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Supernatural: Man's Best Friend With Benefits

Dean: "I'm a wiccan. I'm from Detroit."

Big points for a terrific episode title. It might have been better than the episode. Although I could never entirely hate an episode that includes belly rubs.

At any rate, we're going with the good points/bad points school of review writing today.

I liked that we got an expansion of the witch stuff, and that not all witches are evil, and that they have familiars. (The Supernaturalverse is giving us a lot more ambiguity in their monsters these days.) I also liked that James was using his powers to be a better cop. I also loved that it was a dog episode and the bad guy turned out to be a cat. Okay, the cat's witch. There aren't a lot of people out there who actually look like cats; I knew what "Phillippe LeChat" was the moment I saw him. No subtlety there.

I liked that Portia waited for Dean to leave the motel room so that she could approach Sam, because that's what I'd do. And I also liked that Dean was sort of revolted and sort of fascinated by James and Portia going all "Bella and Edward." Dean doesn't like anything supernatural; he kills monsters, he doesn't hang out with them, and he was obviously considering the possibility of having sex with one. The witch club was sort of interesting, too. Were they all good witches, or do good and bad witches mix? (Their "exile or suicide" policy suggested they were bad, but it was hard to tell.)

And hey, the dog was absolutely gorgeous.

But where they really lost me was Portia wearing a collar and calling James "Master." I'd have a bigger bone to pick (pun intended) if Portia hadn't been the power in that relationship, though. She chose James instead of Spencer, she was the one who called the Winchesters for help, and she refused to give James up in the end. And yes, James was the one chained to the bed. But come on. The bondage sex slave subtext just didn't work for me. And I don't think it would have been easier to take if the gender roles had been reversed.

Anyway, moving right along.

The Winchesters have a home now, and they're saying good things to each other and opening up and everything, and Dean is finally a hundred percent with Sam taking the lead with the God Rock gates of Hell trials. And now Sam is coughing up blood? And not telling Dean about it? Keeping something major from his brother, especially something involving blood, has never turned out well. Sigh.

Bits and pieces:

— James Frampton worked with the Winchesters sometime before, and saved their lives. I'm sure he wasn't in a previous episode, though.

— I'm glad the dog didn't turn out to be another pathetic shapeshifter. What are familiars? Are they just beings with two forms that bond to a specific witch?

— So Dean is allergic to cats. That's disappointing for my fantasy life in which he's my honey and drops by to see me in between jobs. I'd hate to give up my cats, even in my fantasy life. I'd do it for Dean. But only in my fantasy life.

— I thought it was obvious early on that an astral body was involved. (And I hear Buffy's voice in my head talking about an "asteroid body.")

— Ed Stoltz, the police guy who seemed like the obvious suspect, said that the police department was like a dog sled.

— Drexel was a witch snitch. Why didn't anyone actually call him a "witch snitch"? They usually see the obvious jokes.

— This week: St. Louis, which played a huge role in the motel room decor. No Men of Letters bunker this time. Sam was special agent Keith.


Dean: "Of all the lame ass things you've ever said, that's gotta be the lame assiest."
Sam: "Sorry, but I happen to think Shemp was a funnier Stooge than Curly."
Dean: "Curly was a freaking genius."
Sam: "I always found Curly's work a bit obvious."
Dean: "It's supposed to be obvious, man. They're Stooges."

Sam: "Oh, by the way, gotta hand it to you. It's been fifteen hours since Portia mentioned her night with James, and not one bestiality joke out of you."

James: "Dean, a witch can go to a place without having to go to a place."
Dean: "What, like phone sex?"

I'm at a loss for a rating. How many wiccans from Detroit for this one?

Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.


  1. I have really been enjoying the episodes this year, with them going back to season one, again and again. The flashbacks have made it feel like the show is reconnecting with itself..... but Sam keeping secrets....again??? How many times can Dean have his trust broken by Sam before he finally stops believing him?
    The answer is never, because that's Dean with his brother.

    Question: Has Sam never NOT gotten what he's wanted from Dean?

    I'd give this one a at least three wiccans and maybe a half of Detroit?

  2. I give them points for cleverness with the title, but then I deduct said points for squickiness. And extra point deductions for the poor woman in the dog collar the whole episode. Seriously? Maybe I should give them credit for not having Dean refer to her as a bitch, but that's pretty cold comfort.

    I really didn't care for this one. Aside from the general squickiness, my mind kept wandering as I tried to remember the boys' past witch encounters and figure out if we had actually seen James before. It isn't unreasonable that they would have acquaintances that we've never met, but for some reason, the way they interacted with this guy made me feel like I was forgetting something important and it distracted me for the bulk of the episode. (I probably should have realized that they would have put him in the 'previously on,' if the audience had actually met him before. A possible beneficial instance of 'previously' spoilers?)

    Too bad we couldn't at least get some nice moments with the boys nesting. Those scenes managed to elevate last week's episode for me.

  3. Call me a perv--I enjoyed this episode. I found Portia to be a passionate, strong, amazing character, in both forms. I loved the in-their-heads Winchester flashbacks all the way back to season one, the cool way they dispensed with the wicked witch, and the amusing Stooge (and other) banter. I knew we had never seen James before, but we can't be privy to ALL those who saved the brothers in the past, can we? As a stand-alone, I liked the fact that all the bestiality jokes were all told via Dean's exceptionally expressive face and eyes. LOL! I was roaring! Just to play Devil's Advocate, could that drop of blood from the corner of Sam's mouth have been a delayed reaction to the brothers' being thrown around more than once in the episode? Don't say it! I know--Sam is in big trouble from the first of the God Trials! And he's keeping it from Dean. Sigh! I'm gnawing my nails down to the knuckles already! Love, Robin

  4. I had the same problem as Jess. I spent the first ten minutes of the episode trying to remember when we had met James until I finally gave up and went onto the wiki page. Turns out we hadn't, so the connection to the boys (his saving their life; they come when he calls) felt too strong for someone we had never met.

    I, too, thought the whole dog collar and chains were a step too far. And the dog/cat conflict was obvious from the start.

    I did like the flashbacks and thought the ones they chose where interesting. But, I am hoping that Sam opens up soon. This keeping secrets thing never ends well for them.

  5. Believe me, Supernatural is anything but subtle. If James had been in a previous episode, they would have beat you over the head with it in the "Then" flashbacks at the beginning of the show (don't get me started on those stupid flashbacks. Talk about giving away any surprises in the episode).

    Anyways, pretty standard and forgettable episode. It was a pretty boring night for me, with Arrow also having a substandard episode. That actress who played the familiar better be thankful she is good looking, because she sure can't act. And the guy James was a little too emo in his acting for my tastes. I give it 1 1/2 out of 4 wiccans.

  6. I liked the episode, but there is something about the revamp they are doing this season that feels off.
    Are they trying to go back to the "season 1" Dean and Sam with their banter?

    Why are they allowing the Winchesters to give so many passes? Can a witch doing black magic really be good? Don't they have to sign on with a deamon or something? Ruby was a witch once...

    I agree with the other comments that the scene with Portia "reading her master's mind" was overdone.

    I did like the pull of our the "dr.Phill" episode from last year where the witch spell didnt work, but I am really tired of Sam doing this secret thing. He was "upfront" with Dean about not making an effort to look for him when he was stuck in purgatory- but blood and secrets...AGAIN?
    Can't he realize that secrets hurt Dean more than the any truth could?

    Ok, thanks for letting me put in my two cents!

  7. It was good but a bit forgettable. It started out great but the whole relationship just threw me off a bit just like it did Dean.

  8. Sorry, but I'm a bit lost. I don't think it was "Supernatural". Seemed to me like a poorly written fanfic. Sex-centered, as fanfics usually are. Zoophilia, master-slave relationship, switching - sorry, guys, but if I want porn, I know were to get it.

    And all this "bad guy did something horrible to me and made me realize that I should trust my brother"? OK, that could happen, at least in supernaturalverse, but being spoken explicitly? That's poor writing, guys.

  9. I’m not getting season 8 in any order that makes sense, but agree with the commenters who say this episode felt very heavy handed. Also the envelope of propriety exists for a reason, and writing is stronger when in stays inside that envelope. It forces the writer to be more creative in suggesting pushed boundaries rather than just showing the pushing.

    Thanks again for your reviews and this site.

  10. You're very welcome, Katherine, and thanks for your comment.

  11. Probably my least favourite episode in a long time, and the dog collar didn't help. But I did like the bad guy distracting Dean and Sam with hell-torture memories - nice use of the show's past, and a subject that's weirdly rarely brought up when not plot-specific (which was especially odd back when they talked about Sam's all the time but never Dean's - and went through an entire episode about hell hounds without once mentioning the fact they killed him)

  12. My reason for liking the episode was the gorgeous Doberman girl! I had a female Dobe years ago who looked a lot like her. And Portia (the dog) had lovely show ears. Just beautiful!

  13. Yeah it was iffy, the hint of race-play on top of the pet stuff. And there's no way to know if it's just us projecting our social distrust and whether the showrunners are just that admirably blind to it. But also um... it was pretty hot too LOL. So I can't really complain without being a hypocrite, but I think if I was writing for this episode and like I was holding myself responsible, I'd definitely keep the familiar-witch relationship non-sexual... Despite the fact that Portia was clearly putting the moves on I still feel like James did something wrong in offering no protest. This is sexist of me but I don't trust that specific kind of passiveness in men. I'd rather just have them pursue as much as the woman instead of giving themself this plausible deniability if sex is going to be in the picture.
    Good episode though. Making her a cat would've made this feel less iffy for me, and I know that portrays my animal bias. But I've always pitied dog-domestication and feel like they've been bred not just to get along but need the love of their masters. With cats they just feel less helpless to me. Alright this is making me a little uncomfortable so I'll stop here. I don't keep pets myself so I really don't get it, as lovely as an idea I think it and the people who cherish their pets is.


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