While far from perfect, Supernatural has badly needed an episode like Friday’s “How To Win Friends and Influence Monsters.” It reignited interest in the Leviathan storyline by giving us a cool glimpse at their research facility (complete with dead grandmas), featured some classic banter between the brothers and Bobby courtesy of Supernatural‘s wittiest scribe Ben Edlund, and HOLY SMOKES BOBBY!
Let’s start with the last bit first. I just knew the episode would end with Bobby’s life in the balance after he got separated from Sam and Dean during that very confusing final scramble and escape from LeviaCorp. He’d had a few too many serious and deep hombre-a-hombre conversations with both brothers. It’s been a while since we’ve had a traumatic character death on Supernatural (I’m not convinced Castiel is gone for good), so the time is right for someone to go. But Bobby? I just don’t see it happening. The producers have way too much respect for Bobby to send him off unceremoniously like that. That guy, more than anyone else on the series, needs a hero’s exit. Taking a slug in the head from a dick in a suit is NOT a satisfactory departure for the man who weaned the Winchesters from his teat of hunting knowledge.
But if Bobby DID die, it sure would make for an interesting second half of the season. Imagine Sam and Dean with the fire of revenge in their eyes as they sought to end the Leviathans! “This is for Bobby!” they’d say as they force-fed Dick a borax shake. Still, you gotta think that if Bobby’s gonna go, he’s gonna go out in style. Ellen and Jo went out in style, and Bobby isn’t going to take his last breath under the knife at a hospital, unless he has a ton of dynamite strapped to his chest and the doctors are Leviathans.
It was good to get another peek at the Leviathans’ plan, even though we still don’t know what they’re doing. We faced a similar slow burn last season, when we barely knew what was going on halfway through the season. And what do we know now? That the Leviathans, under Dick Roman, have hatched some plan to sedate Americans into complacency by feeding them tainted sandwiches. Oookay. To what end? I don’t know. One problem: This story isn’t too far off from the Season 5 demon plan of messing with flu shots to spread the Croatoan virus. What ever happened to good old-fashioned nationwide bloodshed by monsters?
Dick Roman isn’t exactly a frightening villain as far as Supernatural Big Bads go. He’s more like a social commentary on the current state of things today, a 1%-er in a slick suit who’s buzzed on crisp Chardonnay and fancy cheese. The method of administering the Leviathans’ plan (through Biggerson’s tasty Turducken Slammer sandwiches) is also a bit soapbox-y, essentially generalizing that all Americans are fat and love to eat fast food. Hey! Only 98 percent of us do! And do you blame us? KFC just added BACON to its Famous Bowl. Bacon! Anyway, the scheme isn’t the most original idea, nor does it carry the proper weight behind it to make it really effective, but this is Season 7, what are you expecting? Supernatural‘s writers seem more interested in having fun this season than anything else, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, one unfortunate side effect is the lack of bite from the bad guys. The idea of the Leviathans is much scarier than the Leviathans themselves. Did you see Bobby take down that hyper-thyroid bodyguard Leviathan with one blow? Was there ever a moment that the Leviathans seemed to be really into killing Sam, Dean, or Bobby? Did they ever move at a pace faster than a brisk jog? If I’m going to be scared of these guys, I need to see a little more roughing up of the Winchesters and less snobbery. They just don’t seem like they can be bothered.
A few quick thoughts on the beginning of the episode: Things started off with some real zingers and kookiness that only Edlund could’ve written. “Camping High Season Harshed By Human Burrito” as a headline? Edlund. Dean’s response to “Do you want to look like a hostess?” Edlund. That Bambi talk when they were hunting? Edlund. And it’s a good thing Edlund’s word’s were all over the place, because the opening meandered a bit too much and the focus just wasn’t there. Heck, I think I reviewed this episode with little mention of the first half, as it seemed like 22 minutes of “stuff that happened” was stretched out to reach the 44-minute mark for broadcast.
But in the end, “How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters” jump-started the Leviathan storyline, and we were handed a real whopper of a cliffhanger with the sight of a bullet hole in Bobby’s hat. It wasn’t the prettiest way of getting things done, but it did serve as a springboard for the midseason finale. Now let’s see if Supernatural can stick the landing.
– Grey-green snot erupting out of a Turducken sandwich just in time for Thanksgiving? Thanks, Supernatural!
– I may be the only one, but I was sad to see Dr. Leviathan back. That said, I was glad to see him eat himself to death. And he did it with style in a Red Lobster bib. That’s cool.
– The Supernatural graphics department could probably spend a little more time on its Photoshop efforts. Dick’s YouTube montage stills looked like a three-minute job or a preschool project. Was that intentional?
Supernatural Season 7 Power Rankings
“How To Win Friends And Influence People” was a bit topsy-turvy and almost felt like two half-episodes in one. Though Ben Edlund’s trademark snaps were in full effect, most of the story wasn’t. I’m hoping that the purpose of the episode was to set things up for the rest of the season.
1. “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” (Episode 5)
A pair of witches needed some couples counseling in a gory fun-fest that guest-starred Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters.
2. “The Mentalists” (Episode 7)
More standalone fun as the brothers investigated murders in a town full of psychics.
3. “Meet the New Boss” (Episode 1)
Castiel got all righteous on those who didn’t respect The Good Word, and it was great.
4. “Slash Fiction” (Episode 6)
Two Leviathans disguised themselves as Sam and Dean and took off on a cross-country shootin’ spree!
5. “Hell, Cruel World” (Episode 2)
The Leviathans set up a buffet at a hospital after spreading into the water supply.
6. “How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters” (Episode 9)
Hyperadrenalized cannibals and stoner sandwiches! Dick Roman’s plan was sort of unveiled! And Bobby got shot!
7. “The Girl Next Door” (Episode 3)
Via flashback, we saw Sam’s first kiss… with a monster! Then Dean killed her.
8. “Defending Your Life” (Episode 4)
Dean went on trial before Osiris because of the guilt he carries. Jo came back to blow him up!
9. “Season 7, Time for a Wedding” (Episode 8)
Too. Much. Becky. Larson.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom