When character A requires item B to accomplish task C, item B tends to be one or more of a few things; well guarded, well hidden, and contained by some elaborate trap. Tonight’s episode of Supernatural pits the Winchesters against a deadly device handcrafted by the ex-men of letters, Magnus as Sam searches for the means to decrypt the text within the book of the damned.
By keeping the general plot simple and guiding, “The Werther Project” combines older plot threads and weaves them together without suffering the basic premise and direction style, which was done creatively for the time given. Rowena and Sam’s alliance proves to be at the moment, fruitful in their attempts to get what they want while Dean proves his curse comes with certain iron-clad benefits.
After a brief flashback regarding a device uncovered in the 70’s by a young girl in a house, the present continues the conversation Sam and Rowena started last episode. She needs specific codecs that will help decrypt the book of the damned and Sam learns that Magnus had created a device to protect it, but it took the lives of two men of letters which led to his banishment. Sam finds the house keeping the device and Dean follows him. They infiltrate the house and the girl living in it, who is now decades older and still suffering from watching her family take their lives due to the device. Sam unknowingly release the device’s trap and both the woman, Suzie and Dean are infected by it. Suzie falls victim to the ghosts of her family and Dean finds himself back in Purgatory with Benny, his subconscious ally. Rowena appears to help fend off the trap while Sam uncovers the means to deactivate the device and open it. It requires men of letters blood which he sheds freely. Benny attempts to persuade Dean to end his life, but Dean admits the curse won’t let him regardless of his choice and he fights off the hallucination just in time to give some of his blood to the device to shut it down before Sam passes out. After the codecs are recovered, Sam chains Rowena in an abandoned location with incentive to translate the spell needed in exchange for killing Crowley. Rowena is distraught by her capture but Sam is resolute.
The men of letters may not be the most inventive and entertaining plot device, but the details of certain elements of their past has proven to put Sam and Dean through creative instances that so far have been rewarding. Tonight, there’s just enough to show that a simple “find item B to accomplish task C” can be just as entertaining as your typical end-of-the-world storyline. In his prime, Magnus was at best, an egotistical bedlamite who’s deranged creations led to several deaths of people who didn’t deserve it. I’m not dismayed they took an entire episode to get something that could just have easily been in a drawer at HQ, but hopefully it doesn’t drag on from there. All the pieces for the mark’s removal are shuffling into place with the exception of Sam’s agreement to kill Crowley.
The other few wildcards are Dean’s eventual discovery of said plan and Metatron’s demon tablet that may or may not be a vital element toward the finale. Will it take a lot to convince Dean to kill Crowley, or will Sam even follow through with it, knowing Rowena is the greater of two evils? And even more, what’s to say the road to removing the mark comes with a steeper price than Sam is even aware of? Will he pay it, and almost as importantly, will Dean fight against it because the mark will make him?
Even with all these unknowns, Sam and Dean handled a self-contained artifact for tonight that played as well as any old school episode from years past. There were mysterious elements that came and went, but the crux of the Werther project was how it almost fooled Sam into killing himself. When Rowena touched Sam to help expel more blood, I was still convinced she was real, because at that point the yellow-ish apparition hadn’t made physical contact. I would have thought Sam’s death should have played against turning the device off and the entity would want to maintain it’s own survival rather than play at killing another human that threatened it. But because it didn’t have real consciousness (Speculatively) it played it’s role as it was supposed to. Would Dean have survived if the mark wasn’t keeping him in check? Benny made a heck of an argument for him.
I liked Dean’s realization that the mark wouldn’t let him die the way the trap wanted him to. He’s always been the kind of person to accept full responsibility and while Benny argued what staying alive would do, Dean stuck to his guns and proved he was more powerful than his subconscious desire to thrive in a way of life that Purgatory demanded. Now his actions with killing the vamps suggests he’s taking things in stride, but overall it was good to see him interact with someone he considered to be a close friend, even if he wasn’t real.
Dean and Benny get a co-award this time. It’s easy for Dean to revel in his revelations and see him making the effort and fighting the good fight because that’s his nature, but Benny is a good reminder that in Purgatory he needed a friend like Benny and his essence still managed to help him, even if it was only to be the thing he needed to hear for his decision to be made.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
I can easily see this as a Dean and Crowley versus Sam and Rowena finale. It’s not an ideal way to go about it, but tension and release is what makes for good storytelling. Especially if Dean doesn’t understand the whole picture, or worse, he does.
I almost don’t want Metatron’s demon tablet endgame to be a factor for the rest of this season. His existence has seemed little more than an afterthought for season 10 and to swoop in with some crazed new hell-fire plan at the crux of the mark’s removal will just seem tacky.
How does Sam plan on killing the king of hell? Will he go about it alone or will he in fact convince Dean to help him. Or, is Sam just bluffing?
8 out of 10. The best part about this standalone episode is that it wasn’t a stand alone episode. Many elements fulfilled what it means to have a self-contained story, but the object in question had such a significant purpose that you simply can’t leave this out of the main arc. In all the dark corners between the brothers, Sam managed to keep his secret for now and Dean for the moment accepted that there’s just nothing he can do for the mark, but at least he’s a shield to certain threats and that makes him dangerously powerful. Only a few more episodes left. Good track record toward the end. Keep em’ coming.
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