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This week’s episode of Supernatural started with a “Then” montage of some of the funniest episodes in series history. The choice was deliberate, as “Dog Dean Afternoon” had the premise of an all-time classic: Dean drifts with a dog (to borrow a term from Pacific Rim) in order to solve a crime. Unbeknownst to Dean, becoming Doctor Dolittle also means taking on the characteristics of a dog. That means playing fetch, scratching behind the ears, barking at the mailman, and even sniffing butts! (The spell wears off before Dean gets that urge, unfortunately). Throw in a vegan bakery and a taxidermist who makes Game of Thrones squirrels (I think it was a squirrel), and you’ve got all the ingredients for a top-5 funniest episode. We’re deprived of that joy, however, as two major problems keep “Dog Dean Afternoon” from reaching its full potential. We’ll get to those issues in a bit. Let’s start with what made this episode primed for greatness.
“Dean as a dog” was an idea that had me worried when I saw the previews last week. It seemed like a stretch, but about 15 minutes into this episode, I realized Supernatural is at its funniest when the ideas are completely off-the-wall crazy. Dean’s confrontation with a pooping pigeon ranks up there with the funniest scenes I’ve seen on any TV show, let alone this one. It was so hilarious it even caused Jared Padalecki to break the fourth wall and look at the camera! Also hilarious were the different dog personalities Dean encountered in the pound. Who didn’t love the dog demanding a belly rub from Sam in exchange for information? Sam’s face in that scene said it all. Speaking of expressions, let’s not forget the hilarious looks Sam and Dean had in the taxidermist’s office. You know the ones I’m talking about.
While I’m sad that Sam and Dean didn’t bring The Colonel back to live at the Men of Letters bunker, I’m glad he found a good home at the vegan bakery that Dean claimed was the source of all evil in the universe. Maybe it was meat deprivation? Or the lack of sugar? What also makes me sad is that the dog in this episode was a better developed character than our villain, Chef Leo, who was eating animal parts in an attempt to cure his stage 4 cancer. This episode came to grinding halt when Chef Leo got heavily involved. His confrontation with Dean was totally clichéd and killed the story’s comedic momentum. His death was also hard to watch. It made me feel icky. Dean felt the same way judging by the look on his face. Maybe he was having flashbacks to being torn apart by hell hounds?
Of course, Chef Leo was meant to foreshadow what might happen to Sam with Ezekiel riding shotgun. Handling that kind of power leads to corruption, Dean argued. He’s got concerns and for good reason given the kind of angels he’s met. However, what has Zeke done thus far that indicates nefarious motivations? Remember, for every Metatron and Zachariah there’s a Castiel and Michael. Until something changes, Dean should cut Zeke some slack. He’s already saved Sam twice now and brought Charlie back from the brink last week. Speaking of saving Sam, I had issues with this week’s rescue from a serious throat slash. Are we to assume Sam forgets everything that happens when he’s healed? His face after Zeke healed his neck made me think he’d figured out something was up. But at the episode’s end, he didn’t mention anything his neck wounds being miraculously healed. Alas. I guess we’ll have to wait until the midseason break to see Sam find out the truth. Odds are our cliffhanger is Sam and Dean splitting up yet again. That, or Zeke dragging Sam to Heaven to confront Metatron. I’ll hope for the latter since we’ve seen the former storyline play out half a dozen times.
After a couple standalone episodes, I’m ready to get back to one our major storylines. That looks to be the case as next week we’ll drop in on Castiel and his new job at a gas station. I had hoped for a more ambitious storyline for a now-human Castiel; maybe next week is the launching pad for bigger and better things for him this season. I’d like to see Castiel helping the angels adjust to life on Earth or rallying allies to his side for the coming clash against Bartholomew. Just because Castiel is human now doesn’t mean he has no place with his brothers and sisters from Heaven. His character’s newfound humanity raises the stakes (since he can die now) and forces him to confront the doubts, anxieties, fears, and emotions that humans face every day. It’s meant to supplement his story, not restrict it. I think the writers understand that. We’ll find out for sure next week. I wish “Dog Dean Afternoon” had ditched its villain and played itself more for than laughs than a lame monster of the week storyline. We’ve had more than enough of those. What we need are more episodes to add to this week’s “Then” montage. Here’s to hoping the next funny episode hits the mark.
Line of the week
“Now the question is: are those bleeding hearts actually witches or just hippies?” – Sam
“What’s the difference?” – Dean
Next week on Supernatural
Castiel can’t work a slushy machine. How sad.