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Supernatural: LARP and the Real Girl

Dean: "You remember fun, don't you, Sam?"

I don't have anything profound to say about the deeper meaning of this episode. It was well-written, nerdy fun; the boys needed a break, and I think the fans needed to see them take one, too, especially after the state of funk they were in in the last episode. And Felicia Day's Charlie Bradbury fits into the Supernaturalverse as if it were written for her. No small thing, since this series can't hang on to a good female character to save its life.

The Moondoor participants were delightfully nerdy while still managing to be practical, and they also defied stereotype by hooking up with great frequency. The gorgeous fairy was a bit more benign (and bigger) than the ones in the fight the fairies episode, even though her initial skull costume was pretty creepy; poor Gilda so clearly didn't want to do what her master made her do. This episode would have been fun from beginning to end if we hadn't had an opening dismemberment and a LARPer exploding at the police station.

I so wanted to see Dean in costume, especially since he was obviously itching to participate, and that's exactly what we got. By the time we reached the end, I really, really wanted the Winchesters to just let go and join in, stay for the battle and have fun for a change, and I was surprised and pleased when that's exactly what happened. And Jensen Ackles doing his best Mel Gibson Braveheart impression was more fun than a scene in Supernatural ought to be.

Eight years and no one ever noticed the details on the fake badges before. Loved that it was a nerd (our villain, Baltar) who finally noticed. Was his name a tiny homage to Battlestar Galactica, perhaps? And was "Moondoor" an homage to Endor?

Bits and pieces, and ew:

— Charlie's latest alias was Carrie Heinlein. I'm assuming the "Carrie" was a tribute to Stephen King's first book? And of course, Robert A. Heinlein. I fantasize about reviewing every book Heinlein ever wrote someday. Maybe when I retire.

— Garth is still watching Kevin and apparently, continuing to take his role as the new Bobby quite seriously.

— I loved the guns dissolving into feathers with a discordant squawk.

— This week: Farmington Hills, Michigan. Dean and Sam were agents Rosewood and Taggart. Who are they? They sound familiar.

— This week's sheriff is going down as one of my absolute favorites. His deadpan delivery was great.

Quotes, and I cut my list way down so if I missed one you liked, post it.

Sheriff: "These kids today, with their texting and murder."

Dean: "You saw the chain mail. It's gonna be fifty shades of Grayfox, for all we know."

Sheriff: "God forbid he was contagious. I'm gonna go dip myself in hand sanatizer."

Baltar: (to the guy in the stocks) "Serve your time with honor, heathen. And if you need to use the chamber pot, stomp your feet thrice."

Dean: "You are a larper, yes?"
Baltar: "I prefer the term 'interactive literaturist'."

Prospective squire: "I love you."
Charlie: "I know."

Charlie: "The queen needs some royal we time. Talk amongst thyselves."
Or was that "wee"?

Sam: "The medical examiner said his body showed clear signs that he was killed by belladonna."
Dean and Charlie: "The porn star?"

Dean: "What? There's no laptops in Moondoor. There's no Geneva convention, either."

Charlie: "I am not really a queen. I'm just an IT girl, standing in front of a monster, asking it not to kill her."
Absolutely my favorite line.

Adorable. Please bring Felicia Day back again. Four out of four shadow orcs,

Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.


  1. I don't think I really liked this episode overall. It was kind of "meh" for me. But I loved the title (they've had some very clever allusions to movie titles this season), and the final sequence with the boys joining in and letting go had me grinning from ear to ear. Awesome.

    The deadpan sheriff was great, but I found his line about the texting and murder incredibly disturbing. Was it supposed to be funny?

  2. I thought it was hilarious. Occasionally I'm callous and strange.

  3. I've just been listening to and reading a lot of discussion lately about gun control, mental health, the high degree of violence in our pop culture, and potential media influences on gun violence. And with The Following --- which seems to be all about the excessive grue for purely exploitative and not thoughtful purposes --- coming out this week to pretty good ratings, I've been thinking a lot about what I find appealing in a show versus what the larger masses find appealing (because I can pretty much guarantee most people don't enjoy The Walking Dead for the same reasons I do).

    So the sheriff's remark came across as a rather flippant way to treat an issue I've been pondering quite seriously lately. And that's why I found it disturbing.

  4. I don't know how to respond to that, Jess. Supernatural is what it is, and it's been that way for a long time. I'm very aware of the same issues that you are, which is why I chose not to try The Following. I thought the line was funny. I'm sorry it wasn't funny for you.

  5. I didn't mean to sound like I'm ticked that you found the line funny. I was just trying to explain why it didn't strike me as funny. I asked the initial question because I wasn't sure if you included that quote because you thought it was funny or strange. It was certainly a quote that stood out for me in the episode, so I might have included it in a quotes section, too.

    I was actually pondering the assorted issues while watching the episode, because it had several "gross bits I could live without" (as per normal for Supernatural) so the issue was already at the front of my brain.

  6. I'm pretty sure that Rosewood and Taggart are the two LAPD detectives that Eddie Murphy joins forces with in Beverly Hills Cop. Am I showing my age by knowing that?

    I wasn't sure where this episode was going at the beginning, but the scene in the interrogation room (until the end) had me laughing out loud. The reactions from both brothers were brilliantly done.

    But, as soon as I saw Charlie, I got a grin on my face that lasted until the end. She is a wonderful character and I was so glad we got to see her again.

    My favorite line was the porn star line. Again, it was Sam's reaction in contrast to Dean's and Charlie's deadpan expressions that had me howling.

  7. You're not showing your age, ChrisB--but you might be happy to know that there is a Beverly Hills Cop pilot floating around Hollywood these days, according to TVLine.

    I loved the Sheriff's line, and laughed out loud, because it was so callous, bizarre, and inappropriate. (As was his line about dipping himself in hand sanitizer after watching someone's gruesome mysterious death.) I thought his dialogue was meant to be weird, offbeat, but laughable because this is the kind of episode we're meant to take with a grain of salt. In fact, I thought it would be your lead quote, B.

    I love Felicia Day, and I loved geeky episodes like this. "Moondoor" might also be a reference to a thing in Game of Thrones, too.

  8. The Ewoks actually live on the MOON of EnDOR (Endor proper being a gas giant the moon orbits) so I'm guessing it was indeed a ROTJ reference.

  9. This was a hilarious episode and that ending was priceless!

    I love how Baltar managed to spot their fake badges and the whole "Call me maybe" line and "the Geneva convention".

  10. Loved this episode. The guys sooo needed a break and this was it. And who doesn't love Felicia Day? She should be a regular.

    "This episode would have been fun from beginning to end if we hadn't had an opening dismemberment and a LARPer exploding at the police station."
    Totally agree Billie...

    ...and that makes me want to comment on the things that Jess Lynde said, and I am totally on board with Jess. I've had these same struggles lately concerning gun control and the violence of our pop culture.

    I think it's time to make a change.
    But what can we do? Well, we can choose to NOT follow these TV shows that sometimes just prey on us.

    Some shows that I have chosen to drop:
    The Walking Dead - Never liked the show, really, the only thing that happened was heads exploding. But my decision was made in season 2 (I think) when they started to learn this kid to handle a gun. I felt sick. And I dropped the show.
    Dexter: Never liked what it was all about so I haven't seen it till recently. Well, everyone was raving about it and how good it was and I thought I'd give it a chance. Well, it turns out, this show manipulates you to like a serial killer and where's the morals in that? Dropped.
    Spartacus: ALL action/violent & sex scenes are shown in slow-motion - just so you can really see the details of heads decapitating, blood shooting all around etc... Spartacus season 3 started yesterday, and I was looking forward to it, but now, I realized what I was watching. I really want to continue watching this show, but I just have to make a sacrifice here. Spartacus - you're dropped.
    The Following: Saw the pilot episode and it was very disturbing. And the most disturbing thing is - how can you even write a script like this?`Will NOT be following this show. Dropped.
    Supernatural: Has been a fave show of mine for years, but I have often been irritated by the unnecessary gore that's been on. So, Supernatural - shape up! A good episode doesn't mean that you have to have heads rolling. You've proven that by good story telling in the past.

    Sorry guys, I know this is probably not the place to make these kinds of arguments and you will probably delete this post.
    But in a way, I think this is the perfect place for this kind of discussion - a great TV-series review site - we can do miracles here with our opinions.

    Best regards

  11. I'm not going to delete your comment, TJ. But I also don't know if we can have a conversation about this topic without things getting testy.

    I think the causes of horrors like Newtown are complicated, but much of the blame goes to the lack of any reasonable measures of gun control in this country, as well as the lack of awareness and funding for the treatment of people with mental health issues. Television, movie and video game violence might have a part in it, but people, including nonviolent, ordinary, regular old people, have always been fascinated by depictions of violence and horror. In the middle ages, people went to church and stared at paintings of the gruesome deaths of saints, and at depictions of the crucifixion. People took a picnic lunch to executions. One can argue that violence is more prevalent in present day culture because there is so much of it in entertainment, of course, but it is not new.

    I'm not crazy about grue. I tend to avoid horror as a genre, but I also love science fiction and fantasy -- it's my favorite thing. Really good science fiction and fantasy often includes strange and unusual violence. It's what it is. Do I wish some of the shows I love were less violent? Absolutely. Will I stop watching them? No, I won't.

    If anyone else wants to post a comment about this, please feel free. Let's just remember to use "I" statements -- no attacks.

  12. TJ, Jess, I totally understand where you are coming from. The idea that people can exercise their will to watch what they want to watch is absolutely vital to the freedoms that define this country.

    I'm worried that fear of things, including the fear of exploitation of violence and sex in all forms of media, will facilitate the ambitions of closed minded politicians wanting to censor and restrict what we should be able to watch.

    I am personally attracted to violent movies, the provide a catharsis for me. They allow me to see fake violence and associate that violence with fantasy instead of the horrors of real war and murder. It allows for a level of healthy detachment, so that I can enjoy a wide variety of stories.

    Am I saying that everyone feels the same as me, or should feel the same as me, absolutely not. I just want to continue to have the choice to watch what I want to watch. Excessive grue has its place, excessive sex has its place. I'm just tired of hearing blame placed at the feet of entertainment as an excuse for real violence.

    We live in a society obsessed with violence, where real violence occurs everyday. I wonder how many borderline psychopaths have stayed their hands because they had the right outlet to let out their aggression. That uber violent video game may have saved lives.

    But that is just my opinion, and it may be a flawed one.

  13. I agree with Billie and J.D. that violence and violent imagery have long been a part of the stories we tell and are drawn to as humans. I certainly watch a ton of violent media, although for me the violence is just an aspect of the stories I'm drawn to and the not the reason I tune in. For me, the violence typically boils down to "gross bits I could live without." And I agree that these stories often serve as outlets for a variety of stresses, fears, and emotions, and I don't see compelling evidence that violence in media leads directly to violent acts in reality.

    As you all note, the reasons that something like Newtown happens are complex and plentiful. The more I think on it, the more I think this is the core reason that the sheriff's remark set me off. I know that this kind of "irreverence" is common for Supernatural, and I often appreciate that irreverence. But I have a daughter in first grade. The school advised us to talk with our kids about what happened in Newtown before they heard scary bits and pieces from other kids on the bus or playground. So my husband and I had to explain to my 6-year-old little girl that many children her age were killed by a sick young man. And to then hear that act tossed aside casually as "these kids today ..." It just struck a nerve.

    I certainly appreciate the civil discussion on this topic though!

  14. Jess -- I was very interested to read your comment. Newtown stuck a nerve with me as well; my niece is in first grade. You can be sure that the next time I saw her, I hugged her pretty tightly. I do not envy you having that conversation. I can't begin to imagine how difficult that must have been.

    Violence and sex are two things that affect different people in different ways. I am squeamish as hell, so I avoid horror, violent films and gratuitous sex. Several of the films nominated for Oscars this year, which I haven’t seen, are known for their violence. I will wait until they come out on DVD so that I can eject the disc if it all becomes too much for me. But, I agree wholeheartedly with J.D. I oppose censorship in all its forms and do not want any incident, no matter how tragic, to lead us down that path. If I don’t want to watch, I can turn it off.

    Recently, CrazyCris wrote a great piece on her blog about violence in films. This seems to be a topic we are all addressing in one form or another these days.

  15. Well, difficult conversations are pretty much part of the "contract agreement" when you become a parent. If you are pondering it, make sure you read the fine print. :)

    I realize that young children here and the world over suffer death and much worse on a daily basis, but you hope to delay those kinds of conversations with your own little ones, if you can. You want to preserve their innocence and their sense of safety for as long as you can.

    Just wanted to note that I realize Supernatural may not have been specifically referencing Newtown with that comment. That's just the connection I made.

  16. I never thought once about Newtown while watching this episode, so I really didn't get the connection you made, Jess. Which is why I responded the way I did.

  17. This is why I like discussing shows in this type of forum. It can be quite interesting to read and understand the the myriad meanings the audience takes from the same creative content, because of the different universes of experience we each bring to the "viewing table" (which can differ vastly from what the creative team intended).

    These in-depth discussions can be so enlightening. As always, I'm glad that this is a place where we can discuss and engage in differing points of view.

  18. It is a interesting discussion you have.
    I am from Europa more specifically scandinavien where, our gun policy is very stricht.
    unless you are a hunter(a real hunter) you can't buy a riffel.
    we still have crimes with guns but, maybe 20 a year around the county.
    As an outsider looking in, it is not the violence in supernatural, I personally have a problem with, it is the drinking!
    When I hear that there have been another school shooting in the US, I can't understand how you can still love your guns more than you love in some way life.
    When that is said, I personally find the way some of the victims die to graphic, but I don't think that supernatural general is a very violent show.
    It is my favorit american show by far.

  19. Lots of good arguments here. And I especially am on board with the ones that say that censorship is not the answer. Free will is essential in a democracy IMO.

    But this complicated subject gets to me big time. I know I can censor myself and decide what to watch and not...
    But what about teenagers? Do they really have the understanding of what's good for them or not?
    I clearly remember when I was a like 15 years old. I was hopelessly rebellious. I did things just because I could, and I was so convinced that I was right as well.
    And I knew that if anything went wrong and I had to kill myself, I would use mum's sleeping pills, which she was hiding, but I knew exactly where they were (of course). Luckily, no guns were in the house back then... Who knows what kind of plans I would have had then? But those sleeping pills were accessible and that just created some possibilities.
    Well, of course that whole thing was just teenage hormones and mood swings talking...I was never close to harm myself or others...all it did was me ending up becoming a heavy smoker, smoking 3 packs a day which took a lot of years and effort to end.
    In hindsight, I can honestly say that I wasn't a responsible adult until I was about 25 years old.

    At last Christmas family event, I accidently caught two of my teenage nephews talking about which death was the coolest in the Saw movies. I went beserk and all parental uncle TJ mode - saying "there's no such thing as a cool death, and why are you watching these movies anyways". All I got was an "'kay" and demoted from cool uncle to embarrassing uncle.

    I'm worried, worried that young people take in things they can't really handle.
    A show like Supernatural, who I guess has a huge teenage following, probably adds the gore and the decapitations just because they think it is what is required and what the audience wants.
    I'm saying - I don't want it.

  20. Woah! Intense topic of conversation going on here! And along a very correct and polite tone by everyone, bravo!

    Thanks for pointing this out to me ChrisB, I missed it because I don't watch Supernatural (please don't kick me out of here guys! It's been on my "to catch up with" list for years... for when I had time... but I never had time and the number of seasons to catch up on got longer and longer!)

    Jess: that must have been incredibly hard to do! How do you explain such an event to a 6 year-old? *sigh* :o(

    Like ChrisB said I recently wrote a post along a similar topic as these comments because I was struck by the violence (amount and nature) I had witnessed in the past three movies I had just seen (Zero Dark Thirty, Reacher and Django). Some of it was "justifiable violence" (in that it serves the story"), some not... but I remarked on how there seems to be so much more of it recently...

    TJ: the shows you mentioned I've also either dropped or never started watching for precisely the same reasons! Waaaay too violent for me, added to the fact that that very violence was an integral part of the fabric of the series (Walking Dead, Dexter, Spartacus...). Too much for me. I'm ok with my regular shows (or movies) being a bit violent from time to time, but not gratuitously and there's no need to show us all the gory details! Less can be more! I get more scared out of some well constructed suspense than a gory dismemberment and death!

    Has anyone seen Alejandro Amenabar's first movie "Tesis"? (you've probably seen his English language film "The Others", and "Vanilla Sky" the scene-by-scene remake of his 2nd movie "Abre Los Ojos"). It's a film about violence (snuff movies = filmed torture + death), the protagonist is actually doing her thesis on violence in the media and happens upon a snuff video. We only hear it and see her reaction, and it's scary as hell! As are all the other tense moments in the movie. No need to see the blood and guts, we know it's horrible just by seeing someone else's reaction to it!

    Here's another question I really don't get: why does US society (I'm generalising) seem to be more accepting of violence in the media than sex? That's the impression we get from this side of the pond... it seems pretty weird and stupid when you consider one ends life, the other is a natural part of life that leads to new life!

  21. The U.S. probably looks like one big country from the outside, but it's more like two nations with a serious political and sociological divide. I've lived in several states, and there is a *difference* depending on where you live. (I read a terrific article about this recently -- Welcome to the New Civil War. I had an international visitor several years ago while Bush was president, and she was shocked to see a poster for a huge anti-war protest march in the center of Los Angeles. My visitor saw all of the U.S. as the same, when it is not. She was seeing us all in a certain light because of who was politically in control. Although things have been changing, there are way too many dinosaurs still in control of the country.

    I also don't like the emphasis on violence and the prudery concerning sex. It seems ridiculous to me, too. And I think I'm a fairly typical liberal "blue state" sort of person. But I also think that censoring a show like Supernatural that is a specific take on horror movies isn't the way to go. I feel like I have to defend Dexter, too. Although there's stuff in Dexter that goes past my personal comfort level, the emphasis is on character and story, and we mostly don't see the worst stuff happening -- a lot of it is left to the imagination. The complexity of the characters of Dexter and his sister Deb, who is a cop, and the way they've changed and grown over the course of the series is why I'm still watching and why I write about it. It's a long, long way from wall to wall gore. I wouldn't review a series that was wall to wall gore.

    Even The Walking Dead, which goes past my comfort zone much further than Supernatural and Dexter, has a reason for what it does. It's an entry in the horror genre, and the fear that something horrible could happen at any moment is a big part of what the series is about and why it's such compelling television.

    I truly believe that censorship is not the answer to gun violence. If something is not your cup of tea, don't watch it. But please don't dump it in a pile, like a banned book, and burn it.

    And I hope I haven't pissed anyone off, but it bothers me when Americans are seen as a nation of one specific sort of person. We're really aren't.

  22. What an interesting article, Billie! Beautifully argued and, I'm afraid, far too true.

  23. Billie, I didn't mean to upset you! I KNOW Americans aren't a nation of one specific sort of person, but I can never find a way to explain to people who come to ME "as an American" asking me about it all! (just like they did after the 2000 elections) I can't get them to understand that having only lived in the US as a child I'm not the right person to ask about the US! And all my US friends and most of my family think pretty much the same way I do (as you said a "typical blue state liberal"), excepting a crazy uncle and his daughter whom we all ignore on FB around election season (or whenever they post offensive B.S., which sadly is quite often).

    I guess my problem is I don't know anyone in the US (other than my 2 family members who are so extreme they can't be reasoned with) from the other end of the ideological spectrum so I can't understand their point of view, never having been exposed to it other than via the media. :o(

    And I detest the very idea of external censorship! It's not the answer to ANYTHING. And you're right, if people don't approve of something or don't like it... then simply don't watch it!

    But I do believe in a form of internal censorship. Someone who creates something decides how they want to do it, what they want to show... and more and more it seems like violence is being shown to entice or attract the public, to create something that will be talked about (good or bad), than for a specific story-related objective. I just wish people would ask themselves WHY they are adding all this seemingly extra, and often graphic, violence. If they can answer the question with something other than "it's cool" or "to attract attention" then ok.

  24. No worries, Cris, really! I knew what you meant.

    And this is probably why we shouldn't talk politics on a TV site. :)

  25. Very true!

    I wish I knew someone reasonable from the opposite political spectrum with whom I could have an intelligent conversation. It's kind of pointless discussing the matter with people who think exactly the same way I do! Preaching to the choir and all that... :p

  26. Seriously, no worries. I think it's fascinating how a discussion can change direction and take on a life of itself, and it's okay, as long as no one is attacking someone else.

    If someone wants to post a comment about the episode, that's also fine. :)

  27. I''m not even going to thouch the touchy subject. I can say that I played a lot of Mortal Kombat when I was a small kid and it had nothing to with all those people trapped in my basement.

    I liked the episode, but I didn't love it. Won't complain.

    The MOON DOOR thing reminded me of STAR GATE. And of Mordor.

  28. Wow, I'm sorry I waited to watch this and read the review. I loved this episode. I always enjoy their "fun" episodes. What an interesting conversation. I understand why people don't like violence and gore in shows and I am usually like that which is why it is very weird that I review "The Walking Dead". While I am the last person you would expect to watch anything zombie I appreciate how the show explores human nature and moral issues. I would argue that it isn't about zombies at all but relationships and character under extreme pressure. I think that Supernatural is the same. I do like the mythologies it creates but at it's heart is the relationship between two brothers and we couldn't explore that in the same way if they were going to college or working in a coal mine. Violence is a part of our lives and good television is one of the mediums that allows us to examine and talk about it.

  29. I've been a fan of "Supernatural" since the very first episode, the one with the woman in white. Believe it or not, "LARP and the Real Girld" was my favourite episode of them ALL. I absolutely enjoyed this one from beginning to end. It really was a joy to watch :-)

  30. Wow, for a light episode it sure sparked a lot of political discussion!

    I had an unrelated reaction to the violence in this episode and a few episodes before this. I don't usually have a problem with violence, as long as it serves a purpose in the narrative. Lately I noticed that Supernatural seems to have lost some of its creativity. Almost every episode contains a death that jump-starts the story. This death usually follows the following formula: focus on a person, person notices something strange, pan to wall and smash red goop against it. It's not even shocking anymore. I feel that if you can't do justice to the violence, you should find another way to get your characters involved.

    I had the same problems with The X-files and Buffy: after years, the show falls into the same patterns over and over. Deaths become less effective (boring even), and fight scenes become bathroom breaks. It's one of the easiest traps of hyper-violent shows: you don't immediately notice that the show is in need of new ideas because the 'exciting' action scenes are still there.

    A bit harsh for a comedy episode like this, but it's more of a general observation. The episode itself was a lot of fun!

  31. Now THIS is pod-racing
    I had to take a break from the show on the last episode, not just because of Benny but because of the way the closing scene lamp-shaded the one from season 3's Christmas episode. I couldn't even talk about it. That was plenty hard at the time, Dean admirably trying to enjoy a last meal before the coming execution, so I felt straight-up betrayed to see a pure downer version of that being revisited. Dean settling down with Sam after they both turned away from expanding their family, just pure ~together alone~ misery. Such an awful way to end an episode. This wasn't fate but a complete misplay on the characters' (aka the writers') part. I know I've been bitching about this repeatedly now... but I feel validated in it. I think they're doing something insidiously very wrong, and keep finding new ways to do it. I'd rather just have them do experiments that don't quite land, like the 'Chronicle' movie episode.
    But this episode, like the Garth civil war episode last season, really helped bounce back from that. I'm too lazy to check if they're the same writers with the transparent positivity and low stakes. But good on them, if they're separate people. I think I just need to start tuning parts of the show out, which I have judged people for in the past but I think I get it now. At some point it's my responsibility what I let myself fixate on ands I need to just stop talking about the demotivational stuff.
    The Belladonna joke was already mentioned but yeah I LOVED that too. And like whoever mentioned it pointed out, Sam's understated reaction is what really sold it lol. I was already a fan of Role Models (with Paul Rudd) which probably hasn't aged well but I loved that stuff and didn't dare to see something like that on Supernatural. Also... the comments... lol... wtf. Why here of all places? XD


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