Thursday, 7 November 2013

Review - Supernatural 9.05 "Dog Dean Afternoon"


Huh. That was pretty damn funny. You know how I said in my preview I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised? I was pleasantly surprised!

Let’s start with this… This episode made one of my dogs lose his (already tiny) mind!

From the first bark Teddy sat up in front of the TV and pretty much didn’t move. He barked back at the dogs on screen, he growled, he cocked his head to the side; he looked into the TV cabinet where my Blu-ray player sits, to try and figure out where the damn dogs were!
On my second watch, it wasn’t even the barking that got to him, it was the Colonel! When the camera zoomed in on the Colonel, Teddy barked at the TV and dived towards it, furiously wagging his tail! I was laughing so hard! Both at Dean and at my dumbass dog!

Anyway, I just had to share that with you, because it was awesome! Back to the episode.
Like I said, I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would and if I think about it (which you know I did), I liked it better than last week’s Oz episode. I think I smiled nearly all the way through “Dog Dean Afternoon”. How often does that happen with this show?

I know exactly why too. “Dog Dean Afternoon” felt old school Supernatural to me. It was just the brothers, on the road, running a case, sitting opposite each other at a Formica table in a crappy motel room while Sam researched. It was rock aliases (Poison) classic rock, light banter, plenty of shiny Impala, playing fetch. Wait. What? Heh. It even had the traditional ending of the brothers having a d&m over the car. *happy sigh*

Don’t get me wrong, I love the big myth-arc episodes and I’m totally digging this season’s Sam/Ezekiel arc and the sick to the stomach anticipation of it all going pear-shaped, but this episode felt comfortable and cosy, like a favourite pair of Supernatural socks. It was all Winchester, all the time and sometimes I miss that. It was the brothers being brothers and saving people and hunting things and stuffs and while I don’t need that each week, while I love the brothers having other characters to bounce off, harking back to what drew me into this show in the first place is never, ever going to go astray. In fact it’s going to be damn appreciated and properly celebrated. This show can be heavy with emotion, both theirs and mine. It’s nice to get an episode that makes you feel good all over, once in a while.

Of course, there was still the stonker of a lie going down and Zeke lurking inside Sam and we were reminded of the impending repercussions of Dean’s choice and secret and I think the penny well and truly finally dropped for Dean, but I’ll get to that in a bit…

I want to talk about doggy Dean first!


One thing I’ve always loved about Dean is how he rolls with the punches. Whack him into prison, throw him into the future, or back in time, or into an alternative Universe, or make him a dog…it doesn’t matter, he fits right in there. For a man who can be wracked with self-doubt and loathing, he can also be very comfortable in his own skin.

The fetch scene was perfection I laughed out loud. Great big belly laugh. It was so subtly played. Deadpan straight. I didn’t even notice it until Sam pointed it out! I think that’s why this hair-brained, concept episode worked; because the comedy was artfully played. JAckles shone. Is there nothing this (gorgeous) man can’t do? He managed, with a lovely, balanced, light comedic touch, to keep this pie in the sky episode, grounded. Bravo Mr Ackles. A lesser actor would have mugged his way through this, but not Jensen. His comic timing was impeccable. What a gifted guy.


The hunting case was fine, enough to keep me interested. The villain was villainous. I loved his line, “I’ve never had human heart before, heard it’s a bit chewy, good job I’m not a fussy eater.” The actor’s London accent set this line off a peach. English villains are the best!

The episode pacing was great! Seriously, it was a super quick 43 minutes. I liked the little nods to the tragedy of shelter animals, like the poor Miniature Collie with cataracts, who at 14 knew no one was going to come for her. Poor baby… And while I didn’t much care for the cartoonish voices of the various animals (the pigeon and mice were the exceptions), I loved their dialogue. Like the dog going, “I’m shaking the fence, boss. Still shaking the fence!” I literally yelped myself! Cool Hand Luke is one of my favourite movies. I also loved the old Golden Retriever who, when Dean let him out, ran off saying “Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!” I’m pretty sure if my dog could talk, bacon would be his first word!

The pigeon scene was hilarious. “Hey, dick move pigeon” “Screw you asshat”. Dean pulling the gun on the pigeon. Sam frantically trying to get Dean in the car. Only Dean. Only. Dean. Oh man, it was all pretty good stuff.


But what I totally loved was that while we were happily enjoying Sam’s face as he rubbed the belly of a dog who was openly hot for him, or Dean barking at the mailman, or scratching behind his ear, or worrying about insulting mice, or gleefully hanging his head out of the Impala’s window – nice to see Sammy driving the car by the way – the big elephant in the brother’s room was still there, festering under the surface of every conversation, with Dean constantly alluding to Sam healing, because he knows what’s going on inside his brother, even though his brother doesn’t. “Sooner you heal….” “I’ll do it, you’ve got enough on your plate…” Sam looks confused, more and more so. What the hell is Dean talking about?

There’s something in Dean’s actions that screams to me that he wants to be caught. I’m not saying that he consciously wants to be caught, but subconsciously. He’s lying terribly. He’s constantly about to put his foot in his mouth. And it makes sense for him to want to be caught, because in some ways having Sam call him out on the situation would be easier. It’s easier to go on the defensive when you’re under attack. If he goes in (as he should have done by now) with honesty and the whole story and lays it all out for Sam, sharing how he felt, it’s almost like he’d automatically be put on the back foot. He’d be vulnerable. But if he get’s caught out, he never has to face coming clean, he never has to start that conversation, start that confrontation, risk making that move with his brother, because Sam will start it and then Dean can stand his ground and respond. Of course, he’s probably still hoping against hope that Sam will never need to know… Yeah, right. Dean-ial.

Sam’s a smart guy and you can see everything’s starting to ring warning bells inside his head. Dean’s hanging sentences, his over concern where Sam is obviously looking and feeling great. The fact that Sam keeps forgetting how he ended up on his ass, or Dean calling out random names, or Sam being slashed across the throat, then miraculously healed and being asked “How the hell did you do that…I want to know what you are.” Sam’s thinking. How could he not be?
It’s not long now, people. Are we ready? (Noooo! Yes, yes, yes! Noooo! Meep!)


The other underlying thread of “Dog Dean Afternoon” reinforced this season’s theme of consequence. What are the consequences of the actions of our heroes? The consequences of stopping the trials, of trusting the wrong people, of bringing Sam back, of making life and death decisions that they have no place making. How is this going to play out and what price will they pay.

All this was thrown into Dean’s face in the shape of the Chef, who in trying to save his own life, took extreme measures and ended up losing himself and losing control of the thing that now, essentially possessed him and ruled his every move. In searching for a cure, he became less than human.

“He was all jacked up on juice, he was possessed by something he couldn’t control, it was *penny drop* was, ah, a matter of time before it completely took over *suspicious/warning look to Sam/Zeke*.

Maybe living at all costs isn’t worth the price. Doc Benton taught us that lesson way back in season 3.


Plus, with Zeke constantly being put into a position where he must use his powers, what is that doing to the angel within? As Sam get’s stronger, Zeke seems to get weaker. Sam conked out for an awful long time this week. It took Dean a lot – and the threat of a lick on the face – to wake him. What if Zeke isn’t strong enough to leave Sam and survive? Let alone strong enough to leave Sam and find a new vessel! What will the “one of the good guys” angel do then?


Dean is on one hell of a rollercoaster and he’s taking us with him. He’s lying to his brother and obviously feeling horrible about it, doubting at every turn that he made the right move, doubting the being he has put his trust in. What happens if the line between Zeke and his brother becomes blurry. If Dean starts to question who he's actually to... I should say "when" because it already seems to be happening.

On top of all this, Dean's people keep dying or almost dying right in front of him and week on week he’s faced with looking down at them, begging for them to come back.
And he can’t tell a soul…

The whole thing, from beginning to end is heart breaking.


But in typical Supernatural style all of this super serious, angst inducing stuff was packaged in a delightfully whacking episode, giving us emotional whiplash as only Supernatural can do. Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder did a bang up job with the script, delivering what was a MOTW story, but never losing sight of a major element of this season’s big picture.
Dean’s predicament was treated with affection so that no matter what, he never looked out of his depth or like a buffoon. A lot of writers have struggled with that in the past. EC & NS showed Dean can be smart and kickass, even when he’s transformed into a dog (more or less). I may love them a little for that. I’m not saying I’ve forgiven them for the Mannequin fiasco, but I am saying, next time they pen an episode, I’ll go in a lot more optimistic.

Yep. I liked “Dog Dean Afternoon” a hell of a lot. Whoda thunk it!


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