Supernatural 7.09 "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters" ReviewA tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy
Sam, Dean, and Bobby go on a hunting trip for the Jersey Devil, and get involved in a restaurant with tainted birdburgers.
Supernatural airs Friday nights at 9:00 on the CW.
Finally! I was really getting worried about this season after the past few weeks' worth of duds. But when it comes to quality Supernatural episodes you can usually rely on Ben Edlund to bring the funk.
Not only is this a well-written episode that's actually funny without being insulting or mean-spirited, it advances the main story arc for the season and is structured in a way that doesn't treat the audience like simpletons, providing a nice bait-and-switch from what looked like a standard Monster Hunt into a serious conflict with the Leviathans.
And the best part is that both parts of the story are very entertaining.
Initially, Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles), and Bobby (Jim Beaver) head off to the woods of New Jersey for what sounds like may be an appearance of the Jersey Devil. It's a nice bit of character work as we get a glimpse at Bobby's history with the boys as they spend some time in the woods hunting. This bit is supplemented by Dean's above-and-beyond enjoyment of the local holiday sandwich treat, the Turducken Slammer, and as you might guess, that enjoyment isn't quite natural.
The sandwiches are spiked with something that causes addiction and ultimately turns the consumers into cannibalistic monsters roaming the woods. So instead of a Jersey Devil, the gang ends up with a horribly emaciated, but extremely powerful, mutated human threat. In a ghoulishly hilarious scene, Sam and Bobby go through the stomach contents of a slain monster while Dean stands off to the side, jonesing for another awesome sandwich.
That's the sort of stuff that we've been missing for the past few weeks. It's gross, funny, and actually advances the plot.
But on its own, this wouldn't really be enough to make this an above-average episode. What really makes it work is that, as in the best episodes, we get a switch about half-way through and discover that it's not just a weird cook or magical ingredients that make the sandwiches dangerous.
They're part of a Leviathan experiment in turning people into passive cattle. The creepy goo that oozes out of the sandwich is also oozing out of the converted once they go overboard, and that's the real problem. Dr. Sexy (Cameron Bancroft) is back and the cannibalistic side-effects are not the intended result.
That means that when the Big Boss, Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart), shows up, he's not impressed. The news reports of cannibalistic murders are drawing too much attention and that's all she wrote for Dr. Sexy. But not only does the boss show up, Edlund gives us a very entertaining news report on Roman's sudden rise to power: "The Rise of Dick."
I never said Supernatural was high-brow.
We also discover, once Bobby is captured and the boys have to go in for the rescue, that the cleaning fluid defense is temporary at best. It looks like total immersion might do the trick for a while, but just spraying the stuff in a Leviathan's face just burns them up for a few moments, causing intense pain for the lesser monsters, but it really just pisses Dick off.
The gang barely escapes, but what's that? Oh no! Bobby's been shot!
So thanks to the efforts of Supernatural's most consistent go-to writer we finally get another very strong episode. Just in time for the Christmas break. This week we get the mid-season finale (of sorts – the show will be back in January), written by showrunner Sera Gamble with a focus on Bobby. A real focus. As in, flashbacks to young Bobby and his father.
Does that mean it's curtains for Bobby? Or is he finally going to join the "I died and came back from the dead" club?
If Supernatural history has established anything over the years, it's that the Bobby-centric episodes are always strong, so hopefully this is an upward trend in quality as we move into January episodes.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot, Streaming Pile O' Wha?, and Classic Film/New Blu, all here at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.