With each episode, “Supernatural” is asking how far Sam will go to save his brother, and in the case of the Wednesday, April 22 episode, it’s a matter of how far will he go for even the chance to find something that can save his brother. Sam’s quest has led him to partner up with Rowena of all people, and Dean unknowingly joins him in his search for a codex to decrypt the Book of the Damned, a search that almost costs them both their lives.
This “SPN” episode tackles a serious issue in suicide, beginning with Suzie’s entire family killing themselves in 1973 after she attempts to open a mysterious box she finds in the wall of her basement and ending with Sam willing to give all his blood in order to open that box to get to the codex inside that Rowena says will allow her to decrypt the Book for her. In a way, it’s a topic that was hinted at in “Book of the Damned,” when Sam told Charlie that while he understands that hunting is his life, he can’t do it without his brother, he doesn’t want to, and as much as turning to Rowena for help is a sign of his desperation, what he’s willing to do in “The Werther Project” takes that one step further.
The audio recordings from Magnus’ expulsion by the Men of Letters reveal that the codex he needs lies within the Werther Box he created, and the only clue he gives is that the Man of Letters that died next to the box with his wrists cut was on the right track. Sam heads to St. Louis to check out the box, and Dean follows him, thinking it’s just another case and Sam went off alone to get back at him for taking out a nest of vampires alone, the only way he can take the edge off these days. Sam keeps the real reason for this mission from his brother, instead telling him that the house belonged to the Men of Letters and when Abaddon wiped them out, she also eliminated those who should have been guarding the box (hence Suzie’s family’s deaths).
Sam’s first attempt to get into the house is met with Suzie’s guns, and so Dean tries to distract her while Sam sneaks into the basement. By the time Suzie puts two and two together, it’s too late, Sam’s already finishing opening the box and the same yellow smoke that emerged in 1973 is unleashed once again. Suzie sees her family and Sam can only get to her after she kills herself, while Dean finds himself in purgatory, going in circles with Benny.
As for Sam, he sees Suzie, who blames him for her death, calling herself just the first casualty in his “misguided mission.” “Anything’s worth it, as long as you two make it out alive,” she accuses him. “You’re the reckless one. You’ll do anything to keep clinging to that doomed brother of yours.” It’s the box calling out to him, pointing him in the direction of the gun on the table to kill himself, but Rowena shows up in time to save him, a move that seems a bit too coincidental, and as is revealed later, there’s a reason for that, one that’s not so easily realized because it’s not surprising to think that she followed him. When Sam attempts to snap Dean out of what he’s seeing, however, he can’t, and that means that he has to break the enchantment on the box to save him.
Meanwhile, Dean knows that Benny’s just a figment of his imagination, but even so, what “Benny” says is very telling. Dean’s there because it’s where he wants to be, his happy place, and he doesn’t want to leave, “Benny” says. He always said that purgatory was “pure.” “This place you don’t have to go looking for a fight. All you have to do is be still for one moment and that fight will come to you. That’s why you’re here, Dean, that’s purity you crave. Killing with no consequence.” But as tired as Dean may be of fighting and even though “Benny” tries to get to Dean by tearing apart his plan to have Sam and Castiel put him down when the time comes, Dean refuses to go down the road the box wants him to, refuses to turn to the “backup plan.” (However, that’s after he breaks free from his bindings in reality and breaks a bottle to use.) Dean knows that the real Benny would never let him and, more importantly in this case, the Mark won’t let him. With that, he stabs Benny and breaks free from the spell.
And that’s just in time too, as downstairs, Sam has translated the writing on the box and figured out that it needs Men of Letters – legacy, in his case – blood, and he’s willing to give it, to give it all, as Rowena tells him it wants more. Thinking about the codex inside that can help save his brother, Sam cuts his arm again, and when Dean finds him, he’s fading fast. He stops his brother and gives his own blood to open the box. The codex is inside, but Rowena isn’t really there; she was just what the spell made Sam see – exactly what he needed to see to be willing to give up his own life, a way to save his brother.
After, Dean points out that “the universe is trying to tell us something we both should already know. We’re stronger together than apart.” As he puts it, “Says something, doesn’t it? Werther splits us up in there, within an hour, we’re both on the brink of death.” That says so much about what Sam’s doing and how he sees the reasoning behind what he’s willing to do and the lies he continues to tell his brother, as Dean remains oblivious to the truth about the codex. Hopefully Sam nearly giving up his own life to try to save his brother isn’t foreshadowing what’s still to come this season.
As for Sam teaming up with Rowena, in exchange for her translating the Book, he’s going to kill Crowley for her. However, he does lock her up as insurance, and once she decrypts the book and finds him the cure, he’s planning to burn the book and then kill Crowley. This has all the makings to go horribly, horribly wrong, but at least Sam’s attempting to be somewhat smart about working with Rowena.
“Supernatural” season 10 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 19 “The Werther Project”?