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Supernatural 9.12 "Sharp Teeth" Review: Cross Purposes

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    This week’s episode of Supernatural, “Sharp Teeth,” was written by Adam Glass and directed by John F Showalter and featured the return of Garth (DJ Qualls). Garth, of course, has been in the wind since abandoning Kevin on his houseboat for a hunt in Portland. The episode presented an interesting standalone case that was a plausible reason for the brothers to come back together and to take time off from their current pursuit of Gadreel.

    As with all Garth episodes, there’s a certain amount of humor in this episode. There’s a fun shout out to Sleepy Hollow when Sam (Jared Padalecki) describes Garth as Ichabod Crane. Orlando Jones who co-stars on Sleepy Hollow has become a dedicated live tweeter of Supernatural, so it was fun to see that obliquely acknowledged. Having the werewolves sit around singing “Bringing in the Sheaves” (wheat sheaves used to make flour, bread, etc) was ironically funny just before they sit down to a crazy lunch at which everyone, except Dean (Jensen Ackles), has a plate piled full of raw meat.

    The mythology of the episode was interesting. Having the werewolves following two paths, with the “bad” ones secretly member of the Maw of Fenris. It was Ragnorak etched into the bullet on the sheriff that tips them off, and I loved that Dean in typical Dean fashion recognizes the word from Norse mythology because of its link to Thor and Loki – no doubt through the movie and comics. However, we have already met Odin in “Hammer of the Gods,” and he even mentioned the myth, saying that he would die when he was eaten by Fenris.

    Overall, however, I found this episode fell short on a number of levels. Firstly, the writers seem to have completely re-written the rule book on werewolves. I expect that the assumption is that once werewolves aren’t first generation, they gain more control over how and when they turn. The reference to the “bitten” may be a reference to the season eight episode “Bitten” in which we learn that werewolves who are closely descended from an Alpha can control when they turn. There is still the point that Garth was bitten – as was Reverend Jim (Tom Butler), so they should have no control over when they turn – forced to turn during the full moon and they should have no control over their actions. In addition, whether it was lazy special effects or lazy story-telling, the werewolves in this episode were completely different looking as well as acting than the werewolves we learned about in season two’s “Heart.” Even the teeth being worn by the actors looked ridiculous. The actors looked like they were wearing badly fitting fangs from a costume shop. In addition to their plastic fangs, they had contact lenses and long finger nails. Not terribly scary.

    It was nice to see the brothers working together and figuring out that the Sheriff was behind the deer killing. Why exactly was the werewolf going to shoot the brothers instead of using his super strength to kill them? Possibly the gun was a safer way to take care of two hunters, but then why let his fingernails and teeth show?

    There were some nice moments between Dean and Reverend Jim. Ackles really sells it as he listens to Reverend Jim tell the story about his wife being killed by a hunter. He tells Dean that “the road to revenge is a dark and lonely one that you never get off.” He goes on to say “and that hole in your stomach? You never fill it. Ever.” He gives up seeking revenge for his daughter, for family. Dean really does get it. It could be John’s story after all, in addition to Dean’s own.

    Qualls and Ackles are both outstanding in the scene in which Dean tells Garth about Kevin’s (Osric Chau) death. Garth admits that he was wrong to have stayed away. At the end of the episode they knock it out of the park again as Garth suggests he might come back to hunt with Dean. Dean tries to absolve him of any guilt for Kevin, insisting it’s all on him. He also pushes Garth away, clearly in an attempt to keep him as safe as possible. He tells him to hold onto the happiness that he can. The scene is nicely shot with a cross stitch of “Home Sweet Home” prominently displayed on the wall behind Dean. Garth has also acted as a catalyst to bring the brothers back together again before and has provided Dean (Jensen Ackles) with some self awareness from time to time.

    Joy (Eve Gordon), the evil step-mother, was hardly a happy (joyful) person. She, of course, is the one ruled by revenge. At least her plan to shoot Garth and Bess (Sarah Smyth) and blame Sam and Dean does require her to have a gun. However, once she and Dean are both disarmed, why does she choose to go for her gun rather than simply leap on Dean? Admittedly, many of my quibbles are small ones that if they appeared in an episode alone would hardly be worthy of comment, but the cumulative effect in this episode was too much to ignore them.

    I was also disappointed by the interaction between the brothers in this episode. Dean really doesn’t want more information on the leftover Gadreel grace in Sam and how Cas (Misha Collins) removed it? He simply makes a lame comment that likens it to Sam having had an abortion? And Sam’s more pissed off that Dean was working with Crowley? He’s less curious about the mark of Cain? There’s no evidence in the show that Sam does any investigating or is concerned about the effects of the mark as it is never mentioned again.

    Both are hunting for Gadreel – or has Dean’s focus turned entirely to Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) for some reason? If they are both hunting Gadreel, it was just a matter of time before they ran into each other. Dean does try to push Sam away several times, lying to him about the surveillance footage at the hospital. It was a nice touch when Sam catches Dean and calls him on it - warning him not to play anymore games while they look for Garth. For his own part, Sam is happy to split from Dean after finding Garth, even though he does tell him to be careful when Dean is investigating the church on his own.
Butler in "Scarecrow"

    Perhaps the most disappointing scene in the entire episode was the final scene. Once again, it seems we’ve had the brothers apart for a pointless ramping up of the drama. It worked in “Scarecrow.” The brothers being apart gave them a new appreciation for what they meant to each other. It was clear that they got into trouble on their own and they were stronger together. We get none of that in this episode. Dean has seen the pack work as a family unit and embrace Garth, so it seems a natural fit for him to try to bring his own family back together and Sam completely rejects this. If Reverend Jim – Butler – looked familiar, it’s because he was in “Scarecrow” as Harley Jorgeson, the one who is willing to sacrifice his own niece – a nice twist in casting as in this episode he rejects sacrificing his family to the Norse god in that episode.
A much more satisfying reunion in "Scarecrow"

    The show is built around the “family business.” Sam concedes that working together makes the job suck less. But while he is willing to work with Dean, he is unwilling to be brothers any longer. While it was nice to see Dean try to apologize to Sam and for both of them to recognize that there is something very broken in their relationship, neither of them really fully articulated anything, therefore, solving nothing. Sam says they don’t see things the same way anymore, yet he never says what exactly he’s trying to accomplish, nor does he really put Dean on the spot for what he was trying to accomplish. They are both clearly working at cross purposes over the events in the past. Perhaps Dean, like myself, understood Sam to agree to abandoning shutting the gates of Hell and choosing to live. I didn’t see that Dean tricked Sam at that point, regardless of what transpired later.
A light moment on set during "Scarecrow"

    Frankly, Sam’s declaration that everything that ever went wrong between them was because they are family seemed to fly in the face of what has been at the core of the show since the beginning. I actually felt that even Padalecki and Ackles are tired of the incessant splitting up and getting back together with no growth to the characters. Dean screws up and tries to apologize – badly. Sam is pissed at Dean, but teams up again anyway. Padalecki does a great job conveying Sam's disdain for his brother. In the end, I really didn’t see why Sam wanted to go back to hunting with Dean. He says he can’t trust him and really seems to hate him. There was equally little motivation on Dean’s part – what happened to wanting to keep everyone he cared about at arm’s length? And is Dean’s primary goal to kill Gadreel or Abaddon? Sam’s goal is clearly to go after Gadreel. Shouldn’t they at least try to determine each other’s agenda before they drive off in the Impala – leaving Sam’s newly acquired 1972 Dodge Dart shamelessly abandoned ? And one final glaring question – where was Cas?

    What did you think of the episode? Did you like this new brand of werewolf? Were you happy to have Garth back? What do you think it's going to take to get the brothers back on the same page? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. One final word about those comments. I’m always happy to see people engaging with an episode in the comments and expressing their own opinion as I have done in my review. I will try to respond to everyone’s comments, but if I’ve already answered a point in a comment elsewhere, I may not respond to yours. In addition, if I don’t agree with your comment and we are clearly at an impasse, I also won’t respond. I do read all of the comments and respond when I feel I can add to the discussion. Thanks for reading and adding to the discussion.

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