Last night's Supernatural, "Pac Man Fever," managed to be charming as hell without ever trying too hard — and I mean that in a good way. There were some emotionally intense bits, but they never felt forced. And of course Felicia Day's guest turn as hacker/gamer geek Charlie helped a lot.
One of the things that has annoyed Supernatural's lady-packed fan base is the fact that this is a show that always, always, always kills female characters. Is there a tough woman who can fight alongside the boys? Are you starting to like her? Well, then, she is just plain dead. But is she some whiny lameass who gives womanity such a bad name you want to do the old sorority cunt punt on her? Then you have to see her in episode after episode, probably making out with Sam. At last, this season of Supernatural seems to have found a kickass woman who survives, and her name is Charlie.
Bringing Day into the mix doesn't just break up the bro-monotony (bronotony?) of the Winchesters' relationship. Sure, it's nice to hear her snarking good-naturedly about sexism in the "Men of Letters" choice of secret club name. But the best part is that she brings geek humor into a show whose wit usually vacillates between smartypants meta commentary and butt jokes. It's nice to have something in between those extremes, and that's what Charlie provides.
So OK — what happened this week? Charlie showed up in Kansas on mysterious business, which she claimed was a comic book convention but turned out to be a lot less fun than that. And on her way to the unfun stuff, she stopped by the Men of Letters' hideout to let the brothers know that somebody was killing people and liquefying their organs, monster style. She also revealed that she has an iPad app that looks like a cross between a to-do list and the Monster Manual. I'm guessing it's called Monstr. Or maybe QuickHunt?
After some poking around and a completely goofy fashion montage where Charlie tries on various FBI impersonator outfits, the gang figures out that some subclass of Djinn is on the loose. Usually Djinn kill you by injecting you with happy juice and putting you into a repetitive fantasy world. But these Djinn are basically the stinky cheese lovers of the Djinn world — they only kill people who are scared due to the tasty flavor of curdling blood.
After further shenanigans and Charlie flirting with the town coroner, we discover that (oof!) the town coroner IS the Djinn. And her son has been feeding pretty sloppily around town. When the Djinn catches Charlie and puts the curdle on her, Dean has to do a dream spell thing and jump into her Djinn fantasy world to pull her out. Meanwhile, Sam has to fight Djinn Jr., despite being pretty messed up and weak from doing all those tablet trials.
While Dean and Charlie are inside her fantasy — which is of course from a zombie soldier videogame she hacked when she was twelve — we learn the truth about Charlie's mission to Kansas. Her mother has been in a coma and on life support in a Kansas hospital. In fact, she's been there ever since she and Charlie's dad were in a car accident when Charlie was twelve. Charlie can't bear to let her mom go because she's wracked with guilt about the accident. Apparently they were driving to pick her up when it happened.
But thanks to big brother Dean's big brotherly ways, she faces her fears and finally takes her mom off life support. It's actually a moving scene, and the brother/brother/sister dynamic between Charlie and the Winchesters is working nicely. Sam invites her to be a "Woman of Letters" and everybody hugs. Of course, Charlie only says "I love you" to Dean because duh. Dean.
Having a little sister figure be so emotionally direct with him has a great effect on Dean. He's completely ready to process his feelings. When he goes back into the lair, he is done second-guessing Sam and trying to get his weakened brother to take a rest from the trials. Before Sam can start whining about he's totally ready to get up and hunt, Dean gives him a giant hug and says, "Alright let's go find some prophet." Way to go, Dean. Thanks for everything, Charlie.
Gotta rescue Kevin from Crowley, kids. Tune in next week!
Thanks to Serenada for some of the awesome screencaps.