With the right magic words, anything can be yours. Once these girls get their hands on a certain magical grimoire, it’ll take an uneasy alliance with the not-so-dead for the Winchesters to get it back.
Supernatural – “Various & Sundry Villains”, Season 13, Episode 12
Airdate: February 1, 2018
Director: Amanda Tapping
Writer: Steve Yockey
Created by: Eric Kripke
What You Should Know:
Once, on a witch hunt, Dean was placed under a curse from a Druid spell book called the Black Grimoire. Desperate to save his brother, Sam agreed to team up with the powerful witch Rowena (also Crowley’s mother) – who was also making a play for the book. Ultimately Sam got the book back from Rowena, where he and Dean secured it in their bunker.
Sometime later the Winchesters learned that Lucifer, who didn’t appreciate betrayal, had hunted Rowena down and brutally murdered her. Because Rowena was known to have placed a type of life-renewal spell upon herself, he made sure to be extra efficient.
Before Lucifer managed his escape from the alternate Apocalypse World, that world’s Michael stole a significant portion of Lucifer’s grace. Greatly diminishing his power. Lucifer met up with Castiel in an effort to form a team to take down Michael, knowing the latter would inevitably appear, but the pair were captured by Lucifer’s former Knight of Hell, Asmodeus.
What You’ll Find Out:
At a convenience store just off I-135 and a little north of Wichita, a local man enters, looking for some booze, and soon encounters two young women. Sisters Jamie and Jennie Plum. Jennie, the younger sister, quickly brushes past the man and subtly drops a hex bag into his pocket. While he’s not looking, Jamie whispers a brief spell, placing the unsuspecting man in a love spell. He’s immediately swooning over Jamie. She explains that she and Jennie are traveling to Lebanon, Kansas, which he’s never heard of, but they’re out of gas. In no time she convinces him to kill the cashier, take the cash from the register, and grab a couple good bottles of vodka while he’s at it.
The sisters wait by their car for their victim to come swinging out with a grocery bag containing the vodka and handful of cash. Jamie’s holding a mallet, which she promises is just for protection. She tells him their mom taught them three important things to remember for looking out for themselves: 1) “Always look your best,” 2) “Never get attached to a man,” and 3) “Always make the death look non-magical. So you don’t attract hunters.” She proceeds to hit him a couple times with the mallet, getting blood spatter on her face before she and Jennie return to their car.
Dean walks into the main room, where Sam is already sitting at the large table doing research and dumps another pile of books onto the table one-by-one. All the books he could find in the archives that mention anything about alternate worlds. Sam still seems less than enthusiastic, even though Dean argues that they already found Jack once before, so Dean reminds him that it’s like Sam said, they just have to push forward and “do the work.” Sam gives him a funny look, pointing out Dean was the one who said, and instead of denying, Dean declares he was right. He instructs Sam to dive into the research, “do your Sam thing,” while he makes a beer run, but he pauses to suggest they bring Cas in on the search. Sam dismisses the suggestion, saying they’ll mention it to him when he checks in, as “he checks in every day,” though apparently with mostly just questions.
Dean is leaving the liquor store with his case of beer when he hears a woman screaming for help. He quickly sets the six-pack on his car and runs over to the girls, one of whom appears to be unconscious on the ground, in the parking lot a couple spaces over. He crouches next to the one on the ground as the screaming girl – Jennie Plum – explains in a panic that she doesn’t know what happened. She leans closer and slips a hex bag into his jacket, whispering the spell words. After a moment she suggests he wake up his true love with a kiss, so Dean leans down and kisses Jamie, who, of course, promptly wakes up. Perfectly fine. She asks if he’s Dean Winchester, which he confirms, and she smiles.
Dean returns to the bunker with the beer, as promised, and Sam calls to him that he thinks perhaps Dean was right about calling Cas. But before he can finish the thought he sees Dean spin into the room with a flourish. Dean declares that not only is he in love, but he’s “full-on twitterpated,” and she’s “kinda perfect.” Sam stares in shock as Dean moves around like he’s walking on air, talking about inviting her to move in with him – there, in the bunker – all the while moving toward their large set of storage dressers on the wall. He crouches down and pulls open a drawer, extracting the Black Grimoire. Because it’s a gift for his soulmate, Jamie. All of which Sam takes a large amount of alarm and finally stands up.
Sam asks if she asked for it by name, which she did, and Dean calls it “cosmic fate” that they actually have it. He makes a motion and sound effects following this to indicate that it’s blowing his mind. Sam approaches Dean, suggesting that perhaps this is a love spell – like what happened to him once upon a time and that this Jamie might be a witch or a demon. Dean backs up, insisting he be nice, “’cause she’s got a sister!” And isn’t it always cute when the “less attractive” siblings fall in love, too? Fed up with Dean’s behavior, Sam ignores the jibe and tries to tell him to wait, but Dean insists he can’t as Jamie’s waiting. Sam takes the car keys but instead of becoming angry Dean brushes it off, declaring that he can walk, as it’s a beautiful day. He turns to walk away, Sam rushes forward and grabs his shoulder, and Dean spins around and punches Sam straight in the face. Knocking him out cold. Promising his unconscious brother he’ll help him ice that when he gets home, Dean runs off to meet up with Jamie.
Still waiting for Dean, Jamie asks her younger sister if she’s going to call their unspecified associate once they get the book. Jennie says she’d rather make an audible moments before Dean rounds the corner with a proud grin on his face and the Black Grimoire in his hands. Jamie smiles happily but Jennie grumbles that she wanted the car, too. Jennie takes the book as Jamie steps up to Dean, having him close his eyes on the promise of a kiss. She pulls her mallet out as the sound of squealing tires and a familiar engine roar into the parking lot. Dean turns, never seeing the mallet, and frowns in confusion as Sam jumps out of the Impala. He draws a gun on Jamie and Dean tackles his brother, swatting the gun aside before the pair ends up in a wrestling match on the ground.
The sisters decide to take their leave on the off-chance that Sam wins. Dean and Sam continue to struggle, Sam finding and tossing aside the hex bag, but unable to burn it as Dean locks him in a choke hold. Dean refuses to release him, apologizing all the while, until an unexpected bolt of magenta lightning blasts them apart. Another strikes the hex bag, destroying it and releasing Dean from the spell, as Rowen – alive and well – walks up beside them. The brothers stare up at her in various states of speechlessness.
Back in the bunker, Rowena pours the three of them drinks as she encourages the boys to ask her about her survival. Curious enough, they indulge, as Lucifer had given them some rather gory details about his methodology. She confirms them all, simultaneously admitting that once again it was her resurrection spell which saved her. However, she has no desire to repeat the experience. And that, she declares, is why she needs the Black Grimoire. To which Dean unconvincingly states it’s such a coincidence how she showed up right after it was stolen, and Rowena confesses to having previously placed a tracking spell on the book when they weren’t looking in a “moment of weakness.”
When asked why she needs it now, Rowena casually mentions that a long time ago the Grand Coven may have put limitations on her power, and there’s a page in the Grimoire which can remove those limiters. She swears she needs this in order to protect herself, arguing that she’s a changed woman. That having one’s skull crushed and their body burned to a crisp does that to a woman. Plus it’s her tracking spell, making her the fastest way to finding and retrieving the book. Then she asks one last question: “Where’s my son?”
Meanwhile, in a market, the witch sisters are picking up assorted supplies while Jennie reads through some of the Grimoire. Jennie admits she can’t translate all of the words, but when questioned, adamantly insists she doesn’t need help. They’ll have to improvise. They pass the cashier on their way to another aisle, and the cashier, Brenda, pointedly reminds them they’ll need to pay for those items. Indicating that they haven’t always done so. The sisters rudely interrupt her, as if Brenda is the one speaking down to them. Moments later Jennie discovers they’ll need a soul to sacrifice and Jamie spots an oblivious male store employee.
Rowena is shocked and angry to learn of her son’s death. Dean tells her Crowley had sacrificed himself for them and Sam adds that he’d changed; that she’d be proud. But Rowena is anything but proud. Despite her complicated relationship with her son, she doesn’t want him dead. Sam tries to offer the condolence that he died in the name of trapping Lucifer forever in an alternate world. But she accuses them of being stupid for believing that, knowing that Lucifer always finds a way back. Then she cuts off the odd argument, exclaiming “it’s like reminiscing about an abusive relationship!”
Redirecting the conversation back to the sisters and the missing Grimoire, the boys ask what kind of damage can be done with the book. Rowena comments how they probably have high ambitions like she herself did as a young witch. Plus, she adds, she has to give the girls some credit for outsmarting the two of them. She steps up to Dean and asks if they got “to fifth base.” When he tells her there’s no such thing she accuses him of being a “poor, sheltered boy,” and for several seconds Dean clearly tunes out the conversation as he wonders what ‘fifth base’ could possibly be. Rowena leans back with her glass, declaring perhaps if she helps them they’ll change their minds about helping her, which they deny.
Now set up to perform their spell, the Plum sisters stand before a woman’s corpse laid out on a coffee table. The corpse is surrounded by candles. Jennie is still hesitant about the spell and again Jamie suggests calling for help, but at the suggestion Jennie refuses. So Jamie grabs a family photograph, of the two of them with their beloved mother, and reminds her they’re doing this for their mom. Because she taught them everything they know because she deserves to be ‘alive and beautiful’ again. All of which Jennie knows. Jamie takes a breath and apologizes, recognizing that as the big sister she’s the one who’s supposed to be stronger. She encourages Jennie, certain that together they can accomplish their goal of resurrecting their mother. No matter how long it takes. Across the room, the young man from the store declares that he believes in Jennie, too. Jennie looks at him, sets down the book in favor of a knife, and stabs him in the chest.
Dean, Sam, and Rowena arrive in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Rowena says the book has stopped moving and is somewhere nearby. However spell isn’t as specific as GPS, so they have to do a little legwork. Refusing to allow Rowena to perform any “brain boiling” interrogation spells, Dean has Sam sit with her in the Impala while he goes out to ask around. At Rowena’s suggestion, he agrees to start with the females, as everyone concurs the girls likely don’t have many female friends.
Quickly becoming bored with sitting quietly in the car, Rowena asks if they at least have music. Sam says Dean has a tape somewhere with Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick, including an eight-minute guitar solo, and Rowena backs off. Briefly. She asks if she can’t just enslave someone to take them to the girls, to which Sam replies she can, but she shouldn’t. With a smile, Rowena replies “Bless your precious heart. You just described my entire life.” Changing the topic, Sam tries to tell her even if she acquired the Grimoire, it wouldn’t help her feel safe from Lucifer. Rowena doesn’t want to talk about it but finally admits that before Lucifer killed her he showed her his true, terrifying face. That that’s why she’s so shaken. Sam confides in her he’s seen it, too, and he still loses sleep over it. When asked how he’s dealt with it, he realizes he hasn’t, not really. “The world kept almost ending,” so he simply pushed it down and fought on. Over and over again.
Meanwhile, Dean finds the convenience store the girls earlier strolled through, with Brenda once more behind the cash register. He walks up, explains that he’s searching for two sisters, Jamie and Jennie, and she remarks that most men are. But they’re just a mess of trouble. He tells her they stole a book and he needs to get it back, which surprises her, and he tells her he doesn’t intend on being nice about it when he finds them. Immediately receptive, Brenda prints some blank receipt paper and scribbles down an address, making sure he promises to be “really mean.”
Sam cautions Rowena that getting her full power back won’t lessen her fear. The fear will never go away. The finality of ‘never’ unsettles her and Rowena climb from the car, so Sam steps out after her. She hurriedly tells him she’s not running away, she just needs to process. She needs some air. Dean returns with the address, drawing Rowena’s attention, but Dean assures her role in the adventure is over. Unsurprised, Rowena begins to walk away, dropping a hex bag at their feet and casting a type of binding spell on them. Binding their feet to the asphalt.
Rowena sneaks into the house the Plum sisters are staying in, overhearing their argument. Something seems to have gone wrong with their spell. Jennie is reminding Jamie that she mentioned there was a lot of weird writing in the book. Jamie suggests perhaps there was something wrong with the soul of the guy they sacrificed. The only thing they can agree on is that they have a problem in need of fixing. Rowena finally steps into view, ending the argument, and tells them firmly that they were supposed to call her when they had the book.
The sisters attempt to offer excuses for a moment, before eventually declaring that they don’t need her help. Rowena disagrees, points out how she’s already helped them find the book and the Winchesters, as well as the added complication she’s been forced to throw in by involving the Winchesters. But she offers to honor their deal, perform the spell they asked for, in return for them handing over the book in the end. Once the spell is done they won’t have any use for it, anyway. She upsets them with the phrase “witches of your level,” and the sisters get their backs up and proudly declare they’ve already done the spell. Mostly. At the same time, the corpse of their mother walks up behind Rowena and Rowena gives the girls an incredibly annoyed look, assuring them this isn’t her first dance with a zombie. She’s unprepared, however, to discover that this particular zombie is somehow “magic proof.”
Still trapped in the parking lot, Sam is bent awkwardly over the ground in an effort to reach the hex bag. And Dean’s upset because Sam let her play him and now she’s gotten away. Sam tells him she’s scared before finally catching the edge of the hex bag between his fingers and pulling it into his hand. Agreeing she had better be scared, Dean burns the bag and breaks the spell on their feet. Releasing them to hunt down the witches.
Frazzled about being cornered by a magic-resistant zombie, Rowena rummages the kitchen she’s trapped herself in as though looking for a weapon. She hollers back to the sisters that they surely wanted their mother back in good health, and she could still help with that, but the sisters decline. Moments later the Winchesters burst into the house, guns drawn, shouting for Rowena. Rowena calls back that she’s been stalling the girls for them.
The Plum sisters stare the Winchesters down mockingly, clearly unafraid of their guns. Until Dean tells them they’re loaded with witch-killing bullets. A fight breaks out and the boys quickly discover the girls have magically enhanced their physical strength, making them more than capable fighters. Dean gets the upper hand on Jamie, who calls to her sister in desperation, and Jennie rushes over and slices Dean’s leg to free her sister. Meanwhile, zombie-mom breaks through the kitchen door and all Rowena has to defend herself with is a dining chair. She pleads for suggestions since her magic won’t work and Dean tells her to shoot it in the head. The sisters get the boys pinned, weapons raised in the final struggle, as Rowena manages to reach Dean’s discarded gun and blow a hole through zombie-mom’s head.
Rowena crawls away from the zombie mess, rattled a bit and angry. She finds her feet and sees the struggle, so casts a spell to take control of the sisters. The girls immediately step away from the boys, still facing them, as blood begins to roll from their eyes. Sam and Dean watch warily, unsure what Rowena will do until Rowena tells her puppets to “End it.” The girls turn and violently attack each other.
With the Plum sisters out of the way, they find the Black Grimoire and Rowena proudly assures them that it had been her plan all along to ‘triple cross’ and turn on the girls in favor of helping the Winchesters. They’re less than convinced and remind her that that book is coming with them one way or another. Sam, who’s the one standing in front of her, goes to take the book and she pleads with him to remember why she needs it. He knows what she’s seen and what she’s afraid of. He gives her a look but says nothing. After a moment she walks away, leaving the book with Sam.
Sam and Dean return to the bunker and crack open a couple of beers. Dean’s humiliated that he fell for a love spell and clocked by a girl with a hammer. Sam’s favorite detail is zombie-mom. Dean laments that they were beaten up by a couple of girls, but Sam points out that that’s not unusual for them. Dean asks Sam if he’s aware that Rowena isn’t their friend, and Sam agrees, but he’s confused, so Dean flips open the Grimoire. Revealing a torn out page. Sam let Rowena take the page she wanted. Sam defends his action by stating that if she goes bad he’ll end her himself, but if she’s right about Lucifer, he wants her to make him suffer. And it’s clear he thinks the cost is worth it.
Unsure of what to say to that, Dean tells Sam again how he really needs to get out of this ‘dark place’ he’s in. Sam takes a breath and, instead of stomping off or telling Dean he’s wrong, he explains that he understands Rowena. Her sense of helplessness. Dean asks what he means and Sam continues, though he struggles, by saying that he doesn’t know what to do now. He’d had a plan before, loose though it was. Find Jack. Rescue Mary. But everything’s fallen apart and their mother’s still stuck in Hell-adjacent. Dean tries to tell him that they’ll find a way, somehow, but Dean’s lack of clear direction does little to comfort Sam, so Sam bids his brother good night.
Meanwhile, Rowena casts the spell from the page she took. Sitting in a magic circle, surrounded by candles, and with a vertical slice of her throat, several magical chains appear. Shattering one by one. When they’re gone Rowena’s wound heals and her eyes glow with unrestrained magic.
While Sam and Dean are chasing witches, Cas remains stuck in a stone, angel-warded cell next to Lucifer. Their demon guard, while walking by, notices Lucifer bent over a small stick as if trying to levitate it – and failing. Unable to resist mocking him, he steps up to the cage with a size joke. Lucifer asks his name and the demon declares, “They call me Dipper.” After a brief back and forth over the stick, Lucifer lunges for the cage bars, but their warding has been upgraded – seeing as he’s Lucifer. He’s forced to stumble back and shake off the burning pain in his hands. As Dipper walks away Lucifer shouts after him that he resents being treated like an “everyday angel.”
Once Dipper has gone, Castiel calmly reminds Lucifer that not only does he not have his full power, but the demons know he’s lost it. In return, Lucifer tells Cas that he’d have enough power to escape and “butcher that sonofabitch!” if Cas would only let him eat some of Cas’ grace. Cas finds Lucifer’s cannibalistic plan a little horrific, and when he doesn’t respond to Lucifer’s resulting taunts about some of Castiel’s previous misdeeds, Lucifer decides he can be patient. After all, Asmodeus was easily his weakest creation. Which Castiel finds interesting, given that Asmodeus has captured and imprisoned them both.
Lucifer resumes his focused intent of levitating the small stick on the floor of his cell. He’s now kneeling over it, ominously whispering “rise” repeatedly, but as soon as he hears Dipper’s footsteps returning he stops and leans back as if sitting on the floor is cool. Dipper ignores Lucifer and steps up to Castiel’s cell, taking a moment to taunt him this time. Promising that Asmodeus has ‘big plans’ for him, too. Dipper goes to walk away, and Lucifer calls to him, asking what that will matter when Michael shows up and executes everyone. Castiel voices more doubt, so Lucifer offers some wisdom on his “dick brother.” That wisdom being that Michael is steadfastly determined – regardless of the cost. Taking in Lucifer’s words, Cas inquires as to how much time they might have, and Lucifer replies it likely depends on how long Michael takes with his torturing of Mary Winchester.
Lucifer sarcastically claims he’s never seen anything so horrible, despite all the time he’s spent in Hell, and they bicker briefly before Cas pulls out the big guns. He tells him some things about Jack – how Jack likes hero movies, watching the heroes crush the villains. How Jack is thoughtful, intuitive, and ultimately how much Jack hates Lucifer. Lucifer begins pacing his cell, becoming increasingly angry over Castiel’s words, and finally flings his arm, and the stick, at the wall adjoining their cells. Giving himself an idea.
A short while later, as Dipper returns to check on his inmates, he hears Castiel hurling insults. Dipper initially thinks Castiel is attempting to insult him, but Cas indicates the cell beside him as Lucifer admits to being the recipient. At which point Dipper acknowledges that, in that case, Castiel has a point. When Dipper moves to Lucifer’s cage he sees the stick is gone, teasing Lucifer for losing his toy, and Lucifer uses his power to grab Dipper and pull him against the bars. He reminds Dipper who he is, using his “little stick” to stab Dipper in the throat, distracting him. Dipper stumbles back and Lucifer steps free. Dipper turns to run, finding Castiel behind him. Cas quickly exorcises the demon. Cas and Lucifer move to leave but four more, armed, demons rush into the hall, forcing a fight.
Lucifer and Cas manage to make it outside, having escaped their prison and killed their way through the guards. Still breathless from the battle, Lucifer pointedly declares how much easier the fight would’ve been if he had his full power. Recalling Lucifer’s earlier request to eat his grace, Cas refuses, prompting Lucifer to point out how well they’d just fought together. He figures that ought to earn him some trust. Cas remembers previous times he’d given Lucifer his trust and regretted it, but while he speaks Lucifer attacks, knocking Castiel back. Lucifer explains it’s necessary, but he promises not to take everything. Cas, though, isn’t going to let him take anything, and instead runs Lucifer through with an angel blade. He tells Lucifer that this is his way of showing how he learns his lessons as Lucifer’s red-glowing eyes flicker out.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Well, Lucifer is free, but injured (certainly not dead). So he won’t be immediately slaughtering any Winchesters or taking back control of Hell, but surely regaining his power and finding his son will be top priorities. Possibly second to healing his latest injuries.
With Castiel also free hopefully the Winchesters are about to learn of Lucifer’s return and anything possibly useful that Asmodeus has let slip in Cas’s presence. Cas, on the other hand, is sure to quickly learn of Jack’s present situation and be most concerned after what he’s heard from Lucifer. The hunt for a way into, or at least a way to pull certain individuals out of, the Apocalypse World, will hit a new high.
Rowena has become more powerful than ever. Lucifer is certainly her enemy, but what of the Winchesters? She’s a hard one to read and a harder one to predict. The Winchesters won’t be prepared to stop her the next time they feel the need to stand against her, but with her newly-regained magic, perhaps she could provide an alternative way into that other world. It’s magic, after all, anything’s possible.
Final Thought: This episode was everything. It really was. Do you like the brotherly squabbles? Got it. Do you like the bickering, bantering humor? In spades. How about a good ol’ badass Impala moment? Vroom, vroom, Baby! Magic? Triple check. Gore? Covered. Sarcastic, biting wit? A plenty. When Cas purifies demons? Promise! Someone coming back from the dead? Two is better than one! What about corny, Disney-like lovey stuff? Yeah, we officially even have that! (C’mon, Dean said “twitterpated,” people!)
So Dean gets his turn as a victim of a love spell, forcing poor Sammy to relive his own trauma* for a moment [*See Season 7, Time for a Wedding!], but at least Dean didn’t actually have to get married. And we got to see him dance like a friggin’ Disney prince, which was possibly one of the funniest things I personally have ever seen. I love these episodes with pops of humor. They help keep the series fresh and invigorating even when it’s constantly dealing mostly with death and disaster.
We got Rowena back! Now, I will admit that when she was first introduced I hated Rowena. So much. Just the sight of the actress’s name on the screen, indicating her character’s appearance in the show, would get me upset. I didn’t want to see her, hear her voice, think about her – none of it. She needed to die faster and bloodier than whoever that season’s main villain was. Of course, she didn’t, which didn’t surprise me, given her connection to Crowley. Then it seemed like they didn’t know what to do with her and she got more annoying than anything and then, somehow, I became fond of her. I have no idea of when or how it happened. I was conscious of my dislike, and of my annoyance, and then I was one day aware of enjoying what she added to a scene. So there it is my transition as a Rowena fan. Which I think speaks pretty well for a character.
When they did, supposedly, kill her off, I was far from convinced. Killing a powerful, significant character off-screen? In a two minute conversation? No way. But we were supposed to buy it, and I didn’t like that. So thank you, Supernatural writers, for reminding me why I trust your skill. This scenario makes so much more sense. And having Rowena back makes things significantly more dramatic. Especially since no one ever knows which side she’s fighting for at any given moment.
I wasn’t for a moment convinced that Castiel’s blow on Lucifer near the end of the episode was a fatal injury (as the previews have confirmed) because I’ve known certain things about next week’s episode for a while that means he’s still alive. But if you don’t know them, I won’t spoil them! And either way, the dynamic between Cas and Lucifer is compelling. Both angels, but with such different personalities, and different views on everything. The whole idea of them teaming up together was bound to fail sooner than later, so really Asmodeus kidnapping them likely only sped up the clock on that ticking time bomb. But I’m proud of Cas for not only standing his ground but fighting back. He didn’t leave Lucifer at the foot of the enemy’s territory, weakened and exhausted, to fend for himself. He went in for the kill to take down the Devil.
The plot of two witch sisters seeking to resurrect their mother may not have been overly important, but everything that happened along the way was what mattered. Rowena may or may not have built an actual connection with Sam, but she got what she wanted – that spell. To release her full power. And all the while Lucifer and Castiel escaped their captor, though whether that escape will truly succeed for them both remains to be seen. I for one hope Cas makes it back to the bunker before Asmodeus’ return.
Supernatural airs on The CW on Thursdays. Check your local listings for times.
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