Episode nine, aka the setup episode before the possible maddening, gut-wrenching, “why-oh-why-are-you-torturing-us-silly” mid-season finale.  Fine, once in a while we get a midseason finale that leaves us wondering how many wet ones they were tipping, like “Heaven and Hell,” but most leave you wrecked. 

However, we’re here to focus on the episode before that.  Last year Ben Edlund’s turn came up in episode nine with the hilarious (and one of my personal all time favorites) “Clap Your Hands  If You Believe.”  This year, his effort turned out to be the pre-midseason finale.  As usual with an Edlund script, this isn’t your typical fare.  

The title is a clever ploy on the corporate motivational bestseller, “How To Win Friends and Influence People.”  This isn’t exactly Dale Carnegie though.  In today’s times, apparently all you need is the power of money.  Dick Roman is not only gaining power, he’s gaining influence thanks to his motivational bestseller, which declares him “The Emperor of Money.”  Really?  That’s working?  I would have thought his affiliation with the NRA and love of guns would have been a bigger sell.  So we have a Charlton Heston meets Donald Trump monster.  Except Dick Roman is good looking, young, and charismatic so the pundits have their ideal man.

     

Supernatural has taken opportunities in the past to let politically motivated jabs at the American way slip in, like season five using public paranoia over disease to slip through a Croatoan virus laced vaccine for mass distribution.  Edlund also has been the most effective at using the dysfunctional Biggersons restaurant to poke fun at America’s unhealthy lifestyles.  The phrase from season five’s “My Bloody Valentine,” “A swarm of locusts in stretch pants,” is still something I use in daily conversation!  It’s funny too, since no one has any idea where I got that from. 

Some think that politics should stay out of Supernatural, but I’ve always loved how it’s been handled historically.  There are definite jabs and biting commentaries about some biases of liberal Hollywood, but nothing that has overtaken the story or become dominant in the motivations of the characters (Castiel as God aside).  When part of a Hollywood though that thinks that films like Bob Roberts are the best thing since sliced bread (I hated it myself), why not portray this smart yet malicious race as conquering through the easily manipulative political system?  Win them over with subtlety before eating them all.  It’s like taking candy from a baby.  

I’m both turned off and intrigued by the possibilities.  I don’t like politically fueled stories myself, but Supernatural has never done anything the normal way.  It’s all going to depend how much focus is given to Dick Roman, who’s name obviously was born because of all the Dick Nixon jokes through the years.  At least the humor of a 10 year old isn’t going anywhere!  I can’t say anything more about “The Rise of Dick” that hasn’t already been said.  



All of this rambling about politically fueled commentary is no indication of unhappiness with this episode though.  As usual with a Ben Edlund episode, I loved it.  Then again, I am this man’s bitch.  Episodes like this exist to broaden the storyline and setup the second half of the season.  “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” did so brilliantly, but then again do we expect anything less from a veteran writer, one of two only left on the staff?  

I’m just gonna woman up and admit it right now.  I’m a glamper and proud of it!  Heck, I’m a full fledged card carrying member.  Mock me all you want Mr. Edlund, I’ll think of you next time I’m enjoying my nature with extreme comfort.  No, I’m not ridiculous enough to put a full bedroom set and HDTV with a generator in a tent in the woods, but I most certainly have a luxury travel trailer!  Sure I call it more of my summer home than camping, but technically it’s at a campground in the woods.  How else do you think I can maintain this website and go camping every weekend?  :)



Also, who didn’t think of The Sopranos when seeing Pine Barrens?  I was half waiting for Valery the Russian to be revealed the guilty party in all the killings as he watched them all from up in a tree, only to have Christopher and Paulie come out of the woods with their guns blazing to chase him off.  I guess no one went for that reference.  

I gotta ask, has anyone ever heard the term “turducken” before now?  How freaking hilarious is that?  It’s a new meat.  Now with 800% more goo!  “A bunch of birds shoved up inside of each other.  Shouldn’t play God like that.”  Hee, so true Bobby.  I saw online that turducken was an actual recipe.  You know it was conceived by a simpleton that didn’t know what to do with all the scraps.  Dean didn’t mind.  “It’s like a perfect storm of your top 3 edible birds.” 



Something is truly “fowl” (dodges flying objects) though when that perfect combination spews gray goop after an hour.  Lucky for Dean, he was too stoned to get sick over it.  Too bad I wasn’t spared.  Oh, right, Edlund script.  Speaking of grossed out, how refreshing was it to see Sam get disgusted over the mutant monster autopsy?  He still hasn’t seen it all.  At least something still bothers him.  The crazy in his head isn’t going anywhere these days.  It’s also great to hear Bobby and his comment “Now I’ve seen it all,” over the doctor leviathan being forced to eat himself.  I know I’m trying to twist my mind around how that works.

 

I saw the pages Bobby was reading from Dick’s briefcase, and it looks like their master plan involves power plants somehow.  The maps identified federal lands and power plants all through the US and there was a schematic blueprint of something.  I’m still not sure what power plants, a business man rising to power, and a race of man eating water creatures all add up to, but I imagine that’s the message Bobby is going to try and get through next episode.  



In between all this Leviathan drama and total strangeness over another Biggerson’s wall of weird event (I swear this restaurant chain has more freaks in it than Smallville), some character exposition did happen.  Mostly with Dean.  I find it very interesting that there was very little difference in his mindset when he was stoned by a sandwich and when he was upset in the beginning over not having the basic comforts in life.  The difference was only in attitude.  Of course Dean should be at the end of his rope right now.  That seems far healthier, and normal to me, than Sam’s new uplifting mantra that there are people out there worse off than him, even though he’s seeing Lucifer 24/7.  If Sam doesn’t think that his “umbrella of crazy” isn’t gonna blindside him one day, he’s got another thing coming.    

Dean has a great point and has every right to question, “What if the world wants to end?”  How many times do they have to steer thbus away from the cliff?  I’m more worried about Sam and Bobby mindlessly thinking that their job is to save the world and they shouldn’t be questioning why they should save it.  At what point to they get a break?  



Not anytime soon, thanks to the ending twist of fate.  I’m actually worried for Bobby.  I know that grave injury and death isn’t something we viewers of this show get too caught up in since it’s happened a lot, but taking Bobby out of action one way or another is probably all it’s going to take to push both Sam and Dean over the edge they been teetering on all season.  How will these brothers react to not having their rock there to knock some sense into them and keep them from losing their minds?  How will they handle not having around the one person they can go to for solid backup and sorely needed information that keeps them breathing?  I doubt that either are in great shape to help the other right now.  If that’s true though, is this going to result in us watching Sam and Dean barely muddle through for the rest of the season?

 

I know it all started with just Sam and Dean out on the open road, so why not go back to those basic roots?  I’ll tell you why, because it isn’t practical.  Back in season one, they weren’t up against what they are now.  They were taking on urban legends before.  Now they’re taking on freaking apocalypse 2.0 (or perhaps 2.5).  Why must they lose their allies, why must friends like Castiel and Bobby not be part of the equation?  It’s their support network that adds richness to the story and gives a stronger faith in humanity to their plights.  The stakes seem higher when more than two guys take a vested interest in saving the world.  Other people/beings if anything validate what they are doing as meaningful.  Otherwise, you see Dean’s point, why should the world be saved?   

So, bring on the midseason finale, let’s see how bad things get for our heroes.  We need a month to get all worked up about something anyway.  Overall grade for “How To Win Friends and Influence Monsters” is an A-.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

 

 

Comments  

Geordiegirl1967
# Geordiegirl1967 2011-11-23 17:56
Great review Alice. I loved this ep, but then I have loved all of s7. It has been, for me, the most enjoyable start to a season since s3.
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-11-24 14:06
I agree with you Geordiegirl.

And thank you Alice for this most enjoyable review. I've been really down these last few days and your review has cheered me up considerably. :-)

Now, as long as Bobby survives, I am loving season 7 so far. DON'T KILL BOBBY!!! :cry:

Loved this episode and love Ben Edlund!

As I am north of the border I don't mind political jabs in the show, and I would like to wish all of you south of the border a very happy Thanksgiving! :-)
Amy
# Amy 2011-11-23 20:49
The reason I beleive the Winchesters have an obligation to save the world ..AGAIN..is that one way or another ..every season they...the Winchesters weather it be Dean or Sam or both have been the reason either directly or indirectly the world is on that edge of the cliff.

And honestly? People keep saying Dean loved Lisa and ben. if thats true wouldn't Dean want to save the world just because those two people are in this world? and he wants to save it for them? For ben to have the chance to grow up?

even if Dean can't be in their lives? Don't these two peopel mean ANYTHING to him? Thing i dont get is Dean HAS these reasons to keep fighting....and yet Bobby and Sam don't have these reasons and they still want to fight.

Sam still sees the world worth fighting for. I'd love to see why Sam thinks the world is worth saving. I wish the writers would let Sam speak u por out.
Amy
# Amy 2011-11-23 20:59
Maybe Sam needs to know his time spent in Hell with Lucifer has meaning? he threw himself into the pit to save the world. He was saving it from the results from his own mistakes...but all his pain and suffering ...he wants it to have meaning. and just letting the world end would in a way i think would mean Lucifer wins. It would be his final defeat over Sam. For him to give up completly and totally on the world...the humans....that Lucifer hated and wanted to destroy using Sams body.
MisterGlass
# MisterGlass 2011-11-23 21:06
Alice, thanks for the review!

I have to admit, I'm worried about Bobby too. All season there has been an emphasis on his relationship with the brothers, and in this episode more than ever. I loved their conversation about childhood hunting trips together, and Sam and Dean's refusal to actually shoot a deer. But all this familial feeling seems like an opportunity to hit us and the brothers where it hurts.

The only two resurrection artists available these days are Crowley and Death himself. Death believes in the natural order, and Crowley's last deal with Bobby didn't work out so well for the demon.

I did like that Dean acknowledged, at least a little, his depressed attitude. I liked Bobby's response to him, too, because he told him the truth. I share Bobby's puzzlement over Sam.

I knew turducken existed and has something of a cult following. I've never tried it, and certainly won't now. Ick. And that family watching eye surgery while eating? I shudder. At least nobody ended up in a deep fat fryer this time.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Tigershire
# Tigershire 2011-11-24 01:11
I too knew of the turducken. There is also the turgooducken - a 4 bird scenario, turkey, goose, duck, chicken.

I know! Why do I know that??? Not a clue. Not like I have ever eaten either of them. :)
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-11-24 11:31
So if they put a turkey, a goose, a duck and a chicken inside of an ostrich would it be a turgooduckenich ??
rmoats8621
# rmoats8621 2011-11-24 01:20
Wonderful review. I liked this episode, too. Edlund sure has set everything up for the next episode and I'm not sure if Bobby is going to make it. If he doesn't, I'm going to be upset. Dean and Sam would be crushed by his death, too.

I saw the pics that were posted for the next episode. Very interesting! Love it! :lol:
Sharon
# Sharon 2011-11-24 05:48
Thank you for the review Alice.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2011-11-24 08:03
Thanks for the review Alice. I loved this episode, I definitely give it an A. I heard about the turducken also. I think it was on a sitcom a while back, maybe on "How I Met Your Mother". Love the line "perfect storm of your top three birds". No one can write them like Ben Edlund. And I do like the way he manages to stuff politics into these shows, I know some people hate it, but hey, I'm not one of them.

Now, for the nasty part. Would they really off Bobby? I would hope not, maybe he'll be out of commission for a while. That's where our guys whould be like Butch & Sundance, those two ended up utterly alone at one point. But, please PTB, do not kill Bobby!!!
Melanie
# Melanie 2011-11-24 08:49
Hi Alice, thanks for the review. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

I enjoyed the episode a lot. I'll be very surprised if they kill Bobby outright, but I can see him being out of commission so that the boys can't depend upon him as they have.
Why must they 'lose' everything? Well I think its partly because ever since S2 when John whispered in Dean's ear about Sam and S3 when Ruby began whispering in Sam's ear, they have turned away from what made them strongest. Trusting each other. Had doubts, thought they knew better than the other, didn't resolve any issues. S1 was all about them rebuilding their relationship after the falling out over Stanford (such simple times!) With the exception of Bobby - the long term relationships (Ruby, Cas)have ended badly with regard to trust issues. And bless his crotchety heart, Bobby's brand of 'suck it up, princess' support may not be what Dean needs right now.
They can't have outside relationships until they really fix the foundation.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Nitewoman7
# Nitewoman7 2011-11-24 17:26
And bless his crotchety heart, Bobby's brand of 'suck it up, princess' support may not be what Dean needs right now.
They can't have outside relationships until they really fix the foundation.

Hi Melanie gotta disagree about Bobby and his "suck it up princess" I think that's exactly what Dean needs right now. Bobby being nice would be too strange to Dean he responds much better to Bobby when he calls them idjits that gets Dean's attention and he has tended to listen in the past and now I hope especially if Bobby is out of commission for a whuke
Ginger
# Ginger 2011-11-24 14:11
I think your questions, Alice, are the same that everyone has right now.

I don't think they will kill Bobby. I'm guessing we won't find out until after the winter hiatus. Possibly a convalescent period of some duration. Bobby is, after all, the only one to have seen the plan.

I never care for the political crap brought up in movies or TV shows, and I'm particularly disappointed that SPN writers decided they need to do this. It's the last thing I want to see in a show about the supernatural with a premise about humans hunting ghosts and demons and various urban legends. It makes me think the writers really are out of new ideas or just full of hubris.

Now that I know the season's theme is evil corporate America, I've lost interest in the Levi and hope that is a sub-plot (just the background) to the brothers' emo stories. The more sophisticated the Levi get, the more human they become and the more boring I find them...well, except for Edgar, who is kind of menacing.

I did like the episode. I gave it an 8 (is that an A-?) because the dialogue was witty, the hour went fast, Dean got in two "SOBs", the Levi story was back in the picture, and I always like when Sam has to look after Dean.

I do miss the Impala, and the lack of rock music drives me nuts, but any episode that has lines like, "I just got drugged by a sandwich," and "If I wasn't so chilled out, I would puke," without being cheesy deserves an A-.
Nitewoman7
# Nitewoman7 2011-11-24 17:35
I gave this episode and A-. Loved Dean eating his sandwich (couldn't help but think of Jensen when he said at a private Q&A he there is a poor crew member who is in charge of the spit bucket he has to use to film these heavy eating scenes I'd volunteer for the job sick puppy that I am lol Love Ben's episodes. Bobby CANNOT DIE!! Every last hint of hope I have for the boys to be ok and continue with the "Family Business" will be gone and for me not much hope for my favorite show. I'm tired of all the gloom & doom I need hope!
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-11-24 21:26
Hi Alice,

Thanks for the review Alice. And for pointing out that Dean, with all his depression problems, might actually be the sanest of the bunch. He's actually questioning - out loud!!! - how they're supposed to continually handle all the cosmic crap directed their way. That sounds almost healthy to me!!

My guess is that Bobby will survive, although I, like others, believe he may be out of commission for some time. I think TPTB realize that killing him off is just too permanent. It's the kind of hole that is almost impossible to write out of. Although in a clever twist on Dallas, perhaps it could all be a dream, and instead of seeing Bobby in the shower, we could see Sam & Dean. Perhaps there are perks to this storyline after all!!!

Joking aside, I'm predicting a long, medically induced coma, allowing his brain to heal until later in the season. However, that being said I will be chanting puppies & rainbows through most of the next episode.

(And I have to admit, there were a few times this summer -- like the night it rained so hard there was a river running through our tent's vestibule, carrying my daughter's flipflops along on the current!! -- that I wished I was a glamper too! More power to you girl!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pragmatic Dreamer :-)
LA
# LA 2011-12-02 09:38
I agree with Auntzukie. The Levi story line is becoming less interesting for me also. I miss the days of demons, ghosts, & vampires...ya know, just plain old Supernatural beings and urban legends. Supernatural just isn't scary anymore. I loved the beginning of Season 7 but with each passing episode it's rapidly going down hill. They aren't going to kill Bobby off either. Sadly I think this was just TPTB's attempt to boost ratings.