Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
Even when the angels and demons aren't around, things aren't any safer for Sam and Dean. This rings true when their first foray into LARPing goes from game, to grave.
Feeling burnt out and in need of some fun, Sam and Dean decide to take the night off but after they get a call from Garth, their plans are put on hold for a new case. After Ed Nelson is quartered in his home while lying in his bed, the suspicion naturally falls onto his friend Lance who had sent life threatening texts in the moments before Ed's death. Lance admits that it was him but that he was actually just playing his character. As it turns out, Ed and Lance are LARPers (Live Action Role Players) who get together with other LARPers every other weekend to play the fantasy. Shortly following his interrogation, Lance becomes to the second victim to mysteriously die without cause. The Winchester's investigation takes them to a local forest where they encounter none other than Charlie Bradbury. Charlie has become the queen of the LARPing game, literally, but knows that when the Winchester brothers are in town it's time to leave. Unfortunately they need her help to stop whoever is committing the murders before someone makes a play for the queen.
Following last week's Torn and Frayed, LARP and the Real Girl was the humorous break that Supernatural needed. This episode was playful, energetic and well paced as the hour really seemed to fly by. Robbie Thompson nailed the feel of LARPing without going too far into the technical aspects that could have dragged the episode down. Instead, he focused on the dynamic between Dean, Sam and Charlie as each of them threw themselves into the world. Also, Thompson didn't take the story out of the world of make believe and play and avoided the campiness from using different locations; effectively taking the game out of that world.
It may be since it was her second appearance on the show but Felicia Day's chemistry with Sam and Dean was much better than it was in last season's, The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo. As Charlie, Day felt more like a little sister to Sam and Dean, except whenever Dean drooled at her making out with the fairy. There were a few occasions when Day's dialogue was meant to be a clever one liner and they usually fell flat. Conversely, Day's energy and wit were perfectly suited to the world of LARPing in Supernatural and her character felt like she was a part of the world, rather than an outsider as she was before.
Lastly, something definitely has to be said for how important (and funny) the closing moments were as Sam and Dean prepared for battle. Sam and Dean have been at opposite ends for most of the season so far and in that moment, the two of them were having fun. Away from the demons, vampires and angels this episode got them to connect and work together. Dean's understanding that Sam needs time to heal after leaving Amelia showed that his time away has changed him and maybe for the better. Ok, remember when I mentioned how funny it would have been if Sam and kept Mjolnir (Thor's hammer)? How cool would that have been if he still had it now and raised it above his head at the wake of battle as thunder struck down from the sky while Dean and everyone else looked at him like, "Who IS this guy?" I'm just saying, he should have kept that hammer.
LARP and the Real Girl was exactly what Supernatural needed after a string of darker episodes and it's good to remember that after eight seasons, the show can still take a step back and have fun from time to time. We'll see what happens next week when the Winchesters encounter someone from their past in As Time Goes By.