[rating:3/5]

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have high hopes for this episode going into it. After my intense dislike of last week’s effort I was not looking forward to another filler. Additionally, the episode was Cas free (again) and the promo featured Dean acting like a literal dog. So I wasn’t particularly excited to sit down and watch this episode. However, I have to say, it really exceeded my expectations. It won’t go down in the Supernatural hall of fame as one of their best, and it didn’t advance the plot even a little bit, but it also didn’t take itself too seriously and was genuinely fun.

To the recap!

We open the episode with a “Then” segment recapping the Winchesters’ craziest shenanigans from the last 9 years. It’s a cute throwback to some very early seasons and it also sets up early the self-deprecating tone that the last episode really lacked.

We then get a creepy old taxidermist lovingly pruning his creatures. His German shepherd sits nearby loyally. Remember him. He’ll be important later. The German shepherd, not the man. No, really. I’m serious.

The man, suspecting an intruder, picks up his shotgun and does a loop, deeming it safe. Of course, the minute he puts the gun down, a man with a forked tongue twists him into what Sam will later call “a human pretzel”. Sometimes this show is really gross, guys.

At the bunker, the Winchesters make some dumb vague comment explaining why Kevin is not in this episode. I don’t know if it’s an availability issue with the actor or if the writers are just being weird, but I don’t like it. This isn’t season one. The show has built up a decent group of beloved supporting characters. Please use them, guys. Dean wants Sam to lay low for a while, but Sam convinces him that they should investigate the taxidermist murder. At the man’s shop they find that some classy individual has written DIE SCUM in red paint with a paw print insignia drawn into it.

The boys learn that whoever killed the taxidermist also stole all of the animal guts that should have been in the shop. Nice. The symbol in the paint traces back to S.N.A.R.T, the local animal rights group who are in conflict with the hunters that keep the shop in business. The brothers head over to the Gentle Earth Vegan Bakery, which happens to be run by the co-founders and presidents of S.N.A.R.T. “I always knew I’d find the source of all evil at a vegan bakery,” Dean whines. The owners explain that they were attacked with mace the night before while spray painting the shop, but that they weren’t involved in the murder.

After seeing the tissue death around the pairs’ eyes, Sam deduces that the damage could not have been caused by mace. They must have been sprayed with some kind of venom, like snake venom. Coincidence?  I think not.

Elsewhere in town, the snake-tongued man kills a guard at the pound and proceeds to swallow a cat whole. It’s one of the creepiest things I’ve seen on this show in a long time. While the boys investigate the crime, they just so happen to notice that one of the nearby dogs is the same one that the taxidermist owned, making him a witness to both killings, which gives the boys an idea. Dean attempts to mind meld with the German shepherd, otherwise known as the Colonel, by drinking a nasty Inuit potion full of dog hair.

Nothing appears to happen, and, a good while later, the boys have just about given up when the dog sits up haughtily and snaps at Dean to “change the station.” This leads to a very funny scene where Dean gets into a fight with the Colonel about music and what constitutes good classic rock. “Why are you arguing about Styx with a dog?” Sam cries in frustration.

The Colonel informs them that the killer was wearing a cowboy hat and that he smelled like dishwashing detergent. During the conversation, Dean starts impulsively returning Sam’s discarded napkin ball and scratching behind his ear. When the mailman shows up, Dean goes wild harassing him, and it hits Sam. Dean’s now somewhat dog. “Ruh-roh,” says Dean. This plotline, which seemed so silly in the promo, is actually working pretty well.

It turns out that animals have a universal language, leading to a fight between Dean and a pigeon that ends in Dean whipping out his pistol. It’s not long before Dean starts defending the species against unjust treatment and drooling over pretty lady poodles. Another dog in the pound is able to tell them that the killer carried a bag from the Avant-garde cuisine restaurant downtown. Dean, in a cute moment, frees all the dogs and they run off screaming “free dog!”

In the back of the restaurant the brothers find a fridge full of varied animal organs that they discover the man has been eating ritually to gain animal powers. For instance, eating snake organs allows you to shoot snake venom. The man, who we learn is the chef at the restaurant, has been mixing ingredients to create the perfect super-recipe.

Said chef, having apparently recently eaten a chameleon organ, emerges from his camouflage and slashes Sam across the throat, triggering Ezekiel, who heals him. Okay, this is really getting lame. Ezekiel cannot save someone’s life every single episode. These brothers were doing this years before the angel came along and they shouldn’t need to be bailed out every single week just because they can be.

Impressed by Sam’s apparent healing ability, the chef exclaims “Screw the sharktapus; you’re my main course,” before knocking Sam unconscious and tying up Dean.

As the chef sharpens knives for dinner, Dean reveals that he knows the chef has cancer by using that uncanny ability animals have to detect a sick person. He explains that the whole organ-eating thing was the only way he could find to treat the advanced disease, and anyone who got in his way became collateral damage.

He pulls out a wolf heart and we get the pleasant visual of him eating the raw meet. Luckily, Dean’s dog friends from earlier come to his aid before the wolf powers can fully kick in and they finish off the chef while he goes to revive Sam.

Dean sets the Colonel up in a good home with the hippy family from earlier, which is a little disappointing. It would be interesting for the Winchesters to a have a cute dog, and now that they have the bunker as a consistent home it would be plausible. Since Dean is an honorary dog, the Colonel decides to let Dean in on the species’ biggest secret. “I know it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but the real reason we were put here was to-” he manages to get out before the spell wears off.

The brothers head back to the Impala, where Sam questions what the chef saw in him worth eating and Dean tries to get him to move on and forget, lest he realize Ezekiel is inside of him. Sam agrees that the chef was just crazy, but as the two drive off you can tell this deception isn’t going to last very long.

The episode was an enjoyable filler episode, but I’m glad next week we’re going back to the angel storyline. Supernatural is at its best when it deals with mythology.

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Georgeanne Oliver is Blast’s Site Editor.

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