We’re coming down the homestretch of Supernatural’s eight season and there’s still quite a few things to be touched upon before we get to what will no doubt be another amazing finale. One would think then this week’s helping would further the story arch and, while it does in a sense, “Pac-Man Fever” is, for all intents and purposes, a filler episode.
Of course, any episode highlighting Felicia Day as a may cog is a welcome distraction no matter when it airs.
Using the effective and welcome (in my opinion) ‘flash-forward’, Dean wakes up, decked out in military garb with some 1940’s music playing. He opens the barricaded door to his office and comes across a stream of dead bodies in the corridor. He checks out a paper to find he’s surfing around in 1951 when the shadows of the monsters responsible for the carnage target him for next on their list.
24 hours earlier…
Hanging back at their new lair, Sam’s still all kinds of out of sorts from the second trial. They need to find Kevin but Dean’s not about to let his little brother out in the latter’s current condition. Before Dean can go, they get an email from Charlie, our favorite lesbian hacking geek redhead this side of Willow Rosenberg. They take her to the lair and she drops the dime on the latest case. One Tom Blake went missing and, when found, his insides were liquefied. They soon find out that she’s doing some serious hunting, even using Carver Edlund’s books on the Winchesters lives as source material. Dean relegates Sam to the bench and, after a bit of a trippy dress montage, takes the neophyte hunter to the hospital to examine the body. The new partners run into a brick wall though in the presence of Jennifer O’Brien, the head coroner.
It’s not long after Charlie and Dean’s rejection that another body turns up. Sam takes it upon himself to show up first and as he and Dean argue about Sam’s presence on the case, Charlie gets some good intel from the teens that found the body; a blue hand print on one of the arms before the corpse’s tummy went Alien. They return to the coroner’s to gain confirmation on the other bodies but find out they were both burned, the records indicating the CDC signed off on it. Still, the blue hand print is enough to point them to a secondary Djinn species whose calling card entails liquefied entrails and a very blue hand print. After hearing the news, Charlie dips out and her quirkier than usual behavior isn’t lost on the boys. In fact, Dean had already turned on the GPS on her phone and the two brothers track her down at an apartment but come across the ransacked remains of the struggle when Charlie was accosted by the good doc…err, coroner. They know she’s been hiding something and go with the one lead they have; she’s been anonymously donating cash to a patient at the hospital—Gertrude Milton. Dean leaves Sam on Djinn searching duty and he follows the lead. After getting the story on Gertrude, Dean puts the pieces together and surmises she’s Charlie’s mom.
While the boys are doing their detective work, Charlie’s tied to a chair and at Jennifer Djinn’s mercy. The latter questions the daring red head and mentions both her and Dean’s fear when they visited earlier. Jenny Djinn starts to do some healthy feeding on Charlie and she passes out. Sam and Dean finally arrive on the scene (here’s a hazzah for property records). Jenny Djinn gets the drop on Sam but Dean skewers her from behind. They inject Charlie with the Djinn antidote but it doesn’t work. Dean volunteers to go in and pull her back out, sipping some filthy concoction that’ll help him dream walk with Charlie.
Back to the beginning of the episode—Charlie Fury, eye patch and all, saves Dean from the super soldier vampires, which is a part of her nightmare scenario—definitely different from the usual Djinn sending its victims to his/her happy place. Her purpose is to save the patient and in this nightmare landscape, it’s her mother. When Dean sees Sam laying comatose, he realizes the fear is them not being able to let go. She feels guilty for her parents being killed, something Dean can relate to in regards to Sam having to face the trials alone. Based on Charlie’s experience of the infinite loop in this particular scenario, Dean believes that not playing the game will break the cycle. Though it’s difficult to do, she let’s go and the two awaken back in the real world to Sam (who’d taken out Jenny Djinn’s son, Djinn Junior).
Back at base camp, Charlie is ready to say her goodbyes. Her and Dean share a special moment where they both vow to let go. She tells him she loves him and he replies in Han Solo fashion before they go their separate ways. Where Charlie gets to spend one more moment with her mom, Dean lets go of the fear and trying to keep his younger brother safe and tells Sam it’s time to find the prophet.
Though a little surprising to slot an essentially filler episode this late in the game, “Pac-Man Fever” still provides momentum as the season goes forward. With Charlie’s help, Dean puts away his fears of Sam not being up to the task. He’s all in, full tilt boogie, and ready to face the coming tide.