THEN:  Castiel is watching the night sky fill with falling stars, i.e. angels, Rowena, Dean with Billie as the new Death, then Gabriel killing Asmodeus and  choosing to leave instead of joining Team Free Will.

 

NOW:  It's a fancy art gallery in Portland, Oregon. Rowena, in a classy black gown, is enjoying a drink with her male companion when her phone rings.  It's Sam, Dean, and Cas calling from the bunker.  They need her to help rescue their family and confront the archangel Michael.  Rowena stays flirty and friendly but isn't interested in helping.  She calls them her beautiful Musketeers and hangs up, then approaches a society lady, gushes about meeting her, but then quietly references a newspaper article.  This bothers the woman, but Rowena sweeps away after leaving her purse for the woman to hold.  She dances a dramatic tango with her large companion; then, during one dramatic dip, her eyes glow purple and her hand shoots out.  The woman bursts into flame and burns alive.

Title - "Funeralia"

 

Back at the bunker, Dean tells Cas that they need to find Gabriel and "hijack his grace," but neither of them are coming up with any ideas, even though Dean replaced his coffee with beer.  Eventually, Cas suggests asking the angels for help.  At Dean's doubtful look, Cas admits that it's a "Hail Mary."  Dean, taken aback at the appropriateness of the expression because Mary is his mother's name, looks strangely at him, and Cas, misunderstanding, thinks he has to explain. "It's a sports term. . . like ball-handler."  This is just awkward!  Sam enters saying that there's a problem in Portland - a woman at an art gallery has apparently self-immolated.  They realize that Rowena is killing people.  Dean knew that she'd do something like this since Sam helped her power up, but Sam insists that he'll take care of Rowena.  They agree that Cas will try to talk to the angels.  "Just don't get dead again," growls Dean.

 

Cas goes back to the playground where the doorway to heaven is hidden in a sandbox.  His angel blade is drawn, but no one is there at first.  Finally, a single angel comes out of the play structure.  He's drinking and doesn't want to fight.  Castiel was prepared for antagonism not apathy.  He doesn't understand:  "Indra, what's wrong?"  "See for yourself," offers the angel before getting on a bouncy toy horse and taking another swallow from his bottle.  Cas steps into the sandbox and disappears into a cloud of gray smoke.  He reappears in a sterile, white, and utterly silent and empty hallway of heaven.  "Hello?"  He looks around, but all is still.  Then three angels quietly appear.  He tells them that Gabriel is alive and that he needs their help to find him and to help stop a different, crueller Michael from another universe from subjugating and destroying this world.  He also tells them that Lucifer is back too.  The lights around them dim and flicker then surge back.  "I think we can help each other," says one angel.

 

The brothers are driving in the Impala and have just crossed into Idaho.  They're discussing Rowena, knowing that, while they prefer the flirty Rowena, they may get the super-powered witch version of her.  Suddenly, a woman appears in the back seat.  Dean jams on the brakes.  She reappears outside the car.  It's Jessica, the Reaper who was going to take Dean to the afterlife when he stopped his heart on a previous hunt. She lets them know that she's been watching them.  "Like a baby sitter?"  "More like a baby monitor," she replies.  They're nonplussed to realize she's seen everything, but she chooses to tease Sam about his hair products, and Dean about the old burger in his room and the tentacle porn video under his bed.  She tells them that people are dying before their time in Portland, four so far.  Sam says they will deal with it without her help, and she disappears.  Dean says they could have used her help facing Rowena.

 

Speaking of Rowena, she's in her hotel room with her personal goon.  Both are still dressed to the nines.  She's pouring a drink, explaining that she wants to fix things and she's capable of ANYTHING now. Her eyes glow as she raises a toast.

 

Sam and Dean pull up among the cop cars in front of the gallery.  Wearing suits, their FBI camouflage, they check out the crime scene.  The dead woman had worked for a pharmaceutical company and had been charged with a crime for selling bad drugs.  She'd gotten off on a technicality.  She hadn't been a good person.  They notice another outline next to the ashes; it's like a shadow of ashes.  Sam knows what it is:  it's what's left when a reaper is destroyed.

 

They go outside and angrily call for Jessica.  They know that she had to know that it wasn't just humans getting killed in Portland; it was reapers too!  Jessica admits that reapers are being killed, but focuses on how Rowena is changing things:  when she kills people before their time, she changes their fate which changes other people's fates and so on and so on -  the Butterfly Effect.  If this continues,  Death may have to intervene and wipe the board clean by doing something catastrophic like the Black Plague.  Why isn't Death doing something about it now?  Apparently, Billie has strict rules about not interfering.  Jessica explains that Billie has entire books on potential ways people can die - Dean has a bookcase full - but Rowena has only ONE.  Her death is always the same:  she will be killed by Sam.  

 

Cas is bored.  He's left alone, waiting.  He wanders aimlessly around the white room, flops down on the couch once or twice, touches the empty throne, interrupted by an occasional power glitch.  The angels come in; they DO want Gabriel.  Another angel enters, a slim woman with short white hair - it's Naomi.  She says they CAN'T help.

 

Sam has been researching and has discovered that Rowena has killed several people associated with the pharmaceutical company but not the CEO.  Jessica suddenly shows up in the backseat again, startling Dean into yelling at her the way he used to yell at Cas' instantaneous appearances.  

 

Rowena stands in a dark yard.  A man with a bleeding gut wound writhes at her feet.  She got to the CEO before the Winchesters could.  She's not vindictive but focused on her purpose.  When a reaper appears to take the man's soul, she greets him only to be told, "Death doesn't negotiate with witches."  Unphased, Rowena immolates both the man and the reaper.  She wants to hear from Billie.  She smiles serenely at her escort, Bernard.

 

Sam and Dean have discovered the dead body, too late to do any good, but while they're still standing there, Rowena calls them to set up a meeting.  She wants them to trust her, but the brothers acknowledge that it's probably a trap.  

 

Back in heaven, Cas is shocked.  "How are you alive?" he asks Naomi.   He recounts angrily all the things she'd done to him - the memory wipes, forcing him to reenact killing Dean - but she remains calm and doesn't apologize.  She's been recovering, she says.  The power flickers again, and she reminds him that heaven is powered by angels.  They're like batteries.  Unfortunately, there are only nine angels left in heaven, perhaps a couple more on earth.  Can is stunned.  Naomi says that this is why they cannot go help find Gabriel.  They have to try to keep heaven going.  But they do need the archangel.  Without him, they will eventually be unable to sustain their power.  Heaven will crumble, and all the souls entrusted to their care will fall back to earth as ghosts causing chaos and death.  Things are desperate.

 

Rowena and Bernard enter a restaurant where Sam and Dean are waiting for them.  Sam tells her that he didn't help her become powerful so she could kill innocents.  She defends what she's doing, saying those people weren't innocent and that they've actually harmed more people than the monsters that the Winchesters focus on killing.  But then she confides that killing the reapers is just a means to an end:  she wants to get Death's attention.  She wants her son back.  She is filled with guilt at what her choices had done to Fergus:  "It's my fault.  I left him."  When Sam and Dean say that Crowley can't come alive again, she flares back:  "Are only Winchesters allowed to come back from the dead?"  They tell her that they can stop her.  Actually, Dean says, Sam is the one who will eventually kill you.  But not today, Sam says, and reaches toward her, only to realize that she's an astral projection.  Rowena and her bodyguard are actually by the door.  They turn and run, and Sam and Dean, drawing their guns, run after them.  Sam is right behind Rowena, but Dean gets clotheslined by the goon.  They fight, slamming each other into walls and the floor.  The elevator doors open behind them, revealing a couple who calmly watch the fighting men a moment before pushing the "close door" button.  

 

Sam has followed Rowena into an alley,  Holding his gun on her, he demands that she stop, but she won't.  He'd have to kill her.  He hesitates a moment, then pulls the trigger, only to watch as Rowena holds up her hand and freezes the bullet in midair.  Her eyes glimmering with tears, she feels betrayed that he actually shot her.  She reappears behind him and utters a brief spell, putting him instantly to sleep.

 

In the hallway, Bernard pulls off his tie, prepared to strangle Dean.  He's happy working for beautiful Rowena, who, most importantly, pays him very well.  But Dean, despite the blood covering his face, keeps fighting.  Bernard slams him up against the wall.  Jessica appears:  "Hurry!"  she urges.  He'd like her help, but she can't - remember, reapers don't interfere.  So Dean fights on, eventually managing to choke the goon into unconsciousness.  Jessica is impressed that he beat this guy with military training, but Dean is worried about Sam.  He races out of the building, only to see Sam's gun lying in the alley.  Jessica looks concerned, and Dean is panicked:  "Where the hell is my brother?"  

 

In her fancy hotel room, Rowena is pouring herself a drink.  Behind her, Sam is tied to a chair with invisible bonds.  She admits that she is flawed, petty, and evil.  She doesn't know if she can be redeemed, but she has to try.  The road to redemption for her is to give her son another chance.  Sam begs her to reconsider, but she says she has to kill him.  She yanks open the front of his shirt, then slices her palm and pours something into the cut.  "What wouldn't you do for your family?" she asks Sam, adding, "I'm sorry."  Then she slams her hand onto his chest.  A purple bolt of power painfully slams into Sam, who arches back in agony.  Behind Rowena, a figure appears - Billie.  "You're upsetting the natural order," she intones.  "That's unwise."  Sam implores Rowena:  "This isn't you."  Rowena says what happened wasn't fair, then, with a shriek, she hurls handfuls of power at Billie.  Her body is strained as she channels everything she has into the twin bolts aimed directly at Death.  Billie doesn't move, utterly unaffected.  Rowena collapses.  "You weren't ever going to kill him," says Billie.  Rowena starts weeping.  Billie approaches.  She acknowledges Rowena's desperation but adds calmly,  "Some things just ARE.  Everyone has to live with that."  

 

Dean bursts into the room, gun drawn.  "See you again soon," Billie tells him, tone calm but words ominous, before disappearing.  Rowena is in tears on the floor.

 

Cas and Naomi stand beside the sandbox in the quiet playground.  How long can heaven keep running?  They'll try to keep it going as long as they can, but some things can't be fixed.  "It's heaven!" insists Castiel.  "Everything ends, Castiel," says Naomi.  She says the gates are closed and leaves.  Cas crouches next to the sandbox, picking up a handful of sand, looking contemplative.

 

Dean and Sam and Rowena are all sitting on the floor having a drink.  The fact that Rowena didn't kill Sam showed progress, says Sam.  Dean grumps that it's a miracle.  Rowena feels so desperately guilty for what Fergus went through, but Dean reminds her that Crowley made his own choices, the same as they all have, and that he, and they, must live with the consequences of those choices.  Do they believe she can be redeemed?  Even Dean says he thinks she can be.  But they want her to help them get Jack and Mary back and stop Michael.  Oh, yeah, also, Lucifer is back.  Of course he is!  Rowena knows this is horrible news, but she is also resigned to terrible things happening.  After all, she says, Lucifer isn't the one who's going to kill me.  Sam looks conflicted:  "maybe we can change your fate!"  "You in?" asks Dean.  The camera focuses on Rowena as the episode ends.

 

Questions:

  1. Why wasn't Lucifer in heaven?  Where is he?
  2. We all knew that there weren't a lot of angels left.  But nine?  Did anyone guess that there were so few?  
  3. If Gabriel can't be moved by the plight of humanity, will the danger to heaven influence him?  
  4. We saw Billie offer more comfort in her words to Rowena than she ever has before.  What made her offer these words of wisdom to Rowena?
  5. Were you surprised at Rowena's motivation?  Here's yet another character seeking redemption!
  6. Death says Sam will kill Rowena.  Do you think this will happen or will Sam defy fate (the way the Winchesters have often refused to fall in line with what has supposedly been decreed for them)?

 

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!