Someday, hopefully not soon, Supernatural will no longer be on the air and we’ll all sit around debating the best moments of the series for our inevitable list of best moments. When that day comes, somewhere on that list, nestled between the first time this show roasted a lady on a ceiling and that time Gabriel turned Sam into the Impala, will be the time Dean Winchester donned a wig and rallied the troops with the speech from Braveheart. It was glorious, with the facepaint and the chainmail and OMG SAM’S HAIR IN A PONYTAIL. I died, you guys. I just died.
Garth, using his GPS tracking/stalking skills and his plan to assign cases based on whichever hunter is in the area (clever, but creepy), sent Dean and Sam to the magical land of Moondoor, a big LARP-fest in Michigan. Dudes were keeling over in horrific ways, no witnesses, no motives, no evidence—you know, the usual. That was some high-quality gore. As soon as the rope burn appeared on poor dead whatsisface and the horses neighed and I realized what was about to happen, I dove under the blanket because I’m a total wuss. Love it. Ask me about the time I went on a haunted hayride and cried the whole time. Not my finest hour.
For the record, I’ve never LARPed in my life. I know some hardcore LARPers and I love a good Renn-fest—especially if there’s jousting—but if this was a giant affront to LARPers everywhere, I have no idea. I enjoyed it immensely. Like the best of the comedy Supernatural episodes, “LARP and the Real Girl” managed to be zany and weird without completely abandoning the the Wangst of last week, or even last month. Sam and Dean decided to cut off their outside contacts to continue revelling in their co-dependent bromance, but that doesn’t mean that on some small level, they weren’t marginally regretting their mutual decision to stick together. Sam was pissy and mopey. Charlie called Dean out on the amazing dick-move of sending that fake text, and he didn’t argue with her or even really try to defend himself. Sometimes Supernatural has a habit of hand-waving trauma because it’s inconvenient to the story or hard to write or whatever the reasoning is. It was nice to get the acknowledgement that the writers didn’t conveniently forget everything that happened in the past few weeks just because this was supposed to be a funny episode.
And it was a funny episode. From Dean and Sam’s confusion over mages that aren’t actually mages, Dean’s judgey face and eventual embrace of the game, Charlie’s invocation of Star Wars in mid-battle (“I love you.” “I know.”) and Mr. “Interactive Literaturist”’s complete dismissal of Sam and Dean’s “very good” fake FBI badges, it was nice to laugh at things I was meant to laugh at as opposed to finding things to laugh at to avoid weeping. Like Sam’s Stepford Life.
Nerd-girl extraordinaire Charlie (Felicia Day) returned, having assumed a new name and identity since helping the Winchesters out in last season’s “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” and again, for the sake of continuity, it was nice that she wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Sam and Dean stomping around her kingdom. “If you guys are here, monsters are here.” Pretty much, lady. Still, she stepped up and helped the guys this time around, too. In fact, much of the LARPing community came to provide invaluable help to Sam and Dean during this hunt. Even the sworn enemies of the Moondoor, the Shadow Orcs, united with their fellow LARPers to find Queen Charlie... who was making out with a hot fairy lady in a creepy tent. Good for her.
So I’ve never gone LARPing, but I did hang out with a contingent of D & D fans back in the day and even when confined to the tabletop, sometimes these things can get out of hand, which was basically the case over in Moondoor. Even with our occasional threats of exsanguination, I’m pretty sure no one ever bit it during one of our quests. Unfortunately, Boltar the anal-retentive stickler for rules didn’t take kindly to discovering that some of his fellow soldiers had cheated by paying off other players with real-world money to help themselves advance in the pretend world of Moondoor... so he enslaved a fairy and ordered her to kill the competition. It’s not cheating because magic exists in Moondoor, okay?!
Uh. Yeah. Okay.
The theme running through “LARP and the Real Girl,” was the idea of what makes someone a hero. Many of the LARPers Sam and Dean encountered admitted to playing Moondoor to experience the excitement, magic, and heroics that their real lives, as accountants and lawyers, lacked. Dean and Sam know firsthand that being a hero isn’t all glory and getting the girl. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes you win and lose the girl anyway. Their initial confusion as to why anyone would ever want to pretend to be a mage or an orc made sense just as much as their eventual embrace of the purely fun aspect. By participating in the final fake battle for the fake kingdom, Sam and Dean got to be heroes in the purest sense of the word.
Just as valid as the Winchesters’ fake heroics was Charlie’s experience with Gilda the Reluctantly Homicidal Fairy. Enslaved by Boltar, Gilda was homesick and horrified by the murders he forced her to commit. Despite her important role in taking down the Leviathan in Season 7, Charlie revealed eary in “LARP and the Real Girl” that she resented the experience, that she didn’t want to be involved with the Winchesters’ antics, that she just wanted to live a quiet little life punching out code and LARPing on weekends. Dean tried to point out how invaluable she was in their fight, but Charlie wanted to be a hero on her own terms, rather than being swept into yet another supernatural battle against her will. Despite the fact that Gilda essentially kidnapped her, once Charlie learned her story and fell head over heels for her, Charlie resolved to free Gilda from Boltar’s influence... and she did! From damsel in distress to rescuer of fellow damsels in distress. Very nice, Supernatural. This almost makes up for Becky Rosen.
– “If the tent is rockin’ don’t come knockin.’”
– “He was poisoned by Belladonna.” “The porn star?”
– “It’s bad enough you’ve been tracking us, but it’s even worse when you say ‘You’ve been Garthed.’”
– Smart Winchester Sighting! Strategist Dean advising Charlie’s placement of her warriors. Loved it.
– I really liked the blunt sheriff. Everything he said was just so tactless. “...or she was high as balls.” “Kids today with their texting and murder.”