Supernatural season 8 episode 15 review: Man's Best Friend With Benefits

Review Caroline Preece
22 Feb 2013 - 16:35

Caroline finds herself disappointed with this week's derivative and muddled Supernatural...

This review contains spoilers.

8.15 Man's Best Friend with Benefits

Who thought this was a good idea? After several weeks of gold-standard Supernatural, we’ve been handed a muddled, slightly offensive, and derivative episode that layers a boring and problematic plot with a low-point argument between our heroes. Yup, Sam and Dean are bickering all over again, despite the progress we had made with the Men of Letters plot, and we’re back to distrustful glances and secrets kept. 

The bad title flags up exactly what we got from the episode, with a witch's familiar (complete with dog collar and sexy outfit) coming to the brothers for help when her ‘master’ starts dreaming of killing people whose bodies turn up the next day. This sounds like an old episode of Angel, Somnambulist, for a start, but the execution isn’t nearly as slick. It might have been more interesting had one of the brothers started dreaming of the murder victims, but it’s hard to care too much about the fate of some random, quite whiny, victim. 

Visually, in terms of Portia, this looks more like an episode of Charmed in which one of the sisters is dressed up in bondage gear in search of a plot. Should we really settle for this on a show that can be as good as we know Supernatural can be? Its even stranger when we consider how many strides it had taken since the Men of Letters mythology entered the frame, with this episode taking time out from the bat cave and their mission almost entirely. What we get instead is an hour of listening to the Winchesters bitch at each other, as Dean admits that he doesn’t always trust Sam’s abilities or judgement. 

With a bit of basic psychoanalysis, Sam deduces that Dean doesn’t actually trust anyone except for himself. This is quite astute, but comes across as a bit of an oversimplification of his character. The pair had the same argument in season five, after all, with Dean eventually giving up control over the whole Lucifer/Michael situation and trusting Sam to save the world on his own. My pet peeve in long-running television shows is how often they retread old issues and present them as new – and this is a big case of that. 

Why would Sam keep his ominous bloody cough a secret, for example? Characters being sneaky for the sake of drama and suspense are often not a good thing for viewer enjoyment, and never is that more true than for Supernatural. Fans like to see the brothers working together and surviving the apocalypse with a united front, so to have them surrounded by lies and secrecy is no fun at all. We know that this will result in yet another falling out towards the end of the season but, at this point, surely it’d be more radical to see them working together in harmony? 

In short, if Dean can only trust himself with the fate of the world and the well-being of those around him, then I really don’t blame him. Seeing Sam relish in his new role as a Man of Letters over the last couple of weeks have been glorious just for the fact that we got to see him recall some of his season one self, young and full of potential. Now, he’s insisting on taking part in the dangerous suicide mission along with his brother, and choosing to lie about the toll its taking. How can we have both at the same time? I’ve never really liked the character, but I’m starting to think that the writers have it in for him a little, too. 

Next week it seems that we’re due a comedy episode, with an amnesiac zombie, a Greek Titan, Prometheus, and the goddess Athena. I’ll see you there!

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Trial and Error, here.

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