It is a testament to an actor and a writer when the loss of a character devastates you. (Frankly? I’m still not over the death of Kevin Tran.) We all know by now: no character is truly safe on this show outside of the Winchesters and the Impala, and, thus, we should be prepared for the hurt. Still, this one, for me? Blindsided. Aching. Angry, even. Oh, Supernatural. When you upset me this much? I almost wish I could quit you.
1. Where’d you get those peepers?
Gotta admit, I wanted this opener to hurry up so we could get to the good stuff. It seemed a little boring initially but looking back? There were so many clues in it about the episode to come. A college girl tries to sign up for a paid research study focusing on eyesight. Hers is 20/20 and the handsome young researcher finds her impressive. Well, parts of her anyway. The “researcher” is actually Eldon Styne, Jacob’s brother, and (after getting rebuffed for his creepy sexual advances) he basically slits the girl’s throat and scoops her eyes out with a medical melon baller. A janitor breaks in to save the day, and Eldon grins a creepy little grin, jumps out the window and drops three stories into the title card. It’s all right there: Styne, a need for human body parts, killing a red haired girl, grinning menacingly, someone too late to save the day. Foreshadowing. It’s what’s for breakfast.
Meanwhile, Sam is in the safe house, yelling at Rowena for the 0.00% progress she has made on the codex during the days she has been his prisoner. Rowena, with her scathing mom face, is unperturbed. She calls herself an artist and she calls him Samuel. (We don’t hear that enough. Swoon.) Sam accuses her of stalling, but Ro makes an excellent point: why would she want to stall? She wants the Mark of Cain off of Dean for her own protection, wants out of captivity, and wants Sam to kill Crowley. Also? She is so petite for such a huge freaking badass.
Sam shouts that he has no issue killing Crowley so what gives? Well, apparently Nadia was a “selfish pig” who coded her code breaker. “So now we need to break a code…to break a code?” Sam asks. “Quick, aren’t you?” Rowena replies. Sam barks that Dean is getting worse and she needs to get it done. I love the way Ro crones her way all over him. She can be a real mother. Especially when she assigns chores. “You won’t forget the grocery shopping will you?” she asks. And Sam, in reply, delivers the most fed up “No” in the history of Nos and have I mentioned that I love him? Connell and Padalecki have excellent chemistry. (Hell, I believe Ruth Connell could have chemistry with a potted plant.) Once I thought she was just going to be Abaddon 2, the sequel. I was wrong. Rowena, to my fascination, always keeps me guessing.
2. Sam Solo
Whilst Eldon Styne is being dressed down for trying to…dress down…eyeball girl and threatening the Stynes secrecy, Dean is at the HuntCave. Researching. While Sam is out doing stuff. Wait a minute. What? Sam comes back, and Dean says he looks like “Crap on toast” and I am sorry, Dean Winchester, but I beg to differ. Dean wants to know if there is a woman Sam hasn’t mentioned. (Yes there is, Dean. It’s me, and he is just trying to be discreet about it so be cool, man.) Sam says, confused, “A woman?” and hey, it really has been a while for Sam, hasn’t it? Huh. Anyway, Dean says he has been running off alone a lot the past couple of weeks. “I do that,” Sam says. “You actually don’t,” Dean says. And mostly? Dean ain’t wrong.
After some very weak dodging and evading (Sam is a lousy liar when it comes to Dean, it must be said) Dean catches him up on his Styne research, which includes blaming them for both Hitler and disco (shudder.) He seems super eager to take a case (which, he hopes, will come to violence) but covers by saying he’s just trying to stay busy. It’s interesting to me to see that Sam keeps talking about how much worse Dean is getting when, on the surface anyway, Dean seems much calmer and happier. There is a certain peace that comes with the acceptance of your fate, I guess. A lesson a Winchester, when it comes to his brother, never learns.
Sam goes to see Charlie after dark, which sounds like a Casa Erotica title but isn’t. Charlie is happy to see Sam, but wonders why he didn’t want to meet at the Death Star (ha!) Sam catches her up by telling her he got a Codex (which is kind of funny, if you have ever seen Felicia’s internet series The Guild) and oh, by the way? He didn’t burn the Book of the Damned. She is definitely not Samused.
“Okay, well,” Charlie says, “Dean wanted it burned, so is he pissed?” Sam laughs a little, ruefully. “Of course. He doesn’t know,” Charlie replies. “Jeez, the two of you!” And look at that! We have an alternate name for the show. Supernatural: Jeez! The Two of You!
Since the codex is encoded, Sam needs Charlie. Charlie asks if there is any part of this situation that doesn’t reek. “Did I mention that you’ll be working with one of the most dangerous witches in the world?” Sam asks, and I don’t know if it is nerves or what but he is way, way too chuckle-ish about this. Charlie is uncertain, but Sam tells her it’s their last hope. “As far as I can tell this is our only shot at saving him,” he says. “If we don’t take it he’s gone.” And of course, despite her superior intelligence and better judgment, Charlie is in.
3. Four’s a Crowd
Charlie goes to the safehouse with Sam and look! She is wearing plaid. Awwww. She opens her very product placed Surface tablet to get to work. “I thought I was clear, Samuel,” Rowena says. “I requested more time. Not an assistant.” “I thought I was clear, Rowena,” Sam retorts, more than a little snotty. “Charlie is not your assistant. You’re hers.” Charlie grins briefly. Smugly. It’s kind of adorable, really. (Side note: her tablet has the Edlund Supernatural books and Moondoor on it. And a fanfic button. What I wouldn’t give to read some of that!) Ro tries to assess where Charlie studied her craft and Charlie holds her own when Rowena never heard of her wifi-rich coffee shop. “Makes sense,” she says. “Because I’m not a witch. I’m a nerd. And I know all the great centers of nerd-dom.” Rowena rolls her eyes and I am in love with the amount of character comment Connell is able to put into a facial expression. So it looks like Charlie is going to be the tech crutch. Rowena, the spell caster. And also? There’s Cas!
Castiel arrives, and Rowena asks him “What are you? Witch or Nerd?” “Angel,” he says. (I wonder—can’t you be all three?) Cas is appointed as referee by Sam, and he wonders what the rules are for that. Ro tells him the first and most important is to keep everything from Dean, and her delivery is utterly delightful and I have a massive girl crush on Ruth Connell. “Dean doesn’t know?” Cas says. “Sam, this never ends well.” And thus another title is born: Supernatural—This Never Ends Well. Charlie agrees with Cas, slapping his arm, treating him like the BFF she wanted him to be. Sam pauses before saying that …lying…is the choice that sucks the least. The true lesser of evils. Rowena shakes her head the tiniest bit, clearly disagreeing. Sam, desperate, says they have to make this work. “Okay yeah,” Charlie agrees. “For Dean.” “Cas?” Sam asks. “Okay,” Cas says. “For Dean.” “For Dean,” Sam confirms. They look to Rowena who looks like she smelled something foul. “I barely know the man.” Best. I must say, as doomed as this is bound to be, I love this twisted version of the Scooby Gang. I’d like a lot more time with them. Sadly, I don’t think I’m going to get it.
4. Talkin’ bout Investigations
(Recapper’s note: I apologize to Mark Sheppard for using the above photo but honestly? That is how I concentrate on pretty much anything. Tongue out, eyes squinted, face derped. Nice to know I am in such good company.) Back in Hell, Crowley is playing a perfect game of human darts. (How is that calculated? Shouldn’t he get a Bill’s Eye? Also, do you see what I did there?) Two of his minions come with bad news. Sadly, Crowley would rather hear that Missouri has boils—something cheerful. But no boils for you, Crowley. The news is that Rowena is missing. This surprises Crowley so much he kills the messenger. Literally. And the other dude? Is told to come back with news of his mum. Crowley, frustrated, slams the rest of his darts into Bill the target, who begrudgingly admires his grouping.
The boys rock the fed suits and go to the scene of the crime. They are led there by a man (who looks positively Lilliputian) who tells them that Eldon Styne seemed totally legit. “He didn’t mention eyeballs,” he assures them. “Well, I guess you’re going to ask about that from now on, huh,” Dean says with a grin, and again—he doesn’t look so tortured to me. He actually looks pretty sanguine about his fate. (It’s the perfect word for it. Look it up.) Looking at the security footage shows Eldon’s miracle jump and his Ed Hardy tattoo, and the boys immediately know he’s a Styne. Cas calls and Sam walks away, thinks better about answering, and lies that it’s a telemarketer. His delivery is no good, and Dean knows it. You can’t con a conman, Sam. The boys leave, and Eldon grabs the dude and runs him through. Guess he won’t need to ask about eyeballs after all.
Later, Crowley is talking to Olivette the hamster, who is complaing about Ro’s snakes in the bed pranks (Not a euphemism. At least I don’t think so.) Those would piss Crowley off too, if he owned a bed. Or slept. Ever. He says that he knows Ro has a messy workstation but what’s the dirt that he can hold over her? Olivette, ever the squeaky wheel that wants the oil, spills in hamsterese. “A demon lover?” Crowley asks. She squeaks some more. “You don’t need to paint a picture,” he says, disgusted, and Crowley has heard enough about his mom’s love life forever kthanxbai. She squeaks some more, and Crowley makes notes in his binder. He orders a minion to find the person Olivette talked of on pain of death, and then sighs. “Surrounded by mediocrity,” he says. “It’s a wonder I stay so buoyant.”
5. Hell Hath No Fury
Charlie is trying to upload pictures of the codex to her tablet. I am an Apple loyalist, so I am happy to see that while she uses a Surface, she also uses an iPhone. (Huh. It’s an old model though—there’s no lightning connector. But it looks like a 5. She’s a gear head. Why wouldn’t she use the 6 or 6 plus instead of…FOCUS BARBARA.) Meanwhile, Ro is also decoding with…chicken bones and herbs. Okay. That’s more…organic? I guess? Charlie strikes out, and Rowena asks if her miraculous machine hasn’t solved everything by now? (Of course not. She’d need a MacBook Pro for that.) “Overrated, I’d say,” Ro says in a perfect cough and damn, I love her so hard. The girls bicker a bit until Cas comes in, saying that the girls have must have dipping blood sugar, and, since he doesn’t want them to be hangry, he brought snacks. (Also apparently? When he was human? He loved pork rinds. Yuck. No wonder he understood Metatron’s intestinal distress.) Charlie asks about Agnes, the hermit nun who wrote the BoD, and Ro tells Agnes’ story. “As in any struggle between good and evil, balance is required,” says Ro. “To cure one curse Agnes had to know how to inflict another. They live side by side in the magic world. One cannot be without the other.” Charlie compares it to a binary system, and calls Agnes ahead of her time. “Much like you and I,” Ro says. This makes Charlie very uncomfortable.
Cas goes to…get a chip bowl? I guess? as Charlie protests the comparison. “Because you’re young and good? And I’m ancient and evil? Is that it?” Rowena asks. “Let me tell you about you. A difficult and lonely childhood. Tragedy. Absent parents. Always outside the mainstream. Sexually progressive. Living in your own head for solace and direction.” Rowena gestures between herself and Charlie, and Charlie can’t refute her. “But we part company when it comes to blind devotion,” Rowena says. “Case in point? The Winchesters. You’ve made them the family you don’t have. Foolish.” And Rowena’s wrong, but of course she is absolutely right. “Sam and Dean are like my brothers. I love them,” Charlie says fiercely, and the declaration makes my heart sink. “I know,” Rowena agrees. “And that steadfast loyalty will be your undoing, my girl.” And then I am shouting at the television: “DON’T! Don’t you DARE!” but I know what’s coming anyway. And my demand becomes a plea.
6. It’s Not Delivery—It’s Dean Winchester
Back in the Impala the boys discuss the Stynes while eating burgers that look suspiciously like Dean’s homemade ones, except in foil. Dean says he is glad they don’t have the Book of the Damned. Sam stammers and asks how he’s doing with the MoC. “Dark thoughts, creepy visions, violent urges. Same old Same old,” Dean replies. “I’m happy I got a murder to focus on though!” And he sucks through his straw and it’s kind of chilling how casual he is about it. Maybe Dean really is going south. Wherever he’s going? He’s being followed by Eldon.
Back in the Bunker, Sam’s phone rings. Dean picks it up. “Cas?” he asks. “Sam!” Cas says and he can’t tell their voices apart? Really? Dean’s is about 27 octaves lower, but okay. Ro and Charlie are bickering in the background as Dean asks what’s up. “Nothing. I’m just…staying in touch. Like I do,” Cas says. Man these people are bad liars. “Something on your mind?” Dean asks. “No. This call is pointless,” Cas says, confusing Dean. “My ride’s here,” Cas blurts adorably, cringing a little, and hangs up and Dean is more than a little suspicious.
Dean sets the phone down as Sam comes in. The fridge is picked clean, he says. Sam sees his phone all too near to Dean. “That’s mine,” he says, pocketing it. Dean asks if he has talked to Cas, and Sam says no, and again with the bad lying. Dean wonders what Cas is up to. “Angel stuff. I don’t know,” says Sam. “All right. I vote for pizza.” Dean knows he is being snookered, but since he loves pretty much any kind of pie he goes to get the pizza anyway.
Dean ends up in an alley after leaving the sketchiest 24-hour pizza joint ever. (It sucks they can’t get delivery. I guess that’s a drawback of a secret lair.) Eldon and a crony attack Dean and it’s just a matter of time before the crony is dead and Eldon is captured. It doesn’t even seem to make Dean think twice or break a sweat anymore. That can’t be good.
7. Prisoner of Gore
Dean takes Eldon to the Bunker. Eldon is chained by one wrist and we know, easily, that that is going to be a huge problem, so why don’t Sam and Dean? Eldon admits he killed the girl, and offers his sympathies because Dean bears the MoC. He knows now why they wanted the book. Sam lies that they wanted the book because “Our family business is putting guys like you out of business.” Eldon tells them about his family business. His family is vast, spread over the world. And they don’t need no stinking books. They take advantage of human nature. “You see,” Eldon says, “Chaos brings fear, fear brings panic, and panic breeds desperation, and there is always profit to be made from desperation.” True dat. People make messes. The Styne business is to clean it up. And business has never been better. They haven’t had the book for 80 years and still done well. With it? They will be unstoppable.
Cas calls. Sam leaves to take it to Dean’s stunned surprise. Eldon admits that leaving the body of the student was unfortunate. Normally they never leave a body behind when they harvest. Wait. What? Oh. It seems the family specialty is bioengineering. Surgical enhancement. “And I’m not talking about nose jobs,” Eldon says, revealing that his torso is cut navel to neck. He has two hearts. Bunch of extra muscles, especially in the legs. He says that every man in the family has had a little something. (I hope the women, too, because otherwise? SEXIST.) And their body mods make sense because Styne, as many of us guessed it would be after the whole Oz thing, was derived from the name Frankenstein. (Sigh. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Sometimes? You ask my benefit of the doubt to stretch further than a yogi, show.) Eldon tells Dean about how Mary Shelley was a family friend and her book was true but no one believed her, and no one will believe Dean, either. Dean threatens him, asking about his Papa, and Eldon reminds him that’s a secret. Dean says with a grin, holding a big knife, “Well I’m swell at uncovering secrets.” Eldon tries to bargain—says that if Dean gives him the book he will have a conversation with him about the Mark. Dean tells him the book has been destroyed. Eldon replies what many of us suspected. The BotD, much like the MoC cannot be destroyed. And Dean is pissed.
Dean goes to find Sam, and they crash into each other in the hallway. “What are you doing?” Dean asks. “Something came up,” Sam mumbles. “What?” “It’s handled,” Sam lies. Sam asks about Eldon and Dean is about to ask about the book but before either of them can they hear a crash, and they run to check the dungeon. Looks like Eldon’s going to need to do some more harvesting. Because he just ripped his own arm off to get away, and the boys are stunned.
8. Adventures in Babysitting
Back at the witch pit Charlie says Rowena is driving her nuts, especially when Ro says the one good year for music was 1723. Charlie needs quiet. She doesn’t want to fail Dean, and her mind is a wad of gummy worms. Cas calls Sam to apprise him and Sam tells him that no, Charlie can’t leave and no, Cas can’t go with her and yes, he has to fix it himself by separating them. To the time out corners for you, ladies.
Cas takes Rowena to a different room to give Charlie “alone time” to think. As they go, Charlie looks sneaky. (Please Charlie. Please stop looking sneaky.) Ro complains about prima donna Charlie but Cas says she is under pressure and feels bad about betraying her friend. Ro raspberries at that. “She’ll get over it. Once she has children of her own she’ll know all about betrayal.” At first, Cas is surprised to learn that Crowley is Rowena’s son, but then it makes sense. “That explains a lot,” he says. “I’m sure that was quite a challenge.” Ro smirks at him. Tells him flirtily to leave her. Cas goes to check on Charlie. Of course, Charlie is gone. DAMN IT, CHARLIE!
Back the Bunker, Sam says he has researched and it’s just like Styne said: they are historical figures of doom. Dean says, pointedly, “I thought: this is bad. But it would really blow if these guys had the book.” Sam looks guilty. “At least the damned book burned. Right Sam?” Sam freezes. (Know when you are outgunned, Sam, and give it up.) Dean tells Sam that Eldon said that the book can’t be destroyed. “Isn’t that crazy?” he faux muses. “Because I know I saw something burn.” Sam is saved by the bell of doom. “Sam, you answer that, so help me…” Dean says, but Sam does. It’s Cas. Charlie is gone and he can’t find her. And Sam knows. This is going to go all kinds of wrong, and it is his fault. As Sam begins to panic, the escaped Eldon stumps…I mean, slumps…in an alley. He gets a phone call from his cousin, who has found Charlie at a motel. (Oh, crap.) He tells Eldon the location, and that she is registered under Carrie Asimov. And my heart is in my throat.
9. Codex Breaks
At the motel, Charlie is working furiously and failing. Finally, after muttering to herself, she makes a match and is very proud of herself. “Oh wow!” she says, grinning. “I might be a genius.” (Yes, Charlie. You certainly are. But by going off alone you are also, so, so dumb.) As delighted as she is, her happiness is very short lived, because Eldon Styne bangs on the door with his stump. He knows she is in there, and he wants the book. Charlie, terrified but determined, hides in the bathroom.
Dean’s happiness is not short lived, because he was never happy to begin with. He can’t believe Sam got Charlie involved again and that now she is missing. Charlie calls them as she starts to upload the files of her code break to an email. She tells them where she is, and that someone is there for the BotD. “If you have the book give it to them,” Sam demands. Dean is FURIOUS. Charlie tells them she only has her notes. “Then give them your notes Charlie. Give them the code—whatever they want…” Sam begins as they run for the Impala. Dean grabs the phone. “Charlie I don’t know what the hell is going on but you need to listen to me. Give whoever that is whatever they want, you understand?” And then the door breaks down, and so does my heart, as Charlie says quietly, watching her file upload, “I can’t do that, Dean.”
Styne dumps Charlie’s purse as the file upload from Charlie Bradbury, Queen of Moons, with her little kitty icon, completes. She clicks send message and sees it go through. And when she smashes the laptop on the sink it alerts Styne to where she is. It is excruciatingly slow as Styne heads for the bathroom and a panicked Charlie backs into the wall. Styne opens the door slowly. “You’re gonna give me what’s mine,” he says. “Mine and my family’s.” Charlie stares at him, knowing what is coming. She tries not to show how hard she is breathing. She looks resigned. Calm. Small. She is wearing a clown t-shirt that says No Frowns and it makes my throat hurt. Charlie pulls her blade and stands firm, and Styne grins his evil little grin. And we see a close up of Charlie’s face as she accepts her fate with courage, knowing that she helped her brother and saved the world as best as she could.
10. We Did it All for Love
In the Impala, Dean is pissed, not only that Sam had the book but that he lied to his face about it. Sam knew it was their only chance to save him. Dean, rather hypocritically in my opinion, says that he made it real clear how he felt. Did Sam ever consider that? And then Sam pulled Cas into it. And Charlie. “Charlie loves you, Dean!” Sam retorts. “We all love you!” And Dean drives on, stony faced, knowing what happens to the people who love them.
The Impala races into the motel parking lot, rain drenching the boys. They approach, guns at the ready. The door is open. Bloody footsteps lead out of the bathroom. Sam heads there as Dean briefly looks down at the footsteps, his face turning angry. Grim. Sam looks in the bathroom doorway and says, “Oh, God,” gagging at the sight, pressing his fist to his mouth. “Charlie?” Dean calls, his voice slow and rough, his head shaking a little as he looks in. And there she is, bloody and crumpled in the bathtub, in a scene worthy of a horror movie but so much more heartbreaking. The Queen of Moons has fallen. Charlie Bradbury is no more.
As a recapper, you try to tell the story of the episode with small amounts of appreciation or critique, but mostly you leave deep personal emotion out of it. I have a lot of thoughts about this episode that would violate that, and I won’t say them here in the interest of overall neutrality. Mostly? I am deeply sad that Charlie is gone, and horrified at the way she went out. Charlie was smart and funny and gutsy and kind. Felicia Day made us love her, and she will be sorely missed. And we’ll see how Dean begins to avenge her death next week, in the penultimate episode, The Prisoner. See you then.