Supernatural 8.11 – LARP and the Real Girl

602998_10151358450692500_1736442564_nEd walks into his apartment, alone, arguing on the phone with someone named Lance. Seems that he and Lance were up to something, sounds like bribery and girl stalking. No, wait, apparently it’s just a game, though from this end of the conversation it seems that Lance is less in touch with that fact. Doesn’t matter, it’s past Ed’s bedtime, so he hangs up on Lance and turns in. Lance slumbers so deeply that he doesn’t feel the pretty wicked dead tree tattoo that magically appears on his inner forearm, he does, however, get woken up by the neighs and gallops of the invisible horses in his room. He tries to brush off that weirdness, when an unseen force locks him to his bed with unseen ropes. Then his limbs get ripped off.

On the road, listening to Tom Johnston sing the story of China Grove, Texas, Sam is fretting about the demon tablet while Dean tries to pull Sam out of his post-breakup funk. He tries sympathy and offers to take Sam out to the drive-in or out for a drink, but Sam is not responsive. Dean knows he and Sam are not the fortunate ones, but he just wants to have fun. Sam, as usual, is allergic to fun. This lovely moment of brotherly re-bonding interrupted by a phone call from Garth sending them on a hunt in their general area. He knows that it’s in their area because he tracking their phone GPS like an overprotective mother.

Sam and Dean head to Farmington Hills, Michigan to investigate. They opt to drop the rock ‘n’ roll names and instead go for an obscure, yet apropos, movie cop duo reference. Nice. One has to wonder if Castiel is out there somewhere with a Bogomil badge to complete the set. The local sheriff glibly catches Sam up on the information they have so far while Dean scans for the regular paranormal markers. Between the rope marks and the chainmail it looks like Ed had some pervy penchants that went poorly. The only lead they have are some angry texts from Lance. So Sam and Dean have him hauled down to the station for questioning.

The questioning leads more questions. Finally, Lance clears up that it wasn’t him texting Ed, it was his alter-ego “Greyfox the Mystic” texting Ed’s alter “Thargrim the Difficult”. And by “clears up” he lays out just how geektastically harmless he and Ed are and were. Ed and Lance played a live-action role-play game called Moondoor. Think WoW meets Ren Faire. Dean remembers con goers LARPing as him and Sam; the memory seems less than fond. Ed was, as Lance describes, the Lancelot to Lance’s Merlin in the game, and it seems to hold true IRL, because Lance is crying like he’s Raj and he’s just lost his Howard. However, game-wise, the two were set to dual over the accusations of cheating. Dean tries to mock Lance, but Lance mocks his mockery. Good to know that Lance is very much in touch with reality vs. LARPality.

Sam and Dean leave him to go check out the game website which also has proof of Lance’s alibi. Sure enough, the site has pictures of Lance, in full garb, partying it up the night before. Dean quickly realizes that LARP parties mean booze and bodices; this concept now has his attention. The brothers click on the Moondoor introductory video to get the full effect. Remember Charlie Bradbury? Spunky, geeky, nerdy hacker that helped with that pesky Leviathan thing awhile back? The one who told Sam and Dean Winchester that she never wanted to see them again? Well, guess who’s the Queen of Moondoor? Got it in one.

Meanwhile in the interrogation room, Lance’s arm develops a familiar bit of intricate ink. He’s itchy and confused, but that’s all as short lived as Lance himself. He chokes up blood right before he bleeds out from his orifices and collapses into a bloody heap of dead geek. Sam, Dean and the sheriff review the tape from the interrogation room and the sheriff figures Lance had some mutated strain from The Stand and goes to scrub himself down with Purell. While he’s gone, Sam and Dean review the tape and notice the matching tattoo. The investigation is afoot.

Sam and Dean head to the location of the Moondoor weekend LARPathon, in their FBI suits. Needless to say they stand out. In fact, Boltar the Furious, calls them out for being there on the wrong day because genre-fest isn’t happening this weekend. Sam is affronted and insists they are real FBI agents, Boltar points out that while their FBI LARP garb is really good, it lacks authenticity and accuracy, clearly Boltar has never seen Sheldon Cooper successfully pull off full Spock regalia at a Ren Faire; However if they want to join this tournament the Queen is always recruiting. Well, that works; Sam and Dean will just seek audience with her right? Wrong, there’s a waiting list. The Winchesters decide to watch the goings on anyway.

And there’s Charlie, as the Queen addressing her people, she’s in the middle of a soliloquy when she spots Sam and Dean amongst her loyals. Charlie, or Carrie as she claims is her new identity, is severely displeased to see the Winchesters. She’s not stupid, she knows Winchesters = monsterville and with that she packs up her stuff, crowns Dean the new Queen and starts to bail. Oh, if only it were that easy, though. They tell her about Greyfox and Thargrim are dead, Charlie wonders if she’s bringing the bad or the bad is finding her because several of her people have had accidents recently. She also recognizes the tree tat, but knows little about it. Charlie explains that outside the game everyone is friendly, however within the game the enemies are aplenty. She and Dean get very involved in battle strategy, but Sam is there to earnestly ground them. Of course he is. Dean tries to shove Charlie out of her kingdom and back to normalcy and safety. They argue this, but Charlie is the one that makes the decision and she’s not about to be a queen that abandons her kingdom. All this is interrupted by Sam getting a call from the coroner with the news that Lance’s cause of death was belladonna; while Charlie and Dean work out the difference between porn and poison, Sam goes off to the tech text to Google things.

Charlie and Dean decide to canvas the kingdoms, but Charlie is adamant that Dean cannot go around in his FBI costume while in the queen’s presence, so she gets him some chainmail and leather leggings (that accentuate his bowlegs as if they were tailored just for him) to dress up in while he fills her in on the Life of Winchester. Dean isn’t even trying to hide how stoked he is about the clothing. Charlie doesn’t cushion the blow that she’s very disapproving of Dean’s fake Amelia text and Dean admits that he felt bottom of the barrel about that one and that she thinks Dean is to blame over Sam’s loss of normal. Dean laments that a hunter’s life can’t afford attachments and Charlie, picking up on his wistful tone, asks him if Sam is the only one going through a rough break-up. Dean sidesteps telling her about Benny and asks her instead about how she got into LARPing. Charlie says it’s an escape, in Moondoor she’s a heroic queen but IRL she’s just an IT geek. Dean reminds her that she was indispensable to them, that she helped them take down Dick Roman and that makes her a real hero. With that they track down the Kingdom of the Shadow Orcs, which is in the “Black Hills” behind the park playground. On their way they encounter Boltar the Furious, who has been looking for the Queen. He’s not happy about seeing Dean with her in full costume, but Charlie introduces Dean as her handmaiden. Dean doesn’t like that, but accepts it and with that he gives Charlie his cellphone and sends her off to go find Sam while he goes with Boltar to the realm of the Shadow Dorks. On her way back to her village Charlie gets captured by one of M. Night Shyamalan’s Those We Don’t Speak Ofs.

Meanwhile, Sam meets Gholandria, AKA Maria, in the tech tent. She helps him figure out that the tree tat is used to control faerie magic and recognizes all the victims and pretty much gives Sam his best solid lead. She’s also kinda cute and thinks Sam is, too. She invites him to her tent later for some more role-playing, but Sam declines.

Sam and Dean meet back up in the Queen’s village, both with fairly similar findings, only Sam gets to make fun of Dean’s outfit. Dean’s not buying it, he looks awesome and Sam’s just jealous, Dean’s sure of it. He tells Sam about the plan to use the orc prison as an offering so they can get together with the Shadow King, he’s in the middle of taking that idea’s credit away from Boltar when he realizes Charlie isn’t with either of them. He tries calling his phone, but there’s no signal. Sam, Dean, Boltar and the prisoner Orc search the woods for Charlie but can’t find her. The orc calls out to his king who comes before them; on the front of his costume is the same tree from the faerie tattoo. Dean is so over this, he whips out his gun and shoots at the ground for emphasis, but the guys says he got the design from the weird tattoo that just randomly appeared on his are while he was sick. Once his doctor cleared him he realized he liked it and had the costume made. He also says that IRL he’s a lawyer but if Dean stows the sidearm and lets him go he won’t press charges. Empty threat; there is no Dean Winchester to press charges against, but Dean lets him go anyway. The prisoner orc breaks character to tell them about a weird tent that doesn’t belong to Moondoor off by the creek. Off they go.

Off in the tent an unconscious Charlie begins to come to. She tries to talk her way out the situation but the stag skull monster just silently stands there. She tries to leave the tent, but it’s enchanted so that every time she walks out she magically walks right back in. And still the skull stares. Charlie begs, saying she just wants her old life back. This speaks to the monster, who then removes its skull mask and reveals that she’s a beautiful faerie trapped here by a master controlling her. Charlie is willing to listen because, well, the faerie is really pretty. The faerie explains her plight and tells Charlie that the only way to free her is to destroy the book that her master is controlling her with. Then Charlie makes her move, unfortunately for her she’s mid-makeout when Sam, Dean and Boltar interrupt. Fortunately, the faerie clues them into the fact that Boltar is the master that’s been controlling her. Turns out Boltar is just a little too immersed in the game, to the point that it’s just not a game to him anymore. And his goal was Charlie and becoming her King. As if he’s Charlie’s type. Boltar uses her and her magic to turn his foam sword into a real broadsword and to animate a suit of armor. As Dean dodges the sword and Sam wrestles with metal man the book falls out of Boltar’s harness. Charlie swoops in and stabs the book to death. Boltar. The faerie must now go back her kingdom and takes Boltar with her so he can face the faerie jury.

Sam and Dean get ready to leave the LARP grounds. Dean tells Sam that he gets it, having random fun with his jerk of a brother isn’t going to heal his broken heart. Sam tells Dean that’s where he’s wrong and that a little bit of fun will help them both. And with that, Sam and Dean chainmail up and smear on their war paint and throw themselves braveheartly into Moondoor battle.