cemetery. Rowena has a spell that she is confident will patch up Hell’s crumbling walls and put things right.
They walk past a giant gaping maw in the ground that is still belching out souls. Well, I guess that answers my question about the localized nature of the event. But there’s no time for that—to the Carver mausoleum!
The ground around the mausoleum is still littered with the corpses left behind when Belphejack expelled the ghosts. That’s going to raise some questions when the good people of Harlan are finally allowed back into town.
Sam seals the door with an iron bar while Dean and Cas lay down a salt line perimeter. Rowena shrugs off her jacket and gets to work. I’m not loving the shade of pink she’s wearing. Nor the dress—it’s too billowy and nightgowny.
Oh, shit. Is that foreshadowing? IS BOBO GOING TO KILL ROWENA?
Rowena casts a transubstantiation spell from the Book of the Damned … and I guess we’re okay now with using its magic? Not worried about the biblically negative reaction that will ensue? The price that dark magic always requires?
Godammit. Rowena is totally going die isn’t she?
She begins the incantation and her eyes flare purple with power. I’m glad Bobo remembered that, after the events of “Various & Sundry Villains,” Rowena is the most powerful witch in existence. But even her magic isn’t a match for all the souls in Hell. The spell fails and she collapses to the ground.
“We’re all going to die.”
Rowena gathers herself and gasps for a drink. Sam hands her a canteen of water. She snaps, “A real drink.” Dean pulls the flask from his pocket and the witch takes a good long pull from it.
Rowena explains that the spell put her into communion with the wall. She could feel how weak it was and she could feel why. Her voice is choked as she says she could feel them … all of the them. “The spirits. Their anger, their hatred, writhing and raging.” She says there are too many. Wild and desperate and angry.
Rowena takes a deep breath to steady herself. Her voice takes on a tone of finality.
“Together they’re too strong. Those walls will fall and there’s no magic on Earth can stop it.”
Maybe if she’d gotten there sooner … but now, at best, they have a matter of hours. Dean picks up his shotgun, ready to take out as many souls as they can, while they can. He tells Rowena to fix up some more soul catching crystals, but she cuts him off. She laughs at the idea and her voice has an edge of mania. She says it would be like throwing mouse traps at the Great Plague! She yells that it’s over!
Quiet settles over the room and this new reality sinks in. Belphejack is like …
… and walks out.
Not sure when demons became immune to iron, but there you go. Dean gets shouty, insisting that they’re not just going to give up!
“THAT’S NOT WHO WE ARE!”
And I love that, despite last week’s existential crisis that nothing is real and nothing matters, when the world is on the verge of ending bloody, Dean still chooses to fight.
Sam is like, cool, cool we’ll do that just as soon as we give Rowena a minute to catch her breath. She sits huddled in a corner while Dean methodically loads up a bandolier with salt rounds. He insists again some more that they’re going to end this and finally be free, just like Sam said. He rails against God and his “sloppy-ass ghostpocalypse.” Is that Chuck’s ending??
“After everything that he has put us through, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some glorified fanboy get the last word.”
Castiel follows Belphejack to the yawning Hellmouth. The demon says it’s neither a door nor a gate, but a tear. Chuck stamped his foot and Hell ripped open.
Belphejack has a plan to bind it up again. He explains that when Lilith began sending demons topside, she needed a way to control her flock. So she forged a crook–really, more of a horn—that can retrieve all of Hell’s lost creatures and bring them straight back home. Belphejack says they’ve never heard of Lilith’s crook because she never needed to use it. It was enough that her minions knew she could.
And of course when Crowley took over, he had other forms of discipline.
Belphejack says the crook is in Lilith’s Chamber—long-sealed but now wide open and ripe for the taking. He proposes going to Hell, getting the crook, sounding the crook, sucking all the ghosts back into Hell, and having a nice, cold pint.
Rowena says she’ll use a spell of her own devising to slam the door shut. She calls it a healing spell of a kind. If the Hellmouth is truly a wound caused by Chuck, the spell will undo the damage and the tear will heal itself up.
Rowena ticks off a simple list of ingredients, adding that she’ll need quiet to perform the spell … and an assistant. She calls dibs on Samuel, calling him the most seasoned witch they’ve got. She says they’ll also need someone stationed next to the rupture to toss in the bomb after she and Sam magically light the fuse. She warns that whoever does this—looking right at Dean—will have to be unprotected. No salt circles. Dean flashes a tight smile and says it sounds like fun.
Belphejack raises his hand. He has a question: who’s coming with him? He says he wants protection and stares pointedly at Cas. Dean is like, cool cool the angel will go. He’s been before. Castiel’s head slowly swivels. He looks at Dean all like, OH WILL I, before grudgingly agreeing.
Ketch snaps awake in the hospital, momentarily disoriented. The nurse standing by his bed says the folks who dropped him off claimed he was injured in a hunting accident.
The folks who dropped him off …
The folks who … OH, YOU MEAN THE EMTS? WHO PICKED HIM UP IN A SUBURBAN SUBDIVISION? THOSE FOLKS?
Ketch hauls himself out of bed and begins disconnecting himself from machines. He says he has friends who need his help. The nurse insists that he can’t leave until a resident checks him out. She turns and is relieved to see a doctor standing in the doorway. Dr. Ardat waves a hand and snaps the nurse’s neck.
Ketch puts up a good fight for someone who has recently had several bullets removed from his body, but he’s no match for the demon. Ardat says he had one job. She questions why Ketch would protect one “profoundly irritating demon,” before realizing Belphegor isn’t the one Ketch is protecting. He stares the demon down and chokes out that he won’t betray his friends … not at any price.
Ardat shoves her hand through his chest and rips out Ketch’s still-beating heart.
Belphejack and Cas stand at the lip of the Hellmouth. The demon observes that the angel’s role in this is pretty dangerous—not that his friends seemed at all concerned. Cas refuses to rise to the bait. He simply asks how they get down into Hell. Belphejack peers into the maw, joking that he doesn’t see any stairs. Cas gives him a good hard shove from behind and then jumps in after him.
Hunter Stevie arrives at the mausoleum with the spell ingredients: lavender, myrrh, and one owl skull.
She reports that they’re keeping a lid on the townsfolk and that the ghosts are still amassed on the edge of town trying to break through the warding. Sam says she and the other hunters need to be on the other side of the barrier, ready. Because if their long-shot magical Hail Mary goes sideways, the hunters will be the only thing standing between Hell’s risen damned and the world.
“No pressure, right?”
Cas and Belphejack walk through the empty halls of Hell. The demon wonders again that everyone was so eager to escape—he likes Hell. Castiel is deeply annoyed that he was huxed into coming Downtown when clearly there’s no one else there. Belphejack admits he just wanted the company. Can’t they be friends? He says Sam and Dean are warming up to him. Why can’t Cas?
Because he’s an abomination who is wearing Jack like a coat? Castiel bluntly tells the demon that Sam and Dean are just using him. “Don’t mistake that for caring about you, because I can assure you, they don’t.”
Belphejack leans in close and asks Cas if he learned that the hard way.
They reach Lilith’s Chamber and hear noises coming from inside. It sounds monstery, but it’s cool, Belphejack knows him. The demon Malfayan is just taking advantage of the chaos to loot Lilith’s treasures. It appears he’s not the first. Cas is like, I DIDN’T COME HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS, YOU DIE NOW.
Belphejack scans the room and settles on a small wooden casket marked with Enochian. He’s certain that the crook is inside. Castiel says the writing is a song of praise to Lucifer and an incantation to open the box. But Belphejack already knew that. The angel reads the words aloud; the box remains locked. Belphejack suggests the verses are meant to be sung.
Castiel heaves a full-body sigh and starts singing.
Dean takes up his position by the Hellmouth and WHY IS HE STANDING SO CLOSE TO THE EDGE? I mean, I realize that the gaping maw is CGI that was inserted in post-production so Jensen doesn’t really know where he’s standing, but still. SO CLOSE! TOO CLOSE! He takes cover behind a large tombstone, sachet of DOOM in hand, and waits.
Sam is distracted, looking to the door, certain he should be outside fighting. Rowena tells him to stay on task. Dean is doing his part. It’s time for Sam to do his.
The latch on the Enochian box pops. Cas opens the lid and pulls out the crook. Belphejack says it’s go time—Cas is going to need a head start if he’s going to escape Hell before Rowena seals the rift. The demon holds out his hand and Cas hesitates … before he can hand over the crook he’s knocked off his feet and sent flying into a wall.
Ardat is standing in the doorway. Dean was more than happy to divulge the plan—and Belphejack’s location—when he thought he was texting with Ketch.
Ardat presses Ketch’s gladius under Belphejack’s jaw. She says Lilith’s crook was a solid play for power, but that Belphejack will never take the throne. Castiel tackles her and fight fight gets his ass handed to him fight. And really? REALLY?
Belphejack kills Ardat and disputes her assessment of his intentions. He doesn’t want to rule Hell! Don’t be silly.
He wants to be a god.
Surprise! Belphejack has been playing them this whole time! Who could have seen that coming? Certainly not these dummies. Belphejack says the crook isn’t just a leash; it’s a syphon. One that will allow him to suck all the souls and the demons into himself. It’s Godstiel Part 2, Damnation Boogaloo.
He sounds the horn and it echoes through the cemetery. The ghosts start zooming back into the Hellmouth. Rowena tells Sam it’s time. They join hands and begin the incantation. The sachet of DOOM flares purple with power. Dean lobs it in and the sides of the hole slowly begin the crumble.
Castiel fights his way to Belphejack, finally taking the demon to the ground and breaking the tether. He beats the pretty off the demon until he pleads with Cas to stop. He looks up at Cas through empty, unseeing sockets and bleats that it’s him. It’s Jack.
Cas spits out the word. He opens his fist and spreads his fingers wide. His eyes flare blue and power glows from his palm … but he hesitates. There’s a tiny part of him buried deep, deep down inside that holds out a hope that it could be true.
But it’s not.
It takes an effort just to push his hand through the air, but the angel finally does. He claps his hand onto Belphejack’s forehead, burning out the demon wearing his son.
But he doesn’t just burn out the demon and all the souls inside him. He melts Jack’s face OFF HIS FOOL SKULL, EEP! In fact, he reduces Jack’s entire body to ash, leaving nothing but charred bones.
Damn. Cas did that.
Sam calls Dean for a sitrep. Dean says the hole is closing up, but something doesn’t feel right.
Rowena goes to her bag, pulls out a big honking knife and jabs it into her shoulder just below the collar bone. She roots around inside the wound until she gets her fingers on a small sachet. She pulls it out and tosses it aside. She tells Sam it’s her last resurrection spell. She won’t be needing it. Rowena grits that Belphejack’s plan might have been their only shot, but it wasn’t hers.
“Magic can do anything, Samuel. Can contain anything. Even the vast multitudes of Hell.”
Rowena tells Sam that she can soak them up, for a time, if she pays the price. Because dark magic always has a price. She stands facing the door, contemplating what she’s about to do.
Rowena turns back to Sam. She says death is an infinite vessel. A spell so simple it draws its power from its caster. It only requires two ingredients. Sam hasn’t clocked yet what Rowena is telling him. He thinks she’s been holding out. Tears begin to fill her eyes as she explains that the first ingredient is her own still coursing blood …
“And the last is my final breath.”
Rowena puts on a brave, bright face and says she’ll absorb the ghosts and demons and return them to Hell. In time her body will break down and they’ll be released right where they belong. Sam searches for the words that will convince Rowena to abandon this plan. She smiles at the effort but cuts him off.
“To perform the spell I have to die.” She holds out the big honking knife to Sam. She says it has to be him that kills her. By his hand, that’s what all of Billie’s books say.
HEY, SPEAKING OF BILLIE, MAYBE NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO SUMMON HER.
Sam pushes the knife away and says screw the books. AND ALSO LET’S CALL BILLIE? NO? THAT’S NOT A THING WE’RE GOING TO DO?
Rowena’s control begins to crumble. She says she can’t do it herself. She can’t. It has to be him. As Sam casts about for some other way, any other way, Rowena presses the knife into his hand. Her eyes shine with intensity. She says she doesn’t care about anything enough to take her own life. Not him, not Dean, not even the world.
“But I believe in prophecy! I believe in magic. I know this in my bones. It has to be this way.”
Rowena shouts at him to do it! Kill her! The moment hangs between them. The knife is in Sam’s hand, but he doesn’t move. Rowena puts her hand on his shoulder and smiles. Her tone softens. She says she knows they’ve gotten quite fond of each other, haven’t they?
But will Sam let the world die? Let Dean die? Just so she can live?
The word slips out of Sam’s mouth. He pulls her into an embrace and pushes the knife into her body. Sam holds her for a moment and then steps back. Rowena takes him by the chin and fixes him with a look.
“That’s my boy.”
Cas is standing with Dean next to the Hellmouth. Not sure how he managed to get topside. Maybe there were stairs. The angel explains that Belphejack is dead and the crook is destroyed. Dean gapes at him, trying to process how their plan went so spectacularly sideways when souls begin to swirl past them. They follow their path to see Rowena walking towards them with Sam trailing behind. The souls are flowing into Rowena’s body through the glowing purple wound in her belly.
She gasps with the effort of staying on her feet. She finally reaches the edge of the Hellmouth.
Goodbye Rowena. You got the one thing that not many characters are afforded on this show anymore: a compelling, earned character arc. I’m glad you finally got a good death. One that was worthy of you. But it sucks that you had to die at all. You were a delight.
Back at the Bunker, Dean and his olive henley of hotness check in on Sam. He’s sitting alone in his room. I imagine he’s been sitting there a good little while. Dean says everything seems to be fine in Harlan—or as good as can be expected. Also, they found Ketch’s body. He says it was bad. Probably a demon. It’s not news that Sam has the emotional bandwidth to process right now.
Dean tries to temper the loss. They did it. Chuck threw one last apocalypse at them, and they beat it. Sam sits silently, wondering at the cost. Dean says what Sam did … Rowena … he didn’t have a choice. Sam winces at the mention of her name. Sam gives a conceding head nod, but I think he knows he did have a choice. He picked the world and he picked his brother. And that may feel right, but it doesn’t feel good.
Dean pours himself a glass of sweet, sweet healing booze from the fancy cut glass decanter in the library. Castiel walks into the room. Man, I’m old enough to remember Seasons 4 and 5 when their last 10 minutes of caring and sharing were my favorite parts of the show.
Cas asks how Sam is doing. He says he’s sorry about Rowena. Dean asks why the angel didn’t just stick to the damn plan. Cas is like, because all hail your new god Belphejack? Dean barks that they would have figured it out! With Rowena! Cas flatly says that the plan changed. Something went wrong. Something always goes wrong.
And they’re maybe both right? Together with Rowena they could have defeated Belphegod, just like they’ve defeated all the other Big Bads with delusions of grandeur. But at what cost? Cas couldn’t have known Rowena was going to sacrifice herself. He saw an immediate and imminent threat and was in a position to end it. So he acted.
But Dean is too angry to listen. All he hears is the part about plans always going wrong. On that, they’re in agreement. Dean finally looks the angel in the eye. He asks why that something always seems to be Cas.
If this were a fanfic, this is the point at which they would have hate sex.
Dean looks like he realizes he’s gone too far, but it’s out there now. Cas absorbs Dean’s words like a physical punch. He sadly says Dean used to trust him … used to give him the benefit of the doubt …
I immediately thought of Season 6 and “The Man Who Would Be King,” when the boys discovered that Crowley wasn’t dead and that Castiel had been lying to them. A time when, in Castiel’s own words, Dean was “trying so hard to be loyal, with every instinct telling him otherwise.”
Faith can only be broken so many times before it shatters completely.
Castiel says his powers are failing. He chides Dean for not being willing to listen, even though the angel has tried over and over to talk to Dean about it. And has he though? I mean, for one thing, Castiel’s abilities vary from episode to episode … sometimes, even within the same scene, so.
If he’s speaking specifically about his current powering down, it’s been less than a day since he tried (and failed) to heal Sam and Ketch. At what point during the whole ‘trying to stop another Apocalypse’ thing did he think Dean was going to have a skinny minute to talk?
But hey, you know what might have gotten Dean’s attention? IF CAS TOLD HIM ABOUT THE NOT GOOD VERY BAD ENERGY CURRENTLY LURKING IN THE HOLE IN SAM’S SHOULDER. I bet that would get him to listen.
Instead, Cas brings their current schism back to Mary. He says Dean blames Cas for her death. And again, it’s been a matter of days—at most a week or two—since Mary died and the hits have come hard and fast. Has Dean had time to grieve? Have any of them? Dean silently nods his head—it could be an admission or an acknowledgment that there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Cas takes it to mean that there’s no longer a place for him in Team Free Will. He says maybe it’s time for him to move on as the mournful cellos of “The Family Theme” groan over the scene. Cas walks out of the bunker and Dean lets him go.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.