Supernatural Review: Hounded

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Supernatural Season 8 has stumbled a bit trying to find its footing, and while the flashback stuff was interesting for a while, I'm really liking the whole "knowledge is power" aspect that's recently been at the forefront.

Sure, I guess having a variety of tablets - and now the introduction of Men of Letters - followed by the need to complete God's three trials to close the gates of Hell sounds like a lot. There's even a real potential to spread the show too thin with everything that's going on, something I think that happened to Supernatural Season 7.

Yet, with "As Time Goes By" and "Everybody Hates Hitler" really embarking Sam and Dean on a journey with a purpose, "Trial and Error" was a nice follow up that continued on that larger mythology path.

Closing the Gates

What really comes down to it, though, is the fact that for the most part, Sam and Dean are on good terms. They aren't overly upset with each other. They aren't running away. They're not moody.

The whole Men of Letters and the lair of supernatural info has given Sam a true calling, a definite background that's right up his alley. He's in tune with what's going on and he's determined to see the job through.

Dean now has a sense of home, something he's never really had before. Oh, and memory foam. Plus, it turns out, when he's nesting, he's a fantastic Top Chef cook.

Overall, it's nice to see that continuation of the brothers on the same side, working together in relative harmony. And now, finally, Kevin discovered how to close the Gates of Hell. Surprise, surprise, there's some special trials involved before that giant task can be done.

The first trial involved killing a hell hound and bathing in its blood. Gross, but obviously just another day for the Winchester brothers.

It's a great call back to demon deals and I was curious how they were going to find one, let alone see a hell hound.

I always thought that the real reason we never got to see the hell hounds before was because of budgetary reasons, which was fine. Having invisible dogs followed by major blood splatter worked.

Yet, turning Sam and Dean into mini Clark Kent's with their holy fire glasses was a neat trick that allowed us to see what those hell hounds looked like. I liked seeing the blue tinted creatures for a few moments and it never felt like their scariness was hindered or ruined because we did get to see them.

I was disappointed, however, that Crowley never made an appearance alongside his dogs. I mean, he did happen to be the demon that was there 10 years ago for the oil rich family. So, why wasn't he there? It's not like he's never going to figure out what Sam and Dean are up to. Was it just simply to connect Crowley to the dog that was going to be used?

At the same time, I was really pleased with the brothers' conversations with each other.

I was a bit skeptical of Dean throwing out the "stay safe Sammy" and "this is my job" comments because it has already been done. I know, it's how Dean thinks because he is the big brother, but I was simply afraid it was Supernatural pulling a tired Dean feeling out because they needed something for the brothers to argue about.

Even with Dean wanting Sam to have that normal life, and fighting tooth and nail to do so by taking on the trials alone, I understood his view.

But it was Sam telling Dean that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for both of them that spun it all around. Rather than working alone, the two can work together to beat the evil.

After all, that's how they survived the hell hound attack this go around with Sam jumping in to save his brother.

Now, I'm sure some might feel that once again Sam is getting to do the super power stuff (his psychic kid powers, demon blood, etc), but I don't mind, especially because Sam is gung ho about hunting again.

Really, if the brothers stick to working together, that works for me.

It does make me wonder about the other trials and what will happen when all three are complete. There's no way Crowley is going to go down without a fight and there's got to be some sort of consequence or fine print that goes along with the trials.

I think it's a fun direction that adds to the already heavy layer of info based power.

Now, was the oil family a bit campy for the episode? Yes. Can you believe Dean turned down sex? No, even if it was funny how flustered he got when Ellie was coming on to him. But all in all, the hour was a good solid follow up that has Supernatural focused on a positive path with a Sam and Dean Winchester that we know, love and are excited to watch both fight the bad guys.


Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (161 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I can't quite make up my mind about this episode - it was reminiscent of previous seasons, but but but...
Yes, it was good but the early part of this season has poisoned this show. The Samelia crap and Sam wanting a normal life (which HAS NOT been an issue since Season 1) has sucked out a lot of the joy for me.
Please writers, explain WHY Sam didn't look for Dean, abandoned Kevin and why he recruited the unstable Martin to hunt a vampire Sam had no reason to distrust. It will go far to repair the damage that has been done to Sam this season. Sam has regressed to the Stanford era. This is not mature.
Dean needs a stronger storyline too - I'm hoping this show will improve. Won't give up yet.


And we're back to Sam being the hero and Dean the protector. I'll check back in when Dean has a freaking storyline.


I loved this episode! Dean getting his own room and a bed that "remembers" him was great. I loved both of the speeches from Dean and Sam. I just hope that Sam taking on the trails doesn't end bad for him. I do have one question for the writers of the show - In season 4 Cas told Dean that ALL profits are protective by arch-angels why isn't Kevin?


Wondering about the glow on Sam's arm. Maybe each task is more difficult than the previous one, and killing the Hellhound was the easiest one. Accomplishing that, he got a "booster" to make him strong enough to take on the next task. And if he succeeds in that, maybe he will get a final booster for the last task.


It was above average; as reviewed it pulled out old plot elements but did tweak them slightly. Both are now committed to Sam closing the gates of Hell. Dean finally accepts Sam is no longer a little boy Stanford dropout forced into the Hunter life (like the flashback showing them with much younger faces). Keeping Crowley and Castiel out of the episode was good; let it focus on how Dean/Sam have changed and give Kevin some much needed character development.


Excellent episode! SPN is back on track!!!


I am glad the writers appear to be on the right track with this season so far. If CW doesn't pick it up for Season 9, perhaps SyFy will take it on.


I was glad to see that the writers appear to be heading in the right direction with this season. We don't need to see Crowley every week...we need Castiel in more episodes. (Sorry, born-again).


Good show love the special effects. Dean's face when the Hellhounds were to close to Ellie and then the Hellhound it self. Broke my heart when Dean took his Mom's picture out of hsi wallet and put on his desk. He misses her so. Nice that he is nesting and cooking taking care of his family is all he has ever wanted and all he ever gets. No story line at this point (i'm holding out hope) other then to keep Sammy safe. Sam now has a new found purpose embracing the MOL and now taking on the trials since he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. Sam's speech was lacking. Now but your self in Dean's place -- and you hear this “I want to slam Hell shut too, OK. But I want to survive it. I want to live. And so should you. You have friends up here, family. I mean, hell, you even got your own room now. But what Dean hears is that Sam was to survive it but not that Sam wants Dean to but Dean himslef shld want that. I had a friend Benny but had to let him go, so you dont kill him, I have family you Sam who did not bother to look for me. But you are right hell I have my own room now. Where was the come with me I need my brother by side I love you man I'm sorry. We all know Dean is not going to let this alone he never does this is were the new conflict comes from. I wld love to see them both do the trails together but after seeing what happended to Sam when he read the ritual the same person has to do all three to gain full powers to close the gates of hell. So Dean may get to be the brawn and get his ass kicked so Sam can pass the test but that is it. Why dont the writes see that he is so important to the story instead of pumping him up find out exactly who he is and what his purpose is spending a year in purgatory clarified all this for him. But he still remains a care giver.


Hope this show last for years to come.. Love it.. Sam & Dean are great actors and really hot brother.

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Supernatural Season 8 Episode 14 Quotes

Do not let JR and gang out of your sight.


Because it's what I do, and buddy, I'm the best