Supernatural 9.04: Sam and Dean are Friends of Dorothy

Sometimes, when a student has written a good paper, I comment something like: “You did great work here! Unfortunately, it is often the case that there is less to say about a well-executed paper that one that has more profound problems. Nice job.” 

In other words, it’s often easier to write about problems with something than to find ways praise good work.  This feels profoundly unfair to the better students.

And it’s kind of how I feel about episode 9.4 of Supernatural, entitled “Slumber Party,” and penned by my current-favorite writer, Robbie Thompson. It’s good! I liked it! Um…yeah! Keep it up!

Note: Writing this while having papers to grade made my feel so guilty that I had to go back and grade papers before I could justify writing it. That’s why this post is late! Because I had a ton to papers to grade and every time I started this post, I felt guilty.

I’ll do my best to give some specific, positive feedback:

Hi, Charlie! This was a Charlie (Felicia Day) episode, and I’ve liked all her episodes (they are all written by Robbie Thompson). A criticism often leveled at this character is that she’s “too perfect” — that she’s a bit of a try-hard character, created to be a geek-goddess: an avatar for who Supernatural fans fancy themselves to be. And I think that’s true, to a certain extent. She’s played by beloved geeky leader Felicia Day; she’s an uncoventionally brilliant computer hacker; she has a million nerdy hobbies and still manages to save the day (and often mack on the girl).


 Nerd fantasy! 

I guess I don’t care about this “Mary Sue”-ish-ness because:

  • All of her episodes have been well-written (in other hands, things might get bad).
  • Felicia Day is a bit try-hard in the role, but she’s genuinely charming and adorable, too.
  • So what if her character is a bit of a fantasy? This is a…fantasy show. Dean and Sam are both male fantasies in many ways. They are both exceptional good-looking, muscle-y and mysteriously unscathed by the all the times they’ve been injured. Dean maintains his physique despite a disinclination for running and a steady diet of junk food. Sam is apparently a brilliant “geeky” researcher who got a scholarship to Stanford, loves books, is great with computers…but is muscle-bound and ridiculously good-looking…and they are both supposedly excellent with weapons, general ass-kicking, etc. In fact, the degree to which the male characters are fantasy-objects is occasionally a bit tiresome.


such a geek

So…so what if Charlie is an unrealistic female fantasy? Plus, I love the fact that Charlie has discovered the Supernatural books and is now basically a “fan” of Supernatural. The only previous fan avatar was Becky…whom I actually quite love and find hilarious.

But the show kind of ruined Becky for me as someone I could laughingly identify with when they had her drug, marry,  and assault Sam. If Charlie is prettier and smarter and more awesome than I will ever be, Becky is also crazier and rape-y-er than I will ever be. So I’m happy to have Charlie to identify with. I may not be a computer genius, but I appreciate Charlie’s dedication to the things she loves; plus, she’s queer: go representation!

I love the Wizard of Oz stuff. The conceit of the episode is that while Charlie is at the Men of Letters bunker, they accidentally knock over an object that releases Dorothy and the Wicked Witch.

Turns out: Oz is real (it’s part of the Fairy Realm), and Dorothy was a real-life hunter. Her father, L. Frank Baum, was a Man of Letters who wrote books based on Dorothy’s adventures. Dorothy couldn’t kill the Wicked Witch, so she cast a spell to soul-bond them together and keep them trapped together in the bunker. Now the Wicked Witch is running around the bunker, and Dorothy, Charlie, and SamnDean have to stop her.



Charlie is, of course, a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz books, but Dorothy despises them for being a romanticized version of the truth. This is, naturally, a fun parallel to how SamnDean feel about the Supernatural books.  Dorothy is scornful of the Men of Letters as bookworms who just sit around and don’t get in on the fight. But Charlie, the nerd fan, proves there is value in that stuff, by finding clues in the Oz books and in the Men of Letters’ notes to help stop the witch. Sure, it’s a bit of an an obvious BOOKWORMS ARE GOOD, TOO! lesson, but I liked it. Because, you know, I’m a nerdy bookworm who’d rather stay home and do research. Also, did you know that L. Frank Baum was a feminist? So it’s cool that his works are incorporated into an episode shot through with feminist and pro-nerd themes. 

Plus, I had 0% problem with incorporating Oz into the Supernatural world. It’s always been Supernatural’s conceit that “all legends/myths/stories are real”. The only rule is that they never make up their own legends; they only include legends, creatures, etc. that already have a story about them. So why not do a twist on Oz? They explained it smartly, by being like “Uh, Oz is part of the fairy realm!” Since they’d already briefly established that there was a fairy realm but never done anything with it, why not? It’s a twist on an old story, which is really the whole concept of Supernatural.



 Eeek! Books are real! Image from here.

And does that mean that all fantasy books can now potentially be accounts of real-life happenings? Cause I love that. I also love authors being part of the story, the way Supernatural did with Chuck, or with Warehouse 13‘s H.G. Wells . I’ve always been nerdily sorrowful that on Grimm the Grimm fairy tales don’t seem to exist; I want the Grimms to have been…well, Grimms! How fun would that be? Then they could have flashbacks to the 19th century, with the Grimm brothers running around in silly wigs and fighting wesen! 


Silly wigs like this! Image from here 

Ahem. Anyway.

Also, Dorothy was hot. 

Slumber Party


Tough, butch-y, no-nonsense. Yum. She and Charlie sparred, then Charlie was adorably “Can we be best friends now?”, then they bonded, and then they walked off into the CGI sunset together! Hurrah for strong female relationships and characters! I sort of desperately want them to make out. I mean, er, I’m all for any kinds of depictions of strong females characters; it doesn’t have to be sexualized. Please let them make out.



 Image from here 

Oz actually looked pretty good. I loved the concept of a key that could turn any door into a door to Oz (though tornadoes also work, naturally). The CGI they did for Oz was actually really decent; the flying monkeys et al were well done. Sadly, when Dorothy and Charlie walked off together into Oz, I realized I kind of wanted to watch a spin-off with them, set in Oz, more than I want to watch Supernatural. 


Image from Vulture

Crowley was hilarious, of course.

Crowley–still locked in the dungeon–had a funny encounter with the Wicked Witch (“Big fan”). The actor, Mark Sheppard, is now on White Collar as a villain. Watching him as a non-magical-but-Crowley-lite character somewhere else made me realize that as much as I carp on Supernatural these days, Crowley is an exceptionally hilarious and well-done villain. Mark Sheppard has so much more to work with on this show than he does as a more generic villain on White Collar (Where his character is like, “I am blackmailing you. I am bad. Bye.”)  This current iteration of Crowley–trapped and bored but trying to stay smarmy–is the perfect flavor of him.

I loved the Men of the Letters flashbacks. It was nice to get some backstory on the Bat Cave Bunker, and I like the little story with two Men of Letters (doing the flashback in black and white, as a nod to the Wizard of Oz movie, was a nice touch).


Image from here 

The flashback story was simple, but worked: the old veteran and the young lad searching for adventure, who then gets ganked by adventure. It was a nice parallel to Charlie’s romanticized view of hunting, and Sam warning her that adventures and quests aren’t all that great. 

I know I’m a weirdo, but I enjoy Supernatural’s dark world view, in which having a destiny or going on an adventure almost inevitably means disaster or someone fucking with you (and, indeed, young guy and Charlie both get ganked). But that world view got to be a little bit balanced out with Charlie’s happy ending with Dorothy. 

Oh, yeah, EzSam is still popping up, and Sam is somehow still not noticing. Yup, Charlie dies, but luckily Dean non-consensually stuffed a dues-ex-angel into his brother, so he calls on Zeke to save Charlie. Zeke is like “Oh no, it will zap my batteries and I will have to stay non-consensually inside Sam for longer!” and Sam actually remembers Dean calling him Zeke and is still not suspicious and whatever eyerolls forever. 



There was even a teeney bit of character development! Though some of SamnDean’s banter felt a little forced in this episode, there were some nice character beats with Sam not thinking of the Bat Cave as “home,” since “home” always gets yanked out from under him. Dean, meanwhile, is happily settled in. Dean’s always been better at appreciating what they do have — enjoying the little things. And hey, the Bat Cave is not such a little thing. It’s awesome. It can do anything! It turns out they have a garage full of vintage cars! And a dungeon! And a kitchen! C’mon Sam…lighten up. And at the end of the episode, it’s suggested that he will. And then of course it will all get yanked out from under him, cause that’s how this show works. Waaaah-wooooomp

At least there was a reference to Cas being cast out and to Kevin. Clunkily done, but at least there was some attempt at continuity. Turns out Dean lied to Sam and told him Cas left voluntarily (sniff!) but at least Sam was asking after him and trying to think of ways to help him.

It makes no sense that they sent Kevin off to a motel room, but I get that they can’t have the actor in every episode, so I’ll handwave. 

 All is all, this episode felt a bit “calculated to please”; however, much like the character of Charlie herself, I’ll forgive the try-hard-to-be-zany because I genuinely enjoyed it.