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Before talking in any detail about Friday’s Supernatural, I must first get out of the way the fact that Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters were in it. While this means absolutely nothing to me, it is apparently a big deal. Despite being a fan of a few things in the supernatural genre and tolerant of a lot of fantasy/sci-fi type shows and films, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has never worked for me. It may just be that the show was before my serious TV viewing time. Then again, The West Wing started just two years later and it ranks number one on my list of the best shows ever made. More likely, in my opinion, the show just isn’t very good and I don’t see what the hell everyone is going on about when they say that it is, but that’s just my opinion. There are people out there that think Jersey Shore is the best thing on television, so we can all dare to dream.
With the formalities through, we come to “Shut Up, Dr. Phil.” The episode picked up with one of the most inventive supernatural murders that the show has had in a while, with a woman getting her head cooked in a beehive hair dryer at her local salon in a somewhat Final Destination-esque fashion. That, in addition to a man getting cooked in his hot tub, was enough to pique the interest of the Winchesters and so began the hunt. In a slightly unusual move for the show, it took all of one minute of investigation on Dean’s part for the two to just about figure out what they were up against: a witch. After finding a hex coin at the hair dryer scene, there was once again little time spared before the case took another turn, introducing another victim into the mix. After one being boiled alive and the other being burnt, the natural progression for the killings was obviously to have a floating nail gun impale a man to the inside of a portable toilet.
With another victim came another coin and following some research, Sam and Dean ended up face-to-face with Don Stark (James Marsters), likely the next victim of the witch being the only man with a solid connection to every incident. The usual questioning coupled with the mandatory snooping around the house gave the brothers everything they needed to implicate Stark’s soon-to-be ex-wife Maggie (Charisma Carpenter) as the killer. After meddling in the witch’s affairs and saving the life of her next victim (not her husband), the brother’s cover as hunters was all but blown. However, even if they had managed to be more subtle it wouldn’t likely have mattered as it was revealed that they weren’t just dealing with one witch, but two. Two very old, very powerful and very pissed at each other witches. After somewhere in the region of eight-hundred years together, Don stepped outside the marital bed and so began the summary executions of the people involved with the affair.
Facing a decaying marriage and not wanting to be outdone, Don then joined the mix and started his revenge. killing off Maggie’s best friend and ruining a large art event that she was hosting with the power of his mind. With the war firmly on, the two lovers headed home to have it out once and for all, an opportunity that Sam and Dean attempted to seize to kill the witches off. After getting a death spell slightly wrong, the brothers found themselves at the mercy of the now even more pissed witches, having to revert to an impromptu plan B to save their own lives. With absolutely no possibility of escape, Sam brought the title of the episode into play as he suggested that he and Dean council the angry couple to work through their problems with words instead of outrageous amounts of violence. Surprisingly to both sides, the efforts weren’t in vain and the Winchesters were allowed to leave, making no attempt at a double-cross that would have certainly failed anyway.
Before getting onto the closing scene of the episode, it is important to point out that the Leviathan that has been tracking Sam for a few episodes now played a very minor role in the background of this episode, ultimately catching up to the Winchesters after presumably several weeks of pursuit. Then in came the close of the episode, in which the Leviathan attempted to kill the brothers, with his efforts being thwarted by Don, who is evidently exceptionally powerful. Since their introduction, a point has been made several times that absolutely nothing can really hurt or kill Leviathan, yet Don incapacitated one just by thinking it. After removing one of Maggie’s hex coins from the brother’s room, Don departed, leaving the brothers to take the unconscious Purgatory spawn to Bobby’s.
Despite its good intentions “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” was for me the biggest let down of the season so far. There were clear indications that the episode was pushing comedy above drama, but the finished product wasn’t really funny enough for the episode to be carried in that way. There was little wrong with the plot. It was essentially a good old-fashioned hunt that panned out in a slightly unorthodox way, but once again the humor-over-drama aspect brought everything down a notch. Although it took roughly fifteen minutes of episode time for the brothers to absolutely confirm that their target was a witch, anyone who has any previous knowledge of the show will have known that from very early on. Instead of pushing the spectacular deaths, the episode could have benefited from a slightly stronger aspect of mystery, leaving the reveals until later in the piece with just one final showdown. Nevertheless, “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” remained a fine piece of television. It wasn’t great, but you’re not going to find yourself thinking that you’ve wasted your time on it either.