The bloody end to Supernatural season 12 is turning out to be not so bloody after all. Castiel has, obviously, returned from the dead. Ketch made it out alive. Mary and Lucifer are still around, although maybe a little worse for wear. The only deaths that have really stuck are Crowley's and Jack's mother, Kelly. This became even more evident when Rowena returned to the season in the episode "Various and Sundry Villains." Episode 12 of season 13 wasn't just Rowena's reintroduction to the series, it was a bold new step for her character as she developed brand-new and apparently deadly powers.
Supernatural Recap: How and Why Is Rowena Back?>>>
The 'New' Rowena
Of all the "shocking" returns of dead characters in Supernatural season 13, "Various and Sundry Villains" was the most successful. Rowena's return, unlike Ketch and Castiel's, came as a real surprise and Supernatural made an effort to move her story forward with it. "Various and Sundry Villains" really sold the idea that Rowena has been changed by this resurrection, which is different than Ketch and Cas, where the status quo was resumed right away.
Rowena isn't a completely new character. As she proved multiple times in "Various and Sundry Villains," Rowena only cares for herself and her own skin. As many times as Rowena has worked with Sam and Dean, she'll also betray them in a blink of an eye. It's weirdly what makes Rowena such a refreshing presence because she's so stubbornly herself and selfish. While her moral alignment hasn't changed too drastically, Rowena does feel a lot more emotional and vulnerable than ever before on Supernatural.
It's because of this vulnerability that Sam decided to give Rowena the keys to unlock a massive amount of power. It's due to this huge development that Supernatural decided to drop some anvil-sized hints that whatever alliance exists between Rowena and the Winchesters will be ending very soon. According to Dean, Rowena might become too powerful a threat for the brothers to ignore or let live. This was an effective ending tease for "Various and Sundry Villains" but it shouldn't go much more beyond teasing. As much as Supernatural appeared to be setting Rowena up as the next villain, that's not a road that needs to be explored.
One Villain Way Too Many
Supernatural shouldn't take Rowena to a place like they took Crowley. The show doesn't need any redemption arc for the witch. There's no better line that describes Rowena than the one she uttered in "Various and Sundry Villains" about Crowley's death. Rowena would "much rather have a living son, even one that hated me, than a dead hero." Rowena is a magical, selfish cockroach and that's what makes her so enjoyable.
The character can and should grow, learning from her experiences and changing her mind about certain things. Rowena being truly scared of Lucifer in "Various and Sundry Villains" was one of her best moments, ever. Rowena is usually unshakable but that fear showed off a whole new side. Yet it still managed to keep her in the role of a magical free agent, not aligning with Sam and Dean but also not being against them.
Rowena is never going to be a stalwart friend of the Winchesters but she should always be in their good graces. It's the mode in which Rowena works best and makes sense; she's lived hundreds of years looking out for herself and there's no reason to make her a straight-up villain. To take Rowena to an overtly evil place would just be unnecessary. Supernatural can deal with Rowena's powers in a way that has consequences that doesn't change her from the character than fans enjoy.
Furthermore, the last thing that Supernatural needs in season 13 is another villain. The series already has way too many potentially catastrophic plotlines that aren't getting enough attention to think of adding villainous Rowena to the mix. Supernatural needs to wrap up the stories with Asmodeus, Ketch, the arrival of the new Michael, the morality of Jack and Lucifer's own loyalties before it even thinks about touching on Rowena as a villain.
Even if all those tall orders are completed, Rowena should still fill the same role as she always has on Supernatural, just now a lot more powerful and maybe more nuanced.
What do you think of the future of Rowena's character? Did the ending tease mean she'll be a new villain? Should Rowena face off against Sam and Dean? Are just you happy she's alive and back on the show?
(Image courtesy of the CW)