Episode nine, aka the setup episode before the possible maddening, gut-wrenching, “why-oh-why-are-you-torturing-us-silly” mid-season finale.  Fine, once in a while we get a midseason finale that leaves us wondering how many wet ones they were tipping, like “Heaven and Hell,” but most leave you wrecked. 

However, we’re here to focus on the episode before that.  Last year Ben Edlund’s turn came up in episode nine with the hilarious (and one of my personal all time favorites) “Clap Your Hands  If You Believe.”  This year, his effort turned out to be the pre-midseason finale.  As usual with an Edlund script, this isn’t your typical fare.  

The title is a clever ploy on the corporate motivational bestseller, “How To Win Friends and Influence People.”  This isn’t exactly Dale Carnegie though.  In today’s times, apparently all you need is the power of money.  Dick Roman is not only gaining power, he’s gaining influence thanks to his motivational bestseller, which declares him “The Emperor of Money.”  Really?  That’s working?  I would have thought his affiliation with the NRA and love of guns would have been a bigger sell.  So we have a Charlton Heston meets Donald Trump monster.  Except Dick Roman is good looking, young, and charismatic so the pundits have their ideal man.

     

Supernatural has taken opportunities in the past to let politically motivated jabs at the American way slip in, like season five using public paranoia over disease to slip through a Croatoan virus laced vaccine for mass distribution.  Edlund also has been the most effective at using the dysfunctional Biggersons restaurant to poke fun at America’s unhealthy lifestyles.  The phrase from season five’s “My Bloody Valentine,” “A swarm of locusts in stretch pants,” is still something I use in daily conversation!  It’s funny too, since no one has any idea where I got that from. 

Some think that politics should stay out of Supernatural, but I’ve always loved how it’s been handled historically.  There are definite jabs and biting commentaries about some biases of liberal Hollywood, but nothing that has overtaken the story or become dominant in the motivations of the characters (Castiel as God aside).  When part of a Hollywood though that thinks that films like Bob Roberts are the best thing since sliced bread (I hated it myself), why not portray this smart yet malicious race as conquering through the easily manipulative political system?  Win them over with subtlety before eating them all.  It’s like taking candy from a baby.  

I’m both turned off and intrigued by the possibilities.  I don’t like politically fueled stories myself, but Supernatural has never done anything the normal way.  It’s all going to depend how much focus is given to Dick Roman, who’s name obviously was born because of all the Dick Nixon jokes through the years.  At least the humor of a 10 year old isn’t going anywhere!  I can’t say anything more about “The Rise of Dick” that hasn’t already been said.  



All of this rambling about politically fueled commentary is no indication of unhappiness with this episode though.  As usual with a Ben Edlund episode, I loved it.  Then again, I am this man’s bitch.  Episodes like this exist to broaden the storyline and setup the second half of the season.  “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” did so brilliantly, but then again do we expect anything less from a veteran writer, one of two only left on the staff?  

I’m just gonna woman up and admit it right now.  I’m a glamper and proud of it!  Heck, I’m a full fledged card carrying member.  Mock me all you want Mr. Edlund, I’ll think of you next time I’m enjoying my nature with extreme comfort.  No, I’m not ridiculous enough to put a full bedroom set and HDTV with a generator in a tent in the woods, but I most certainly have a luxury travel trailer!  Sure I call it more of my summer home than camping, but technically it’s at a campground in the woods.  How else do you think I can maintain this website and go camping every weekend?  :)



Also, who didn’t think of The Sopranos when seeing Pine Barrens?  I was half waiting for Valery the Russian to be revealed the guilty party in all the killings as he watched them all from up in a tree, only to have Christopher and Paulie come out of the woods with their guns blazing to chase him off.  I guess no one went for that reference.  

I gotta ask, has anyone ever heard the term “turducken” before now?  How freaking hilarious is that?  It’s a new meat.  Now with 800% more goo!  “A bunch of birds shoved up inside of each other.  Shouldn’t play God like that.”  Hee, so true Bobby.  I saw online that turducken was an actual recipe.  You know it was conceived by a simpleton that didn’t know what to do with all the scraps.  Dean didn’t mind.  “It’s like a perfect storm of your top 3 edible birds.” 



Something is truly “fowl” (dodges flying objects) though when that perfect combination spews gray goop after an hour.  Lucky for Dean, he was too stoned to get sick over it.  Too bad I wasn’t spared.  Oh, right, Edlund script.  Speaking of grossed out, how refreshing was it to see Sam get disgusted over the mutant monster autopsy?  He still hasn’t seen it all.  At least something still bothers him.  The crazy in his head isn’t going anywhere these days.  It’s also great to hear Bobby and his comment “Now I’ve seen it all,” over the doctor leviathan being forced to eat himself.  I know I’m trying to twist my mind around how that works.

 

I saw the pages Bobby was reading from Dick’s briefcase, and it looks like their master plan involves power plants somehow.  The maps identified federal lands and power plants all through the US and there was a schematic blueprint of something.  I’m still not sure what power plants, a business man rising to power, and a race of man eating water creatures all add up to, but I imagine that’s the message Bobby is going to try and get through next episode.  



In between all this Leviathan drama and total strangeness over another Biggerson’s wall of weird event (I swear this restaurant chain has more freaks in it than Smallville), some character exposition did happen.  Mostly with Dean.  I find it very interesting that there was very little difference in his mindset when he was stoned by a sandwich and when he was upset in the beginning over not having the basic comforts in life.  The difference was only in attitude.  Of course Dean should be at the end of his rope right now.  That seems far healthier, and normal to me, than Sam’s new uplifting mantra that there are people out there worse off than him, even though he’s seeing Lucifer 24/7.  If Sam doesn’t think that his “umbrella of crazy” isn’t gonna blindside him one day, he’s got another thing coming.    

Dean has a great point and has every right to question, “What if the world wants to end?”  How many times do they have to steer thbus away from the cliff?  I’m more worried about Sam and Bobby mindlessly thinking that their job is to save the world and they shouldn’t be questioning why they should save it.  At what point to they get a break?  



Not anytime soon, thanks to the ending twist of fate.  I’m actually worried for Bobby.  I know that grave injury and death isn’t something we viewers of this show get too caught up in since it’s happened a lot, but taking Bobby out of action one way or another is probably all it’s going to take to push both Sam and Dean over the edge they been teetering on all season.  How will these brothers react to not having their rock there to knock some sense into them and keep them from losing their minds?  How will they handle not having around the one person they can go to for solid backup and sorely needed information that keeps them breathing?  I doubt that either are in great shape to help the other right now.  If that’s true though, is this going to result in us watching Sam and Dean barely muddle through for the rest of the season?

 

I know it all started with just Sam and Dean out on the open road, so why not go back to those basic roots?  I’ll tell you why, because it isn’t practical.  Back in season one, they weren’t up against what they are now.  They were taking on urban legends before.  Now they’re taking on freaking apocalypse 2.0 (or perhaps 2.5).  Why must they lose their allies, why must friends like Castiel and Bobby not be part of the equation?  It’s their support network that adds richness to the story and gives a stronger faith in humanity to their plights.  The stakes seem higher when more than two guys take a vested interest in saving the world.  Other people/beings if anything validate what they are doing as meaningful.  Otherwise, you see Dean’s point, why should the world be saved?   

So, bring on the midseason finale, let’s see how bad things get for our heroes.  We need a month to get all worked up about something anyway.  Overall grade for “How To Win Friends and Influence Monsters” is an A-.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!