Supernatural Review 8.15 - "Man's Best Friend With Benefits"
Posted by Joseph Lee on 02.21.2013
The title of this episode is exactly what it sounds like, and it's kind of gross.
The Road So Far: Kevin solved the mystery of the demon tablet which revealed that there are three trials set up by God in order to close the gates of Hell forever. The first of these is to kill a hellhound and bathe in its blood. After telling Sam all episode that he is going to be the one to do it, Dean is disappointed when Sam is the one to complete the first trial. This means Sam has to take on the other two, whatever that means for him down the road.
Season Eight, Episode 15: Man's Best Friend With Benefits Directed By: John Showalter Written By: Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming
It's kind of disappointing to go back to a stand-alone episode when we just completed one of God's trials and were gaining some ground on the main story. It's especially disappointing when the choice for a stand-alone was a middling witch-themed episode that was mostly a bore except for a few good moments here and there. I'm not saying this was necessarily a bad episode, just completely average.
As far as our main story, that is included in roughly two short segments between the two brothers. It's more than the annoying "we called Garth, he said Kevin's working" bits they've done in this and last season (just replace Garth and Kevin for Frank and Dick Roman), but we don't have long before the end of the season and filler episodes are not the way to go. Man's Best Friend with Benefits just screams filler episode.
The episode sees Sam and Dean contacted by a cop named James who they worked a case with once. He is now a warlock (which Dean doesn't like) and thinks he may be killing people without realizing it. So the two investigate, chain James to a bed and come up with a way to kill him if they have to. All this time Dean is working with a familiar who can switch between a dog and a woman at will. This leads to some funny jokes about Dean thinking about sex, but it's not interesting overall.
The story never really commands your attention. What reason do we have to care about the trials and tribulations of James when we don't even know him? This would have been more effective if he actually was a former character that they brought back for the role. You're telling me that you couldn't bring back some cop character you've used before and tie that in? I find it hard to believe. This is a show that is all about continuity.
It also doesn't help that James himself, played by Christian Campbell. The character really does nothing for me, as he's completely one-dimensional. Campbell tries but due to the lack of any real meat to sink his teeth into he comes off as wooden. Mishael Morgan as his familar Portia is a much stronger character and so I enjoyed her more. Of course if the story was the least bit interesting then maybe I would have cared what happened to the two of them.
This was just a disappointment overall. It's not as bad as Bitten was, but it's not that good either. Just a very bland episode that doesn't affect me one way or the other. At least Bitten made me angry. This was just boring and uninteresting.
The 411: Man's Best Friend With Benefits is another low point for the season, a slightly below-average stand alone story that could have used something to freshen it up a bit. It's not the worst of the season and it's not particularly bad, but it wasn't really enjoyable outside of a few jokes and moments between the two brothers.