Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 4: “Slumber Party”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW
The unexpected appearance of Henry Winchester last season came with two things; the introduction of Abaddon, and the first mention of the Men of Letters, a secret society for those studying supernatural entities. The latter laid the groundwork for a potentially fascinating mythology, one that has yet to be fully revealed, despite the discovery of the society’s central command. This week’s episode focuses on the history of the Men of Letters once again, in a superb outing that manages to display an old classic from a unique perspective, while bringing back a beloved character.
Watching Charlie dive further into the world of hunting is a great step, both for the show as a whole, and for the character in particular. Throughout their time on the show, the Winchesters have saved numerous individuals whose eyes have been permanently opened to the fact that otherworldly creatures exist. While the show has previously explored the morality of possessed humans becoming collateral damage when a demon is killed, the writers have very deftly used the character of Charlie to provide a look at one possible way people cope with encountering a supernatural entity and living to tell the tale, an exploration that was long overdue. With the path Charlie chooses this week, as well as the proposed spinoff from this show, it will be interesting to see if the show explores how some other survivors from the Winchesters’ past have dealt with the knowledge of supernatural entities, and how their reactions contrast with that of Charlie’s.
Seeing Charlie’s disillusionment this week over the hunting lifestyle is also an eye-opener. Much of the show’s experience with hunting has been filtered through the eyes of Sam and Dean, both of whom have been hunters since a formative age, before they were able to form any preconceptions about it or think about it in different terms than they do now. Many of the other hunters, such as Jo Harvelle and Krissy Chambers, have been in the same boat, which makes Charlie a fascinating anomaly in how she has moved into the hunting life. It’s easy to understand where her romanticized notion of hunting comes from, as those who see only select aspects of the Winchesters’ lives are bound to have a somewhat rosy view of what they do, and Chuck admitted to picking and choosing what he puts in the books (Sam’s demon blood addiction, for example, never made it in). Thus, watching someone like Charlie come to grips with the reality of hunting, and reconcile it with her prior notions, is a fascinating exercise.
In addition, watching how Charlie gathers her expertise also opens up an interesting idea; the resources to be a somewhat effective hunter is all out there, for whoever looks hard enough, and even someone who hasn’t been a hunter for that long can still pull their weight with the information out there. As we see this week, some of the larger ideas that hunters face, such as the existence and powers of angels, is something Charlie has yet to come in contact with, but she is capable of tackling lower-level creatures such as vampires and ghosts, despite not getting any help from seasoned hunters. While a case can be made for Charlie’s intelligence and personality being unique enough to make her a good fit to be a hunter, whether or not there are others like her, and whether their paths cross with the Winchesters, is something worth keeping an eye on.
The exploration of part of the history of the Men of Letters this week is also an enjoyable one. The writers have been very smart in dealing with the story of the mysterious society, and this week is no different, as the exploration of the first case handled in the Men of Letters Headquarters adds another layer to the audience’s understanding of the place. Re-configuring a classic tale such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to fit the world of Supernatural is an idea that could have gone very poorly, and it is to the credit of both the writers and actress Tiio Horn, who plays Dorothy, that it not only feels believable in context, but also an inspired idea. Horn’s work with the character in particular is praiseworthy, as she manages to infuse this version of Dorothy with toughness and competence, as well as confusion over the time period and admiration of Charlie, all without ever going over the top. Hopefully this is not the last the audience has seen of the 30s hunter, despite what transpires at the end of this week’s outing.
Overall, this is a very exciting episode. Supernatural has a strong track record of building memorable, endearing characters who leave an impression despite brief appearances, and Charlie Bradbury stands as a fine example of that, alongside The Trickster/Gabriel and Death. The exploration of other parts of the vast headquarters of the Men of Letters is also framed nicely this week, and hopefully it is not the last we’ve seen of places like the garage or kitchen. Dean’s uneasy relationship with Ezekiel continues to be fascinating, and with the secret seemingly on the verge of being exposed, it will be interesting to see who is the first non-Winchester to discover the presence of Ezekiel in Sam, and what their reaction will be. Sam’s idea of utilizing the computers to detect angels is a great one, if it comes to fruition, and whether or not he and Dean manage to do so, as well as what Crowley’s next move is, and what Castiel and Kevin do next, are all promising storylines to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
– Deepayan Sengupta