Good intentions produce negative consequence: a running theme throughout this week’s installment. It is a hard learned lesson on any day, but when you mix in spells and witches and hex boxes, well, it’s even more complicated and gets even messier. “The Werther Project” served as an epilogue of sorts to 10.18. The details of the Sam-Rowena agreement were solidified and the elements needed to make that deal happen were all brought together. We had some solid emotional moments and a first-class piece of honest confrontation about our characters and their actions. “The Werther Project” was an enjoyable, character driven episode overall – so let’s dive into it, shall we?
Sam was a busy boy this week. Deals here, rescues there. As I mentioned above, one of the running themes this week was helpful intentions with negative consequences. The Men of Letters had the Werther Box for safekeeping intentions but it drove those around it to suicide. Sam and Dean were around to get the box from Suzy and take it to safer space and unintentionally unleashed it. Sam wants to help Dean and has made this deal with Rowena – to what end? To be clear, I’m not issuing blame, etc. simply stating that, as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The deal between Rowena and Sam is that in exchange for curse removal, Sam will execute Crowley. Last we saw Crowley he’d just been rediscovering his badass and manipulative ways – in particular by throwing out his mother. We also know the demon tablet is in play somewhere. So, the question becomes is Rowena going to reveal the assassination plot in order to have the Winchesters off Crowley’s dance-card the way she wanted it last we’d heard? Or is it truly to kill her son? If yes, then newly badass Crowley, who will likely get that tablet at some point, is going to be a bit more formidable than expected.
Initially, we witnessed that Sam was more hesitant about his deal with Rowena as evidenced by him pulling back the Book and mentioning walking out. Even the expression on his face was unsure. By the end however, he was absolute in his course. Whether Sam really heard the words Suzy said to him or not, they were words that he needed to hear. She accused him of being reckless in his actions and more unpredictable than Dean, the brother he was concerned about all the time. And she was right, because the more desperate Sam becomes, the more erratic he can become.
By the end when he chains up Rowena and restates the exact parameters of their agreement, having factored in her devious ways and the likelihood she’d try and steal the Book or something from it, it seems he’s paused and taken a moment to consider variables in a better way.
Dean, whether he would or wouldn’t kill himself, can’t be killed because of the Mark. He knows this at every level of his conscious and unconscious self and it kept him from even attempting anything under the influence of Werther. However, he was able to have a conversation with himself that was interesting. First – how great was it to see Benny, even if he was a conjuration of imagination? Ty Olsen is such a great addition to any episode! Regardless of what Dean actually wants to do, how he wants to spare his family, he’s completely trapped by the Mark “for better or worse” because it will not allow him to die. Dean talks about how tired of fighting he his now – that in combination with the talk last week about a long beach vacation, Dean might be thinking of a sabbatical when this is all over. And really, who could blame him?
Suzy commented that Dean wasn’t the unstable one, it’s Sam. I will say that as far as Dean goes he seems to have a good handle on when he needs a release, what his limits are and where to drawn his lines. He mentioned to Sam that the vampires were part of an outlet for him; he knows he needs that; he also acknowledged later that he shouldn’t have gone alone. Ultimately he told Benny that he misses Purgatory and he’s tired. Does he get to a place where he’s too tired to hold control anymore and the Mark overrides command? He’s so in control lately, but Dean’s mentioned tired or need a break a few times of late. You can’t help but wonder how long can he maintain.
The Werther Box
As villains of the week go, the Box offered a unique battle. Not only did the boys have the challenge of a riddle to disable the box, but they had to do so while fighting with their own delusions (that Sam didn’t even realize was a delusion – and frankly neither did I). The box was a clever design and having Suzy guard it for 40 years, all alone was both sad and well written after we watched her family self-slaughter.
One of the best scenes in the show was Sam and fake-Rowena at the box solving the riddle and then Sam bleeding for the box. That it needed legacy blood was a good failsafe, as nobody other than Men of Letters could have deactivated the box. The other great scene was Dean rushing down and shoving Sam out of the way because it “doesn’t just have to be one legacy” and bleeding into the bowl.
Oddly, when she isn’t whining at Crowley, Rowena is not just tolerable but enjoyable as a character. Rowena as a hallucination was witty, on point and almost charming in an evil way – quite calm in opposition to Sam’s underlying panic about Dean’s state. She was quite unexpected, at least to this watcher, as a hallucination. In fact, I was hoping Dean would be let in on the goings-on when he rushed to find Sam and discovered Rowena. So, as characters go, Rowena is back in the good books of enjoyable and interesting for the moment – plus she holds a purpose.
Odds and Ends and Final Thoughts
As always, great set designs – the old, run down Missouri house was beautiful and Purgatory felt just like the old days. Besides that, the eerie green sparkles driving everyone to suicide were sufficiently spine-chilling. The plot of this one was just right – nice bookend to last week, gathering the supplies for Rowena to hold up her end with Sam. Finally, that ending note was just right – angry witch and absolute Sam: this is what we’re doing, how we’re doing it. Period. Good episode, overall. Interesting new ideas with a hex box gone overboard and great way to stage a visit from an old friend.