Supernatural, Ep 8.20: “Pac-Man Fever” adds depth to a recurring character while providing some strong emotional beats

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Felicia Day, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles
Felicia Day, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 20: “Pac-Man Fever”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW

One of the highlights of Supernatural’s seventh season was the introduction of tech genius Charlie Bradbury who inadvertently discovers the existence of Leviathan and helps the Winchesters at a crucial juncture in their fight. After choosing to run the first time, a chance encounter the second time around with the brothers led Charlie to decide to make a stand, and in the process become another ally for Sam and Dean in their fight against otherworldly forces. This week sees Charlie and the Winchesters intersect once again, in an emotionally moving yet funny episode that deepens her backstory, and adds another key player to the world of Supernatural.

It was fascinating to see the show explore the character of Charlie more. The character brings a skillset that no other acquaintance of the Winchesters really has; computer skills, and in spades. This could make her invaluable, not just to the Winchesters, but to the hunting community at large, many members of whom she might already be familiar with by reading Chuck’s books on the Winchesters. Watching Charlie become a full-fledged hunter is an idea with great potential, as her fear sequence this episode proves that she would be able to handle a shotgun if it comes to that; in addition, any doubts with regard to her skill with a handgun is also laid to rest this episode. Having her read through Chuck’s novels also spares the audience from spending time on the Winchesters training and educating Charlie, while acknowledging the continued presence of the books. Charlie could prove particularly invaluable if the Winchesters or other hunters face an enemy like the Thule Society once again, as she would be able to glean information the others might not be able to. Charlie would also be an invaluable resource in identifying and categorising all the items and books in the Men of Letters headquarters.

Felicia Day, Jensen Ackles
Felicia Day, Jensen Ackles

The relationship between Charlie and the Winchesters, particularly Dean, was also quite touching. There’s a bond shared between the two, as both have had to look out for themselves from a very young age, making them kindred spirits in a deeper way than Charlie and Sam, evidence of which was has been present even in prior appearances by Charlie. In addition, the elder Winchester and Charlie also share a similar sense of humour and pop-culture sensibility that makes it obvious to see why they two are endeared to one another, and makes it heart-warming to see both tortured souls gain a sense of family in each other, particularly as Charlie doesn’t have any immediate family of her own the way Dean and Sam have each other. It will be interesting to see, following the events of this episode, how the two relate to each other going forward, and how other acquaintances of the Winchesters, such as Castiel and Garth, react to Charlie.

Overall, this was a touching episode. The comedic elements, such as Dean’s inability to get the coroner to sidestep bureaucratic red tape, were great to see, as Supernatural has always been a show that can effectively balance humour and drama, and this episode proves that this is a skill the writers have not lost yet. Felicia Day continues to prove why she is a good addition to the cast, and Charlie’s rookie mistakes with impersonating an FBI agent was a nice callback to when Castiel and Dean went hunting for Raphael together in Season 5. It would have been nice to have the show explore the Djinn family a bit further, particularly since one of the duo doesn’t show up until late in the episode, and exploring the psyche of a Djinn mother who isn’t trying to be good would have made an interesting contrast to the exploration of Amy Pond, the character the audience met in Season 7’s “The Girl Next Door”, who was trying to ensure nobody died from her or her son’s actions. Watching Dean help Charlie get over her guilt about her mother’s condition was an insightful moment for both characters, and whether or not Charlie returns to the show, and how much of a changed person she is if and when she does, as well as what steps the brothers take to find Kevin and Castiel and finish the third trial, are all storylines worth tuning in for next week and beyond.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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