Saturday, April 21, 2018

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 19: Funeralia

So the gang needs Gabriel to get hold of his grace to open the portal to get Jack and Mary and fight Michael and save the world. Which means they need ideas.

Sam and Dean call Rowena as the most powerful with in the world now supercharged beyond measure she’s a useful ally to have.

And she’s Rowena of course. Honestly I love her, I would happily watch a show all about her merrily slaughtering her way through life with excellent taste, excellent drinks, hot guys and a general sense of Not Giving a Fuck.

Which is her reaction when asked to save the world - no thanks, she’s too busy killing people and drinking.

We have to comment on her introduction - she’s done nothing wrong they know of. Rowena is always flawless

Castiel’s idea is to go to heaven and ask for help there. Which is worrisome because the angels in heaven don’t like him very much. Dean is against but relents surprisingly easily… I think he’s getting desperate. But it’s still unlike him to let the others put themselves at risk. This is a shift

So Castiel - he heads to Heaven’s gates, ready to do battle with its guardian. And meets Indra, an angel who is desperately drinking as much as he can, refusing to fight and definitely not guarding the gates. He even passively suggests Castiel kill him because life ain’t great

And in Heaven Castiel meets Duma and quickly explains everything before she attacks. Except attacking doesn’t seem to be on the cards. She listens and seems very excited when he mentions that Gabriel is alive (after all, he’d probably make a better leader than Lucifer). They have him wait (Cas has zero respect for heaven, puts his feet up, pokes god’s throne) and all the while the lights keep flickering off

Eventually he’s met by Naomi - yes, she’s still alive despite the brain drill. Yes, Castiel remembers what she did to him. No he hasn’t forgiven her. No she isn’t saying sorry. Things are… tense to say the least. But they may have some common goals so are willing to put that aside

I also think there’s some… respect there? They don’t like each other and have severe history but I get a definite sense of respect.

The angels also want Gabriel in Heaven. But can’t help him find Gabriel they don’t have the manpower to do so. And they don’t mean they have other priorities, they literally don’t have the people. There are 9 angels left and maybe 2 on Earth.

Nine - I joked before about how many angels were constantly being massacred and is there an infinite supply. Well, apparently not. Between the Leviathan and Castiel and the civil wars and the demons and the fall and Metatron and Amara, the angels have suffered horrendous losses

Not only is this driving the angels to clear extinction but there’s a problem for Heaven. Each angel is a walking battery, together their grace powers heaven. Except there’s barely enough angels left to keep the lights on - hence the power outages. If heaven falls then all those souls up there will fall to Earth as ghosts - billions and billions of ghosts. This is… not a good thing. Naturally Gabriel, with an archangel’s power, would definitely tip the balance

It also explains why they’re so utterly desperate that they were willing to even tolerate Lucifer.

So they’re working together but still no closer to finding Gabriel

While Sam and Dean hunt Rowena since they’ve followed the news and found that a lot of people have been murdered by her. Dean is especially scathing to Sam for letting her have the page of awesome witch magic to protect herself from Lucifer and Sam is both beating himself up and trying to defend Rowena. And that latter is actually possible - because Rowena since she’s killing pharmaceutical executives who lied about their product which harmed many people and then used their money to duck responsibility. As she herself will say, they’re far more monstrous than anything Sam and Dean has killed

She’s also killing them while drinking wine and dancing with her new buff bodyguard.  Because she’s Rowena and she has STYLE.

Dean also makes a great comment that they want the “fun, flirty Rowena who occasionally helps us. But be prepared for not that.”

Which says a lot about Rowena and Crowley. In many ways both of them are major evils far worse than most of what the Winchesters kill, but they get a pass. They get a pass because they’re wiley enough to keep evading but mainly because they’re charming as hell and occasionally helpful. They always dance that line around doing something TOO unforgivable that the Winchesters can see while always being juuuust useful enough to be worth keeping round.

Along the way they’re met by Jessica - the Reaper. She’s been following them around at the orders of Billie, the new Death who is somewhat invested in the Winchesters despite their antagonistic history. She offers to help because Rowena is actually killing people before their time which has massive implications as far as fate etc is concerned - and if it keeps up they will have to do a reset. Which means killing a whole lot of people with a war or a plague or something

Absolutely no-one questions this and how this means fate is very much written in, free will is a myth and, above all that, that the last 13 seasons have been fated?! I mean does this even fit with the canon even slightly? The Winchesters have come from the dead so many times it’s almost boring, they’ve killed Death himself - to say nothing of Archangels and a whole lot of other random shenanigans. This was all fated? Really? Fate is even a thing in this situation? God himself was put in situations he clearly didn’t want to be in. What is this? What sense is this? Who designs fate? Who makes its rules? Who changes it? You can’t just introduce the concept of fate into this setting!

Even Dean, when he was dead, learned there were hundreds of thousands of ways he could die, all written. Because he’s a man without a set fate just a mass of possibilities. That isn’t fate!

But Rowena? Well Jessica reveals that there’s only one way Rowena is fated to die - at the hands of Sam. Which is why they’re latching on to him. Sam is all torn about this because he has a soft spot for Rowena. Because she’s awesome.

When they investigate they find another reason Billie wants to be involved - not only is Rowena killing people, she’s killing Reapers as well.

And her eyes are glowing all blue which is usually a sign of divine power. Why is she killing Reapers? Because she wants an audience with Billie

Instead she arranges to meet Sam and Dean to explain. She does point out she’s only killing very very evil people but she wants to see Billlie because she wants her son back. Yes, Crowley. And Rowena has built a whole narrative that her son went to hell because of the way she abandoned him, that he never had a chance to be better. And while it does make the point that arbitrary tests of good and evil without considering the conditions people were in are deeply flawed, let’s be honest, Crowley was not a nice man. The Winchesters try to tell her to accept the death of a loved one and not try to change it

She throws THAT hypocrisy right back in their faces because wow how did they even say that straight faced!? They do tell her she’s fated to die at Sam’s hand which upsets her because she and Sam have a connection.

Oh quick aside on the connection - I said before that Sam risked becoming a sidekick in this show because Dean has the big epic connections with pretty much every other iconic character so I think it’s a great idea to make Rowena, especially as she becomes more emotionally, vulnerable, powerful and involved character, connected more to Sam and Dean. And I think that works - I think Dean connects well with the others, the bro-ness, the lack of emotional examination or open expression while still having a deep connection all works. But with Rowena it wouldn’t, she’s more open, expressive and doesn’t have the very masculine “I cannot express my emotions let me Manpain at the Screen” trait. Sam is more expressive, more emotionally intelligent and more likely to view a crying woman as someone to connect to than run from. He’s also willing to parse moral shades of grey which come with these characters rather than just ignore them which is Dean’s thing

They try to grab Rowena and we have magical shenanigans. She escapes - taking Sam with her - but not before he tries to shoot her with a witch killing bullet to find that her magic can stop bullets now. She’s also deeply deeply hurt that he would actually try to kill her

While Dean fights her bodyguard. Who isn’t mind controlled - Rowena is gorgeous, powerful and paying him a small fortune. He doesn’t need to be. Dean and the man fight it’s rather epic and bloody and surprising because normally Dean can smack down most humans, even a man this much bigger than him. It’s only when Dean, covered in blood, finally chokes the man out that Jessica pops in to applaud him for being able to take down a highly trained military operative.

Which reminds us that the Winchesters have been fighting long enough to be considered a veteran in their own rights.

Sam tied up, as Winchesters often are, Rowena tries to explain herself both her desire to save Crowley and her own desire for redemption as well as throwing in Sam’s face what the Winchesters are willing to do for their family. Rowena is such a complex mass here of grief and fear and sadness and even trauma (recall she first sought this power because she was terrified of Lucifer after the horrendously brutal way he murdered her) all mix together with a suggestion that the new level of power has left Rowena mentally unbalanced. Ok, no, let’s not have a woman being unstable because she’s powerful - Rowena has more than enough reasons to be shaky here

She now plans to kill Sam since Billie is invested - and Billie appears to say go ahead. Sure she needs Sam around, sure the world will fall apart without him. Doesn’t matter, Billie doesn’t do Blackmail. Do it, bring on the world destruction, Billie’s not impressed and she’s not bringing Crowlie back

Because Billie is a terrifying force of nature and a truly awesome Death. I think I prefer her to the junk food loving ex-death.

Rowena snaps and unleashes all her power against Billie… who isn’t impressed. Billie is Death. She’s not impressed by a witch no matter how powerful she is.

When Rowena collapses, Billie is clear she knew that Rowena wasn’t going to kill Sam - because that isn’t Rowena any more. She also has a really epic speech:

“Life is unfair, sometimes we lose things, sometimes we make mistakes and some of these things cannot be fixed no matter how powerful we become. Somethings just are.”

And is there anything more powerful than the Avatar of Death, the ultimate non-negotiable (unless you’re a Winchester) saying how unfair life is, that some things are unchangeable, that some

Of course she could have added “Cats are nice” (if you don’t get the reference, you have no soul or are a deeply deprived person)

She also not coming to collect Rowena, who is now collapsed on the floor. But she does say “see you again soon” to Sam and Dean (yes Dean has finally arrived) which is… ominous. And vanishes

So everyone has a drink and talk. Rowena feels weaker now so she’s a powerful witch but not god like any more. I don’t dislike this because I think there’s an issue with characters being too powerful and they end up getting sidelined so they don’t ruin the plot.

Dean, while not a fan of Crowley, is clear Rowena isn’t responsible for his choices - and points out ALL of them have made dubious choices in the past. And they’re responsible for them and need to live with them

And they recruit her - but not before telling her that Lucifer’s back. She handles this knowledge despite it completely horrifying her. After all, she’s just learned that her fate isn’t to die at Lucifer’s hands - but Sam’s