In this week's episode of Supernatural, "Man's Best Friend With Benefits", Sam and Dean step away from God's trials for a standalone episode about a witch who is far too close to his dog. Now that the show has made its triumphant return, is it finally ready to merge all of its many storylines?
After Sam and Dean receive a message from James Frampton - a police offer who helped them on a previous case - about having dreams of murdering people he didn't, the Winchesters get thrown into the weird world of witches and their familiars. As one pet steps out of line for their master, and another steps out of line with their master, Sam and Dean must put an end to the murders while making as few jokes as possible.
After last week's episode set Supernatural up with a few new storylines, it was a bit surprising to see the series return to standalone episodes so soon - especially considering the positive response the new direction has received. Still, much like Supernatural's recent episodes, "Man's Best Friend With Benefits" puts an entertaining and enjoyable twist on the tale of a witch and their familiar, where continuous displays of power are replaced with a mysterious tale and a hilariously awkward romance, which helps to conjure some of that old-school Supernatural feel.
The mystery, which felt all-too familiar to actually be one, was complimented nicely with an intriguing subplot about witches and their relationships with their familiars and the rules and powers that come with it. And keeping with the comedic timing of Sam and Dean that fans all know and love, the Winchesters played off of each scene so effortlessly that it absolutely squashes any theories of Supernatural's powerful return simply being a fluke.
Like the Golem from a few episodes back, the lives of the familiars are equally as enjoyable to watch and learn about as any of Supernatural's more memorable characters. Although perhaps not as inherently entertaining as the brooding clay monster, the world of the familiars carries with it enough interesting elements to satisfying any longtime fan.
And yes, although this week's episode had absolutely nothing to do with anything actually occurring in the seasonal storyline, it proved, yet again, that Supernatural has reclaimed its ability to continuously create new, compelling characters and wrap them up in an enjoyable story. So after a few hit-or-miss seasons, fans shouldn't complain about a little showboating now and then.
But at some point we will need to return to the Word of God, God's trials, Man of Letters, Castiel's "thing" with heaven and whatever other storylines may still be lingering - and it will be at that moment when we see how strong Supernatural's return truly is.
With a few standalone episodes knocked out to test the foundation, and a few new helpful storylines added, it's time to see it all come together. Fortunately, if the recent episodes are any indication of what's to come, fans should be prepared for an old-school end to Supernatural season 8.
Supernatural returns next week with "Remember the Titans" @9pm on CW. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: