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 Wiccan.  “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 Wiccan 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.