“Supernatural”: “Pac-Man Fever”

Charlie returns with a secret and Sam’s not looking so hot.

Last week, we had the brief return of Bobby if for nothing else to add himself to the list of fans critics school children characters that wanted to shake Sam and yell, “Why the hell didn’t you look for Dean?!” But we’re past all that, right? Right. Then we lost Benny when he sacrificed himself for Sam. Good times.

This week we have the return of Charlie Bradbury (played by the adorable Felicia Day), a character that is known for bringing a bit of levity to just about any situation. She’s also known for her red hair, tech-savviness, and fondness for brunettes, but I digress… this isn’t her Match.com profile.

It’s Dean’s.

Supernatural recap

The Writer Dronestm gave us a light episode this time around – light on story and light on Sam (don’t think I didn’t notice, WDs) even though we came to learn quite a bit about Charlie’s not-so-cheery background. So there wasn’t a lot to love, but you know me, I’m a glass half full (of vodka) kind of guy and that means there wasn’t a lot to hate either. Sure, we didn’t move the central story along…. and okay, the writing wasn’t stellar… and the performances were just meh… and characterization was all over the place (a theme for this season)… what was my point? Oh, yes! Focusing on the good. Here are three of my favorite bits from last night’s episode:

1. When in doubt, dress up the resident Ken doll.

Dean is pretty. Can we just admit that? Good. Thankfully, this is a fact that hasn’t escaped the crew on Supernatural because, even when the show is not firing on any cylinders, the (I’m sure gay-staffed) wardrobe department finds some uniform, costume, or boxer briefs to throw on Dean and we, as an audience, forget for a moment that we’re not watching late-night HBO.

This episode’s opening sequence was another prime example of the principle: “When in doubt, dress up the resident Ken doll and start handing out bibs like they’re 3D glasses at an Avengers screening.” Dean in an old ARMY uniform (think: Captain America) and he even starts off with a lab coat over it! That’s two kinks for the price of one! Well played, guys. Well played. There was a bit of story tied in there about it being part of Charlie’s Djin-induced dream and playing on her fears related to this particular video game she’d hacked, but really, I wasn’t paying attention because:


2. You’re a good girl, Charlie Bradbury

She’s a divisive character, for sure, but there’s very little denying that she brings to the table a fresh kind of energy and dynamic. Would I like her to be more fleshed out and complicated like the Meg of yesteryear or even that demon Dean was trapped in a cellar with once? Sure. But we’re not dealing with the same creative team and I’ve long resigned to not expecting the same result. It’s a sad fact but a fact nonetheless.

Charlie Supernatural tubml1

What we do get with Charlie is shallow fun that we don’t have to work very hard for. Like the shooting scene in the range with Dean where she easily popped (do people still say “popped?”) a couple of bullets in the target’s head… or the RomCom-style montage she tried to create for herself when Dean was trying to fashion her into a fake FBI agent. It’s superficial and without any value but my gay gene has a thing for girls with guns and RomCom montages. It’s a weakness. And hey, she managed to pull it off, and by “it” I mean distracting the medical examiner (who turned out to be the big bad Djin! Gasp! I know!) while a disheveled Sam and out-of-costume Dean dug for details. That calls for gold stars all around.


Oh, we also learn that Charlie’s mom has been in a coma since Charlie was twelve, following a car accident Charlie feels responsible for since she was the one to call her parents asking them to pick her up from a sleepover because she was scared. Charlie’s been making payments to pay for her mom’s care and has been on the run since. Heavy. Momentary sadface for her but let’s move on because this is an ugly area and I don’t deal with emotion when I’m conscious.


3. Rocky and Bullwinkle Sam Winchester

Sam felt more like the guest star this episode than Charlie did but what we did get with him, I enjoyed quite a bit. Fresh off completing his second trial last episode (springing Bobby from Hell and sending him to Heaven), Sam’s not feeling at his best and it shows (it took him two punches to knock Dean out). Thankfully, both for us and for him, he’s no longer trying to hide it from Dean so Dean goes into full-on protective big brother mode and wants Sam to sit still until he’s feeling better (even if Dean’s not sure Sam will get better).


Like most fans of the show, I come for the scares and the pretty boys but I stuck around for the twisted story of the relationship between these two brothers, so I salivate whenever we’re given glimpses and glances into their dynamic away from hunting. It’s touching to watch that even after all these years and Sam’s towering size (seriously, I’d climb that boy like a tree), to Dean he’s still just “Sammy,” the little brother their dad placed in his arms years ago and insisted he take care of. That’s never going to change and I’m never going to get tired of being reminded of it.

Supernatural Sam & Dean tubml3

Everything from Dean insisting that Sam stay home (seriously, did anyone else get a kick like I did every time Dean said the word “home?”), to his smothering and overprotective ways, to Sam fighting him every step of the way like his usual self, warmed my cold cold heart. And then there’s the fact that Sam looking like a frat boy who’s had a rough night does things to me.


In the end, with me, you can’t lose when you put Dean and Sam’s dysfunctional relationship front and center. Okay, so it wasn’t front and center but it was off to the side with a big neon sign pointing to it. Close enough. It’s best encapsulated this episode by a couple of lines Charlie and Dean say to each other. Charlie says to Dean, clearly about Sam, “What about you? You going to let it go?” to which Dean deadpans, “Never.”

I bet you’re bracing yourself for the bad points now, aren’t you? Well, they’re not coming. The complaints some of us have had since the beginning still apply and they don’t merit being repeated. Instead I’ll take what we were given, which was a bland episode, and say, “Thank you. May I have another?” I’m a masochist that way. I’m also an optimist (even if this episode recycled an enemy we’ve seen before more than once and said enemy once gave us one of the series’ best episodes: “What Is And What Should Never Be”). And it wasn’t all bad; we got to know Charlie and her story a little better… and in true Supernatural fashion, it was sad.


I have to believe we’ll get back on track to a story we feel personally attached to, like in the earlier seasons, and the show has enough fuel left in the tank to pleasantly surprise us all, if not in these last three episodes, then next season. There’s plenty of life left in Dean and Sam, and in their world, to keep us entertained and on the verge of tears for a while yet.

What did you think? Meh or the calm before the storm that will be the build up to the season finale? Let me know in the comments!