Jared_Padalecki_Jensen_Ackles_Supernatural.jpgIn tonight’s “Supernatural,” called “Swap Meat,” Sam switches bodies with Gary (Colton James, of “7th Heaven” fame), a geeky teen who thinks that consorting with dark forces for real is way more diverting than a rousing game of World of Warcraft.

In the opening scene, Sam is seen in a bar, sipping on a banana daiquiri and getting all hot and bothered by the attentions of a cougar. But after the red splat and opening credits, we discover that Sam is really Gary, and to make things worse, Gary, as Sam, winds up investigating a case with Dean.

The conceit is that, post-magical-switch, James plays Gary in the scenes with Dean, who, along with everyone else, supposedly sees Jared Padalecki. Simultaneously, Padalecki plays Gary, who still looks like a skinny kid to his family and especially to his two friends, Trevor and Nora, who went straight past ouija board and landed on Make a Deal With the Devil (too bad the “Reaper” guys aren’t still knocking around Vancouver to warn them off of this little plan).

Along the way, Sam suffers serial teen humiliations and gets a taste of life with parents, a sister and high school. Meanwhile, Gary enjoys working with Dean to help the brothers’ former babysitter and her family with a “poltergeist,” and he especially likes living in a hot body that doesn’t have a wheat-gluten allergy.

By the way, Gary’s also a font of knowledge about the case and reasonably handy with lighter fluid.

But, Gary’s delight at torching a ghost, his appreciation of Dean’s taste in music and his uncharacteristic eagerness to share his brother’s love of grease and red meat soon make Dean very suspicious.

Back in teen land, Trevor and Nora, who are also junior Satan worshipers, truss Sam up and summon a demon to make them rich and popular. OK, Trev wants to be rich and popular; Nora just gets possessed. Trev winds up neither rich nor popular — and no longer alive.

Apparently the other part of the plan is that Gary will kill Dean for the bounty from Hell, but having a gun pointed at him helps Dean figure it all out.

Dean gets the truth out of Gary, whose awesome Latin skills come in handy in exorcising the demon-possessed Nora when she arrives.

In the end, Nora is freed, and Gary gets to go home — complete with a little pep talk on healthier, non-Satanic forms of rebellion from Sam.

After “Sam, Interrupted,” last week’s psycho-heavy episode, “Swap Meat” is a chance to lighten up, have a little fun with the characters and recite a lot of Latin. That’s become the pattern and the secret of “Supernatural,” which lives in a very scary world but doesn’t always dwell on the negative.

Oh, and there’s the awesome “Supernatural” music, which this week features Bob Seger’s “Rock ‘n Roll Never Forgets.”

Just one thing that confused me. At one point, Sam is called “Sasquatch,” referring to the fact that Padalecki is freaky tall. But when Dean’s talking to Gary, supposedly in Sam’s body, he’s looking down. Although, it must have been a nice change for Jensen Ackles, who perpetually looks shorter than his actual six feet.

I have to say, though, I’m missing wingman Castiel, and I’m ready to get back to some angel action. The war to save all mankind has been on the back burner for a couple of episodes, and while “Sam, Interrupted” was a satisfying character study, and “Swap Meat” was fun, I was happy to both Cass and rogue angel Anna in the preview for next week’s episode, “The Song Remains the Same” (formerly titled “Back to the Future II”).

Why We Laugh:

Gary (as Sam): “Crystal, I would love to have the sex with you.”

Trev: “I wouldn’t exactly call praying to our Dark Overlord goofing around.”

Dean, to the demon, after much Latin-ish incantation, “Adios, bitch.” Gary: “It’s ‘adinos.'”

Sam to Gary, about Nora, “She doesn’t like Satan, moron. She likes you.”

Posted by:Kate O'Hare