When it comes to women in the “Supernatural” universe – how shall I put this? – they tend to die. Or be evil. Or have their memory erased (in the case of Dean’s ex-love Lisa). So when a new female character shows up on the scene, the fans tend to be a little worried about her well-being. Well, when it comes to Charlie Bradbury (played with “adorkable goofiness” but strong will by Felicia Day), we had nothing to worry about.
Last week, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester found out that that Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) had been following them around as a ghost after he was shot in the noggin by head Leviathan Dick Roman (James Patrick Stewart).
Bobby is tied to his old, beat-up flask that Dean has been carting around for months – wherever the flask goes, so goest Bobby.
Meanwhile, Roman has been financing archeological digs all over the world, and his corporation has started building research centers to cure cancer. Needless to say – that sounds suspicious.
The Girl With The Dungeons And Dragons Tattoo:
Bobby has been able to manifest himself since absorbing energy from a very powerful ghost in the last episode, although his control is spotty. But he is finally able to download everything that he saw in Dick Roman’s office before he was killed – “Dick is about to get into the Soylent Green business,” he declares (the first of several pop-culture references thrown into this brilliantly written episode penned by Robbie Thompson).
The Leviathans’ basic plan is this : first, make the human race complacent by using the chemicals that were lacing the Turducken Slammer sandwiches (which also had the unfortunate side-effect of turning a small percentage of humans into rabid cannibal monsters). Then, cure the major diseases of the world like cancer and AIDS, thereby creating a super-strong-but-super-dumb human race…a human race that will blindly march to the mechanized slaughter houses. “They’re not hunting anymore,” Bobby tells them. “They’re engineering the perfect herd… This is about knocking us off the top of the food chain…while we march our dopey, fat asses down to the shiny new death camps on every corner.”
Bobby is interrupted by an emergency email from Frank (Kevin R. MacNally), Sam and Dean’s uber-paranoid ally who may have met a grisly end – his RV was found ransacked with blood on the walls. The email (which is sent with the subject heading “I’m probably dead…”) states that it is being sent because someone has nabbed Frank’s hard drive and is attempting to crack its encryption.
And this would be a bad thing… “My drive is full of compromising info. Your new alias, hangouts, where you stored your car…” Frank helpfully included a hard drive tracker in the email, and the tracker places the piece of hijacked hardware at – Richard Roman Enterprises. Leviathan Central. “Perfect,” moans Dean. “It’s in the middle of the Death Star.”
So what kind of evil mastermind could be working for the Leviathans, chipping and whacking away at Frank’s hard drive, inches away from learning everything about the Winchesters and stripping away what little cover they have left?
Ladies and gentlemen : Charlie Bradbury.
We are taken back in time five hours to witness Charlie arriving at work, riding a yellow Vespa and wearing a Princess Leia shirt that reads, “Rebel”. She bounces into work, listening to “Walking On Sunshine”, dancing merrily when she finds herself alone in the elevator, riding to the fourth floor.
Her desk is decorated with sci-fi pictures and figurines, from everything from “Star Wars” to “Wonder Woman”. Sitting in a place of particular prominence is a Hermione Granger bobble-head.
Once seated, the first thing she does is hack into a conservative politician site and transfer $10,000 worth of funds to an animal lovers foundation. She then brags to her co-worker Harry about her recent conquest. “If you can’t score at a reproductive rights function, then you simply cannot score,”, she declares.
Charlie is summoned by her boss Pete (David Stuart) into his office…and finds herself face to face with Dick Roman. Although Charlie is certain that she her hacking-on-company-property scheme has been unearthed and she about to be fired, Roman tells her otherwise. He knows about those extra-curricular activities, but he finds it endearing. He tries to find out a little bit more about our red-headed rebel.
After Charlie states that, since she tends to be anti-establishment, she “realized the only way to get away with being me is to be as indispensable as possible”, Roman answers with his own special brand of compliment : “You’re kind of completing me right now, Charlie. You have that spark, that thing that makes humans so special. Not everyone has it, you know. Those people – they can be replaced. But people like you…are impossible to copy.”
This was an important bit of mythology to establish – up until now, the Leviathans have simply cloned whomever they pleased (usually devouring the clonee when through), since doing so gives them access to the person’s memories and emotions. Obviously, as with special, sparky people like Charlie, this does not always work.
Roman hands Charlie the purloined hard drive, along with a special assignment – crack Frank’s encryption in three days, or she will no longer be in his employ. A dazed Charlie wanders back to her desk, telling Harry her new task “means the Eye of Sauron is on me”.
Charlie wastes no time, looking to her Hermione bobble-head for inspiration. She quickly stumbles across Frank’s first deception – a mock-up of the computer from the classic 80’s movie “War Games” – but finds herself stymied.
Meanwhile, once Sam and Dean have located the hard drive, Bobby tries to convince them not to attempt a suicidal break-in. He has a better idea : mail the flask to Chicago and let HIM do the snooping. But the brothers are concerned. If Bobby is confronted with the monster that killed him, he could go vengeful – and in “Supernatural”-land, vengeful spirits are the ones that need ghost-busting. Not something the boys want to have happen to their beloved Bobby.
Charlie stays at her desk all night, and finally gets lucky the next morning…if “luck” is the right word for it. After she finally cracks the encryption, she goes against the instructions that Roman gave her – that she deliver the hard drive to him directly upon unlocking it – and clicks on the folder marked “Richard Roman Enterprises”
“What the frak’s a Leviathan?” she wonders aloud, almost immediately, and is soon scouring the notes that Frank made about said creatures…what they are, the realm from whence they hail, the way they steal people’s faces and memories, how to kill them, and the name of their boss.
Charlie goes looking for Pete, and in doing so, she turns from scoffer to believer. She sees Roman and an associate meet up with Pete down in the parking garage. After Pete promises that he will keep a close eye on Charlie’s progress, Roman answers, “No, YOU won’t. Bruce Springsteen, Eli Manning, our own little Charlie – you know what they are? Irreplaceable. You’re more of a Tim Tebow, Joe Biden type. You got no spark in you. In fact, there’s nothing in you…except Tarrell’s dinner.”
Poor Pete is then immediately cloned and devoured by Roman’s associate (an interesting turn of events for actor David Stuart, since he starred in the season two episode “Everybody Loves a Clown”, where he played a guy who was…well…devoured by a monster).
Charlie decides that now would be a great time to flee like hell, and is soon in her apartment packing like mad. She receives a call from “Pete” and blames her sudden departure on a “lady thing”. “Gotta go – cramps!” she lies, trying to be breezy. But before she can leave, she finds herself face to face with the Winchester brothers.
Charlie’s method of home defense is something she and I share : a replica of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ enchanted Sting sword from “The Lord of the Rings”. The main difference – mine is real and very, VERY sharp, while Charlie’s is plastic and breaks as soon as she whacks Sam with it. They use borax to prove that they are not Leviathans, and insist that she does the same.
Soon, Charlie is getting the download on what Hunters are all about, and she accepts the news rather well, considering. (Maybe all those years of playing Dungeons and Dragons lowered her skepticism levels, who knows.) The boys are impressed with her hacking skills, and ask if she could possibly break into something as secure as Dick Roman’s personal email account. The prospect is not really a happy one for Charlie, but when she hears that the Leviathans’ endgame is devouring the human race, she puts her hesitation aside.
She opens up her laptop (which has Liv Tyler’s Elven character Arwen of “Lord of the Rings” as wallpaper) and soon discovers that Roman’s email is kept on a private server, meaning she “can’t get in it unless you have his phone or you’re at his desk”. She also realizes that she is the only one qualified for the job. “So I erase the drive first, protect me and you,” she tries to work out. “Then I go back to my old life, right?”
Dean answers, grimly, “You’re on Dick’s radar, which means you don’t HAVE an old life anymore.”
Despite those words of certain doom, Charlie volunteers anyway. “But these things are gonna eat everyone I know,” she reasons. “What kind of douchebag stands by for that?” She still has a strong case of the nerves, mainly due to the fact that she has never broken into a real-life object – all her chicanery has happened in cyberspace. The Winchesters decide to have her wear a Bluetooth device in her ear so they can talk her through it…and Bobby watches their preparations with great interest.
Sam and Dean park themselves in a van outside of the office building, where Charlie has set up her laptop to help them. Once she gets inside, they will hack into the security system and play a pre-recorded fifteen minute loop for cover. When Dean observes that fifteen minutes is not exactly the longest time in the world, Sam answers, “She said if it took longer to hack his desktop, then she DESERVES to be eaten.”
When they observe Charlie passing by one of the security cameras, Dean notices that Bobby placed his magic flask in her bag so that he could follow her inside. Despite their fear that something might go terribly wrong, they know that breaking into Dick Roman’s office is something that only happens once. They tell Charlie that the flask is a good-luck charm, and to take special care of it; she is happy to have some bravery juice for the journey, and promises to keep it safe.
Charlie’s nerves start to show, Sam talks her down in a way that shows off both his keen observational skills and his own nerd-ness. After learning that Charlie’s favorite “Harry Potter” character is Hermione Granger, he asks (to Dean’s confusion), “Did Hermione run when Sirius Black was in trouble or when Voldemort attacked Hogwarts? … What did she do?”
“She kicked ass,” Charlie answers. “She saves Harry in practically every book.” When Sam asks her what SHE is going to do, Charlie’s face lights up with proud determination and she declares, “I’m gonna kick it in the ass.”
(A quick note regarding that line : it was a phrase coined by the late, great Kim Manners, who served as a producer and director for both “Supernatural” and “The X-Files” before his death in 2008. It was previously said by Ellen Harvelle [Samantha Ferris] just a few minutes before she sacrificed herself for the boys in the season five gut-wrencher, “Abandon All Hope”. Having the words dance across Charlie’s lips is therefore a very emotional move. Originally, Charlie was supposed to answer with a simple “Kick ass”, but director Johnny MacCarthy – who has been a first assistant director and made his helming debut with this episode – suggested that Felicia Day change it.)
Charlie gets herself inside and Sam starts the security camera loop as she heads up to the eleventh floor. Once there, she finds herself confronted with another obstacle – a “big-ass guard up here, blocking the door”. Dean suggests that she flirt her way past, but Charlie protests that he is NOT her type…“As in, he’s not a girl,” she has to clarify.
Although this takes Dean off-guard, he tries to talk her through it. “Do you have any tattoos? Give him a little sneak peek there. All tattoos are sexy.”
“Mine is Princess Leia in a slave bikini straddling a 20-sided die,” she answers in embarrassment. “I was drunk. It was Comic-Con…”
Dean is somehow able to guide Charlie through flirting with the security guard, although it earns him a few teasing looks from his brother. She asks the guard if she can use the executive wash room, and (somehow) she gets him to relent. But instead of heading to the ladies’ room, she sidetracks to Dick Roman’s office – which also puts her out of touch with Sam and Dean.
It does not take our favorite ginger-haired hacker long to find out that Mr. Roman’s password is “w1nn1ng”, and she soon begins copying his files. While the boys are filling up jars with borax-laden cleaning products, however, Bill the security guard starts to figure out that Charlie might be up to something.
And if Charlie didn’t’ have a trucker-capped ghost looking out for her, this might have been a moment of doom. But Bobby pushes the door to Roman’s office closed and locks it tightly. It gives Charlie a few seconds to dart into the bathroom and come up with a cover story when Bill unlocks the door. “You said first door on the LEFT, right?” she coos, then engages in a little more smooth-considering-she-is-not-attracted-to-the-male-gender flirting until the file download is complete.
Charlie gets herself back to her own desk so she can delete Frank’s hard drive clean, after she sends the files on the dig sites to Sam and Dean. But she also discovers that the digging stopped several days ago – and that whatever was found is going to be arriving at the local airport in under forty-five minutes. She gets her things and turns to leave – only to find herself face-to-face with Dick Roman yet again.
The episode then jumps around a little, continuing an “Ocean’s Eleven” style of editing that was present through much of the episode. We see the small metal suitcase being unloaded and taken to Roman. But when it is opened, he finds not the priceless artifact for which he has been searching, but rather a rigged borax bomb that explodes in his face.
Cut back a bit – Charlie gets Sam and Dean a little extra time by sending a fake email that gives them thirty more minutes. They use the time wisely and get to the airport, where they pose as baggage handlers; with a little slight-of-hand, they swap the real suitcase for the borax-go-boom. Inside of the real case, they find – a big chunk of clay.
Charlie, meanwhile, has to deal with fake-talking to Dick Roman and not freaking out at the same time. Roman wants to see if she found anything about his company, or about Sam and Dean Winchester. Luckily, Charlie has just wiped down the drive, so nothing comes up.
Bobby, however, is trying desperately to keep control over his emotions while watching Roman. He wants to bring the pain down on the thing that killed him, but, in doing so, he would be a few steps closer to becoming that vengeful spirit that the boys do not want to deal with. Roman is quick to notice that the air has gotten chill, a sign that a ghost is present.
He still feeds Charlie plenty of compliments. “Your spark, it’s one in a million. Believe me – when you’ve got it, you invent guns and iPads and viruses and holy crap, you can be crafty. … I can feed every fact in your brain to someone else – they still wouldn’t be able to be you.”
“I guess you can’t clone me,” Charlie cannot help replying.
“Don’t think that doesn’t piss me off,” the head big-mouth responds.
Charlie attempts to flee as quickly as she can, but it is not quick enough – Roman has the building locked down when the borax-bomb explodes. (His associate is knocked out, but since Roman is stronger than the average Leviathan, he soon shakes off the injury.) Bobby flexes his ghost mojo yet again by cracking the lobby’s locked glass doors that are keeping Charlie prisoner.
Bobby loses his focus when he sees Roman and Pete enter the lobby. He tosses Pete aside to get to Roman – tosses Pete directly into Charlie, who hits a pillar and hurts her arm. Bobby has no time to worry about her, however, as he throws Roman into a cabinet.
Sam and Dean get wind that something is wrong and crash through the doors that Bobby so kindly pre-shattered; Roman immediately figures out that his favorite hacker is working with his enemies. The brothers make quick work of Pete and the other Leviathan security guards, and Bobby keeps Roman from waylaying them by throwing him even further away. Sam scoops Charlie up and they make tracks.
After Charlie gets some medical attention, the brothers take her to a bus terminal so she can start her new life on the run. When Sam wonders how they can thank her, she responds, “Never contact me again, like, ever.” Dean cautions her to keep her head down, and Charlie answers, “This ain’t the first time I’ve disappeared. You think my name is REALLY Charlene Bradbury? Please. So, good luck saving the world. Peace out, bitches.”
“She’s kind of like the little sister I never wanted,” Sam muses, before asking Dean what they should do about Bobby. “He’s not in control, not about Dick. That was vengeful-spirit crap.” But Dean only wants to deal with one crisis at a time. Big slab of clay first…angry ghost later.
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