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Rewatch S10: The Werther Project (10x19)

So much for getting one of these done during the week. To be fair, I've had a busy week. Also, I knew this episode would probably take me a bit. Of course, today I'm a little under the weather (ETA: this turned out to be an understatement), so we'll have to see if I can still think coherently.

The Werther Project

Berens is a good writer, I think. Probably the Roberts are my two favourite writers on SPN this year.

retro-Then. I love the 70s clothes. I'm glad those aren't in fasion anymore, mostly because I would look horrible in high-waisted pants.

Ah, the catharsis of busting down walls... only to accidentally get your whole family killed - I mean, it could have happened to any of us. :P

It's a pretty goddamn traumatic thing to witness as a teenager though. Also, if you see something burning on the stove, maybe take it off.

Oh, we pick up with Sam during his chat with Rowena - he's still wearing the same thing he was wearing in the pizza party scene last episode, so he probably did this right after, I'm guessing?

Rowena: "...and if you're wondering how a mother could get to the point of wanting her own son-"
Sam: "No, I'm really not. I'll do it. I'll kill Crowley."

- I love Sam. He's been wanting to kill Crowley for years. You hardly need to justify it for him.

Dean texts Sam to tell him that he's hitting a nest in Tulsa. I had forgotten about that storyline - where Dean is going off and finding bloody hunts on his own.

(Man, I don't know if I'm actually well enough to do a rewatch. Maybe I'll bail and come back to it later.)

I do love how Dean slaughters them all and then steals their beer.

(Yeah, I don't have the energy for this. Will return. 8 minutes in.)

(I'm back! It's now 3 days later. My fever went away yesterday and I'm nearly all better. To let you know how sick I was when I attempted to do this rewatch the first time, please keep this fact in mind: I lost 3-4 pounds in 48 hours, caused by, as far as I can tell, having a fever while sleeping the majority of the time. Suffice it to say: I was foolish for thinking I was in any condition to do a rewatch.)

That being said, let's just pick up where I left off...

So, first thing - if Dean is in Tulsa slaughtering vampires - then this means it's at least a day after the pizza party - because Charlie and Cas have obviously gone to wherever Charlie and Cas go. Maybe Cas drove Charlie home? That'd be cute. Sam just happens to be wearing the same clothes as the previous episode, I guess!

Okay, Dean's slaughtered vampires, found beer, and Sam runs up...

Sam: "You couldn't'a waited?!"
Dean: "Ah come on, I could handle it. I did handle it."
Sam: "But what if you couldn't!"
Dean: "But I did! It's done. Come on, man, it's the only way I can take the edge off. I'm sorry. I don't always like to wait around for ya. Especially with you looking at me like that all the time!"
Sam: "Looking at you like what?"
Dean: "Like THAT - Like I'm some sort of a diseased killer puppy!"

- Hahah, aww Dean, you'll always be a diseased killer puppy to me.
- I really love the makeup they did on Dean here, because underneath the bloodsplatter, he looks WORN. Whether he likes it or not, he basically IS sick, he basically DOES have a weird form of rabies (at the vicious/angry stage, rather than the hallucination/seizure stage).
- But, that line also reminds me of the early seasons, when it was Sam with something weird going on - and it was Sam who kept begging Dean to stop looking at him like that. And Dean always denied doing so. It wasn't the same look, for sure, I think Sam is more concerned for Dean than afraid for Dean (if you understand those to be different things like I do). Anyway, really, up until the MoC storyline, Dean always had the priviledge of being the only one who never had anything creepy supernatural distorting him. He still has the priviledge of never being possessed, but anyway, I don't know where I was going with this thought.

Dean: "...I'd like to get back to the bunker, get my buzz on, and pass out watching Speed 2: Cruise Control"
- A Speed 2: Cruise Control. I watched you. I feel that's 90 minutes or so of my life I'll never get back, but at the same time, I probably would have just spent it listening to music and watching a candle burn oterwise, so really, it's a toss up. (And yes, kids, this is what your parents did before high-speed internet was readily available to all).

And then he actually passes out, and it's adorable... though he's going to get a crick in his neck, sleeping like that.

RESEARCH MONTAGE!
- Man, does it turn anyone else on that Sam and Dean are so good at researching? No? Just me?

Ah Cuthbert... what a douche. I like how they put him in a colourful bowtie, so that you know he's a maverick...and a douche.

And Cuthbert is thrown out of the Men of Letters.

Cuthbert: "There is only one way to silence the Werther for good. Let's just say Martinez was on the right track..."
- So, anyone who knows 18th century German literature could figure out how the Werther box works - though, they may not realize that there's a way NOT to die to open it. But, luckily for us, Sam and Dean work that out without even seeming to get the reference. (For those who want to know: Goethe's novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther" was a romantic epistolary novel about a young gentlemen overcome with angst from unrequited love... so he kills himself. Speaking as someone who has also suffered from unrequited love before, I kinda hate the book because ugh, just get over yourself Werther. Also, I had to read it in the original German, so it was a bit of a task to get through, as I am not a native speaker, nor overly proficient in the language.)

I actually really love this brief conversation between Sam and Rowena. I think it's because since Rowena has just woken up, it takes her a moment to slide into manipulation mode - and you can see her doing it. It's really nicely done by Ruth. It also provides for the TINIEST of glimpses into genuine Rowena, however brief and mundane (but then, aren't we all mundane when we're genuine?). I think that was part of what grated on me with this character in that we really only ever saw her when she was manipulating, and she never seemed to pause from that... or at least, EXTREMELY rarely, and since some of us are really turned off by manipulation, it made the character hard to care about, or be sympathetic towards, or even to like as a formidable villain.

They've used this house before. But I can't remember when.

And I can't believe that Sam doesn't knock first. He just assumes no one is home?

Dean: "If you're doing this case by yourself to teach me a lesson, you don't have to, okay?"
- Aww Dean... so trusting.

Sam: "Werther's a timebomb and it needs to be defused. Not only is this in our wheelhouse, it's our responsibility."
Dean: "Responsibility?"
Sam: "We're Men of Letters is our legacy."

- I'd argue that it's not their responsibility because they're Men of Letters. It's their responsibility because they KNOW about it and they might have the ability to defuse it. Like, if I found an obscure library book one day that was titled "How to Defuse a bomb from the secret planet Galoot" and then I was walking through a field one day and some farmer was like "Hey, I seem to have found something in my field - it looks dangerous, but maybe I'll just leave it here and hope no one accidentally touches it ever." I'd be like "wait, hold on, that's totally a bomb from the planet Galoot!" and the guy would be like "There is no such planet" and I would be like "it's a secret, but I might be the only one who ever read that book - and also, you have to defuse these things on the solstice and that's today - so, I think it's my duty to just step in here and save the life of some poor deer (or dear) who might wander in your field and accidentally set it off." And whether I'm from the secret planet Galoot or not, it's still my responsibility to help, because I'm the only one that knows how! Now, mind you, if the book said "bombs from the planet Galoot have a 97% chance of killing whoever tries to defuse them", I'd probably be like, "yeah, so, just put up a big sign saying not to touch it and also a strong fence, okay? I'm outta here", because I am not Sam.

You know, things like unnecessary complicated examples are what makes these rewatches take so long. :P

I love Dean's neighbourhood watch guy. It's funny to see him act scared by a gun.

I do feel bad for Susie here, with Sam and Dean duping her. I really just don't like people getting duped. I think that's why I have so much trouble with manipulative characters. I hate lies. Anyway, my own personal issues, I guess.

Oh Sam, you let yourself get distracted.

I'm not sure if it's better or worse to have a gun in a house with a suicide box. I mean... I guess you'd want it to be quick as possible if you're going to be tricked into doing it.

Poor Susie.

And then we get Dean having Purgatory flashbacks/visions.

This episode was really well done though, because we assume that Sam was effected, because Susie wasn't affected back in the 70s. But, Susie was also knocked out back in the 70s. Sam obviously wasn't.

Fake!Susie: "...there she is, the first casualty of your misguided mission. But what's another human life to you? Anything's worth it as long as you two make it out alive! And how's that search going, any closer to a cure?"
- So, if this is Sam's subconscious, we know that at least that part of him is spot on. Or rather, that Sam KNOWS that what he's doing is extremely morally dubious, that he IS placing his brothers life above all others... though, I think the counter argument is pretty strong that if he DOESN'T cure Dean, then just as many if not more people will end up dead anyway.

Fake!Susie: "You think Dean's the wild card, 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 have to die, Sammy? You know it. You have to be stopped, and the only one that can stop you is you! Do it, Sammy! End this farce once and for all!"
- I do like how she calls him Sammy, because in my head, that means that Sam actually refers to himself that way.
- No, Sam's twisted mind isn't wrong here, actually... he IS the reckless one, but while Dean is a loose canon due to... well, mental illness at the moment... Sam is a reckless because of optimism. He's a believer in high-risk high-reward and always has been. He's always tended to go with the riskier plans when facing his enemies.
- Now, that being said, Death will take a similar stance as Fake!Susie here in the season finale, where he'll posit that the only way to truly protect the planet from Dean is to also protect the planet from Sam.

Rowena: "VANISHEY! Told you, you'd need me!"
- So, what's fascinating here is that either Rowena is Sam saving himself, or, it's the spell on the box making sure that Sam FEEDS the box while he dies, rather than dies elsewhere. It could be a mechanism built in to give the person a fighting chance - if it simply killed everyone straight away with suicide (as it does with Susie and tries to do with Dean) then it doesn't have a fail-safe... or... a three password warning system. Like, you get three tries at your password and then you die. If you can't get it in three tries, then you're obviously not the person meant to open the box.
- I think it's that second one, so the spell has conjured someone from Sam's mind who will keep him focused on the problem of the box, rather than the psychological torture of all his mistakes.

Vision!Benny: "Hey chief"
- Aww, Dean gets Benny as his psychological torturer... or, bad advice person, anyway.

I wonder how much atonomy the spell has as manifesting as Rowena, and how much of it is Rowena as Sam imagines her. Like... is Sam thinking, "Dean's pretty cute, I bet Rowena would boop him on the nose."

Dean: "Hey, look, it's good to see you it, is, but like I told you - you ain't Benny."
Vision!Benny: "I'm not? Shoot."
Dean: "Hey, I'm bummed out too, but you are just a figment, okay. You're subconscious junk that my brains throwing up to distract me from getting back to reality."

- Haha, I like how adorable Vision!Benny's "shoot" is... also, I love how sincere Dean is when he says that he's bummed out about Benny not being real too. I don't know. I like Dean and his friends.

Dean: "Benny, whoever you are, I need to get out of here!"
Vision!Benny: "Need and want are two difference things, ain't they.... you gotta wonder, why this figment? Why this place?"
Dean: "What are you trying to say?"
Vision!Benny: "Nothing you don't already know. This is where you want to be - your happy place. And you don't really want to leave."

- It's clever, because Purgatory WOULD satisfy the bloodlust... also, it's an afterlife, so it's logical to assume that you have to kill yourself to get there, or kill yourself to remain there. So, yeah, CLEVER INDEED.

VisionBenny: "Dean, listen. This place you don't have to go looking for a fight, all you got to do is be still for one moment and that fight will come to you."
- So, putting aside the current plot. That is a really chilling description of how Dean spent a whole year back between S7 and S8. No wonder he had PTSD out the wazoo.

Dean: "Benny, I don't want to fight anymore, I'm tired of fighting!"
Vision!Benny: "The Mark ain't."

- And that's the sad thing about the MoC. I think Dean's being honest here - he IS tired of fighting, but he pretends to enjoy it, because he DOES get a rush from it, but it's a rush of satisfying an itch for that moment, rather than the relief of getting rid of the skin condition completely.

Vision!Benny: "Good thing there's always a third way out. You can't say you haven't been thinking about it."
Dean: "That ain't going to happen, ever."
Vision!Benny: "Come on, Dean, I know you can see the purity, the honour-"
Dean: "There's no honour in that!"

- So, yes, of COURSE Dean has been thinking about it. Imagine that you're turned immortal... wouldn't you then sit down and wonder, "okay, but what if I don't WANT to be immortal? Is there some loop hole?" I mean, I know I would. As soon as a choice is taken away from you, you tend to get super curious as to whether it's REALLY been taken away. It's an academic question rather than a death wish. Though, I will admit that immortality is probably horrible so it might ACTUALLY be an EVENTUAL death wish.
- But I love Dean's response of "there's no honour in that", because there isn't... and I think that's why Sam and Dean have never been activily suicidal before (S8 finale Sam notwithstanding), because as horrible as their lives might be at times, they do try to cling to the land of the living - and I think both Sam and Dean were raised with an emphasis on being honourable men.

Vision!Benny: "... you going to get Sam and Cas to put you down? You really think they're going to keep that agreement? Come on. Dean, let's say they do - do you think they will ever recover from that. It will ruin them."
- Man, that line kills me. Because he's right, and Dean knows it. But also, this means that Dean KNOWS, he KNOWS how much Sam and Cas both love him. It's such a difference to S2/S3 Dean. It's just... I mean, I know Dean's in a horrible place right now because of the Mark, but the fact of the matter is that he is actually WAY better off psychologically than he was when the series first started. It makes me happy.
- Of course, where Vision!Benny is wrong is in implying that Dean killing himself would somehow make it easier on Sam and Cas. Nope. They will be JUST AS RUINED. Because that's love for you.

Vision!Benny: "No one needs to know, Dean. What happens in Purgatory, stays in Purgatory."
- Context is everything. *giggle*

So, recently, I was having a conversation with some of my fan friends about music in shows, and how it bugs them when they're "told how to feel", but that, personally, I seldom notice scoring, so I've got no complaints.

Now, that being said, I do notice it here, because I think it's clever - Dean in purgatory had all this creepy sound/scoring, so that you know it's horrible and bad, and then we cut to Sam and Rowena (or return from commerical break) and it's a quiet mundane scene with no scoring, only Sam's about to slit his wrists. And it's clever, because it further implies that Sam's in his right mind and therefore in less danger than Dean, even though really, they're in the exact same about of danger. Dean's actually probably in LESS danger because he recognizes that he's being manipulated, where Sam believes that he'll be able to make rational decisions.

Dean: "I always did love it here. It's as good a place as any to call it a day, huh?.. I'd do it. If I really had to, I would. But the real Benny would never let me."
Vision!Benny: "We already covered that, Chief. It's not me."

- Awww, Dean also knows that Benny loves him.

Dean: "You know what also won't let me? This thing on my arm. For better or worse, it wants me alive."
- And the Mark actually saves Dean.

*Dean stabs Benny*
Dean: "Thanks, pal, but no thanks."

- Aww, he at least got one hug in.

Vision!Rowena: "It's opening, Sammy! It's nearly there!"
- Ah, I missed that before. Rowena is also calling Sam Sammy! Definitely a sign of the spell - and therefore definitely what comes to Sam's mind first when someone says "What is your name?" Cute.

And then Dean saves the day!!

Dean: "It says something doesn't it? Werther splits us up in there, within an hour we're both at the brink of death? I'm sorry about yesterday, going rogue on you there."
Sam: "You know what, Dean, don't apologize - I think that makes us even."
Dean: "The universe is trying to tell us something we both should already know - we're stronger together than apart."

- Aww Dean. And yet you are already apart, because Sam won't give up and you don't have hope.

Sam's super cut in the scene where he locks up Rowena. Also, I love when he's clever. Don't really have much to say about the dialogue though - mostly, that again, I like the fact that for a brief moment, Rowena is too excited about the book to remember why Sam has an interest in it.

Yay! That didn't take me as long as I thought, but I still couldn't have done it with whatever degree fever I had when I first tried. It was a good episode, but not as dicussiony as I was expecting. Perhaps that leaves it more open to you guys to be discussiony in comments. :)

New SPN tomorrow, so I'll catch most of you then!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
supernutjapan
Mar. 23rd, 2016 02:55 am (UTC)
I do like how she calls him Sammy, because in my head, that means that Sam actually refers to himself that way.
Good point :D<3<3

Oh I do love this ep. Love Benny and Purgatory, and love Sam trying to give his life like that. And of course Dean coming and rescuing him. My heart. Beautiful.
hells_half_acre
Mar. 24th, 2016 08:00 am (UTC)
Agreed! :)
percysowner
Mar. 23rd, 2016 04:09 am (UTC)
I do love this episode and I agree that Robert B. is one of the best writers on the show. Like you, I enjoyed Rowena in her genuine moment.

He still has the priviledge of never being possessed

Except, in Slumber Party, the Wicked Witch possessed both Sam and Dean CHARLIE: (turns around to see the brothers and asks with a grin) Was that your Batman voice?

[The boys eyes flash green]

CHARLIE: That's definitely not your Batman voice.
DOROTHY: It's her. She possessed the both of them.


I remember being annoyed because I felt like the first (and only) time Dean got possessed should be a big deal, and it wasn't I like Robbie Thompson, but sometimes his love of Charlie had him miss some points of canon that I wish hadn't been missed. OTOH, since they didn't make a big deal of it, I guess we can say that Dorothy misspoke and used the wrong word. The WW wasn't possessing them, just controlling them.
hells_half_acre
Mar. 24th, 2016 08:05 am (UTC)
I'd definitely count that as a controlling, rather than a possession.

But, it is a kind of shaky definition, I guess. And I do agree that the first time Dean gets possessed SHOULD be a big deal.

But... yeah, I think the difference is that when you looked at him, or he spoke, it was obviously NOT DEAN, just his body doing things... whereas possession takes your body, and your voice, and your knowledge of your friends, and uses all those things to hurt the people you love. So, it's a slightly more chilling violation than the Wicked-Witch control thing, which was very much more of the "stop hitting yourself!" variety of control.
borgmama1of5
Mar. 23rd, 2016 05:23 am (UTC)
I remember being weirdly pleased that show had put one over on me with Rowena not really being there.

I was so proud of Dean for recognizing that he was in an illusion, and how he talked his options through out loud with his subconscious stand-in Benny. I did think it was a bit of a letdown, though, after Dean had made the choice to not kill himself, that he had to admit the Mark wouldn't let him do it anyway.

Love your observation about Sam's internal calling of himself 'Sammy'--I didn't catch that, and it's just lovely.

And once again we have single-focus, driven to finish the task no matter what the cost Sam...We've seen that Sam so many times, 'd have to say it's his defining characteristic.

Interesting observation about the music/scoring :)

Glad you're feeling better!
hells_half_acre
Mar. 24th, 2016 08:09 am (UTC)
Same!

Agreed!

Thanks! I like that observation too. I didn't catch it until this time through. :)

Agreed!

Thanks!

Thanks!! I'm glad I'm feeling better too. Not 100% yet, but give me two more days and I should be. Really wish this thing I had was curable, but alas, there's a possibility this will happen several times a year until the day I die. Of course, this time was especially bad because I missed the window for my meds to lessen the symptoms. I'll try not to do THAT again. :P
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )