Sam and Dean reach their last resort in defeating the spirits Chuck released from Hell. But victory has a price, and not everyone will make it out alive.
On Supernatural Season 15 Episode 3, the Winchesters have mere hours to solve their problems before billions of angry ghosts are unleashed on the world. The team splits up with a dangerous plan, and more than one character loses their life to the cause. Meanwhile, Castiel’s decisions drive a wedge even further between him and Dean.
Something Always Goes Wrong
So far this season, the Winchesters haven’t had much luck with plans. Belphegor’s barrier was a bandaid at best, and it’s taken the team a whole three episodes to deal with the fallout of last season. While the pacing is understandable for a problem this size, I was eager for the show to wrap up and move on.
Episode 3 shows Sam and Dean moving onto Plans C, D, and E. Their first thought is to have Rowena reinforce Bel’s shield, keeping the ghosts locked inside Harlan, Kansas forever. However, Rowena’s magic requires a certain empathy, and the anger of the vengeful spirits overpowers her. Belphegor steps up with another overly-convenient plan: to obtain the Crook of Lilith from Hell, and use it to summon the spirits back into the pit. Topside, Rowena and Sam will complete a spell to close the Hellmouth that Chuck opened, and Dean will stand at the front lines to cast the final blow.
The group splits up without much of a choice, but not without tension. Dean sends Castiel to go with Belphegor without a second thought, unwilling to let Cas voice his objections. For one, Castiel has a difficult time being around Bel because he is still wearing Jack’s body. Secondly, Bel is looking for protection, and Castiel has spent the last episodes watching his powers dwindle away. He was unable to heal Sam, then unable to heal Ketch at the end of the last episode. So it’s only reluctantly that Cas agrees to go to Hell, which is exactly why Plan D goes awry.
In Memory of Arthur Ketch
In a hospital not far away, we find Ketch recovering from last episode’s gunshot wounds. He’s eager to get out and rejoining the fighting, but is stopped by one of the nurses. That nurse is promptly killed by a demon, and we get to meet Ketch’s latest employer—Ardat. It was glancingly mentioned in Season 15 Episode 2 that she hired Ketch to kill Belphegor, whom she called a dangerous threat to mankind. When Ketch refuses to complete his end of the bargain, Ardat decides to make him pay.
When I wrote about my growing fondness of Ketch last week, I honestly did not see this coming. At least, not quite so soon. I was genuinely distressed when Ardat killed him, and moved by his sacrifice to protect the Winchesters. We’ve seen Ketch go from the man who puts his own friends down when the get in his way, to the man who steps into the line of fire to save them. It’s been a startling arc, one I didn’t know I’d want or need, but compelling all the same. I’d never have guessed at the start that Arthur would be given this kind of complexity.
It’s one of the reasons I’m so disappointed his end came so soon. I don’t imagine Ketch is the type to waste words, but so much about his redemption was left unsaid. I enjoyed the glimpse we got when Dean sent him off to the hospital, but there’s so much more I wanted to see. Particularly, Ketch ruminating on Mitch Davies’ execution, and talking about Mary as a turning point in his story. (Yes, I’m stuck on the Mary thing! Did Dean even get that picture of his mother back? Does he know it’s gone?)
Instead of exploring these aspects of the character, Ketch spends his last full episode flirting with Rowena. Many fans disliked that, and took to Twitter with the ship name “Retch” in protest. I didn’t like it myself, and in light of this week’s episode, I like it even less. I wish the episode had spent more time comparing Ketch and Rowena’s redemption arcs to form a connection, rather than playing their sexual tension for laughs. Part of me hopes it’s justified later with another resurrection for Ketch, courtesy of one of Rowena’s fail-safe pouches. Or perhaps that plot line too will go unfinished and unremembered.
Bye Bye Belphegor
Down in Hell, Belphegor continues to pester Castiel on their search for Lilith’s Crook. The conversation was bit disjointed, rotating between comic relief, angst about Jack, and tried suggestions that the Winchesters have never cared about Castiel. While I enjoy Bel’s humor, it wasn’t very interesting material. In fact, the funniest part of this episode was the editing. The show conspicuously cuts around a scene where Castiel has to sing in Enochian to open the crate with Lilith’s Crook, only teasing the first and last notes. This was sure a relief to actor Misha Collins, who has confessed that he is in no way any kind of singer.
But things begin to get hairy when Belphegor’s true nature is revealed. He has been lying for quite some time, as demons are wont to do. Bel doesn’t just want the Crook to return the souls to Hell, but to absorb their power and become as powerful as God. Presumably, this is another reason he chose Jack’s body, which would be powerful enough to withstand that kind of power. Ardat arrives in an attempt to stop him, but she’s killed off as quickly as she’s introduced. But not before she’s able to ask Castiel, “Don’t you know what he [Belphegor] is?”
I’d be lying if I said that moment didn’t give me an immense amount of gratification. Clearly Belphegor had ulterior motives, and it’s quite possible he wasn’t all he appeared to be. Unfortunately, it may not matter in the long run. Clear of obstacles, Belphegor uses the Crook to consume many of the wayward souls, but Castiel is able to wrestle the weapon out of his hands. Then Bel makes the fatal mistake of pretending to be Jack to play on Castiel’s feelings. Castiel promptly smites him, using so much of his power that Jack’s body is diminished to an unrecognizably withered corpse.
Still, I’m not sure if that’s the last of Belphegor. I’m not sure what Ardat meant by “what he is,” or if she meant anything it all. It wouldn’t be the first time that a show set up a question so they could deliberately not answer it. In the final season of Supernatural, it might just act as a reminder that not all questions are tied up with proper answers. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alexander Calvert switch things up by playing a demon, and the suspicious theories I was determined to stand by.
Saying Goodbye to Rowena MacLeod
Castiel may have stopped Belphegor from becoming an all-powerful God, but it does throw a wrench into the rest of the Winchesters’ plan. Without all the souls summoned to the Pit, they are left to face the reality that billions of ghosts will be unleashed upon the world. Until Rowena brings Plan E to the table. She will die and absorb all of the ghosts, and then jump into the Pit to return them to where they belong.
The preview of this episode as good as confirmed Rowena’s fate, but I was still holding out hope that it might be a ruse. I’d come to terms with Rowena’s inevitable death before this season had started. It’s been foretold on the show, and the odds were already against her as one of the last named female characters left in the show. Like Ketch, I’m not pleased she had to go so soon. However, I don’t know that her death could have been written any better than this.
The thing that really stole this episode for me was the relationship between Rowena and Sam. We’ve watched them go from bitter enemies to reluctant allies, from strangers to friends who deeply understand each other. In a lot of ways, I feel like Rowena is to Sam what Castiel is for Dean. They share a profound bond of shared trauma and experience—seeing the Devil’s real face, learning to live in face of that fear, making amends for their terrible choices and worse mistakes. Even the realization that Sam was going to kill Rowena couldn’t shake their bond. Instead, it made them closer, and showed just how entwined their fates were.
Though I’d accepted that Rowena was going to die, I was still incredibly moved by Ruth Connell’s performance. I got teary eyed as soon as she told Sam, “That’s my boy.” And of course, at her final farewell of, “Goodbye, boys”—the same way Crowley died at the end of Season 12. And what’s more, Rowena absorbs the evil and casts herself into the Pit to save the world—the same way Sam did at the end of Season 5. There’s no better end to a redemption arc than that.
Dean and Castiel’s “Breakup”
While the Winchesters have prevented another worldwide apocalypse, it’s not without cost. Back at the bunker, the weight of their losses is clearly weighing on them. They finally have time to sit with the fact that Mary and Jack are both gone. They lost another friend and ally in Ketch, and Sam cannot help but blame himself for Rowena’s sacrifice. Meanwhile, Dean relies on his trusty habit of placing the blame on Castiel.
When Cas tries to ask Dean about Sam, Dean snaps on him. If Castiel simply followed through with the original plan, no matter the cost, then Rowena wouldn’t be dead and Sam wouldn’t be blaming himself. This forces Castiel to a stunning conclusion: Dean just doesn’t care about him like he once did. He’s made one too many mistakes. So Castiel makes the equal stunning decision to leave the Winchesters and move on with his life. While the choice might not sit right with Dean, he makes no move to stop Castiel from leaving the bunker.
Now, I understand why Castiel did the things that he did, overcome with grief and fear. I understand why Dean is furious, mourning the loss of his mother and protective over his brother. But just because I understand does not mean I enjoy it. I’m actually overcome with frustration that this is how Supernatural could end. I have a terrible feeling Dean and Cas won’t reconcile until near the end of the show, and Castiel will be killed by the Empty promptly after. I do not want to spend the last episodes of this show watching two of my favorite characters fight.
And this does not come from a place of just loving Castiel and Dean. This is about the years Supernatural has already dedicated to plots about poor communication and repressed anger. Sam, Dean and Castiel have all made so many unforgiveable mistakes over the years, only to forgive each other because the show is about family. The last few seasons have been relatively free of that kind of drama, which is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed them so much. Fights like Cas and Dean’s are a part of Supernatural that I dislike the most. I really hope it doesn’t drag on as long as I fear it will.
Supernatural Season 15 Episode 3 certainly raised the stakes from last week. It had incredible highs, and deeply concerning lows. With the familiar villains taken care of, and so many familiar friends written off, I’m not sure where the show intends to go from here. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we see some other neglected allies, like Bobby, Charlie and Jody. All this angst and death reminds me that the last seasons of Supernatural needs to be enjoyable as well as creatively fulfilling.
Catch the next episode of Supernatural November 7 on the CW at 8/7c.