Sunday, 20 November 2011

Review - Supernatural 7.09 "How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters"

Warning: Contains episode spoilers, like a big one....

“We’re on our third the world’s screwed issue in what....three years?”

Leviathan, Big Bird, Ken Doll and Creepy Uncle…all mixed in with a good helping of cannibalism, flare wearing waiters, gross out autopsies, snappy dialogue, dick jokes, mythology and poignant moments. Hmmmm feels like Ben Edlund to me.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Mr Edlund. I find him incredibly inspiring. I love his writing style. How he balances all the elements above and comes out the other side with an episode that’s creative, cohesive and powerful. A lot of people think of faeries, suicidal teddies and crazy meta episodes when they think of Ben Edlund, but don’t forget he wrote, On The Head Of A Pin, Abandon All Hope, The End and of course the wonderful The Man Who Would Be King. Ben’s one of the senior writers on Supernatural and you can see it on the screen. His characters are always spot on and he seems to be able to effortlessly mix in the arc of the season, fill in some gaps and push the story forward all while making us squirm, giggle, cry and gasp. Not only that, he’s got a delightfully erratic mind and crazy hair. I even love his stovepipe jeans, striped t-shirts and cardigans. I think I might be just as much a fan of Ben Edlund as I am of Jensen and Jared (though maybe for different reasons). How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters once again, reaffirmed this Edlund passion of mine. Like Dean’s Turducken Slammer, this episode was the perfect storm of all the elements that make Supernatural great. Gore, wit, pathos, continuity, action, performance and beautifully written words. When I went back and rewatched it, I couldn’t go but a few moments before I’d have to rewind to hear a line again or watch a scene over. In my opinion, this week’s episode was another bright and shinny example of how Mr Edlund can mix up the light and the dark and balance the two perfectly. I loved it from the first icky moment until the heart pounding, jaw dropping, holy-crap-this-can’t-be-happening end.
So is Bobby gonna die? Please, please no. Don’t take Bobby. I'm not ready to lose him. I don't think any of us are ready to lose him. Not us and not the Winchesters. Especially not the Winchesters. I must admit that the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up when Bobby had the heart to heart with Sam and then later with Dean. Right off the bat I was worried. His words as usual were pure perfection and exactly what each brother needed to hear. To Sam...“You know, you worry about him. All he does is worry about you. Who’s left to live their own lives here?” The thing is I’m not sure either of them is capable of that anymore and I’m not sure either of them really wants to. And then to Dean… “Now you find your reasons to get back in the game. I don’t care if it’s love, or spite or a ten dollar bet.” He’s worked this tactic on Dean before, with the whole “Boo hoo princess” speech in Lucifer Rising.  Personally I think Dean reacts well to a kick in the pants, even if he always looks a bit surprised that someone would speak to him like that! But it was that “You die before me and I’ll kill ya” line that made me go, O-OH! Then Bobby goes off on his own, then he gets nabbed by the big mouths, then he gets separated from the boys, then he’s running for the van, then the Dick Roman Leviathan is shooting and then, the hat….the boys screaming his name….well I think I stopped breathing. When I saw the promo for the next episode all I could think of was In My Time Of Dying. The boys looking on, shoulder to shoulder, then one face after another,  Bobby surrounded by doctors trying to save him….please don’t tell me it’s 10.41 at anytime of the day or night…. Bobby can’t die. Not like this. He’s their father figure. Personally, I think he’s better than their father. He helped raise them. He taught them how to hunt…like proper hunt. He’s had their backs since day one. He’s stood beside them, supported them, fought for them, cried for them, loved them as much as any father could love two sons. Bobby can’t die. I won’t allow it. There.
So apart from the cliffhanger that nearly killed a fandom there was…..
Sam. I’ve been a little disappointed in Sam of late. Or I should say, disappointed in how Sam is being portrayed. I haven’t liked the sneaking off, the pouting and the running away. I think he’s better than that, I think he’s more substantial than that and I think he’s more grown up than that. Or at least I would hope he is. I also found his whole I’ve got this Lucifer thing under control thinly explained. We hadn’t even seen him rub his palm in a while. He was just all okie dokie in a crazy kool-aide kind of way and I was having a hard time swallowing it, mainly because no one was telling me why. Until this week. I loved Sam in How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters. People seem to think I dis Sam, but on the contrary. I just expect a lot from him and so I get disappointed when he disappoints me. But this week, not a jot. Sam was smart, caring, calm, strong and thoughtful, all the traits we know he has but sometimes are not necessarily communicated. There seemed to be a peace around Sam. When everyone else was getting their flare all up in a bunch, Sam wasn’t. His having all his crazy under one umbrella made some kind of weird sense to me. At least he knows what it is he has to deal with. Now I sort of get it. He’s worried about Dean just as much as Dean’s worried about him and I’ve actually got more of a sense of that now. Dean’s different and Sam’s worried. He picked up on that Turducken thing. He had the patience of Job with stoner Dean. He was all the Sammy things that I really adore. 
Dean. I really hope Dean listens to Bobby's special brand of tough love. He needs to find his mojo again. I’m always torn between wanting to hug him and wanting to shake him when he gets like this. He tried the life of a normal man, it didn’t pan out and not just because he put that family at risk, but because it’s not who he is. What Bobby said to Dean in the van is essentially what Zachariah said to Dean in It’s A Terrible Life, “You’re a hunter, not because your dad made you, not because God called you back from Hell, but because it is what you are.” Whether he likes it or not I guess. But he does like it, most of the time and in his own way. We’ve seen Dean depressed before, we’ve seen him want to throw in the towel, give himself over to Michael and toss his life to the Angels, but he always finds a way to rally and regain his Deanness. He’s been through worse than this quite frankly and come out the other side. Though, I think what we’re seeing now is a culmination of all that he’s been through finally pulling him down, finally seeming like it's too much to shoulder. But, I’m sure he’s going to have another “Screw destiny right in the face” moment. He has to. Dean's strong and damn stubborn. Maybe this tragedy with Bobby will help to galvanise him. Certainly if Bobby dies, that will create a fire in his belly for revenge that will take those supercilious Leviathan by surprise. Burning hot vengeful Dean. Mmmmmm…. But as I’ve already made the executive decision that Bobby’s not going to die, maybe it’s Bobby’s words and nearly losing Bobby that helps him find his reason. If Bobby's left to recuperate, that's going to take some time, which just leaves Dean and his brother and that means he’s going to have to learn to trust Sam again but more importantly, he's going to have to learn to trust himself. Dean’s awesome. He’s a hero. He just forgets sometimes. Somehow, I don’t think we’ve seen the fruition of either Sam’s or Dean’s inner struggle. I think those battles are yet to be fought and won.
The Leviathan. I like them. They’re smart and smarmy! I like Dick Roman and I like that the writers called him Dick so we could have lines like “Dick is coming” and “The Rise Of Dick.” Awesome. Like Lucifer before them, we go a few episodes where the Leviathan don’t appear and the urgency of the situation surrounding them seems to be put on the back burner. But then they come back, with a vengeance and now everyone is nicely tense and alarmed. Yay! I have no idea what their end game could possibly be, except make the human population complacent with a sandwich made from a bunch of birds shoved up inside each other, while they slowly take over or possibly eat the world? Well Bobby knows, except….  I like how they’re working the system. Taking over a powerful man to buy up land and God knows what else. Manipulating the media. But I was thinking, maybe Sam and Dean need someone to plant a story or two about Dick Roman. A nice scandal? Doesn’t take much to bring down a powerful man these days. Play the Leviathan at their own game. Being a high profile personality comes with consequences. Hey, I reckon Frank Devereaux could help out with that! Just a thought. And then there was the “bibbing!” I’ve found myself over the last day, occasionally pondering how Dr Sexy!Leviathan ate his own head? Part of me really wants to see that!
Plus we got zombies…damn I love zombies, a monster autopsy to end all monster autopsies…cats head…love and ewwww! Glampers, possibly my new favourite word, Ranger Rick, oozing sandwiches, touching character moments and lots of references to past episodes with wendigos, werewolves, Cas and John, I’ve really enjoyed how this season has been paying homage to the past. And then of course, there was stoned Dean, which might well be my new favourite silly Dean. His blissed out, carefree, tryptophan coma was too much fun. I knew someday Dean’s love of food was gonna bite him on the ass! At least he felt good for a moment….. Oh and Sam’s looks at stoned Dean…seriously, between the two of them my face started to ache. *Insert excuse for using sleeping Dean cap here.
So I guess, essentially How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters is part one of a two part midseason finale. A brilliant set up to whatever the hell is gonna happen next episode. I can’t stand the thought of losing Bobby; I really don’t want Sam and Dean to experience that. They’ve gone through enough. They've given enough. Do we really need to strip them of absolutely everyone? Nope. I’m just not gonna allow it.
Two damn weeks to wait. Supernatural, you’re a cruel and capricious master.
Let me know what you thought of the episode, I’d love to hear your comments.
See you in a couple of weeks for the miraculous recovery of Bobby Singer…right? RIGHT?


  1. As I said on Tiny's review, BOBBY HAS TO LIVE. Bobby can not die because he got shot (of all things)while running away (running away is a bit to emotive of a word) Bobby, if he has to die, needs to go out like Ellen and Jo.

    Looking forward to next... wait, the week after next week.

  2. from @tmateotb....Spot on! And yes, that ep went by in 5 seconds and then was over huh? It was so brilliant, I have no words. I had to watch it again immediately! As usual the discussions were full of horror and 'how dares theys' over Bobby maybe dying but the writers said from the beginning of the season the boys would be left with nothing to rely on. Obviously that includes Bobby needing to be out of the picture...for a while! I loved loved loved stoned Dean, it has been forever and a day since we've seen him even a little relaxed, much less that he has given us a proper smile. That's what I'm hanging out for just once before the end of the season. A proper Dean smile, from the heart. Thank you for, as always, a fab review!!!

  3. Yes Kara, totally agree, he needs to go out guns blazing, not catching a stray bullet in the head, that's not the death he deserves, which is another reason I think he'll pull through, but be out of action for a while, leaving the boys to fight the fight alone and rely on each other.

  4. I loved this episode! Why? Absolutely everything - it makes me wish they could just hired Ben Edlund and Guy Bee permanently - how nice would that be?

  5. Thanx Amy. Jim hasnt filmed for a while so at the very least he is recuperating!I wonder how u protect a hunter in a coma???
    Sam is always magnificent::DDD

  6. Always enjoy your reviews and I'm definitely of the mind that Bobby needs to live. After listening to Guy's interview though, I'm not feeling optomistic. They really are pulling everything away from the boys aren't they? It is still part of their struggle and like you said "I don’t think we’ve seen the fruition of either Sam’s or Dean’s inner struggle." I have a feeling hiatus is going to truly be hellatus this year.

  7. I felt the same way, about it all :D such an amazing eppie! Dean needs to find his deanness again, sam is stepping up and Bobby has to live.

    I thought Edlund really insinuated that Bobby was a better father to Sam and Dean even when John was still alive. Dean remembered Bobby bringing them hunting for deer--the boys wouldn't shoot Bambi...such a cute story, and shows how important Bobby always was to them...and I think especially Dean.

    while I was running this morning I was thinking about heroic men and their vehicles--like Dean, Kirk and the Enterprise, Picard and the Enterprise. I was thinking about the choice of a car over a woman--like kirk says to Bones in an ep "I already have a demanding woman who takes up all my time, I call her Enterprise. When Dean was with Lisa, he stopped driving the Impala, he put it away. I think right now the fact they can't drive the impala may be a bit symbolic of how conflicted Dean is. even that Bobby brought up Lisa and Ben again. Even though Dean left and walked away from that, I don't think he has really let Lisa go. I kinda touched on it a bit in my review...sorry this is so long! Cant wait to see what happens next!

  8. Man! Bobby cannot die! Dean needs someone like Bobby to kick his ass and keep him sane. I am scared!

    Sam! Yes! He is usually the calm nerdy one in situation like this. I think that's very Sam. And I welcome the calmness of Sam. Coz one of them has to be cool enough to deal with the case.

    As for Dean, man, is it anything Jensen can't do? He is awesome as usual! Love love love his comedic side. What can I say? I love Dean!

    I love Ben.. I think I am in love with Ben!! I didn't know he is married!! OMG!!



  9. First thing - Bobby will be fine.
    Second - I wish BE wrote all the eps.
    Third - thank you Amy x Aj x