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Charlie Bradbury. We first meet her in "The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo"in season 7. Thompson has had the privilege of being the exclusive writer for her character. But how did she come to be? What was the thought process? Thompson states that Charlie, "began with a pitch for a Roman Enterprises whistleblower story and evolved from there. [sic]" And oh how her character evolved! Thompson puts some of his best writing into Charlie Bradbury, taking the vague notion of a whistle-blower mentioned in that pitch to a fully realized and endearing character. He weaves a mixture of humanity, pop culture, wit, and heart into her, making her fit smoothly into the world of Supernatural. Thompson says, "best part? writing for @feliciaday [sic]" Charlie has most certainly made her impact on the three episodes we've seen her appear in.
Charlie makes a grand entrance---arriving to Roman Enterprises on a motorbike, wearing a novelty t-shirt with Princess Leia emblazoned on it and the word rebel in bold lettering, and a catchy tune playing on her MP3 player. The song is "Walking on Sunshine," by Katrina and the Waves. Thompson states, "'Walking on Sunshine' is actually a favorite "c'mon, get happy" song of mine [sic]. She enters an elevator and checks to make sure no one is watching before letting loose. It's a delightful moment---letting us in on just who this new character will be. Not only does Charlie seem to like Star Wars, she also loves Harry Potter and other genre stories, as seen by the various items strewn across her desk. She's presented as a fangirl, enthusiastic, but not over the top as other representations such as Becky Rosen have been in the past.
There is a strange mixture of self-confidence and nervousness blended well into Charlie. She is assured of her skills and talent, as she brags to her co-worker, "Teddy Bear Pete? Please. You know I've been doing this for like a month. I can cover my tracks, Harry. Trust me. " She is also blase about her illegal activity, citing the faster internet speeds of Roman Enterprises as why she chooses to hack there rather than at home. This is Charlie in her comfort zone, in control and at the top of her game. Yet, when she is pulled aside to talk to Dick Roman that she becomes uncertain and nervous about the encounter---an awkwardness starts to settle over her body language and her voice becomes shaky as she begs for her job, "Sir, sir, I can fix this. Please, please don't fire me." It makes Charlie a complex and engaging character, and Thompson makes us want to invest in her with all the little touches he's added.
When we first meet Charlie, she is an adversary to the Winchesters---unknowingly. Dick Roman has retrieved Frank's hard drive and now he needs someone to crack it open so he can figure out what the Winchesters know about him. Charlie is tasked with hacking into it. Roman will overlook her tendencies to hack political PACs on company computers---something he finds "adorable"---if she can get him what he wants---in three days time. She may have talked big, but could she really walk the walk?
Charlie willingly accepts the challenge---and while she doesn't realize she's helping a monster, that's not why she's doing it. It's the thrill of the challenge, and breaking into the "unbreakable." After her encounter with Dick Roman, it's also her way to get back her footing. Thompson shows us a determined and dogged Charlie as she settles into break into Frank's drive. This is her against another computer mind, someone with the tech savvy to put in place multiple encryptions and safeguards that she feels she can be the only one to crack.
Even though he's not present, it becomes a head to head face off between Charlie and Frank. As she types to crack the code, it asks to play a game, and Charlie scoffs at the set up. A list of game from chess to checkers to global thermonuclear war pop up and she declares incredulously, "Seriously, War Games?" She knows the answer and types in "Joshua" to break in, only to have Frank's voice taunt, "Nice try, Zero Charisma." It'll take more for her to expose Frank's secrets---and more importantly Sam and Dean's.
But she does, and when she starts looking over it and reading through the information about Leviathans, written in Frank's vibrant style, she tells her co-worker, "Pretty sure I spent the last 24 hours hacking into a loony bin." It isn't until she tracks her boss down in the parking garage that she realizes Frank was telling the truth. He's confronted by Dick Roman---who quickly decides to replace him with a Leviathan copy. Thompson slips in a great line here, with Dick Roman telling Pete, "Bruce Springsteen, Eli Manning and 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 fact there's nothing in you. Except Tarrell's dinner." Before she can sneak away, Charlie watches in horror as her former boss is eaten.
Charlie decides that she has seen enough and flees home to make a run for it. Sam and Dean wait for her, and it is here that Charlie's life is forever altered. Thompson may have made Charlie fascinating all on her own, but paired with the brothers, we see another side emerge---her inner steel. She is flailing and frantic as she tries to escape them at first, but they prove to her that they are not Leviathans. She starts to listen to them, realizing that the world is not at all what she thought it was---and that they need more from her. Sam tells her, "Look, Charlie, it's okay if you can't do it. I mean, you didn't volunteer for this."
Thompson makes Charlie into a strong character when she replies, "But now I volunteer." She knows that there's no way to see what's on the drive and live. She may have that "spark" Dick Roman envies in special people, but she's expendable if he feels she can threaten him or his plans. She realizes that she has managed to step into something bigger than hacking PACs or displaying genre collectibles. This is about the world and doing what is right. To simply run as she had originally intended would be an insult to the characters and stories she loves.
To make this a tangible part of the episode, Thompson has Sam talk Charlie through a physical breaking and entering, something separate from computer hacking. He picks up on her fangirl nature, and asks her simply, "Uh, listen, w-who's your favorite "Harry Potter" character?" It draws an incredulous look from Dean, but it works here as Sam reminds her that when things became harder for her favorite characters they didn't back down or quit. He tells her, "Hermione. Well, uh, all right, did Hermione run when Sirius Black was in trouble or when Voldemort attacked Hogwarts?" Thompson even manages to fit in Charlie's rant about Hermione saving Harry in every book. After Sam gets her back on track, however, Thompson slips in a brilliant shout out to Kim Manners when he has Charlie state firmly, "I'm going to kick it in the ass.â€ It's in this manner that Thompson weaves his pop culture references into the story's fabric without overwhelming it, and he says about that, â€œi'm not sure i have! The Carver/Showrunners always make sure the story is clicking along. [sic]"
It is Dean's turn to walk Charlie through, and he has to coax her through some flirting as she has to get past the guard stationed outside Dick Roman's office. Only problem is, Charlie is a lesbian and therefore has no interest in him. Dean assures her that it'll be alright, and starts to feed her lines. Unfortunately, Sam finds it hilarious and starts to snicker, causing Dean to mutter, "Stop laughing, Sammy," which makes Charlie repeat it only to start rambling, "Um...Y-you don't know that bar “ Stop Laughing Sammy?That place is bringing sexy back. Which is easy" Charlie is all smooth confidence with computers and genre culture. She is nervous and a ball of anxiety when confronted with real life situations, and it makes for a fun but tense scene as Thompson pulls the strings together to get her maneuvered into Dick Roman's office chair.
And yet, Charlie doubts her own skill. She may have fumbled here, but Thompson shows us that she's a lot tougher than she gives herself credit for. As she's waiting impatiently for the flash drive to steal Dick Roman's emails and server information, the guard bursts in angry that she's in there and not the bathroom he had pointed out earlier. Here, Charlie talks her way out of it, a much more smooth exchange than her first---and this one by herself. She tells him, "Oh! Silly me. I am always forgetting things. Do you know what else I forgot to do? Give you my phone number."
Once she has the flash drive, she returns to her desk to complete the other task---sending the Winchesters the information she gleaned from Dick Roman's email---only to find Dick Roman waiting to hear news about her progress. It's a tense moment as she's stuck trying to explain to the Leviathan leader that the drive's files might not be there at all. Luckily, a phone call comes and Dick is off to learn about the shipment of what will be known as the Leviathan Tablet. With her part done, she only has to exit the building and she's free.
But it won't be that easy, and as Dick Roman realizes he's been had by Charlie---and in turn the Winchesters---he orders the building locked down, trapping Charlie. Thompson has had Bobby traveling with her, his tendencies to become more vengeful growing all along. He is there, watching and waiting for the moment to pay Dick Roman back for what he did, and here is his chance. He doesn't appear to Charlie, no, but he is there, standing almost as guard. Thompson keeps Bobby as we know him---mostly---right down to him saying, "The girl's right there. Worry about her."
It allows for the sadness that comes to be real as we watch Bobby lose his temper completely and go on the offensive against Dick Roman. Sure, he is throwing the Leviathan Leader around easily enough, but it's not hurting him. It's only riling Bobby up further---and in the process Charlie's flung aside, her arm breaking when she connects brutally with the wall. The Winchesters arrive on scene, scooping her up and making a hasty exit before Dick Roman and the rest of his minions can stop them. They have little time to worry about Bobby here, just that they have his flask and that they get Charlie to safety and quickly.
Thompson certainly made Charlie Bradbury a memorable character in her first appearance. She was witty, smart, sweet, adorable, and clever. Charlie, in many ways, represents us the fans, and in that way she gives us the chance to feel like we're a part of the story fabric. Thompson is savvy enough to make her unique yet universal. It is his writing that makes her connect with us and the Winchesters, making her a more rounded character and fully realized person. "The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo" ended with us possibly never seeing her again, as she tells them, "Never contact me again, like, ever."
In the last part, we'll look at how Thompson brought Charlie back into the story---and how he connected her story to the brothers. We'll also have fifteen great lines and great pop culture references---along with the complete Twitter interview.
(Part Three can be found here.)