“You’re so overcome by guilt that you can’t stand to lose Dean again and he could never lose you. And so instead of choosing the world you choose each other, no matter how many innocent people die.” Lucifer kind of summed up eleven seasons of our show in one pithy little verbal nutshell, didn’t he? We’re back from hiatus, people, and there’s a whole hell of a lot of hell going on. Let’s discuss this episode, where Sam’s still in the cage, Amara is dead (or is she?) and Rowena’s crushing hard on the cutest leader of Hell that she’s not related to.
1. I’m Dreaming of a Spite Christmas
Did anyone else think that the weird hiatus teaser was actually going to make it into the episode? I must say, I did not. But seeing Crowley in his PJs, whooping about getting a Sam Funko Pop figure for Christmas and Rowena in her blinking nose and antlers was delightful enough to bring me another post-holiday grin. Rowena dreams of a Fergus kebab on a candy cane spit and who’s the one to impale him? Lucifer himself. Rowena, it seems, is smitten with the man in the red meatsuit. The reason the runes failed in the spell that sent Sam straight into Lucifer’s cage? Why she was so calm when it did? She’s working with Lucifer, of course, and she intends to be his queen.
2. You Gotta Have Faith
Sam, looking as defeated as he was in the last episode, is still holding his own with Lucifer himself. How? This.
Sam: “You’ll taunt me, and you’ll torture me, and I’ll say no. And eventually, sooner than you think, my brother’s gonna walk through that door and kick your ass.”
Lucifer, laughing: “Dean? You’re betting on Dean?”
Sam: “I always have.”
Lucifer threatens that he could inflict the worst pain imaginable if he wants—but he doesn’t need to. He knows he can kill Amara and he knows Sam will say yes, because he needs that archangel power to save the world. But Sam? Sam knows he doesn’t need him at all. Sam is betting on his family. His friends. He knows they can find a way together to take both Amara and Lucifer off the board. And that faith is the only thing keeping him from siding with the silver-tongued devil.
3. Scattered Pictures
Raise your hand if you gasped with joy when you saw Colin Ford’s name in the credits (waves hand frantically). Lucifer tries to remind Sam how he once saved the world all by his lonesome, how he once even beat the devil himself, by taking him on a trip down memory lane. First stop? Sam as a “dashing young beanpole” who gets the girl. Sure, the whole flash-back-dance was great (perhaps with the exception of Amelia and the reminder of the wince-worthy beginning of Season Eight) but the best part for me was seeing Colin Ford once again as teen Sam. Ford, even in this tiny moment, captures the sweet, nerdy, earnest nature of Sam just as well as he always has. Said it before and I’ll say it again: If it could work logistically, my dream spinoff is Ford and Dylan Everett riding as the Supernatural version of the Hardy Boys. I don’t even care who’s taller. (Recapper’s note: If flashing back to Amelia made me cringe, flashing back to “Swan Song,” one of the greatest episodes of television ever produced, was a bittersweet treat. If I were forced to pick a favorite episode, which would be angst ridden agony for me, “Swan Song” is the episode I would choose.)
4. Car Sick
Dean is on his way to see if the smited Amara has truly bitten the dust, and he’s placing a few calls first. The voicemail greetings? Hilarious.
Sam’s Phone: (Dean’s voice) “Hey, Sam can’t talk right now because he’s waxing, like, everything. But leave a message. ” (Sam’s voice) “Dean? What are you doing with my phone? Dean? Come on!”
Crowley’s Phone: “Thank you for phoning Crowley, King of Hell. For demon deals, press one. To report a sighting of that ginger whore Rowena, press two.”
Apparently we’ll never know what the number three option is because Dean is too sick to listen. He pulls over to throw up and Cas meets him in the pimpmobile to let him know he has smiting sickness and he can’t get any closer to where Amara was struck, lest he be turned into a pillar of salt. He sends Dean away to go look for Sam while he checks on the status of Amara. Before he does, we see Dean is still torn about her. He wants Cas, should she be dead, to bring her body out. And if she’s not, Cas asks? Dean’s advice is simple: run. A few thoughts. First? Kudos to Dean for not puking in Baby (not that he ever would.) Second? Dean is very wise to not let Cas take his temperature with his index finger (shudder.) Third? Cas is going to look for Amara in Dean’s stead? Oh boy. From past experience we know— Cas alone? On a job? That can’t possibly go well.
5. Into the Woods
Cas looks for Amara in the deep, dark woods (despite it being mid-afternoon) and bumps into bookkeeping nerd angel Ambriel, sent from Heaven as an acceptable loss should Amara still be alive—and pissed. Ambriel tells Cas he’s expendable, too. “You help, but Sam and Dean Winchester are the real heroes,” she says, and I think that really sticks in Castiel’s heavenly craw. Ambriel finds Amara first, only to get soul-sucked and lose not only her grace but her human’s life. Amara digs the hit, and is able to regain all of her darkness that had blackened the very sky. She knows Cas, and she makes it clear: Cas is afraid to die, and there is no way he can defeat her, so it’s a good deal that she wants him to do a job. She going to send him straight to Hell to tell everyone there she is coming via her carved message on Cas’ chest, even though the act of dismissing him causes her to stagger and stumble. Wait a minute. Is Amara’s weakness angel grace? Guess time will tell.
6. “Son of a witch, actually.”
If Rowena has a bedroom she must have a pinup poster of Lucifer on the wall, because she has declared she’s his, faster than a Directioner devotes herself to Harry Styles. Crowley is pissed at her betrayal (Really, Crowley? This surprises you?) because he knows that while he’s a bad thing Lucifer is a worse thing, and he’ll kill humans and demons alike. Before Rowena can get any more puffed up on her visions of grandeur, Crowley tells Dean Sam is in hell with Lucifer, Dean sings “Camptown Races” and gets a witch-catcher collar from Billie the reaper. He and Crowley drug and trap Rowena tight to make her cast a spell to send Lucifer back home to Michael (who apparently is so bibbledy he sits in the corner singing show tunes and playing his little…harp…if you catch my drift). Crowley intends to make Rowena his slave with the collar and, as she hops on one foot at his command, spitting “Bollocks!” under her breath we see that she is well and truly caught this time, and not even a hamster can help her now.
7. Next up? Cage Match!
Crowley: “Don’t worry about Sam.”
Dean: “Oh, I’m sorry. Have you met me?”
Dean, of course, is going to get Sam back no matter what it takes. But before he can get there, the memory tour needs to end and the spell needs time to work, and Sam cannot say yes before it does or all is lost. Lucifer continues to remind Sam that he is his only option to save the world and if he wants to be the old Sam—the brave Sam—he has to let Lucifer wear him like a prom dress. Mark Pellegrino remains captivating as Lucifer. He swings back and forth between loathsome bastard and sanest man in the room with ease, the cadence of his voice showing Lucifer’s ability to manipulate. And as attractive as that is? Sam says no. Over and over again, no. “Let’s say you gank her? Then what?…Then you go about starting the apocalypse again, because you’re an old dog and that’s your old trick.” He continues, “I think that whoever wins, you or The Darkness, everyone else loses. So no. My answer is no.” Sam isn’t operating out of guilt or fear. Sam, our bright and brilliant Man of Letters, is operating on logic and belief. He knows there is a way out, and he knows they can find it, no matter the cost. “I’m ready to die. I’m ready to watch people I love die. But I am not ready to be your bitch.” And as he says this? Sam has never looked stronger.
8. An Angel and a Winchester End Up in a Cage…
While waiting for Rowena’s five minute spell special to take effect, Dean and Cas hear Lucifer’s Plan B in Sam’s groans of pain coming from the cage. Though Crowley says “Don’t!” they run in to save him, Cas adorably shouting “Hey! Assbutt!” as he is wont to do in Lucifer’s presence. Lucifer zaps them into the cage to beat the stuffing out of them, too. “Scared?” Lucifer asks Dean. “Not even a little,” Dean replies. And, after an impromptu sashay to “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel” and a reminder to Cas that he is the only one who can beat The Darkness, he pounds Cas, while Dean goes to Sam, cupping his head in his hands. “We can’t win,” Sam gasps, and Dean tells him they just have to hold out until Rowena’s spell takes effect. Lucifer begins choking Dean, telling Sam to say yes or Dean dies. Cas attacks him, getting a pounding once more. “So, last words?” Lucifer asks Cas before the spell is cast, and everyone is blasted with a blinding white light. Rowena’s done it, and gets no thanks for her trouble. Crowley tells them their teamup is over and Rowena stays with him. And also? “Get the hell out of hell.” As they leave, Cas looks off. Weird. Sam asks about it but all Dean, suddenly the master of understatement, can reply is “Tough day.” Sam wonders if he made the right decision but Dean won’t let him go down that path. “The Darkness is bad. Her and the devil? That’s a nightmare.” True dat, Dean. True. Dat.
9. Mother and Child Reunion
Later, while still under the witch-catcher collar’s grip, Crowley asks Rowena why she doesn’t love him and she reveals the truth: She hates him because he reminds her of when she was frail and alone, and more than that? She hates him because if she doesn’t she will love him, and love only equals more weakness. Mark Sheppard and Ruth Connell knocked this scene out of the park. His eyes sparkling with tears as he listens to the pathetic story of his birth. The hiss and then defeat of her confession as she strokes his shoulders as his slave. Wow. Their have incredible chemistry, and I want more. Here’s hoping mother and son reunite. No Peaches and Herb song required.
10. The Devil You Know
And so it wasn’t Sam who said yes after all. Once again, Cas has laid a plan with good intention that is bound to fail, because he has said yes to Lucifer in order, he thinks, to save the world and be the hero for a change. He appears in Crowley’s chamber and Rowena is thrilled, demure and hot as hell for the King she craves. Cas…I mean Lucifer…says she deserves a reward, and makes to give her a token of his affection in the form of a kiss. But first? He has just one little question: Is she the only one who can open the cage? “Just me,” she purrs, and, in a move that I never saw coming that made me gasp aloud, I am denied Rowena and Crowley’s eventual love fest as Lucifer snaps Rowena’s neck with a crunch. NOOOOOOOOO! Crowley, thrown against the wall, looks up at the man who killed the mother he has just begun to understand with horror in his eyes. “Okay,” Lucifer says to Crowley with a grin. “Let’s chat.”
Well, that was a shocker. Much like the redheads before her, I refuse to believe Rowena is truly dead. Maybe she, Abaddon and Charlie can come back and form some sort of ginger girl group or something. I’d watch the crap out of that. Until then, see you next week for episode eleven, “Into the Mystic.”