galathea: (s/d batcave)
[personal profile] galathea
Robbie Thompson’s Slumber Party is one of those wacky episodes I have to come to associate with Ben Edlund’s comedic work on Supernatural, you know, humorous, but with dark overtones; nonsensical, but highly entertaining. Like many Robbie Thompson episodes, Slumber Party features Charlie as Sam and Dean’s geeky sidekick, and while I have to admit that the episode failed to entirely charm me the way previous Charlie centric episodes did, I still loved to see her back. Overall, even though there are moments in the episode that bothered me, I still enjoyed it as a whole.



Sam: "Well, I’m sorry I haven’t hung up the 'hang in there' kitty poster yet, Dean. Feel free to redecorate."
Dean: "So, what? Our home is not good enough for the 'hang in there' kitty poster?"
Sam: "This isn’t our home. This is where we work."
Dean: "What’s the difference?"


I have been waiting for a bottle episode that uses the Batcave as the backdrop for a hunt for a while now, so naturally I am delighted that Slumber Party finally steps up to the plate. The episode gives us some lovely brotherly moments – like, for example, Dean buying Sam S1 of Game of Thrones for a shared TV night – that are not only heart-warming, but also tie in with the main theme of the episode, namely Sam and Dean’s different points of view on what constitutes as a home. Now, from the moment the brothers first set foot in the Batcave, Dean has been revelling in the comfort, stability and safety the place offers them, and his domestic tendencies have been thriving in their new environment, so it comes as no surprise that he feels entirely at home in the bunker. Sam, on the other hand, has never shown a similar inclination to put down roots, even though he clearly feels comfortable in their new base of operations as well. I think Sam’s statement that the Batcave is not their home, but their place of work strikes right at the heart of his main issue, though. I mean, Sam’s definition of a home has always been tied to its absolute dissociation from hunting. Both times Sam tried to make a home for himself, he not only severed his ties to the hunting world, but also left his own personal history behind, to an extent even, where he never told Amelia or Jessica the truth about himself or his family. So, given that the Batcave is the ultimate representation of the hunting world, it is easy to see why Sam would have difficulties reconciling the place with his idea of a home.

Of course, the fact that Sam’s various attempts to create a home for himself only ever resulted in pain and loss for him (and the people close to him) adds to his reluctance to call the Batcave his home as well. If anything, his experiences taught him not to hold on to things, places or people. However, the episode ends on a hopeful note, as Sam contentedly agrees with Dean that there is no place but home. And while I do not think Sam suddenly changed his position on the matter, I take it as a sign that, maybe, he is finally ready to open his mind to the possibility of a home that unites the different aspects of his life under one roof, where he can combine his love for academics with hunting as well as a family life and be entirely himself. I have always felt that the Men of Letters and the Batcave are designed to give Sam his own place in the world of hunting, and I love the thought that Sam may finally come around to the idea as well. All in all, Sam and Dean’s argument about embracing the Batcave as their home is my favourite aspect of the episode. ♥

However, there are also some brotherly moments that leave me with a feeling of unease. Firstly, I find it rather offensive that Dean feels the need to question if it was indeed Sam, who came up with the brilliant idea to track the fallen angels via the consoles in the Batcave. I mean, when has Dean ever doubted Sam’s intelligence or resourcefulness? There is really no good reason for him to assume Ezekiel had any hand in Sam’s idea, and, quite frankly, moments like these continue to undermine Dean’s previous assurance that he believes in Sam. Secondly, Dean calling on Ezekiel mid-hunt to resurrect Charlie clearly illustrates that, at this point, he has come to see the angel as somewhat of an ally and that suggests he feels less and less guilty/uneasy with his brother’s situation. The fact that he uses Ezekiel’s powers, even though he knows it will adversely affect the speed of Sam’s healing process and thus prolong his possession, only serves to further substantiate that impression. I admit, the more comfortable Dean feels with using Ezekiel for his own purposes, the less comfortable I feel with his actions, and given that I was never at ease with his actions to begin with, my comfort level is at an all time low at the moment. Obviously, it does not help that, despite his protestations to the contrary, Dean’s actions seem to imply that he actually prefers Ezekiel’s brand of usefulness to Sam’s.

I guess I am also rather perturbed by the fact that Dean would compromise Sam’s situation and violate the natural order just to bring Charlie back to life. Now, I am aware that, given the many friends they have lost over the years, Dean takes every further loss particularly hard, especially since he often feels responsible for involving his friends in potentially lethal situations in the first place, but I feel that reversing death is starting to become an obsession for Dean. It seems that he has forgotten every lesson he ever learned about the catastrophic results of messing with the natural order. Death would not be pleased! While I can understand on some level that Dean is still unable to accept Sam’s death, I find it difficult to believe that he would suddenly start pushing boundaries for someone he does not even know all that well. As far as I recall, he has never brought someone other than Sam back from the dead, not even John when he was offered the chance, so his actions in Slumber Party seem rather extreme and hence come off as a somewhat contrived plot point designed solely to illustrate Dean’s growing comfortableness with Ezekiel’s presence.

Random Notes:
  • I really wished the writers would stop randomly killing off recurring characters, only to immediately bring them back from the dead. At this point, death has lost all meaning in the Supernatural universe and there is no emotional impact whatsoever when a character dies. In that context, I have to say that I find Dorothy’s statement that dying and coming back to life marks Charlie as a real hunter rather irritating. I mean, so far, I was under the impression that coming back from the dead is a Winchester speciality rather than a common phenomenon amongst hunters. As far as I remember, even Death himself commented on Sam and Dean’s uniqueness in that regard. Not to mention that I would assume something as unnatural as a resurrection would rather be frowned upon in the hunters’ community. Of course, I will not rule out that, from time to time, even hunters are desperate enough to accept a demon deal to save a loved one, but overall I daresay their knowledge (and hatred) of the supernatural builds a natural obstacle to that course of action.

  • Ever since Charlie read the Supernatural books, she started to make casual references to them whenever she has a conversation with Sam and Dean, and I always thought that it feels somewhat disrespectful of her to (jokingly) comment on the brothers’ experiences – after all, Sam and Dean are real people to her and not just fictional characters – but, so far, I have been able to handwave her behaviour. Strangely, though, Charlie’s comparatively harmless statement that she is down with 'saving people, hunting things, the family business' really rubs me the wrong way. Partly, I think, because the line has become such an iconic catchphrase for Supernatural, the show, that it pulls me out of the moment, but also because the statement feels really inappropriate, if not invasive to me. I mean, hunting is not Charlie’s family business, so the line makes little sense coming from her. More importantly, though, that particular line was spoken in a very private moment between the brothers, and other people quoting it in front of Sam and Dean makes me really uncomfortable. It just feels like an invasion of their privacy, maybe not quite as much as Ezekiel telling Dean about Sam’s thoughts and feelings, but still. I really wished the writers would tone Charlie’s 'fangirling' of Sam and Dean down a notch.

  • Talking about Charlie, I really like the way Slumber Party resolves her storyline. Charlie teaming up with Dorothy on a quest to liberate Oz seems kind of fitting, considering that she spent most of her life escaping into fantasy worlds via books, movies and games anyway. Now she gets to actually live a real fantasy adventure, and I love that, for once, a recurring character gets a happy ending on this show. Moreover, this resolution leaves room for Charlie’s return at a later point in the show, and it also provides Sam and Dean with a legitimate reason not to insist on Charlie taking refuge in the Batcave for a while. I mean, given that Charlie started hunting on her own, I would have expected the brothers to take her under their wing to make sure she is as safe as possible while learning the ropes of the business, but this way Sam and Dean are free of that responsibility.

  • At the end of last week’s episode, I had my doubts that Dean would be able to believably explain to Sam why Castiel had to leave the Batcave again, especially given the lengths they went to in order to find their friend and get him to safety, but surprisingly I had little problems buying into his statement that Castiel felt his presence would endanger them and hence decided to leave. After all, it would not be the first time for Castiel to strike out on his own, either to protect the brothers or to pursue his own agenda. However, Sam and Dean moving Kevin out of the Batcave and into a warded motel room is a lot harder, if not impossible to sell, from a character point of view. I mean, just two episodes ago, Dean pointed out to Kevin that he is still a prime target for angels as well as demons and that the Batcave is the only safe place for him. Moreover, just a few weeks ago, Dean was devastated when he thought Kevin had died because they underestimated Crowley’s ability to find Kevin on Garth’s heavily warded boat (The Great Escapist). So, I really have a hard time believing that Dean would agree to Kevin leaving the Batcave – or that Kevin would consider leaving on his own, for that matter – just to 'have a break'.

  • According to Robbie Thompson, Jensen and Jared switched Sam and Dean’s lines in the scene where they talk about the Game of Thrones books. In the script, it is Dean who states that he wants to read the books first and makes fun of Sam, but apparently Jensen and Jared thought the dialogue would make more sense the other way around. I know some fans think that dialogues like these imply that Dean is stupid or at least that Sam thinks he is, but, to me, scenes like these always come off as good-natured brotherly ribbing. I mean, Sam always needles his brother about his reading and eating habits, while Dean teases his brother about his hair and his sensitive streak, but their words are never mean-spirited, and I never feel that either brother takes offence. Besides, Sam openly expressed his admiration for his brother’s intelligence more than once, and Dean voiced his appreciation for Sam’s empathy on several occasions, which supports my impression that there is no spiteful intent behind this kind of mutual teasing.

I am sorry, this review is so short and somewhat superficial. There are some interesting aspects of the episodes that are worth exploring, like, for example, the parallels between Sam and Dorothy or Sam’s rejection of hunting as a quest, but I did not manage to get around to them. I had my sisters over for an extended weekend, which left me with little time to write. In fact, I am glad I was able to put something together at all.

Date: 2013-11-05 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bittersweettwit.livejournal.com
Excellent review! I think we are generally in sync when it comes to this episode :) I really should have just waited for your post and referred my friend list to this page. You're review is for the most part a more articulate version of mine haha.

All in all, Sam and Dean’s argument about embracing the Batcave as their home is my favourite aspect of the episode. ♥

Without quoting a huge chunk of text I just wanted to say that the two paragraphs preceding this quote manage to touch on a point I failed to write satisfactory for my own review :).

I admit, the more comfortable Dean feels with using Ezekiel for his own purposes, the less comfortable I feel with his actions, and given that I was never at ease with his actions to begin with, my comfort level is at an all time low at the moment.

Completely agreed. I like to think though that the writers want us to feel uncomfortable with Dean's action and the slippery slope Dean has been gradually falling down since I Think I'm Going to Like It Here. It gives me more hope than I had originally that they intend Dean to face some serious consequences when the secret comes out. Rather than a repeat of past arguments where Sam grows 'huffy' for an episode only to apologise then at the end.

I guess I am also rather perturbed by the fact that Dean would compromise Sam’s situation and violate the natural order just to bring Charlie back to life.

I miss the days of the Kripke era and even Sera Gamble's when actions such as this had consequences like in Faith or Appointment in Samarra. Sadly these writers seem to have forgotten the rules of the supernatural verse in regards to the natural order and just expect us to believe that Charlie and Castiel's resurrections came without repercussions. *sigh*

after all, Sam and Dean are real people to her and not just fictional characters – but, so far, I have been able to handwave her behaviour.

Yeah that is something that can real grate on me at times. It reminds me of Pac Man Fever when she wants to intrude on a private discussion between the brothers so she can enjoy the 'broment'. It is OK for us to do so since Supernatural is just a television show, but for Charlie these are real people's private moments she is trying to intrude on!.

Sam’s rejection of hunting as a quest

Hmm I actually had a different take on this. In my opinion when Charlie and Sam are referring to 'the quest' they are referring to a Lord of the Rings type of scenario where the protagonist has a specific journey/task that only they can only complete due to particular circumstances or special abilities. General hunting such as what Charlie was doing does not meet this criteria as at the end of the day any human with the right motivation can become a hunter.

The 'quests' that Sam have been apart of during the show include his task in season four while under the influence of Ruby's manipulation of being the only one to kill Lilith, or the familial quest of seasons one and two i.e. finding the demon that killed their mother and then of course there was the apocolypse. All of these quests have ended in a dark manner for the brothers (Sam's own death and Dean's demon deal, the apocalypse beginning and Sam's time in the cage). I actually thought considering all of that hearing the line about quests being dead ends from Sam in particular was rather poignant.
Edited Date: 2013-11-05 09:36 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-05 11:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] galathea-snb.livejournal.com
Thank you so much, Tye. I wrote this review in such a rush that I wasn't quite sure if it holds together well. I had little time to check on coherency or language problems, so I am glad it makes sense to you.

I like to think though that the writers want us to feel uncomfortable with Dean's action and the slippery slope Dean has been gradually falling down
God, I really hope so. As usual, we will only know in retrospect if the story will result in Dean's own cautionary tale or if he will be validated for all his morally reprehensible actions.

It reminds me of Pac Man Fever when she wants to intrude on a private discussion between the brothers so she can enjoy the 'broment'.
Yeah, in retrospect that was a pretty impolite request. It didn't really bother me at the time, so I guess I needed something that resonated with me, personally, to really hammer it home for me, and now I have seen it, I cannot unsee it. LOL

re the quest thing: You make good points. :) I took Charlie's 'I want hunting to be a magical quest' attitude as a sign that she had a somewhat romanticised view on hunting - you know, a 'being the hero and save the day' kind of thing - and Sam just knew better than that. I guess it reminded me of Dean's conversation with Jo back in No Exit, where Dean tried to get it across to Jo that hunting is twisted and dark rather than a heroic adventure.

Date: 2013-11-09 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bittersweettwit.livejournal.com
God, I really hope so. As usual, we will only know in retrospect if the story will result in Dean's own cautionary tale or if he will be validated for all his morally reprehensible actions.

Right now I'm actually rather impressed with the subtly they've been handling the Samekiel story-line which is surprising since as you know I have a rather low opinion of the current writing team. But of course as you say I could be giving them too much credit and they'll just handwave away his actions *sigh*. Several episodes of this season so far especially the premiere have the potential to become either absolutely loved or hated depending on the outcome of this story-line.

I guess it reminded me of Dean's conversation with Jo back in No Exit, where Dean tried to get it across to Jo that hunting is twisted and dark rather than a heroic adventure.

Well that could easily be what Robbie Thompson was going for and I just read the scene wrong. But since for me it drew to mind the tragic parts of Sam's past I mentioned in my last comment the scene was rather poignant and I'm happy he chose Sam rather than Dean for this conversation :)

Date: 2013-11-10 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] galathea-snb.livejournal.com
Several episodes of this season so far especially the premiere have the potential to become either absolutely loved or hated depending on the outcome of this story-line.
I know. Surprisingly enough, despite my very visceral, negative reaction to Dean's choice in the season opener, I actually find the Ezekiel storyline intriguing enough to be willing to make my peace with Dean's actions if the resolution is handled with care. My main problem is that I have no trust in the writers and thus question everything. In the earlier seasons, this would not be such a problem; I would speculate and theorise to my heart's delight, but nowadays I just fear that I will be disappointed, again. While I do enjoy this season more than the last so far, the general problems I had with the writing last year are still very much present, so building trust in these writers is next to impossible. /sigh

Well that could easily be what Robbie Thompson was going for and I just read the scene wrong.
Our readings are not mutually exclusive, though; I think they complement each other. I am not sure there is one definitive reading of that scene anyway.
Edited Date: 2013-11-10 09:16 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-12-14 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheebles.livejournal.com
I liked Charlie in her initial appearance in Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoos, but less and less with each subsequent appearance. I'm with you on her fangirling and disrespect of, particularly, Sam's sacrifices. This was especially apparent in PacMan Fever when she thanked Dean for saving the world and then said she was sorry that Sam had zero luck with the ladies. In this ep after the line you mention, she goes on to lament that she wants dragons. My mouth dropped open. She's supposed to be so smart, but sometimes she's pretty thick.

Speaking of which, I'm troubled too by the dumbing down of Sam Winchester. Since they brought in Kevin and Charlie, Sam intelligence is rarely a player on the show. This is the guy who guy a full-ride to Standford, a walking encyclopedia of weird who used to hack police department databases, but now he rarely does anything but ask dumb questions to elicit explication from Kevin.

Here's what really made me headdesk: Sam Winchester would have known that there was no way to hook that old MoL computer to Charlie's ProductPlacement Pad. A computer like that didn't have a harddrive. There were no files stored on it for Charlie to download. They would have needed a transformer the size of a doghouse to convert the power down so it didn't fry that pad. From a technological standpoint it was a ridiculous plotline, and then, Charlie didn't even do what she went there to do -- make the table map out angels -- she took off to Oz with Dorothy.

I was also really disturbed by Dean choosing to compromise Sam's recovery to bring Charlie back. I don't get his sudden attachment to these new characters.

Yeah, I guess, you could say that I didn't care much for this ep. Although, death by ruby slippers was kind of cool.

Date: 2013-12-19 10:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] galathea-snb.livejournal.com
This was especially apparent in PacMan Fever when she thanked Dean for saving the world and then said she was sorry that Sam had zero luck with the ladies.
Yeah, Pac-Man Fever was the first episode where I felt a slight irritation with Charlie, but I handwaved it, because I was genuinely moved by her background story. This time around, I was a lot more annoyed about it, though. I also feel that using the Supernatural books as a means to give random characters insight into Sam and Dean is very lazy storytelling, and I really wished they would stop using narrative shortcuts like this. Especially since it really isn't as funny as the writers seem to think.

I'm troubled too by the dumbing down of Sam Winchester.
To be fair, I often feel the writers started to dumb down both Sam and Dean. They're supposed to be almost legendary hunters nowadays, but they still run into severe trouble even on standard hunts all the time - usually for contrived plot reasons. I often feel that they have been more competent as hunters in the first 3 seasons than they are now. I get that they need help with stuff that goes way beyond a normal hunt, i.e. angels and demons, but I am annoyed with the way they are hand-fed solutions by the people around them, too.

I was also really disturbed by Dean choosing to compromise Sam's recovery to bring Charlie back.
Yeah, tell me about it. It really felt completely contrived and out of characer to me. :(

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