Supernatural – Season 10 Episode 19
“The Werther Project”
Supernatural takes some time to really explore the nature of the Winchester’s relationship at this point in the season as Sam goes looking for a book that will help Rowena translate the text he found last week.
I have frequently mentioned in my other reviews that Sam has taken something of a back seat this season and only tends to appear in episodes to supplement Dean’s story rather than have any development of his own. It’s refreshing to have an episode where he is the central figure and have Dean play the supporting role.
Sam’s role in this episode is still keeping the focus on helping Dean cure the Mark of Cain but it’s interesting to explore how the proximity to it has affected him. He has become obsessed with saving his brother and finding a cure so has focused all of his energies on doing just that. We’re still at the point where he feels he has to lie to Dean for reasons I still can’t quite figure out but that’ll come crashing down soon enough.
I’m still baffled by the notion that he would go to Rowena for help but at least he’s not being stupid about it. She’s charismatic and charming -or at least appears to be based on how she interacts with others, I don’t personally see it- but Sam sees through that and always keeps her at arms length just in case he falls for any of her nonsense. His acceptance of her part of the bargain involving killing Crowley will surely make for some interesting conflict when he tries that and Dean ultimately disapproves.
The premise this week involves a box that houses a great evil but also holds a book that will help Rowena find a cure for Dean. It’s not as simple as opening the box and taking it because whatever is inside infects people and forces them to relive painful memories until they are driven to kill themselves.
It’s a pretty simple horror concept but it works incredibly well at showing the Winchester’s some home truths for better and for worse. The character of Susie is impressively tragic as a person who has lived in that house for most of her life knowing that the box is in her basement and caused her family to commit suicide. She knows how dangerous it is and clearly doesn’t want anyone else to come to harm because of it. Brenda Bakke does a fantastic job playing Susie as a woman who has lived her whole life in terror and doesn’t want any human contact.
When the box is opened and she sees her family again she is driven to suicide and them Sam’s mind uses her as the manifestation of his regrets. She represents every person the Winchesters have failed to save over the past decade and how much that affects them. They don’t talk about it very much because if they did then they’d go insane but it’s there beneath the surface and it was interesting to see Sam forced to deal with that. Rowena lifts him out of it but before that point Jared Padalecki played the distress perfectly.
Dean being shown the illusion of purgatory with Benny (Ty Olsson) filling his head with the necessary doubts was really interesting to see. Benny is definitely one of the characters who gets Dean in ways that others don’t so using him as a catalyst to get him to end his life makes a lot of sense. The dialogue between the two of them is really illuminating as it shows where Dean is in terms of his devotion to hunting. It’s something he can’t live without and he likes that he is able to help people by doing it.
Having the Mark of Cain be the thing that allows him to see through the illusion is pretty much as expected. Whenever we see something that affects “normal” people on the show Dean will be affected differently because of the mark. It’s becoming a trope now but in this instance it makes a lot of sense. Being a curse the Mark of Cain exerts some influence on Dean and it seems to enhance his self preservation instinct so having some ghostly presence whispering in his ear about killing himself won’t quite be enough to break through the powerful magic encouraging him to do otherwise.
I also found his admission that he loved being in purgatory really fascinating. It’s something that feels appropriate to his character given how hunting is his life. It’s a place where he can do that all the time and for Dean I can understand how that would give him some kind of inner peace. It’s also makes sense that Dean would be willing to end his life if he really had to but won’t do so otherwise.