The Wizard of Oz puns were flowing on this week’s episode of Supernatural as Dorothy and the Wicked Witch were unleashed in the Men of Letters bunker. Charlie, queen of Moondor (we see you Surface tablet background!), joined Sam and Dean in the insanity and ended up stealing the episode in typical Charlie fashion. “Slumber Party” had my head spinning with the number of references and callbacks it crammed into 42 minutes. We revisited the Supernatural book series – including Chuck and super fan Becky – and expanded the Men of Letters mythology through flashbacks to 1935. This show has always been adept at repurposing popular stories to fit the Supernatural mythos and this week was no exception. Making Dorothy a hunter and having her father be Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum was brilliant. Admit it: you’ll never think about Oz the same way after learning of Dorothy’s (fatal) trip down the yellow brick road, her time with three freedom fighters, and her father’s subsequent bit of revisionist history. When I first heard about the concept for this episode I thought it was a bit of stretch. Leave it to Supernatural to prove me wrong.
That’s not to say the episode was without its flaws. “Slumber Party” had some glaring problems that kept it from achieving the “instant classic” status of other standalone episodes. We’ll get to those in a second, as I don’t want to lead off a recap of an enjoyable episode with the negative stuff. What I loved about this episode was its humor and the exciting new direction for Charlie, who ran off to save Oz with Dorothy. I fully expected the newly-introduced heroine to die before the hour was up, so I was pleasantly surprised when she lived, and was tickled even further when Charlie went off to “have an adventure” with her. With Charlie’s propensity for ruling over kingdoms, you have to wonder if she’ll be the queen of Oz once her and Dorothy are finished fighting. I smell a Season 10 episode in Oz coming.
Charlie brings out Sam and Dean’s funny side just by being her quirky self and that was on full display here. There was the aforementioned references to the books (are those still considered the Book of Winchester?) and Sam stumbling all over himself at the mention of Becky. I loved the Game of Thrones marathon the trio had and the varying reactions of Sam and Dean. Of course Sam would be the one to cry “spoilers!” (Cue Homer Simpson screaming “NERRRDDDD!!!”) At times the brothers have no idea how to handle Charlie since she’s so smart and independent, and that’s fun to watch since they’re used to being in control. My biggest regret with Charlie running off to Oz is that we won’t be seeing her as frequently now. It’ll be up to her to come back since Dorothy has the key to Oz. If she makes a return appearance, I’ll be shocked. A lack of Charlie on this show makes me sad.
Expanding the size and scope of the bunker was a much-needed step for this show. Supernatural found new life when it introduced the Men of Letters storyline and I hope this is the beginning of growing that world this season. The hunting world occupied the first seven seasons and my hope is that this new world can carry the show this season and next (Supernatural is going 10 seasons, trust me). While I appreciated the flashbacks in this episode, they were completely throwaway without Dorothy, who is now off in Oz. I hope the next time we dip into this group’s history we meet some characters we can actually come to care about. But with the ever-growing bunker and the many secrets it houses, I can see the writers getting a lot of mileage from the mysterious Men of Letters.
Ezekiel made a brief appearance in this episode when Dean haphazardly called out his name in front of Sam. Granted, he had good reason with Charlie on her way to the afterlife, but the gig is almost up with his secret arrangement. Sam will find out in the next three episodes if I had to guess. The cracks that began showing last week have grown even larger after “Slumber Party.” Sam will find out the truth sooner rather than later, and when he does, things will get ugly. In the meantime, I hope we’re done with Ezekiel bringing the dead back to life. That conceit wore out its welcome long ago on this show. And while I’m enjoying Sam’s portrayal of Ezekiel, I really hope we see Tahmoh Penikett again. His performance in the premiere has me excited for this character’s potential.
My biggest problem with “Slumber Party” was that it felt sloppy. The fight scenes at the end were terribly choreographed, with Sam and Dean standing around like idiots and Charlie killing the witch with no problem whatsoever. After Ezekiel hyped her up as a serious adversary, I was disappointed to see her go out with such a whimper. Not to mention Charlie’s one-liner was terrible. There were also two pesky unresolved plot points, the first of which involved Dorothy’s miraculous revival after the witch killed her. Did she mention who brought her back to life and I just missed it? Then there was Sam and Dean’s issues throughout the episode with Sam not embracing the bunker as his home. I expected the typical scene at the end where the brothers work through their issues while drinking beer by the Impala. Instead we ended on that admittedly cool shot of Oz and Sam making the episode’s final pun, which does not count as him accepting the bunker as his home. Finally, I can't be been the only one who thought Dean’s scene before the commercial where he tried to wake Charlie felt awkward and poorly acted. Jensen Ackles has become Dean nine seasons in so we take his acting for granted, but something felt off about that moment to me. I don’t think Jensen knew how Dean was supposed to feel in that moment.
Two other notes before we wrap this up: someone would not die that quickly from a stab wound, and did anyone recognize the mask that Dorothy showed Charlie while checking out her motorcycle? Was that the Tin Man? I’m not too hip on the books, so the reference went over my head.
Line of the week
“Who uploaded it?” – Sam
“I dunno. Their screen name was BeckyWinchester176.” – Charlie
Next week on Supernatural
Has Season 9 tapped the idea well? Dean as a dog??? Really?