Episode 8.15

“Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” Review
By Annie Kenney

Every now and again Supernatural comes up with the dreaded filler episode, one that doesn’t have anything to do with the current myth arc and one that seems to have no connection with the episodes that went before. Unfortunately, for me, last night’s episode was one of those!

Overall it wasn’t a terrible episode and it did have a few redeeming qualities. Dean was his usual snarky and amusing self and even Sam got a few funny lines but it all seemed a bit flat and predictable. The bad guy was flagged up fairly obviously in the first twenty minutes, there was an old friend that the audience has never heard of or seen before (they could have used Patrick the ‘He Witch’ from Season 5) and there was little or no tension.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of witches in films or TV programmes and this episode didn’t do a lot to change my mind. James was likeable enough and his familiar was really cool, however, as a die-hard fan, I wanted to see more of a fall out from last week and to hear more about the trials. Instead, there was a story that just wandered off the beaten track and only came together at the end during an excellent speech by Dean and a very worrying display of ill health from Sam.

There were also many contradictions in this episode. Last week Sam told Dean how intelligent he was and how he wasn’t just the brawn, that he knew enough about lore to be a better hunter than their dad. This week though Dean seemed to have regressed, not knowing about familiars, questioning things that he really should have known about and generally appearing to be a bit – dare I say – naïve. The part when Sam told Dean that James and his familiar had had sex wasn’t funny but a bit cringe worthy. All Supernatural fans know that Dean is pretty damn savvy in that particular area so it doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t have known that.

Also, since when was Dean allergic to cats? He has come across them in the past and been perfectly fine (he certainly had a good long scream at one during Yellow Fever) and not once has he started to sneeze. Sometimes continuity errors like this spoil the viewer’s pleasure and it leads us to wonder if we fans know more about the Winchesters than the writers do!

After the last five episodes, expectations have been high and the tension has been building. This week’s episode bought all those expectations crashing down to earth and it wasn’t up to the high standard the previous episodes had set. Sometimes when the series does one off monster of the week episodes it works. Excellent examples are Larp and the Real Girl, Plucky Pennywhistles, The Real Ghostbusters and Clap Your Hands if You Believe. However when it doesn’t work it does tend to go horribly wrong (who can forget Route 666 or Red Sky in the Morning?) and this episode just didn’t work for me.

On the plus side, it had Sam and Dean still working together and – as previously noted – an excellent speech from Dean at the end. It was really sad though to see that there is going to be secrets between the brothers yet again. Sam asked Dean to trust him and then hid his suffering from his brother. These moments are real tearjerkers and make the viewer fear for the future.

So, the episode ended on a high note, the tension is back and I am worrying a lot about Sam. The set-up is there and things can only get better!