After last week’s oddly out of character episode, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Dog Dean Afternoon.” Luckily, it reminded me why I keep watching Supernatural besides the heartbreak and pain the Winchesters endure: Jensen Ackles can be a great physical comedian when they write him that way, but he doesn’t get to showcase his talent very much.
“Dog Dean Afternoon” begins in a taxidermist’s work area. I’m already intrigued. The crumbs leading up to the reveal of the mystery were laid early on but I didn’t catch on until going back through the episode later. This is one of those episodes that you can have fun guessing the twists and turns and still have it surprise you from time to time.
I also thought it was an odd choice to keep talking specifically about shelters, PETA, vegans, hippies, and animal shelters. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek PSA or a look at how the Winchesters don’t have time to eat healthy foods and take care of an animal because they travel. Was it to talk about how people exist in Survival Mode so much that they lose their ability to live a normal, healthy, everyday life?
“Dog Dean Afternoon” also tied the noose just a bit tighter around Dean’s neck as Sam began to question how he came back from a lethal wound miraculously healed. I don’t know how much longer they can drag it out, but I am glad they’re keeping it going instead of solving it in 2-3 episodes. I think it grounds their relationship this season. Depending on how Sam feels about an angel possessing his body in lieu of a demon, things could go really badly for Dean, but it was what an older sibling would do, protect the younger sibling from the truth.
The monster for this episode was nothing I’d ever considered before and was appropriately dangerous. It even grew teeth and altered its eyes to make the same actor look like a few different people. I think a lot of the effects were practical and it was great to see what we can do with slight alterations to a person’s physical appearance without breaking the bank.
“Dog Dean Afternoon” also played around with the idea of power and control, and how we try to control our own lives as well as other peoples’ lives. Dean has tried to control Sam’s life (in terms of keeping him alive) and allowed a being inside him that could be healing him, but with unknown side effects. As the villain comes clean about his fatal illness and his desire to stay alive, Dean begins to realize that he has let a potential predator inside Sam’s head, and, just like the villain this time around, the predator will eventually take control.
In that respect, the episode is actually quite scary. What if you were being controlled by an angel? Would you feel better than if it were a demon? What choice would you have if you wanted to live? And when it gets down to it, Dean saved Sam’s life because he needs to take care of Sam. What about what Sam wanted? What if he wanted to die?
“Dog Dean Afternoon” is one of the classic funny Supernatural episodes. They all contain a kernel of seriousness and truth as the boys face ridiculous situations. That’s the best kind of comedy, when you can be presented with the truth and understand it while a story makes light of itself. I think we’ll get mostly serious episodes this season, but I’m glad we got a little reprieve in this episode.