Back when they were battling the Leviathans, Sam and Dean encountered geek supreme Charlie Bradbury. Since then, Sam fell in love with married vet Amelia and Dean forged a bromance with the vampire Benny – but both Winchesters cut these new ties to resume life on the road together…
NOW! Live-action role-playing gets a little too ‘live’ – and in gruesome fashion – in this week’s episode of Supernatural when a man is ripped limb from limb by some invisible force, in the punningly titled ‘LARP and the Real Girl’.
The chief suspect for the murder is one Lance Jacobson – who’s been sending the victim bizarre, threatening texts – but geeky Lance doesn’t convince as a killer and he soon reveals that the texts are all part of a live-action role-playing (or LARPing) game…
Investigating the strange death, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are surprised to run into their old ally Charlie, who’s reinvented herself as the ‘Queen’ of LARPs after having to leave her old life behind – geeks worshiping Felicia Day… however did the writers of Supernatural come up with that idea?
Though she’s terrified that the Winchesters will turn her world upside down again, Charlie begrudgingly agrees to help out the duo, revealing that her current LARPing campaign has been cursed with a mysterious bout of bad luck…
As they delve deeper into the case and eye possible suspects, Dean and Charlie make for an unlikely but fun pairing – with her help, he’s forced to confront his own feelings about lying to Sam and ‘breaking up’ with Benny, and finds himself enjoying LARPing – and his Kevin Costner in Robin Hood outfit – a little too much.
Place macho Dean amongst obsessive nerds and you’re guaranteed a few good laughs – sure enough, it’s great fun watching the elder Winchester fight off his own geeky urges while attempting to maintain his testosterone-fuelled self-image.
At times though, the nerd-poking of ‘LARP and the Real Girl’ is a little too broad – when a sobbing Lance yelps “Oh ye Gods, Thargrim the Difficult has fallen!” you can’t help thinking that a little subtlety wouldn’t go amiss. But the more extreme humour is thankfully undercut with a nice line in gruesome violence – particularly Lance’s bloody demise.
It’s ultimately revealed that frustrated nerd with a vengeance Jerry – aka Boltar the Furious – has been taking the fantasy world he created a little too seriously and he’s the one behind the killings, using real magic to strike down anyone who gets in his way.
But the spell is reversed with relatively little fuss and the now-powerless mage is felled by Dean’s right hook – a disappointingly flat ending to what had been up till this point an entertaining episode.
The very final scenes make up for the limp climax though – yes, the Braveheart tribute and final text scroll is silly in the extreme, but the gradual repair of Sam and Dean’s relationship, which had been slowly disintegrating this season, is very welcome.
Dean’s continued guilt over what he did to Sam and the brothers larking – or should be LARPing – about at episode’s end are good signs. This show always works better when the Winchesters are bonded than when they’re torn apart.
As a rule, this writer prefers Supernatural when it’s grim and gritty as opposed to when it’s trying for laughs, but after the dark run of episodes we’ve had of late, a little levity is welcome and ‘LARP and the Real Girl’ does a better job of balancing action and humour than this season’s earlier ‘Hunteri Heroici’, and Felicia Day remains as charming as ever. A third visit from Charlie wouldn’t be unwelcome.