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Supernatural - Various & Sundry Villains - Review

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Supernatural “Various & Sundry Villains” was written by Steve Yockey and was directed by the terrific Amanda Tapping. Just me, or is the lamest title ever? Not so lame? The episode featured the return of Ruth Connell as Rowena and while I haven’t been a huge fan of either the actor or the character in the past, I was genuinely happy to see her back – for two reasons. One: She got the worst send off ever – as an aside in the season finale last year. Two: The character seems to have a new, more serious side. Now, that might be the influence of Tapping as I’ve commented many times in the past, Connell is more than capable of delivering a great performance under the right direction. When she’s directed to take in over the top, I’m just not interested…

The opening teaser introduces us to sister-witch team Jamie (Jordan Claire Robbins) and Jennie (Elise Gatien). The use a love spell to get Dale (Mike Kovac) to rob a store and get them money. They need gas and money to get to Lebanon, Kansas – so we know they are after Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles). Once he’s done what they’ve asked, Jamie kills him – in a non-magical way to avoid hunters…

Meanwhile, at the bunker, Dean and Sam are continuing to research – or at least, Dean is pulling books for Sam to pour through. Sam is still clearly in a bad place and seems to have little – or no – hope. Dean leaves Sam to work while he goes on a beer run, but not before mentioning that they should loop Cas (Misha Collins) in. Sam says that Cas calls every day, so no need to call him, and Dean complains that Cas just calls with questions and no leads. I wonder how badly each of them will feel when they find out just where Cas has been.

To that end, the next scene takes us to Castiel and Lucifer’s (Mark Pellegrino) prison cells. Dipper (Shane Dean) is taking great delight in tormenting Lucifer. I liked all the business with the stick, especially when Dipper comes to regret his remarks! Pellegrino is just always a delight. Lucifer wants Cas to “lend” him some of his grace to power himself back up.

Lucifer isn’t worried about Asmodeus, who he calls his weakest creation. Cas points out that he doesn’t seem that weak, and Lucifer admits that the shape-shifting Asmodeus does is something he’s learned on his own but is still not really worried. Cas points out that Lucifer has just admitted that he’s too weak to overcome even his weakest creation – and Lucifer’s entire comeback is “Shut up.” I adored Cas’s smile at the end of the scene as he takes delight in having gotten one up on Lucifer!

Dean goes off for beer, and Jennie and Jamie work their “magic” on him. And really? Did we have to go this route after Sam was already spelled by Becky? Ackles is his usually adept self at pulling off the comedy here as Dean is utterly smitten. Sam – bless him – immediately sees what’s going on and brings up Becky. Dean insists that she isn’t a witch or demon – Sam should be nicer. Sam takes the car keys to stop him, so Dean knocks him out – and doesn’t take the car keys back. Instead, he walks to town with the Black Grimoire – why? A bit of a loophole in the writing. It was the book along that the sisters.

Jamie mentions a call they’re supposed to make once they get the book, and Jennie says there’s no way they are making it. Naturally, here are all our clues that Rowena is alive and involved. Jennie is disappointed when Dean arrives on foot because she wanted the car! She’s none too happy to see the car, however, when Sam shows up in it.

Dean is about to be brained with a sledgehammer while he waits with his eyes closed for a kiss. When Sam pulls a gun to save him, Dean attacks him, allowing the girls to make a getaway. Sam finds the hex bag – amidst some very silly (and funny!) wrestling between the two brothers. Rowena breaks it up and incinerates the hex bag! I liked that even with her usual “Hello, boys” – a nice carryover from Crowley, there’s already something a little different in her demeanor.

Lucifer continues to play with his stick, and Dipper continues to taunt him. Lucifer is concerned that Michael is coming and suggests that Michael is a lot more evil than he is. Cas scoffs that Michael will ever make it there but asks how long until he does. Lucifer gets Cas’s attention by saying that it depends on how long he tortures Mary Winchester. Cas calls him a liar, even as he squirms.

Lucifer calls Cas a liar. So then Cas tortures Lucifer with a description of Jack – that he likes heros and is empathic – and would rather kill Lucifer than hug him. Lucifer insists that that’s an example of nurture over nature. Cas really gets under Lucifer’s skin, and it’s that anger that starts to re-ignite his power.

Rowena tells Dean and Sam how she’s still alive and that even with the resurrection spell, she never wants it to happen again – and certainly her description of it is horrific. The brothers immediately suspect that she’s in league with Jamie and Jennie (good call, boys!), but she tells them that she’d put a tracking spell on the Grimoire and that’s how she knew it was moving. She also want a page in Grimoire that will break the limitations put on her by the Grand Coven that will allow her to protect herself.

Rowena offers to help them, and they turn her down (again, good call!). Connell is very good in this scene as that undercurrent of fear clearly comes out as she tells them that it’s her tracking spell – they need her. Dean agrees – reluctantly to let her help.

Jennie is having difficulty reading the Grimoire – it’s so old! – so Jamie suggests that they can just “wing it” – because that always works out so well with magic! They dis the hardware store cashier (Angela Moore) and take the clerk (Adam Klassen) when they realize they need a soul for the spell to work.

Rowena wants to know where Crowley is and is clearly devastated to hear that he’s dead. She’d rather have a live son who hated her than a dead hero. So is Crowley’s turn to being a hero an example of nurture? His connection with the Winchesters rather than the nature of his mother? When Sam and Dean point out that Crowley’s sacrifice trapped Lucifer (oh, boys…), Rowena gets really upset – Lucifer is never really gone – and she doesn’t want to talk about him.

Rowena denies knowing the girls – she just remembers being an overly ambitious wee witch! Then she takes delight in the sisters getting one over on the great Winchesters. She torments Dean by asking if they got to “fifth base.” He denies that there is a fifth base and is then consumed by thoughts of it… I loved both Padalecki and Ackles’ faces in this scene. Rowena suggests that if she helps them, maybe they’ll help her – both say no…

Jennie and Jamie wanted the book to bring back their dead mother. Jamie suggests that they should maybe call for help, but Jennie says no. They both clearly miss their mom and Gatien is quite strong in this scene. We learn that their mother sacrificed a lot of people for them – so not a “good” witch by any means. The Clerk tells Jennie he loves her – right before she sacrifices him. Here’s an example of both nature and nurture…

The three head to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Rowena offers to make the locals talk – the location spell only works while the Grimoire is moving. Sam and Dean turn her down, but they do take her advice to talk to the “ladies” with whom Jennie and Jamie won’t be popular. She’s right of course, and the Cashier at the hardware store is more than happy to point them in the right direction. Dean is impressed at how quickly the Cashier gives up the address when he mentions that they plan on not being nice when they find them!

Dipper asks if Cas’s insults are directed at him – but Cas is talking to Lucifer. Dipper foolishly continues to taunt Lucifer, who uses his little stick to stab him. Cas uses his power to finish him off. Lucifer used his anger to break his warding and get them both out – but not before they have to work together to defeat the demons coming after them.

We get a terrific scene between Sam and Rowena as they wait for Dean. Padalecki and Connell are both superb in this scene. Sam tells her that even if she pulls off whatever plan she’s got going (yeah! The boys are clearly all over this) and gets the Grimoire, she’s still never going to feel safe. She’s still going to feel helpless. Sam starts to talk about what Lucifer did to her, and she gets very upset. And Sam realizes it’s genuine fear. She’s seen Lucifer’s true face, and she admits to Sam that she’s scared all the time.

Sam tells her that he’s seen it too – it’s a rare look at Sam’s time with Lucifer, and it’s nice that the show is keeping these threads. Sam tells her that it still keeps him up at night, and Rowena asks him how he deals with it. He admits that he doesn’t. He just pushes it down – and he’s been distracted by the world ending. He admits that Dean would listen – if Sam knew how to share it. Rowena looks thoughtful – she might be the only other person who would understand.

Sam tells Rowena that it won’t matter if she gets the book and her powers back – she still won’t be able to change what happened. She’s still going to get scared. Sam tells her that that feeling never goes away. Rowen suddenly gets out of the car as if she’s overwhelmed, but in reality, she’s getting ready for Dean and Sam to cut her out – which they do. She spells them and heads to the Plum sisters by herself.

No big surprise that Rowena was in league with the sisters. Rowena manages to insult them, but they’ve already “mostly” done the spell. Unfortunately, Mom (Sharon Simms) is now a magic-proof zombie!

Dean accuses Sam of having been taken in by Rowena, but Sam insists that she is genuinely afraid – and he’s right. The two free themselves from Rowena’s spell – with a little comedy as Dean pitches the flaming hex bag at Sam, resulting in a bitch face!

Lucifer and Cas make their escape, and Lucifer again pushes Cas to give him some of his grace so that he can get back to full power. Cas refuses to trust Lucifer, listing all the times he’s betrayed Cas. Lucifer stops him by trying to stab him, so Cas “learns from his own mistakes” by stabbing Lucifer!

Dean and Sam arrive as Rowena is running out of time. The sisters aren’t impressed by the guns until Dean tells them witch-killing bullets at which the sisters toss them both across the room. Older sister goes for Dean, younger for Sam – naturally! The sisters prove weirdly strong. Rowena manages to get a gun and kills Mom-zombie and then saves the brothers by spelling the sisters and getting them to kill each other. Dean and Sam are a little taken aback by the violence of it all, but Rowena is unfazed.

The brothers are somewhat surprised that Rowena didn’t kill them. Dean insists that they are taking the book, one way or another, but it’s Sam who actually takes it away from her. Once again, we are treated to a nice moment between the two. Rowena appeals to Sam – he knows what it’s like, what she’s seen. Sam knows that Lucifer will get back one way or another, and she just can’t be helpless again. Sam clearly does understand – and lets her take the spell.

Sam brings the beers as Dean nurses his knee. Dean doesn’t want to tell the story about “girls” beating them up, and Sam points out it happens all the time – Part of me is glad the writers watered down this joke to appease the masses, and part of me isn’t. Regardless, Dean agrees and then points out that Rowena is not their friend.

Sam says, yeah… And then Dean points to the ripped out pages in the Grimoire. Dean accuses Sam of letting Rowena get in his head. Sam tells him that if Rowena does do something bad with the pages, he’ll hunt her down and kill her himself. But, if she’s right and she does see Lucifer again, he hopes she makes him suffer.

Dean sees that Sam is affected, but doesn’t seem to realize why. He thinks it is the same depression Sam’s been in and he tells Sam that he needs to get out of the dark place he’s in. As if every person who was being consumed by depression would stop it and leave! Sam finally tells Dean that he feels the same way Rowena does – helpless. And Dean seems ready to listen and try to understand.

Sam tells Dean that he had a plan and now that plan is gone. That was what was keeping him from spiraling. Sam insists that they don’t have a plan, and Dean insists that they’ll figure it out. Sam is completely unconvinced and tells Dean night. Dean still doesn’t understand – at least as far as Sam feels.

In the final scene, Rowena casts the spell and releases herself from the magical restraints that had been put on her by the Grand Coven. I did like the special effects here as we actually see those bonds breaking. In the end, Rowena’s eyes glow violet with her power – and when have glowing eyes ever ended well? Especially for the brothers… Is she destined to be the new big bad?

I really liked this new and improved Ruth Connell – let’s continue to make her a believable character and not just comic relief. I really hope that the writers, directors, and Connell herself hold on to what makes Rowena an interesting character. I also liked that thread of nature/nurture that ran subtly through the episode. Mark Pellegrino never fails to delight me as Lucifer, and I’m really enjoying him paired with Misha Collins. What did you think of the episode? Were you happy to see Rowena back? What do you make of Cas “learning from his mistakes?” Does this seem a little unlike our Cas? A bit bloodthirsty? Maybe this is what fatherhood is doing for him? Do you think Dean can help Sam? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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