Supernatural (opens in new tab) Season Nine Episode Four “Slumber Party” TV REVIEW(opens in new tab)
Writer : Robbie Thompson
Director : Robert Singer
THE ONE WHERE Sam, Dean, Dorothy and Charlie hunt the Wicked Witch of the West.
VERDICT If any set deserved a bottle episode it’s Supernatural ’s beautiful batcave. It’s a strong bottle episode too, featuring the return of Charlie, further insight into the history of the Men of Letters and the barmy revelation that Oz exists in the Supernatural -verse!
Even in a show which features heaven, hell and purgatory as distinct worlds, the notion that Dorothy, Toto and the Wicked Witch are all real (albeit a little different from the way L Frank Baum wrote about them) initially feels like a stretch. Could you imagine Sam and Dean strolling down the yellow brick road, ganking flying monkeys with angel blades?
Wisely writer Robbie Thompson keeps the utterly implausible just out of reach and filters Oz’s mythology through a Supernatural -shaped lens. So Dorothy is recast as an ass-kicking hunter, her father was a Man of Letters who wrote the Oz books partly as a way to leave clues for Dorothy, and the Wicked Witch of the West is just a slightly more fantastical nastie than the legion of demons and angels we’re used to seeing slain on a weekly basis.(opens in new tab)
For the most part it works incredibly well. The Witch is a formidable foe, and effectively creepy, even without a traditional cackle. Her encounter with Crowley feels monumental; horror icons coming face to face for the first time, like Freddy meeting Jason (but, you know, not rubbish). And Dorothy is an exemplary addition to Supernatural ’s colossal supporting cast. Actress Tiio Horn has a timeless style that leaves no doubt Dorothy just stepped out of the ’30s, but it’s her blossoming relationship with Charlie that really pleases. By the end you can’t help wishing we were following their adventures for a few episodes.
The romantic Men of Letters myth is dispelled a little this week too. Rather than some know-it-all organisation with a limitless supply of impossible technology to stop the forces of evil at their disposal, Haggerty and Jenkins are as much caretakers as guardians, whiling away the months over a chessboard while the hunters do the dirty work. The 1935 flashbacks are filled with a surprising amount of pathos. Jenkins is killed during his first case by David Niven-alike Haggerty, and Haggety spends the rest of his working life looking for a way to help Dorothy. For characters with mere minutes of screentime they have a disproportionate impact.
It has a spark of invention that all Supernatural ’s most memorable episodes do, but doesn’t quite achieve legendary status due to some lacklustre pacing issues in the first half and Charlie’s “death” scene which has almost zero dramatic impetus because it’s inevitable Samskiel is going to save the day. Still, it's the clearest sign so far that Season Divine could live up to the highs of Season G8.(opens in new tab)
THE ACTOR FACTOR I wasn't the biggest fan of Charlie during her first couple of appearances, but she's grown on me to the point that I enjoy her flying visits. This is helped by the fact the role has become less a Felicia Day caricature and more an established character. Day does solid work, as do Ackles (whose impassioned plea to Zeke after Charlie's death is the only thing worthwhile to come out of that scene) and Padalecki, who adds yet another distinct personality to his ludicrously large repertoire on this show - SamWitch!
FLAWED LOGIC Dean seemed pretty keen to help Sam get the angel-tracking computer online, even drafting in Charlie, but wouldn’t it point to Zeke the moment it was turned on? Good job Charlie left for Oz before fixing it!
DEAN WISECRACKING “Wow, that Joffrey’s a dick.” Never were truer words spoken, Dean.
EXPRESSION OF THE WEEK(opens in new tab)
NITPICK The Wicked Witch of the East's shoes weren’t ruby red in the Baum books, they were silver. The film introduced the ruby slippers, which doesn't explain why they would be red here. Though it's entirely possible MGM stumbled upon the "truth" accidentally!
REFERENCE Charlie’s t-shirt says "Sonmi-451" – a reference to the book/movie Cloud Atlas .
OUTTAKES Jared Padalecki tweeted this alternative title card the day before the episode aired.(opens in new tab)
EDUCATION CORNER In case you were wondering macramé is a way to make textiles using knotting rather than weaving or knitting.
LMAO Is that Crowley's Grumpy Cat?(opens in new tab)
TRIVIA Ben Affleck was cast as Batman the day Felicia Day filmed the “Is that your Batman voice?” line.
DID YOU SPOT? Charlie’s tablet is loaded with easter eggs. The lock screen features a map of Moondoor (the realm from her LARP game), and there are tiles for comic series Saga , Carver Edlund’s Supernatural books and even a porn tile!(opens in new tab)
FEATURED MUSIC “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” by AC/DC plays as Charlie and Dorothy enter Oz.
Charlie: “Ding dong, bitches.”
Jordan Farley (@ JordanFarley )(opens in new tab)