“Supernatural” has had nine seasons worth of episodes. There have been some rough ones. There was an episode devoted to a racist monster truck that killed people. There was that one about evil killer bugs. Frankly, all of seasons six and seven was pretty cringe-worthy. So when I tell you that I have friends calling “Slumber Party” the worst “Supernatural” episode of all time, you understand how bad it was.
“Supernatural” has done silly and illogical before, and done so very well. “The French Mistake” a few years back took the boys into an alternate reality where they were actors on “Supernatural”, the television show within a television show. It was a funny, one-time gag that didn’t take itself too seriously. This episode could maybe have worked like “The French Mistake” if it had gone for a similar tone.
It didn’t. Not at all. At no point did Sam and Dean ever seriously question the introduction of a parallel universe called Oz, nor the fact that Dorothy Gale was a real person who traveled there. Nope. One of the most ridiculous plot twists in nine seasons was treated as a regular case of the week, and therefore made no sense whatsoever.
The episode wasn’t entirely bad, of course, mainly because of Felicia Day’s Charlie. Her warm, quirky personality is always a welcome change from the angst and brooding of the main cast. She got some of the best one-liners in this episode and it was nice to see a woman save the day in this testosterone-heavy show.
The episode starts, not with a conclusion to the big emotional cliffhanger between Dean and Cas last week, but with a flashback to the Men of Letters meeting Dorothy. She arrives with a prisoner in a bag and asks, “Which one of you geniuses is gonna help me kill the Wicked Witch?” By the time we go back to present day and the Winchesters, Cas has already left, so we don’t get to see how that scene played out. Did Dean tell Cas the truth about Ezekiel’s demand, or did he just kick his best friend out to fend for himself with no explanation? Either option seems like it would lead to plot developments that can’t be jumped over. But jump they do, and we don’t even get to see Cas in this episode. That right there is the biggest problem, in my opinion. Seriously, why would anyone ever write an episode without Misha Collins?
Sam suggests that they turn the old computer in the bunker into an angel tracker to help Cas stay safe. Well, that’s nice. At least one of the Winchesters is concerned for him. While they’re examining the computer a nearby bottle of blue liquid just so happens to spill. They walk away, unaware of the massive problem they’ve just made for themselves.
The boys call up Charlie to give them a hand with their computer project. She’s as adorable and amusing as ever as she recounts how she was recently fired by her company for “taking a big wikileak all over” their child labor scandal.
There are some cute moments early on between the three, like where Charlie, Dean, and Sam watch “Game of Thrones” and talk about King Joffrey. Sadly, it all goes downhill quickly when the trio discovers Dorothy, still alive and young, despite the many decades since the flashback. That conveniently spilled goo apparently released her and the witch from a spell Dorothy had performed to tie their souls together and take the witch down.
This is where the episode completely lost me. Dorothy explains that Oz exists as part of Avalon, the fairy world. Well, okay, the brothers are familiar with Avalon, so they have some context for what she’s saying. But come on, guys. Dorothy Gale from “The Wizard of Oz” just showed up in a leather jacket and told you that the book series is based on a true story and that the Wicked Witch of West is running free in your house! This is one of the weirdest twists “Supernatural” has ever done, and the Winchesters barely bat an eye. The last three episodes have been about angels and demons and now, bam, this episode is a homage to “Once Upon a Time”? The boys should be at least mildly surprised or confused or something! It’s very sloppy writing.
Mark Shepherd’s Crowley has some nice Oz-related zingers this week. I’m grateful that at least one person thinks the situation is noteworthy. His description of the escaped witch as “so misunderstood” is amusing, particular when he asks Sam and Dean if either of them saw Wicked. He helps the boys discover that the Witch is looking for the key to Oz, which is hidden somewhere in the bunker. If she gets her hands on it, she will return to Oz and cause massive destruction there. Considering I’ve never seen this Oz until this episode, my concern for it is not great enough to drive the plot of an entire episode. I don’t care about Oz, guys.
Dean just happens to know where the key is, but while they hunt it down the witch attacks and, despite the poppy bullets they made earlier to hurt the nearly indestructible witch (it’s supposed to be a cool book reference, but mostly it’s just weird), Dean is unable to protect Charlie from being killed.
For about a minute and half I was absolutely heartbroken that a) Charlie had died, and b) Charlie had died in this terrible filler episode. However, Ezekiel comes to heal her and it’s all better. It’s not like anyone on this show has ever stayed dead, but having an angel inside Sam to save everybody is taking some of the drama out of the show.
Charlie thinks she was just knocked out, but Dorothy informs her that she was dead. “Don’t worry about it, though. You’re not a real hunter until you’ve died and come back again,” she reassures her. They have a nice moment where Dorothy tells Charlie about the darker side of “The Wizard of Oz” and Charlie points out that maybe the books aren’t total fluff and could also be good guidebooks. Dorothy realizes that her ruby slippers might be able to defeat the witch. They find the shoes in the garage, but unfortunately also run into Sam and Dean, who we learn have been magically brainwashed by the witch. Apparently when the witch takes you over it makes your eyes glow like a Scooby-Doo villain and your voice lowers about an octave. Considering both Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki already lower their voices considerably to play Dean and Sam, this sounds completely ridiculous.
I think it was around this point that one of my friends pointed out that this episode’s title is “Slumber Party” and we all got very excited. We convinced ourselves this episode would end with Charlie waking up, much like the original Dorothy Gale, to find it had all been a dream. We were relieved. It wasn’t real.
Spoilers: It is not a dream. It was a nice theory while it lasted, though.
The witch uses the key to open the portal and we actually get a look at the Land of Oz through the door, complete with bad CGI flying monkeys. Dorothy holds off the Winchesters while Charlie runs to stop the witch. In one of the more redeeming moments of the episode, she saves the day by literally stabbing the Wicked Witch in the face with the heel of a ruby slipper. That’s the kind of absurdist humor that was missing from the rest of the episode.
Once everyone is safe, Charlie pulls Dean aside and tells him she knows he had her brought back to life. “Am I a zombie now? Do I need to eat brains?” she worries. He assures her that she’s fine but swears her to secrecy. Dorothy extends an offer to Charlie to journey with her back to Oz. The women travel through the portal and head off to Oz for a possible budding romance, effectively writing Charlie out indefinitely.
I can deal with a subpar episode every once in a while. The first three episodes this season were fantastic, and I love this show, so I’ll forgive the bad writing and silly plot. What I won’t be able to forgive is an extended lack of Charlie. If we lose the only decent female character on this show because she ran away to live in the Land of Oz, I will be thoroughly unamused.