Last night's Supernatural episode, "All Dogs Go To Heaven," was a great example of how this season's monsters are more sympathetic than they've been before. And it also had a peculiarly True Blood feel. Spoilers!
Now that Crowley's hold over the brothers is out in the open, we can have a Charlie's Angels style opening moment like the one that began this episode. Crowley appears while the brothers are chowing down on ribs and tells them to go hunting for the alpha werewolf, whom he thinks might be terrorizing a small town. Hey Winchesters, it's Crowley - I've got a job for you! When Dean refuses, Crowley points out that he can destroy Sam with the poke of his finger. "This is a hostage situation," he says in his archy-eyebrow way. "Bring the goods home to daddy and I'll give you Sam's soul."
Cute doggies and shades of Sam Merlotte
Once the Winchesters start investigating this supposed werewolf situation, they find out that they're dealing with something else altogether. The town is home to a sleeper cell of skinwalkers, who disguise themselves as cute doggies and get adopted as family pets. They're supposed to be just waiting for a signal from their pack leader, at which point they'll instantly turn their whole adopted family into skinwalkers and have a bigger pack within hours.
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But one doggie falls in love with his family (a mother and son) and starts protecting them by killing anybody who might harm them: A mean landlord asking for the rent they can't pay; an abusive boyfriend who treats mom and kid like shit. There are several scenes that feel like those moments in True Blood when shapeshifter Sam Merlotte turned into a cute puppy and snuggled up with Sookie (or watched her get undressed). Like Merlotte, this guy uses his doggyhood to get all the affection from this family that he couldn't get if he were in human form.
We even get some backstory on Doggie, who tells the Winchesters that he was homeless when the skinwalkers found him and promised him a better life. The home he has as a pet is probably the most stable, loving home he's ever had. It's actually a genuinely moving story, and we can see Dean sympathizes with Doggie - after all, Dean loves his "family" of Lisa and Ben, even though he is a monster sometimes and certainly a killer.
What's this sleeper cell stuff?
Eventually Sam and Dean enlist Doggie's help and tail him (heh) to a meeting of all the pack leaders. The question is, why do they want to have all these skinwalkers placed with families they can use to beef up their pack numbers fast? Apparently there are packs like this all over the country. Are they gearing up for some kind of war?
We never get to find out, because there's a giant showdown where Sam, Dean, and Doggie take out all the bad leader guys, who have kidnapped the nice family and want Doggie to turn them as a show of loyalty. So we're left wondering what the skinwalker agenda is and how many of these sleeper cells there are.
Awww, that was kind of sad
There's also a really sad ending where Doggie comes to his family in human form and tries to apologize - but also thank them for being the most loving family he's ever had. And mom says something like "Get away you psycho," which seems unfair given that she now realizes that he's actually a monster rather than a crazy person. (Though killing her boyfriend might have been a bad move if he wanted to impress her with his sanity.) Then he wanders off into the street in dog form, perhaps hoping he'll be hit by a car. Poor Doggie.
And poor Dean, who has alienated Lisa with his own psycho monstery routine. All he has left is Sam, who isn't really Sam.
And now it is time to process our feelings
Sitting in a park next to a lake, the brothers do a postmortem and talk about how they are feeling about their relationship. Though Sam has been insisting throughout the entire episode that he's the same person he was when he had a soul, he finally admits that he isn't really the same at all. He doesn't care about Lisa or Ben, and he doesn't care about Dean except as a person who can help him get his soul back. The good news is that Sam has thought about who he was when he had a soul, and realizes that's the person he wants to be - not the fearless, feelingless Hunter.
And Dean feels better too, because Sam has shared an inner truth with him and is "coming clean" about who he really is. I love when Sam and Dean process about their relationship.
Next week is going to be awesome
And next week is the long-awaited faerie episode that Ben Edlund told us about at Comic-Con a few months ago. If you'd seen Edlund cackling with glee as he described a tinkerbell smackdown, you'd be excited too. The preview made it look pretty slapsticky, but Edlund promised darkness too. Can't wait!