Friday, February 22, 2013

Supernatural Season 8, Episode 15: Man's Best Friend with Benefits

A woman is walking down a dark alley by herself, wearing revealing clothing (I think she’s being coded as a sex worker – fishnets and high high heels). She gets steadily more nervous until a man stops her – and shows her his badge. She grumbles but submits to being handcuffed and then he strangles her.

And the man wakes up in horror with flashes of the woman dying still playing. He goes back to bed when his dog jumps up and lays next to him. He starts his morning routine – and finds a blood stained shirt in the bin.

Sam and Dean arrive at a motel (aww, no Winchester cave?) with lots of the bickering that works for them, including Dean still pushing Sam to let him get a hellhound for those gates of hell tests. They’re in town because a policeman who save their lives has called in a favour (how pesky).

While Dean is out for supplies, Sam hears a scratching at the door and, when he opens it, a very friendly black dog hurries in and demands belly rubs. When Dean comes back Sam hurries out to explain “she just showed up, she wanted her belly rubbed, I thought she could stay the night and we find her home tomorrow” to which Dean looks inside and sees a beautiful Black woman. He says she can stay the night

Sam draws a knife but she tells him to put away the blade she’s not a shapeshifter – she’s a familiar, a witch’s companion. Her name is Portia and she “belongs” to James Frampton – the guy who called them in. It seems since they worked on a case with him, James started studying the supernatural and became a witch. Portia describes  how James has been having headaches and nightmares that have been getting worse. Dean doesn’t want to help a witch and Portia chews him out for bigotry and that James has done nothing but good as a homicide detective and a cop. There’s silence before Dean describes her anger as incredibly hot and Sam agrees.

Pause a moment. I’m going to need a big drink to get through this episode.

Meanwhile James is in an exclusive club where there are at least 2 magic users openly using telekinesis to play chess (now that’s just lazy). He meets someone called Spencer to discuss his nightmares and other problems. Spencer advises giving it a rest – that it’s impossible to reconcile being a witch and being a detective and it’s the cause, which is when James reveals that Portia has disappeared

Portia explains the dreams to Sam and Dean – that they’re violent and that James fears they’re actually happening; this is what she got through her telepathic bond with her “master” before he started blocking her. And that it wasn’t James who called them in, it was Portia.

James has another dream of killing someone else – a blind Black man – before waking up again. Cut to Sam and Dean visiting and James and Portia arguing over Portia bringing them. After she leaves in dog form and Dean has his obligatory “witchcraft you fool?!” moment, James tells them about his dreams and adds that the people in them are actually dead he checked at the precinct and he shows them his blood stained shirt. They agree to help – but Dean pulls out some chains; first step is house arrest

Sam checks up on the 4 dreams – and the 4 victims are exactly as James described. Also, since using magic his solve rate has been almost 100% putting him on the super-duper fast track for promotion. And Dean and Sam have another talk about the demon trials, only this time Dean’s concern is apparent that he doesn’t think Sam will necessarily be able to perform all the trials, as he can. To Sam’s credit, he takes it less as a personal insult and more as an indication that Dean can’t trust ANYONE any more (and I just gave Sam credit. I feel unclean now). Then they discuss the witch killing spell they’re preparing on the assumption another witch is hexing James – except Dean is also keeping it in case there isn’t another witch (i.e. to kill James with). Sam brings up them giving free passes in the past (well, yeah, true – but someone actively killing people, just someone who is a monster). Dean points out that James is killing people and adds that Benny and Kate were forced to become a vampire and a werewolf respectively. James chose to be a witch.

Time for Sam to impersonate a federal agent and go to the police station to learn that the victims were all pretty isolated in their lives. This gives Sam a chance to get fabric from the blood stained shirt tested and hear from the detective in charge, Ed, that a witness had seen a man in a white shirt and suit at the crime scene. Which didn’t appear in the police report – and he refuses to discuss the witness any further

Portia takes Dean to the witch bar where everyone gives him the stink eye for clearly not belonging. And Portia tells him that a familiar finds their master and forges a very close, unbreakable bond – and objects strenuously to being called a “pet”. Hmmm, maybe if she’d stop referring to James as “master” then “pet” wouldn’t be the word that comes to mind. They’re called over by someone in the bar, Phillipe LeChat (yes, he’s a cat. And yes they’re imaginative with these names and no I’m not even going to try and wait until they confirm he’s actually a cat before naming him one). Oh and Dean’s allergic to cats and sneezes despite the complete absence of cat hair (yes, I’m being grumpy but this joke is so old). Seems that the witch community isn’t happy with James for being a cop and a witch. Which is when Spencer arrives and, in answer to Dean’s question, tells him he’s never heard of a spell for one witch to control another (really? Supernatural that’s just lazy! It’s like the third most common use in all the world’s black magic folklore! 1: kill, 2: raise the dead, 3: control people. At least come up with a “no-one I know could/would cast such a spell” or “no he’s too good a witch to be susceptible!”) Spencer leaves and Phillipe turns into a cat and goes with him. I’m shocked. Are you shocked? Because that was totally shocking and unexpected.

Sam rings with a super-fast forensic result on the shirt – the blood matches the 3rd victim, the prostitute.

So, no choice, that night Portia chains James to his bed. She hates doing that to him. Let me go on record as saying I totally wouldn’t hate doing that to him.

She tells him she loves him, kisses him and then a whole lot more (see, she’s not adverse to the chains either). Which is spoiled by her getting telepathic visions of James murdering people with lots and lots of blood spatter.

Sam and Dean go to James’s room with their witch killer but Portia stops them, tells them it’s not James. She points out that her telepathy flashes showed only the images, no thought processes, no context, no planning which she should have had – she points to this suggesting another witch in control, despite what Spencer said. And with James confined, surely it must be worth a try. They also discuss familiar/witch sex which is apparently very unusual and certainly confuses Dean.

Sam goes back to the police precinct and it’s clear Ed is pushing these cases as far to the back burner as he can, urging them to go cold. He’s also not impressed with James, despite – or because of - him being the youngest detective on the force ever. Smell that professional jealousy.

Portia and Dean go to see Drexel, one of James’s snitches. He’s a warlock who James uses when he suspects someone in the community (and behold why the community isn’t a big fan of his). And Dean’s still stuck on the whole familiar/witch sex and wonders basically whether Portia is a woman who can turn into a dog or a dog who can turn into a woman. Drexel gets right down to business – no rumours of any hexing but a lot about James turning Ripper with added concern that if James is arrested it’ll expose them all – and the community may kill him or force him to commit suicide to avoid that.

Dean does some research through Bobby’s books and tells Sam that there is a spell to place false memories in someone’s mind – therefore convincing James he killed people when he didn’t. Y’know, that book needs an index or to be computerised or something. Sam also remembers a locked room with a file related to the case at the precinct that good ol’ Ed was keeping from him 9I’ll be honest, I saw nothing that suspicious to warrant all the attention but hey) – and then also praises Dean for not making one single bestiality joke. They take this to James who wants to break into the precinct – Sam points out how hard that is, but James can astrally project; but he can’t do it with iron chains on. Sam agrees – but only if they can go with him.

One uneventful astral projection later and it seems that Ed is building a very strong case against James, both out of professional jealousy, grudge and ambition – and that his witness statement is from Phillipe LeChat. James loses it, throws Dean and Sam against the wall with his telekinesis, knocking them out and yelling at Portia to go and have a life, leaving him (despite her saying it’s her duty to stand by him).

He goes to the witch bar and slams Phillipe Down on the bar. Phillipe protests that Spencer made him do it, a direct command. To which Spencer responds by snapping his neck and making a fairly good quip about him being spineless.

And the motive behind destroying James? Jealousy over Portia picking James and then rubbing salt into his jealous wounds by crossing the taboo of sleeping with him as well.  Sam and Dean arrive in time to be battered against a wall by Spencer this time. James launches his own magical attack on Spencer, but it’s apparent Spencer is Much Much Much better and decides to show this by messing with everyone’s head, plunging them all into a personal hell (see, villains and there show downs. If he’d just kill them by, say, slamming them repeatedly against that wall…). Dean gets to see his mother burn and being tortured in Hell, calling for Sam to help. And Sam gets to relive his time with Lucifer. Not fun memories.

While everyone’s on the rollercoaster down bad memory lane, Portia charges in in dog form, snarling and starts savaging Spencer – distracting him and disrupting his spell (would I be irredeemably geeky mentioning the Combat Casting feat?) which gives Sam time to use the witch killer. The witch killer, by the way, is a bottle with a rag in it that you set on fire and throw at the witch. Aka Molotov cocktail but with better special effects and less property damage.

Despite the bad guy being vanquished, James and Portia still have to leave time, Ed has too good a case against him for him to do otherwise and the magical community is not their biggest fan.

When Sam and Dean leave, Dean learns from his visions and tells Sam he trusts him, that they’ve got through all their pain by standing together and if Sam says he’s good to take this then that’s fine with him.

In response, Sam does the reassuring thing of coughing up blood. Uh-huh.

No. No no no no no no no no no no no no no ye gods NO no no no no no what were you thinking?! NO! no no no no no no NO NO NO.

Seriously, I cannot imagine any show that could remotely work in a Black woman that calls a white man master, is OWNED by a white man AND is actually a dog (Black people as animals? Ugh. And a female dog at that?) in a way that wouldn’t be grossly offensive in the worst possible way. And if such a show exists – it most certainly is NOT Supernatural, that has precious few POC characters to begin with an a history of all kinds of dubious crap.

No. Just No. Really No. Honestly writers, what is wrong with you?!


I can barely form a sentence beyond that. But working through that, the episode was still pretty blah. Very fillery, very little advanced except in the last 5 minutes, very little real point for that matter. They do lots of investigation which is invalidated with Dean actually reading Bobby's notes, followed by more investigation which would have been much more easily handled if Ed wasn't hiding on his notes, glory hunting. And the whole episode would have been much simpler if Spencer had just killed James and covered it up rather than go through this elaborate plot - and covering it up

And I have to add – is Supernatural deciding its bit characters need to be gorgeous models now? Because there were some supremely beautiful people this episode.