After seeing the previews for “There’s No Place Like Home,” we were pretty excited Charlie Bradbury would be returning to Supernatural. We love Felicia Day, who plays Charlie, and were eager to see what happened to Charlie after she went to Oz with Dorothy in “Slumber Party” (S09E04). Yet, our first glimpse of Charlie is of her torturing a man. Say it ain’t so, Charlie!
[If you prefer to listen to this recap in an mp3 audio file, you can do so below, otherwise read on]
The Library Guild
We find Sam and Dean at the bunker enjoying breakfast. Dean is on a program of sorts to keep his dark side at bay that involves abstinence, lots of sleep, and egg white omelets. It appears that Dean has taken Sam’s advice from “The Hunter Games” to heart and is trying to figure out how to hold the Mark of Cain at bay. We are treated to a not-so-exciting library montage, indicating that the boys have been researching their little hearts out to find a way to remove the Mark.
If Sam Only Had a Heart
While checking the internet for anything unusual, Sam discovers a tape of Charlie on the news beating up a man. Dean asks, “Our Charlie? Yea high, wouldn’t hurt a hobbit, practically sparkles?” She is pretty sparkly. It turns out the man who she tortured is a district attorney and on the previous night a court stenographer had also been assaulted. Dean points out that Charlie could be hunting and they shouldn’t make assumptions. Isn’t the presumption of innocence usually Sam’s thing? Perhaps whichever Winchester is feeling the most guilty at any given time takes on that role. They leave the bunker to talk to the district attorney who Charlie apparently tortured.
The Corrupt League
Sam and Dean discover that Charlie wanted information on an old case in which a drunk driver hit another car, killing the driver and leaving the passenger brain-dead. From what we learned about Charlie in “Pac-Man Fever” (S08E20), it becomes clear that the victims were Charlie’s parents. The district attorney tells them the case never went to trial and the files were sealed. He gives the Winchesters a social services file on the then-12-year-old Charlie. When the brothers ask him what name he gave up to Charlie, he denies having given her a name. When the district attorney doesn’t respond to threats, Dean exerts physical pressure on the already injured man. Sam becomes visibly concerned about how far his brother is going to go. Finally, the district attorney admits he was bribed by Councilwoman Barbara Cordry to keep quiet about the case. It turns out that Charlie is going after the people who destroyed her family and that her real name is Celeste Middleton. Both interesting facts, but we admit being more slightly more intrigued by the name Celeste than by the plot so far.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Sam and Dean go to the councilwoman’s house and introduce themselves as Special Agents Gabriel and Collins. We’ve really missed the Winchesters’ use of rock musicians for their fake identities, as they’ve done it only a few times this season. Despite their Genesis reference, the councilwoman refuses to cooperate. They sit in the Impala outside the house, where Dean tries to eat food containing leafy green vegetables and Sam investigates Charlie’s past. Sam reads Celeste Middleton’s social services files and finds out that she was kind of a messed-up kid, but Dean points out, “If a shrink interviewed us at that age, you think the report would be all kittens and rainbows?” Now we are stuck with an image in our heads of a psychiatric report about the Winchester boys with Nyan Cat on the cover.
They hear a scream from the house and find Charlie attacking the councilwoman. Charlie taunts the Winchesters for a bit and then manages to escape, kicking Dean’s butt in the process. The councilwoman tells Sam that Charlie took her bank statements. Charlie drives off after puncturing the Impala’s tire so she can’t be followed. After badass Charlie drives away, another, seemingly nicer, version of Charlie drives up in a yellow car and tells Sam and Dean they should probably catch up. Two Charlies! Now you have our attention.
If Charlie Only Had the Nerve
Turns out that the Wizard of Oz had unleashed Charlie’s dark side in order to help Charlie and Dorothy win the war for the Emerald City. Her dark side manifested as a separate person, creating a good version and a bad version of Charlie. Good Charlie can’t do anything bad like break into people’s bank accounts or leer at a bartender. Her two selves are still connected because if one gets hurt, they both suffer. After winning the Emerald City, Good Charlie got fed up with her other self’s badness and told her she didn’t want Dark Charlie near her ever again. Dark Charlie is now trying to win her back by going after the people who hurt her family. When Dean suggests they go back to Oz to get the Wizard to put her back together, she says that Dark Charlie broke the key so they can’t get back to Oz. All this talk of a dark side has Dean thinking hard about the Mark of Cain.
They manage to look into the bank records and find that the man behind the money, Russell Wellington, appears to be the drunk driver who hit Charlie’s parents. When Sam and Dean start to go off to talk alone, Charlie stops them, saying, “Secrets are bad.” Dean tells her, “Charlie, I don’t think you should be anywhere around this piece-of-crap salesman. And—and I don’t think that finding Dark Charlie and locking her up is gonna work. I mean, she may be … dark, but she’s still a part of you.” Sam and Charlie go back to the bunker to research the key to Oz, while Dean goes to keep an eye on Russell Wellington in case Dark Charlie shows up.
Sam discovers an old incident report (Men of Letters wrote up incident reports apparently) that indicates Clive Dillon was the Man of Letters who originally found the key to Oz. Clive got stuck in Oz when he left the key on Earth. Dorothy’s father, L. Frank Baum, went to rescue him, unknowingly allowing his daughter Dorothy to get trapped in Oz. They find that Clive went into hiding after retiring from the Men of Letters. They figure out where he is and leave the bunker to go and talk to him.
If Dean Only Had a Brain
Dean sits in the Impala eating nuts and listening to tapes about quieting one’s mind. Dean sees that Russell has arrived at his commercial development office, so Dean goes inside to wait in the lobby. Dean, posing as a Mr. Presley, tells Russell Wellington (Barclay Hope) about his dream home, but Russell doesn’t believe he’s a real buyer. When the lights in the office out, Dean tells Russell if he wants to stay alive he needs to stay put. Dean goes out to the lobby to find Dark Charlie playing with a very sharp knife. She gives him a story about just needing to see Russell’s face before they turn him over to the cops. How can someone with his own extremely dark side be so gullible?
Dean brings Dark Charlie into Russell’s office. When Russell sees Charlie he recognizes that she is Celeste Middleton. Russell apologizes and acknowledges that he should pay. She tells him, “Russell, I forgive you.” Dark Charlie quickly locks Dean out of the room, kills Russell, and escapes through the window.
Sam and Charlie, the nice one, are driving to find Clive when Dean calls to say that Dark Charlie has killed Russell. Sam tells Dean they are on the way to find the Man of Letters who originally found the key. Dean tells them he will meet them there.
Dark Charlie finds Dean in a bar. She taunts him about his own dark side. Dean tells her that they are on the trail of the Man of Letters to fix the key and his location. Why would he possibly give her this information? He is smarter than that. It must be a trap. Yet, Dark Charlie steals the Impala and drives off. Dean calls Sam to tell him to be on the lookout for “Dick Charlie,” even though he delayed her by telling her the wrong town. Ohhhh …
Sam and Charlie are Off to See the Wizard
Sam and Charlie are talking with Clive Dillon (Duncan Fraser). Clive tells Charlie that the key to Oz cannot be repaired because the original six keys were forged from Oz steel and can only be repaired there. Sam asks Clive what happened to him in Oz. He explains that a coven of witches grabbed him in Oz. They released his dark side, just like with Charlie. It turns out that his Dark side is the Wizard of Oz. Charlie is worried because he is in Oz running the Emerald City alongside Dorothy. Good Clive says since they don’t have the key to get back to Oz, he must draw the Wizard of Oz (aka Dark Clive) back to Earth. He does this by mortally wounding himself. A very young looking Dark Clive comes crashing through a mirror and asks, “What have you done, you fool? You had but one task—stay alive. And you couldn’t even manage that.” Several keys conspicuously hang off the young wizard’s belt.
Dark Charlie is pretty smart. Rather than going to the town Dean told her about, she followed him. Charlie and Dean get into a big, violent fight outside of Clive’s house. Dean seems pretty angry at Dark Charlie, or is he really angry at another dark soul? As Dean beats Dark Charlie, inside the house Good Charlie becomes bloodied and bruised.
Sam pulls a gun on the Wizard, but Dark Clive quickly restrains Sam with his sorcery. The Wizard begins to strangle Sam with his magic. Good Charlie has no choice but to kill Good Clive in order to save Sam. Good Clive tells her to do it and says, “I forgive you. We both do.” When she shoots Good Clive, the Wizard of Oz dies and Sam is released. Sam grabs the wizard’s keys and carries Good Charlie outside and lays her beside Dark Charlie, who tells her, “You did it, didn’t you? You killed the Wizard. I knew it. The magic was in you all the time.” Sam puts the keys into Charlie’s hand and her two sides are reconciled. Dean looks at his bloodied hands that had just been beating Charlie with regret.
Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, or at Least Quiet
Back at the bunker, Sam is on the phone with Castiel, telling him that they need to find Cain or something that will help Dean. Charlie walks in and glances over at Dean. Sam asks Charlie how she is and she replies that sleeping for two days is rest enough. She asks if they found anything about the Mark, and Sam tells her that he found a reference to a book called The Book of the Damned that’s in a library in Tuscany. Charlie says she will go check it out. When Sam asks about the adventure she was seeking when she went to Oz, she replies, “I think we have all the adventure we can handle right here.” She tells him that Dark Charlie is quiet and she must continue to move forward. It appears Charlie has silenced her own demons, after living with the pain caused by her parents’ accident for so many years.
Charlie walks over to Dean, and before he can say much she tells him, “I’m not letting what happened to me happen to you.” She tells Dean that he has the advantage of being a Winchester. Charlie says, “I forgive you, Dean,” and he responds, “Yeah, well I don’t.” He tells her he’s sorry. Charlie leaves them with, “Arrivederci, bitches.”
“There’s No Place Like Home” ends with Sam and Dean recommitting to finding a way to deal with the Mark of Cain.
Sam: “She’s right Dean. You can do this. We can do this.”
Dean: “Then let’s get to work.”
As Sam walks away, Dean looks at his hands once more. Dean examines his bruised fist with a pensive and guilt-lined face. He appears to be both questioning his ability to avoid the darkness the Mark has brought forth, while strengthening his resolve to fight it.
In the Merry Old Land of Pop Culture
Supernatural is known for its character-driven dialogue. We love the cultural references on Supernatural, which are usually voiced by Dean: “All right, skip to the end, dragon tattoo.” When Charlie visits the boys, she brings her own allusions to the table: “Should have known Rocket and Groot would track me down.” If you want to check out the pop culture mentions from each week of Supernatural, let Google translate the website SupernaturalGreece for you. Sure, you probably know all the pop culture references, or at least will pretend to, but its fun to read about them on a Greek website.
Along with the pop culture references in the dialogue, we have always appreciated Supernatural’s attention to detail in the set design. Yet, the most noteworthy technical aspect of “There’s No Place Like Home” was the camera work. Supernatural often uses a lot of close-up and over-the-should shots, with a few wide shots. In this episode we still saw mostly close-ups, but there were also some unusual angles and interesting transitional shots. It was also fantastic to see so many exterior shots of the Impala.
Charlie’s manifestation of her own darkness provided an interesting narrative that reflected aspects of Dean’s own experience. Though Dean didn’t actually slaughter anyone in “There’s No Place Like Home,” he couldn’t find a way to keep Charlie safe from his own dark side. Supernatural continues to keep us engaged in the Season 10 story arc revolving around the Mark of Cain, while successfully integrating other interesting storylines and characters we love.