Supernatural: The Werther Project
April 24, 2015 1:45 AM - Season 10, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean pursue cases independently, each for their own reasons.

Sam works with Rowena to decode the Book of the Damned, seeking out a powerful spell book that has been protected by a dangerous enchantment. Dean pursues a nest of vampires independently as hunting seems to take the edge off. Much to Sam's surprise, Dean joins him on his case, resulting in Dean getting trapped by a dangerous enchantment.
posted by cfoxhi (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It was interesting to see Benny again, even if it he wasn't real. I liked him better as a representation of Dean's unconscious that I had in his Season 8 appearances in Supernatural.
posted by cfoxhi at 1:47 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The twist of having Rowena turn out to be a figment driving Sam to suicide was handled nicely.

That said, the fact that Sam, knowing as much about the history and purpose of the box as he did, still thought some basic simple "open" spell would just open the box without triggering the trap designed to prevent witches from getting the book, was truly irritatingly stupid.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:37 AM on April 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sam: "Hey Cas, now that you've got your grace back, how about popping over to this address and breaking a spell so no innocent people get hurt?"
Castiel: *poof* I need blood.
Sam: *gets woozy*
SamL *Healed by Castiel*
Castiel: Here's the book. A lady tried to shoot me, so I made her unconscious. Good thing you called me here instead of trying to open the safe by yourself, she could have been injured.

Episode length: 2 minutes.

Why less Misha this season?
posted by FallowKing at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

So, WAS Rowena just a figment? I wasn't sure. It seemed like she said some magic-y word before she poofed away, so I was figuring she'd teleported herself.

Why less Misha this season?

They've always been kind of stingy with the Mish. I dunno why, since he's such a fan fave. I suppose if they used him more, too many episodes would be over in 2 minutes.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:51 AM on April 28, 2015

So, WAS Rowena just a figment?

I thought that was confusing too. I was like, "Turn around Dean!" In retrospect though, it seemed that Rowena was a hallucination caused by the enchantment. She was trying to make him commit suicide in a very Winchester "saving my brother" way. The fact that Rowena was surprised he had the book seems to confirm that she was a hallucination.

Why less Misha?

I agree that he is so powerful that a lot of episodes would be over immediately. He can easily decimate many of the earthy foes, especially now that he has his grace back. But also, there's so many characters (many whom I love, so I'm not complaining) taking up space in the show lately, which may be part of it.
posted by cfoxhi at 9:58 PM on May 4, 2015

I was convinced Rowena was there until the reveal at the end, wherein she seemed to represent the spell being aware that it had failed, hence her kind of shrug comment and poofing after Dean broke the spell with the contribution of his blood. I appreciated that they telegraphed the solution at the beginning of the episode with whatshisnamefromStargate telling the Men of Letters that the guy who was found dead with slit wrists was the one who had come closest to breaking the spell.

I was slightly surprised that they killed off the woman who had lived in the house for so long, but I think it helped serve the role of convincing us that Rowena was real. She loves those capes, huh?

Dean and Bennie. It was a nice return to our friendly vampire and purgatory remained a bit spooky.
posted by Atreides at 7:08 AM on May 20, 2015


Rowena MacLeod: [getting a call from Sam] It's a bit early. I'm over 300 years old. Beauty sleep isn't optional.

Cuthbert Sinclair: We were brought here to do great things. To take risks, to bring the fight to the monsters of this world; and yet, to a man, you choose instead to molder in these stacks. You are *not* men. You're librarians. Nothing more.

Markham: I'm prepared to give you a chance to secure our leniency. Tell us how to shut it down. The box is still in St. Louis with the codex. It's still a danger.
Cuthbert Sinclair: Let me tell you what you can do with your leniency, Markham.

Dean: I'm sorry. I don't always like to wait around for you, especially with you looking at me like that all the time.
Sam: Look at you like what?
Dean: Like that. Like I'm some sort of diseased killer puppy. You know what, man? I'm sweaty and I'm covered in vamp juice. Can we just talk about this later? I'd like to get back to the bunker, get my buzz on, and pass out watching Speed 2: Cruise Control. We cool?

Rowena MacLeod: I know what I've said about your kind, but... oh. The man who came up with this? The craftsmanship of the box, the sadism of the spellwork... It's all so deliciously baroque.

Suzie: [pointing a gun at Sam's groin] You got three choices: get arrested, get your bits blown off, or get back.
Sam: Yeah, all right. I think I'll, uh, get back. Sorry.
Suzie: Attaboy.
Sam: [retreats to the car]
Dean: [suddenly appears and gets into the car] Hey ya, Sammy. How's the case?
Sam: What are you doing here?
Dean: Well, it looks like, uh, I'm here to save your sac.

Sam: Suzie's hallucinations drove her to suicide. Same thing happened to her family. Werther's illusions tried to do the same thing to me.
Rowena MacLeod: And so?
Sam: So I can't leave Dean alone like this.
Rowena MacLeod: Well, then... we'll just have to tie up the bonny lad. Could be fun.


The title is likely based on the Werther Effect. Werther Effect is a sociological term for when there are numerous copycat suicides after a highly publicized suicide, based on Goethe's novel The Sorrows of Young Werther.

In the 1973 flashback scene of the cold open, the mother tells her daughter to help with housework and adds, "Please, none of your Betty Friedan stuff." In 1963 Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a book arguing that women aren't truly satisfied to be only wives and mothers anymore than men would be fulfilled by being only husbands and fathers, and that women need and want work and goals and plans of their own.

When introducing himself to Suzie as a member of the neighborhood watch, Dean uses the alias Dwight Twilley. Twilley was the lead singer of the successful 70's pop/rock group Dwight Twilley Band.

Someone Sam's size would have at least 16 pints of blood. Tolerance varies, but generally a healthy person can lose 15% of their blood with minimal symptoms; that means Sam could lose 2.5 pints, over a quart, and still function normally. Over 20% loss and you generally start getting a bit light headed; at 30% loss you are in trouble, confused and weak. For Sam 30% would be at least 5 pints, over a half gallon. The amount of blood that Sam's bled into the bowl when Dean arrives and finds him almost passed out is far less than that, and isn't nearly enough to cause circulatory problems, let alone be life-threatening.

The hidden room was walled in with lath and plaster sometime before 1958. The lath and plaster technique was developed in the early 1700s and remained the standard wall and ceiling cover until drywall became standard in the mid to late 1950s.

Infuriated and now captive Rowena calls Sam a "big bampot". In Scots a bampot is either a clumsy, ignorant oaf or a villainous, treacherous thug. Rowena could have intended either meaning. As a side note, the word "bampot" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary lexicon in 2019.

The 1973 film The Exorcist, was based on a real life exorcism in St. Louis, MO. The actual exorcism took place in 1949 in St. Louis, and involved a 14 year old boy. Linda Blair was 14 when the movie was shot and actually lived on the street where the original exorcism occurred in 1949, ten years before her birth. The cold open of this episode takes place in 1973 in St. Louis.

There is no "2111 De Fay Street" in St. Louis, MO.
posted by orange swan at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2021

Rowena sleeps in full make up and what looks like silk sheets, because of course she does.

I'm inclined to think Rowena's look, and indeed her entire character, is based on Endora from Bewitched. The vivid red hair? The green, blue, or purple eyeshadow? The costume-y clothing, with all those long, dramatically cut dresses and theatrical cloaks? The contemptuous aplomb and the propensity for throwing monkey wrenches into the works for the hell of it? It's all pure Endora.

I can't get over Suzy's suicide as easily as Sam and Dean apparently did. She had such a horrific life, and they barged into her house and set in motion a chain of events that finished her off.

And Werther to me means the candy. Mmm, Werther's.
posted by orange swan at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2021

I want to think that the showrunners had the family wear shoes indoors as part of trying to obscure that the show is shot in Canada.

The boys are pretty callous, deep down, but Suzy continuing to live in the house where the events that took her family is waiting for the inevitable. I guess she's staying there so someone else wouldn't accidentally let out the green vapours, but she didn't really do much to contain it other than staying at the place and be a loner so other people can't accidentally get at it?

But that's not a bad self-inflicted gunshot wound. If she missed her brainstem or spinal cord, she'd still bleed out/ asphixiate. A lot of worse options.

Rowena's cape! I love it.

That bar Sam and Rowena hold their preliminary negotiations in is the 'Artful Dodger' in Langley! When I had an office "near" there, I'd go there a lot for lunch. It is very much an old rural folks type establishment. The attached liquor store gave out a $50 gift card per day, drawing from all the receipts over $50 for the day. Never did win one, despite making a point of picking up liquor there.
posted by porpoise at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2021

This is another episode I have no memory of whatsoever, but I liked it more than I expected. There were some nice parallels the show doesn’t usually pull off, like Dean fantasizing about suicide while Sam is bleeding himself to death downstairs. Also, well played, I legit didn’t figure out Rowena was a Werther ghost till the end.

I appreciate that along with the cool free house there’s some recognition that being MoL “legacies” also sometimes means cleaning up the enormous and wildly bizarre trouble they caused. (Sometimes by causing more, sorry Suzie.) This isn’t a question that really needs answering, but if I were them I would be very curious how the box knew my blood was MoL enough to work.

I’m glad “Benny” finally pointed out that if Castiel or Sam had to actually kill Dean, under any circumstances, that would be impossible for them to get over and is a pretty awful thing to put on them. Assuming the Werther ghosts really are just the person’s guilts and fears fed back to them, I can imagine Dean has some complicated and unresolved opinions (courtesy of his father) on how it feels to be told that one day you’ll either have to save your brother or kill him.
posted by jameaterblues at 6:47 PM on December 26, 2021

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