We knew we were in for a treat in this week’s “Supernatural,” because Dean plus dogs equals amazeballs. But we didn’t even have to wait for the actual episode to begin on Tuesday (Nov. 5) for the laughs to start flowing, because the “Then” montage was the Best. Then. Montage. Ever. It went all the way back to Dean’s GIF-worthy scream from Season 4’s “Yellow Fever!”
Seriously, can we just pause and watch this over and over?
Okay, back to recappin’ “Dog Dean Afternoon.”
As with all of “Supernatural’s” hilarious episodes, this week’s goofy animal-centric storyline still managed to focus on the big season-long arc … namely, Sam’s angelic pacemaker Zeke. While working a case that involved a cancer-ridden loon eating animal organs, Zeke had to make an appearance to save Sam’s life, and that interference raised questions for both Sam and Dean. But let’s back up a bit.
How did Sam and Dean get back out on the road? Now that Sam’s feeling better (though he doesn’t know the reason why), he figured that they should get back out there, doing the Family Business. Dean couldn’t come up with a legitimate excuse as to why he didn’t want Sam out in action, so on the road they went. Sam’s research took them to Enid, Ohio, where a taxidermist, Max Alexander, got crushed like a human pretzel.
Side note: Along with last week’s episode, “Dog Dean Afternoon” featured a tiny-but-noticeable “Game of Thrones” reference. The taxidermist had mice dressed like the characters from the HBO show, and Sam even made sure Dean saw the Joffrey mouse! ‘Fess up, “Supernatural” crew … which one of you just binge-watched the series? End side note.
While investigating Max’s death, Sam and Dean discover that someone tagged the taxidermist’s door with graffiti featuring the logo of SNART … a.k.a. Enid’s own version of PETA. After Sam and Dean track down the two founders of SNART (at a vegan bakery, no less!), they confess to tagging the door, but reveal that they didn’t hurt Max … they actually got attacked and sprayed in the eyes with venom (though they just thought it was mace), leading Sam and Dean to think they’re dealing with some weird snake monster.
But when another death — an animal shelter worker who got clawed to death — doesn’t fit the profile of a snake monster, the Winchesters are at a loss as to what keeps killing. They do realize they have a witness to both murders, though … Colonel, the taxidermist’s dog who was taken to the animal shelter after Max’s death.
According to Kevin Tran and the Men of Letters archives, Sam and Dean can create an Inuit spell that will allow one of them to communicate with the dog. Dean won’t let Sam drink the spell — and makes up some flimsy excuse as to why he doesn’t want Sam doing anything risky — so Dean tosses the gross concoction down his gullet and waits for … nothing to happen.
Turns out, the spell takes a little bit to kick in, but when it does … oh boy. The spell works a little too well, as Dean involuntarily plays fetch with Sam’s trash, can’t stop scratching his head or barking at the mailman … and it’s all amazing. Jensen Ackles knows how to play for laughs, but subtly. This story line in any other actor’s hands would probably have turned out cringe-worthy, but thanks to Ackles’ sense of nuanced humor, it worked. And it. Was. Fantastic.
Once Dean understood what was going on, he was able to communicate with not only Colonel (who kind of seemed like Bobby, no?), but also with all animals. That led to a pretty heated encounter with a pigeon who pooped on Dean’s Impala … and with a poodle that happened to catch Dean and Colonel’s eyes.
Colonel tells Dean all he knows about his old master’s murderer: he was wearing a cowboy hat and smelled like meat and soap. Dean and Sam head back to the animal shelter to see what the other animals may have seen or heard, and after a collie extorts Dean (and gets a belly rub from Sam), he lets them know their perp works at Avant Garde Cuisine, a French restaurant in town that doesn’t allow dogs. Dean sets all the miserable dogs free (Awww!), and they head over to the restaurant.
After kicking all the kitchen staff out, Sam and Dean figure out that the chef has been dabbling in shamanism, and eating the organs of animals to gain their strengths/skills (ew). Dean and Sam split up to find the chef, but he finds Sam first. He claws right through Sam’s neck, and right as he is about to die, Zeke comes forth and heals his neck before retreating back into Sam’s head. Sam has no idea how he is all of a sudden fine, but the chef saw everything and believes Sam is some sort of supernatural creature with the ultimate healing abilities. He knocks Sam out and prepares to eat him as his “main course.”
Why does Chef Leo want healing abilities? Well, you know how some dogs can actually smell cancer? Dean can smell Chef Leo’s stage 4 carcinoma, and after Leo tied up Dean, he confesses that’s why he’s been eating all the animal organs. It was a temporary fix for his cancer, but with Sam’s healing powers, Leo thinks he’ll be cured for good. While Dean stalls Leo with “Breaking Bad” comments (Seriously, all these pop culture references in one episode? Sam and Dean must have had some major binge-watching sessions in the MOL bunker), he breaks out of his bindings. Unfortunately, Leo had just eaten a wolf heart to fight Dean.
Dean runs outside and calls on his new dog friends to take down Leo. With the threat neutralized, Dean runs back inside to check on Sam, who comes to with no injuries … but a lot of questions. He has no idea why Leo thought he had healing abilities, and while Dean just throws out the usual “He was crazy!” defense, it’s clear that he’s got questions of his own.
Is Dean starting to not trust Zeke? As he was telling Sam that Leo was “possessed by something he couldn’t control and it was only a matter of time before it took over,” he started to look … wary. The words hit a little too close to home. As Sam gets closer to the truth, is Dean getting closer to realizing that Zeke maybe wasn’t telling him the whole truth? Either way, this is going to end badly. Either for Sam’s health and well-being, or for Sam and Dean’s relationship as brothers.
As for Colonel, Sam and Dean couldn’t keep him with their lifestyle, so they let the hippie SNART founders adopt him. Arguably one of the funniest parts of the episode came right as Colonel is about to reveal to Dean the real reason dogs were put on earth … but then the spell wears off. Ha! Terrible timing.
What did you think of “Dog Dean Afternoon” — was it everything you hoped the fun, goofy episode would be, or were you too eager to get back to the major Season 9 story arc? Let us know in the comments below.
“Supernatural” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.