Thursday, January 29, 2015

Supernatural, Season 10, Episode 11: There's No Place Like Home

So Charlie’s back – and she’s torturing some guy. For information – but mainly for funsies.

Over to the Winchester’s and Dean has decided to defeat the influence of the Mark of Cain by ditching booze, unhealthy food and eating egg-white omelettes and vegetable smoothies.

I wish to make it clear, right now, that is any substance can make me go on a killing spree it is probably egg white omelettes. I think the same may be true of Dean

This torture by health food is interrupted by Sam finding news – and a video clip – of Charlie torturing someone with violence (may be more merciful than the egg-white omelette). Dean is duly sceptical of Charlie torturing a District Attorney – and a court Stenographer. At very least Dean assumes Charlie had a good reason (it’s not like they haven’t resorted to torture before themselves).

They go to question the DA and learn Charlie was asking lots of questions about a case he handled – a drunk driver who killed her dad and put her mother in a coma. The case never went to trial because it was mysteriously covered up, all the files sealed before trial. Dean decides to add more violence and the DA admits he was bribed by councilwoman Barbara Caudry. Sam looks on, I think he’s supposed to look worried/shocked/disturbed/vaguely confused/what-the-hell-is-that-facial-expression-supposed-to-be-anyway by Dean’s violence (probably less so because it’s shocking – because Dean – but because it must feed the Mark).

Dean doesn’t commit brutal murder and they drive off, Sam conveniently expositioning Charlie’s motives because so many TV shows are completely contemptuous of our abilities to understand the bleeding obvious. (And Charlie’s real name, Celeste).

They go to see Barbara who is not all that thrilled to see them and closes the door on their faces (not even asking why the FBI – and of course they’re posing as FBI – is investigating a death by drunk driving case). Stake out time, with Dean unnaturally eating kale. Sam reads into Charlie’s background which points to her being a disturbed child though Dean points out neither of them are exactly poster children for well adjusted youngsters.

They are on scene when Charlie makes her move and follow the sound of Barbara’s scream to find Charlie holding her at knife point. Charlie gives some evil exposition – including how Sam is too goody-goody. She then makes a run for it after punching and kicking Dean in the face. She also slashes his tries before making her getaway

And then an entirely different Charlie drives up – yup, evil twin time! She explains that she basically unleashed her dark side with a deal with the Wizard of Oz so she could win a war (yes, Oz, remember). So evil her is running around and this Charlie is super-duper-fluffy-good Charlie. And Evil Charlie and Good Charlie are linked – so hurt one you hurt both. Also Evil Charlie is going after the people behind her parents’ death because she’s trying to impress Good Charlie because Good Charlie shunned her after Evil Charlie won the war by doing terribad things. Good Charlie is also having the guilt Weasels since Evil Charlie is still, basically, Charlie. She also has no way to get back to Oz and is unsure if she wants to merge with Evil Charlie.

Fluffy good Charlie also has problem hacking because she’s so fluffy-good, but they have some very basic work arounds (her teaching Sam to hack. Really?) while Dean has a Mark moment.

Hacking around they find Russell Wellington who paid all the bribes, had his car conveniently “stolen” and had to take a holiday at the time of the “accident” and came back with bruises.

Sam and Charlie go back to the Winchester Cave to research ways into Oz and rejoining the Charlies, while Dean watches and protects Russel. Yes, I think it’s a bad idea too. Russel turns out to be a horrible person (no surprise) who treats his female assistant as a dogsbody for his personal life (her expression nicely makes it clear this isn’t ok which is a surprisingly subtle little call out for Supernatural)

Evil Charlie arrives and makes an impassioned plea to Dean to at least let her confront Russel and then hand him over to the cops. Russel recognises Charlie – calls her Celeste – and makes an emotional apology to her. She forgives him – then locks Dean out and moves on to the violence

Part of me says Dean is an utter fool, but the action and emotions made it work and seem realistic.

Russel gets stabbed – he’s dead. No-one is sad.

Sam and Charlie go to look up Clive, an old Man of Letters who went to Oz in the first place, while Dean confronts Evil Charlie in a bar and they have lots of Charlie-is-evil commentary. And she steals his car. Oh she’s definitely provoking him now

Back to Sam, Charlie and Clive – and it turns out Clive also suffered a good/evil split – only his evil half became the Wizard of Oz. He also has the same guilt weasels as Charlie and he decides to mortally wound himself – forcing the Wizard of Oz to come to them to save them both (since they’re linked and share damage).

His plan works – and the Wizard of Oz breaks through a mirror from Oz to Earth. And he is Not Happy and very powerful. He restrains Sam – while Good Charlie flinches because outside Dean is fighting Evil Charlie try to and keep her away. Good Charlie tries to reach the gun – while accumulating injuries from Dean fighting and beating Evil Charlie. Good Charlie manages to grab the gun and shoot Good Clive in the head (but only after Clive forgives her) – killing him and the Wizard (and saving Sam from his magic).

Sam grabs some keys from the Wizard’s belt – he having conveniently decided to bring the artefact of re-forming people with him – and hurriedly takes Charlie outside before Dean beats her to death by proxy. Dean staggers back from the battered and bruised Evil Charlie (looking shellshocked) and Sam puts Good Charlie next to her which, along with the nifty keys, is enough to re-merge them. That was lucky; convenient and convoluted plot is to be ignored because of the sad emotion Charlie pours out. While she cries, Dean has a guilt weasel moment.

Back to the Winchester Cave and Sam and Castiel (over the phone) again talk about the fear of the Mark and what it does to Dean. After two days in bed Charlie is up and about – she still can’t return to Oz (and to Dorothy who, we’ve had it strongly hinted at, she has a potential relationship with) so she agrees to help the Winchesters – but going to find a book in Italy. Of course she can’t help them and be remotely local or present. She also has a big pep talk – and forgiveness – for Dean. But Dean doesn’t forgive himself to which Charlie says “kind of your move”. Which is so very true. They do have a beautiful apology moment.

We closed with Dean again acknowledging that he’s not alright.

Charlie’s here! Yes, it’s that one episode a season we get when Supernatural reminds us that it totally does value female and LGBT characters, totally honest! Now back to the plot box until next season, if you hang around too long they’ll have to kill you off so Dean and Sam can be So Very Sad.

Also, I have to say I’m not a fan of the idea that super-fluffy-good Charlie is non-sexual (especially since this is her way of demonstrating that she is super-fluffy-good). Especially when we juxtapose it with the much more sexual Evil Charlie. I think sex is too often conflated with evil or used as an evil signifier – especially female sexuality and especially same-sex sexuality. Too often the very existence of sexual desire for women and LGBT people is evil in and of itself; we’re presented with a super-good Charlie who would only pursue a supporting platonic relationship rather than a sexual one This is inherently demonising of people who are constantly told sexual desire is wrong, that purity comes from not just not having sex (which is bad enough) but from not DESIRING sex. Merely having sexual desire is bad – and has no place in the head of the super-pure-goody-Charlie.

The way Russell treated his secretary was a surprising little challenge from Supernatural. Of course, this is the very essence of low expectations that I am surprisingly impressed by a facial expression.

I am still intrigued by how Dean is handling this particular manpain. Obviously, Manpain always consumes Dean, but rarely do we have this much overt acceptance of guilt and responsibility, especially before others. It’s a new facet of Dean and interesting to watch, especially since it encompasses things that are so unforgiveable to him like the attack on Charlie.