25 February 2013

Review: Supernatural 'Man's Best Friend With Benefits'

I have been reading a number of selective articles recently about Supernatural and its eighth season. Noticeably the SFX's article on how good a show can still be in its eighth season. And it got me thinking, sometimes showrunners don't want to reinvent the wheel, but other time they want to keep innovating without wracking the core of the show. It's all about trial and error. It's about the journey. 

The more I watch Supernatural, the more I realise for a show like Supernatural to be so good in its eighth season, it comes down to a team of passionate writers who collaborate and interact with each other. Above all things, they keep the writing of the brother relationship consistent. Writers have to know the show, they have to know the characters -- what makes them angry, happy, laugh, what is their strengths and weaknesses. The writers have to know the myth of the show, but not to misinterpret it. They have to know the history of the shows as well as doing good research and produce good writing for future episodes on witches, werewolves, vampires, angels or demons, whatever the supernatural thing may be.

A more positive opening than other review you read on this episode? This episode reminds me of one thing -- no one is set out to write a shit script. Even the worst episode of Supernatural is better than most TV dramas. On paper, Man's Best Friend With Benefits is a true filler episode. It isn't branded as one of the strongest episode. It isn't one of the best written episodes. It has flaws but I can forgive and forget. And I am in the minority, I like this episode better than I should! And here is why.

In terms of the likeability of the supporting cast and story, the witches in Man's Best Friend With Benefits were much more intriguing than the farm story and its people as seen last week in my opinion. I don't find the farm story nor the people interesting at all, in fact it was quite cliche in terms of the soul-selling stuff. We've seen that before. Not that it was crap, as you know I enjoyed last week's episode. It was a good story for Kevin, the tablet, the God's tasks and the hellhound. It was a great call back to the crossroad demons and hell stuff. Above all things, there were so fantastic brotherly moments and dialogues. But other than that, I really don't care about the whole Dallas arc. It's personal, I like the witches better.

I look at Man's Best Friend With Benefits in two ways. On one hand, the episode isn't one of the strongest in the history of the show or the season. On the other hand, in the 'witches' file of Supernatural, this is probably a more solid witch episode since season three's Malleus Maleficarum.

I haven't been paying much attention to the witches episodes, but when I come to think about it, I do like them as the villain and the 'good guys'. I love Mr and Mrs Stark in Shut Up Dr Phil. Episodes written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming can be a hit-and-miss. They really tried to bring us something refreshing about the witches. I didn't think much about this episode before I watched it, I thought it could be another witchcraft episode blah blah. But this was a refreshing episode. I do like the 'battle' between the two witches and the idea of Familiars are quite interesting, dirty jokes aside. I do like the special effect in the battle of the witches scene. I like the idea of the secret bar for the supernatural. 

I think it was a good thing for the boys to witness the battle of two witches, instead of getting involved. Because they have to see it to believe that James was the good guy fighting the bad guy. They have to see it to not to kill James 'the good witch'. Otherwise I don't know it James' words would be enough to convince Dean and Sam that he was the 'good' witch. If James was capable to fight his own fight and his mind was still intact and not screwy, Dean and Sam had one thing less to worry about. At least they don't have to worry about the 'bad witch who got away'. So, I thought giving the development of the story, the battle between the two witches was a good move. It was refreshing to see the supernatural beings involved -- James and Portia -- fighting their own fight. Moreover, the writers have to give Dean and Sam a reason to not to kill James. Not many people care, but based on the material of this particular episode, I think the point to explore was this -- we know why Dean and Sam kill supernatural things, but under what circumstance would they not kill supernatural things?
Once in a blue moon, Supernatural would 'humanise' a supernatural being, but not very often. The more I watch season eight, the more I think the 'humanisation of a supernatural being' has become a bit of a recurring theme -- Kate the werewolf, Benny the vampire, Golem, and James the witch and his Familiar This is forming some sort of pattern. The idea of 'if it's supernatural, we kill it, end of story' has evolved.

Could Supernatural be building up to something that even they didn't think was possible? My imagination is going a bit crazy at the moment, but after listening to the awesome Crossroads Podcast, I think perhaps it is possible to have The Avengers of Supernatural? Perhaps the writers are toying with this idea? Imagine this -- should the gates of hell and heaven are closed, these 'supernatural things' may have a duty to keep their kind in line, forming some sort of alliance with the Men of Letters. OMFG!

I love the consistence of the writing on the brother's relationship. I just have this feeling that the writers are talking to each other more this season. I think there is a breath of fresh air in the writer's room. The brotherly stuff is just so damn good!!! It's like the dialogues are written by the same writers but spread over to different episodes. I love the consistency that has been carried through from the last episode to this one. 

I get why the 'trust' issue is still on the card. Sam's right, Dean can only trust himself. I think Dean has to find reasons to trust. Dean isn't the guy who can trust people based on pure talk and belief. He has to see it to know it to believe it. Dean hasn't seen anything that gives him the reassurance. He still doesn't know what is going to happen to Sam. Sam is perhaps one step ahead of Dean -- it's done, there is no turning back, so let's just do it! If Dean doesn't fight for Sam and if anything bad happens to Sam, it's on Dean's hands. Dean won't let Sam to die again. It happened before, but he doesn't want this to happen again, because he knows where it will take him emotionally. And if Dean can take one for the team, he will take it! It isn't about Dean not trusting Sam, he wants to, but he is struggling with it because he is finding a reason for himself to get over it. It's the big brother syndrome.

But the last shot of the episode is heartbreaking! Sam!! What's going on with Sam? Part of me watching him to tell Dean about his health condition. However it was only a 40 mins episode, and we have to come back for more. Jared did say the trials will take a toll on Sam and also Dean. If Sam is going to close the gate of hell, do you think Dean will close the gate of heaven in season nine? Just throwing it out there. Sam can't have all the fun, right? 

Man's Best Friend With Benefits isn't perfect, considering how great the past few episodes were, this episode won't even be one of the most talked about episodes, except the beastiality jokes. This episode has flaws, but based on my first impression after the first viewing was that, it was a refreshing filler episode about witches, and it has some brilliant dialogues exchanges between the brothers. So, I'll leave it at that.

Episode 8.16 Remember the Titans

GODS VS. ZOMBIES — Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are stumped when they investigate a possible zombie case where an amnesiac man (guest star John Reardon) dies and then revives himself once a day. After the guy is attacked by the goddess Artemis (guest star Anna Von Hooft), Sam and Dean realize he’s not a zombie but instead a god, more specifically, Prometheus. Steve Boyum directed the episode written by Daniel Loflin.

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