With two episodes left before the end of the season, Supernatural? fans are wondering what is going to happen next.
I mean, we already lost Charlie. Oh, sorry. Was I supposed to say “spoiler alert”?
Yeah, Felicia Day’s character Charlie Bradbury — nerd extraordinaire — was our show’s latest victim and has been the topic of some heated debates across social media — especially Tumblr, where I spend most of my fandom time.
For a few days, fans have been speculating as to why one of our favorite characters was so unceremoniously killed off. Death in Supernatural is not uncommon (there’s at least one death a season), nor are deaths permanent. But the trailer for the next episode, “The Prisoner,” shows Sam and Dean Winchester at a funeral pyre, and later Sam’s telling Castiel of her passing.
Image: Katie Yu/The CW
So, that leaves fandom scratching their heads. What was the point of killing her off? Again, we’re not unfamiliar with character deaths. Bobby Singer, who died in Season 7, had been a series regular and a father figure to the boys. After a season and a half, they killed Kevin Tran, a Prophet and an integral part of the story lines for Seasons 8, 9 and 10. To try to wrap up what they thought was their last season, both Ellen and Jo Harvelle, a mother-daughter pair of hunters, were killed in the line of duty in Season 5.
Charlie was in eight episodes across three seasons, and she was being built as the little sister the boys never had. While she tiptoed on the line of wanting to be a hunter and wanting to stay far away from that life, I believe a part of her realized she wouldn’t be able to have a life independent of being a hunter. Each time her character showed up, it was because of some monster, so she was dragged back into the boys’ world. The brothers did everything they could to protect her, but in one of this season’s turning-point episodes, “The Book of the Dammed,” where she found the Book of the Dead, she had a price on her head.
1. A lot of blame is/was placed on the writers
Image: Dean Buscher/The CW
In the last episode, “Dark Dynasty,” Charlie was pulled back in by Sam (Jared Padalecki), who needed her help in deciphering the code used to decipher a codex that helped him read the book that helped rid Dean (Jensen Ackles) of the Mark of Cain. Confusing, I know. Knowing the dangers, Charlie agreed to help Sam.
Where fandom seems to struggle and look to the writing is when Charlie left the security of the warehouse (and Sam and Castiel) to continue working in quiet in a motel. She knew the Stynes were still looking for her and the book, and she knew her life was on the line should she leave her location. But in a very out-of-character move, she went anyway. Yes, in past seasons, she’s acted on her own (“The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo” and “Pac-Man Fever” come to mind), but when the brothers, in the last minute of the episode, found her dead in the bathtub, it seemed rushed and undeserving for a character who had so much potential.
Luckily, this one seems to have sorted itself out. We found out this weekend during a panel that writer and co-executive producer Robbie Thompson did everything he could to save her character. He emailed, texted, called and set up meetings protesting her death. Jim Michaels, a co-executive producer, also spoke of the character’s death at another Supernatural convention (Asylum in London) and said he, too, was against it but to stay tuned for Season 11 (because no one stays dead — even if the body is burned). The decision about her death came from higher up and appears to have been made with a larger story concept in mind.
2. Plot device
This leaves us with a plot device. Let’s ignore the factions blaming Sam (without his cajoling earlier in the episode asking both Charlie and Castiel (Misha Collins) to help him for Dean’s sake, there would have been no reason for her to have ended up in the motel), the fans crying out that it’s a move against women or the LGBT community (Charlie has so far been the only LGBT character on the show), and Charlie (she’s a grown woman who knew what she was getting into when she left the warehouse, knew the Stynes would come for her, and yet she made the choice not to flee when the brothers told her to). It would appear that it comes down to the story.
At the end of the episode and going into “The Prisoner,” Dean Winchester vowed to take down whoever is responsible for her death. In an extended preview for the episode on Wednesday when Sam tells Castiel of Charlie’s passing, he blames himself. With Sam blaming himself, I’m inclined to believe that Dean is bound to feel similarly or at least find his baby brother a contributing factor in her death; and Dean has already suggested he’ll go after anyone whom he feels is responsible.
It was rushed, for sure, but with two episodes left, the conflict of this season’s story needs to come to a head, if not a conclusion. Cain, the Father of Murder, already told Dean how this would end: with Castiel dead, Crowley dead and Sam dead. While the first two are still alive (for now), it’s always been in the plotline for the Winchester brothers to have the potential to kill each other. The Mark of Cain is slowly consuming more of Dean; Sam is attempting to find a solution to remove it, but placing his hope in the Book of the Dead; and Charlie’s death might have pushed Dean further into darkness and one step closer to killing Sam.
If Charlie’s death was inevitable and nothing more than a way to catapult the boys out of the rising action and into the climax, the character deserved a more thoughtful approach and dignified death. She was beloved, and to have her killed off in such a careless way is a disservice to her and the fans. I think we can only hope that in the next two episodes, or even in Season 11, there is some grander meaning to her untimely passing.