Supernatural Season 8 Review “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits”

Supernatural Season 8 Episode 15 Man’s Best Friend with Benefits (2)

The last time Supernatural did an episode with dogs as its focus, we got “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” Not one of Supernatural’s finest hours. So I must admit that when I heard we were going canine again, I was kind of wary. It seems that my fears were pretty much unfounded though. This time around, the story was much more interesting and the characters were much more compelling. I’m generally not a fan of Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming’s scripts because they tend to have some story and pacing issues that drive me nuts. But in tonight’s outing, many of those problems thankfully didn’t rear their ugly head. The story moved along at a decent clip and the way it unfolded felt organic, not forced. They also dialed it back on the blood this time too which I’m very appreciative of. Their last couple of scripts had people eating hearts. That’s just unnecessarily gross.

I also want to go ahead and get this out of the way too. James and Porsha really weirded me out. I don’t care that she was in human form when they were intimate. She’s still a dog. And that was just…ew. I did find it amusing that Dean was kind of freaked out by it, but also kind of curious. Can’t say I blame him. I don’t want to get into an in-depth discussion of bestiality or anything, but that just felt all kinds of wrong to me. Anyways. Moving on.

I liked the way the case unfolded even though the ultimate villain was just kind of bleh. He orchestrated the whole situation just because the girl (dog) chose James instead of him? Geez dude. Get over it. He, of course, had to make it a bit grander than that, but ultimately he was just jealous because Porsha chose someone else. I did like the idea of there being an entire witch community. Most of the witches we’ve seen on Supernatural have either been a part of a small coven or they’ve been operating solo. We haven’t really seen witches gather on the kind of scale they were in this episode. We also got a chance to see that not all witches are necessarily evil. James chose to become a witch so he could be a better cop. Although we didn’t really get to see his interactions with any of the other witches, its implied that not all of them go around indiscriminately killing people. That opens up a whole new world for Supernatural as far as some witches not being evil. I wonder if they’ll decide to pursue that avenue. And if memory serves, this is the first time we’ve seen Dean and Sam actually take out a witch. So now we know that it can be done. Plus, anytime they get to hurl a Molotov at someone, I’m a happy camper. On kind of a technical note, I really dug the special effects during the last showdown. The effects on the Boys eyes and of Spencer’s demise were pretty cool. Kudos to the special effects department.

It looks like Dean and Sam still have some issues to work though. Colossal understatement. I know. But for the most part, they were on the same page in this episode. The only little hiccup right now is about Sam doing the trials. I’m really hoping this doesn’t start another Sam vs. Dean argument, so I’m going to try to tread relatively lightly here. That being said, it doesn’t look like Sam understands where Dean is coming from at all. Sam keeps wanting to make it all about Dean not trusting him, but it’s not about that at all. Not really. Dean has been protecting Sam his whole life. It’s hardwired into Dean’s DNA to protect Sam. That’s what taking on the trials is all about for him. He doesn’t want Sam to suffer anymore. In the past 8 and a half years (seasons) Sam has really been through a lot. And whenever all of that stuff happened to Sam, Dean blamed himself for being unable to prevent it. I’m not saying it was all Dean’s fault. Because it most certainly was not. Be that as it may, Dean blamed himself anyway. For Dean, doing the trials was a way to make sure that Sam was ok. Just like Dean said in last week’s episode, he just wants Sam to be safe and happy. Dean has always wanted more for Sam than he wants for himself. He’s always tried to make Sam’s life a little bit better than his own, and he’s sacrificed a lot so that Sam can have more opportunities than he had. When you consider the fact that Dean basically raised Sam, that makes perfect sense. Parents always want their children to have a better life than they had and they are willing to sacrifice whatever they have to in order to make it happen. I really wish Dean could see his value outside of just making Sam’s life better, but that’s a different discussion for another day. In the here and now, Dean just wants to get the gates closed and not lose his brother in the process. When we got the flashbacks in this episode to all of the crap these two guys have been through, I cannot blame Dean at all for wanting to spare Sam whatever hell is going to come with trying to close those gates.

I’m perplexed by Sam. I don’t understand how he’s translating Dean’s apprehension about him (Sam) doing the trials into Dean not trusting him. It’s not completely out of character for Dean to be apprehensive about anyone but himself getting in harm’s way. He’s always preferred putting himself in danger more than anyone else. Especially when it comes to Sam. Sam should know and understand that. I don’t get how he’s making it into a trust issue. And speaking of trust, Sam is already starting out on a bad foot. He’s already hiding some of the trial’s side effects. Yes, this was the first time that we’ve seen him cough up blood, but he obviously didn’t want Dean to know about it. How long is he going to keep this from Dean? This is something we’ve seen Sam do over and over in the past and it’s never worked out well. He never tells Dean what’s going on until it gets so bad that it’s almost beyond fixing. Then he calls on Dean as sort of a last resort. I get that he feels like he has to do the trials all alone, but no one makes it through this life all alone. Sam needs to realize that even though he’s got to go through the trials by himself, he doesn’t have to go through them alone. Furthermore, if the trials start affecting him physically (which they inevitably will) then that puts both him and Dean at risk. I don’t know what it is about the Winchesters always keeping secrets from each other, but you would think that they would’ve figured out by now that it never works out for them.

All in all this was a solid standalone episode. Very good balance of drama and humor. It didn’t really do anything to move the overall mytharc forward, but I suspect we’ll get back into the tablets and Cas pretty soon. We saw just a little glimpse in this episode of the physical toll the trials are going to take on Sam, and I’m interested to see whether he’ll ask for Dean’s help. I have really been enjoying season 8 and, as difficult as it has been at times, I really like the emotional journey Jeremy Carver has carved out for the Boys. Even when they disagreed here, it wasn’t as hostile as it has been in the recent past. Still a lot of work left to do, but I think we’re off to a good start. Just as an aside, I don’t think it’ll ever get easier for me to watch Sam jump into the Pit of Hell or see Dean hanging from meat hooks in Hell screaming for Sam. Makes me just want to reach into the tv and give both of these Boys a big hug. So what did y’all think of this week’s Supernatural?

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  • Mokibobolink

    Hey there! Great review! I finally got to watch this ep on my flight home and I agree with a lot of what you said. Especially about the special effects during the fight near the end. The music, the way the boys’ eyes glowed, plus the way they flashed on their past memories – all of it was awesome. It was one of those moments where I could really feel that the show has gone in a whole new direction. Don’t know why it made me feel that way, but it did.

    Also with you on Sam not quite understanding why Dean wants to take on the trials. It’s not all about trust, it’s also about Dean having an innate need to protect his baby brother.

    • Jessica Breaux

      Thanks Michelle! 🙂