Gee, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these things, huh?  While some might think that a reviewer taking time off from reviews means displeasure with a show, that couldn’t be the farthest from the truth.  There have been some circumstances in my personal life recently that have limited my time to the bare basics, aka admin duties.  Also, I’ve been devoting more time at TV For The Rest of Us to get that site moving beyond the three shows we were featuring last season.  So yeah, something had to give.

But, enough of that.  There’s an episode to review, and I have to admit I liked “Dog Dean Afternoon.”  I had intense reservations going into this episode (I was sharing the cautiously hopeful outlook with sweetondean).  When going into an episode with low expectations, the pressure is kind of off to perform.  As long as it wasn’t “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning,” we were good.  In that aspect, the episode lived up and was even better than that.  I usually like coming out of an episode thinking “Hey, that was kind of fun,” rather than a mytharc heavy episode that plays too hard and fast with the rules of canon (I’m talking to you “I’m No Angel”).

Before I go any further though, I realize that my lack of doing reviews hasn’t given you all a good idea of my season nine mindset.  Why don’t I get that out of the way now?  It’s off to a very solid start.  No, it’s not the barn burner like season four, but the thought of the first five episodes of season seven still give me the heebeegeebees, so season nine is doing fine.  So far it’s right on and they seem like they’re building up to something big.   

With that out of the way, what did I like about “Dog Dean Afternoon?”  For one, it was just the brothers on the road this week.  I’m not saying I need that each and every week, and I do love the supporting characters, but once in a while going back to basics is needed.  They were loose and it looked like they enjoyed being back on the road.  I also loved the lighter dialogue between them, something we traditionally get with road episodes, but it hasn’t always been good.  It worked here.  The scenario was a bit screwball, but it was believable, at least for the “Supernatural” universe.  I wondered how Dean would end up with the task of playing Doctor Doolittle, and him taking the glass from Sam, who assumed this role would be his, made sense.  I like how he just gave the simple excuse that Sam’s last effort (aka the trials) was a bit overwhelming.  Sam didn’t object.  It’s one of those things that we fans tend to overanalyze, so I’m praising the subtlety of how it was handled and shall talk about it no more. 

The case of the week didn’t have a procedural feel for once.  Perhaps it’s because we haven’t had a real procedural “case of the week” episode yet this season, so maybe it didn’t seem tired.  Or maybe it’s because the FBI guys time was minimized and the antagonist was not your run of the mill foe.  He mirrored Doc Benton in “Time Is On My Side.”  A normal guy who turned to something very freakish and dark to cheat death.  That theme is perfect for this season though, because it parallels Dean’s act in the season premiere with Sam and Ezekiel.  Because of that setup, you better believe Zeke had to make an appearance.  Boy, did he! 

For the record, I love the Sam/Ezekiel storyline.  I have no issues with how it’s played out so far.  I really loved how Zeke’s appearance was framed in this episode, and commend Jared for switching gears like that.  To go from a guy gurgling over heavy blood loss from a slashed throat to an angel healing his vessel, then back to one very confused guy with blood all over him, it was pretty awesome to watch.  Despite how many times we’ve seen Zeke appear to heal over the last few weeks, I was still in awe over the scene.  I felt like the chef watching it all from behind.  “What the hell was that?” 

So far, Ezekiel’s appearances just in time for the quick save may seem contrived, but they are happening for a purpose.  There will be fallout.  It’s foreshadowing with a capital F.  We can already see the wheels starting to fall off the wagon.  The fact that Ezekiel fell unconscious after healing Sam, thus leaving Sam to remember the chef wondering what he is, that ties in perfectly with Dean’s comment at the end of the episode about what bad things can happen when one loses control of an situation.  I saw the lightbulb in Dean’s head pop on when he realized the parallel and yes, I thought he was almost ready to tell Sam about Ezekiel.   Dean has to know he can’t keep this up much longer.  Given Sam’s pensive mood over what’s happening to him, we know he’s starting to put all the pieces together. 

The question has been raised a lot, what’s going to happen when Sam finds out?  I’m not speculating a reaction, but let’s look at this thing another way from face value.  Ezekiel, because he keeps popping up and interfering, is now weaker than ever.  In the meantime, Sam is getting stronger.  While it’s hard to know if Sam’s strong enough, the question now is, can Ezekiel even leave Sam?  He’s able to take over, but not for long.  If you’re a vessel carrying a dying angel, what exactly does that mean?  What will happen if the angel dies while inside?  Does it eventually have negative effects?  I’ve never believed that Ezekiel getting stronger inside Sam would be a problem.  This is after all Lucifer’s vessel, and Luci was a powerful archangel.  But weaker, that’s a new twist. 

Despite all that drama, the bulk of the episode was really about Dean talking to animals to solve a bizarre case.  Did that work?  Yes.  I was amused, especially Dean playing fetch with Sam’s balled up piece of paper and yelling at the mailman.  They didn’t go overboard with the gag though, even with Dean ogling the female poodle!  My favorite part BTW was the sheer joy on Dean’s face when he was able to cruise in the Impala with his head out the window.  Dog spell or not, joy coming from Dean makes me happy!  I also loved Sam having to give the yorkie a belly rub.  He should have been enjoying that more!  He is after all the dog lover of the two.  We knew the dog was loving it (gay or not, that yorkie had taste).

The pacing of the ep was even and consistent, though the story itself ran on the slow side.  That made it feel like a filler ep, but sometimes it’s okay to slow down and take things casually on some weeks.  I spent most of last week too focused on the “wtf?” aspects of the story (I still liked it though) and the first three weeks were some “in your face” intense drama and action.  This week’s plot wasn’t anywhere near as exhausting, or exasperating, and I’ll take weeks like that.  It was a pretty good story.  Considering how appalled I was over time wasters like “Shut Up Dr. Phil” and “Fallen Idols,” I wasn’t doing a “ruh roh” after this one (yes, I laughed hard when Dean said that).   

Here’s some other stray thoughts:

-        I’m also hoping that this experience will get Dean over his dislike of dogs.  It helps to be in on the universal animal language!  To be honest, I thought some writers got Dean’s dislike of dogs very wrong (cough “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” cough).  I see this is as a character exaggeration that writers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder have corrected.  Considering all the cats were eaten, I guess they didn’t get to fix that Dean cat allergy mistake though.  Oh well, baby steps. 

-        This is the first script back for these writers since they came back to the show after leaving in season six.  I noticed the parallels between their other episodes.  The eating of human parts calls back to “You Can’t Handle The Truth,” and Dean frantically trying to wake Sam goes back to the very, very awful, “Mannequin 3” episode. Except that part was good. 

-        It’s been said by many, even Jared on his Twitter, that the animal voices were cheesy.  I don’t argue, but they didn’t bother me too much either.  It worked enough to move the plots along. Plus, bad animal voice or not, who didn’t love the criticism of their choices in classic rock?

Overall grade, oh, we’ll say a B.  It gives our overactive and over-analytical brains a rest, but does just enough to set us up for the weeks to come too.    Thank you show for not raising my blood pressure this week.  That’s the way a filler episode is supposed to work.

Comments  

magichappening
#21 magichappening 2013-11-06 17:55
Also, I'm vegetarian (with vegan aspirations) and neither the vegan bakery nor the pet shelter scenes bothered me...but yay for the 'prison break' Dean instigated :-)
cheryl42
#22 cheryl42 2013-11-06 19:18
That is an interesting theory about Zeke. It hadn't occurred to me he might be dying. Zeke did tell Dean that Cas had to leave the bunker or he would have no choice but to leave Sam. The indication seemed to be that Zeke was strong enough to leave but Sam wasn't strong enough yet. I got the impression he was hiding and that Cas would lead the angels right to him. I kind of think maybe when Sam finds out about Zeke, he and Zeke will have a confrontation/c onversation that will bring them to a reluctant (on Sam's part) partnership to help restore the angels to heaven.
I imagine that Zeke is going to be less and less inclined for Sam to be put in mortal danger since it is weakening him every time he has to bail Sam out. So I can see some arguments between Zeke and Dean about controlling Sam. I also wonder if Sam is not really questioning if Dean is hiding something from him. I think he is starting to think that maybe the trials left him changed and he is starting to worry about it. But in typical Sam fashion he is keeping his fears to himself so as not to worry Dean.
Karen
#23 Karen 2013-11-06 20:48
Hi Alice
It’s nice to see you doing a review again. I have missed them.
I also enjoyed this episode with the Shaman and Dr. Doolittle storyline. I had a many good chuckles with this one.
However I still feel it would have worked better for me if only Dean could hear the animals.
I loved how Zeke jumped in to heal Sam’s wounds and then quickly stepped back.
I thought at the time that this was going to lead into Sam’s suspicions that something wasn’t right.
How he had no cuts on his neck from the Chef slashing him, yet he was covered in blood.
I do wonder how Sam learns the truth about Zeke, will Dean come clean on his own or will Sam finds out another way.
As for Zeke, I’m still not sure about him. I tend to lean to the side that he is good and will vacate Sam’s body once he is strong enough.
However with Dean’s revelation on one losing control of a situation, does make me wonder if Zeke will be able to leave Sam.
I’m definitely enjoying this season, I like the Sam/Zeke/Dean storyline along with the possible Fight for King of Hell between Crowley and Abaddon and the Fight for restoring Heaven between Castiel and Metatron.
E
#24 E 2013-11-06 21:15
Hi Alice! Great review as always. I really liked this episode and I wasn't expecting to. So, surprises all around on that score. I thought the plotting was pretty well done here. The MoW was uber creepy, resourceful (eating a chameleon and hiding in the wallpaper? cool) and he made a good and menacing adversary. The fact that the MoW saw Zeke do his thing was a nice moment and allowed the tension on the Samzekiel storyline to get pumped up, and I also appreciated that the wacky spell Dean was under was actually key to him figuring out what was up with the MoW; he smelled the cancer because of his canine abilities. Nice and clever twist to the plot development.

Ah, Dean, Dean, Dean… what a tangled web you weave. The line in this episode about being "possessed by something he couldn't control and it was only a matter of time until it completely took over" was very, very telling; this line coupled with Zeke's comment in episode 2 of "See, I can be useful" are as you say…."foreshado wing with a capital F."
What is Zeke up to? What will that mean for Sam? How important is it to Zeke that he's "useful," will he in fact "take over?" It's just such a great storyline! I am loving the season so far. The Oz episode wasn't my favorite but it wasn't bad by any means, and the canon issues, although annoying as heck, in I'm no Angel didn't really ruin the overall success of the episode for me. Overall a pretty solid start to the season. I didn't even mind that Sam ended up unconscious again in this episode, because it tied in so well with what was going on in the plot, and led to that absolutely delicious Dean angst moment.
kaj
#25 kaj 2013-11-06 23:58
What I like more about this season is they keep the continuity. Every episode somehow include something from the previous episode even when it's a stand alone episode. For example, last episode the guys watched GoT. Now, this episode we were shown a GoT name plate. Last episode Zeke said that he can't keep using his power to bring ppl back to live because that will mean he'll have to stay inside Sam longer. This episode, Dean almost saying that to Sam. He wanted Sam to get better soon so Zeke can leave his body. Continuation.
Episode 3 Dean made Cas leave the bunker. Then Episode 4 Sam asked Dean about Cas. Continuation.

It's like reading a big book with each chapter connected one another. I think the writers have better cooperation this year and each reads the others script so that they know what to include in their own script. I enjoy this kind of writing.

Season 7, after Episode 2, the next episode didn't even mentioned about Helucifer. Or it was very subtle that we almost can't see it. Now, this season, the progression of the Samzekiel storytelling is compelling and doesn't feel forced. I know it's still early in the day with only 5 episodes but if we compare it to S7 and S8 we were already complaining at this time.
mary9930
#26 mary9930 2013-11-07 07:01
Thanks Alice. What an interesting take on the Sam/Zeke situation. It would be just like Sam to find out about Zeke & allow him to stay & heal so they can work together to open heaven.

About the animal voices, I think it gave Jensen much more to react to by allowing us to hear them. Can you really see Dean telling Sam what that Yorkie was saying? Maybe a little over the top but it made Jensen hilarious.

My only "issue" was Dean releasing those dogs. Sure it sounds great but what's going to happen to that old blind dog? Also, should you adopt a German Sheppard or even a small dog that has killed someone? I would have liked it better if the dog pack ran the bad guy into traffic or off a cliff. Still, that was just a minor pet peeve and didn't affect my love of the episode overall.
anonymousN
#27 anonymousN 2013-11-07 14:08
Yay,you are back.
Loved the episode.It was fun and entertaining.
I did not like the villian..i.e I disliked this villian the most.Anyone who hurts cats is my enemy number1.
E
#28 E 2013-11-07 18:17
Quote:
Yay,you are back.
Loved the episode.It was fun and entertaining.
I did not like the villian..i.e I disliked this villian the most.Anyone who hurts cats is my enemy number1.
Hi anonymousN… I agree, the cat thing was icky! But that's why the end was so good. This guy was getting his powers from eating animals and then the animals ate him; poetic justice. I just with a few cats had been able to get in their licks as well!
eilf
#29 eilf 2013-11-07 19:14
I wanted there to be kittens.

There should have been kittens, they could have cuted the bad guy to death.

also

Tall, gorgeous guys holding kittens.... ;-)

Oh! or otters!
Sharon
#30 Sharon 2013-11-08 10:55
Pity there were no Cravendale Cats , cats with thumbs arent to be messed with ,

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