Rowena returns from the dead to help the brothers fight a pair of sisters
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Various & Sundry Villains
Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
Devil's Bargain
S13 E12
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With a supportive sibling by your side, you can achieve the impossible. Or hack each other to pieces. Or wallow in your failure-induced depression.

Yep, even the best sibling relationships sometimes end in defeat. Thankfully, the Winchesters live to fight another day. Not so much the Plum sisters, though. But first, let’s check in on a pair of caged angels.

In their side-by-side cells, Castiel sits contemplatively, while Lucifer’s as twitchy as you’d expect. When their designated guard Dipper wanders through, he notices that Lucifer’s got a smallish stick on the floor of his cell, and they exchange jabs about whose is bigger. After Dipper leaves, a frustrated Lucifer tries to wheedle Cas into giving him some grace so he’ll have the power to tear the place apart.

But Cas busts out his crafty side, which is always a treat to watch, telling Lucifer that Jack is an emotional, intuitive kid who takes after his mother and loves movies where the good guys win. Agitated, Lucifer blasts his stick against the wall (not a euphemism) and plots.

The next time Dipper comes around to taunt Lucifer, he uses his rage as a motivator to break the warding on the bars and stabs Dipper in the neck with the aforementioned phallic stand-in. He and Castiel step out of their cells to face down the remaining guards in full badass fighter mode.

Once outside, Lucifer’s still jonesing for Castiel grace, but Cas is all “fool me 8,000 times, shame on me.” He stabs Lucifer with an angel blade, announcing, “This is me, learning from my mistakes.” Lucifer’s red eyes flicker, which would’ve been a far more effective cliffhanger were it not for the teaser for next week’s episode.

Now let’s jump to the A-plot, where the pretty, giggly Plum sisters work their magic to ensorcell a man in a convenience store, convincing the lovesick man to rob it and kill the clerk.

When he joins them outside, the Plums share their mother’s three pieces of advice for looking out for themselves: Always look your best, never get attached to a man, and make the death look non-magical so you don’t attract Hunters. Then they bash his brains in with a sledgehammer. Poor Dale! You seemed like a decent dude. Justice for Dale!

By zero coincidence, Dean bumps into younger sister Jennie when he leaves the bunker on a beer run. She slips a hex bag in his pocket and whispers an enchantment that makes him fall head over heels for older sister Jamie as sexy sax music wails on the soundtrack. He then comes whistling back into the bunker to announce that he’s full-on twitterpated in love and wants his soul mate Jamie to move in. Gloriously, magically in love Dean is a genuine sight to behold, friends.

Sam, though, is in a funk and paging through books with unpronounceable titles looking for information about alternate worlds, and he’s downright alarmed when a chipper Dean announces that his new honey asked for the Black Grimoire.

Unlike Dean, Sam doesn’t see it as cosmic fate that they happen to have that exact book and suggests this might be similar to the whole Becky love spell scenario. No worries, Dean says; Jamie’s got a sister! When that still doesn’t convince Sam, Dean lays him out with a punch and leaves on foot.

He returns to the sisters with the book and is about to get the sledgehammer treatment when Sam comes screeching up in Baby. Dean launches himself at him, shouting about his love for Jamie, and the sisters bolt “in case the one with the hair actually wins.”

Sam’s managed to remove the hex bag from Dean’s pocket when a bolt of lightning breaks up their fight and a lilting Scottish voice purrs, “Hello, boys!” Rowena’s back, y’all, and she’s saucy as ever!

Over tumblers of liquor, Rowena confirms that she did, in fact, die at Lucifer’s hand, but she’d made precautions to ensure it didn’t stick. Still, it took a long time to heal, and she’d prefer not to go through that again. To protect herself, she needs a spell from the Black Grimoire, which she put a teeny little tracking spell on. When she felt it moving, she showed up to offer the Winchesters help in finding it, and to get their help in return for getting it back.

Sam and Dean want no part in helping Rowena gain more power, but then again, she claims that having your skull crushed and being burned alive changes a person. And then she turns her attention to the Plum sisters, asking Dean if they got to fifth base. When he looks at her in confusion, she smirks. “Oh, you poor sheltered boy.” Teach me your ways, you ginger goddess!

The Plums themselves are stocking up for a major spell at the hardware store, where they have a sneering exchange with the clerk, Brenda, who seems to have a testy history with the sisters. While they’re there, they pick up one last ingredient: the bow tie-sporting stock boy, whose soul they need to sacrifice.

Turns out, they’re cooking up a spell to reanimate their mother, who exists now as a mangy corpse. When Jennie starts to doubt her abilities, Jamie gives her the pep talk she needs to resurrect their beloved mother. “I, like, really believe in us,” she says, vowing to crush the skulls of a million people to make it happen.

Then the love-spelled stock boy chimes in that he believes in them, too, and when Jennie stabs him in the chest, he dies smiling. Poor sap. (Next page: Rowena powers up)

At least the Winchesters are closing in thanks to Rowena’s tracking spell, which brings them to Stillwater, Oklahoma. From there, they’ll have to use shoe-leather investigating to track down the Plums. Dean leaves Rowena with Sam to keep the locals safe from her brain-boiling magic and, at her suggestion, sets off to question the women of the town, who likely aren’t big fans of Double J.

Left in the car, Sam offers to entertain Rowena with Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” featuring an eight-minute drum solo (it’s Dean’s tape, of course). She, in turn, offers to enslave the townsfolk so they’ll have an escort to the Plums, but Sam demurs. “I’m very sure you can, but I’m also very sure you shouldn’t.” At this, Rowena sighs, “Bless your precious heart, you just described my entire life.”

And then Sam engages in a spot of therapy, telling her that having the book back won’t eliminate her feelings of helplessness about what Lucifer did to her.

Rowena quietly confesses that before he crushed her skull, Lucifer showed her his true face, and now she’s scared all the time. Sam’s seen it, too, and it still keeps him up at night. But the world keeps almost ending (#WinchesterProblems), so he just keeps repressing it.

Then Dean rejoins them, having secured the Plums’ address from Brenda, who made sure he wouldn’t be gentle in his treatment of the sisters and then checked out his butt as he left. Brenda is all of us.

When the Winchesters tell Rowena she absolutely won’t be allowed to come along with them on this mission, she tosses a hex bag at them, pinning their feet to the asphalt, and vamooses.

She enters the Plum home, interrupting a millennial girl argument about what went wrong with their spell to chastise them for not waiting for her after they’d secured the Grimoire. Ooooh, curse your not-so-sudden and entirely expected betrayal, Rowena! She told them about the book and where to find the Winchesters and now offers to help them cast the resurrection spell, but the Plums bristle at the implication that they’re not good enough to accomplish it solo.

But guess what? They’re really not, and the next thing you know, zombie mom shambles into the room. Rowena’s unfazed until she learns that zom-mom’s magic-proof and brain-hungry, at which point she flees into the next room.

Meanwhile, Sam struggles to reach the hex bag that’s just out of reach as Dean offers encouragement: “Come on, you’re like eight feet tall. You can’t reach that?” Sam finally snags it, and a flick of Dean’s lighter burns it and frees them.

They storm into the Plum house, where the Plum sisters, who’ve hexed themselves for magical super-strength, attack with a knife and a sledgehammer. Thankfully, Rowena grabs one of the Winchesters’ dropped guns and kills zom-mom with a bullet to the brain, then intones words that make the sisters start bleeding from the eyes.

“End it,” she spits, and Jennie and Jamie turn on each other, stabbing and bludgeoning themselves to death. The sibling carnage even rattles the Winchesters, which is really saying something.

The Plum situation resolved, Rowena tries to spin her actions as a triple – not double – cross, but Sam still moves to take the Grimoire back. She whispers to him that Lucifer may be locked up for now, but he’ll come back, and when he does, she needs a spell so she won’t feel helpless. He still pries it out of her hands.

Back at the bunker, Dean’s embarrassed to have fallen for a love spell, but Sam’s got no shame about getting beaten up by women; it’s happened before, after all. (Easy for him to say, though. Dean’s the one icing his knee after a well-placed Plum sledgehammer blow.)

Then Dean busts Sam for his soft heart: He let Rowena take the page she wanted out of the Grimoire. Sam doesn’t deny it but promises to put her down if she becomes a problem. And hey, if it works, she’ll have more power to make Lucifer suffer.

When Dean tells Sam he needs to shake off his depression, Sam admits that he understands Rowena’s feelings of helplessness. He had plans to help Jack and rescue Mary, but when everything he tried failed, he spun off track. Dean swears they’ll figure it out together, but Sam’s done believing his older brother’s assurances and leaves Dean to nurse his bum knee in the kitchen.

And we close on Rowena chanting with the Grimoire page in her hand. She slits a long gash into her throat, and purple light bursts out of the wound to wind around her body as blood seeps from her eyes. (Lots of eye blood seepage tonight.) When the magic bursts around her, she pants in triumph, and her eyes blaze with powerful blue light.

Bunker musings

  • Welcome back, Rowena! Your fashion and your eyeshadow and your twisty motivations and your hints of vulnerability have been sorely missed. But please don’t go completely bad because I don’t want to have to watch Sam kill you. Also, please note that Rowena’s disappointed to hear that her son is a dead hero, not a living, hateful king of Hell. Isn’t motherly love grand?
  • So if Asmodeus was Lucifer’s weakest creation, and Lucifer wasn’t able to overpower Asmodeus, then what time will a train leaving the station at 40 miles an hour arrive? Wait, that’s not how the word problem goes. And even if Lucifer’s struggling with his mojo, his taunting skills remain sharp as he reminds Castiel that Michael’s busy torturing Mary Winchester in ways that outpace the worst thing he saw in Hell.
  • I cannot get over how much Jordan Claire Robbins as Jamie looked like late-season Buffy Summers. That plus the reanimated mom had me in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer headspace.
  • Was anybody else wishing we’d see witch siblings Max and Alicia Banes pop up in writer Steve Yockey’s latest episode? We didn’t get them this week, but I’m still holding out hope that they’ll be back.
  • Okay, but seriously, what’s fifth base, Rowena? What’s fifth base?

Episode Recaps

Devil's Bargain
Supernatural

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.

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