Episode 10×07 or “Hello, Rowena”
So far this season Sam has cured Demon!Dean, Crowley has cured Cas, and Supernatural is now a musical. Dean still has the Mark, Sam is playing babysitter, and Cas is gallivanting through the countryside with Hannah. Something about rogue angels and that guy from Dean’s past who wants revenge. Specific enough?
I’m deviating from traditional format this week, because I have a lot to say. So without further ado…
*Spoilers ahead, darling*
In spite of the most misleading promo of all time (see vid above), “Girls, Girls, Girls” took us on an exploration of humanity and revenge and gave us some unexpectedly strong feels. The episode begins with the boys taking a break for some steaks and beer, except that Dean is continuously distracted by his cell phone. When Sam snags it from him, he discovers that Dean is participating in a mobile dating app under the username “Impala67” (I’m pretty sure I read a fanfic about this). When Shaylene meets up with Dean at the bar, he tells Sammy not to wait up and disappears with the voluptuous brunette.
Sam had told him that this girl was too good to be true, and it turns out the younger Winchester was right. Shaylene (if that’s even her real name) isn’t just interested in casual hookups, it’s her profession. Sort of. Turns out Impala67’s flavour of the week is working for demonic pimps. She was abducted and forced into sexual slavery–in which men (or women) exchange their souls for one night with her. It gets more depressing the more you think about it.
Now, I’m going to switch lanes for a moment to talk about Robert Berens and his writing. Last week when the promo aired, he was criticised rather harshly on Twitter for his representation of women in an episode that hadn’t even aired yet. Now, Supernatural has often been criticised for this, and I have been amongst the ranks of viewers who would like to see the show demonstrate a fair representation of gender and sexuality. Last year, when that episode aired, I ranted about the blatant sexism and disregard for consistency in characterisation of Dean. When I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning to watch “Girls, Girls, Girls,” I worried that I’d need to prep my fingers for another stinging recap.
Shaylene is trapped in a situation that takes away her autonomy and objectifies her into a form of currency that can be bartered and exchanged for souls. Yeah, she’s beautiful and Dean wants to sleep with her, but when he discovers the truth of her situation, he is no longer the smirking bar hound looking to score; he’s concerned. This is what sets this episode apart from that episode: we are again shown a woman who is uncomfortable being a sexual object, but instead of bad taco references and a ridiculous sex scene, we see a Dean who wants to help her. After ten years of watching Dean develop, this is what we would expect to see from the Righteous Man. Four for you, BoBo.
OK, now back to the plot.
Turns out the boys aren’t the only ones interested in eradicating a demon-run brothel. The redheaded woman, who we haven’t seen since this season’s premiere episode, is a witch who doesn’t seem to like demonic suppression of women. She has “Raul” upchuck to death and frees “his girls.” Through some quick research, Sam discovers that the only witch known to kill demons with that particular spell is known as “Rowena,” but no one has heard from her in over 300 years.
Rowena looks good for being three centuries old.
After rescuing the girls, Rowena takes the girls to a classy five-star restaurant, and accidentally boils the head waiter’s brain. The boys play follow the brain crumbs to an equally classy hotel to confront Rowena. One girl gets her brain boiled, and the other escapes. Rowena? Well, Dean has her at gun point until Cole returns from his seminar in Demon Hunting 101. Too bad Dean isn’t a demon anymore. Rowena escapes and Dean tells Cole the truth about why he killed the man’s father eleven years earlier.
Dean’s conversation with Cole demonstrates a very interesting junction in his development as a character–he was brought back from “the edge” by Sam and Cas and his humanity was restored, but as he says to Cole, “Once you touch that darkness, it never goes away.” How does a person go back to being a good person once they’ve embraced their most evil thoughts and desires?
Dean’s monologue at the end of “Girls, Girls, Girls” is important because it’s the first real insight we’ve had to Dean since he became human again. What do we learn? By Dean’s own admission, he is “past saving;” he doesn’t believe in redemption for himself. He later tells Sam that he told Cole what “he needed to hear” but Sam’s face clearly spells out a disbelief in his brother’s words.
This conversation brings to mind a very similar one that happened back in season 4, the last time Dean came back from “the edge.” Cue the vid to start at 3:45.
This time around, we don’t have Castiel to reassure Dean that he’s part of God’s larger plan. There is no imminent apocalypse to save the world from. There is no demon blood-addicted Sam to rescue from Lucifer. In short, there is no bigger catastrophe to help Dean forget his time as a demon. This season is going to bring us a Dean that will either step up and heal up or let the Mark take control again.
Castiel and Hannah
Meanwhile, Castiel and Hannah are continuing their hunt for rogue angels, but Hannah doesn’t seem to be as committed to the mission as she once was. There’s a bit of an awkward almost-seduction, and this time when Castiel talks about the importance of the mission, we don’t know if he’s trying to convince Hannah or himself. When the husband of her vessel, Caroline, traces her and Castiel to a motel, she’s conflicted. Rather than telling the man the truth, Hannah impersonates Caroline and convinces the husband that she left him for Castiel. There’s an awkward yet tender kiss between Hannah and Cas, one that Hannah later feels guilty for. Hannah’s abrupt decision to leave her vessel and return to Heaven surprises Cas, but before she leaves she reminds Cas that humanity was once “the mission,” and that perhaps the focus should return to humans. Cas is left alone, again, and the last scene we have of him he is web-searching Jimmy Novak, his vessel.
Castiel’s interaction with humanity has become an increasing focus of recent seasons. After the Fall, and Cas’s short-lived time as a human, the angel has become conflicted in his ties to Heaven. He understands now what it means to be human, and Hannah’s departure instills in him some of the same guilt that she felt about Caroline. Like Dean, Castiel is without a mission–no Heaven to reclaim, no Righteous Man to save, and no Apocalypse to prevent–so what is an angel to do without a direct purpose from a Higher Power? If the spoilers I’ve seen have any indication, the return of Claire Novak might be Castiel’s new mission.
Crowley and Rowena
Like the Winchesters and Castiel, Crowley is a demon without a purpose. Sure, he’s the King of Hell, but if the glimpses of hell this season are any indication, he’s bored. Bureaucracy and paperwork are the true hell for the snarky demon, and now that Abaddon is no longer a threat he’s got nothing to distract himself with. Basically, all our series regulars are cast adrift this season without country.
When Crowley hears of his minion’s brothel, he’s unamused. Apparently the sex trade is for the scum of the earth, even according to demons. The witch who killed his minions, however, he’s very interested in.
And here’s the plot twist no one saw coming: Rowena is Crowley’s mother. Yes, the King of Hell has a mother.
We haven’t seen Rowena since her initial appearance in the season premiere, but she returns with a snap and a body count. When she’s taken captive by Crowley’s minions, she’s tortured, and boy, I would not want to find out that I’d been the one to slap the King of Hell’s mama. Crowley is evil, but after meeting his son last season, we know that he values family. The reappearance of Rowena into his life could mean several things for the demon king. He could continue torturing her for information on witches and the Grand Coven. He could kill her. He could convince her to join his side and create a reign of terror in hell and probably on earth too.
No matter what Crowley decides to do about his mother, Rowena’s arrival has knocked Crowley out of his routine. To reclaim full control of Hell, my guess is that he’s going to remind Rowena that blood is thicker than water. I have a feeling that this family reunion is going to be filled with lots of blood and snark, and we get a front row seat. Popcorn, anyone?
Until next week, SPN family.
P.S. Sorry for the verbosity. I blame BoBo’s dense emotional narratives.