Supernatural has a history of pulling wacky, off-kilter episodes out of the bag to keep its viewers on their toes, but I was initially unsure of going straight from a story about how The Wizard Of Oz was real to a tale where Dean gains the ability to talk to animals... while taking on the characteristics of a dog!
As usual though I shouldn't have worried: Dog Dean Afternoon ticked all the right boxes.
The Winchester brothers are investigating the strange death of a taxidermist, when a man is killed at the town's animal shelter and the only witness to both is a German shepherd called Colonel.
Taking a punt, the brothers call up Kevin back at The Batcave, who finds an Inuit spell for communicating with animals. They mix the potion, say the words and suddenly Dean finds he can communicate telepathically with Colonel (voiced by Al Rodrigo).
There's an immediate Vic & Blood/A Boy And His Dog vibe here, with Colonel sharing the same dry delivery as Blood in the cult sci-fi flick, but things get steadily more comedic as first Dean starts to take on the characteristics of a dog and then he discovers he can actually communicate with all animals (they "share a common language, like Esperanto", Colonel explains, "but this one caught on.").
With Dean's new "powers", the brothers do the necessary legwork and track the killer to a local restaurant, where the head chef, Leo (Steve Valentine) is using sympathetic shamanism to gain the powers of creatures he eats.
The horror element of Dog Dean Afternoon came from Leo's treatment (thankfully off-camera. of course) of his prey, but on the other hand the episode had some genuinely laugh out loud moments.
It also touched on the relationship between Sam and the angel that is occupying his body (unbeknownst to him, of course), yet as it didn't directly impact on the season arc, the episode was a solid return to the show's old school "monster-of-the-week" style, especially with its allusions to other shows, such as V and Hannibal.