Season 8 of Supernatural is dark. It’s a lot of violence, death, and emotional tension as the boys search for missing tablets that could hold the secret to closing the gates of Hell. It’s no wonder the writers felt the Winchester boys needed a little fun. Hence, “LARP and the Real Girl.”
On the road, Dean suggests a night of fun, which is hard to come by for the boys. Unfortunately, they receive an urgent telephone call. Garth, another hunter, asks them to check out a case: a dead man ripped limb from limb while alone inside his locked apartment. Now they’ve got to investigate a murder instead of seeing a movie, which was how Dean had suggested they spend their evening.
They head to Michigan and interview a man named Lance, who seems to be crazy…until they realize he’s a LARP member of the Kingdom of Moondoor. Lance is violently killed while at the police station, and the boys notice a tree symbol by his body, one they’ve already seen on the first dead man. A visit to Moondoor seems inevitable.
Much to their surprise, the ruling monarch of the live-action game is none other than their friend Charlie (played by guest star Felicia Day), a computer hacker they worked with the year before (season 7) while battling leviathans. Charlie has relocated and set herself up as Queen of Moondoor, hoping to stay safely away from any more monsters. When Sam and Dean arrive, however, she offers to help. A pattern is discovered, but before anyone can put the pieces together, Charlie is kidnapped.
Dean, after shocking the players out of their role-playing by firing his gun, manages to get through to the group that their queen is in danger. He’s told of a mysterious tent set apart from the others, and decides to investigate. Lo and behold, there’s Charlie, locked in a romantic embrace. With a fairy. Turns out, the fairy was called from another dimension by a spell book. She has been commanded to injure and kill members of the LARP game, using the “Tree of Pain” symbol so that her boss might rise to a higher rank, specifically that of king. The fairy’s master is one of Charlie’s royal guards, who proceeds to engage Dean and Sam in combat. Charlie spots a chance to grab the spellbook and destroys it, freeing the fairy, who then returns to her own dimension.
When asked about her future plans, Charlie tells Sam and Dean that she’s going to stop running and remain Queen of Moondoor. The boys turn to go, as Dean says, “This can’t help you,” to Sam, noting that only time will help him heal from the recent wound of losing yet another important person in his life. Sam replies that it might not help him, but it might aid them both to let off a little steam. We are treated to a scene where Dean rallies troops for the upcoming battle with the speech from Braveheart, which, according to Sam, “is the only one he knows.”
This episode was fun to watch for several reasons, one being the cultural references. There were phrases and gestures from Star Wars, The Princess Bride, 30 Rock, Star Trek, and of course, Braveheart. There were some great snarky bits of dialogue between Sam, Dean and Charlie, and a superb minor chararcter, the police officer.
While this was one of the lighter episodes, there was a moral lesson entwined with the main storyline. The man who wanted to be king confessed that he “just wanted to be different”, and that in real life he felt like a loser, while here he could be anyone, even a king. Charlie references this earlier in the episode when she explains the appeal of living a fantasy life to Sam and Dean: reality doesn’t have as much capacity for awesome. It’s an interesting statement about living in the real world with its dull responsibilities as opposed to an alternate reality where we can battle monsters or find a safe haven for ourselves. It ties in nicely with Sam’s storyline this season with his now ex-girlfriend Amelia, as Sam is realizing that he just wanted to escape his ‘real life’ by being with her.
Next week, Supernatural returns — and so does Charlie, who will be calling the boys for help on a case in the new episode,”Pac-Man Fever”.