Episode 8.11

“LARP And The Real Girl” Review
By Annie Kenney

I have to start this review with a confession – I didn’t particularly like Charlie Bradbury the first time around. She was a bit over the top for my liking, more caricature than character and the episode she was in – though important to the season as a whole – was kind of ‘Meh’ for me.

However, after watching this week’s episode I have completely changed my tune (and my mind!). Charlie was awesome and the episode was brilliant, one of the best in a long time. It certainly hit a nerve with me as – although not very knowledgeable about LARPING – I love medieval type re-enactments and have spent a lot of my time at old ruined castles watching Vikings fight and Knights in armour win the hand of fair maidens.

I liked that the brothers were finally on a case together – really together – although I was sad that Sam was still unhappy. However, it was obvious that there was going to be a lot of laughs in this episode from the moment Sam found out that he and Dean had been Garthed up to the wonderful, unforgettable and anticipated icon-making finale. There has been a distinct lack of humour in the season so far and this episode more than made up for it. The jokes came thick and fast, as did the film references, and it was an episode about (and for) geeks.

The delight that Dean took in being part of MoonDoor was wonderful to watch. One of Dean’s most enduring characteristics is his ability to be childlike and excited about things and he has had scant opportunity recently. He just couldn’t wait to dress up and his disgust at being a handmaiden made me laugh out loud. Despite this, it was clear Dean still felt guilty about what he had done to Sam and his confession to Charlie about it was interesting and surprising. It was nice that Charlie didn’t particularly judge Dean but it was clear she actually related to Sam. Like Sam Charlie was trying to escape the monsters and attempt to live (for her) a normal life and, like Sam, she had been dragged back into monster hunting again.

Although Charlie might have related to Sam as far as her situation, it was clear she related to Dean in every other aspect of her personality. Her hubba hubba attitude with chicks (and I am so glad the programme went there), her knowledge of pop culture (her mangled Notting Hill quote was an absolute lol moment) and her enjoyment of porn. It was brilliant to see the return of Sam’s bitch face in this episode – I’ve missed it and his reaction to the Belladonna moment was a joy to behold.

The episode was gory but not too scary and the villain a total loser rather than a big evil creature. The whole thing seemed lighter and funnier, a total escape from the relentless pain that the brothers have suffered for the first half of the season. It was a return to the old style humour of the past – episodes like Changing Channels, The Real Ghostbusters, Plucky Pennywhistles and The French Mistake. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments and it was also an episode that you could watch with your non-Supernatural fan other half. It embraced all the things that were (and could be again) good about the series and made me really excited for the next few episodes.

As usual though (and like last week) they had saved the best till last. I might have to step out of serious reviewer mode for a moment to savour the sight of Sam in leather trousers and with a ponytail…but the whole finale was just superb. Dean’s speech (stolen from Brave heart), Dean’s hair (stolen from Mel Gibson) and the moment when the innocent bystander had to retrieve his Frisbee. It is hard to choose what was so good about those last five minutes until you see Sam & Dean charging with the Queen’s army. A moment I want to replay over and over again, a moment that is both funny, moving and exciting in one fell swoop.

It might have been played for humour but the comparison between this week’s final act and last weeks was glaring. Last week we saw the brothers together but, generally, unhappy. We saw them not really communicating, almost forced together by circumstances and having to say goodbye to friends and lovers just to appease the other.

This week the brothers were together in every single wonderful way and it was great to see, a huge relief. When Sam said that fun ‘Will do us both good’ And then followed it up with ‘shall we?’ My little fan girl heart just went boom! Dean’s pretend reluctance and then, obvious, eagerness just made the moment even more touching and, in that one second; the two brothers were more together than we have seen in a long, long while.

One of my favourite episodes this season – probably my favourite. An episode that will no doubt go into a lot of fan girls (and boys) top ten classics and one which poked gentle fun at geeks (and we all know deep down that we Supernatural fans are the biggest geeks of all and proud of it).

I hope that this new positive upturn continues and we start to see more brothers together rather than brothers apart because brothers together is what got me into Supernatural in the first place and the thing that keeps me watching over and over again…