14.06 Optimism

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SPN-1406.jpg
Title Optimism
Episode # Season 14, Episode 6
First aired November 15, 2018
Directed by Richard Speight, Jr.
Written by Steve Yockey
On IMDB Optimism
Outline Sam goes on a hunt with Charlie Bradbury and has to confront the fact that she is not the same Charlie he lost. Dean and Jack investigate a series of possibly monster-related deaths.
Monster Harper Sayles
Musca
Zombie
Timeline
Location(s) McCook, Nebraska
Lebanon, Kansas
Outside Memphis, Tennessee
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Synopsis

In McCook, Nebraska, Harper Sayles arrives to work at her small town's library. As she is shelving books, Winston Mathers surprises her. They are discussing their plans for a dinner date later when her co-worker Miles interrupts them, brandishing a stapler to protect Harper. Winston leaves the library, confidently striding along the street. Suddenly, Winston is pulled into the bushes, screaming as blood flies out of the bushes.

In the Bunker, Dean comes across Jack in the kitchen trying to understand his new taste buds since losing his grace. He tells Dean that Sam left to meet up with Charlie while Dean was on an overnight run to Mary and Bobby. Jack wistfully comments that Sam and Charlie are probably doing something really exciting.

Outside Memphis, Tennessee, Sam and Charlie sit in silence in a blue pick-up truck parked across from an empty bus shelter where Charlie says four people have gone missing.

Jack tells Dean that he was left at the Bunker so that someone would be around when Dean returned, because Sam is worried about him. Jack tells him that what happened with Michael is not Dean’s fault. Jack has found the death in McCook, Nebraska, and wants to check it out with Dean. Dean says he’ll go check it out alone, but Jack objects, telling Dean that everyone is supposed to hunt with a partner and Jack needs something to do. Finally agreeing to the hunt, Dean call Sam and lets him know.

In McCook, Dean and Jack, posing as FBI agents, interview a waitress at Winston’s regular breakfast diner. The waitress, Wanda, advises them to find Harper because she was close to the victim. Jack and Dean continue questioning people and find out that Harper is really sweet and popular, although she has bad luck with men.

In the pick-up truck, Sam express his concern about Dean, and talks about how their Charlie was a close friend. Charlie says that’s not her and they discuss Charlie’s experience in the Apocalypse World and the angel war. Charlie says she was a programmer with Richard Roman Enterprises, and she lived with her partner Kara, who was a cupcake baker in Chicago. She tells Sam that Kara was killed in the early days of the Apocalypse, and after witnessing how society can fall apart, she doesn't wish to be around people anymore.

Back in the diner, Dean and Jack are eating pie. Jack wants to know what “courting” means. Dean tells him when they get back to the Bunker, they’ll have “the talk,” but for right now, they are going to find Harper. Dean enters the library to begin interviewing Harper about Winston’s death. Harper doesn't want to talk about it, but Dean insists. Jack (now in street clothes and not his FBI suit) enters the library, interrupting Dean and Harper by asking for a book. Jack stands up for Harper’s refusal to answer Dean’s questions. Dean leaves and Harper thanks Jack for being chivalrous and and tells him she has the perfect book back at her apartment. As they leave the library, Miles wants to know where they are going and objects that Harper is taking a stranger to her apartment. Harper tells him to stop and leaves with Jack as Miles storms off. Having observed all this from Baby, Dean begins to follow Harper and Jack. Miles goes into the alley to take out the trash and is attacked. Dean hears a scream and sees trash cans being turned over. Upon investigating, Dean finds Miles has been killed.

In Memphis, Charlie thinks the monster may be a musca -- a hybrid of a man and a fly that no one has ever seen in real life. Charlie’s book indicates that the goo she found is an from an unmated musca, which uses it to bind people’s bodies to its nest. A figure dressed in black and wearing a black beekeeper-like headpiece approaches the bus stop and sits down next to two ladies. The ladies get up and leave.

At Harper’s apartment, Jack tests Harper with a silver coin and by dousing his hands in holy water, as well as muttering “Christo” under his breath. Harper has no response to any of these things. They sit on the couch and talk. Harper asks Jack if he believes in love at first sight, but he excuses himself to the bathroom after getting a text from Dean. In the bathroom, Jack calls Dean and tells Dean that Harper is not a demon and that he’s 99% sure she’s in love with him. Suddenly, Dean is attacked and drops the call. As Jack and Harper make plans to have coffee, Dean bursts into the apartment. As he barricades the door, Dean explains that he and Jack are not FBI and that they are there to save lives. Dean recognizes the photo of Harper’s ex-boyfriend, Vance, as the zombie creature attacking the door. Vance breaks into the apartment and fights with Dean while Jack and Harper run back to the library to hide.

It’s nighttime and Sam and Charlie are still staking out the bus shelter. Sam is trying to convince Charlie not to walk away from people and hunting when the black-clad figure sits down at the bus stop next to a man. After a bus passes by, Sam and Charlie see the man being dragged down an alley by the black figure. They chase them to a warehouse where Sam cites the lore that a brass nail dipped in sugar water will kill a musca. Since they don’t have that, they will have to get creative. As they enter the warehouse, Sam and Charlie notice flies buzzing around and the smell of pine cleaner and rotting meat. They split up and Charlie finds the victim, alive, in a pile of other dead victims. As she calls for Sam’s help, she is grabbed by the musca. Charlie gets free but is momentarily knocked out. Sam rushes to check on her and is attacked by the musca. As the musca overpowers Sam, Charlie comes to and stabs the musca in the back while Sam shoots it in the chest, killing it.

In the middle of a fight with Dean, Vance pauses and runs out of the apartment. In the library, Harper unlocks the door and lets in zombie Vance, who presents her with the book Jack discarded and the two kiss. Harper reveals that Vance is her boyfriend and that he is stalking Jack as a game they play. Eating the victims also helps to maintain Vance's dead body. Harper explains that she comes from a long line of necromancers, and while she likes Jack, she knows he is a hunter, and she can't let him get in the way of the first love which she and Vance share. Jack talks to Harper, trying to lure Vance out into the open, telling her that they can make their relationship work. Vance rushes Jack, and Dean shoots Vance. They struggle and Jack appears and they handcuff Vance to some pipes, which allows Harper to escape. Later, in the diner, Harper writes Jack a love letter, saying that when she finds Jack, she'll have to kill him for what he did to Vance, but then she can then bring him back and they can be together. The letter is addressed to Jack Smith, Lebanon, Kansas, PO Box.

Driving in the pick-up truck, Sam and Charlie discuss the case. Sam tries to convince Charlie to stay, using the musca as an analogy. As Charlie points out the holes in Sam’s argument, a group of muscas arrive at the warehouse and carry out the body of the dead musca. Charlie agrees to think about staying.

Back in the Bunker, Dean and Jack discuss the case and Dean tells Jack he did a good job. Jack wants to be allowed to go on hunts due to being right about the case. Dean talks about how in hunting, mistakes happen. It’s how you handle yourself after the mistakes and learn from them that matters. Jack adds that it’s also about forgiving yourself for mistakes. Dean agrees to talk to Sam about Jack going on more hunts. Jack begins to cough, and spits up blood in his hand, and then passes out on the floor as Dean checks on him.

Characters

Definitions

Music

  • "Clocksukka" by Stefano Ruggeri (Extreme Music)
(plays during the recap of previous events)
  • "Stayin' Alive" by Bee Gees
(playing as Winston struts down the street before his death)
  • "Honky Tonk Queen" by Selecttracks
(playing as Dean and Jack enter Dick's Red Rooster Diner)
  • "I'll Go On Alone" by Marty Robbins
(playing in the diner as Harper writes Jack a "love" letter)

Quotes

Jack: Dean, I need to do something. You don't understand. I could have killed Michael. Here, when I was strong enough, I could have. But there was so much going on, and then everything else happened because I was distracted and stupid and--

Dean: Hey. You didn't do anything wrong.

Jack: And neither did you. But that doesn't make it any easier, does it? So, I can't just sit here in the bunker thinking about it all day. What I could have done differently, how I can't do anything about it now. But I can do this. I can hunt. Give me a chance.
Jack: What's 'courting?'

Dean: It's what you do before you start dating.
Jack: Oh, and that's the thing you do before the sex.

Wanda: Sometimes you just have the sex.
Charlie: Sam, before all this, I was just a programmer at Richard Roman Enterprises. I lived with the love of my life, and we --

Sam: Wait, you -- you did?
Charlie: Yeah. So, your Charlie she... I guess she never met Kara.
Sam: Kara?

Charlie: She owned a bakery outside of Chicago. Cupcakes. It was like something out of a storybook. She always smelled like peaches, and her smile was just... Michael and Lucifer, when they started their war, first thing, a giant EMP or something like it went off over North America. Fried every bit of technology. Cellphones, power plants. For the first few days, we banded together. Thought, 'Hey, someone'll save us.' No one ever did. When the food ran out, people got mean. Mobs started forming, stealing whatever they could get their hands on. A lot of people died. Kara died. People are always the same when things go wrong -- they lose it. One day, the water gets shut off, the next day, people are on fire. It's a fact about society -- it all falls apart.
Sam: Oh, great. Our perp might just be a giant fly with low self-esteem.
Dean: Look, I promise you that Harper Sayles is not in love with you, okay? Would you calm down?
Jack: Okay. But if she is, I need to know everything about sex. Go.
Sam: Charlie, you can't just quit and go live on a mountain somewhere. People need people.

Charlie: Why? 'Cause they're the luckiest people in the world?
Sam: No, come on. We just do. We're social animals.
Charlie: Emphasis on 'animals.'
Sam: Yeah, but you're also a hunter. The things that we've seen, it's not so easy to just walk away from it all. Believe me, I've tried. Our Charlie tried.

Charlie: Yeah, well, again, she ain't me. It's my life, Sam. Not hers and not yours'.
Jack: What are you doing?

Harper: What? He's my boyfriend. He just gets a little jealous sometimes.
Jack: But he's dead. And stalking you.

Harper: No, he's stalking you. It's a little game we play. Some people pretend to be naughty nurses, some people get tied up. We do this. Oh, and he has to eat flesh to maintain his body. Stupid magic. But it all works out. Except not for you. I'm sorry about all this, Jack. I actually think I liked you. But you're obviously a hunter, and I come from a long line of necromancers. I mean, I can mostly only raise the dead, but that comes in handy. And I can't let you or your friend get in the way of the love Vance and I share. It's first love, Jack. The best kind. Without baggage or compromise. I mean, I did have to kill him to keep him here after college, but every relationship has its stuff, right? And all the other guys -- none of them are like Vance. Strong and courageous and -- So, they all had to die. Especially Miles, who just -- ugh. So, I had Vance crush his throat. I wish I could have watched. And now we're going to kill you.
Charlie: I wasn't looking for love. I found it, and I lost it. And I didn't kill people and literally nest in their body parts, so...

Sam: Okay, I know, I know. How about this? Don't leave. Hear me out. Sure, some people can do bad things when they're desperate or scared, but I mean, the guy we just saved, he has a wife, children. I'm not saying all people are good people or even that most people are, but if we help people, then maybe they'll help people and all that. And that's worth it. Even with all the tears and death -- it's worth it.

Charlie: Just to be super clear, I am not like the fly monster. But... I'll think about staying.
Harper: 'Jack. I'm already writing -- isn't that crazy? I'm not crazy. But our love is so vivid. I can't wait to find you. You're the first man to ever get me to leave McCook. Now I'm in the world. I'm sorry I have to kill you for what you did to Vance, but then I can bring you back so that we can be together again. It's gonna be perfect. See you soon. Love, Harper.'
Dean: Okay. All right. Look, it's not about being right, okay? You're gonna make mistakes. Hell, I make them all the time. But it's how you handle yourself once you've made those mistakes. And you learn from them.

Jack: And how to not beat yourself up over them?
Dean: You know, Jack, you're pretty smart sometimes. I tell you what -- when Sam gets back, I'll talk to him about getting you out on more hunts. Okay? In the meantime, we'll get you a crate of cough drops.

Jack: I'm fine. It's all part of being human, right?

Trivia & References

The scene of Winston Mathers walking while "Stayin' Alive" plays, is an homage to the scene of John Travolta's character Tony Manero strutting down the street to the same tune in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever.
The idea for the musca is reminiscent of the monster in The Fly, a movie franchise in which a scientist tests a teleportation device of his own making, but a housefly enters the device during the process, resulting in a human/fly hybrid.
The article Jack shows Dean about Winston Mathers' death suspects a bath salts attack due to all the bite marks. In 2012 a man, Rudy Eugene, high on bath salts, attacked and maimed a homeless man named Ronald Poppo in what became known as the Miami cannibal attack.
Dean uses the aliases "Agent Berry" and "Agent Charles" for himself and Jack, a reference to rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry whom also had a son named Charles Berry, Jr.
Dean: Uh, you know, you're gonna want to be a little more helpful than that.

Wanda: Listen, Deep State. Flashing a badge might work on people who don't have a working knowledge of the Constitution... but that ain't me. Now I got to go earn some money.

"Deep state" is often used to refer to an organization that operates within or on behalf of a government, but not in the interests of the people of a country.
Dean: Well, congrats, Mighty Mouse. I think you found us a case.
Mighty Mouse is a cartoon superhero who, although small, is mighty.
Sam: People need people.

Charlie: Why? 'Cause they're the luckiest people in the world?

"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world" is a line from the song "People" from the musical Funny Girl, made famous by Barbra Streisand.
Dean: Archie! Hey! Let's dance.
Archie refers to Archie Andrews, who is a comic book character in an eponymous stable of comics. Archie is a small-town high school senior. At the time this episode aired, a TV series inspired by the comics called Riverdale had just commenced its third season also on the CW.

Minutiae

The episode was originally known as "Curious Cravings".
Maddie Phillips, who played Harper Sayles, previously played Janet Novoselic in 10.13 Halt & Catch Fire.
Amitai Marmorstein, who played Winston Mathers, previously played Tim in 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters and Gopher in 6.15 The French Mistake.
David Quinlan, who played Diner Man, previously played Nate Mulligan in 2.17 Heart.
Jack tells Dean that since losing his powers food and drinks taste different for him. In 9.11 First Born Castiel revealed to Sam that his taste buds changed during his stint as a human, and as an angel he can taste each individual molecule of a PB & J sandwich, remarking that the taste is not the same for him anymore.
Jack uses the phrase "Christo" to test if Harper Sayles is possessed. This is the first time since 1.04 Phantom Traveler that this method of demon testing has been used on the show. The lack of its use since season one has long been a bugbear of fandom.
In the euphemistically named "Dick's Red Rooster Diner," after Jack asks about sex, Dean pushes the rooster (aka cock) next to him to face in another direction.
Apocalypse World Charlie reveals to Sam that, like her counterpart, she worked as a programmer for Richard Roman Enterprises. Unlike Sam and Dean's version of Charlie, this Charlie lived with the "love of her life" Kara, who was a baker in Chicago, and who died in the early days of the Apocalypse.
Charlie details to Sam the early days of the Apocalypse in Apocalypse World, telling Sam how when Michael and Lucifer fought, an EMP type of blast occurred over North America, frying all technology and power plants.
Dean gets pie in this episode along with Jack and gets to eat it too. He also has a brief awkward sex talk with Jack during this time.
Charlie: I mean, no offense, but who wants to be a hunter? This job, it's just a lot of tears and death.

Sam: Funny. You, uh -- You said something like that to me once long ago about hunting. Not you. Uh, sorry. Our Charlie.

In 10.18 Book of the Damned, Charlie tells Sam:
"Brothers. You know, I haven’t been a hunter for very long, but it feels like this is the life. Mostly ends in Sophie’s choices, death, or tears. Usually, all of the above, huh? How did this become my life? I mean, I was gonna own my own start-up, marry ScarJo, invent something cool. Now I’m just… I’m just happy to be alive."
Dean remarks that Jack finally gets to hunt a zombie, something he was excited about doing in 13.06 Tombstone, before learning Dave Mather was a ghoul.
Jack: Uh, headshot?

Dean: No, no, no. Creeps like this, you got to get 'em back in their grave. Drive a silver stake through their heart to keep 'em there.

This method of dispatching zombies has been used in 2.04 Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things and 4.07 It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester. However, zombies raised by Death in 5.15 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid required headshots, as well as Mother Plum, who was risen by the Black Grimoire in 13.12 Various & Sundry Villains which was an action done on Dean's suggestion.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts

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