Sunday, 10 May 2015

Review - Supernatural 10x21 "Dark Dynasty" - Goodbye our Queen

Charlie is dead and that’s as sad as hell. So very sad. But like many before her, she sacrificed herself so the Winchesters – or in this case, Dean Winchester could live. Like the two men she loved and called brother have done, she chose to sacrifice herself for family. And as she stood facing down death, knife in hand, knowing that her final choice would probably save Dean’s doomed soul, her ultimate act of brilliance, of genius, of strength, became an act of selfless heroism. She did for a man she had grown to love, what she knows he would have done for her. Charlie is a hero.

I wanted to start off this week by getting that off my chest and making it clear that this is how I feel.  By making it clear that this is how I see Charlie’s death. And I think to say, or to conclude that she was only killed because of her gender diminishes not only that death and the focus and power we were witness to her mustering in the final moments of her life, but also who she was as a character. She was more and deserves to be remembered as more. She was Charlie Bradbury, she was brilliant, and damaged, and intricate, and loving, and funny and so many other things. She was a character many of us related to, I related to her, but she was much more than simply a representation of me, or of my fandom, because once again to say that was all she was, and that was her sole reason for being, diminishes her.

Did she die to progress the Winchester’s narative? Yeah, I’m sure she did. Just like every other character close to Sam and Dean who has died before her. Because this is the story of the Winchesters, and no matter who the other characters are, no matter how much we love and adore them, no matter how much they may become personal favourites, they are satellites in the Winchester Universe and their stories circle, intersect with and are ultimately driven by the journey of Sam and Dean Winchester, because that is where this story starts and ends.

Charlie Bradbury wove her way into the Winchesters' hearts and lives...and in the end, she chose family, and isn't that kinda the point?

“Dark Dynasty” was once again all about families, and it had me on the edge of my seat from the first moment – probably because I was expecting Charlie to die, but also because of the damn lie that was festering and hanging over Sam’s head. Every time Sam said Dean was getting more out of control, I thought to myself, “No Sam, it’s you who is getting more out of control!”

As we’ve seen in the past when Sam has been focused on saving Dean, he loses himself. This time around, he’s not sleeping, he’s sneaking about, his lies are getting harder to cover, his judgement is getting worse and worse – bringing Charlie in, no matter the good intention behind it, no matter the angelic security he installed around her, when he knew her connection to the Book of the Damned and the fact that she was already being hunted, put her in further danger. 

It was only a matter of time until Dean caught on to Sam’s deception. He was already getting suspicious. Cas and the one-armed Styne just accelerated the process.

When Dean finally confronted Sam I think I stopped breathing for a moment. Man, Sam’s worried and “Oh God, he knows” face, Dean practically growling, waiting to see if Sam would come clean, pushing on, practically taunting Sam…his “Sam you answer that so help me” when the phone rang…holy cow that man can be terrifying. Big ups to Jensen and Jared for that scene, it was damn well amazing.

The rush to Charlie’s aide – I knew by that stage they were going to be too late, I just knew it – but when they found her – well by now I had stopped breathing. Sam’s reaction was so visceral, it’s one of the best things I’ve seen for ages – he nearly threw up. After everything they’ve seen and done, seeing Charlie like that, was too much for even Sam Winchester to stomach. And Dean’s plaintive “Charlie?” broke me. I sat and stared at the TV for quite some time after the episode finished. It was a hard damn ending. One of the hardest.

This is what the brothers lying to each other does. It’s more than the damage it does to their relationship; it’s the collateral damage to the people who trust them that is the real price. Sam for Charlie, Dean for Kevin.

But it's also important to remember the real culprits. Eldon killed Charlie, Gadreel killed Kevin. That's where the blame truly lies.

But I have to say – other than the yelling in the bunker, I felt like it was a different Sam and Dean we saw here. The confrontation was angry and frantic sure, but Sam telling Dean that Charlie loves him, that they all love him was so very unexpected. And I loved it so much. Dean Winchester has been told he’s loved a lot this season – we know he’s heard it, I hope he had his ears on this time too. I can't stand the thought of another emotional rift between them - I feel like we've worked so hard to get to a place where the brothers seem like they actually like hanging out together!

Outside of Charlie, and the lying – which I’m so glad is over and I’m so glad Dean knows everything now, I dug the Styne reveal – even if when one-armed Eldon said Frankenstein, I couldn’t help thinking, FRANKENSTEEEEN! (Really, if you haven’t seen Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, you should!) But that aside, I thought oooooo, I didn’t see that coming! I like the introduction of this other supernaturally connected family. I wonder if they have a form of Doc Benton’s science going on – but better, because they don’t look all weird and stitched up!  Well I guess Eldon’s tummy didn’t have the finest work!

The thing with the Stynes, which makes them so very different to the Winchesters, is that with the Stynes, their loyalty and sacrifice comes via fear, ambition and pride, where as with Sam and Dean, it comes via love and devotion. And that right there is the winning difference.

I think the Stynes are in deep shit. Dean Winchester is going to go Mark of Cain on their preppy clad asses and they’re not going to know what’s hit them. Arrogance and pride can be blinding and I think they’re about to be side swiped by one very angry, immortal man.

It was good to have Crowley back in the mix, and damn if I don’t love that hamster witch! I love that Crowley still has her in her little cage and that he apparently speaks rodent! I want to know whose name is on that piece of paper and what happens next for Crowley – I must admit I fear a little for his life – whether at Sam’s hands or at Rowena’s.

I’m also fearful for Cas’ life. The whole “what’s your purpose now” thing makes me worry that his purpose may well be linked to Dean’s survival. He’s going to feel horribly guilty about Charlie. Though it’s not like he could simply zap to her side, he would have to have gone in the Cas-mobile and as he had no idea where she was, unless she was actively praying to him, how would he find her? And as Charlie and Cas had only just met, she probably didn’t know the ins and outs of how to contact an angel.

I did wonder when Rowena said that she read Charlie from the get-go did she read more than just who Charlie was, but also what was going to happen to her? She put it rather succinctly that loving the Winchesters would be Charlie’s undoing. That was the moment I knew they’d kill Charlie, when I saw that clip in Carver’s preview. 

I’ve grown to like Rowena. She’s less annoying and far more interesting now and I’m just waiting for the big reveal of what’s up her epically draped sleeve – because I’m pretty sure she’s been playing Sam to get her hands on something in that book.

Yeah, I thought “Dark Dynasty” was a cracker, even though the ending was brutal. It upped the stakes another notch and still left me wondering where the hell we’re heading. And by wondering, I mean panicking!

And yes, Charlie died, and sure, I wish she didn’t. And I sure don't underestimate the impact that has had on a lot of people who love this show. I liked Charlie, and she meant a lot to all of us in different ways. I will miss her and her wonderful personality, and I will miss what she brought to and out of Sam and Dean – that honest mirror she held up in front of them, and the gentleness she brought out in them. And of course, I will miss Felicia Day. But if Charlie’s death means that Dean lives to fight the forces of evil another day, I’m pretty damn sure Charlie would be cool with it. We’ll just have to wait and see how her sacrifice plays out - because we don’t know what’s coming next, we don’t write this story and we can make assumptions and predications all we like, but until it’s happening before our very eyes, we don’t know.

Anyway as Sam said last week, in their line of work, death isn't always goodbye.

Here’s hoping.

Peace out, Charlie.



  1. You've found the best words descripting Charlie's loving generous nature, so thank you for that! But what if?... There still is hope, always, you said it yourself. What's the reason to watch and love fantasy genre if the miracle is impossible even there?

    1. With this show, there's always hope. And I do hope this isn't the last we've seen of Charlie.

  2. Amy, I totally agree... Charlie is a hero. She was a wonderful character that so many of us could relate to... and she was tough and courageous... and she was like a little sister to Sam and Dean... and I adored her so much (BIG thanks to Robbie and Felicia). I also loved seeing her interact with the boys, and getting to see that softer side of Sam and Dean (which sadly, I don't think we'll see again for a while). :(

    "Charlie Bradbury wove her way into the Winchesters' hearts and lives...and in the end, she chose family, and isn't that kinda the point?" Yes, I agree, it's exactly the point... and that's what makes it so hard to accept, and so devastating for Sam and Dean. :(

    I have to say I was dismayed by some of the comments I saw on Twitter after the episode, not just about Charlie's death, but because people didn't seem to like the Frankenstein twist, and were wondering why Castiel didn't just zap over and rescue Charlie. Do they not know that Cas doesn't have that ability any more? That even when he got his grace back, we still saw his tattered wings. And, of course, you're right, he also wouldn't have known where she was.

    Big sigh!!! I think one day I'll learn not to delve too deeply on Twitter after an episode, because I rarely agree with those who always seem unhappy.

    I loved the connection to Frankenstein. I was actually watching the episode with my niece and nephew last night, and my nephew (who's only 13) said Frankenstein the minute Eldon started talking about a European family... and I looked at him and said, "how did you know that?" It was because of their surname, Styne, shortened from Frankenstein. And, honestly, I'd never made that connection until he said it, lol. But then again, I'm fairly slow at connecting the dots.

    I also want to point out that the Stynes were hunting Charlie from the minute she took the book; it didn't just start after Sam put her to work to try and decode the book. She had also killed one of the Stynes before she was shot, and before she rang Sam and Dean to tell them she'd found the BotD. So the Stynes were still hunting her, as well as the Winchesters. They didn't know who had the book, so they were hunting them all. I truly believe that she was marked for death before Sam's decision to get her to work with Rowena, not that this makes any difference now... because Sam will still blame himself.

    And I do agree with you that it was Sam who'd lost control, more than Dean... but Charlie's death will now drive them both over the edge in the coming episodes.

    Season 10 has been wonderful - great character studies, some truly dark episodes, fan fiction - and I'm really looking forward to the final two episodes (even though I'm scared; so very very scared). Thanks Amy for another great review.

    1. Thanks Karen. And yes, her death is sad on so many levels, and one of those is the loss of her to Sam and Dean because of what she grew to mean to them.

      I did mean that Charlie was being hunted and that was a big reason why she shouldn't have been involved in Sam's plan - she was already in danger, and that just put her directly ih harms way - but yes she was already marked. Sam won't see it like that though.

      I think Sam and Dean will carry equal guilt in their hearts for her death. Sam for bringing her in. Dean because she died trying to save her.

      And I'm with you, I think the Stynes is a cool twist!

      And yes, I was deeply disturbed by some of the commentary post this episode, which I wanted to address by simply stating how I saw Charlie as more.

      Thanks for your comment!

    2. You are spot on, Karen. Charlie was already in peril and being the kind of person that she was, regardless of Sam getting her further involved, she was never going to just sit and hide forever. I think that her decision to become a Hunter was the first nail in her coffin. Helping the Winchesters wasn't even really a matter of choice for her, they were family so of course she was going to get involved. But... that won't stop either of the brothers from feeling enormous guilt.

  3. As always... yes, yes, yes! You've nailed it for me.

    I hated that we have lost another fabulous character, but I understand the necessity behind it. Things are coming to a head and the emotional climax is building. I am so nervous about the next two weeks!

    The only (slight) criticisms I'd have of this week's ep revolve around the interrogation of Eldon Styne. I would have liked to see Dean go more Mark of Cain on him, I think Eldon spilled all that information far too easily. Perhaps that was just his arrogance, but it felt a tad trite. I would have loved to see a bit more of Dean being out of control and using the opportunity to let loose for a little bit.

    I love Rowena but do not trust her one tiny bit. She is far more dangerous than the anyone gives her credit for.

    It's going to be terribly hard staying spoiler free for the next 12 days but I am so looking forward to the discussion with the Js and Mark about the finale, at AHBL

  4. Stupendous review, Amy. I love how you see that Charlie was such a shining light, a character with depth and complexity, and so much more than "female," or "gay," or "geek." I will miss her so much. Though many years her senior, I did relate to her geeky self and maybe that's why the hurt ran especially deep when she died in such a brutal fashion.

    One thing you said especially struck me: "Every time Sam said Dean was getting more out of control, I thought to myself, “No Sam, it’s you who is getting more out of control!”". That is so true. :( I find myself just terrified of the aftermath of all this... And are we going to lose someone else before the season's through? My stomach hurts, just contemplating it. --Freya922

  5. I liked this episode very much....until the end. I knew it was coming long before the episode aired but I kept hoping it would turn out differently (kidnapping her, holding her hostage in exchange for the book) but they went there anyway. I loved Charlie from the minute we met her and that never changed. I loved her chemistry with the brothers (on and off screen). She really turned into the little sister they always wanted.
    I am really having a hard time coming to terms with the decision to kill her off the show. To say it was more than just shocking would be an understatement. For me it was depressing. I'm having a tough time reconciling myself with the decision, I understand it I just really hated that they went there.

  6. wonderful review amy and i'm in total agreement. I actually liked this episode, not Charlie's death, but the episode itself. I really like Rowena, am glad to see Crowley again...and not many can get away with being awesome while talking to a hamster..the stynes could be interesting....and Charlie was Charlie...which is always good stuff. sam broke my heart when he saw Charlie...and dean look like he has perhaps one straw left to hold onto....and that's sam...and kudos for show for letting sam tell dean he loves him without the use of alcohol or drugs.

    i'm going to miss Charlie...I loved the boys when they were with her...and I think that's what I liked about her most of she brought a bit of levity and warmth...the boys were happy when she was around...and I liked that she did that for them..and she did it every time they were with her.

    I agree that both Charlie and the boys were targets already....dean had killed Jacob...they knew that one of them had the book or knew of it's whereabouts....unfortunately by no fault of anyone, Charlie and the Winchesters were going to fall victim...there's always this need to blame someone...and ironically the blame is hardly ever put on the one who actually did the evil act...Charlie is dead because of Eldon styne...that's all. Charlie and sam and cas shouldn't be made to feel guilty for loving dean....

    I will miss Charlie. I did see her death coming was inevitable, as this is the story of the boys walking in each other's shoes....each experiencing and understanding ea. other's choices and why....and when all is said and done will they just accept that they will always love ea. other and die for ea. other til they both go together, or will they learn to let go....knowing that they're Winchesters...I believe it to be the former..what they must learn and understand is that they shouldn't hate themselves and blame themselves for the choices that others make because they love them....they must learn to accept that family and friends make sacrifices for those they love because they want to and it's worth it to them. what dean and sam must do now is make sure that Charlie didn't die for nothing....they must honor and respect the love she had for them and love her in return by using the info she gave them and save dean...she doesn't want them to feel guilty..she wants them to always keep fighting...

    I think that's exactly what they will realize in time.

  7. Once again you've put very succinctly what I've been trying to word out in my head. I love Charlie. I love Bobby. I love Kevin. I simply don't understand the vitriol that has been coming out about this death. It's a hard death, but honestly, I was more upset about Bobby's and even more shocked by Sarah's back in season 8. Charlie made a choice. A courageous choice. A Winchester choice. I think it was as good a death as she could've had. And let's be honest. She wasn't raised in the life. What were the chances of her surviving for much longer? It's not even as if she was hunkered down in the bunker, like Kevin was. Charlie was out there, fighting and it was her choice.

    To be honest, what I've seen this week has made me so sad. It's honestly brought me down quite a lot. If people are going to get so angry and downright mean about a television show that, yes, maybe we are all a little too invested in (and I wouldn't have it any other way), then they should just stop watching. Not spew hate all over twitter and reviews and at the very people who bring us this show. If you don't like it, leave. People seem to have an unfathomable sense of propriety entitlement when it comes to this show and I don't get it. Supernatural is not mine. I'm just very thankful that the people who make this show put it out there for me to watch it. I love Supernatural and normally the fandom gives me something to smile about every week. Not this week. Supernatural has not let me down. The fandom has. I'm just going to lurk over in this corner where the people are nice and say good things about the show the I love. I don't have room in my life for the others.

  8. I still need to recuperate after the episode. Can't believe they lost another friend/family member. Their loss feels like my loss. I am not sure I survive the last two episodes. I hope we all make it.

    - Lilah