Supernatural 9.12 – Sharp Teeth

ginger beard and siler bullets

Grantsburg, Wisconsin. This week’s episode opens up on a farm in the middle of the night. According to the closed captioning what we’re hearing is snarling, howling, the dulcet sounds of flesh rending and cows mooing. Apparently there wasn’t enough cowbell to make the closed captioning cut.

Seeing as it’s the dead of night, the owner of the farm is none too pleased with the disruption and comes out blazing. The figure that abandons his prime offal is scrawnier than the sounds indicated he’d be. He takes off running, jumping fences, dodging trees, just trying to get away, contemplating nothing but escape and finally making it… until the he runs into the road and high-fives a car.

Oh look, it’s Garth.

A few days later Sam arrives at the Grantsburg Memorial Hospital in full FBI garb. He flashes his badge and requests to see Mr. John Doe. The nurse at the station barely gives his magnificent hair or his badge a glance before giving him the room number. She also says John Doe is a popular dude. Obviously, when Sam enters the room he’s face to face with his estranged brother.

Okay, so this nurse spoke to Sam and Dean Winchester, separately, and was that blasé? As if hot, scruffy dudes and hot, fed suited dudes just waltz in and out all day?

Whatever. Back to Sam and Dean, who are acting less like brothers and more like exes running into each other for the first time since their break up. Which is ridiculous, they breakup every year. Garth is handcuffed to the bed, charged with offing Clarabelle. Dean tells Sam that he’s got this and Sam can skedaddle, but Sam is reluctant, Dean hasn’t even spoken to Garth and Garth is so dosed out on morphine he’s halfway to Wall Street. Dean is ready to give him a Mia Wallace special, but Sam is uncomfortable with that and backhands Garth awake.

Garth seems happy to see Sam and Dean, actually thinks he might be in heaven, until his stomach stages a revolt against him. Good thing Sam picked Garth’s handcuffs open.

The brothers sit and wait for Garth to stop revisiting everything he’s ever eaten and actually talk a bit. Sam tells Dean about the grace tracer that Gadreel left in him and how Castiel helped snuff it out and Dean tells Sam all about his fancy new Mark of Cain. This is all very open and honest and I’m a mix of proud and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Garth bolted out the window during their dramatic tell-all, ditched his gown, nabbed a car, and fled the scene. Hopefully the surveillance camera can give them some answers. Dean offers to check and suggests that Sam go talk to the farmer.

The farmer tells Sam that his animals have been getting gutted for a while now and not just the simple throat ripped out kind of stuff, but organs only, paint the walls, Marilyn Manson-looking type stuff. Oddly familiar. Meanwhile, Dean hits the Big Brother jackpot: Garth, the car he left in, full-view license plate, complete with easily traceable registration and a handy-dandy address for the owner, Bess Meyers. All which he fails to disclose to Sam when he calls to check in. Sam, however, is right around the corner and walks into Dean holding the info he’s claiming not to have.

Dean Winchester, you sit on a throne of lies. You wear a crown of subterfuge and carry a scepter of fallacies. You also haven’t shaved. Which, I mean, I get it, it would cut into your angsting time. The longer the scruff, the deeper the self-loathing. And the deeper the self-loathing the more the audience is supposed to forget your creepy controlling tendencies. But we’ll get into that later.

Right now, let’s get back to Sam and Dean bursting into Bess Meyers’ humble abode. There’s no Bess to be seen, but there is Garth standing in the middle of the kitchen talking at the boys, but clearly to someone else. He pleads with them to put their guns down and chinwag it out with him, which might have happened if Bess hadn’t burst out of the closet with a mouth full of pointy canines and a snarl instead of a “hello”. Sam accidentally cuts her with a silver blade and her skin sizzles.

And that, boys and girls, is pretty much the last resemblance you’ll see to almost anything this show has considered canon for its werewolves in the past 7 years.

That’s right, werewolves. Bess is a werewolf and Garth loves her unconditionally. Garth is a werewolf and loves her too. See Garth was bitten on a hunt; he had his last meal and was ready to aerate his cranium when Bess sniffed him out and talked him down off the ledge. Oh, is that this a theme? Are we being thematic? Or is it an accident? I’m honestly not sure.

He didn’t call because he was embarrassed. Easier to bail than to deal. Now, however, he’s asking for their trust. Bess, who is a natural born werewolf, second generation off the lycanthrope Mayflower, and her pack are clean. No human lunchables, four-legged and farm fresh only, and if they don’t believe him, well they can just come over and join the pack’s prayer hour.

“They” is apparently just Dean. Yes, Sam and Dean somehow decide that the best plan is for Dean to go hang out with a house full of werewolves alone while Sam investigates… something at the police station. Who knows what? Does it matter?

Dean gets to meet all of Bess’ family: her father, her cousins, her stepmother, and they’re all just like you’d imagine a wolf pack to be, assuming you imagine them to be stereotypical holy rollers who just stepped out of a 1981 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue. Bess’ father, Reverend Jim, is the pack alpha and welcomes Dean with open arms. Dean resists ripping them off.

The good reverend offers to break bread with Dean and show him how they are more alike than different. On one hand, it’s awfully nice of them to overcook a steak for him, it’s like making a vegan option when 99% of the dinner party is gonna be eating mac ‘n’ cheese, on the other hand he’s a little turned off by the giant raw animal hearts they’re chowing on. And for a civilized group of werewolves, some of these guys have atrocious table manners, but hey, no one put their elbows on the table. They also all have a snazzy accessory: a silver bullet on a chain around their necks. Yeah, that’s not cult-y at all. They explain that it’s to remind them that they are not invincible creatures, that they have their weaknesses. The reverend also tells Dean about how a hunter killed his wife and he wanted revenge, but realized the road to revenge is dark and lonely and empty and blah, blah, blah, we get it, it’s another thematic lesson.

Sam is off talking to the local sheriff, digging into the family, but the worst thing the sheriff calls them is hippies. Sam pushes; asking if anything weird ever happens in this town, but the sheriff claims it’s a sleepy town with a decent record.

rehab is for quitters

Back to Dean. He’s lecturing Garth on this lifestyle choice, he doesn’t trust it and frankly it’s not just because they’re werewolves. Garth tells him that with this experience he’s figured it all out: love and family are what matters, no matter the form. He also tells Dean that he thought it was best for everyone, Dean, Sam, Kevin, if he stayed away. Oh, look, another lesson. And another. Excuse me while I go grab an icepack for my head.

Dean takes this opportunity to gruffly relay that Kevin is dead and that he’s shouldering the full responsibility with a vast oversimplification of the situation. I think I actually saw his beard grow an eighth of an inch.

Sam and Dean meet to recap, but are interrupted by a call from the sheriff. He’s got a weird one for Sam, an eviscerated deer carcass. Whatever could have done this? Oh, it was the sheriff, who despite us not knowing his full lineage, apparently doesn’t need a lunar cycle to shift. He starts to muahaha his plan out, but Dean bulls-eyes him in the heart before he even gets going.

Hey remember a few years ago when Madison had no control of her shifting, was ruled by the moon, was completely not cognizant of her behavior as a wolf, and Sam literally put her down like a dog? Then later we learned that all monsters came from an original Alpha and could shift not just during, but around the lunar cycle, but only if they are pureblood? If you do remember all that, it would behoove you to forget it.

Now we’re going to go the way of Ragnarok, because it’s engraved onto the sheriff’s bullet pendant, and if I wanted an Avengers lesson I’d read the comics, I’m a DC kind of gal, so nah. I guess I’ll let Dean fill me in.

I will say that at least Dean has off the cuff knowledge going on here, we rarely see that and that’s a shame.

They split up; Sam breaks into Bess and Garth’s home while Dean breaks into the Reverend Jim’s office. Bess and Garth’s place is a mess, clearly they were wolfnapped. Dean finds more info on Ragnarok. End of days, Odin, Fenris, gaping maw, prepare for total domination, spirit fingers, you get the idea. Unfortunately, Dean’s studying is interrupted by the reverend, who says he knows Dean is there because he can hear his heart beating nervously, a lifetime of hunting and he still gets the flutters. Remember that, because I’m going to bring it up again.

Anyway, the reverend defends his stance; Ragnarok is a cautionary tale, not a call to arms. In fact, his bullet is etching free.

Oh by the way, Sam got knocked out and kidnapped. When this is all over, I want a scientist to study Sam Winchester’s amazing rubber cranium.

Dean tries calling Sam, but Sam isn’t answering. He speeds over to the main cult house and sneaks up on Russ the werewolf henchman as he stands guard outside. Because suddenly Dean’s heart is steady? Silent? Did you know that under ideal conditions wolves have a hearing range of six miles away in the forest? These conditions look ideal to me, but Russ, not so much with the canine lupine hearing. Wonder what generation he was?

of course

Bess’ stepmom had tried to be good, but a hunter killed her little brother and now, you guessed it, she’s on a path to revenge.

Get yourself an Advil as a treat.

Now she’s out to prove her dedication to sparkle motion. Unlike the sheriff she gets the chance to exposition about her plan. She’s going to kill Garth and Bess and pin it on Sam, but Sam, who is no longer unconscious, gracefully kicks the gun out of her hand. The man is nearly 6’5”, you’d think people would tie his legs down.

Let’s rewind a bit. Evil stepmom lays out plan and Sam says, “you’re gonna frame their murders on me.”

What even is that line?

Anyway, ever the resourceful hunter Dean dons Russ’ jacket to mask his sent, it also apparently muffles the sound of his beating heart, and infiltrates the barn. Evil stepmom doesn’t even get the chance to bore us again before Dean shoots her through the heart.

The next day Sam and Dean get ready to head out. Sam leaves Garth with a simple, “be good” and a hug. Dean, on the other hand, gets to have his moment with someone not Sam. Garth suggests coming back into the fold, using his werewolf abilities to give them an edge while hunting and to atone for abandoning Kevin. Kevin was his friend, you don’t abandon friends. I’m starting to feel like Sam with all these whacks upside the head.

Dean declines Garth’s offer; love, family, whatever it is, it’s worth fighting for, worth staying for.

The technical term for that pain in your head that you fell is “cephalagia”.

Dean drives Sam back to his car (by the way, where did Sam get this vehicle??) and Sam gruffly bids Dean ado, but Dean stops him. He wants to talk about the night they broke up, or as Sam likes to accurately refer to it, “the night you left me”. Fair enough, the point is that Dean wants to come home and be a family again. Sam will allow it, hell, it’s Dean’s home as much as it is his. And they can hunt together, too, but that’s where Sam toes a line in the dirt, he isn’t at a place where he can call Dean his brother right now. And with that, Sam gets back into the Impala and they, presumably, drive home.

Wait? What?

That brother thing is the one thing here that isn’t negotiable. You can say you can’t hunt together, you can say you can’t live together, but you can’t cheat DNA, you can’t cheat a lifetime of tripping over each other’s shadows.

Furthermore, would it kill Dean to actually apologize for what he did? All this guilt and responsibility, yeah, he’s shouldering it, but wrongly.

And Sam, well, he has every single right to be upset with how Dean did what he did, and good on him for voicing it, but the fact remains that comatose!Sam said “yes”. In that moment, when Dean/Ezekiel/Gadreel pleaded his case, Sam chose Dean and life. Heck, he made that choice back in that church.

I don’t usually step this far out of the episode in my recaps, but this? What was this episode? This is what I learned: If Dean is sad, Dean can’t shave, maybe because he’ll slit his own throat. Sam has clearly taken too many hits to the head and is incapable of speaking for more than two minutes at a time and when he does he makes little to no sense, but on the upside, souled or soulless Sam Winchester digs a sweet Dodge. And subtly is so 2008.

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  • trishy

    I really noticed how much Dean ordered Sam around in this ep, not sure if I noticed it more as I know they’re at odds so it seemed out of place, or if he did it more than other eps.
    This episode was like being hit over the head a number of times with a blunt instrument, absolutely lacking in any finesse. Plus it didn’t make much sense, lots of lines and the ways characters acted made me ????
    I did wonder about Sam’s dodge too, couldn’t be from the bunker, it’s not old enough.
    Thank you for saying it how it is, and your last coupla paragraphs.
    You are very very snarky in the most beautiful way. I adore it.

    • The episode was lazy in my opinion. Too much TELLING me what’s going on. Like you said, no finesse.

      The Dodge makes no sense. Where on earth did he get it? It’s in cherry condition. And to abandon it? At least gift it to Garth.

      I always have sarcastic tendencies, it’s my way, plus it’s genre TV so there’s gonna be moments to mock, but this episode? Super deserving of all mockery.

  • TexasGreatGrams

    I appreciate your recap. However, I loved the episode, as I do all of them. Even though the circumstances are very unusual to say the least, a hunter has found happiness and a family. That doesn’t happen very often. I especially liked that Dean told Garth how lucky he was to find that and he should hold on to it.
    As for Sam, it was difficult to see him distance himself from the family relationship with Dean and I am anxious to see how that plays out in future weeks. Dean tried in how own way to say “Sorry”, but Sam is not ready to hear it. Both brothers are carrying a load of guilt and can’t forgive themselves, so it is not possible to go back to “the way it used to be.”
    Worried about what the “Mark of Cain” is going to do to Dean, but know it will be exciting and cause lots of feels.

    • I’ll be honest, the first time I watched it I was bored. The second and third times I flip-flopped between “I HATE THIS” and “maybe it’s not so bad…”, but in the end my internal grading curve came from the performances. All the actors did well with what they had. That said, I’m glad you liked it, because I feel like every episode will appeal to and turn off people and that’s a good thing because it creates even more discussion.

      The Mark of Cain storyline is the thing I’m most excited about.

    • deansfangirl

      I agree that it was a good episode. But I’ve thought that about every single SPN ep ever made. (Except the one about bugs.) They can’t all be in the top ten.

  • France

    If Dean drives Sam back to his car, how Sam went to the werewolves’s house. Sorry Vanessa but I love the Dean’s beard.

    • I’d have to re-re-rewatch, but I assumed it was because Sam’s car was still in the area of Bess and Garth’s house, that’s where he was kidnapped from.

      I love the ginger beard. REALLY love it, Dean looks so good with it, but I gotta point out the fact that it exists and why and tease it a bit. I gotta!

  • Eibhlin

    I hadn’t realized the car wasn’t old enough to be from the MOL! Well you know if Sam stole it then if he leaves it out and visible then its (presumably) heartbroken owner will very likely eventually get it back.
    I think it is daft that Sam has to continuously steal cars to do anything himself, just think of how many peoples lives it screws with unnecessarily…

    The beard growing 1/8 ” line made me laugh out loud :D

    Isn’t the way Adam Glass writes his shows with only Dean in mind the most annoying thing ever? This episode is Freaks and Geeks to the last degree (and pretty much Adventures in Babysitting too). It follows every single story beat of F&G except for the conversation right at the end. Which since it is part of the overall mytharc I assume he was told ‘you have to write script that serves this specific purpose’.
    – Dean interacts with the people of the week / or recurring guest star. Sam does not.
    – Sam is actively removed from all POV conversations.
    – Sam is hit over the head and remains tied up until rescued by Dean.
    – Monster of the week uses Sam for the most ridiculous monologuing ever (F&G was worse).

    I have headcanon that Jared was doing ‘protest acting’ in both this episode (where he didn’t really even pretend to be tied up) and in the totally hilarious expression of absolute pissed-offness on his face in the F&G promo photos when he finds himself tied to a chair….again…
    This is the only way I can cope with AG episodes.

    • On one hand, the really twisted part of me likes that Sam is a one man grand theft auto. On the other hand, it’ s overdone. Besides stealing THAT car? Talk about high profile.

      I 100% agree with you about the formula of AG’s episodes. It also seems the only time he successfully wrote Sam (in my opinion) is when Sam was soulless.

  • deansfangirl

    Didn’t DJ say that Jared was unavailable during much of this ep because his son was born?

    • This episode was filmed before the birth his second son’s birth.

    • Eibhlin

      I believe DJ was talking about himself being unavailable and they used a photo double of him.

  • deansfangirl

    also, it’s funny to me that half the fandom whined that last year Dean was “left out” of the plot, and now the other half is whining the same for Sam. I like that different writers have different tendencies and strengths, so we all get a little of what we want during each season. It all balances out in the end.

    • Eibhlin

      Problem is it doesn’t balance out. I am not looking for fairness in screentime between Jared and Jensen that is up to them and the writers and if Jared gets loads of time off and Jensen doesn’t (which is apparently how this season has gone down so far) that is their problem.

      My issue is with POV. Dean gets it Sam doesn’t, it doesn’t matter who has the mytharc, who the episode is centered on, what is happening, I would like to get insight into both these characters. Robbie Thompson and Adam Glass have no interest in the world in Sam or Sam’s history – AG writes Sam out of episodes (the way this episode was written it could have been done with Dean and a random helpless female character of the week except for the last scene), RT rewrites Sam’s history so that anything positive he or both brothers have done vanishes or is gifted to Dean (Charlie’s interpretation of the SPN books; Castiels take on who is the second worst screwup in the known universe). I don’t suppose they are doing it on purpose but I do think that this is the job of a showrunner to stop this from happening. It screws with canon.

      Dean gets to give his side of the story at length to whoever he is talking to and even when he rewrites what we have SEEN he doesn’t get called on it. Sam talks like Dali freakin yoda when he has anyone at all to talk to (I think maybe he is losing his ability to talk to people because he doesn’t get the opportunity) and gets cut off before he can finish a sentence whereupon the person he is talking to ‘interprets’ him.
      Dean can have the entire mytharc as far as I am concerned as long as Sam gets the sort of character depth of understanding that Gadreel got in 8 episodes (and that Dean gets consistently).
      I mean Gadreel had more personal interactions with different characters in Holy Terror and Road Trip than Sam has had in years. So it isn’t that Jared scares the guest stars!

      • Eibhlin

        ETA: Actually it could have been a damsel in distress instead of Sam for the majority of the episode except for the 10 seconds of Sam setting the trap for Dean over the photographs and Dean falling for it – which was just great and the closest thing to early-season brother antics I have seen in years :D .

    • I disagree to an extent. I’m not upset that Sam is left out of the plot/arc, I’m annoyed that he’s fairly non-existent, even when the arc revolves around him, just like I get annoyed when the POV is all Dean’s but the arc drops him. While I agree about strengths and tendencies I think the scales don’t always balance.

  • casammy

    Hate the episode, fodder is the worst of all. It is not a fault of dean or sam is a fault of the writer. Let’s hope that the following episodes arrange this stupid episode that I am erasing of my mind at some time I saw it

  • debddk3

    I love your recaps Vanessa even if I don’t always agree. This episode was definitely different but I love my Supernatural so I’ll put up with the weird ones. I do hate when the brothers fight; they both look so sad and unhappy that it kills me!!!! And have to admit, although my Dean looks so defeated, he looks AMAZINGLY hot with the scruff! I don’t want it to get much longer but man he looks good! Keep up the great posts!

    • Disagreement makes for discussion, so I’m all for it. One of my best friends and I argue about certain episodes all the time.

      I feel bad for thinking how hot Dean looks with his depression beard.

      Thank you so much!

  • K

    Truth be told, I didn’t have high expectations for this episode going in. I’m not a fan of the Garth character for several reasons (just my opionion) so in that regard I wasn’t too disappointed. The episode just seemed flat to me. I like a roller coaster ride, edge of your seat type episode and this one seemed too predictable. Too bland with no layers to peel back.
    I don’t mind the occasional Sam vs Dean, brothers at odds thing but it just seems like that’s all it’s been for some time now. I can no longer tells friends (who haven’t seen the show) that’s it’s a story about two brothers who travel around the US fighting monsters together…now I have to say it’s two brothers who travel around the US fighting with each other. I’m looking forward to next weeks episode and hope the arc for the season does not include the “brothers” being “not brothers”. Oh, and no more Sam being someone/something else…just Sam being Sam please! :)

    • I have mixed feelings about Garth. I like him, but he’s not a beloved character to me. And that Mr. Fizzles thing from “Party on, Garth”? Not a fan.

      I was honestly really bored through most of the episode, especially after the 9.09, 9.10, and 9.11. This one was a definite speed bump

      I don’t mind the conflict either. Or the boys fighting as brothers. But it’s just so contrived at this point that it’s draining.

  • Ann

    Just listened to the podcast and although I agree with some of your critiques others I thought were off. For instance the step mom not hearing Dean’s heart in the barn.. Remember in the church it was just Dean and Reverend Jim. In the barn, it was Garth, his wife, and Sam who should all have had some pretty strong hert beats going because step mom was going to kill them. In addition, there were the two werewolf brothers in the direction Dean came from that had beating hearts. Is step mom supposed to be able to tell whose heart she hears? Just saying :-)

    • Interesting headcanon, and one I could maybe accept, but not currently.

  • Jeff

    Once upon a time Supernatural possessed a horror element to their stories. Just check out their first two seasons. Now too many episodes have gone the way of silliness. Almost like the writers are now making fun of the show we all enjoy. I feel like the show is stuck in neutral, and running on fumes. Maybe it is not best for the show to extend beyond the 10th season. They are obviously running out of ideas.

    • I’m definitely someone that often longs for the look, feel, and storytelling of s1-3, even s4. That said, I’m not ready for it to go, just ready for it to reclaim what it used to be thematically.

  • Jeff

    For SN to reclaim what it was thematically they show will have to rehaul their entire staff starting with Carver. I think he has run out of ideas. The only real twist left is having the brothers actually happy to be around each other, and tusting in each other. Maybe have Meg comeback with Cas’ baby and the bros have to protect it. At least the conflict can go back to being external. And I like Meg with Cas.

    • That’s a plot twist I can deal with. Happy codependency, if you will.

      Meg/Castiel is kinda my favorite thing. The fact that NO ONE has told Castiel about her sacrificial death is a constant source of annoyance for me.

  • Jeff

    I totally relate to the annoyance factor. Meg’s death was totally glossed over. Even the bros just drove off like it was no big deal. I suppose Carver just did not like the character. Not sure how he feels about Cas either, since the character shows little growth during his season.

  • Dana

    I’m kinda disappointed no one commented more about the “sweet Dodge.” It’s a ’69 Dodge Demon which I think fits Sam’s personality and background, a little rough but with some care it still runs beautifully. P.S. Jensen looks great with a beard