It’s been a while since I had watched Supernatural's “LARP and the Real Girl.” I remember it with fondness, but I also didn’t remember a lot of the details. Seeing it again after all these years, it’s not what I remember. It’s not a bad episode, but it isn’t the groundbreaking one I recalled either. I think it initially stood out because season 8 was so mopey up to this point, something lighthearted was sorely needed. It is a nice quirky twist on a typical MOTW episode. What won the episode was the dork culture, the amazing details put into the fantasy world of Moondoor and the plethora of pop culture references.
“LARP and the Real Girl” follows along the vein of “The Real Ghostbusters,” exposing a cosplay world where average working professionals can gather in a field on weekends and pretend they are in another place. It’s an homage to fans, although it sticks with the point that some fans can get a little crazy. In this episode though, Supernatural fans are exposed to Robbie Thompson’s love of fantasy. At the time, that hadn’t been touched on the show. It usually stayed within the realms of horror and sci-fi. Lucky for Robbie, he had his Queen.
This was only the second episode for Charlie Bradbury, but just like her first outing, “The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo” she proved to be someone moving to the beat of a different drummer. She was obviously still spooked about the whole Dick Roman thing and didn’t want to get involved with the monsters out there again. Thus, her reaction to flee as soon as Sam and Dean appeared. I had to remind myself she saw them as trouble at this point and not her pseudo big brothers. Man, it’s amazing how quickly she decided to adopt the hunting life after this. At least here she could be the object of affection for many of the ladies. She was living her best life.
Despite all the fantasy fun that surrounded this episode, the beginning was pretty harsh and took a while to get to the main stuff. Sam and Dean are still gloomy after the events of the episode prior, “Torn and Frayed,” which means this doesn’t feel like the triumphant return of the Winchester brothers. They’re actually really lame together. The opening killing of the week was especially gruesome. Drawn and quartered? Eww. Then you jump to Sam and Dean, where Sam is still gloomy about having to give up the love of his life to continue the mission with Dean (he made the right call) and Dean walking on eggshells trying not to upset him.
Of course, because the writing philosophy at the time was “tell, don’t show,” the episode delivered the weekly reminder that Kevin is still working on the closing the gates of Hell thing and they might as well go on a case to kill time. There’s also the faint attempt at comic relief via a phone call from Garth, but again, Sam’s too mopey to take it for the fun it should have been. Come on Sam, you’re sucking all the air out of the room. Like I said, it took a while to get to the fun.
One has to admire all that Robbie Thompson put into this fantasy world as well, outing him as one of those extreme fan boys who would do exactly this on the weekends. It felt like it was him projecting a dream come true. The detail that went into the world of Moondoor is huge for someone putting together a script for one episode of a TV show. There were so many fun little bits in this. Personally, I loved that when there was an unplanned interruption, they would go “Hold”, fix the situation and resume. I haven’t seen that since playing tag as a kid. Brilliant!
I also died laughing over Boltar calling out Sam and Dean’s FBI agent act as what it really is, fake. He could even tell specifically why the badges weren’t real. What a dork! He admired the work that was put into it though. He’s all about the rules, no genre mash-ups this month. It’s all about Moondoor. Although, as soon as he did this, I knew he was the culprit. Overbearing control freaks in life are trouble. I work with enough of them in IT.
The case is certainly unique, and went in directions that weren’t entirely predictable, even if it did stray into campy territory at the end. For what the script lacked in pacing (sluggish at best), it more than made up for with imagination. Dean was adorable in this episode. He found Moondoor to be fun, even if he had to wipe the smile off his face because of Mr. Sour Puss. He talked strategy about warfare with Charlie, proving he’s someone who’s played a lot of Risk in his lifetime. But the best was him playing along, putting on his chain mail and being the chamber pot squire he was meant to be. With all the movie references, no wonder Dean and Charlie were kindred spirits. I like that Dean confided in Charlie about what he did to Sam in “Citizen Fang.” She got to say what all of us thought, it was a dick move. It was the beginning of the adorable Charlie and Dean bond that continued to grow, until she was senselessly killed for a plot stunt. But I digress, let’s stick with season 8.
There were plenty of serviceable moments, even if they often weren’t exciting. I would call a lot of it “cute”. The confrontation in the magical tent wasn’t the biggest or most intense, probably because they were going after an overzealous control freak nerd who scored something mystical on eBay. He wasn’t your typical villain, just a borderline human sociopath that made us ponder how healthy are grown men with no spouses and a house full of toys. But Charlie did get to live her Harry Potter fantasy and save the day (and fairy princess) by stabbing the evil book, a la Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She almost scored with the hot fairy too, but alas, story resolution is a cruel mistress.
The real joy, and the main reason for watching the whole episode, is the closing scene. That is one of the greatest scenes ever in Supernatural. Everyone dressed in battle gear, shields, wooden swords and all, with Dean ready to lead the charge of his wounded underdogs and defend his queen. Sure a mere frisbee almost derailed the fun, but the issue worked itself out. Jensen delivered a brilliant rendition of William Wallace’s (Mel Gibson) speech from Braveheart, again showing what a real movie nerd he is. But Sam, oh ponytail Sam, finally lightens up and joins in on the fun, fighting side by side with his brother to the bitter end. It’s so fitting, so glorious, and so damned funny.
The freeze frame at the end is iconic, and oh so delicious, as are the parting words, spoken by Bob Singer himself:
"This episode is dedicated to the men, women, elves, demigods, magi, druids and chamber pot servants who gave their lives fighting and winning for the Queen of Moons in the Battle of the Kingdoms. Go bravely into the next world, fallen soldiers."
Did I mention this was a Sam hair milestone? Rejoice, his hair finally grew long enough where we got Ponytail hair!
It’s Farmington Hills, Michigan! One of the better suburbs of Detroit BTW. You’ll notice Robbie Thompson uses Michigan a lot in his scripts since he’s a Royal Oak native.
Garth has been taking the mantel from Bobby, tracking hunters by GPS and assigning cases. I always liked the idea of an organized network. That’s something Sam briefly tried later in the series and I so wish they ran with that. He had one big setback and gave up. I think the writers just got bored. Short attention span theater for the win.
The sheriff in this episode was certainly one of the more memorable ones. Robbie was channeling his inner Ben Edlund in the quirky character spectrum. He had some great lines!
“Vic's name was Ed Nelson, 31 years old, an insurance-claim adjuster. He lived alone, which was a real shocker, considering his place is full of toys.”
Sam: Huh. So, anything... missing from the body?
Sheriff: You mean aside from the arms and legs? Uh...nope. All there – twig and berries, too.
“Like, uh... ‘You shall bleed for your crimes against us,’ followed by the emoticon of a skull. And, uh, this beauty – ‘I am a mage. I will destroy you.’ These kids today with their texting and murder.”
“Neighbor downstairs said she got woke up in the middle of the night by the sound of horses stomping their feet and galloping. We didn't find any hoof prints. She probably heard a TV or was having a bad dream or she was high as balls.”
Here are some of my other favorite lines:
Dean: You saw the chain mail. This could be "Fifty Shades of Greyfox" for all we know.
Sam: Nice outfit.
Dean: You love it.
Charlie: What, I can’t shut this down. It’s good to be Queen.
Dean: Well, there's no laptops in Moondoor. There's no Geneva Convention, either.
Charlie: Have fun storming the castle. (Sorry, I’m a sucker for all Princess Bride references!)
Charlie: Apart from the fact that you blocked me from banging a fairy and I’m about to go lose my crown in battle thanks to my army being decimated, yeah, totally good.
Overall grade, a B. It was the episode that started to turn the tide for season 8. Next review, episode 8.14, "Trial and Error". Yay another good one! That's the one that starts the trials.
Check out Alice's entire roster of Supernatural reviews on her Writer's Page!