Last week may have ended on a positive note—Rowena trapping dozens of ghosts in the ghost bomb crystal—but that a finite solution to an infinite problem. Like trying to stop a flood with a surfboard, something more permanent is required and considering the immediacy of the problem, Rowena is Team Winchester’s only hope.
Knowing that the barrier created by Belphegor won’t last, Team Winchester (and Belphie) head out to the rupture with Rowena ready to try a Transubstantiation spell designed to sew the fissure up nice and tight. Her initial attempt is rebuffed, the billions of souls escaping Hell, all of them angry and desperate, working towards a single purpose of freedom overloading her ability to contain them. Belphegor enters with a new plan: take a jaunt down into Hell to retrieve Lilith’s Crook, the Little Bo Peep-like staff—it’s a horn, really—created by the Mother of Demons to call her demonic flock back home, should they go native on her in their travels to Earth.
Despite Belphie’s demonic nature (let’s be honest, they don’t have a gaggle of options to choose from) the boys take up Belphie’s plan which, on its face is simple and dangerous; he’ll head Downstairs, retrieve the horn and, once the demons are all back in Hell, Rowena and Sam will perform the spell and Dean will deliver the coup de grâce, dropping the bomb into the fissure and closing Hell for business. But as Cas later states, “something always goes wrong”.
One thing that Crowley’s bureaucratic managing of Hell did was, if for but a moment, make me believe that a demon-like Belphegor was content in running those primo 9-to-5 torture hours as the status quo. Demons are always looking for the big advance and, for Belphegor, Lilith’s Crook is his Golden Ticket.
After barely surviving an attack by Ardat, Belphegor (as gloating demons are wont to do) lays the truth out for Cas: yes, blowing the horn will call all the escaped souls back to Hell but he left out one key detail. The horn is a siphon that will infuse the horn’s user with all those souls and, as we’ve seen before, in Supernatural souls are power. “I’ll be a god” he declares proudly before blowing the horn.
Cas is able to stop Belphegor before the end, smiting him while, on the surface, Rowena makes the biggest play; sacrificing herself in order to end the threat and confirm Death’s prophecy of her demise at Sam’s hands.
Though the narrative in “The Rupture” is a straightforward (yet compelling) story, the lingering emotions are from two extremely powerful character moments. The first falls between Rowena and Sam, after she shares the news that he must kill her to complete the spell and save the world. For most of her Supernatural run, Rowena has been a thorn in the Winchesters’ sides, only these last few years turning from whimsical, yet troublesome witch to a pseudo-member of Team Winchester (while still maintaining her impish nature). Her entreaty to Sam is a marvelous scene, carried more by Ruth Connell’s emotion-filled Scottish lilt than the painful heartbreak etched across Jared Padelecki’s face. It’s not just that Rowena dies (and for good this time) — though the finality does put a lump in my throat — rather, it’s that this maddeningly selfish woman who’s survived centuries by not fully caring about anyone faces a permanent death and an unenviable final resting place in Hell with unflinching strength. Despite her history on the show, Rowena’s final moments are that befitting a hero.
The finality of Rowena’s death is only challenged by Castiel and Dean’s confrontation back at the Bunker. Tired of Dean’s passive-aggressive nature, Cas finally calls his friend out on the behavior. Knucklehead that Dean may be in this situation, his behavior is not only true to character but, to some extent, understandable. He still blames Cas for Mary’s death, the angel’s keeping Jack’s soul issues a secret from the brothers. Knowing there is really no way back to the way things used to be, Castiel says his goodbyes. “I think it’s time for me to move on” he tells a silent Dean whose only response is asking Cas “where will you go”. There may be 12 episodes left in which these two can make amends but somehow Castiel’s goodbye seemed every bit as final as Rowena’s sacrifice.
Despite an unexpected wrap to this newest Apocalypse-level event, “The Rupture” does justice to the mini-arc. More than that, it begs the question of what the Big Bad will be for the final season. Losing characters as we did, even if some felt cheap, drove home the point that the series is marching its way towards the end. They may have won the day but the scars this fight gave them—Dean with his residual anger and soon-to-be regret over his treatment of Cas and Sam’s guilt at killing Rowena—will be important emotional arcs that will follow the Winchesters all the way until the curtain finally closes.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- Though Rowena’s death was one befitting such a long-standing character on the show, Ketch’s demise was somewhat unexpected and…disappointing. It was a powerful moment, his ability to look certain death in the eyes and not give up his allies, but I can’t help but lament at what could-have-been between he and Rowena. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t lined up next to the brothers’ that irritated me but I have to admit that, though I may not like how Ketch died, he went down fighting.
- And then there’s Jack…or Belphegor. Even though the kid we grew to know and love has been gone since last season, watching Castiel burn his body to ash was tough to watch, in part because the finality (there’s that word again) the action was for Cas in saying goodbye to Jack. In a way, it may have acted as a catharsis that pressed him towards confronting Dean and eventually leaving Team Winchester. We’ll see him back sometime this season but, with his powers diminished and looking as if the fight has left him, what type of Castiel will we get?