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‘Supernatural’ Review/Recap: “The Werther Project”

Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Jared Padalecki in the Supernatural episode "The Werther Project." Photo Credit: The CW.
Jared Padalecki in the Supernatural episode “The Werther Project.” Photo Credit: The CW.

Well, we’re getting closer, folks and Supernatural senses that we’re still here, along for the ride. While this week’s episode wasn’t especially spectacular in theory, the character development “The Werther Project” brought out sure was.

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? The most interesting and telling aspect of the episode was the suicidal trances the Men of Letters box gave our favorite brothers. Though it was sad to see Suzie’s character (a strong woman, it’s important to note) go, her death was, of course, the catalyst for the “Werther effect” spreading to the Winchesters. The “Werther effect,” upon further research, is a cluster of same-looking (copy-cat) suicides, based on or following that of another person. In this episode, the spell protecting the Men of Letters box gave everyone in the area suicidal thoughts, so it isn’t exactly the Werther effect, but the connection is sound.

Jensen Ackles in the Supernatural episode "The Werther Project." Photo Credit: The CW.
Jensen Ackles in the Supernatural episode “The Werther Project.” Photo Credit: The CW.

Sam (Jared Padalecki) had the first hallucination, immediately following Suzie’s death, and in it, the woman forced him to take a long look at his actions. He had intruded into her home, on her privacy, on the very subject and box Suzie begged the Winchesters not to touch. He was the reason she was dead, after all those years of evading the same horrible fate as her family. If that wasn’t guilt-inducing enough, Suzie then came at Sam with some ghost-knowledge about his motives. She challenges him, reminding him that he’s no closer to finding a cure for Dean than he was weeks before. She shouts:

You think Dean’s the wildcard, the loose canon. But don’t you see; making deals with witches, opening Pandora’s box down there, you’re the reckless one. You’ll do anything to keep clinging to that doomed brother of yours, how many more will die Sammy? You know it! You have to be stopped, and the only that can stop you is you! Do it Sammy, end this farce once and for all!”

While this, of course, was just the spell finding its home in Sam’s mind, the ideas presented are clearly some that Sam feels all the time. He’s absolutely obsessed with saving his brother. That’s nothing new, but the reckless quality it’s taken on is. If we weren’t worried about where their seemingly futile journey was going before, we sure are now. If Dean doesn’t survive this time, and Sam can’t survive Dean not surviving—to whom does that leave the fate of humanity?

Ruth Connell and Jared Padalecki in the Supernatural episode "The Werther Project." Photo Credit: The CW.
Ruth Connell and Jared Padalecki in the Supernatural episode “The Werther Project.” Photo Credit: The CW.

We get the, arguably, most telling look inside a character’s mindset, however, when Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) is thrown into a suicidal trance. He is transported back into Purgatory and led around by his old (deceased) pal, Benny (Ty Olsson). While this plot point could be seen as cheap thrills, a way to see if the viewers are paying attention and an excuse to use that cool, blue-y effect in post-production, these moments in “Purgatory” are actually quite revealing of Dean’s mindset. Benny, of course, tries to convince Dean to “stay” with him in Purgatory; he reminds him of how “pure” it is, how he wouldn’t have to pick fights. Even though this is Dean’s hallucination—of course they’re his own thoughts—it’s still surprising how easily these arguments creep into his realm of possibility. He considers staying, considers the ability to kill for survival and at will, considers not being a burden on the people he loves. But the most telling piece of the whole episode occurred when Dean was able to pull himself from the hallucination. The eldest Winchester tells “Benny” that he would kill himself, he would do what needed to be done, if it came to that, but as of right now, Mark won’t let him. Again, this isn’t surprising information—we’ve always known what capabilities lay dormant inside him—but Dean’s acceptance of death is usually short-lived. Here, we are reminded that he can’t even consider death a possibility until the Mark leaves his arm. Until then, only the Mark has the power to destroy him.

Finally, Rowena’s (Ruth Connell) increased involvement in the season has truly stirred the pot. She’s such a strong and fun female character to watch, and it’s awesome that she’s still up to her dastardly deeds. This episode, we go from trusting her a little, to completely, to not at all, to just being feeling unsure. Overall, her actions make sense, but there was one scene in particular that didn’t fully compute. After the Winchesters fill the Men of Letters bowl with Men of Letters blood so that the Men of Letters box will open (anybody else getting a little sick of the Men of Letters being so obsessed with themselves?!), Rowena mutters what sounds like, “Oh well,” and disappears into smoke the same color as the hallucination spell. Now, this could mean any number of things: Rowena was a hallucination the whole time—but then how did Sam reveal the encryption on the box to open it? Rowena did that to keep Dean in the dark about her pact with Sam—but if that’s true, then why didn’t Dean seem to see her and acknowledge that she shouldn’t be there? There are so many questions that we surely won’t get the answers to. Perhaps it was just lazy or sloppy editing—maybe it’s easiest to just make every instance of smoke the same color in an episode.

At the end of the day, this episode did the work it needed to do. It wasn’t awe-inspiring, but it was strong. The character development we got was priceless, and we’re well on our way to rounding out season 10! Make sure to schedule any hallucinations around next week’s episode, “Angel Heart,” in which we see the return of the badass Claire Novak (Kathryn Love Newton), next Wednesday at 9 pm on the CW!

Overall Episode Grade: B

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