“The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo” is a great addition to the collection of mythology episodes that Supernatural has developed over time. The episode, written by Robbie Thompson (who penned this season’s “Time after Time” and “Slash Fiction”), fully embraces the Leviathan threat, brings Bobby back into the action, and throws in Felicia Day as a genius hacker who can handle herself with both the Winchester boys and Leviathans.
Guest appearances by “it” actors can sometimes be a crapshoot. Will they be so recognizable as a personality that they can’t blend into the show’s narrative? Can they perform seamlessly with the show’s existing cast? Day fit into the Supernatural team perfectly. In fact, I was rather hoping that she could continue being the resident hacker for the boys as they continue with their quest to bring down the Leviathans. The character of Charlie Bradbury is a natural fit for the Day persona. A gifted computer expert who is drawn towards Hermione and Wonder Woman and has a fake sword at home that she uses for protection, the character is a more secure, less inhibited, version of Cyd from The Guild. Add to that an easy chemistry with Sam and Dean and Charlie could easily become part of Team Winchester.
The episode is also filmed well. Utilizing a variety of split-screen techniques and a non-linear narrative that helps signal the Ocean’s Eleven heist the team is working on, the episode gives us tension and humor at the same time. For all the threat that Dick Roman brings – and it’s a terrifying one – we also get Sam coaching Charlie into entering the building by inspiring her with Harry Potter plotlines. (Which then leads Dean to call Sam “Dumbledork,” but wouldn’t the knowledge of Dumbledore then make Dean just as dorky?) There’s also the magical moment of Dean teaching Charlie how to flirt with the guard blocking access to Roman’s office. (“This never happened.”)
Beyond adding Day’s awesome presence to the episode, the main point of “Tattoo” is to finally clarify the Leviathan’s main plan – they want to become the dominant species on the planet with humans as the main food group. It’s not a great surprise, as this was hinted at early on, but the development of the plan has advanced quite quickly. There is also a hint to some kind of artifact – Dick’s Indiana Jones style archaeology digs have resulted in the discovery of a block of mud. Okay, it’s obviously more than that, but for now, all we can see is a block of mud – is it a weapon? A tablet? A talisman? That’s sure to come out in the following episodes, but, for now, Roman wanted it and the boys have stolen it.
I’m still trying to assess the Leviathan threat. There’s a clever analogy underlying everything, where we can easily make the argument that the Leviathan menace already exists on this planet, just without the supernatural motif. Bobby calls the Leviathans the 1%, living off the cattle of humanity – a human species turned into livestock with fast food, processed food, laziness, and complacency. Couldn’t we already make that case for America? Aren’t we made complacent by being spoon-fed propaganda narratives where we never question the veracity of the reporter, the writer, the politician? Don’t we hear daily about the plague of apathy induced by the amount of sugar and toxic substances ingested through our food sources? Aren’t the Leviathans simply a supernatural manifestation of the dangers explored in documentaries like Food, Inc.?
It’s a good, solid threat. We’ve seen the Leviathans take everything from Sam and Dean (gods damn I want that Impala back), and now it’s been clearly delineated how they will gain access to the bodies of almost all Americans. I think what I want is more about the Leviathans. I want some of that mythology – give me something to chew on and dissect. I want to know their history in more detail. What back-story have the writers constructed in their writers’ room? I want to know what the Leviathans fear (though I’m sure that’s to come) and what they lust after (beyond humans as food). Do Leviathans dream? The writing crew skillfully conjured up a big bad in Lucifer that went beyond what we, as the audience, brought to the “text” with our existing intimacy with the devil. They gave him a voice – evocatively portrayed by both Mark Pellegrino and then Jared Padalecki – that wooed us, made us believe in his pain, his frustration, his desire for change. That’s what I want to see in a Leviathan story. I thought “Tattoo” was a brilliant episode, but it made me realize how much I wish this plotline had extended throughout the season, serving as a more fluid underbelly to the standalone episodes.
One final narrative note: We got to see the beginnings of vengeful spirit Bobby. While that emotion is understandable, as explained by Dean, it is also the start of a path towards disaster for Bobby’s future, as articulated by a very worried Sam. I really do believe that Bobby’s journey should serve as an underpinning for season eight, which was just officially announced. Eliminating the Leviathan threat can soothe the vengeful spirit, and then the Winchesters can turn their focus to helping him find peace.
“She’s kinda like the little sister I never wanted.”
Dean’s Veronica Mars reference reminded me of how much I miss Veronica Mars.
Did anyone catch the Better Off Ted reference? When we got the fake commercial for SucraCorp, all I could think of was Veridian Dynamics. Apparently, that’s what the writers were thinking about too. When Charlie opens up Frank’s file on Dick Roman and all the images are flashing on the screen, there’s one shot with Dick, in a picture on the right of the monitor, smiling (notable only because it’s so creepy), and a shot on the far left of Jay Harrington – or should I say, it’s a picture of Ted Crisp (played by Jay Harrington) standing in front of a podium at Veridian Dynamics. This is a great comparison – an evil corporation that tends to do terrible things to human beings all in the name of progress, using advertisements to lull you into thinking that the company is only concerned with your well being and the future of your friends and family. Veridian Dynamics is the precursor to SucraCorp and maybe Dick Roman has taken over the body of Ted Crisp. So it’s a parody of a satire. . .how postmodern.