'Supernatural' 8x15 Recap: Unbreakable Bond

February 21st, 2013 10:35am EST

Supernatural Last week’s excellent installment of “Supernatural” not only set the bar to skyscraper levels for the rest of the season, but also prompted a myriad of questions and musings that haunted me all week: What if Kevin got the translation wrong since the he only has half of the tablet? With one trial down, how hard would the remaining tests be? What exactly was that glowing light that traveled up Sam’s arm at the end of last week’s episode? Was it a good thing?
“Man’s Best Friend With Benefits,” which started off stiltingly, but finished with a angst-filled bang, gave a resounding and terrifying “NO!” to my last question as I couldn’t have deduced it from the previous seasons of the ever-escalating, gut-wrenching hurricane of tragedy that is “Supernatural.”
Grab your favorite dog collar, and let’s dive in, shall we?
The Case
Instead of Sam and Dean rushing to stop gruesome murders in a small town, they are summoned to the great metropolis of St. Louis to aid James, a troubled cop who saved their lives on a previous case involving a “lunatic alchemist.” I have no idea what that means in Big Bad terms, but it sounds epic and messy. Although it seems as if James is now sleep-murdering prostitutes, so it is odd that he would be summoning our favorite hunters to his doorstep.
At the motel, Sam is accosted by a beautiful Doberman with a studded red collar. Resident dog-lover wastes no time rubbing her belly and begging Dean to let her stay the night. Of course, when Dean lays eyes on her, the dog has morphed into a beautiful woman in a little black dress and the studded red collar, which apparently is her favorite accessory. Her name is Portia (Mishael Morgan), and she is a familiar or a companion to James, who is now a full-on Wicchan. “There’s an unbreakable bond [between us] a melding of souls. We would die for each other,” Portia spells out to a skeptical Dean. It’s the only explanation he can understand.
According the sometimes-dog, sometimes-woman, always gorgeous Portia, he is experiencing horrible headaches and vivid dreams about specific murders only now the victims are actually dying. It was Portia who texted Sam and Dean because they were James’ last hope as he has shut her out of his mind and bed. Insert your favorite bestiality joke here. As if years of encountering not-so bad monsters and not-so innocent humans, Dean still can’t absorb the fact that supernatural beings don’t immediately equate to BAD, and wants to gank poor, handsome James upon hearing about his newfound past-time as a “Witch-Cop,” which by the way, is television show I’d totally watch. Dean settles on locking James down with chains while they investigate.
The investigation hampered the moment of the episode considerably. I do give the writers credit for trying to make all of the exposition as entertaining as possible, peppering it with intriguing settings, like a swanky bar frequented by the underground Wicchan community and clever characters like Phillippe LeChat, a familiar to James’ fellow witch friend, Spencer, who is also, you guessed it, a cat and even triggers Dean’s feline allergies. These witches are a lot more civilized that than bunny-snuffing, demon worshippers we met in season 3’s epic “Malleus Maleficarum.”
Playing a surly FBI agent at James’ precinct, Sam discovers that the James’ brothers in blue have formed an open-and-shut case against him thanks to signed statements by Phillippe LeChat and some stealthy recon. Portia realizes that the memories James struggled with were simply “kills with no context,” and it suggests that they were planted there by an extremely powerful witch.

It’s not remotely difficult to find the culprit, because when it’s not the devoted friend, it’s always the dude with chiseled features and a steely gaze. In this case, they are one and the same: James’ dear friend Spencer, who was jealous that Portia became James’ familiar and he was stuck with the spineless LeChat. The resulting showdown is a particularly nasty one. Spencer is fiendishly talented, and uses Sam and Dean’s worst memories— their mother’s death, hell, losing each other—against them. When Spencer battles James, it feels like a low-rent rehash of Voldermort v. Dumbledore in “Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix,” and I love it. When things look exceedingly dire for the Winchesters, and a cursed James, Portia gallops into frame like an badass “Lassie” and takes a few chunks out of Spencer, breaking the spells, and giving Sam and Dean enough time to molatov him with Bobby’s patented witch-killing brew.
James and Portia, who decide to flee St. Louis before the police, who still have very real evidence against James, can arrest him. The Wicchan community has unfortunately abandoned them as well, but after meeting LeChat and Spencer, I consider it a blessing. It was refreshing that the case closed with the paranormal lovers intact and without Dean’s head exploding from trying to figure out who came first “the dog or the girl?” It's perversely funny to watch him try, though.
The State of the Brotherhood
The state of the brotherhood is still strong, albeit understandably tense. Dean, ever the big brother, is nervous that Sam isn’t “ready” for the literal and dangerous trials that lie ahead and he's probably terrified of losing his brother again. Sam, ever the little brother, is annoyed and hurt by Dean’s overbearing concern. “We get too far down the road with this and we can’t go back. It’ll be too late for me to jump in,” Dean warns.
“I’ve been going over this and over this, asking myself ‘why doesn’t he trust me?’ And it occurred to me finally it’s not that he doesn’t trust me, it’s that you can only trust you,” Sam fires back.
Sam has done nothing but doggedly fight for the greater good, minus that whole releasing-the-devil thing a few years ago, and I wholeheartedly believe in his skills as a hunter, a Man of Letters, and a selfless human being. But I agree with Dean. It doesn’t make sense to put all of this on one person’s shoulders, especially when the lore never mentioned that there couldn’t be multiple conquerors of the trials. As dangerous as this mission will be, it’s only good business to double their odds and have Dean participate too, right?
Maybe not.
If it’s Wednesday, “Supernatural’s” finding new and sinister ways to shatter our hearts. Dean understood something after they fight with Spencer, and shares it in the security of the dark Impala. “You know when I look back at what our family’s been through, seeing all that pain, I realize that the only way we made it through it all was by hangin’ together. I trust you, Sammy…it’s too important not to. If you say you’re good, I’m with you 100 percent.”
Sam can barely grit out his assurances before he discreetly hacks up blood. If reading the tablet nearly felled Kevin, what exactly will completing its inscribed tasks do to Sam? I’m not sure I even want to know.
From A to F, “Metamorphosis” to “Criss Angel Is A Douchebag,” this episode was a bewitching B. It lacked compelling action on the front end, but managed to pack in some drama and a great special effects in the end.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Did you laugh when Sam’s knee got stuck in the laundry hamper when James tossed him? Do you think evil Spencer looked a bit like Michael Fassbender? Do you hope to see Portia again? Hit up the comments section below!
Next week, brush up on your mythology, because Zeus & Co. are visiting from Mt. Olympus!

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