By Paula R. Stiles
[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]
Tagline: Nobody needed to see Kate from “Bitten” again, but she’s back, anyway, and in an episode that’s All About Her.
Recap: Recap of werewolves showing why they are so full of fail. Then we get a little recap of Dean’s demon storyline, with some emphasis on how dark Sam went to “save” Dean and culminating in Castiel telling Dean to take a vacation.
Cut to a biker bar called “Panheads Roadhouse” in Durham, Washington. Easily the best part of this episode pops up in this teaser, in the form of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” (finally, jeez). It’s all downhill from here.
A blonde with red lipstick and a half-moon charm necklace walks in, catching everyone’s eye, including a young bearded guy playing pool. Outside they go for a little nookie, but it quickly turns bloody when she grows claws and slashes his throat. We never see her face.
Cue title cards.
Cut to daytime with the brothers sitting on a beach by the water, drinking beer and wearing sunglasses. Next to them is a sign that says, “Posted: No Hunting.” O the irony.
Dean starts a conversation about Sam’s sling (which he’s still wearing) in which he mocks Sam for “spraining” his elbow after all the other crap he’s been through. Sam changes the subject by asking Dean how he’s feeling and Dean claims he feels great. Why, they’ve got a cooler full of beer. It’s the best vacation ever.
But in truth, he is deeply, deeply bored and he soon brings up a strange item in the day’s newspaper. Dean accurately pegs the “three kills” in the same town as a probable hunt. Sam rather reluctantly agrees and says they should “call some people.” Dean agrees – but suggests they could go investigate, instead. It could be an easy hunt, “in and out.”
“Which happens … never,” Sam points out.
Dean allows this and says the vacation they’re taking is great – but he’s climbing the walls. He needs to “work.” Desperately.
Sam reluctantly agrees to it but only as long as Dean lets him know “if anything goes sideways … like, an inch.” Dean immediately agrees to the leash. He’d agree to anything as long as he can get the hell out of there and on the road.
I don’t want to be a killjoy, here, but just two episodes ago, Crowley was telling Dean he had to kill periodically or go insane, and at the end of last season, told Dean if he didn’t kill regularly, he’d get sick and die. I can sort of see why Crowley hasn’t mentioned this to anyone else on TFW (though it does make him look really stupid, thinking Sam and Castiel can reduce Dean as a threat for longer than five minutes while he still has the Mark when both Dean and Crowley knows better), but why hasn’t Dean mentioned to Sam, Castiel, or both that he needs to kill in order to avoid dying/becoming a demon again, and that he can’t actually be killed permanently? Is Dean really in that much denial? ‘Cause that is a whole lot of denial. Not to mention that the fact Dean isn’t sick basically says he’s not cured because he can’t be human and physically healthy while wearing the Mark and not killing.
And why did Sam think the Spork would work on Dean when an angel blade obviously didn’t do the job and Sam saw that firsthand? But more to the point, if Sam and/or Castiel have any clue about the above, why are they urging Dean to do the worst possible thing for his sanity? He needs to hunt or he’s gonna explode. He does not need to be taking a vacation.
Cut to the King County Sheriff’s office. This time, the brothers are posing as Game Wardens. The sheriff who greets them is happy to see them, though they stumble their way through what they actually intend to do to solve the problem. Dean is particularly off his social skills game. Even so, I like this guy. Too bad we probably won’t see him again.
The brothers establish that all three dead men’s hearts were missing and that the girl who went out back with Doomed Teaser Guy was also a possible victim (Apparently, she’s missing). The brothers privately figure she’s a suspect and likely a werewolf.
They interview DTG’s friend, another biker, who opines that his buddy didn’t deserve to die like that. When they ask her about the girl, he gets cagey, wary of authority figures and sure they’ll think he’s nuts. Of all people, Dean gets through to him, saying he and Sam have both seen a lot of crazy in their line of work. The guy admits he did see the girl again. She was out by a local farm, on the road, bloody. Then she disappeared. Like a ghost.
The brothers quickly decide to investigate that night. Their dialogue as they exit the car indicates they’re still going with the werewolf theory and don’t believe the girl was a ghost (though it would be interesting if the show ever did a monster ghost story). They split up to look around. Dean finds dead chickens with their throats ripped out and scratches on a barn door. He goes inside. It’s possible he’s a little too gung-ho about hunting werewolves, but that could just be my wishful thinking that the Mark is still affecting him.
Dean finds farm equipment and a young woman on the phone, wearing the same half-moon charm bracelet, leaving someone an angry message. Her back is to him, but she sniffs his scent on the air and bolts. She runs right into Sam. Sam looks shocked and turns her around so Dean (and we) can see her. It’s Kate from “Bitten.” The show obviously believes we’ve forgotten all about her, since we get a quick flashback montage.
Cut to her being tied up and snarkily saying she’d thought they’d let her go. Dean says sure, until she “started dropping bodies” again. She acts confused. An early sign that she may not be the wolf they’re looking for (aside from it being an obvious twist) is that she’s not wearing red lipstick.
Then she seems to catch on and says she couldn’t resist the urges, since she didn’t have a “handbook” on being a werewolf. This is a 180 turnaround on her begging for her life before. She tells them to just go ahead and kill her. Dean’s quite willing, but Sam stops him.
Okay, since when has Sam showing pity on a monster ever actually ended well? Not to mention that he showed a lot less mercy toward his brother just last week.
Sam calls Dean aside and tells him he “should sit this one out,” that he’s “not ready.” Meanwhile, they get a phone call and Kate is randomly growing a werewolf nail to cut her bonds (because werewolves suddenly have control over their powers at all times post-“Bitten,” which really negates the whole werewolf metaphor). Yep. Sam done made a bad call about a monster chick. Again. Quelle surprise. She escapes.
Anyhoo, the phone call appears to clear Kate, since it’s the sheriff telling them there’s been an animal attack and it was at the same time Kate was in the barn. Yeah, ’cause there couldn’t possibly be more than one werewolf working together as a pack, or anything.
The brothers, to their credit, do recognize that possibility (belatedly, after she escapes) and Dean is the smarter brother, having palmed her phone. They get the number of her last call, which is to a motel, and head that way.
In the car, Dean calls Sam on the concern about his not being ready to hunt, even turning it back on Sam. Sam is not too thrilled about that, but since he was just instrumental in letting a monster escape, it needs asking. Sam squirms even more when Dean calls him on Lester, which includes a helpful montage of Lester’s arc, showing Sam getting Lester to sell his soul and Dean killing him. Sam tries to turn it back on Dean, which does not work nearly as well as Sam might have hoped when Dean points out that Sam “went dark” looking for him and that there might even have been others Sam screwed over. Dean eventually lets it go, but not after having established between them in no uncertain terms that Sam needs to back off on clearing the air about recent events.
At the motel that morning, Sam finds out from the clerk that a “blonde” was in and out. The brothers see her exit the motel room and then follow her to the woods. Sam wonders what she’s doing. Dean figures it has something to do with “breakfast.” Sure enough, she’s following a man who’s jogging with his headphones, oblivious. They stop her, but she’s not Kate, even though she has the same half-moon bracelet. She claims to know nothing about Kate or what’s going on, but then wolfs out (with some really terrible makeup and acting), knocking the brothers down. Okay, I sort of get that Dean hesitated, but what the hell, Sam? Even with a sling, that’s unusually incompetent of you.
At that moment, Kate barges in and chases her off. As Dean nearly shoots her, Kate proclaims the other girl is her sister. Great! It runs in the family!
Dean, looking a tad insane, wants to shoot her right then and there. Sam tells him that she just saved their lives, so they should find out why her sister is a werewolf. When Kate admits that she turned her sister, Sam looks crestfallen. Yep, Sam, you’re monsterdar still sucks.
Dean really wants to shoot her, now, and Sam is still saying, but you can’t, ’cause reasons. Dean gets mad at Kate and points out they let her go, even though she killed her roommate. Kate claims that it was okay for her to do that because it was self-defense and he was going nuts. Yeah, Kate, let’s forget all about all that instigating you were doing all down the line – and how being out of control and a werewolf was perfectly okay when the out-of-control guy was your boyfriend. The brothers did see your “snuff flick,” dummy.
Some more joggers come along, interrupting the discussion, and trio takes it elsewhere.
Later, in a diner, Kate shows the brothers her exit policy – a silver dagger she really shouldn’t be able to handle (since the crossguard is also silver), that she intends to use to commit suicide should she lose control. Except, of course, it’s unlikely she’d be able to get enough control back to kill herself in that moment, but I’m still mulling over the strange immunity to silver, so ….
Kate pouts, “I’ve never hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it.” Sam actually seems to buy this, which is hilarious, considering the conversation he had just this episode with Dean about how awful it was that Dean killed people who … you know … deserved it. Sam continues to think with the wrong head.
Kate goes on and on and on a lot more about how she uses meditation and eating small animals to control her werewolf urges. Except, of course, werewolves are only supposed to be able to turn on the full moon, and are human at all other times, or they’re not really werewolves. Some kind of shapeshifter/skinwalker but not a werewolf. God, that retcon from “Bitten” continues to suck. Ginger Snaps it wasn’t and neither is this.
Dean looks bored. I feel his pain.
Anyhoo, they move on to her sister, who is a whole different enchilada. Kate bemoans about having left her high-rent school and wandered around (with perfect hair and makeup and pretty clothes, though) for a while. It’s a short story, told in the longest, most tedious, roundabout way possible. With montage. It boils down to Kate getting the bright (not) idea of going back home, but realizing at the last minute that she probably wouldn’t be able to control her “urges” around her family. But she continues to stalk them on social media, until one day, she sees a Facebook announcement that her sister was in a car accident and is dying. That’s when she gets the bright (so not) idea of turning her sister into a werewolf and whisking her off into the night.
Kate claims she gave her sister the safe monster talk, but of course, we already know that didn’t take. In fact, it seems her sister, Tasha, decided to take the “Do Not” list as a road map for bloody fun. Tasha wasted no time breaking the bare ceiling light bulb in their otherwise-quite-nice-motel room and snacking on some random guy. It’s never really explained how Kate and her sister can afford nice motel rooms, but it’s the least of this episode’s ration of stupid. So, let’s just role with that wagon train.
Kate’s big solution is denial. She’ll take care of her sister, get her off into the woods, and teach her loup-garou zen. Which hasn’t worked so far, as the brothers point out, but practice makes perfect, or something. And if this crash course in were-pup housebreaking never takes – presumably way, way down the road after many, many victims – Kate will do what needs to be done. Dean has a look on his face that is the soul of skepticism.
Dean then offers a solution. The brothers know a cure for lycanthropy. Kate needs to take them to her sister so that they can get it started. Kate is skeptical but desperate for a solution, so she agrees. Meanwhile, Sam is squirming and looking very uncomfortable.
Outside, Sam expresses his doubts. There is no cure, not for being a werewolf, so why did Dean say there was one? Dean says that of course there’s a cure – he shows Sam his silver knife.
Sam is a little horrified, even more so when Dean says that putting down monsters is what they do. Sam plays the sibling card, saying the two of them have done some pretty extreme things for each other, so why condemn the sisters for similar dynamics? Dean questions whether that’s okay. Without calling out any of Sam’s own sins (of course not) in broad daylight the way he did the night before in the Impala, Dean asks whether Sam “saving” him was such a hot idea.
Sam begs Dean to just roll with his plan and see if they can get the sisters to stop without harming anyone else. Yeah, ’cause that’s worked so well in the past. Still, Dean agrees.
Later that night, with Sam in the backseat and Kate asleep riding shotgun (Ugh, yes, I know), Sam decides “asleep” means “comatose” and proceeds to unburden himself to Dean as if Kate isn’t there. Sam admits that “there were others” besides Lester. Not other humans, though he did get into some ugly fights with other Hunters, but he did do some nasty stuff to “the bad guys.”
But Sam can’t resist doing a guilt trip when he talks about how Dean died right in front of him and he carried Dean’s body back to the Bunker, back to Dean’s room. Dean rather shamefacedly admits he thought the note would cover any necessary explanations. After all, the whole episode was “embarrassing.” Sam is a little startled by that odd wording, but allows that Dean was a demon (thus absolving him). Dean thanks him. Sam says he never has to say that.
Figuring it’s all resolved, Dean wakes Kate up and asks her for more directions. Kate says they’re going to a cabin her parents own, that she and Tasha established as a rendezvous point if things ever went down bad. As they arrive, Dean shuts off most of the lights (Ackles having fun driving the car), leaving only some side and bottom fog lights that I don’t think the show has ever used on the Impala before. Cool.
Dean asks Kate what her plan is. She says she should go in first and talk to Tasha, but Dean handcuffs her to the steering wheel, instead. She’s furious and curses him out, saying it’s her fault, not Tasha’s, that Tasha is a human-heart-eatin’ psychopath. Dean begs to differ, saying that Tasha “is in too deep” and “you don’t come back from that – ever.” In the backseat, Sam looks creeped out that Dean is pretty obviously and directly comparing himself to Tasha and putting his issues on the girls. And he’s right, but here’s the thing – so is Dean. Tasha, even by her own sister’s admission, is killing people with no remorse. While Dean isn’t that far gone, Tasha definitely is.
Inside, the brothers find a quiet cabin, Dean closing the door behind them. While the brothers case the cabin, Sam sees pictures of the girls and then finds Tasha in a bedroom, holding a doll. Tasha seems disgusted that Kate “betrayed” her. Sam says Kate didn’t.
Tasha coolly informs Sam he won’t be shooting her. When Sam asks why, he hears Dean’s voice behind him. He spins around to see Dean in the doorway, with a guy holding his gun to his head. Really, show? Come on. Dean’s not that rusty.
Tasha tells Sam to drop the gun. Dean says don’t you dare and gets smacked in the head/knocked down for his trouble. Tasha smirks and Sam puts up his gun. God, she’s barely been onscreen a minute total and I am so done with this character. What an arrogant little rich bitch. And the actress is old WB network-horrible. Remember the early seasons of Smallville? That bad.
Kate gets dragged in by another guy from CW Central Casting and demands to know what’s going on. Tasha informs her that she decided to create her own little pack in the equally talentless young men, Brandon and Travis. When Dean calls them the “psycho Brady Bunch,” one of the guys (They’re pretty interchangeable) tries big teeth and halitosis to intimidate him (Oh, baby wolf, you have no idea). Sam tries to intervene, so Tasha herself throws him onto the bed.
Kate finally buys the clue that her sister is EVOL and agrees to join the pack. Tasha tells her to eat Sam, which Kate at first appears to be considering. But then she refuses.
The brothers get taken out to the living room to be … I dunno … dealt with, I guess, while Kate and Tasha have some quality time. Having not the faintest clue how far down the food chain werewolves really are, Tasha declares that she’s not a weak little girl, anymore. She’s a fearsome predator and doesn’t need protecting. In fact, she’s gonna rule the world – or something.
Kate agrees. They hug. And Kate stabs her with the little silver knife she really shouldn’t be able to hold. Also, I love how people stab other people in the sternum (which is over bone and nowhere near the heart, anyway) while hugging them face-to-face. Somebody doing that scene? Please walk through that one again and correct.
Meanwhile, in the living room, Dean gets smacked in the head and Sam punched in the stomach. Even so, the brothers get the jump on Brandon and Travis with the help of some banter about the newbie werewolves being “minor leaguers.” Well … Sam does, despite wearing a sling, and Dean sorta gets in a wrestling match with the other one until Sam stabs him. Yeah, right.
Kate bails before the brothers can get into the bedroom and see Tasha lying dead. Next to a billowing curtain. Subtle, show.
Later in the car, Sam speculates that Dean not killing Kate was a good thing if she could kill her own sister. Dean’s like, really, Sam? How is killing your own sister a good thing?
Sam then wonders (taking equal blame) if they got both got back into the game too early, if maybe Dean is not ready and needs more time to heal. Dean tells him he needed to get back into it, that he needed to do some good. Somebody really needs to tell Sam that the very last thing Dean needs right now is not to hunt. I supose Dean could explain it to him, but I don’t know that Sam would believe him.
Kate calls them. She’s all depressed (Well, she did just kill her sib). Sam commiserates, but she says Tasha was no longer her sister. Dean warns her to keep it clean and “off the radar.” Either Glass forgot about Purgatory or Dean is merciful and doesn’t tell her she’s just condemned her sister to an eternity of kill-or-be-killed (I’d kinda like to see precious little princess Tasha try to adapt to that) and will be heading there soon enough, since werewolves age.
Kate says she’ll try to be good, but makes no promises. When Dean says, “See ya around, kid,” she says, “I sure as hell hope not.” I sure as hell hope not, too. She hangs up and walks off into the night by the side of the road, wearing both her and her sister’s half-moon bracelets. Sadly, she does not walk in front of any trucks with silver grills.
The brothers continue their conversation. As Sam looks worried, Dean admits he may not be ready to get back in the hunting saddle, “but I’m just trying to do the right thing, man. Because I am so sick of doing the wrong one.”
Review: Of the major classic archetypal monsters, easily the least-successful the show has ever done has been the Werewolf. Ever since “Heart,” which started the trend of an underwhelming portrayal of this type of MOTW, the show has gotten it wrong and yet, it keeps trying. It probably doesn’t help that Sera Gamble wrote “Heart” as a sappy tragic paranormal romance and the show continued that trend.
It really doesn’t help that the show’s portrayal of werewolves as rabid people with glowing yellow eyes, big teeth and long Press-On Nails has been about as scary as Malibu Barbie. And don’t get me started on the decision, beginning in season six, to separate the show’s version of werewolves from the most distinctive part of their lore – their being able to turn only on the full moon and their not having the ability to control themselves as wolves.
The idea that they are supposed to turn only on the moon is even referenced by the title, “Paper Moon,” though it’s also a reference to a (much better) comedy from 1973 starring Ryan O’Neal as a Depression Era conman and Tatum O’Neal as a young girl who may or may not be his daughter.
They basically aren’t even werewolves, anymore. Show, just pretend you never did rougaroux and call them “loup-garoux,” already, because that’s what they are. Though you have to be born one of those and not turned like a werewolf.
One of the show’s biggest efforts at reviving the werewolf lore (for no reason I can see) was eighth-season entry “Bitten.” This Found Footage episode got the worst A18-49 demo of that season, had an awful drop between half hours (indicating the show’s usual audience abandoned the episode in droves by halfway through), and was roundly trashed by the fandom as one of the worst episodes of the show. Those of you who’ve read my review of the episode (and perhaps my review of the far-superior Canadian indie film of the same name about a young paramedic in love with a vampire) know I sure didn’t like it. One of the things I hated the most was that the character I liked the least lived to howl another day. Yep, that would be Kate.
Well, imagine my dismay when the show brought that character back in a move reminiscent of season six of 90s fantasy show, Highlander, as a rather obvious stab at a backdoor pilot. I can’t think of any other reason why Kate the Werewolf would return, since she was not, by any estimation, a fan favorite people were gagging to see again.
And then we met her sister and her sister’s pack. I’ve tried not to be too nasty about the talents of actors. Actors often get blamed for the sins of writing and production – and, especially, directing – but the actress who played Kate was terrible in “Bitten.” Very, very pretty, of course, in a gamin, porcelain-doll way that made it obvious why they cast her. But incapable of making Kate the least bit sympathetic, and possessed of the same blank, wide-eyed look for a multitude of emotions and situations.
Well, she wasn’t any better in this episode and the actors who played the other werewolves in this story were actually worse. Lots of scenery chewing, lots of flouncing, lots of overacting and faux’tude, zero charm. Plus, the brothers suddenly being weaker than monsters they’ve hunted a thousand times, and passing the Idiot Ball back and forth.
It doesn’t help that the episode keeps pressing on Kate’s innocence, even though she is anything but. Yeah, she is “only” killing and eating chickens, but the entire situation is her fault. Her sister was dying, so she got the bright idea of turning her into a werewolf. Her sister, one more generation removed from the Alpha, couldn’t control her bloodlust and didn’t seem interested in doing so, anyway. Then she went and turned two other guys who were even less controlled (Never mind that it never made sense Kate was very controlled, anyway, since she was turned by one of the guys who got turned by the “pureblood” and was fairly far down the chain, herself). So, Kate’s selfishness has gotten several people killed in this small town. Killing her sister and running off into the night, no doubt to make even more poor decisions and probably start eating humans in her bleak, existential despair, doesn’t really make up for that.
It doesn’t help that Kate’s sister and her brood are as dumb as a box of rocks, thinking, like Kate’s boyfriend, that they are now supervillains and apex predators, even when the true apex predators (Hunters) come to town. Kate’s sister should have gone to ground immediately, but she refused to believe she could be hunted as much as she was hunting, herself.
Fortunately, aside from the nonsense about Kate and her sister, the episode was merely mediocre. There were some nice old school brotherly moments (especially Dean standing up for himself about Sam’s hypocritical “concern” regarding Dean’s fitness to hunt, which eventually progressed to Sam admitting he was a hypocrite and also genuinely worried). We also saw a fair amount of Sam and Dean onscreen, unlike “Bitten,” where they were peripheral at best. The early parts of the hunt were amusing enough, even though the first “twist” was rather obvious and every plot point regarding Kate was painfully telegraphed a good five minutes before it arrived. Even if anybody had given a rat’s ass about Kate’s journey, that would have made the A plot boring. When you can’t wait for the guest stars to get off the screen so you can get back to the car scenes, that says something about the MOTW.
The B plot involved Dean’s antsiness post-cure. This was far more interesting and it now seems clear that the writers were foreshadowing that the cure didn’t really work. Alas, writer Adam Glass soft-shoes it far too much, particularly in contrast to the heavy-handed anvils of Kate’s story (not least her comparison to Dean and his situation, including a smorgasbord of Dean’s issues with Sam that only poorly related to her relationship with her out-of-control sister), so fans were generally quite disappointed. We were all hoping for some sign that the abrupt cure of Dean’s demon state was not the end of that storyline and instead, we got a lot of vague concern from Sam and restlessness from Dean about hunting.
It also made no sense at the time why Sam got the kill. It felt like a lot of stalling from the writers. In retrospect, it can be seen as Dean “throwing” the fight to make Sam think he’s not violently eager to kill (the way Sam is distracted from the hunt by being convinced that Dean is ready to snap at any time), but even then, it’s more than a little vague.
In the end, the episode reminded me of Opus from Bloomy County‘s one-sentence review of Benji: The Hunted: “It wasn’t bad, but Lord, it wasn’t good, either.”
Dean: Hey, there’s somethin’ I gotta ask you.
Dean: You been kicked, bit, scratched, stabbed possessed, killed … and you sprang your friggin’ elbow?
Sam: Dude, it was more than a sprain, all right? And it was a friggin’ demon, but –
Dean: What? That sling come with a slice of cry-baby pie on the side? Please.
Sheriff: Hell, seen raccoons in rec rooms, bears in swimming pools. But this? You tell me.
Dean [to Tasha]: You’re a regular psycho Brady Bunch!
Dean: You okay?
Sam: I’ve been better. These guys, huh?
Sam: Can you believe ’em?
Dean: Yeah, couple-a minor leaguers.
Newbie Werewolf: Yo! You’re dead. You don’t get to talk! In fact –
[Werewolves end up dead]
Dean: Well, welcome to the Majors, boys.
Next: Fan Fiction: It’s the 200th episode and we’ve got the brothers on a very light-weight case involving privileged schoolgirls doing a musical based on the Carver Edlund books based on the Winchesters’ lives. Hunting meets First World problems. Yay.
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