While Supernatural has had its issues with LGBT representation in the past, it does have one success: Charlie, played by Felicia Day. Charlie has become a semi-regular guest star on the show, playing a spunky nerd who just happens to be queer, and the last time we saw her, she had followed Dorothy Gale into the realm of Oz. In “There’s No Place Like Home”, we catch up with everyone’s favourite redheaded LARPer, and find that she’s gotten a little bit fractured.
During a war in Oz, Charlie was split into two different people: Good Charlie and Dark Charlie. The dark one is brutally going after the drunk driver that killed her parents, while the good one is trying to keep tabs while lamenting her inability to hack computers (because it’s wrong). Both Charlies run into the Winchester brothers, and then the boys on the case to reunite Charlie with herself.
Charlie and Dean can commiserate, as both of them are dealing with difficult parts of themselves that seem to be impossible to quash. Dean is dealing with the demonic Mark of Cain, which is causing him to enjoy killing a little too much. The midseason finale saw him go really off the rails, and he and Sam are scrambling to find a way to fix things—or at least help him deal with that darkness on a day-to-day basis.
Dean’s attempts at living clean were a highlight of the episode, and considering the hard-drinking burger lover we know and adore, it’s immensely entertaining to watch him struggle to eat egg white omelets. He follows Dark Charlie on her bloody crusade, as Sam and Good Charlie try to track down the man who originally found Oz and figure out a cure. Dark Charlie and Dean have tremendously powerful back-and-forth, with Charlie encouraging Dean’s worst qualities and Dean struggling to remember why he’s trying to give them up. The confrontation between Dark Charlie and the man who killed her parents is heartbreaking. Even though you’re waiting for the worst to happen, it’s an emotional moment filled with genuine tension. “There’s No Place Like Home” gives Day a chance to show off her range as an actress too. We’ve seen her be both good and more mischievous in the past, and the two Charlies are very believable extensions of the girl we already know.
“There’s No Place Like Home” is entertaining and a great part of the Supernatural mythos. Felicia Day is always a welcome treat, and she’s doubly entertaining playing dual roles. From the ending of the episode, it seems that this won’t be the last we’ve seen of Charlie either, which is something to look forward to. I mean, any character who exits on the line “Arrivederci, bitches” is one to keep.
Props to episode writer Robbie Thompson for clever dialogue and genuine emotional tugs in all the right places, as well as presenting Dean’s struggles in mostly-wordless little moments rather than beating the audience over the head with them. Jensen Ackles is playing this arc really well. There’s a moment when he considers taking a drink of now-forbidden alcohol, and you can see the self-loathing and inner turmoil as he raises the glass to his lips.
Overall, “There’s No Place Like Home” is a solid episode with good writing, direction and acting, and it progresses the overall season arc in a dynamic, natural way. Can’t ever complain about that sort of solid genre television. It’s one of the things Supernatural does best.