Man, the Winchesters have a lot on their plate. Just as one problem (Ass-modeus) is solved, another one crops up, and these are the times I can’t help but wonder: What are all the other hunters in America doing? Cleary they must be going to all the parties that the Winchester brothers are missing out on by saving the world… again. But before we get into Funeralia, let’s take a quick recap of “Bring Em Back Alive.” since I was unable to review it last week:
So, Ketch and Dean headed into Alt!Universe to find Jack and Mom, but instead get ever so slightly sidetracked when Dean spots Charlie/Not Charlie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that Felicia Day is back on Supernatural and that some form of Charlie is alive, but that is a bell you can’t unring… a fridge you can’t unplug, as it were. The writers still did her dirty (ahem, Buckleming). Long story short: Ketch and Charlie stay in Alt!Universe while Dean comes home, sans mother and stepson (don’t fight me, the actors themselves called him that). Oh, and while that was happening, Gabriel was recuperating (big shout out to his first words back being “porn stars”), and Asmodeus was not a happy camper. Flashforward a minute, and a recharged Gabe (Thanks for the assist, Sam and Cas!) burns his captor, which I love. The hilarity of low-rent Colonel Sanders being fried extra-crispy is my favorite, but then Gabe goes full-on survivor Gabe and fucking bounces, saving his own skin. The most surprising part of this development is that Sam and Cas are surprised that he did this. When we met the archangel he was hiding out as the trickster to avoid his family in times of peace, dude is not about to step up for some mudmonkeys in a war. The episode ends with a sad and concerned Sam and Cas and a pissed off Dean. No wonder they never go to parties, they’re all buzzkills.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about my favorite witch and the three musketeers she loves! Funeralia opens on a party, naturally. Except of course our brooding giants aren’t there; They’re at the bunker, angsting. Who is there, however, is a tiny redhead who packs a massive fucking punch. Rowena is enjoying her long, long, long life when Team Free Will call her to catch her up on the haps and beg her help. Rowena flirts with Cas a little (and his awkwardness is adorable), and tells the boys that she’s sorry she can’t help save the world, but she has her own project at the moment. That project, as it turns out, involves dancing with a large man named Bernard and causing a woman to burst into flames for as yet unknown reasons. Ahhh, Rowena knows how to party!
After the disappointing call to their prettiest frenemy, Dean and Cas head to the kitchen to brainstorm on where to find Gabe, and nary a stormcloud is to be found. No coffee or beer will bring forth a good idea, so Cas throws his Hail Mary (maybe a more appropriate sports term than “ball handler,” but certainly not a better one): he’ll go to Heaven and ask the angels for help. They may hate him, but they’re also pretty pragmatic and will see that the end of the world isn’t a great idea (Cas has not been binging Supernatural on Netflix, I see). Dean huffs and puffs, but after Sam comes with the news about Rowena’s doings, agrees that it’s their best option, so long as Cas doesn’t get dead again. Dean and I are in agreement on this. So Cas is going to Heaven, and the boys are heading to Portland, and here our paths do split.
Cas heads to Heaven’s sandbox and, rather than being met with the usual fury, is surprised to be greeted by a super emo, not drunk enough to be fun yet angel named Indra. Clearly things are not normal, and Indra tells Cas that, even if the angels aren’t happy with Cas and his adventures, they have bigger problems. And if that wasn’t alarming enough, Indra tells Cas that he can go ahead and kill him, if he wants. So, clearly things are going super well in Heaven.
Cas heads up, and the place is empty. Eventually Dumah and her flock of two show up and Cas goes into full on negotiator mode. He explains-ish what’s happening on Earth (also, plot twist, he doesn’t know Lucifer took over Heaven), and asks for help. Dumah says “I think we can help each other, hold please”, and vanishes. After a long wait in which Cas is all manner of adorably, almost humanly impatient, Dumah returns, telling Cas that if he finds Gabriel, the angels can help them.
Cas starts to get salty about the angels not wanting to help him, when out pops NAOMI, blessing our screens. Now, I don’t like Naomi. At all. But, she was a great character and villain, and Amanda Tapping is a goddamn gift. Once they’re alone and Cas has let loose his fury about Naomi stealing his memories and forcing him to kill Dean over and over and over again (be still my shipper heart), Naomi doesn’t apologize for her actions in “simpler times” and I have to say I fucking love her for it. Not because I think Cas doesn’t deserve and apology, but because Naomi is the kind of bad guy that you can kind of understand, even as you dislike her. She’s also the only one recently that hasn’t eventually come ‘round to the Winchester’s way of thinking, and call me crazy, but I think adversaries should stay that way. Naomi eventually explains to Cas that the angels would love to help, if they could, and the news of Gabriel being alive is nothing short of blessed, but there are only about a dozen angels alive anymore, and basically Heaven is dying. I’m not a fan of the angels being extinct (and I have theories about that), but I am intrigued by the idea of every soul in Heaven falling to Earth. As she escorts Cas out of Heaven, she implores him to find Gabriel and tell him what’s happening. When Cas tells her of his dismay at the end of Heaven, she ominously tells him that “everything ends” and that the gates of Heaven are closed.
After Cas heads to Heaven, the brothers head to Oregon to figure out what the fuck is going on with Rowena. Dean can’t help but make digs at Sam for having a moment of compassion for Rowena, but before I can roll my eyes too much, Jessica the pervy reaper/baby monitor/spy pops into their car, nearly causing them to crash. She tells them that since Rowena is fucking with hefty shit by killing people before Their Time, Bille AKA Death has told her that she can be a resource for them. She barely finishes her sentence before Sam “buh-byes” her, and the boys continue on their way, trying to pretend Jessica didn’t spill the beans on Sam’s salon’s worth of hair products and Dean’s thing for tentacle porn. They head to the art gallery and learn that the victim was the CFO of a shady AF Big Pharma company (I mean, aren’t they all?), but the weird thing is the fact that there are the remains of a reaper there, too. They invite Jessica to come watch them eat crow and ask for her help, but can’t do it without somehow making their bullshit “we’ll take care of it” attitude about her. She calls their shit and then tells them that yeah, Rowena’s killing reapers too, and literally fucking with fate and the machinery of death. Jessica tells them that she can help, but not directly, because Billie has rules about clean hands and shit. She also drops the little tidbit that in every way Rowena dies, Sam is the one to kill her. So that’s fun.
The boys do some research and figure out that Row Row is working her way through executives of the same company, which sold shitty meds to people and killed a LOT of them. They get to her latest victim just a minute too late, but manage to get Rowena on the phone. She asks for a parlay and the boys agree. They meet at a 100% Rowena style bar (with Bernard in tow), and Rowena makes her argument that the people she’s killing were monsters too, except rather than killing being in their nature, like most monsters, these people all just did it for money, and I can’t really fault her. Vampires are just trying to eat, and ghosts are striving for justice, these people are just assholes. Now, as little as I care about these pharma peeps biting the dust, killing the reapers is unfair. They’re just doing their job. But Rowena knows this, and is doing it to get Death’s attention. She wants her son back. She tells Dean and Sam that it’s her fault Crowley/Fergus ended up the way he did, and she owes him this much. It’s honestly heartbreaking, especially when Rowena confronts the boys with the harsh unfairness that they seem to think resurrection is only for them and those they deem worthy.
Dean tells Rowena that she’s got Death’s attention, and she’s pissed, and then for some plot-related reason, I’m sure, Dean tells her that Sam kills her in every iteration of her death. It has to be important later, because I’d hate to believe Dean is this stupid for no reason. Sam tries to cuff her but Hey-o! Rowena is smarter than that and astro-projected herself for just this reason and we see her scurry away with Bernard. The boys (obviously) run after her, and Dean gets distracted by the tall dark drink of water that is Bernard trying to kill him. Dean and Bernard fight and, good news, Bernard isn’t bewitched! He’s there by choice, and I don’t know why I love that so much, but I do. Probably because I think Rowena has a bit of a point, and I’m honestly happy she’s got someone in her corner.
Meanwhile, Sam follows Rowena and, after trying to talk to her, he shoots at her. I say “at her” only because Rowena stops the bullet, and is genuinely offended that he’d actually take aim and, *gasp*, fire. I gotta say: I don’t blame her. Yes what she is doing is wrong, but this whole bit plays into the larger picture of the Winchesters really only valuing people insofar as their usefulness to them, and it’s kinda bullshit. Rowena stops the bullet and zaps Sam out of there moments before his battered big bro comes to save him.
Rowena takes Sam to her room, and as much as I kinda ship it, it’s not what they’re there for. Rowena tells Sam that she’s hoping for redemption, but since Sam’s the only one who can stop her (thanks, Dean), she has to kill him. After holding up a mirror to Sam about all he’s done and would do for his family, Rowena zaps him for a bit, until Billie shows up. Rowena, upon seeing her, threatens to kill Sam, thereby really fucking up the order of things, and Billie calls her bluff. Rowena can’t kill Sam, so she lashes out at Billie, who, rather than just ending Row right there and then, is the understanding, compassionate being that I’ve always viewed Death to be.
She acknowledges that sometimes shit isn’t fair, and mistakes are made that can’t be taken back, but all you can do is move forward. It honestly might be my favorite scene of this season thus far. Rowena asks Billie to take her, and Billie refuses, saying that’s not how her story ends. Dean pops in just in time for Billie to freak him out with a “See you soon!”, and the remaining three share a drink. Dean and Sam assure Rowena that she can be and is worth saving, but also drop the bombshell of Lucifer’s return to her. She handles it well enough, because there is a sense of power and reassurance in knowing your ending, because you know all the ways your story doesn’t end. It’s the redemption arc I want, and the one she deserves. The episode ends with Dean and Sam asking for her help, but we don’t know the answer yet.