Supernatural may have to change its motto from "never trust a witch" to "sometimes trust a witch."
For two seasons now, Crowley's (Mark Sheppard) mother Rowena (Ruth Connell) has lied, cheated and manipulated her way into getting whatever she wants from the Winchesters, no matter how many bodies she’s left in her wake. But somewhere along the way, against all odds and logical thinking, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) actually started to rely on the King of Hell's mother for help from time to time, whenever they needed a little magical assistance.
This week's funny-yet-touching episode, "Regarding Dean," is yet another instance of the Winchesters reaching out to Rowena for help, after Dean gets hit by a spell that rapidly begins erasing his memory and Sam enlists Rowena to track down an old-world family of powerful witches to reverse the effects.
Mashable spoke with Connell about whether or not Sam and Dean can trust Rowena to get the job done without stabbing them in the back, if she considers Rowena a hero or villain and more.
The previous episode went through quite a big time jump when Sam and Dean were in jail, so where has Rowena been all this time?
The episode opens with her in a gambling den. Rowena's quiet life and good time is still towards the naughty end of the spectrum of how you spend your time. The last thing we saw was her having her fiancé's brains blown up in her face by Crowley, which was the sweetest thing he's ever done for her. She's been under the radar but she's always up to something. But really we see her assistance and reaction unfold in this episode because the Winchesters need her help. She's really good at what she does and they need her. It's always nice to be wanted, right?
The Winchesters and Rowena have never trusted each other, for good reason, in the past. What makes this time so different?
It's a nice, dysfunctional friendship between us all. [Laughs.] There's a memory issue with Dean in this episode, and Rowena, rather than being a person who has caused it might actually be the person who can help. She can actually rectify the situation. There's fun to be had within all of that.
What was really cool for me about this episode was how much I got to work with Jensen and Jared, but also that we get to learn more of Rowena's backstory and that she was with this family of witches called the Lachlans. We actually get to see more of the human side of Rowena through this dysfunctional family and we'll learn a little bit of why she is the way she is. There's a lot in this episode. It's almost like a standalone. With Dean's memory going, Jensen was able to flex his comedy muscles but there's sadness in there too. I'm so excited to see how it turned out myself. I'm going to live-tweet it and watch it with the fans.
With Dean losing his memory, what kind of moments does that lead to between him and Rowena?
If Dean can't quite remember exactly who Rowena is, that opens a lot [of comedic moments] up. If somebody is really losing their memory, they're not going to remember what to say, and that ends up revealing more about yourself. One of my favorite scenes ever is in this episode between Rowena and Dean. It's always a pleasure working with Jensen.
Rowena was first introduced on the show as a villain in Season 10, but now she's working with Sam and Dean more than she's working against them. Do you think she's become one of the heroes, or does she still have a villainous streak in her?
I mean, you're saying villain, but I think sometimes people are just misunderstood, right? [Laughs.] But I think trust is such a funny word. It's like trusting a scorpion to do what it does. That's as much as you can trust any of them. She's been trapped by the Winchesters as well. They've slapped handcuffs on her. They've done all kinds of stuff to her so the degree of trust is low on both sides.
Rowena will always have some leverage because she's smart enough to never leave herself in a situation where she can't somehow get out of it. That's how she's survived as long as she has and Crowley is similar in that way. So it's more than just trust, it's trust within certain parameters.
That last time Crowley and Rowena were together, he exploded her fiancé right in front of her as – like you said – a "sweet" gesture. Did that change their dynamic moving forward?
We actually see more of Crowley and Rowena in episode 13. And that's when Rowena gets to meet her grandson Gavin [Theo Devaney]. That episode is really strong for Rowena as well. As I was reading it, I was like, "Oh really? Wow, okay." [Laughs.] I think the fans are going to be thrown for a wild ride.
And Crowley did that [exploded Rowena's cruel fiancé] because he needed her assistance. Neither of them seem to do anything without expecting something in return. That's how they function as whatever they are to each other. "I'll do this as long as I get X, Y and Z." So it's complicated. The more we explore that, the more complicated it gets. I think there's love there, and hate. There's everything.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.