Last week’s episode left me unfulfilled as Dean hadn't shared his secret, and instead chose to try to bury his head in the sand and his liver in alcohol. Luckily, for my sanity, “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” was lighthearted and unexpectedly charming, thanks sci-fi staples and “Angel” alums James Marsters (“Hawaii Five-0”) and Charisma Carpenter (“Burn Notice,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”).
The murder of Wendy Goodson, real estate agent, opened the episode. She reassured her client that selling the family home would punish her husband for his infidelities. For Wendy, who had indiscretions of her own, karma came swiftly and ironically, as seconds later, she was sucked into the salon's beehive hairdryer that burned so hot it charred her already over-highlighted hair and the brain beneath it. I’m not sure what’s funnier, Wendy roasting to death or the sassy stylist’s screams afterward.
As expected, Dean’s remorse was escalating. He had nightmares about a crazed Sam pulling a gun on him in "Hello Cruel world," Castiel’s watery death, and Amy’s murder. When Dean awoke, the first thing he did was look at Sam’s bed, to make sure he wasn’t there. I think part of Dean’s reasoning for keeping this secret is because of Sam’s recovery (which still bothers me because so much has been overlooked, but I’m trying to deal) and because he thinks it’s a fragile thing.
But Sam is far from delicate as illustrated by the powerful, long-legged stride he used during an honest-to-goodness jog. He puffed into the room, sweaty and wearing too many layers. Dean briefed him on the case (Carl boiled to death in a hot tub was a victim who died off-screen). Sam asked Dean what was bothering him. Dean scoffed that he was only seeing things differently because he was “New Sam," and dodged the question. The dichotomy between the brothers has definitely flipped—Sam is thriving while Dean is self-destructing.
I must mention that I love the continuity this season. The low-level Leviathan who left to track the Winchesters in “The Girl Next Door” was still on their trail. He stopped to pick up a snack in the form of a tasty soccer dad and headed off in a sensible sedan. The Leviathans apparently can’t teleport like angels or move as swiftly as demons, which is a slight advantage for the boys.
The Winchesters arrived in Prosperity, Indiana to work the case. Sam started with Wendy’s older sister—a rather matronly nurse who did nothing but praise the late, crispified Wendy. “I was the big sister and I looked up to her.”
It was a tragedy that Dean went to investigate the salon and Sam spoke to the sister. It would’ve been amusing to watch Chris, the stylist, lust over Jared and his glorious mane and forcibly shave off his untamed muttonchops. Unless Sam is turning into a werewolf in the next few episodes (SPOILER ALERT: he’s not), they need a serious trim. Alas, Dean investigated the crime scene, found an ancient coin hidden (identified as a Romanian Wallachian Ducat) in the wall behind Wendy’s chair and dead plants surrounded the bench that bore her real estate advertisement. Then he ducked into a liquor store.
So I blame my fear of power tools (garbage disposals, food processors, rustling trees, basements…) on "Supernatural." I can add compressed nailgun to The List of Power Tools I’ll Never Use as poor architect Dewy Stevens was killed in a portable toilet by a hexed nailgun that pumped him full of 16 Pennies, including two in the eyes.
Dewy was another stand-up citizen and the town’s “blue-ribbon pecan pie champ.” Dean found another coin hidden in the Port-O-John. Sam used his mad hacking skills to find the connection to all of the victims: Carl, Wendy and Dewy were all involved with a defunct shopping mall project. The only living investor was still alive was Don Stark, the Donald Trump of Prosperity, Indiana, played by James Marsters.
While Dean stroked Don’s enormous ego, Sam stealthily explored his impression home. He found a half-empty closet and evidence of witchcraft. The Winchesters worked smoothly that when Sam returned to question Don about his missing wife, Dean never missed a beat. Don admitted to having a weakness for “dynamic, confident woman” and to an affair with Wendy. It was hard for me to watch Marsters without missing Spike’s cockney accent and black nailpolish, but the swagger was still there. I don’t want to like Don, but he's making me. I’m not sure I blame Wendy for giving into temptation.
They realized, from Don’s confessions and the myriad of dead shrubbery, that Maggie was a witch and hell hath no fury like a witch scorned. They head to Maggie’s new house. Dean slipped inside, while Sam stood watch outside the home, appearing to be a stranded motorist. Charisma Carpenter’s Maggie arrived in and breezed by Sam and his fake FBI badge. With Dean still inside and the cell phone circuits jammed, Sam activated Maggie’s car alarm to alert his brother, who managed to exit undetected. He swiped the picture of Maggie’s next target—Don’s hot assistant—which tipped her off anyway.
With Maggie working the spell, Dean and Sam raced over to Jenny’s.
Jenny’s (Cindy Busby) hex was a bloody one. As she tasted a batch of freshly baked cupcakes, she discovered a tiny, bleeding and beating heart nestled inside. Horrified, Jenny gagged, gurgled and barfed up blood and chunks into her pristinely white sink. Our brave heroes burst in, found and destroyed the coin, and saved her life. Jenny was understandably shaken, and shrieked about hearts in her cupcakes and how “that’s never happened before.” The guest stars rock this season. Can we keep her?
Jenny confirmed that she never slept with Don Stark and actually shuddered at the thought. They advised her to leave town.
In full-on “Real Housewives” camp, Maggie barked outrageous orders at the workers as she prepared for her charity art auction that evening. Don appeared to have it out with his wife, “between the art and the charity and that evil bitch, Sue, I was edged right out of your life.” Maggie complained about his ego, and had already figured out that Sam and Dean were hunters. Don replied, “You’ve had your fun. Very creative, the thing with Wendy. But enough is enough.” Bad move, Don. He ventured outside to find his hideous commemorative bust rattling and shaking before the head exploded. To counter, Don magicked eyeballs into the martinis, melted all of Maggie’s cherished paintings, and beheaded Maggie’s meddling bestie (who wanted Maggie all too herself). Yup, they're both witches, and not the do-gooding "Harry Potter" variety. Game on!
Meanwhile, Sam returned to the room and announced that “it’s like the whole town ran out of luck.” Maggie’s bewitched brooding had stolen Prosperity’s…well, prosperity, and it now suffered from inexplicable black-outs and burst pipes, and thus the chicken feet needed to complete the spell that would kill Maggie were rancid. They were so nasty that Dean couldn’t take one bite of his coconut cream pie. It’s cute that they are still disgusted by the little things.
They waited for Maggie to arrive at Don’s house for the ultimate battle before barging in and performing the spell. It was obvious from the harmless plume of grainy gray smoke that it failed. They forgot to chill the chicken feet.
All of the victims indeed connected: Carl introduced Wendy to Don. Dewy covered for Don, and Wendy did the deed.
Maggie and Don proved that they are soulmates and wordlessly agree to murder the Winchesters and chanted the spell in perfect unison. Out of options, Sam suggested that they counsel them. Dean jumped in, but most of his knowledge of relationships stemmed from watching porn and he ended up talking about “clamps and feathers” so Sam took over. “When a relationship cracks, usually both parties have a hand in it.” And the parallels between Maggie and Don and Dean and Sam were as clear as the Stark's crystal.
Incensed, Maggie whammied Sam with a curse that had to be the worst cramps a woman could ever have, especially after Dean's earlier comment that she could kill plants by "PMS-ing" at them. Dean implored that Maggie was betrayed, which angered Don, “Don’t suck up to her!” He dashed Dean through the french doors.
The scene was thoroughly entertaining and twistedly romantic. In the hands of less capable actors, it wouldn’t have worked at all. Charisma and James had great chemistry, and Jared and Jensen somehow made their torture funny.
The Starks began their own dialogue while Sam and Dean writhed on the floor. When Sam struggled upright, a pained, but encouraging glimmer in his eye and cooed, “You’ve buried your anger and your disappointment till it tore you apart. All you needed to do was talk!” only to be slammed back down to the ground, I actually laughed. "Supernatural" excels at dark humor.
It’s rare to see true love on a show like this, so my inner hopeless romantic relishes it. In the end, the Starks reunited, “I’ve been crushing on your since forever. You’re the woman I that I want to never grow old with,” Don declared.
It was a terrifying surprise when the Leviathan attacked Sam and Dean as soon as they returned to their motel room. Nor did I expect Don to rescue the Winchesters by jolting the monster with a powerful spell. He was only there to remove the hex coins Maggie had planted under their beds. I’m going to pretend that Sam and Dean had planned to sweep the room as this had happened with hexbags before in “Malleus Maleficarum.” Don advised them to bury Leviathan in “a bottomless pit” and exited like a badass. I hope to see The Starks again soon.
They secured the temporarily comatose Leviathan in chains and prepared to book it to Bobby’s as the spell would only last a few days. Once again, Sam implored to open up to him about what was troubling him, knowing it would help Dean like it had the Starks. Dean snarled back, “there’s always something eating at me. That’s who I am. Something happens, I feel responsible. The Lindberg baby, that’s on me. Unemployment, my bad.” The 99 percent currently occupying Wall Street should probably head up to South Dakota (or Chicago for the "Supernatural" convention).
The episode ended with a very worried and frustrated little brother trying not to strangle his older one. I agree wholeheartedly with Sam. Dean lit into him just a few episodes ago for not coming clean with his problems, but now he’s doing the same thing. It's hypocritical and incredibly dangerous. As long as Dean suffers in silence, this will only intensify, and I’m terrified as to what that means for new and improved Sam and Dean's already overwhelmed conscience.
Ultimately, "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" was "Supernatural" at its best—gory, comical, and peppered with enough drama to keep the plots moving and viewers engaged. I think is an instant classic.
Are you worried about Dean? Did you enjoy The Starks as much as I did? More importantly, have you see this hilarious outtake of a scene from “Shut Up, Dr. Phil" that Jared Padalecki posted on Twitter?