On the D/L – Supernatural
Season 10 Episode 11 – “There’s No Place Like Home”
Fan favourite Supernatural character Charlie (Felicia Day) returns from her trip to Oz this week and seems to be out for blood soaked revenge.
It’s always fun to see Charlie on this show as she remains a consistently well written character. Every time she has appeared we’ve seen an evolution in her character while still retaining the same nerdy charm she had in her first appearance. This episode also gave us some welcome insight into Charlie’s past -She’s a girl from Kansas who winds up in the Land of Oz, what are the chances?- as well as filling us in on her adventures when she was in Oz. Maybe this should have been the premise of a Supernatural spinoff. Would certainly have been better than that demon mafia nonsense that they tried to peddle.
This particular episode gave Felicia Day a chance to show off her acting range as she played a dual role within Charlie. She did a great job of making the good side of her personality distinct from the bad side and clearly had a lot of fun with both. Her good side didn’t seem all that different from her normal self but I guess that just shows that she’s fundamentally a good person. There are slight hints that she’s more inhibited in comments that she makes and she says that hacking is bad but other than that she seems like the same old Charlie.
Her evil side was much more pronounced with her being cunning, merciless and fiendishly intelligent. She always came across as singularly focused on her objective and isn’t about to let anyone stand in her way. I also liked that she seemed almost ashamed of her good side and felt that it held her back. It was an interesting contrast with the other side of her felling incomplete.
A personality split story is nothing new in fantasy or science fiction with many famous examples over the past several decades. The one that comes immediately to mind is the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within” where the same thing happened to Captain Kirk. With that episode being made in the 60s the matter was handled with far less subtlety than here and gave the ever talented William Shatner plenty of opportunity to ham it up as Kirk’s evil side. The reason I mention this one as the way the episodes handle the dual personality is quite similar.
Kirk’s good side feels incomplete without his evil side informing aspects of his personality that help him succeed in life. Without that part of himself he is unable to function as an effective leader as he lacks the self confidence. It’s similar here where good Charlie feels inadequate without the side of her personality that gives her the strength to be the initiative filled character that she has been previously.
The end of the episode shows this really well once the two sides of her personality are reintegrated. Almost immediately she becomes driven by her desire to help and eager to take on a new project. It was a clever literal deconstruction of her character that shows the blurring of the line between good and evil as well as suggesting that neither is truly better than the other.
In rare Supernatural tradition these days the main plot of Charlie’s duality actually ties nicely into the ongoing plot of Dean’s struggle with the Mark of Cain. This episode frames the struggle like overcoming an addiction in probably the most obvious way possible. Dean shakes when he handles weapons, looks longingly at bottles of booze and generally seems to have a tough time keeping himself on the straight and narrow. The references were a little obvious but it really works and it’s good to see Dean struggling to restrain himself.
Having Dean’s struggle mirror Charlie’s was an obvious yet clever connection to make. The best scene was where Evil Charlie convinces Dean to let her speak to the killer of her parents. I like how Evil Charlie plays upon Dean’s vulnerability and desire to do the right thing. It was believable that Dean would make the completely wrong decision in this instance considering his inner turmoil.
Seeing Dean battle Evil Charlie was a great scene too. It was a good example of an external battle as well as an internal one. On one hand Dean had to take on Evil Charlie and not let her win but he’s also battling the Mark of Cain and holding himself back from really cutting loose in a fight. I thought that this scene showed that perfectly and showed how committed Dean is to still be useful as a hunter despite his murderous urges.
As good as this sequence was there was far too much cutting away from it meaning that it felt a little underdone. Much of the evidence of him changing tactics happens off screen instead of letting us see the moment where he opts to hold himself back or give it his all.
Another problem with the episode is that Sam is almost entirely relegated to support status again. All he really does is look worried, provide some plot advancing exposition and generally take up space. I don’t really have a sense of who Sam is this season and I find his lack of a character arc a little jarring. Most of the Dean plot is progressing quite nicely but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the other lead.
A Supernatural episode that deserves a high rating. It’s great to see again and it’s nice to be reminded that the show can be really good when it wants to be.
Episodes with Charlie in them are usually good to watch and this is no exception. Her return from the Land of Oz split into her good and evil sides is a really engaging story and gives Felicia Day plenty of opportunity to show off her acting skills.
Linking the duality of Charlie’s story to Dean’s struggle with his murderous urges is a great choice and there’s a great sense of empathy put across between Dean and Evil Charlie. It makes sense that they would almost see eye to eye and gives the episode some of the best scenes.
There was a really cool scene where Dean has to fight Evil Charlie with the intention of winning while holding back enough so that he doesn’t succumb to his violent urges. It’s effectively handled for the most part but keeps having Dean’s change in tactics happen off screen lessening the impact somewhat.
Sam still has very little to do here other than hang around and provide exposition. His lack of a character arc consistently sticks out and it feels like he’s getting really sidelined. It’s a shame as there’s plenty the show could be doing with him but seems to be avoiding.