With only a few episodes of Supernatural left in the season, Sam, Dean, Castiel, and Gabriel head back to the apocalypse world with the help of Rowena and Lucifer
Supernatural is now racing toward the finish line of season thirteen. “Beat the Devil” begins not long after last week’s episode and features the return of Rowena (Ruth Connell), Gabriel (Richard Speight, Jr.), and Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). After a plan to use Gabriel’s grace to open a portal to apocalypse world results in a limp and ineffective portal (even archangels can have performance problems at times), Castiel (Misha Collins) suggests a new plan. The plan is simple yet dangerous. The first step is to capture Lucifer and constantly drain his grace to keep the portal open.
Once Lucifer is captured, Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles), Castiel, and Gabriel head to the apocalypse world to rescue Mary (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calvert). Rowena stays behind to keep an eye on Lucifer. Everything goes according to plan until Rowena makes Lucifer angry. He escapes and Rowena pushes him through the portal. On their way to meet up with Mary and Jack, Sam is killed by a group of vampires. Lucifer resurrects Sam and forces him to lead him to Jack.
“Beat the Devil” starts as a lighthearted and comedic episode. Gabriel’s usual brand of humor is mixed with Rowena’s. The resulting scenes are over-the-top and full of innuendo. But since this is Supernatural and we’re so close to the end of the season, the episode takes a rather dark turn as Sam is bloodily killed by vampires and Rowena is forced to directly confront Lucifer.
Lucifer resurrecting Sam adds hope to an otherwise dark episode while also making clear that there will be major consequences moving forward. Jack also comes face to face with his father for the first time. Will he succumb to Lucifer’s lies and manipulation? Or will he resist and not give into his father’s darker impulses?
Despite “Beat the Devil” playing with a lot of humor early on, it doesn’t take long for it to take a darker turn and play with our emotions. Let’s meet our roundtable and discuss “Beat the Devil!”
Sarah (@mishdestiel) – Writer, reader, student. Cornered by Supernatural eight years ago.
Hikari (@Kaeos_Tennyo) – Supernatural has had my soul for 13 years. Jack of many trades, master of few.
Cat Bow (@Pathryn34) – Wife and mother who tries to be loving and kind, but traffic…
Snowlantern (@sisselauisk) – Swedish translator, TV enthusiast and lifelong nerd.
Rae (@reviewsbyrae) – Star Wars and Supernatural fan and avid writer obsessed with all things storytelling
1. Gabriel and Rowena “read books” together (among other things). What do you think of the show pairing up those two characters? Does it work? Would you like to see more scenes with the two of them?
Sarah (@mishdestiel): Gabriel and Rowena are fun by nature, but together? They sure can put up a good show. I loved seeing them flirting and getting to business, it was a nice exchange. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing them together more times, though I feel like neither of them are “regular relationship” material. Maybe a friends with benefits scenario is more adequate for them?
Hikari (@Kaeos_Tennyo): Honestly, it made me a little uncomfortable, and for a moment I wondered if they messed up the spell and ended up with sex-pollen type effects. But, yeah, I think they could actually GET each other if they spent more time together. Not so sure I want to see many scenes of them together, though. That book labeled “Pipe Laying” though!
Cat Bow (@Pathryn34): Though the idea of them is intriguing and fun, the execution in the episode seemed like one would expect a bad porno to be. And though that is Gabriel’s theme, it just seemed a wee bit overdone. Them being caught, however, that was hilarious.
Snowlantern (@sisselauisk): That was a fun bit. Considering their personalities, I should have seen it coming. They’re both drifters and hedonists who enjoy life’s pleasures where they can get them. I don’t think it will lead to anything more long term though. I mean if Dean can have a carefree roll in the hay every now and then, so can Rowena!
Rae (@reviewsbyrae): I love it! The voice over monologues between the two of them were hilarious and Sam’s face alone when the boys walked in on them was worth it. I could watch that GIF every day for the rest of my life.
2. Part of the plan to save Mary and Jack involved constantly draining Lucifer of his grace to keep the rift open. Rowena was the only one left behind to guard Lucifer. Was that a good plan? Did it unfold as you expected or were you surprised by Rowena’s initial response? What about her decision to find a way to keep the portal open?
Sarah: It was a great idea to leave Rowena as a guardian. She is powerful, smart, capable and worthy of their trust. I saw the bad things coming, It was obvious that things wouldn’t work out perfectly (since they never do in Supernatural). When she made to leave, I was shocked for a second, but I remembered how much she changed and that convinced me she would stay…and she did. Also, her plan is great! I’m sure she’ll find a way to keep the portal open.
Hikari: I expected Lucifer to get away. I did NOT expect him to get shoved through the rift by Rowena, however. Rowena’s had her own character growth this season, and with the amount of monologuing she was doing, I knew she wouldn’t just leave. And if there’s anyone who can find a way to keep the portal open, it’s her. Especially with everyone (and Jack) on the other side.
Cat Bow: I wished they had thought to use a gag. But honestly, it turned how I expected and how it needed too. However, I really loved how Rowena was about to leave and she just couldn’t. It showed how much she has changed and how much her character has developed. How she really just can’t be the way she used to be. She cares too much now.
Snowlantern: Lucifer is apparently like the Hulk and gets extra powerful when angry. We’ve seen that earlier this season, when Cas riled him up and he broke them both out of Asmodeus’ jail, but Rowena didn’t know that. Rowena is a delightful character and she reacted exactly how I expected – she was about to leave, but found herself unable to. She has begun to care about the Winchesters and Cas and Gabe. She couldn’t just abandon them, no matter how much she honestly wanted to. “Bollocks!”
Rae: I called it right then and there that it wasn’t going to work. Lucifer is determined and annoying and as soon as Rowena mentioned Jack, I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. But, I do think it shows some character growth that she felt obligated (in a way) to stay and try to find a way to keep the portal open. Good on you, Rowena.
3. Sam was killed by vampires in “Beat the Devil.” Death is often a temporarily state on Supernatural but there are always consequences. Did you find Sam’s death surprising? Was it effective? Do you think Lucifer will use his resurrection of Sam against him in the future?
Sarah: Sam’s death was very unexpected to me. I thought that his actions during the whole episode were a little off, he was too hopeful, too happy, too weird, but I never saw it coming. I thought it was going to lead him to a disappointment somehow, not his death. Regarding Lucifer, I’m absolutely certain he will hold it against Sam. He already started doing that in the episode. Lucifer is manipulative, so that’s what I expect of him.
Hikari: Yes, I found it surprising they would actually kill Sam like that a couple episodes before the finale. While Dean and Cas’ grief was oh-so palpable, either Winchester dying has lost its edge. You KNOW they’re going to come back. Although it made a very nice statement about how much Dean’s grown, and I was worried after the end of last week’s episode. And heck yes, Lucifer’s going to milk that for all it’s worth. He only knows manipulation.
Cat Bow: Oh, it was effective. I was more surprised that they showed it on television than that it happened. I knew he wasn’t going to stay dead. But I was devastated to see his dead body just laying there. It hurt. And to see Dean so broken. Lucifer is going to use resurrecting Sam as an in with Jack. He knows that Jack had a relationship with Sam, he is going to use it to overcome the “poisoning” of Kelly against him.
Snowlantern: That scene was off to me. On a surface action level, even if Cas was too late to save Sam, why didn’t he just smite all the vamps and carry Sam’s body out with his angelic strength? Regarding the emotional story, I found it really hard to buy that Dean would just leave without even checking on Sam’s body. Jensen played it superbly though. Dean practically went mute and only choked out six or seven words during the rest of the episode. Heartbreaking. Sam was beautiful in this ep. He made the plan and the decisions and took charge.
Rae: Surprising? Yes. Effective? Hell, yes. That whole scene left me speechless and once we saw Dean emerge from the tunnel with dead eyes like he had at the end of season two, I was chilled to the bone. And I’m sure Lucifer will try, but I’m hoping Sam stays strong and doesn’t let his guilt eat him alive
4. Despite the darkness of the second half of “Beat the Devil,” the episode is full of humor and more lighthearted moments. Did that humor work well to balance out the darkness? What was your favorite humorous scene or moment? If you didn’t like the humor, what would you do to change it?
Sarah: It worked well for me because it’s good to have some nice, calm moments to remember instead of focusing solely on the bad darkness. My favorite humorous moment was Rowena and Gabriel flirting through sexual innuendos about how Gabriel’s grace didn’t work for the spell. I had been waiting for something like that since Gabriel came back. His “dirty mind” is a strong aspect of him and his personality, so it was nice to see it being played.
Hikari: Oh man, choosing one humorous element is difficult. I really liked the opening scene however, with the dream-family moment. And while the dick jokes, the insinuations about performance, the limp portal, and Gabe’s face in Cas’ crotch were funny, I kind of feel it was maybe just a little over the top. The switch to pain was almost like getting emotional whiplash. So I might have toned it down, especially the Gabe’s face in Cas’s crotch scene.
Cat Bow: Overall, the episode was so painful. I feel the funny parts were a “You better laugh now, cause you won’t later” kind of thing. My favorite part was when the first rift just went limp. Everybody’s reaction from Gabriel’s embarrassment to Rowena’s barb was hilarious.
Snowlantern: When Supernatural wants to be funny, it often turns into an 11 year old boy giggling over dick jokes. That’s just what the show is like – after all, the whole of season 7 was one long dick joke. Sometimes that’s my kind of humor, sometimes not. Either way, it was a delight to see Rowena and Gabriel having scenes together. They’re both sparkly, snarky frenemy types and together they create a fizzy, bubbly energy. But my favorite lighthearted scene was the pizza dinner from Sam’s dream, which had a very different kind of humor.
Rae: This show has been on for almost 13 seasons. Anytime the writers give us comedic moments, I brace myself for the onslaught of darkness that’s just around the corner. We’re only an episode away from the season finale so I don’t expect us to see much humor going forward. My favorites were Cas’s concerns about Dean’s pizza-eating habits and the boys walking in on Rowena and Gabe.
5. The rift that’s being kept open to the apocalypse world doesn’t only work one way. While it’s understandable that extreme steps would need to be taken to save Mary and Jack, do you think that leaving the rift open for so long is a good idea? Will Michael find it and send his army through?
Sarah: The fact that the rift just stays there, unguarded, makes me sweaty and uneasy. I’m surprised nothing came through so far! It’s a dumb move to leave it there when there are so many threats in the Alternate Universe. I think Michael and his army will be dealt with on the AU, not in our world, so my worries go to all the hungry altered monsters wandering around in the AU that can come into the bunker at any given time.
Hikari: I really expect, if not Michael, for SOMETHING to come through, and it worries me. It bothered me last time they did this. They could have bottled a care package to send them back through and taken the stuff with them, in my opinion. As for Michael, I’m not sure, he’s sent his armies further south, so unless there’s a stray angel around to tip him off, I think he has other plans. Although, now that I think about it, there were angels for Lucifer to eat when he came through. Hmm…
Cat Bow: I, too, worry about the rift being opened for too long and used for ill. We know rifts let off energy others can feel, and that was a powerful rift. However, I don’t see Michael getting to the rift and getting through. He is in the south and maybe won’t want to break ranks.
Snowlantern: Now that Lucifer isn’t feeding it, the rift will only stay open for 24 more hours, unless Rowena can find some magical extension. But in that time someone or something will definitely come through from the Apocalypse world. Michael and his angel army set loose upon our world could serve as a major threat for season 14.
Rae: I didn’t see any other option for our fearless team, but now I think either the portal closes because they don’t get there in time or Michael and his army find a way through.
6. The Winchesters are once again fully reunited. Jack and Castiel are as well. Unfortunately for everyone except Lucifer, Jack and Lucifer have now met. How do you see that playing out? Will Lucifer have influence over his son? Or will he be rejected outright? Since Gabriel is still weakened, can they afford to not work with Lucifer against Michael?
Sarah: Jack grew a lot since he first appeared on the show. He changed and built his personality, chose his values and beliefs. He will reject Lucifer at first, though I think he will end up having to stay with him against his will in order to save someone, possibly Sam. With Gabriel weakened and Lucifer having power over Sam, Team Free Will 2.0 (+Gabriel) will have to work with Lucifer to beat Michael, since they don’t really have a choice and all their recent plans have been terrible.
Hikari: Jack’s not going to be happy, but he will want to get to know his biological father at least a little. If anything, to try to understand him. And Luci’s a manipulative bastard, while Jack is still naive, so there’s plenty of manipulation that can take place. They really have no choice but to try to work with Lucifer at this point, unless Gabriel takes to also cannibalizing other angels’ grace.
Cat Bow: For pure firepower alone, the fact that they have two archangels, an archangel nephilim, a powerful angel and the Winchesters is impressive and may be necessary considering they are going up against Michael’s angel army. I feel sorry for them. I know Sam hated leading Lucifer to Jack. As for Jack, I think this is a part of himself he needs to come to terms with. He is Lucifer’s son and needs to see how loathsome Lucifer is. So that he can fully reject Lucifer.
Snowlantern: Maybe Jack is going to be tempted by the Devil and (temporarily) turn bad. Maybe, less likely, Jack will be able to make Lucifer “see,” like he did with Cas from the womb. I hope Jack will reject Lucifer outright, like he’s consistently been doing since before he was born. I so do not want to see any reluctant alliance with Lucifer, and I think it might rather be the case that without Rowena and Gabriel’s heavenly roofie, there’s no way to control him. Unless Jack is able to.
Rae: Lucifer is a charmer and expertly uses people’s weaknesses against them so I think we’ll see a little back and forth between him and Jack this next episode. I do believe Jack will stand his ground, but who knows? They’ll have to work with Lucifer in some way against Michael. I don’t see how they don’t, especially since he resurrected Sam.
7. There are only two episodes left in the season. How do you think the last two episodes will play out? What will the cliffhanger be? If you already had a theory for how the season will end, did “Beat the Devil” change your mind about it?
Sarah: The following two episodes will have many gunfights and grace fights, I’m certain. “Beat the Devil” only charged up my theories for the end of season 13. Sam and Dean’s codependency has been extra strong lately (much to my disgust) and I feel like that will lead to one of them making sacrifices for each other. Regarding Castiel, Jack, Gabriel and Mary, I think they will all make it out alive, though not together. And the cliffhanger? A major character’s death. I would bet on Dean.
Hikari: Oh man, how do I avoid spoilers with a question like that? In my opinion, the cliffhanger will be [redacted] wearing [redacted]’s face in a snazzy suit. “Beat the Devil” did not change my mind about the finale, although it solidified some themes they’ve been building upon this season, and if anything, strengthened my thoughts on how it will end. I cannot wait for these next two weeks, if this episode set the tone for them.
Cat Bow: I’m really unsure of how exactly the episodes will play out. I do expect that Dean becoming someone different will happen and be the cliffhanger. Of how to get him back being one of the cliffhangers. Unfortunately, the only thing that this episode changed is that I fear Sam will less likely to kill Lucifer, which is something I really wanted.
Snowlantern: Some new element will probably be introduced in the last two episodes and cause something unexpected to happen. Jack turning dark or scary will probably be a factor. Lucifer, Gabriel and AU!Michael should come to a head. On my personal wish list, I want to see the Apocalypse world’s version of Castiel get involved. The obvious cliffhanger would be to have people stuck on the wrong side of the rift, possibly on both sides – Michael here and (parts of) Team Free Will there. And let’s not forget the prophecies about Dean’s death by Rowena, and Rowena’s death by Sam.
Rae: When Sam died, I immediately thought of the rumors that Jensen will be playing someone other than Dean. And then I thought, well, if he wanted to save Sam that bad, could he agree to be the vessel for this world’s Michael? Even though Sam’s alive, I’m still worried about it. I never try to think too much about the finales in this show, though. I just brace myself for extreme heartache and sobbing.
Final Verdict: “Beat the Devil” manages to balance the humorous with the dark in a uniquely Supernatural manner
Our poor hearts! “Beat the Devil” immediately starts off incredibly strong by showing us a humorous yet happy dream with the Winchesters back together with Castiel, Jack, and their mother. From there, the episode immediately turns into an amusing, innuendo-filled series of scenes with Gabriel being unable to “perform” due to being weakened. Rowena and Gabriel initially clash. But before long, they start flirting and get caught having sex behind a bookshelf in the Bunker. Both Richard Speight, Jr. and Ruth Connell are in top form with their comedic timing and onscreen chemistry. It’s a pairing that we never really considered before but it works quite well and makes perfect sense in practice.
But from there, things take a much darker turn as Sam is brutally killed by vampires while Dean is forced to watch. The death of main characters can be expected at this stage in the series. However, if done well, they can still have a lasting impact on the current story being told, and so far at least, that’s the case here with Sam. Dean reuniting with Mary is especially heartfelt and handled exceptionally well by Samantha Smith and Jensen Ackles. It’s nice to finally have the Winchesters, Jack, and Castiel all reunited even if Lucifer is led directly to Jack in the process.
Despite “Beat the Devil” being full of humor, there are points where it may have gone a bit overboard with the innuendo. Sam’s death and subsequent resurrection may not work well for everyone either. The Winchesters have died so many times at this point in the series that even if a death is surprising, we know that they’ll always be brought back somehow. The consequences are what often make deaths on Supernatural work or fall flat on their face. So far, it’s too early to know how Sam’s death and resurrection by Lucifer will play out going forward.
With only two more episodes in the season, we’re expecting the situation on the apocalypse world to escalate. How will Sam’s resurrection play a role? Will the Winchesters be forced to ally with Lucifer? Will Jack succumb to Lucifer’s manipulation? We’ll just have to wait and see next week!