Supernatural: Pac-Man Fever

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

While searching for their prophet, Sam and Dean get a tip from an old friend who just happens to be in the neighborhood.

Since the second trial, Sam is only looking worse. Though he wants to help, Dean knows that he isn't in any shape to help him track down Kevin. That's when they get an email from Charlie. In the latest string of weird murders, victims are being found dead with their insides liquefied and a blue handprint on their body. As it turns out, she is also nearby and willing to help crack the case while Sam sits this one out. Dean and Charlie head into town to see the victims but the two of them run into some resistance from the coroner over the paperwork. They plan to view the body later on when she isn't around but before that happens, another body turns up. As Dean and Charlie arrive at the scene, Sam is already there. Not content with waiting around at the lair, Sam insists on helping in whatever way he can even to Dean's chagrin. When they get back to the morgue for a late night body viewing (gross!), Charlie is tasked with distracting the coroner while the Winchesters search for clues. After finding a few hints and heading back to the lair, Dean discovers that the monster is a Jinn offshoot, one that leaves the blue handprints on its victims. Charlie takes a break from the boys to attend to some personal matters but the two of them notice that she isn't her usual self this time and may be hiding something. When she doesn't return they realize that she's been attacked or taken by the Jinn. Either way, Sam and Dean need to track down their friend before it is too late and she ends up like the others.

After a short time away Supernatural returns with the serviceable, albeit mediocre episode, with Pac-Man Fever. In terms of an exciting overall story with the Jinn, this episode simply didn't have it. With so few characters that spoke with the boys it was too obvious that the coroner was the Jinn when she pushed back with the paperwork for the first time ever in the series. Overall, this lead to a deliberately slow pace that was largely in service to pushing the parallel character driven stories that were at the heart of Pac-Man Fever.

In perhaps her best appearance yet on Supernatural, Felicia Day was once again the star of the show. Until now, we had seen Charlie as the invincible hacker and queen of the LARPers but never with the vulnerability had we seen here. Day managed to carry the burden of the heavy character moments with ease and felt more like a part of the series than ever. Charlie's aura of cool was running thin after two episodes so it was great to see the character in a completely different light while giving her some back story at the same time. The one moment I wasn't keen on were the moments leading up to when the Jinn attacked her in her home. Why did she has so many passports and where was the show going with that? Even if Supernatural decides to do something radically different with Charlie down the line, I'm not sure that was the right moment to plant the seed for that story thread.

Though it was hyped up quite a bit in the previews, the dream sequence was more of a miss. For how brief it was, it felt like a lot of effort for very little payoff. If the dream had been simpler it could have carried a lot more weight. What if Charlie was sitting at her mom's side reading The Hobbit to her mother while doctors and nurses all insisted that there was nothing that they could do besides let her mother go? How would Charlie rationalize keeping her mother going when everyone around her continues to deny the possibility of recovery? Why not even have a spin on The Hobbit since it was the book her mother read her as a child? The scene was passable but probably not the best way to get the point across.

Pac-Man Fever had its moments largely due to the performances of Day, Padalecki and Ackles but also fails to get the excitement going for the last leg of the season. Episodes like this are best suited early or mid-season as they lower the urgency of the story between the angels, demons and the tablets of god. Hopefully things pick up with next week's The Great Escapist.

Tags: Supernatural, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Charlie Bradbury, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Felicia Day

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