Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of Supernatural Season 15, called "The Rupture."
Only three episodes of the final season have aired so far, but it's already clear that Supernatural isn't messing around. The first episode of Season 15 saw the Winchesters facing the prospect of fighting billions of souls unleashed by Hell, the second explained Kevin Tran's fate is to wander the world as a spirit cut off from Heaven, and the third revealed three deaths that already raise the question of who will be next. Sam's wound hasn't come in handy soon enough to save these three characters.
Before the final credits rolled on "The Rupture," the Winchesters lost Belphegor, Ketch, and Rowena, and unlike a lot of the previous deaths in previous seasons, these seem like they're going to stick. Supernatural showrunner Andrew Dabb did promise that the Winchesters are going to lose people "in a very real way" when those people never would have been lost in previous seasons!
Ketch was the first to breathe his last in "The Rupture." He survived being shot last week, only to be hunted down by the demon who had charged him with assassinating Belphegor. Since Ketch decided against doing that when he realized -- or perhaps "realized" is more appropriate after this episode -- that Belphegor was helping Sam, Dean, and Castiel, the demon wasn't happy with him.
When Ketch refused to give up his human friends, the demon went ahead and ripped Ketch's heart out, and this wasn't case of her popping it right back in after scaring Ketch. He was left dead on the floor of his hospital room. Death #1 was one of the good guys!
Death #2 was Belphegor. Sam, Dean, and Castiel split up as part of a desperate plan to use an artifact in Hell and Rowena's magic to suck all the souls back into Hell and trap them there. Cas went down into Hell with Belphegor to retrieve the artifact, and it was there that Cas learned Belphegor was really planning to absorb the souls to take over.
This was the final straw for Cas, who was already struggling with the fact that Belphegor was wearing a Jack suit, and he went ahead and burned the demon out of Jack's body. What was left of Jack burned in the process as well. R.I.P., Belphegor! You didn't last nearly as long as I thought you would.
The final and undeniably biggest death of the episode was Rowena. She waited as long as she could to reveal that the only way her spell to trap the souls back in Hell would work was if her still-pumping blood and last breath were used as the final ingredients, as death was the only thing that could contain the souls. Rowena had to die if the spell was going to work, and she was willing if that's what it took.
She couldn't do the deed herself, though, as it went against her nature to end her own life. She called upon Sam to do the deed, and although he originally resisted and wanted to find another way, she finally asked if he would sacrifice the life of his brother and so many others just to spare her. Sam realized that wasn't the case, and he was in tears when he finally drove the knife into Rowena's belly in what would be a killing blow.
She didn't immediately drop dead, but managed to stagger to the pit that led to Hell and finish her spell. She descended into the pit, and the souls went with her. Rowena saved the day, and humanity is seemingly out of danger from those billions of souls that had escaped Hell courtesy of Chuck at the end of Season 14. Rowena got a hero's death.
Now, was Rowena the biggest character on Supernatural? Not quite. Still, she was a much bigger death than I expected this early in the season, especially since she was really the Winchesters' only reliable witch ally. If they need magical assistance from here on out, they'll have to work a lot harder than a phone call. Does the death of Rowena mean more deaths are on the way?
Whether or not the loss of Rowena results in more deaths, there are undoubtedly more big losses on the way. At this point, I'm actually beginning to think that Castiel will die and stay dead by the end of Supernatural. As Misha Collins revealed to CinemaBlend, the tension between Sam and Cas isn't going anywhere any time soon, and Castiel was so upset by Dean's refusal to forgive him or even attempt to make peace with him that he left.
Could Supernatural be raising the angst so that it will be extra heartbreaking when Castiel dies, and/or The Empty comes to collect on the deal? I can't imagine Cas being so happy that The Empty would consider the time right to come for him unless Jack returns to the land of the living, but with God as the big bad, Michael potentially being sprung from the cage, and more that the boys (and viewers) don't even know about just yet, I won't rule anything else out.
If Castiel does die for good, though, it probably won't happen for a while, and I'm guessing Supernatural has more deaths to dish up in the meantime. For the Winchesters' sakes, I only hope that some of the deaths are to their big enemies rather than their allies. Only time will tell.
New episodes of Supernatural air Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. A character who hasn't been around in more than ten years will be back this season, and Supernatural will introduce a version of Dean who is "not from our world" and looks decidedly scruffy. All bets are off now that the show is definitely ending by the conclusion of the 2019-2020 TV season, and spinoffs that would need certain characters to survive are pretty unlikely.