As great as Sam and Dean are onscreen together, Supernatural never really works without a third (sometimes even a fourth) character for those two to bounce off. This episode definitely accomplished that by bringing back Felicia Day’s Charlie. Day is fantastic in this role, and Charlie is definitely one of the show’s best recurring characters.
That being said my first thought about this episode was a question. That question was why. Why even have this episode? Why this insane plot? Why not stick to the really awesome narrative constructed last episode? Why get rid of Castiel? Not to say that I wasn’t a fan of Charlie’s return, but as great as Day was she just doesn’t have the same chemistry with the boys Winchester that Misha Collins does.
The episode opens with some old-timey Men Of Letters at their primary base, where Sam and Dean now set up camp. You can tell they’re old timey because one of them has a fedora on and it’s shot in black and white. Also, one of them is vaguely British. I guess that’s a hint too. Anyway the two dudes are playing chess when suddenly a lady with a human sized bag busts up into the place. It’s “Frank’s kid” Dorothy (Tiio Horn). That’s right! Frank as in L. Frank Baum. Dorothy as in Baum’s literary invention, Dorothy, the one that goes to Oz. This iteration of the heroine is far more hard-boiled than the young lady from Kansas. What’s in the bag you ask? I’m glad you did. It’s the Wicked Witch. Apparently, water just will not do; neither will bullets, stakes, or any other general means of magical monster murder.
Back in the present Sam and Dean discover an old computer in the bunker. Thinking they can use it to track angels, the brothers call upon Charlie. With her help, they manage to condense all of the knowledge the Men Of Letters compiled over the years. They also discover Dorothy and The Witch. The two were bound together in a jar by magic. Now that their out The Witch has only one goal, find the magical key that will allow her reentry to Oz.
There’s not much else that happens in the episode worth talking about. They find hints to fight The Witch in Baum’s old books. There are some action sequences. There are a few meta-jokes about spoilers and Game Of Thrones. The only really intriguing element of the episode was how torn Charlie is between her fear and her lust for adventure. Charlie’s admiration for Dorothy and her magical adventures is the most compelling through line of the episode. In fact, it was in large part the only aspect of the show worth paying attention to this time around.
With the threat of Bartholomew looming, the growing evangelical Christian conspiracy, and the rest of the supernatural threats occupying Supernatural’s universe it seems like an awful time for a throwaway one-week episode. Little to nothing was established moving forward, and the ending removes the best thing about the episode (Charlie) from the narrative for the foreseeable future.
The only other interesting thing was Ezekiel emerging to warn Dean that every time he uses his power to help someone it forces him to occupy Sam’s body even longer. You’d think that might have come up earlier. Maybe Ezekiel is playing the long con. He certainly likes forcing Dean to make exceedingly difficult choices. Regardless, this episode has established a pattern for the season: one typical interesting narrative episode followed directly by one miserable throwaway. I hope that doesn’t hold up, but it looks, unfortunately, likely. This one was a mistake. Let’s hope they get back on the horse and redeem themselves next week.