Supernatural, “All Dogs Go to Heaven”

After last week’s exposition-heavy, but still great episode, Supernatural moved forward with its new equilibrium status in “All Dogs Go to Heaven,” with Sam and Dean working specifically for Crowley and hating it, while continuing to figure out just what the hell Sam actually is (or is not) at the moment. “Dogs” isn’t an awful episode or even a bad one, but it explores very familiar territory and doesn’t particularly move the overarching plot forward. It’s a middle-off-the-pack episode with a few great moments, particularly the final conversation between Sam and Dean, but with little to be found in the middle.

The set-up is fairly simple: Crowley barks out an order of “Find me an Alpha, Sam gets his soul back.” Dean protests, Sam doesn’t, and we’re off. Moreover, like many episodes, what the case starts out as — werewolves! — ends up being something slightly different — skinwalkers! — which is fine, but familiar. Bringing skinwalkers into the mix seems logical and I am happy to see the series not follow up a few episodes focused on vampires with an episode on werewolves because that would be too obvious, even for this series.

Much like the vampires, it seems that the skinwalkers are trying to multiply their ranks in hopes of winning the monster battle royal or whatever. It seems the skinwalker powers-that-be started with homeless people and are now trying to expand as quickly, but seemingly as quietly as possible.

However, I do feel like the beats explored with the skinwalker “Lucky” is wholly familiar. Supernatural has always been interested in the determinism and human side of the monsters — and even Sam, really — in the sense that there’s a sense that you can never change what you are, however much you try. At times throughout the series’ run, we’ve been privy to monsters who don’t really want to be that way, who want to attempt to have normal lives, etc. and while it’s never boring to see those kinds of stories, it is, like I said, familiar.

The one real interesting thing here is that while Sam and Dean almost never let the monsters go, even if they feel bad about killing them (see: “Heart”), they let Lucky roam free. I’m not sure if I totally buy that considering the fact that Lucky killed a few people at the beginning of the episode — who only kind of deserved it — and considering he has such a terrible life to begin with, there’s really nothing stopping him from continuing to kill people in the future. The episode tries to make it a poignant moment, but it rings slightly hollow.

More importantly, it is apparent that after finally divulging what the heck is up with Sam, both the series’ writers and Jared Padalecki are really having fun with RoboSam. Instead of being mysteries and abstract, Sam is now outwardly awkward in a confident and overly dick-ish kind of way that’s just fun to watch. Padalecki’s been burdened with emo Sam for a long time now, so it’s nice to see him play something completely different and really nail it. I also appreciate that the series is letting Sam’s situation be played for humor in a lot of ways so it’s not as angst-filled as it could have been.

With that in mind, the final scene is the episode’s best. Sam outwardly admits that he doesn’t care about Lisa or Ben, hell, he doesn’t even care about Dean, he just knows that Dean can help him accomplish his goals. He notes that he’s probably done some really awful stuff, including killing innocent people, to accomplish whatever hunting-related task he needed to, and doesn’t seem bothered by it all. However, he knows that even if he likes this version of himself better than the emo one, it’s probably best to figure out how to be a human being again. It’s very matter-of-fact and again, kind of funny how Sam doesn’t really want to or care to be the “real” Sam again, but just assumes, “Hey, this is probably not good for me to act like this.” He’s like a little kid who is learning right from wrong again and doesn’t really like doing the “right” thing, but knows he probably should so his parents won’t be mad.

Here’s to hoping this Sam is around for most of the season because he’s awesome. This episode? Not so much.

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