It’s a Rotten Life. Lucifer plays Clarence and takes Sam on a short review of his past, trying to convince him that Dean has kept Sam from being the hero was meant to be.
Being the hero he was meant to be means sacrificing himself for the greater good. And that sacrifice is to be Lucifer’s vessel, of course. Sam doesn’t buy this at all.
Meanwhile Dean is driving to the place he was with Amara before she was smote. She had spirited him out of the way to safety. He can’t get near the place because he becomes sick from the residual angel power. Sort of like instant radiation poisoning.
Cas shows up and offers to investigate. He runs into another angel, a lowly clerk angel (works in birth/death statistics) who is there to find out if the Darkness was destroyed as well.
Dean finds out that Sam is in Hell, picks up a mysterious box from Billie the Reaper, she of the lovely voice, and heads down into Hell.
We do find out that Rowena was working with Lucifer. The teaser from the end of last season, with Crowley opening presents with his mum, is a dream of Rowena’s. Lucifer dressed in a Santa suit shows up at the end of the dream and skewers Crowley with a candy cane. He’s been communicating with Rowena through dreams, as he has with Sam through visions and dreams. Rowena is sure that he can stop the Darkness and that she will rule by his side when he prevails.
The mysterious object is a witch catcher, a hideous looking neck halo that will put Rowena under Crowley’s control so that they can make her get Lucifer under control again.
The clerk angel tells Castiel that they are both expendable, then promptly proves it by getting eaten by Amara. Castiel tries to kill her, but Amara easily overpowers him. Amara tells him he is expendable, not fresh enough to eat, and sends him back with a message. His chest reads, “I am coming”. After she sends him off, we can see that she doesn’t look very steady on her feet.
Rowena prepares an incantation that will keep Lucifer locked up. Currently he can extend influence outside the cage but can’t get to earth without a meat suit. She says it won’t work if Sam says yes, because Lucifer will be tethered to the earth. Sam tells Lucifer no in no uncertain terms. Good boy. Lucifer responds by beating him, which causes Dean and Castiel to run to Sam’s aid. Lucifer teleports them into the cage with a snap of his fingers and a four man cage match starts. Rowena finishes the spell and Lucifer disappears in a clap of lightning.
All seems well and Crowley tells the three to get the Hell out of Hell. He keeps Rowena in the witch collar and when we next see them we see her rubbing his temples. He asks her why she hates him so much. I suppose the collar also coerces witches into telling the truth because she tells him. She tells him it’s because he reminds her of herself when she was young and powerless, reminds her of the laird that told her he loved her and then left her, and that if she didn’t hate him she might love him, and love was weakness. This is a very poignant scene, not just because Rowena gets the kind of back story we always knew she had, that of a particularly female powerlessness and trauma, but because there are tears in Crowley’s eyes. His face holds no expression while she is talking and he does not speak, but his eyes speak volumes.
Castiel bursts in and interrupts them. He looks sly and happy and more stylish. Rowena kens immediately to the fact that Castiel has been possessed by Lucifer and is thrilled. Crowley takes a little longer to figure it out but it is amazing the way his face changes from annoyance to terror.
Lucifer-in-Castiel asks Rowena if she is the only one who can put him back behind bars and she says she is, although she could be lying. So he kills her. He then advances on Crowley, saying he wants to talk, and I assume he wants something and will get it because Crowley is completely overpowered.
Thoughts: I didn’t find the flashbacks of Sam’s life and decisions too interesting, but I also didn’t find them too traumatic. None of the points the devil wanted to harp on were anything Sam had done wrong. He was trying to convince Sam that he had led less than a heroic life, which just doesn’t fly. Sam does tend to look at the big picture, the greater good, while Dean looks to the personal. But they both decided in this episode to trust in their abilities and those of their comrades rather than giving in to fear and despair. Sniff. My boys are growing up.
I am going to miss Rowena, if she is truly dead. Lying on the stone floor with your head twisted around is a good indication of death. It’s not that I like her that much. It’s not possible for me to like her, even knowing where she comes from and what she’s been through. There is so much vitriol and hate coming out of her even when she has a reason for anger that it’s off putting. But I love watching the character! From the outfits to the textbook narcissistic personality disorder-the jabs, the whining, the casual dismissal if she gets caught in a lie- she is always entertaining. And now she will never figure out that love is not weakness. It is attraction to power and evil that did her in. That, and the fact that she’s the Sarah Palin of witches. Thank you, Ruth Connell, for your portrayal of Rowena. I will miss you. Unless of course, you are back next week. You never know on Supernatural.
Cas did a stupid, stupid thing. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s feeling that he was expendable and the boys weren’t, or his great fear of the Darkness. He had just been not only beaten but humiliated by Amara. They weren’t even losing the cage fight. He had to have known that there was a plan afoot to contain Lucifer. And because Sam and Dean weren’t in on Castiel’s decision, they don’t know that Cas is not Cas yet.
Questions: A lot of questions from the midseason finale were answered. Rowena was in on it, and the Archangel Michael is out of the picture, according to Lucifer. New questions include wondering what the devil wants. His Kingdom of Hell back? The apocalypse again? Or will he join Amara?
Will Cas live through this? Sam and Dean were specially bred to be vessels for Lucifer and Michael. (One of the reasons that cupids are not entirely beneficial to humans. ) Castiel was never an archangel. And how do you have two angels in one meat suit, anyway?
New info: The Darkness can’t be killed by the entire power of the angels that are alive now. But she was injured.
Next week it looks like Sam and Dean are dealing with a possessed Castiel, and a really ugly harpy or banshee. (no, not Rowena).