29 January 2013

Review: Supernatural 8.11 LARP and the Real Girl

LARP and the Real Girl was a SUPER fun episode to watch. After reading a selection of reviews of Torn and Frayed. When some fans said that episode was difficult to watch, I realise that it wasn't an episode 'to enjoy' because it was a dark and intense with lots of torture and emotional issues surround the characters. It wasn't about Torn and Frayed being a badly written episode -- no one 'enjoyed' watching an angel being tortured by demons! I realised that my feeling towards Torn and Frayed was similar to my feeling after watching Les Miserables. Our protagonists were going through the toughest time, certain events had made them very desperate and miserable! After an intense episode like Torn and Frayed, seeing Dean and Sam played dress-up with Felicia Day was much needed. To Dean and Sam, it was a break they needed too. A break that allowed them to have a bit of fun.


LARP and the Real Girl was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, who is no stranger to television. For Supernatural, he directed Adventures in Babysitting and Mannequin 3: The Reckoning. He has also directed many shows such as Smallville, Fringe, Bones, Heroes, Boston Legal, JAG, Ally McBeal, and here is my favourite, Somewhere in Time, one of my all time favourite romantic flicks.

LARP and the Real Girl was written by Robbie Thompson, who has recently joined Twitter! He has become one of my favourite writers on the show. His writing is like a love child of the work of Carver and Edlund. I have much to learn! I love Supernatural for so many reasons. One of the key contributing factors is the writer's ability to integrate pop culture references. One can tell whether or not the writer enjoyed writing a particular episode. I can tell, Robbie Thompson had a blast writing this episode. And therefore, we had a blast watching it.

It wasn't the first time Supernatural touched on LARPing (Life Action Role Play). Monster at the End of the Book is one of my all time favourite episodes, squalling with The End, Home and The Song Remains the Same. Monster at the End of the Book was epic because of the whole Chuck the prophet of the lord thing. I didn't know what LARPing was and had zero exposure to this 'interactive literature'. The Real Ghostbusters was a relatively weak episode but it was still fun to watch at the time -- Chuck saved it and I like the ending when the where about of the Colt was revealed. It was also a good attempt to highlight how much the heroism of the real Dean and Sam meant to fans of books. 

While I am sure Supernatural can get more 'LARP-y' than LARP and the Real Girl, but this episode went all out with no reservation -- the set, the LARPers, the Charlie and Fairy flirtatious scenes, the story-within-the story, the costume, even Dean and Sam couldn't resist Braveheart! Most importantly everyone had fun making it and we had fun watching it. Am I the only one who have watched the Braveheart scene 66 times already? 

"I think we can take care of a bunch of accountants with form swords."
Jensen Ackles can do anything, and I mean anything! He plays a hero on Supernatural, but over the years, we've seen him playing different versions of Dean on the show -- a serial killer (Skin; Slash Fiction) and demon Dean (Dream a Little Dream of Me). We have also seen a darker, cold blooded version of Dean (The End), we have seen how comfortable Dean was as a cowboy (Frontierland) and as an Untouchable (Time After Time). We know Jensen can play happy, funny, sad, depress, angry, frustrated.. you name it! Basically Jensen has nailed every emotion that is required of him to play the role of Dean Winchester. LARP and the Real Girl has strengthened Jensen's resume -- the Braveheart speech and the hair was nothing but epic! And if I may, I am going to go all fan-girl right now -- every shot of Jensen in this episode was super hot! 

Jensen is a great actor, he is one of the best actors in his generation. I think he leads a scene very well and he always has great chemistry with any guest stars. What I love about about this episode is his chemistry with Felicia Day. Dean and Charlie had great chemistry because they are practically on the same wavelength! I think Dean really respects Charlie and digs her as the civilian who turns hero because she is brave and she knows what's the right thing to do. This is a great quality even hunters like Gordon and Martin do not possess.

"Not the Glinda from Wicked?"
Sam has been struggling with himself and Dean. After breaking up with Amelia, he can only bury himself at work and try not to think about it. Dean is talking to Sam and Sam is calmly listening and interacting. Sam knows that family is all he's got, Dean is all he's got. Let's admit it, Dean and Sam are two very people and after all these years they are still learning how to deal with each other especially during crisis. When Dean is sad and depressed, Sam is mostly there for him. When Sam is sad and damaged, Dean is hurt too, he would do anything to protect his little brother. Sure, they have augments and they do things that piss each other off. But as Kripke said "they always come together in the end." 

Sam, the 'time traveler' didn't look very enthuse in this episode when it came to dressing up and LARPing. He just did what was required of him -- researching and saving people. But in the end, Dean did great in convincing Sam to dress up! I think that was a great way in wrapping the episode. The Dean and Sam dialogue before the Braveheart scene was almost funny, because you knew what was coming! The Braveheart scene was a great way to end the not-so-good part of their brothers relationship. I love how a filler episode like LARP and the Real Girl addressed such an important part of the brother relationship without doing too much. 

There is usually a thing or two that trigger my mind into focusing my review on a different aspect. Hopefully I am giving you something different from what you've already read else where. I have blogged about the development of a supporting cast 2.0. Over the years, the show has built strong team of supporting cast -- just look at the guest lists of any Supernatural conventions! But because this IS Supernatural, it's almost like a policy that the writers must keep killing the supporting cast! 

I feel Supernatural was going through a transition period when Cas was in his darkest hours and when Bobby went GhostBobby. Did it ever occur to the writers that what if both Cas and Bobby left the show? They must have. You just never know who is going to stay and who is going get killed off quickly. I think the introduction of Garth, Charlie, Kevin and Crowley is probably the strongest supporting cast and has the most potential for further development since Cas, Chuck and Lucifer appeared in season four and five.

Charlie (Felicia Day) returned as the civilian who got dragged into the supernatural war between the Leviathans and humans. I think her character has great potentials. We get to know Charlie a bit more in LARP and the Real Girl. She explained to Dean why she was into LARP-ing. Same reasons why anyone would get into LARP-ing -- to escape from their boring reality to become a hero for one weekend. LARPing is all fun and game, but people do take this seriously. When they are in characters, they are more alive than ever. Some people are dying to be part of something and become heroes. Give them an apocalypse and they will be happy to fight zombies and to save the world!

After the death of two LARPers, Charlie should leave the camp for safety reasons, but the Queen has the duty to stay and fight with her people. Charlie didn't think she was significant in the real world, but Dean disagreed. He told her she was the hero, they wouldn't success in taking Dick Roman down without her help. She was heavily involved in episode. She also met a Fairy, and did what I think was typical of her -- the flirty type (kinda like the female version of Dean). In the end, she destroyed the book -- very Harry Potter! she worked well with the boys. The whole saving people thing revealed who Charlie really was, she was a hero. I am sure this won't be the last time we saw Charlie.

Let's talk about Garth quickly. I think the writers have every intention in bringing DJ Qualls back. While Garth is not in every episode, his character is in the background busy doing things and gets mentioned in every or every second episode. Garth is being developed without being in every episode. The whole Garth-has-a-GPS-on-us is elevating his statute from zero to Nick Fury. I love the fact that Garth is taking the initiative to take the lead and keeping an eye on the hunting community. When something is wrong, he should be the first one to to know. And because he loves Dean and Sam so much, they will be the first to know things. After all, they are on the biggest case on Earth! I think it is imminent that Garth and Charlie will be in an episode together. 

LARP and the Real Girl is ten kinds of awesome. Hands down, this is one of my favourite episodes of season eight. It seems that I have said this on many occasions this season, but it's a sign of a great season!!

"They will never take our fandom!!"
Next episode, As Time Goes By, is highly anticipated. I cannot begin to describe how much I love a good Winchester episode. Grandpa Samuel was a bit of a disappointment in season six. I have high hope that Grandpa Henry will be much better and Samuel. I don't normally watch spoiler clips, but I can't help it this time. I can tell you that Henry is everything I want to see. I cannot wait! Will Henry's appearance tight into the overall of the myth of season eight? What will be the impact of Henry's appearance in the boys lives? I cannot wait!! I really cannot!!!

"Grandpa would be so proud!"
I opted for the Canadian promo this time because they always have better (but sometimes spoilery) promo.


  1. I loved this ep Tiny it was just what I needed and just what the brother's needed and now I hope that we stay on this path of reconciliation.

    I agree that we have a great supporting cast again now. The brothers are surrounded again with friends and foe and that's great. Next I'd love to see Sheriff Mills pop up, I really like her - be good to see her again. Have a couple of good strong female characters in the wings.

    Anyway, great review as always Tiny. I can't wait for next week. Man, I love the time travel eps (as you know) any any episode that extends the mythology of the Winchester family is beyond great. I am officially excited!

    1. Thanks Amy :)

      Totally! I mean..while the story is totally predictable, it's prefect! Supernatural does fun episodes very very well! Love it!

      I love time traveling stuff too. I am just so excited about Henry and I think he is going to be just fine. Actually, much better than Samuel Campbell.



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