It's an off-week for Supernatural, to say the (very) least. In this episode, titled "LARP and the Real Girl," Sam and Dean play pretend and face-off against a spell book purchased off of eBay. Fortunately, knives destory books.
After two live action role-players mysteriously end up dead, Sam and Dean attempt to track down the source of the strange mark connecting the victims, leading them to a game of LARPing in Michigan, where Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) is "Queen." With the help (and weight) of LARPing royalty, Sam, Dean and Charlie split up and venture deep into the forest of the Shadow Orcs to find the person behind the horrific deaths. But when the Queen is suddenly taken captive by a strange creature, the mystery behind the deaths are revealed, and Sam and Dean face off against its master to protect fairy love.
Although Supernatural has previously traversed geek culture to much success, this week's episode - which presents an awkward mixture of forced "geek" terminology and a role-playing setting - may be one of the oddest, most uncomfortable episodes of the series to date. To its (sole) credit, "LARP and the Real Girl" has no attachment to the overall series storyline, giving fans some hope that this episode was simply an unfortunate experiment.
A returning character; a new environment for Sam and Dean to explore; iconic references from movies – in theory, this episode should work; however, it doesn't. Here's the "wiki" on why that is: Even though Charlie Bradbury is a returning character, her original appearance wasn't as memorable to the series as it was accommodating to the last season's Leviathan storyline. And filling Charlie's dialogue (and storyline) with many geek and lesbian references only helps to drive home the fact that the depth of this episode is actually non-existent.
Additionally, in a series in which all religions and all monsters can exist in a single, surprisingly coherent storyline, having Sam and Dean make a one-off stop to defeat someone wielding the force of "Buy It Now" on eBay doesn't exactly speak to the promises of returning the series "back to its origins" that were made before the season began. But still… the episode should have worked.
In this instance, at least, Supernatural's downfall appears to be that the want to tell a geek-themed episode outweighs the need to actually tell it. And yes, while this structure has worked many times in the series past, the fact that Supernatural is an ageing series makes it more difficult to execute such niche episodes – especially when excitement for the overall seasonal storyline is currently waning.
In a scene which perfectly represents the problems of this episode, Sam and Dean are facing off against their fairy-wielding foe, and Charlie must destroy the book that is binding the fairy to their enemy's command. Before her is a fireplace and a knife. Since the book must be destroyed, Charlie picks up the knife and stabs the book… destroying it.
While it's highly unlikely that the quality of this episode is a sign of things to come, longtime fans are still taking mental notes about how this season is unfolding, continuously wondering if Supernatural will reach its season 10 goal. More importantly, fans are wondering whether or not they'll still be watching if it does. Hopefully, subsequent episodes will inspire a confident "Yes," from fans.
Supernatural returns next Wednesday with "As Time Goes By" @9pm on The CW. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: