As Charlie Bradbury would say, “I’m back, bitches!” My vacation was lovely. But you don’t care about that—you, like me, care about Sam and Dean and Cas and all things SPN. And speaking of Charlie Bradbury, this is a long one. Felicia Day is my girl and Dean wears two uniforms. What can I do?
We open on Dean. Who is dressed as an old-timey-time doctor. And underneath? A handsome soldier. And he fights friggin’ zombie looking vampires with a broken table leg. It is pretty much the most perfect thing that ever happened on television. Pardon me while I swoon.
Dean is trapped in what is clearly a dream, in a hospital full of dead nurses in 1951. Something growly is coming for him, and he waits, looking dangerously at the predator, and I swoon once more.
Cut to: 24 HOURS EARLIER. Dean comes in to the HuntCave, carrying beer and groceries as the episode title flashes on the screen. (If you do not know the origin of the episode title, thanks a lot for making me feel ancient, BTW.) He looks at Sam’s laptop, which has been set up for surveillance. Clearly, Kevin Tran has not been found.
Sam emerges, looking like death warmed over, with the fluffiest, most adorable bed head ever, and Dean makes a face of disgust. “Just give me five minutes with some clippers…” he begs, prompting Sam to tell him to shut up. Apparently Sam has been asleep for about 36 hours. Dean tosses him a beer, and Sam, in his fugue, lets it sail on by. It crashes on the marble floor. “That’s why we don’t have nice things, Sam,” says Dean. You know, because of all the curses. Sam insists he is okay, despite the monster migraines and the stumbling and the looking like a corpse. He wants to go search for Kevin. Dean takes Sam to the in-house firing range (MAN, I love the HuntCave) and says that if Sam can hit the target, he can search. Sam doesn’t even get close. Dean, however, hits the profile square in the heart. Just like he hits me. Rrrraaaooowwwrrrr.
An email pops up on Sam’s laptop. It is from Charlie Friggin’ Bradbury. She can’t find them exactly, since the HuntCave blocks tracking, even though they can make and receive calls. Awesome. They go to surface to meet her, and she is adorable, as usual. “Your Highness!” says Dean. “What’s up, bitches?” she asks, cheerful. The boys hug her, and she sees how ill Sam is. She is concerned.
Charlie says she is in Topeka for a comic convention, but she is clearly lying. The boys let it go. “So, are you going to invite me into your dungeon or do I gotta answer your questions three first?” she asks. This makes both Dean and me grin. Sam offers to introduce her to the Men of Letters. “Holy awesome,” she says, seeing the HuntCave, but she does call the organization out on it’s sexist name, which does not make Dean grin. She asks if they are still coming to the mid-year jubilee and Dean says they wouldn’t miss it. And I beg the universe for this to be true so that I can see Dean in more chainmail and leather leggings.
Charlie tells them she brought them a case. Apparently, people are being killed, and their insides liquified. Charlie has a tricked out tablet that she tracks monsters on, because she has been studying all things supernatural. “I’m a wee bit obsessive. If by wee bit you mean completely,” she confesses. Preachin’ to the choir, Charlie. She also says she found the Carver Edlund “Supernatural” books (a moment of silence for the prophet Chuck, please) and wonders if they are true. The boys say nothing. Charlie thanks them for saving the world, and apologizes to Sam for having “zero luck with the ladies.” Dean tries to keep a straight face. “We need to find all the copies of those books and burn them,” Sam snarls. “They’re online now. So good luck with that,” says Charlie, to Sam’s dismay.
Dean wants to go investigate, and Sam is clearly not able to go. Charlie volunteers, and Dean tries to dissuade her . Dean takes her to the firing range, and challenges her the way he did Sam. “For serious?” Charlie asks, and proceeds to blow the head off the target. She is pleased with herself. Dean is impressed, but tells her if she is on ride-along she needs to lose the novelty t-shirts. “Son of a pantsuit,” says Charlie.
And then the sweetest, cutest thing happens. Charlie tries on outfit after outfit and she is adorable and posing to her signature tune (“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves) and Dean indulges it a bit until he can’t take it anymore. “Montage!” Charlie whines. She finally finds the right, boring suit, and she and Dean talk about the trials. “What about Castiel? He seems helpful. And dreamy,” says Charlie. Right?!?!?! Cas is apparently still MIA. Dean is still worried about his brother. Charlie assures him there is nothing he and Sam can’t do if they work together. She sadly confesses her only siblings are X-BOX and PS3.
Dean calls Sam on Charlie’s phone. Sam insists he is fine, and tries target practice again. He misses both shots by a little. “Close enough,” Sam decides.
Dean and a nervously frozen Charlie (Special Agents Hicks and Ripley—perfect. Just perfect.) go to see the body. The coroner says she needs paperwork. Dean tries to charm her and it doesn’t work at all, so all I can assume is that she is gay. Charlie should have tried to charm her. It would have worked, and this episode would have been 30 minutes shorter. At least. Charlie is annoyed. As they leave, she admits role-playing is hard. Wait ‘til you try B&E, Dean says. When he compares it to hacking, Charlie admits she hacked NORAD as a teenager and becomes even more nerd sexy than she was before. “Whatever you say, War Games,” Dean says, taking Charlie out to eat.
Meanwhile, in the dark, two teenaged boys find another body with what Dean lovingly refers to as “creamy filling.” They poke it with a stick, and it explodes, covering them with what Charlie will later refer to as “years of future therapy.” They scream.
Dean and Charlie go to murder road to investigate, and Dean insists that Charlie jump back on the horse, which she does admirably. Until the cop tells her to “save it” and sends her to “the other agent,” who is, of course, Sam. Sam recounts the case, and Dean tries to send him home. Dean tries to send Charlie to talk to the witnesses. “But I don’t want to miss the broment,” she says. Dean barks her name and she goes to question the witnesses, because she is “FBI and stuff.” She bonds with the game playing boys, who give her the skinny.
Dean tries again to send Sam home, but he is having none of it. “Play through the pain, right?” Sam reminds him. “Come on, man, don’t quote me to me,” Dean snarls as Charlie comes back to update them. Apparently the body had a blue handprint on it. Dean walks off, telling Sam to go to research at home. Charlie asks if they now don’t have to break into the coroner’s office. Great idea, says Sam, as Dean drives away. Charlie is annoyed, until Sam tells her they can ride in her car. Which he has stolen. Insert puppy dog eyes and sweet, abashed smile here.
Dean breaks into the coroner’s office and finds Sam and Charlie. “What took you so long?” Sam scoffs. “I stopped for gas,” Dean admits. “Shut up!” Hey, Baby is pretty enough she doesn’t need to be eco-friendly. As they head toward the body, the coroner comes back, and Charlie offers to distract her, which she does by asking for forms and talking about her pantsuits. This does work, confirming my belief that the coroner is gay and, seriously? Who wouldn’t have a crush on Charlie? At the same time, Sam and Dean try to look at the body, but it has already been burned. All of the vics have. The coroner, it appears, is suspiciously thorough. Sam takes pics of the reports to bring back to the HuntCave, mentioning “Dad’s journal” and making me miss John.
Back at the HuntCave, Sam is throwing out possibilities, which Charlie is immediately discounting on her wonder tablet. “I hate that thing,” mutters Sam. “I want one.” Dean, who is reading an old timey-time thing called a “book” says it is a Djinn. There is apparently a ” bastard offshoot” who have the added talents of leaving their vics with “jelly-like insides.” They even leave a blue handprint. Charlie looks at the book and scowls. “I hate that thing,” she mutters. “And I want one.” She awkwardly offers to go for snacks, reassuring Dean that “Unlike you Sam, I will not forget the pie.” Ha! She leaves, and the boys confer, agreeing that something is off with her.
We cut to Charlie, at her place, committing massive amounts of financial fraud. You see her bank accounts, issued to “Christine K. LeGuin,” “Annie Tolkien,” and “Susan Asimov.” (Trivia: Charlie’s aliases are all Stephen King characters for the first name and popular sci-fi writers for the last name. Now you know.) Charlie hears something, and is nervous. And then she gets got. By the coroner. Who is the bastard Djinn.
Sam calls her, coughing heavily. No word. There was no comic convention in Topeka, either. Fortunately, paranoid Dean turned the GPS on in her phone, so they are able to go to her fraud pad. “Who the hell is she? Jason Bourne?” Dean asks. Apparently, Charlie has been making donations using her aliases to a local hospital, directed specifically at a patient named Gertrude Middleton. Dean goes off to investigate.
Gertrude, it turns out, is Charlie’s mom. Both of her parents were in a car accident when Charlie was 12. Her father died, and her mother went into a permanent vegetative state, leaving Charlie all alone. Sadness. Apparently, Charlie sometimes comes to read to her on the sly. Dean tells Gertrude that she has “one hell of a daughter” and he promises to find her. Awwww.
Charlie, meanwhile, awakens to the coroner, Jennifer, saying, “Wilhelm scream!” (Look it up. Funny stuff.) “Do you know what I smell on you?” Jennifer asks. “Deodorant? A little pee, maybe?” “Fear,” Jennifer says. They chat a bit, and Jennifer confesses her brand of Djinn likes their meat bitter from fear. She tells Charlie she will make a meal for two, and knocks her out.
Back at the HuntCave, Dean tells Sam of Gertrude, comparing her to their own mother. More sadness. Sam has been researching, and apparently Jennifer has been doing this for a while, faking reports and burning bodies. She owns a nice home in town…annnnnnd…an abandoned shipping warehouse. The boys head there to rescue Charlie. At said warehouse, Charlie warns Jennifer that her manly-man friend will come for her. “Let him come,” Jennifer says. “He reeked of fear as well.”
The boys break in and find Charlie, unconscious, with a blue handprint on her arm. Jennifer attacks Sam, and he can’t even really fight back. Just as she is about to get him too, Dean kills her with a knife dipped in lamb’s blood.
Dean and Sam bring the antidote of blue “blood” to Charlie to revive her. It doesn’t work at all. “She’s burnin’ up, man! We’re not letting her turn to jello!” Dean barks, worried about the girl he called “the little sister I never wanted.” They toss ideas around, both coming to think of African Dream Root at the same time. Dean’s going on a trip inside Charlie’s mind. And I bet it looks a lot like a video game. Dean invites Sam to knock him out by punching him. The first one doesn’t take, and Dean ribs him a little, so Sam slams his with a roundhouse, and Dean slumps into a chair, out cold.
He comes to as we saw him in the opening, trying to escape the zombie vamps by opening an elevator door. And who busts out of said elevator, dressed as a badass with a massive gun? Charlie of course. Damn, she looks hot in a bandolier. She blasts the baddies. “Come with me if you want to live,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
Charlie asks what Dean is doing there. He tells her the scoop, commenting that her “dream” is a strange idea of a happy place. She confesses it is not her happy place, it is a video game that she hacked and distributed for free, causing her to have to go on the run when she was only twelve years old. It is her nightmare, and it brings up her fear, which is what the offshoot Djinn wants.
Back in the warehouse, Djinn Jr., comes for Sam. Jennifer was apparently a mama bird, and her son is, understandably, upset. In the dream world, Dean tells Charlie he killed the Djinn. “Both of them?” she asks. They then proceed to try to “win” the game, wandering the halls, shooting the zombie vamps, and basically this is what I would dream if I ever got hit by a regular type Djinn, because it. Is. Awesome. Not for Charlie, though, who admits she has done this 1,000 times. It is an infinite loop, like “Pac Man without level 256.” Dean has no idea what she is talking about. I do. Because I am a mega nerd who not only plays old time video games but watches documentaries about them. Top that.
One of the goals of the game is to “save the patients.” The patients in question? Gertrude and Sam, of course, the two these two love most. Dean admits he knows who Gertrude is, and Charlie says that Gertrude’s condition is her fault, since she was at a sleepover and begged her parents to come get her. She now reads Gertrude “The Hobbit” at the hospital, because that is what Gertrude read to her. And that is why she loves the things she loves. So much sadness.
Back in the warehouse, Sam is getting his ass kicked by Djinn Jr. Sam gets his act together and manages to kill him dead. Fortunately.
In the dream, Charlie and Dean continue to blast away, barricading themselves in with the patients and awaiting the boss battle. Dean says they need to break the loop, and let go of the fear, and Charlie’s fear isn’t vamps or prison but losing her mom. “I think the only way to stop this is to not play,” he decides, though he can’t seem to stop shooting too. He tells Charlie, lovingly but passionately, that Gertrude is already gone. Charlie breaks down and says all she wants to do is say she’s sorry and she loves her. “Believe me, I know,” Dean says. “But you gotta let it go. Game over, kiddo.” And Charlie lowers her gun. The dream/nightmare is over.
Dean and Charlie wake up, to Sam’s relief. Charlie is upset. “I’m sorry. I had to,” Dean says gently, and she falls into his arms, crying. Dean holds her tight, and I wish Charlie was a regular character so badly. Dean needs more hugs.
Finally, we are back at the HuntCave. Charlie thanks Sam for saving them. “Any time, your highness,” Sam teases. Charlie reassures Sam that he will be okay, and that she believes in him. Sam invites her to come back, because he considers her a “Woman of Letters.” This pleases Charlie immensely. Sam hugs her goodbye. “Thanks for stopping by, Charlie,” Dean says, as Sam walks away. “Alway wanted to get Tronned.” Charlie tells Dean she is going by the hospital. It is time to let go. He is sad, but proud of her. “What about you? Are you gonna let it go?” she asks Dean. “Never,” he growls. “That’s my boys,” Charlie says affectionately. “I love you,” she admits to Dean. “I know,” he teases, making her smile. He hugs her and kisses the top of her head, and watches her walk away, smiling, before returning to the HuntCave. When he enters, Sam begins apologizing, but Dean just hugs him close, too. “What do you say we find our prophet?” he asks, and Sam is perplexed, but pleased. And my heart is filled with squee.
We close at the hospital. Charlie is there, and she pulls out an old book. “One last time, okay?” she asks Gertrude, and settles into a chair. “In a hole in the ground,” she reads, “There lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat. It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.” And it is totally all right to admit you are crying right now.
Next episode? Sam’s not doing so well, Kevin Tran is in trouble, Crowley holds all the cards, and the boys meet Metatron, played by Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds,” ya’ll! See you tomorrow!
Barbara Sirois Doyle is a writer for Sweatpants & Coffee. She salts and burns first and asks questions later.