In the middle of the secrets and the lies and the world falling apart around them, sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and have an old-fashioned hunt to focus the Winchester attention on. And sometimes it’s nice for the viewers alike to take a breath and just enjoy the ability of our favorite show to balance humor and drama so effortlessly. Such was the intention of “Dog Dean Afternoon.” But intent does not always equal great follow-through.
Note: This recap may contain spoilers!
Starting off the episode, we got a recap of all the prior funny moments that have brought laughter and enjoyment to our viewing over the past nine years. And, perhaps, that set the bar a bit too high for this episode, since the viewership was expecting it to reach the same great heights of “Yellow Fever” or the like. Instead, we were left with an episode that felt like it was trying a bit too hard.
Don’t get me wrong, I love when Jensen gets to do comedy. The man has great timing and he’s allowed Dean to be the funny guy between the brothers time and time again. He’s good at it, but Jensen’s talent can only go as far as the script allows him. In this case, he tried his best, but the foundation was a bit too shaky. Seeing Dean fall victim to a well-intentioned spell gave us a great set-up, yet throughout the episode I kept thinking of the “might have beens” which could elevate the story even more. Maybe I should lay the blame not on Dean, but on the animals.
What does a dog think about all day long? Food, devotion to their human master, the squirrel racing across the yard? No, apparently they are thinking bitter thoughts about how their lives suck and humans are stupid. In fact, all animals seemed to be on this same wavelength, if the episode is anything to go by. Making the animals approachable, lovable, or even insightful could have given the audience something to latch onto and made us want to root for them when things weren’t going so well. Instead, I found myself not caring at all that the various creatures were being slaughtered for their organs because at least they wouldn’t have to continue to be miserable among the humans who sought to control them.
The only animal, out of all of them, that I cared about was the sassy Yorkie that the boys find in the animal shelter. Why? Because he was actually funny, and manipulative, and knew how to play the humans to get what he wanted rather than just complaining about them. Also, it helped that the little guy was voiced by Leslie Jordan. I love him so much, but even the brightness of his appearance couldn’t balance out the downsides of the other creatures’ personalities.
So that the whole review isn’t about the downsides of the episode, and so that I can banish the image of Dean lusting after a poodle out of my mind, let’s find some good points for “Dog Dean Afternoon.” Well, there was Zeke and the implications of what his possession of Sam means to those who are witness to it. Our monster of the week was a dying man who was using Shamanism to sustain his life through the consumption of various animals’ powers. And when he slashes Sam across the throat in what should have been a fatal injury, only to see the hunter heal himself, he knows that he must have this creature for his own. Imagine what that healing power could do for his own mortality. And his comment of the same gives Sammy one more thing to grow suspicious about.
At some point, the truth about Zeke has to come out. Whether the motivating factor is a fellow angel recognizing him or a near-death that Dean can’t just explain away, something’s got to happen to get the whole thing out in the open. The longer Dean holds out on telling Sam the truth, the worse that blow-up is going to be when it happens. Sam’s already woken up twice with no prior knowledge of what happened, he’s heard Dean call out the name Zeke, and now the monster has indicated that something is up with Sam. How many more clues before Sam just corners Dean and demands the whole truth? As much as I love seeing Zeke, and I appreciate the protection and help he’s been giving both Sam and their friends, this is never going to end well for anyone involved. I’m counting down the days until the confrontation comes. It helps me to push away the bad memories of episodes like this one at least.
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Screencaps by spn-caps