By John Keegan
If someone would have told me, at the beginning of this season, that “Fringe” would be renewed before “Supernatural”, I’d have laughed myself silly. Not just at the notion of either show coming back (I was sure this was the swan song season for both epics), but at the thought that cancel-happy Fox would allow a loss-leader like “Fringe” to survive, despite its creative and critical praise, while the struggling CW would even consider letting one of its few successful shows to slip away. I still think that “Supernatural” is as sure a thing for an eighth season as it gets right now, but it’s definitely a symptom of how weird this season has been for the traditional networks.
Turning to this episode specifically, I’m not sure how they could have bounced back more from the disappointment that was “Of Gave Importance”. Not only did they finally reveal what the Leviathans’ plan really is, but they also brought in Felicia Day in one of her most adorable turns yet. Needless to say, those who love Felicia probably spent the episode with a permanent Joker-sized grin on their faces, while those less enamored were out of luck.
In recent years, Felicia Day has become the genre equivalent of Zooey Deschanel. While Deschanel has been involved in more than her fair share of genre projects, she’s typically viewed as more mainstream. Deschanel’s claim to fame, so to speak, is a well-cultivated quirkiness that has been termed by her devotees as “adorkable”. Those who love her do so because she embraces the kind of oddball behavior that we recognize in ourselves, but society tries to keep hidden.
Felicia Day is the geek analogue to Zooey. It’s not that she plays a geek on TV and capitalizes on the stereotype; it’s more than writers all but fashion characters to reflect Felicia and her very open online personality. Anyone who strays into the orbit of Felicia-World knows that she walks the walk, and she’s happy to talk about it in detail. Charlie could have been a walking cliché, but because she was written to be played by Felicia, it’s nothing less than authentic. If anything, it’s what fanboys (and a lot of fangirls) imagine it would be like to run into Felicia in the real world.
It may sound like this review is just an excuse to praise a favorite actress, but it actually pertains to the episode and the series as a whole. “Supernatural” has always struggled to find the right kind of female characters to bring onto the show, but Charlie takes most of the hurdles that such characters encounter and blows them to pieces. For one thing, she’s openly gay, so the whole problem of “potential love interest” is moot.
But the main thing is what the Brothers Winchesters affirm throughout the episode: Charlie feels like the younger sister they never had. Sam clearly enjoys the chance to let out that geeky side that usually ends up getting buried. Dean, despite his usual derision being right there on the tip of his tongue, even seems to hold back a bit. And Charlie has incredibly useful skills, which they can’t help but admire. As much as it would get tiresome with too many revisits, one can’t help but hope Charlie returns in the future.
Beyond delivering a heaping pile of awesome for Felicia fans and geek-lovers everywhere, the caper in Dick Roman’s domain also forces Bobby to face his killer for the first time since he gained enough control to interact with the real world. If nothing else, the previous episode’s primer on ghosts set up the notion that feeding his rage is the last thing Bobby wants to do. This sets up an interesting problem, as Bobby struggles to control his urge to attach whenever Dick is around.
With three episodes to go in this slightly extended season, the stage has been set for the showdown with the Leviathans. The Winchesters have something that Dick needs to fulfill his master plan, and discovering its nature and purpose will likely require the return of some assets currently waiting in the wings (of a mental institution). And this episode serves as the perfect launching pad for the games to begin!John Keegan is Editor-in-Chief for Critical Myth, a partner site of SciFi Vision.