The Road So Far: “Dog Dean Afternoon” Review

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK, IDJIT!

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK, IDJIT!

After last week’s weird promo in which Dean did a Vulcan mind-meld with a dog, I’d pre-emptively written off this episode as bad. Just no two ways about it, straight-up pure uncut terrible. So you can imagine my surprise when the episode turned out to be… sort of funny. If you didn’t stop to think about it, it was almost… enjoyable. It wasn’t even written by Robbie Thompson, but I… liked it?

Spoilers… after the jump.

dog dean afternoon 01 dogeWe open on a taxidermist, Max Alexander, who is working on some really creepy rat figures, when he’s ambushed and then crushed to death by a guy with a cowboy hat and a forked tongue. (You’re watching Supernatural!) The only witness to this grisly murder was Max’s German Shepherd dog, Colonel.

Meanwhile, in the Batcave, Sam is all ready to go on some hunts and keep the family business going, cluing us in on the fact that this episode will be your run-of-the-mill case-of-the-week episode. Dean doesn’t think Sam is fit to hunt and says as much, to which Sam can only reply with a bemused “why would I not be ready?” As Dean hasn’t told Sam about Ezekiel, because the writers refuse to let Dean learn from past mistakes, he doesn’t exactly have a good excuse here. So off they go to the taxidermist’s.

dog dean afternoon 02 dogeUpon investigating, Sam says he couldn’t find any hex bags that would indicate a witch, but he did find a vegan P.E.T.A.-esque group, S.N.A.R.T., who were snooping about Max’s shop on the night he died. When Dean interrogates S.N.A.R.T.’s co-founders, they say that they are strictly opposed to violence and were only graffiti-ing Max’s place to try and stop him doing taxidermy. However, they’d heard an odd hissing noise, and then someone had sprayed them in the face with what they assumed was mace. Sam deduces that they’d actually been sprayed with snake poison.

Confused about what sort of snake-like monster could both constrict and spit poison (research machine Sam says there’s no snake that can do both), they’re at a standstill—until another person is murdered, this time in an animal shelter, and Dean figures out that the dog, Colonel, is the only witness who’s been at both crime scenes. Thanks to a handy Inuit spell that Kevin handily dug up for them, Dean can suddenly understand not just Colonel, but all animals.

dog dean afternoon 03 dogeDean interrogates the pound dogs, with some hilarious help from Sam, and they learn that their cowboy-hat-wearing suspect works at a French restaurant downtown. The murderous chef, Leo, is using some weird form of Pawnee shamanism in which he eats animal parts to get animal traits, explaining the snake-based murder of Max and the cat-based murder of the animal shelter kid. Leo uses a chameleon-based trait to blend into the wallpaper as Sam hunts for him, and succeeds in slitting Sam’s throat. However, Zeke again uses his healing powers to stop the bleeding and bring Sam back from the dead. Leo, amazed by what he assumes are Sam’s healing powers, resolves to eat Sam next and gain those powers for himself. He knocks Sam out while Sam is still woozy from being brought back from the dead (although one would think Sam’d be used to it by now) and gets ready to cook him.

Dean, of course, won’t let his kid brother be a pseudo-Hannibal’s next meal, so he confronts Leo and sets the pound dogs on him. They tear him to shreds, Sam wakes up, Colonel gets adopted by the vegan couple from S.N.A.R.T., Dean loses his Doolittle powers, and everything seems fine until Dean drops some serious foreshadowing about how Sam might be taken over by Ezekiel sometime in our near future aaaand the two of them drive off into the night.

dog dean afternoon 04 dogeAs filler episodes go, this one, like I said, was pretty enjoyable. Dean’s dog mannerisms actually came off as quite charming instead of insane, and all in all the episode was the great mix of wacky and dark that has characterized some of the best Supernatural episodes in seasons past. But there were a lot of questions raised by this episode, such as: why is Kevin the one doing the research now? Shouldn’t he be focusing on the angel tablet? Does anyone remember that Garth exists? What are these Inuit and Pawnee spells and why are they so oddly available and yet so scathingly appropriative? The writers know dogs can’t actually be vegan, right?

It just seems like it’s pretty pointless to complain about any of these questions. Not because they’re not important—I personally think that if Dean’s being attracted to a poodle is okay, then Dean’s being attracted to Castiel should damn well be okay—but because the writers themselves don’t seem to care about little things like “facts” and “continuity”. Chad Kennedy, an executive at the WB who looks over every Supernatural script, was pretty well taken to task on Twitter recently for not knowing the reaper mythology of his own show, and it’s not hard to imagine that he also doesn’t know about Garth, religious representation, or even the fact that we’ve already had a bestiality reference in Supernatural as recently as last season and we really didn’t need another one. If he doesn’t care, then why should I?

The thing I would complain about is that this episode seemed to really, truly be filler. Even the wackiest Supernatural episodes of the past have done something to spur on either the plot or Sam and Dean’s character arcs. “The French Mistake” showed Sam and Dean the importance of having family as opposed to having wealth and money; “Hunteri Heroici” revealed to Sam, Dean, and Castiel that each of them was pretending to be something they weren’t in order to forget who they were and what they had done; hell, even “Slumber Party” addressed the importance of having a home and the brothers’ very different ideas of home—and Sam and Dean weren’t even main characters in that episode!

Still, both writers for this episode were new to Supernatural, and as first episodes go, I think this was a good start. If the episode had dug a little deeper into the characters, if it had addressed the Ezekiel secret rather than tiptoeing around it once more—seriously, poor Sam must be getting a little freaked, losing all that time—it would have been a great start. As it stands, it was a very entertaining hour, and I hope the writers will share whatever they were smoking when they wrote this episode so that I can get through Castiel’s imminent return in one piece. Till next week.

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