Man's Best Friend With Benefits
Written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming.
Directed by John Showalter.
Air Date: February 20, 2013.
Sam and Dean drive to St. Louis, Missouri, after getting a text from James Frampton, a police officer who once saved their lives during a case with a lunatic alchemist. While Dean is on a beer run, Sam hears scratching at their motel room door, and opens the door to a Doberman pinscher in a red collar. When Dean returns, Sam explains how he only wants to keep the dog overnight until they can find her owner, only to turn around and see that, instead of the Doberman, a beautiful woman with a red collar around her neck is lying on his bed. This woman is named Portia. She explains that after working the case with the Winchesters, black arts and witchcraft became the center of James' life. James became a witch and used his powers to clear cases as a homicide detective. Portia also reveals that she is James' familiar, and she was the one who sent the text. James has been suffering from horrible dreams where he murders people, who end up dying, and she believes Sam and Dean are the only ones who can help James.
For this episode = 3 humans (one of which was a witch) and 1 familiar.
For the series so far = At least 876 humans (of which 7 were witches), 121 demons, 59 angels, 48 ghosts, 43 vampires, 36 Jefferson Starships, 19 zombies, 19 gods, 10 hellhounds, 7 skinwalkers, 6 changelings, 5 shapeshifters, 5 werewolves, 4 ghouls, 4 Leviathan, 3 djinn, 3 dogs, 2 Amazons, 2 arachnes, 2 kitsunes, 2 rugarus, 2 Thule, 2 vetalas, 1 crocotta, 1 dragon, 1 fairy, 1 familiar, 1 Khan worm, 1 lamia, the Mother of All, 1 okami, 1 phoenix, 1 Purgatory creature, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 reaper, 1 shojo, 1 shtriga, 1 siren, 1 wendigo, 1 whore of Babylon, and 1 wraith.
- Alchemy Is Magic: James helped the Winchesters in a case with a lunatic alchemist.
- All Witches Have Cats: Subverted Trope for James, who has a dog, but we meet another feline familiar. A black cat, of course.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Spencer says to James that he should talk to someone about his nightmares in which he kills people. James retorts that since they are witches, they don't get to "see" anyone.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: James, who helped the Winchesters fight black magic, has become a witch.
- Artistic License Geography: East Saint Louis is in Illinois, not Missouri.
- Astral ProjectionJames: A witch can go to a place without having to go to a place.Dean: What, like phone sex?James: Astral projection.
- As You Know: Sam has to explain basic facts about witchcraft, such as what a familiar is, to Dean. While Sam is often Mr. Exposition, this was done to the point where it created out-of-character moments, considering that Dean knows a lot about lore in general and witches in particular, since he hates dealing with them so much.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The witch bar.
- Bad Powers, Good People: James tries to use witchcraft to solve murders, but Spencer points out that he has taken on too much by trying to be a witch cop and that he cannot exist in both worlds.Spencer: Life in this realm is life on the fringe. We don't fit. How do you reconcile what you are with what you do?
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Discussed. Portia has sex with James while in her human form, which Dean understandably finds a bit disconcerting, since she spends half of her time as James's dog. Sam later compliments Dean that he went a whole 15 hours without making a bestiality joke.
- Big Bad Friend: Spencer acts like he's genuinely concerned about James's problems, but it turns out that he orchestrated all of it.
- Big Brother Instinct: Dean checking on Sam and wanting to take over the three trials.
- Blood from the Mouth: At the end of the episode, Sam coughs and bleeds from the mouth, hinting that completing the first trial of God may have bigger health consequences than they thought.
- Bond Creatures: Portia says the familiar chooses her master and they become inseparable.Portia: The master and the familiar, there's an unbreakable bond. Like a melding of souls.
- Bond One-Liner: "He was always spineless."
- But Not Too Black: Portia in her human form.
- Catapult Nightmare: James awakens from his nightmares, in which he kills random people, by jumping up in his bed.
- "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate: Curly vs Shemp.
- Chained to a Bed: Sam and Dean tie James to his bed with iron shackles (nullifying his magical abilities), so he can't kill people. Unfortunately they have to take them off so he can use astral projection.
- Continuity Nod:
- In "We Need To Talk About Kevin" (S08, E01), it was established that Dean does not allow dogs in the Impala and does not seem very fond of dogs, although after the hellhounds, there's no reason he would be. In this episode, Portia realizes that Dean is not a dog person.
- After Sam sees that Portia transformed from a dog to a human, he draws a knife intending to perform the Impostor Exposing Test we saw Dean put Sam through in "We Need To Talk About Kevin" (S08, E01) and the brothers put their grandfather through in "As Time Goes By" (S08, E12). Before Sam can cut her with the silver blade, Portia explains that she is a familiar and not a shapeshifter.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Despite this being James' first appearance in Supernatural, he is introduced as having saved Sam and Dean's lives during a case with a lunatic alchemist.
- Daydream Surprise: They're technically night dreams, but James's nightmares are not revealed to be dreams until the moment he wakes up.
- Didn't See That Coming: Dean is surprised by James and Portia's relationship. Although it seems odd that Dean didn't catch on to what intimate signaled.Portia: Tonight, James and I were close, without psychological walls—intimate.Dean: I don't...Sam: They had sex.Dean: Wow. I, uh, didn't expect that.
- Disposable Sex Worker: At the start of the episode, James has a nightmare in which he arrests a prostitute, but then kills her. Spencer actually did it.
- Disposable Vagrant: Ed Stoltz wraps the case up as "vics who meant nothing to nobody". The dreams revealed the death of a white female prostitute and a blind black man.
- Disproportionate Retribution
- Distracted by the Sexy: Dean and Sam find Portia hot when she challenges them.Portia: [to Dean] So why don't you lose the ignorant bigotry for maybe 2 seconds and give him a shot?Dean: That was incredibly hot.Sam: It was pretty hot.
- Don't Try This at Home: Spoofed. Dean jokes "kids, don't try this at home" after he disintegrates the evil witch.
- Dreaming of Things to Come
- Driver Faces Passenger: Dean gives Sam repeated prolonged meaningful stares while driving the Impala in the last scene.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: Pictures of the Gateway Arch are hanging in Sam and Dean's motel room, signaling they are in St. Louis.
- Entitled to Have You: How Spencer feels about Portia.Spencer: Can you imagine the insult when she chose you? I wanted her as my soul mate the moment I saw her. She was meant to be my familiar.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Portia approached Sam in her dog form to gauge whether they would be likely to help James.Portia: I get a more accurate read on people in my other persona. Approaching guys in a motel room like this—well, it gets complicated.
- Familiar: Portia and Philippe LeChat.
- Fantastic Racism: When Dean expresses his reluctance to help James because he is a witch, Portia tells him "to lose the ignorant bigotry".
- Fighting Down Memory Lane: Of the Mind Rape variety.
- Frame-Up: Portia and the Winchesters work to clear James' name.
- Friends with Benefits: Averted. Despite the episode title, James and Portia seem to have a deeper relationship.
- Get Out!: James shouts, "GO!" to Portia, when refusing to let her help fight Spencer.
- Green-Eyed Monster: A lot of Spencer's motivation is jealousy that Portia chose Frampton as her soul-mate. The rest is because she and Frampton are boning.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Sam, but not Dean.
- Hollywood Dress Code: The prostitute in the teaser is wearing fishnets and red pumps.
- Hypocrite: Spencer's calls James out for being arrogant and entitled for starting a sexual relationship with his familiar Portia.When its obvious that Spencer feels he deserved to have Portia as his familiar,and would more than likely rather be in James' shoes.
- Insistent Terminology: Portia is very insistent to Dean that she is not James's pet.
- Interspecies Friendship/Interspecies Romance: Portia and James.
- I Owe You My Life: Sam and Dean come to the assistance of James because he once saved their lives, although Dean doesn't think it is as big a deal as Sam.Sam: Yeah, well. We do owe him.Dean: The guy saved our lives once, Sammy. I mean, it's not like the guy—Sam: Saved our lives?
- Killer Cop: James appears to be this in his dreams.
- Kill It with Fire: Sam and Dean try to kill James by setting him on fire when they're convinced that he committed the murders. Portia stops them just in time.
- Meaningful Name: Portia from The Merchant of Venice was a master of disguise and, despite being bound by her father's engagement challenge, uses a song to make certain that the suitor she favors wins her hand. Portia in this episode is a familiar who chose who would be her master.
- Mindlink Mates: Portia reads her master's mind while having sex, and sees his memories of the murders.
- Mind over Matter: The witches have the ability to move objects with their minds. In the witch bar, two witches are shown playing a chess game without using their hands. Spencer makes great use of it when he's revealed to be the villain. Through telekinesis, he snaps Philippe's neck, throws Sam and Dean across the room into a wall, and levitates James up in the air while apparently crushing him.
- Mind Rape: The evil witch subjects Sam and Dean to flashbacks of their worst memories. Sam sees visions of his time in the Cage, and Dean has to see the death of his mother and his time in Hell.
- Moral Dissonance: Despite the fact that hunters use magic and the Winchesters even use one of Bobby Singer's spells to kill Spencer, they are suspicious of witches because they use similar spells and magic. This could have something to do with the fact that witches are generally in service to a demon for their power and have a tendency to kill people, however.Dean: Witchcraft? James, really? What the hell are you thinking?James: You come to help or pile on?Dean: I'm just saying, you screw with that stuff, you're going to fry your wiring.
- Morphic Resonance: The familiars' animal forms resemble their human ones. Portia is a brown-skinned woman with black hair, and her dog form is a Doberman pinscher, which has mixed brown and black fur. Philippe LeChat's face vaguely resembles that of a cat.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Spencer is jealous of James because he fell in love with Portia, but she chose to serve James over serving him. His attempt to kill him is unsuccessful, but he does discredit him enough that James is forced to leave town with Portia.
- Neck Snap: Spencer kills his familiar Philippe LeChat like this when he talks to James, using only his mind. If Spencer is to be believed, he literally removed LeChat's spine from his body rather than break his neck, but the visual effect is still there."He was always spineless."
- Not Himself: James states that he couldn't have been himself when he murdered innocents.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Sam thinks Dean will be angry about the dog that wandered into their hotel room, and tries to convince him to let "her" stay the night. Dean looks into the room and sees a beautiful woman lying on the bed. Sam is understandably confused by Dean's instant agreement.
- Plot Allergy: Dean, who is allergic to cats, can't stop sneezing around Philippe LeChat.
- Psychic Link: A witch and his familiar have a mental link.
- Punny Name: Philippe LeChat is a feline familiar. "Le chat" is French for "the cat".
- Shapeshifting Lover: Portia to James. She mentions that it's usually considered inappropriate.
- Slave Collar: When Portia transforms into a human form, she still wears her dog collar.
- Wicca: Dean pretends to be a Wiccan from Detroit.
- With Great Power Comes Great Perks
- Wizard Duel: James and Spencer hold a very brief one. Spencer quickly proves that he is much stronger than James, forcing Sam and Dean to save him.
- You Look Familiar:
- Curtis Caravaggio, who plays Spencer Wallis, also played Mark Telesca in "Provenance" (S01, E19).
- Serge Houde, who plays Ed Stoltz, also played Professor Mason in "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" (S02, E04).
- If this counts, the location used for the witches' bar is the Starkman Building, which is also used for exterior shots of Paddy's Pub from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- Your Worst Nightmare: James is tormented with nightmares of him killing people. Turns out that they were implanted memories