'Supernatural' Review: "LARP and the Real Girl"

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The CW

Supernatural’ season 8 scares up its eleventh episode of the season with “LARP and the Real Girl,” as Sam and Dean re-team with a begrudging Charlie Bradbury (Felicia Day) to uncover the cause of several mysterious deaths at a live-action role-playing competition.

Last week’s ‘Supernatural’ episode “Torn and Frayed” saw Sam and Dean putting aside their differences to help Castiel rescue the angel Samandriel (Tyler Johnston), while Sam was left with a difficult choice regarding Amelia (Liane Balaban), so what does the latest season 8 episode bring?  Will the Winchesters finally be able to rid the world of Crowley’s demonic scum?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Supernatural’ season 8 episode 11, “LARP and the Real Girl!”

One night geeky young accountant Ed Nelson enters his apartment, arguing over the phone with his friend Lance about cheating in their game. Unseen to Ed, Lance texts threatening messages of revenge, as Ed wakes up with a burning sensation in his arm that tattoos the logo of a mysterious tree. Ed suddenly hears the sound of galloping horses, before an invisible force pulls his limbs in all directions, drawing and quartering him!

Elsewhere, Dean notices that Sam’s mood seems off, and invites him to forget his troubles with a night of fun before Garth calls them with a case in their area. Later, Sam and Dean enter Ed’s apartment in their FBI guises, Dean finding no evidence of the paranormal and Sam observing the mysterious tattoo on Ed’s severed arm. The Sheriff reveals that they found his friend's text messages, and took Lance into custody as a precaution.

Down at the station Sam and Dean interrogate Lance, though the man reveals the threatening texts were only sent as his MoonDoor LARPing character. Sam and Dean balk at the crying cosplayer’s excuses about the two being appointed to the queen’s honor guard, but photos from the MoonDoor website confirm that Lance was elsewhere at the time of the murders, as well as the presence of their old friend Charlie Bradbury as the game’s queen! Unseen to Sam and Dean however, the same tree logo burns itself into Lance’s arm, and blood spurts from his every orifice, leaving him dead in the interrogation room.

With no other lead but to investigate the LARPers, Sam and Dean visit the sprawling camp to find “Boltar the Furious” (Hank Harris) in character torturing a “Shadow Orc.” Boltar quickly sees through their FBI guises, but directs them toward the queen in the midst of a demonstration. Charlie easily bests another knight in her display, but quickly panics once she spots Sam and Dean. The pair follow Charlie to her tent as she laments how the boys ruined her previous identity, but Charlie halts her exit when she learns that both Ed and Lance aren’t absent, but dead.

After catching up on the details, Charlie reveals that a number of others in her camp have had mysterious accidents, though none as serious as the recent deaths. Having many enemies within the game, the three find no real leads, but Charlie ultimately elects to investigate rather than simply run away again. She outfits Dean in medieval garb to blend in, while Sam heads to the “tech tent” to do more research on the mysterious tree sigil.

While Charlie and Dean walk through the camp catching up on her new life and investigating the symbol, Sam finds that the symbol is actually the “Tree of Pain,” a symbol of faerie magic. A conversation with the captive Shadow Orc also reveals that the “Shadow King” has also been using the symbol as his family crest. Dean and Charlie meet Boltar in the woods to find the Shadow Orcs, but Dean sends Charlie back to be with Sam. On her way back however, Charlie encounters a robed figure with a stag skull mask, who kidnaps her out of sight.

Dean and Boltar return to camp with no luck, but decide the captive Orc can lead them to his team in the woods for a prisoner exchange. As Sam and Dean realize that Charlie never returned, she awakens in a strange tented bedroom to find the masked figure standing wordlessly before her. Unable to leave, Charlie is surprised to see the masked figure reveal herself as a beautiful, friendly woman!

Sam, Dean, Boltar and the captive confront the Shadow Orcs out in the woods, but Dean quickly breaks up the game by firing off his gun. The leader reveals that he only used the tree symbol after it mysteriously appeared on his arm, and the captive Orc offers to lead them to a mysterious tent not belonging to any of the players. Meanwhile, the woman reveals herself to Charlie as the faerie Gilda, kept prisoner by one of the MoonDoor players to do his evil bidding, which recently went as far as the two murders. Charlie explains the nature of the LARP game, as Gilda explains the only way to free her is to destroy the master’s spellbook.

Finding the tent, Sam, Dean and Boltar enter to find Charlie making out with Gilda, who recoils in horror at the sight of her master, Boltar! Boltar has Gilda disarm the Winchesters, and explains how he plotted to use Gilda to secure his place as Charlie’s king. The LARPer goes off the rails explaining how MoonDoor is no longer a game to him, and attacks Sam and Dean. As Gilda’s magic intervenes, Dean manages to knock the spellbook out from Boltar’s robes, and Charlie stabs it to end Gilda’s imprisonment. Gilda thanks the three for her help, and Charlie steals another kiss before Gilda returns to her realm, taking Boltar with her to face faerie justice.

Afterward, Charlie explains to the brothers that she no longer intends to run from her problems, and they can call her if they ever need help going forward. As Charlie leaves, Dean apologizes to Sam for thinking a harmless bit of fun could get him over Amelia, but Sam has an idea for what just might.

In full LARPer garb and makeup, Dean delivers the speech from ‘Braveheart’ to the Followers of the Moon on the battlefield, and following a brief Frisbee interruption, leads Sam, Charlie and his fellow players into battle against the opposing side. True to form, the episode even pauses to honor those who bravely fell in battle securing victory for Queen Charlie. Roll credits.

"Fun" episodes of 'Supernatural' are always true to their word, especially with a guest star producing such great chemistry as Felicia Day. The return of Charlie is a welcome one, even in a one-off episode, though "LARP and the Real Girl" sadly suffers from a bit of predictability in its ultimate reveal of Boltar as the true villain. Even with a bit of the same-old-same-old however, the episode has enough fun with its concept and Dean's growing excitement within the make-believe world to make for an enjoyable hour, sure to go down as one of the stand-out episodes of the season. If we're lucky, maybe we'll even get Felicia Day to return before the season is out.

Did you get your fill of spooky ‘Supernatural’ action?  What did you think about Felicia Day's return in “LARP and the Real Girl?” Join us again next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Supernatural’ episode “As Time Goes By” on The CW!

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