‘Supernatural’ Review: “Dog Dean Afternoon”
‘Supernatural’ season 9 summons its fifth episode of the year in “Dog Dean Afternoon,” as Sam and Dean find themselves teaming with a dog who witnessed a murder, and Dean worries that Sam has begun to overexert himself, without knowing about his angelic passenger.
Last week’s ‘Supernatural’ episode, “Slumber Party,” saw Charlie’s (Felicia Day) return become complicated when the boys stumble into a decades-old mystery of the true ‘Wizard of Oz‘ within the Men of Letters base, so what does the fifth season 9 episode bring? What strange and unexpected challenges will the Winchesters face in the coming year?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 5, “Dog Dean Afternoon”!
Late one night, a taxidermist works on his latest project alongside his German Shepherd “Colonel” until a noise disturbs them both. The man investigates, finding nothing until a mysterious man in a cowboy hat steps out from the shadows, flashes a forked tongue, and constricts the man to death like a snake would, all the while Colonel watches. Later on in the Men of Letters base, Sam brings the case to Dean’s attention, though Dean worries how much Sam has been exerting himself of late, unaware that Ezekiel continues to heal his body from within.
Passing a “DIE SCUM” graffiti tag with a mysterious paw logo, Sam and Dean investigate the taxidermy shop to learn that the man’s bins of animal organs had gone missing, while Sam finds no evidence of any witchcraft. Finding the graffiti symbol to belong to an animal rights group called S.N.A.R.T., Sam and Dean visit a vegan bakery to meet the founders, who deny any involvement in the murder, but admit to encountering a hissing man who sprayed their eyes with venom. Later that night, the mysterious man visits an animal shelter and pays off the clerk, heading to the cages to gather several cats. When the clerk hears the commotion and finds the snake-like man eating the cats whole, the man quickly moves to kill him.
The next morning, Sam and Dean investigate the latest killing to find that Colonel is among the animals at the shelter, having observed the animal being taken from the taxidermy shop earlier. Dean first wonders if the animal might be a shape-shifting killer, but when Colonel specifically barks at another man in a cowboy hat, Dean formulates an idea to communicate with the animal to see if it would recognize the true killer.
Learning of a “mind meld” spell from Kevin Tran, Dean downs a potion to allow him to communicate with Colonel, though the potion takes some time to have any effect. Once it does, however, Dean finds the animal capable of direct speech to him, though in the process Dean seems to have taken on several dog characteristics, among them barking at the mailman and retrieving any item Sam throws. Colonel confirms that a man in a cowboy hat killed his owner and ate several cats, though he only remembers a few distinct smells about the killer.
Dean soon finds that he has an ability to talk to all animals, arguing with a pigeon who defecates on the Impala, and ending up entranced by a nearby poodle. Sam and Dean visit the animal shelter again for information on the mysterious man, though only one of the dogs has any actual information, which it only agrees to give up for an extended belly rub from Sam. The dog reveals that the man had eaten several cats whole, and carried a sack from “Avante Guarde Cuisine," a local restaurant where dogs aren’t allowed. Feeling sympathetic, Dean opts to release all of the captive animals from their cages.
Sam and Dean find the restaurant deserted, the cowboy hat-wearing “Chef Leo” nowhere to be found. Several rats point Dean toward a refrigerator full of various animal organs, while Sam finds a book of spells and deduces that Chef Leo has been eating animal organs to gain the abilities of each animal for a short time, trying various combinations to different effects. Sam and Dean split up to search for Leo, though the chef gets the drop on Sam with his chameleon ability, slashing Sam’s throat. Ezekiel takes over and heals the wound, before Sam quickly regains control, the sight of which inspires an incredulous Leo to make Sam his next meal.
Dean returns to find Leo preparing to carve up Sam, but Leo quickly smells his presence and dodges a bullet, attacking and tying up the hunter. Working to free himself, Dean smells that Leo has inoperable cancer, and puts together that the man endures the many animal remedies in an attempt to cure himself, killing any humans who might get in his way. Leo downs a wolf heart in an attempt to best the dog in Dean, pursuing him outside when Dean manages to undo his restraints. Once in the alley, Dean whistles for his pack to overwhelm and maul Leo, killing him. Dean races back inside to rouse an unconscious Sam, who seems confused about what he missed.
Dean gives Colonel to the vegan bakery couple, saying his fond goodbyes even after Colonel reveals that he threw up in Dean’s backseat. Colonel even goes to reveal the secret reasoning dogs were actually put on Earth, but Dean’s spell wears off just before Colonel can finish the thought. Outside, Sam wonders why Chef Leo seemed so fascinated by “what he was,” but Dean urges his brother to brush off the madman’s whims.
Guys ... no.
Believe us, we get it. Jensen Ackles is an exceptionally talented comedic actor, and he absolutely commits to every moment the writers of "Dog Dean Afternoon" can throw at him, a stupendous effort that deserves more commendation and attention than The CW can rightly provide. 'Supernatural' has a storied history of gimmick episodes that have made the series the oddball mixture of mythology, humor and heart it has come to represent in the last nine years, a fact we're reminded of by the madcap series-spanning insanity of the night's "previously on" segment.
Hell, we'll even admit that the "Manimal"-esque killer concept evolved from what could have been an utterly ridiculous villain, to a passably defined psychopath turning to magic to cure his own illness and losing his humanity in the process. It's an incredible feat that "Dog Dean Afternoon" ends up as well thought out as it did, even managing to touch on Sam's angelic state without burdening the episode with too much plot advancement.
All that said, it's still an episode where Dean talks to animals, effectively becoming "Dr. Deanlittle" for the latter two acts. It's funny. There's a talking dog. We get it.
We're going to quietly saunter away, now.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of scary ‘Supernatural’ action? What did you think about “Dog Dean Afternoon”? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next week for an all-new recap of ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 6, “Heaven Can't Wait,” on The CW!