Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Phew. That was a doozy. Before getting into what clearly needs to be discussed from this week’s Supernatural, let’s dive into the lighter parts of “Dark Dynasty.”
First, there was some superb character-acting in this episode. This season, while many of Crowley’s exciting and intriguing plot lines have been swept under the rug in favor of the heroes’, actor Mark Sheppard strives to make sure Crowley isn’t forgotten by those at home. He consistently steals every scene in which he appears, commanding the attention that his character often isn’t afforded. Granted, this season has done a lot to deepen the King of Hell’s backstory, but without his reaction to these reveals, that very information becomes essentially useless. “Dark Dynasty” was just another example of Mark Sheppard doing what he could with what little he was given.
The same can be said of Castiel actor Misha Collins. While his name appears under “starring,” this season, viewers have seen very little of what they know Collins can do. Cas’ plot lines have been stale, if not nonexistent; the most exciting moment for him was when he got his grace back—something that should have happened ages ago! This episode, however, Collins didn’t let Cas’ minimal screen time stop him from getting noticed. Despite the fact that “Dark Dynasty” didn’t end up being humorous overall, Collins brought Cas’ signature brand of awkward comedy, melting the ice settling in around the other characters.
And now, for the part everyone has been dreading—Charlie. This week, the sweet, sweet,nerdy angel Charlie Bradbury (played by sweet, sweet nerdy angel Felicia Day) perished at the hand of a character that just showed up this episode. Cool!
At first, Charlie’s death didn’t seem like the absolute worst thing Supernatural has ever done. She chose to die rather than give away secrets (which is totally badass), and stared death in the face without running or screaming—or so viewers can assume, since her death wasn’t shown. But then the episode ends. Huh. So, that’s all Charlie’s worth? A reveal? A death reveal, like some one-off character whose name viewers never even bothered to learn? Nice. While the general excessive violence on TV isn’t something to celebrate, just happening upon a bloodied Charlie is something that the writers did to avoid hard work. She’s been around for years, an important figure to fans since her creation—a rare win in the portrayal of women on TV. It is unacceptable that she was killed by some random dude off-screen.
So, why did she die? Well, this is the truly disappointing part of this episode: her death was completely pointless. We can sit around, shouting, “She decided to die! She’d rather die than sell out her friends! How cool! How progressive! How badass!” But at the end of the day, Charlie’s death is being use as a plot point to fuel Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) in his rage. He’s been a single kill away from becoming a demon practically all season, and now, having his friend killed will be the catalyst for some big change. We see it in next week’s promo—the opening lines are Dean yelling, “Charlie’s dead! And I’m gonna find whoever did this, and blah, blah, blah,” the same old story. Charlie died so that Dean could be extra pissed and become an extra rage monster who wants to kill everyone and everything he sees.
This has always been the issue with Supernatural’s treatment of its female characters—they’re never seen as standalone, but as tools for Sam and Dean’s story to advance. A lot of fans cared about Jo and Ellen and Pamela, in their days, as characters in their own right. They’re characters—people—even when Sam and Dean aren’t there. Today, we’ve got Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes), Claire Novak (Kathryn Newton), and Charlie—or at least we used to—who are nuanced and interesting females about whom fans love and care. The fans have asked (loudly) time and time again for more female characters—more people like Jody, Claire, and Charlie, and more screen time for these great characters—because they want representation in their favorite TV show. They want diversity. Why is that so hard to understand?
Just because Charlie was a fan favorite does not mean she has an automatic pass to live forever; that’d be ridiculous. It does mean, however, that the writers should carefully consider why people love her so much, and give her storyline, her life in its own right, some more thought. There was absolutely no reason for Charlie to die, except to spark hate within Dean. That is the only reason. Doing it on Charlie’s own terms was just a clever excuse.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost another strong female character on Supernatural, especially one who meant so much to so many. A lot of fans are angry. Read what they have to say, if you’re interested, but please do not attack the writers and show-runners for these decisions. It’s important to start dialogues about injustice and misrepresentation in media, but it’s also important to keep that dialogue civil. Keep fighting the good fight, and tune into Supernatural next week at 9 pm on the CW, where the Winchesters, no doubt, will do their best to avenge Charlie’s death in “The Prisoner.”
Overall Episode Grade: C-
Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer