otherwise known as ‘screw the pooch’ - I have NO IDEA why this ever passed the idea stage, much less got made into an episode of SPN. And let’s break down Mans Best Friend With Benefits.
Premise of story, female familiar (who can change from a woman to a dog) decides to become the servant of a male witch. She wears a bright red dogcollar with studs through the entire episode, even when the other familiars (in particular the other featured male familiar) do not - add to this the familiar is a black woman and the witch a white man.
I suspect that this ‘love story’ was supposed to evoke the bigotry of the miscegenation laws in the US, we are supposed to root for this couple because their love is taboo - a romantic sexual relationship between familiars and witches are not allowed in the magic world. This is never explained, but common sense would dictate, in a case where the familiar gives over their lives in service to a master (and she calls him master) there are consent issues.
We are supposed to see the woman as empowered throughout this nonsense, because she ‘chooses’ to be a slave, she wears a collar with pride - she even mounts her Master during sexual intercourse - however during the interlude the witch is chained down by Sam and Dean Winchester, (no kidding) which negates whatever power this was supposed to signify.
When the couple is forced by their community to face the consequences of their relationship, the witch decides to push the familiar away (for her own good) while he goes to confront the enemy alone, reinforcing that he has all the power in the relationship.
When she goes to his rescue - in loyal obedient dog form - implying that her real power is as a animal, not a woman, we hear the Winchesters (who throughout the story are mere bystanders) make the shocking revelation that they find this doglike devotion sexually arousing. Honestly, if I didn’t adore this show for years, I would have stopped watching the series right there.
At the end the familiar and her master are run out of town after defeating the enemy (another white man) who as well as being appalled they were breaking cultural taboos, wanted the woman as his slave.
The couple say goodbye to Sam and Dean to remake their lives, let me add here that the familiar grew up in the witch community, the male witch ‘adopted’ it as a lifestyle, the familiar must leave her entire community, friends and family, whereas the man loses a career, but it is implied that he’ll do fine wherever he goes.
A bit at the end had Dean saying ‘he likes dogs’ while the woman responds ‘no you don’t’ and I wondered, what is it that Dean isn’t supposed to like, a black woman (Cassie negates this) a magical creature?
I’d hope that as part of Team Free Will Dean will never understand a person choosing to make themselves a slave.
Often when I see a story that goes awry, I consider how it could have been made better, simple fixes would have been, the woman choosing to remove her collar at any point, the couple fighting their foe together, the familiar having the animal form of say, a cat which implies independence, rather than a dog, which implies unconditional devotion, (nothing against dogs) and I don’t suppose I need to remind anyone of the connotation of fierce females as ‘bitches’ but it’s not empowering in this case - but then they couldn’t have used the snarky title.
This was all about ‘titilation’ of the worse sort, it’s lighthanded method of (not) addressing the issues it brought up - of consent, sexism, bigotry, the history of slavery in the US, retcons to the spn canon of witchcraft being a result of demon deals - and let’s not forget bestiality! - made this a perfect storm of wretchedness,
When Dean is flustered considering the couple’s sex life it was the only part of the abysmal episode I could relate to. Now, I might try to erase this episode from my memory, but it’s still there, and the fact this got the greenlight made me despair of the showrunning season eight.