Supernatural Pac-Man Fever – Redux

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By: Bob Jackson – Supernatural Blogger

One of the most important lessons learned from Supernatural, is that you have to stay for the entire ride, and don’t anticipate the obvious. In Season 8, Episode 20 we have a prime example of exactly what I am saying. The episode begins with Dean waking up in a military uniform and lab coat in the past century, as evidence by the big band song playing on the phonograph. A restyling of the Eureka episode perhaps when they traveled back in time to the 1940’s? But the photo of Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, establishes the time as the precarious 1950’s. He sees a table barricading the door, moves it and he takes a leg as an improvised weapon. Once the door is open, we see bodies strewn all over the floor, recalling The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later. As Dean makes his way down the hall to the elevator, there are shadows of what we assume to be Zombies on his face as they lumber and growl toward him. All rather cliched actions so far.

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We are then flashed backward to 24 hours earlier when the adventure actually started and the fun begins. Sam, still suffering from completing the second trial, cannot even catch a beer bottle which explains why the Winchesters cannot have nice things. But, the most important element in this episode is the re-introduction of Charlie, played at various times by Felicia Day, and how she is becoming a hunter (or would that be huntress?) and reconnects with our boys. She brings a case to the table, found on the internet, where there is a different type of demon who liquefies his victim’s insides and leaves a blue hand print on their arm. An increasing type of banter between the three, establishes there is more to them that just hunters passing in the night. Since Sam is still not able to effectively shoot a gun, and has had no luck with the ladies (in the show at least) Charlie is the designated replacement. Her inexperience shows, mirroring the holding of her FBI Identification upside the same way Castiel did when he was engaged in his stint as an apprentice hunter. The Coroner, in a surprising twist, refuses to allow the faux FBI agents to see the body without the appropriate paperwork. She is clearly the bad guy here as no one, I mean no one, ever refuses a Winchester when they are role playing. Could this be a statement that Governmental Bureaus are full of supernatural demons that destroy you from the inside out??

They uncover a different type of Djinn, with shining cobalt blue eyes and passing as human. While the trio continues their banter with pop culture references and quotes from previous episodes, they search, old and new school style, for a way to deal with this new threat. Charlie goes on a food run, promising not to forget the pie, and is kidnapped. Dean finds out her mother has been in a coma after an auto accident which killed her father. As they continue to investigate they discover the real Djinn is… guess who? Yep, the one and only bureaucratic Coroner. The boys find Charlie and stick the Djinn with the usual silver blade dipped in lamb’s blood. After killing the Djinn, Dean drinks the African Dream root and enters Charlie’s dream “happy place” to find her and bring her back. Uh oh, it is not her “happy place” but a video game called The Red Scare on an endless loop in her head that creates fear, which is a kind of special sauce to this type of Djinn and that is why we started with Dean in the 1950’s. The video game in Charlie’s head is where the cliché’s originated at the beginning of the show. Whew! While in Charlie’s head, Dean convinces her to let go of her mother, the past and the feeling that the accident was her fault. She does and a new day dawns as the boys see Charlie off, leaving an opening for her to return with Sam’s offer “you should come back and dig through our archives.” And in the final homage, we see Charlie saying to Dean, “I love you” while he replies “I know”, from The Empire Strikes Back and the exchange between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Oh yeah, she will be back.

With this turn and a deepening of Charlie’s character, we have the set up for the little sister the Winchester boys never had. They always looked after each other, in a brotherly way, but guarding a sister is different. It adds a certain quality to their male relationship and establishes another family dynamic to the show without the sexual tension thanks to Charlie’s proclivities. It appears the show is establishing another crop of guest characters that will be brought back time to time for an added dimension to the story lines. And if one of these characters becomes very popular, could we see a spin-off in the future? Possibly if the franchise remains strong and if the viewers have the same amount of loyalty they have shown to Dean and Sam.
But first, they have to find Kevin, deal with Crowley, close the Gates of Hell, discover exactly what Naomi is up to and get Cas out of his funk. Did I just sum up Season 9?? I like the idea of Charlie coming back from time to time, however there is the danger of “stunt casting” with too many well-known actors in the genre returning to their roots in television and the show. Guest turns like Paris Hilton, (what ever happened to her BTW?) Mitch Pileggi of X-Files, Corin Nemec of Stargate SG-1 and A.J. Buckley (I miss Ghost Facers) of CSI New York, did nothing to deter from their story lines, I have seen some fans advocate for an appearance of Buffy or one of her crew, or even a cross over from one of the new CW shows like Arrow or Beauty and the Beast, which might be interesting, but would not be a pro-survival activity for the continuance of the show. Supernatural has been successful because the main focus has been on the brothers Winchester. No matter what path they might take or who they may meet, it always returns to that dynamic between the two heroes.

This has been the bedrock of the show; therefore it should not change. Change is a dicey thing for television shows and one element that does not work could spell disaster for the ratings. The fact there is a stable Winchester base of operations has worked; fortunately as I suspect the set decorators could only do so many cheesy motel rooms without incurring some overwhelming emotional anguish. In the last scene, we see this fraternal reaffirmation as Dean implores Sam to allow him take care of his little brother. This statement allowed the fans to mentally and emotionally revisit the scene of little Dean carrying the baby Sam from the demon-invaded Winchester household as a renewal of the aforementioned reason while the show has been so successful. All we can do now is wait and see the progression of the rest of the season and how all this may, or may not, play out. In any event, I for one am going to stay for the entire ride.