Supernatural Season 9, Episode 5 Supernatural “Dog Dean Afternoon” Review
There’s nothing more enjoyable than watching an episode that is not entirely serious and allows the acting skills of both Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles to shine. This week’s episode did both. Jared had to quickly switch between Sam and Ezekiel and back to Sam in one scene. Jensen had numerous opportunities to use his comedic timing. Not only did he take a magic potion that allowed him to mind-meld with a dog, he also spoke to animals and took on a dog’s mannerisms. Both actors took on various personas to solve the case of a man seeking to extend his life. While the MOW case was relatively simple to solve, the ideas addressed by the writers were not.
In the opening scenes, we learn that Dean is still concerned about Sam’s health. He knows that Ezekiel gets weaker each time he emerges to heal someone. Bigger issues are becoming more apparent to Dean. Sam is getting stronger, but Ezekiel is weaker. What does that mean? Sam, who’s had eight hours of sleep over three days feels rested and well, but Dean is hesitant for them to take on a new case. Dean, always protective, says, “Sure you’re ready for that?” Sam assures him he feels well. Dean, still doubtful, says, “The sooner you heal… I just want you back to your own self.” Sam is used to Dean’s overprotectiveness.
As the episode progresses, Sam, who has a natural affinity for dogs, is ready to take Kevin’s potion found in an Inuit spell book. It will allow him to mind-meld with The Colonel, a German shepherd, who was the only witness to the two MOW killings. Dean, however, won’t allow him to do so. “You have enough on your plate,” he says. Sam doesn’t question him, but follows Dean’s lead. Eventually, they discover that Chef Leo, the owner of a local restaurant, is the MOW and is ingesting body parts of various animals to combat his incurable cancer. When Chef Leo confronts Sam, he has eaten a chameleon. It allows him to not only hide in plain sight within the wallpaper, but to give Sam a life threatening slash to the throat. Sam doesn’t bleed out and die because Ezekiel heals him.
“What are you?” queries Chef Leo, amazed by Sam’s recuperative powers. He knocks Sam out and decides he will eat Sam’s heart for dinner. Chef Leo entraps Dean, eats a wolf’s heart and unsuccessfully tries to kill Dean. Dean, however, escapes and uses the pack of shelter dogs, led by The Colonel, to dispense of Chef Leo. By the end of the episode, a frantic Dean calls out both Sam and Ezekiel’s names as he tries to wake up whomever he can within Sam’s inert body.
Sam awakens. In the closing scenes, Sam admits he can’t stop thinking about what Chef eo said. “Why,” Sam asks Dean, “did he want to know what I was?” Dean, whose lies weigh heavily upon him quips, “Chef Leo was possessed by something he couldn’t control.” He assures Sam he has nothing to worry about.
Dean knows how smart Sam is. How much longer will it take Sam to figure out the truth? The moral issues are deeper than the initial ones presented in the opening episodes of Season 9. At that point, questions revolved around how will Sam feel and how will that affect his relationship with Dean? The questions become more profound as Ezekiel becomes weaker.
“Dog Dean Afternoon” addresses our concept of mortality. Who/what is immortal on Supernatural? No one. Death told Dean that he will one day die. One day Death will reap God. Therefore, if everyone/thing dies, what happens if an angel dies within its vessel? Does the vessel die too? In Season 4, Sam prided himself on his ability to extract demons possessing humans without humans dying. Could an ailing Ezekiel be forced to leave Sam if he is dying?
Immortality is also addressed with Chef Leo’s choices. In this episode, ingesting body parts of healthy animals allows him to temporarily be in remission. He admits, though, that the cancer always comes back. While Chef Leo seeks to delay his death, Supernatural also addresses what lengths we will go to preserve or maintain our own. We will undergo transplants, sign up for experimental medical studies and take unproven medicines. If we have enough funds, some of us can travel to countries that will prescribe medicines not deemed safe in the United States.
Not only will we do whatever we can to our bodies, but too often we are immune to the injustices suffered by animals. The Colonel says, “Respect.” SNART, the organization started by the vegan shop owners addresses the concept of animal cruelty. “Showing No Animals Rough Treatment” and the lab rats confined in the cages at Chef Leo’s further address the idea of taking care of the needs of animals who are dependent upon us.
Finally, when Sam and Dean are in the shelter, Dean interviews a dog who admits she can’t see too well. She’s got cataracts. Dean says that she’ll be adopted soon. She says she knows no one will adopt her at 14. In dog years, she nearly a century old. In our world, too often, the needs of the elderly are ignored.
What seems at first like another simple episode provides, in true Supernatural tradition, an opportunity for us to consider the bigger social issues faced in the real world. What kind of respect do the elderly and sick deserve? What will we do if we lose our sense of morality? How far will we go to preserve the lives of those we love? Or our own lives?
Supernatural also finds humor in dire situations. We are left to wonder just what The Colonel meant when the spell wore off and Dean couldn’t understand the last word of “We weren’t really put here to be man’s best friend…” What then are dogs really here for?