Straight off the heels of Sam butchering a hell hound in last week’s “Trial and Error”, Supernatural stays with the dog theme in one of the most smartly titled episodes to date.
Thing start off in St. Louis where a charitable lady of the night has just finished providing services to an unknown John. Unfortunately for her, a cop sees the transaction and puts the cuffs on her. Even more unfortunate is when, instead of taking her in, he wraps his hands around her throat and pops her head like a water balloon. The throttler cop wakes up from the nightmare, feeling every sensation from the murder but hoping it’s a dream. His hopes are dashed though when he finds his bloodied shirt in the trash can.
Pulling up to one of the swanky motels they find in every town, Sam and Dean are heavily into a discussion on the best of the Three Stooges before conversation turns to James Frampton, the cop friend calling in a favor. Before going on a beer run, Dean tries his damnedest to convince Sam to find a way out of the trials that started last week when the younger Winchester gutted the hell hound. Sam tells Dean in no uncertain terms that he’s up for the challenge. While Dean’s out, Sam gets a visit from James’s black Doberman, who ends up morphing into a beautiful woman named Porsche. She’s James’s familiar, alerting the boys to Mr. Frampton’s new status as a witch. They’re a bit alarmed at the new development and even when Porsche describes her master’s problems to the boys, it takes her getting in Dean’s face and adopting an “incredibly hot” tone, for them to agree to help.Spencer just looks like such a nice guy…or not
James is still at a loss to what’s happening and, hanging out at a witch bar, consults his friend Spencer. Neither can point to anything other than James as the culprit and it’s only solidified that night when James awakens to another vision of him killing. He walk into the living room the next day with Sam and Dean (along with Porsche) waiting for him. He gives a bit more of the details, even showing them the bloodied shirt. The hunter in Dean is itching to end things but James is, while not a friend, someone who’s saved their bacon once before so the least the can do is try as long as James abides by their methods—starting with the witch staying inside on “house arrest”. They get back to the hotel and while Sam confirms the murders with what James told them, Dean works on a witch bomb based on Bobby’s notes. Of course, the subject of Sam and the trials once again rears its ugly head and Sam finally lets his biggest frustration out. “It’s not that you don’t trust me,” he says, “it’s that you can only trust you.”
Knowing Dean is ready to kill James, Sam convinces his brother to at least give the investigation a shot. He goes into the police department and talks to Detective Stoltz who is a bit less than cooperative and Sam gets the vibe that the guy’s hiding something, a prospect confirmed when he visits him a second time and notices a file on the tech accompanying Stoltz has Frampton’s name on it.
While Sam is doing the FBI thing, Dean accompanies Porsche to the witch bar where they meet Phillippe. The flamboyant gent turns out to be Spencer’s familiar. Dean questions Spencer about any type of spell allowing a witch to be controlled by another witch but comes up with nothing more than Dean’s sneezing fit being around the feline Phillippe.
That night Porsche shackles James up to prevent him from getting out and their closeness rekindles things and the two get it on—yes, in that way (get the episode title now?). During their bump and grind session, James psychic walls fall down and the visions of murders blasts its way into Porsche’s mind. When Sam and Dean enter the room, ready to put the witch bomb to work on James, she interrupts them, professing her master’s innocence. It goes without saying that Dean is a bit distracted trying to wrap his head around the whole master-familiar relationship though he does an admirable job keeping any bestiality zingers under wraps—a feat Sam acknowledges later in the episode.
Later that day, Dean and Porsche meet with Drexyl, a warlock who has his ear to the ground with all the goings on in the St. Louis witch/supernatural community. Rumors abound that James is all about the killing and the community wants him out or do the honorable thing and end his own life before they step in and do it for him. Doing their own bit of research, Dean does come across a spell to create false memories into another person’s mind. Using the clues Sam found about Stoltz and the report on James, the brothers accompany the witch on an astral trip to the police station where they find the case Stoltz is building against James—the man he has quite the grudge on for his meteoric rise to stardom in the St. Louis PD. James is pissed when he sees that Phillippe is the witness being used to solidify the case against James and, after taking Sam and Dean out of the equation, he confronts the feline familiar at the witch bar. It’s not long before Phillippe admits to being forced to do it by his master, Spencer. The witch ends up snapping his own familiar’s neck and let’s James know his motives behind the frame job. As too many conflicts, this is about a woman. Spencer wanted Porsche to be his familiar and her picking James was a slap in the face to the more experienced witch. When rumors surfaced of the full nature of James and Porsche’s ‘ship, Spencer wanted vengeance for the two going Belle and Edward.
Sam and Dean arrive just in time for Spencer to get in their heads and send the most painful memories through them, freezing the brothers in place. Before he’s able to finish the Winchesters and his former friend though, Porsche distracts him long enough for the brothers to hit him with the witch bomb.
Despite eliminating Spencer, James and Porsche decide to leave town as the evidence Stoltz has compiled is just too much to overcome. Not long after saying their goodbyes to the magical couple, Sam and Dean hit the road. Though it’s difficult for him to admit, Dean apologizes to Sam after realizing his fear has been more about trying to protect Sam from anymore pain. The visions Spencer replayed in Dean’s mind made him realize that the only way for them to get through what lies ahead is if they stick together. He gives Sam his full support. “If you say you’re good…then that’s it. I’m with you 100%”. It’s what Sam needs to hear but things don’t quite end there. After Dean’s proclamation, Sam coughs up an ominously dark congealment of blood and, of course, stays silent.
As I said, “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits”, almost a Before & After type Wheel of Fortune clue, is no doubt in my top ten Supernatural episode titles. The episode itself isn’t all that great with two new characters in James and Porsche that are a welcome addition to the Supernatural lore thought he overall story is average at best. The most important takeaways were Dean finally getting aboard the Sam Trial Train as they march towards closing the gates of hell forever and Sam coughing up blood. Both will play integral parts of this season’s primary story arc and one has to wonder are we in for another Winchester death at season’s end or was the blood cough nothing more than a red herring, throwing us off the trail of who will be crushed under Mr. Consequences boot heel?