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I have one rule for cold openings on Supernatural when they come after important mythology episodes – follow through on the important thread from the previous episode. Give us some continuity and let us know that even though this is a standalone episode, the season-long arc is still at the forefront of Sam and Dean’s minds. “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” might have been about a witch being tricked into believing he was committing murders but the underlying current of the hour was Dean’s worry that Sam would be doing the trials, not him. The conversations we saw between the brothers started and ended with talk of Sam doing the trials, and the theme of brotherly reconciliation that was started last week continued as Dean told Sam that he trusts him completely. Remember where the brothers started this season – detached and angry at each other – and this move toward brotherly love is a welcome sight for those of us who want Sam and Dean to live happily ever after. But given the blood Sam coughs up at episode’s end and the flashbacks to Season 5 I was getting throughout the hour, I think we might be headed toward another heartbreaking cliffhanger at the end of Season 8.
Still not as bad as “Criss Angel is a Douchebag.”
For a while during the third and fourth seasons, the writers were having a field day with episode titles, culminating in the absurd title referenced above. “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” wasn’t quite that over-the-top but it was still pretty bad simply for the mental images it conjured. This week’s case revolved around James and Portia, a witch and his familiar who spent half her time as a dog. Sometimes I wish these standalone mysteries could span a couple episodes so that we’d have more time to get to know new characters like these two. Their relationship was interesting and helped expand our understanding of the witch universe on Supernatural – similar to how “Of Grave Importance” helped grow our understanding of ghosts and spirits – but I knew that I’d completely forget about these two once the episode was finished. Sam and Dean occupy 90 percent of my interest during a “case of the week” episode since this show rarely has these throwaway characters make a return appearance.
Trying to conceal a mystery with tissue paper.
I wrote in my notes that this week’s episode had built up a nice mystery. James’ situation reminded of that now-cancelled NBC show Do No Harm, as the witch cop kept having nightmares of murders he’d committed, only to wake up and find bloody shirts in the trashcan. When it became obvious that James wasn’t committing murders, the investigation began and it seemed intriguing enough, particularly Dean’s visit to an underground witch bar in St. Louis. Then I realized about halfway through the hour that the only other witches we’d met were Spencer, Phillippe and Drexyl. Since Drexyl was the informant that ruled him out as the culprit, leaving the sleazy Spencer/Phillippe combo as the ones left holding the bag. It should have been obvious that Spencer was behind the murders once he answered the episode’s pivotal question for Dean, but I guess I was too distracted by Portia’s dog collar to notice what was right in front of my face. Seriously, she wore that thing all the time? She couldn’t just keep it in her purse and slip it on before turning into a dog?
________ of the Titans. Circle one: Clash/Wrath
Sam and Dean tangle with some Greek gods in next week’s episode, which I’m thinking might be related to the trials in some way. Once again I’m left wishing the show had a bigger budget and could make Artemis, Prometheus and Zeus look like more than beautiful people in nice clothes. But I’ll settle for another trial, a Castiel appearance, some more scenes at the Batcave or a few scenes with Crowley. Supernatural has hit its stride these last few episodes and I don’t want to see that momentum go to waste as we enter the home stretch.
Line of the week
Spencer: “He was always spineless. Now literally.”
Next week on Supernatural
Denzel Washington uses football to erase the sting of segregation.