Supernatural season 8 episode 11 review: LARP And The Real Girl

Review Caroline Preece
25 Jan 2013 - 16:45

Felicia Day makes a welcome return to Supernatural in a geek-friendly LARP-themed episode...

This review contains spoilers.

8.11 LARP and the Real Girl

As we can all probably deduce from the title of this week’s Supernatural, LARP and the Real Girl, the episode was one for the geeks, and didn’t disappoint on that front. If you’re not on board for a chainmail-clad Dean recounting the Braveheart speech verbatim (it’s the only one he knows), then I really don’t understand what you’re doing here. It might not have the greatest monster or the most emotional depth but, after last week’s hour of pain and angst, isn’t it nice to have some time out?

Thankfully, though, the writers haven’t forgotten how much of a downer the final moments of the previous episode were, and the rift between Sam and Dean isn’t dismissed offhand as it so easily could have been. Yes, this is a comedy episode but, like with similarly (in theory) jarring shifts in the series’ heyday, the dire state of the characters and their relationship with each other is always felt in the background. We begin in the Impala with two grumpy brothers and, as Sam dismisses Dean’s suggestion to take the night off, they end up blowing off some steam in the name of a job.

That job involves a particularly dedicated LARP-ing society, whose members are violently dying in the midst of an important tournament weekend. The guys’ initial judgement and derision may well turn some viewers off immediately, but it’s important to note that this is in character for these particular people. The in-show fandom of seasons three-five was treated similarly, and we can’t expect two red-neck hunters to understand the joys behind playing hero for entertainment. It acts as the eventual payoff, as Sam and Dean get to be heroes purely for fun, without the fate of the world on their shoulders for once.

And who should show up in the woods just as the Winchesters arrive? Charlie (Felicia Day) makes her second appearance as the techy heroine after her introduction last year, and it’ll make you wish more than ever that she would become a series regular. Having a woman on this show, even for an hour here and there, makes the biggest difference. Her reluctance to leave her comfortable life behind suggests that this won’t be happening any time soon, but Charlie does get to save the day once it’s discovered that one of the players has been punishing cheaters by enlisting real magic.

The magic (it’s not technically cheating because magic exists within the game) comes from an enslaved fairy, and its fun to see Charlie make a love connection before the problem goes away. Sam and Dean don’t actually do much of worth this week, with their girly sidekick emerging more than capable of taking care of things herself. She’s no longer the damsel in distress, and would make one heck of a hunter. This leaves the brothers to stick around and play along, and the final scene might go down as a classic for the series. We all know that the show will have to return to the usual doom and gloom after this, but it was really nice to have some fun for a change. I’ll go start the petition for more Felicia Day.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Torn and Frayed, here.

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