Nothing ever stays truly dead on Supernatural – if you haven’t figured that out by now, you’re not paying attention. So when we lost our favorite fiery red-headed witch Rowena at the end of season 12, hopes were high we hadn’t seen the last of her. Much to the joy of the fandom, she was back for season 13 with a vengeance, and whole new, totally powerful storyline. Let’s dive into our favorite Rowena moments from season 13!
Season 13, Episode 12 – “Various and Sundry Villains”
Rowena is miraculously back from the dead in her first appearance this season. Or not so miraculously, as it turned out she’d put a resurrection spell on herself long before the Lucifer got his scrubby mitts on her. She shows up just as Dean and Sam find themselves glamoured by a couple of witches attempting to steal the Black Grimoire. Rowena had put a tracking spell on the book (or so it seemed) in an attempt to steal it when it was on the move for a spell it contained – one that would help her protect herself by taking away some of the power dampers that had been put in place long ago. In the process of working with Dean and Sam, she learns that Crowley has died, and it affects her in a way they didn’t expect.
In their pursuit of the two witchy sisters, Sam and Rowena wait for Dean in the Impala, and find themselves swapping horror stories about the trauma Lucifer inflicted on both of them. Its enough so that later, when the book is recovered (in a classic Rowena triple-crossing) Sam takes pity on her and tears the page she needed out of the book before they bring it back to the bunker. In the last scene of the episode we see Rowena using that spell, and the blue ties that bind her are shattered. In the center of the room the lights go out, and she sighs with relief as her eyes glow a new shade – she’s finally free.
Rowena has been, with few exceptions, a very stoic character. Strong and self-assured, she seemed bullet proof. But in this episode for the first time, we really see Rowena’s emotions break through. In the car with Sam, she’s downright vulnerable, confessing to him that Lucifer’s true face keeps her up at night – and he agrees. Across party lines, so to speak, they meet in shared trauma. In this, Rowena is an echo of so many women who have felt trapped and powerless in the face of their abuser.
But she’s powerless no longer when she implements that spell at the end, and we get a glimpse of a fully powered Rowena – a much more formidable foe than we’ve seen before.
Season 13, Episode 19 – “Funeralia”
Appearing to have gone on a murder spree across Oregon, Rowena is instead making an attempt to disrupt the natural order of things to attract the attention of Death herself. She is killing people who, in truth actually deserve it, but her target was instead the reapers that came to collect the souls. Sam and Dean make an attempt to stop her with the help of a reaper, but she will not stop until Death finally answers her call.
“Death has something I want – my son.”
The guilt Rowena feels over Crowley’s death is unexpected and frankly, fascinating. Throughout the seasons they’ve had an interesting dynamic – never particularly close, but like a symbiotic pair. With his death, she feels responsible for dragging him, or rather, the innocent son she remembers, Fergus, into the darkness along with her. In all the time that we knew Crowley, we never saw him blame his mother for the choices that he made. But she nonetheless feels guilty. It is a reminder to us that Rowena is many things, but among them, a mother. It brings a softness and fierceness to her character that we hadn’t explored yet.
Season 13, Episode 19 – “Funeralia”
In their attempt to stop Rowena from killing reapers, Sam finds himself face to face with her. Being that they’ve found this common ground in shared trauma, she doesn’t believe he’ll actually hurt her – until the witch killing bullet leaves the chamber. She knocks him out, dragging him back to her hotel room to try one final way to get a hold of Death: killing a Winchester. It works, as Death finally shows, but expresses total apathy as to whether or not Sam lives. In the last moment, Rowena finds she cannot do it, despite the fact that she’s been told that in every version of her death, there’s only one person who kills her. Sam Winchester.
We all know that Supernatural is known for their bait and switch but this crucial fate – that Rowena will always meet her end at Sam’s hand – introduces an almost gentle dynamic between the two. There was already the thread of shared trauma between them, but now it seems like Sam feels a sort of responsibility to Rowena, to help her redeem herself in some way. And Rowena takes some comfort knowing that Lucifer won’t be the one to kill her in the end. Some may say that knowing your fate is a bad thing, but for Rowena, it almost seems to chill her out. We also see her make an attempt at a path of redemption, which we see her continue on for the rest of the season.
Season 13, Episode 21 – “Beat the Devil”
Original recipe Team Free Will is ready to go to the apocalypse world to save Mary and Jack with the help of Gabriel and Rowena. The only thing they need now is archangel grace. Gabriel, still not at full power, isn’t able to produce enough to create the portal, so they need to find a better source. As Sam, Dean, and Cas argue in the kitchen about their next step, Gabriel and Rowena wait in the study and size each other up. Rowena, who “knows a thing or two about wounded male pride”, gives Gabriel a raised eyebrow and it is on. When the boys arrive at a decision they find Gabriel and Rowena somewhat red-faced and debauched.
Rowena has always been a little minx, but here we see her getting her groove on completely on her own terms. She’s not looking for anything from Gabriel other than a good time, and for once it’s refreshing to see Rowena with a love interest she’s not trying to manipulate or control to her own ends. In a character that has pretty much used her sexuality only to get more power, her tryst with Gabriel sort of humanizes her, in a way. It’s a cool bit of character development.
Season 13, Episode 21 – “Beat the Devil”
Later in the episode, Rowena and Gabriel together take out Lucifer and drag him back to the bunker to be an endless supply of grace to keep the portal to the other world open. Rowena is left on babysitting duty of the Devil, whilst the boys go on ahead. She sits patiently while Lucifer gets increasingly annoying – at first, just singing his fool head off, but eventually starting to talk about the time that he murdered her – but she isn’t phased. In fact, she turns the tables on him, and reminds him that right at that very moment, his grace is instrumental in his son being reunited with the men he actually considers his fathers. And Lucifer isn’t one of them.
In a rage, Lucifer breaks free of his restraints and slams Rowena against a wall. She’s shaken but not down, and gathers up all her strength to push him away… and directly into the open portal. We next see her gathering her things and talking to herself, as she makes an attempt to get away, but at the last moment, she stops and makes a character changing decision. She’s going to do everything in her power to keep that portal open as long as possible.
One of the themes for season 13 was redemption, and in episode 19, Rowena asked Dean if he thought she could be redeemed. He thought that she could be, and one of the ways to do that would be to help them get their family back. This moment, one where Rowena has chosen to leave a hundred times before, is so critical because she made the opposite choice. There is no self-serving reason for her to stick around to make sure that when Team Free Will 2.0 wants to come back they can, but she knows it’s the right thing to do. So she just does it, showing herself and the rest of the team that she can be redeemed.
Ruth Connell brings so much warmth, sass, and magic to Rowena that I can’t imagine anyone else playing her. The witch’s story arc was expansive and interesting in season 13, and I really hope they continue to explore her character in season 14! What were your favorite Rowena moments? Let us know in the comments below!