Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 9: “Citizen Fang”
Written by Daniel Loflin
Directed by Nick Copus
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW
A hunter, an angel, and a vampire walk into a bar sounds like the beginning of a horrible joke, but despite the possibility of it turning out to be a poor decision in hindsight, the addition of Benny to season eight of Supernatural has worked out quite well, with the one episode focused on him being one of the strongest of the season. It was inevitable that trouble would follow Benny, however, just as it was inevitable that Sam would be more critical of Benny than Dean. These factors combined meant that Benny was bound to return, and with the bar being set with his last appearance, there was a good chance this episode would be the first dud with our newest character in the focus. Fortunately, those concerns are unfounded, as the episode delivers once again, bringing up some hard questions about monsters, and forcing the Winchesters to draw the line in the sand with regards to where they stand on Benny.
It was great to see Benny return once again. The show has made very smart use of the character by doling him out in small doses and letting him grow on the audience, rather than suddenly make him the third (or fourth, depending on Castiel’s presence in any given week) member of the Winchester hunting team. Seeing his interactions with Dean have effectively reinforced the bond they both have, and watching the two hunt together has been a treat. Since Dean has come to Benny’s help twice now, it will be interesting to see how Benny repays the favour, and whether or not he takes up vampire killing himself at some point. The biggest looming conflict for Benny, however, is clearly the Winchesters’ impending showdown with the vampire Alpha. While Benny has had no qualms killing vampires he’s had a personal stake against; however, we have yet to see him kill a monster he otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths with since returning from purgatory, and having to go up against the vampire Alpha adds a heightened stake to the proceedings, both of which will certainly make Benny’s decision something to look out for.
Martin’s arc this episode was also fascinating. While the desperation he displayed in needing to prove himself was very reminiscent of Dean in season 6, and his insistence on seeing things in black and white and taking things to extremes just to get the job done was very reminiscent of Gordon the hunter (who still remains one of the Winchesters’ most terrifying antagonists, a very notable feat on a show that has seen the brothers battling Lucifer and Leviathans), he still managed to come off as a unique character with a distinct struggle, creating a sum that was greater than its parts. While his death is regrettable, it was also perfectly understandable. The big question, of course, is how Sam will perceive this event, and whether he’ll choose to pursue Benny out of some sense of vengeance for his actions. Martin’s death also paints a bullseye on Benny’s back if other hunters choose to lay down the law with regards to killing one of their own, which means Martin will still affect things going forward even in death.
One issue with this season as a whole, however, is that the conflict between Sam and Dean seems to be dragging itself, to a point where it’s stretching credibility. The brothers have been through a lot over the past 7 seasons, and the one thing that has managed to pull them through has been their love for each other, a love that helped the brothers prevent the Apocalypse. Yet, this season, the two have been oddly antagonistic towards each other, something that was heightened this episode with Benny being thrown into the mix. Sam has traditionally been the brother who cuts monsters and demons a break, and is aware from his time with Ruby that Dean is able to read the motives of otherworldly creatures quite well, which makes his hostility towards Benny, and to Dean in general, quite odd. Likewise, Dean’s passive-aggressive anger towards Sam, while the basis is somewhat understandable given what we know of the elder Winchester, seems to be carrying on longer and manifesting itself more often than any other grievance Dean has had towards his brother, despite being less severe. The whole thing feels like contrived drama, something that is unnecessary for a show as far advanced as Supernatural.
Overall, however, this was another fantastic episode in a season that has seen the show regain its footing following a shaky couple of seasons. After two episodes of seeing Dean and Benny interacting in current day, it will be interesting to see what present-day Amelia is like. The potential for an interaction between Amelia and Dean is also something to look out for, considering that Sam had declared Dean dead through the length of their courtship. Seeing Amelia outside of the filters of Sam’s memory should also provide some further insight into her character, as well as Sam’s by extension. These points, plus the potential for a post-purgatory Castiel-Benny reunion, make the next episode, which will air on Jan. 9th, one worth keeping an eye out for.