Dean wakes up at a desk - he's dressed in a military uniform and a lab coat. He breaks a leg off a table barricading the room to use as a weapon. In the corridor of what appears to be a military hospital, dead people lie everywhere. Dean finds a newspaper that informs him it is 1951. A shadowy figure approaches Dean from behind...
24 hours earlier...
Dean returns from a shopping run, just as Sam wakes up. He's been asleep for a day, and is obviously unwell. Dean tells Sam he's had no luck tracking down Kevin, but he has Garth working on it, and has spread the word to other hunters. He suggests they stay put and wait for news, and give time for Sam to feel better. Sam insists he's okay to hunt, but in the Bunker's gun range is unable to hit the target.
The boys receive an email from Charlie, and they invite her to the Bunker. She tells them of a case nearby, where a body was found with its insides liquefied. Charlie has already narrowed down most of the suspects - she has found the Supernatural books and has been reading up on hunting. After she proves to be an excellent shot, Dean agrees to take her as back-up rather than Sam.
Before taking Charlie to the morgue to investigate the body, Dean takes her to get a new suit. While there, he borrows her phone to call Sam and secretly activates her GPS. Afterwards, they visit the morgue where Charlie nervously displays her badge upside-down and the coroner, Jennifer O'Brien, refuses to let them see the body without a chain of custody form. Since they failed to convince her, Dean decides to return that night to break in and check, making Charlie nervous.
That night, after learning of another similar body being found, Dean and Charlie investigate the scene only to find Sam there investigating as well. While Sam and Dean argue, Charlie talks with the teenagers who found the body and learn that they spotted a blue handprint on it. After failing to get Sam to leave, Dean takes off without either he or Charlie to go investigate the bodies.
Charlie and Sam break into the coroner's office first and meet Dean. When Jennifer arrives, Charlie distracts her by asking her for a copy of the paperwork they need and fashion advice. Charlie distracts Jennifer long enough for Sam and Dean to learn that she burned the bodies on the orders of the CDC and escape.
Returning to the Bunker, Sam and Charlie use her iPad to eliminate possible suspects while Dean goes through John's journal to try to find what could be doing it. Dean finally learns from the journal that a "bastard off-shoot" type of djinn is responsible and Charlie leaves to supposedly get them some food.
Charlie returns to an apartment she keeps where she is attacked and captured by Jennifer who is the djinn they are after. Jennifer takes Charlie to a shipping warehouse she owns and reveals that unlike other djinn, her kind feeds off fear. Charlie inadvertently reveals her connection to the hunting world by revealing her knowledge of what Jennifer is and Jennifer poisons her, saying her fear will be enough to feed her and another djinn that she mentions. Before passing out, Charlie warns that Sam and Dean will find her and Jennifer welcomes it.
Meanwhile Sam and Dean have used the GPS in Charlie's phone to find her apartment. They discover she has multiple cover identities, and has been donating money for the care of a woman in a nearby hospital. When Dean visits, he finds a woman in a coma - Charlie's mother who was in a car accident 16 years ago that killed her husband.
After figuring out that Jennifer is the djinn, Sam and Dean track down Charlie and kill Jennifer. Sam administers the antidote to the djinn poison to Charlie, but it has no effect. Realizing from Dean's own experience with a djinn that Charlie will be stuck in a loop in a dream-like state, Dean uses African Dream Root to enter Charlie's mind to break her out of the loop.
In Charlie's mind, Dean finds her trapped in a nightmare version of the video game The Red Scare. Charlie saves him from the game's vampires and explains her connection to the game and how she's trapped in an infinite loop where she must protect the patients in the hospital from super-soldier vampires. Charlie explains how she is trapped in her worst nightmare because this type of djinn feeds on fear and that there are two djinns, not one like they had believed. Charlie leads Dean to the patients where Dean finds one is Charlie's mother and another is Sam.
In the real world, Sam is confronted by another djinn, Jennifer's son, who he manages to kill. Dean explains how after Charlie disappeared he learned about her mother and realizes that her greatest fear isn't the video game or what it did to her, it's losing her mother. Charlie tells Dean how she believes what happened to her parents is her fault and how she wants to apologize to her mother and tell her she loves her and have her understand, but knows that will never happen. Dean is sympathetic and convinces Charlie to let go of her mother as she is long gone. Once Charlie does so, the loop is broken and they return to the real world. Charlie breaks down crying in Dean's arms.
The next day, Charlie says goodbye to Sam and Dean who invite her to visit anytime and look through the Bunker's archives. Charlie has learned from her experience and decides to let her mother go. At the hospital, Charlie signs forms to have her mother taken off of life-support and officially visits her for the first time, but before she lets her mother die, she reads The Hobbit to her one last time.
Dean: Man, I'm telling you, give me five minutes with some clippers...
Sam: Shut up.
Dean: Your Highness!
Charlie: What's up, bitches?
Sam: Let us introduce you to the Men of Letters.
Charlie: Holy awesome! Too bad they got wiped out. Though that is what they get for the sexist name.
Charlie: Well, after you guys left, I dug into all things monsters. I'm a wee bit obsessive. If "wee bit" means completely. I also found this series of books, by a Carver Edlund? Did those books really happen?
Wow. That is some meta madness. [to Dean]
Thanks for saving the world and stuff. [to Sam]
Sorry you have zero luck with the ladies.
Sam: Wha— We need to find every single copy of those books and burn them.
They're online now, so good luck with that.
Trials? That's never good.
Dean: Yeah, and our prophet's in the wind.
Charlie: What about, uh, Castiel? He seems helpful, and dreamy.
Dean: He's MIA, with a tablet of his own, doing God knows what. I mean, to be honest this whole thing is... I mean, Sam's a tough son of a bitch, but... Cas is saying that these trials are messing with him in ways that even he can't heal.
Charlie: If it's any consolation, having read your history, there is pretty much nothing the Winchesters can't do if they work together.
Still have to talk to the witnesses.
Dean: Well, we can handle that. Charlie, why don't you go talk to the witnesses.
But I don't wanna miss the broman—
Charlie: No, they consume their prey.
Sam: Well, maybe the vics were Leviathan.
Charlie: No black goo on either scene in the coroner reports.
Sam: Dragons, they uh—
Charlie: No signs of burns on the vics.
I hate that thing -- I want one.
Jennifer O'Brien: You know what I smell on you?
Charlie: Deodorant? A little pee, maybe?
Listen to me. This poison, it's designed to put your mind into an endless cycle, while your insides turn to mush, okay, and its fuel is fear. Now call me crazy, but I think the only way to break the cycle is to let go of the fear and stop playing the game.
Charlie: You don't know that.
Dean: I know that your fear is creating all of this. You're not afraid of those super-soldier vamps out there, you're not afraid of this game, and you're not afraid of what it did to you. Hey! Look at me. You're afraid of losing her... Charlie, she's already gone.
Charlie: No. No, you don't understand. You don't understand! I was at a sleepover, and I got scared. So... I called my parents to come and get me. They should never have been driving that night.
Dean: It wasn't your fault.
Charlie: [crying] I just wanna tell her that I'm sorry and that I love her. And just have her hear it again. I just need her to hear that one more time. But she can't. She can't.
I know. Believe me, I know. But you gotta let it go... Game over, kiddo.
You know you're gonna be okay, right? Those books portray you as like, one tough customer. If anyone can get through the trials, Sam, it's you.
Sam: Thanks. You know, you really should come back and dig through our archives. You are definitely a Woman of Letters.
I like the sound of that.
The title of the episode is a reference to the 1982 song "Pac-Man Fever"
by Buckner & Garcia, which celebrated the popularity of the iconic arcade game Pac-Man
The video game in Charlie
's nightmare is set in the Fort Brennan Military Hospital. It is July 12, 1951. On the newspaper that Dean picks up the lead article is written by D. Scully - a reference to Dana Scully from The X-Files
When Charlie arrives her "novelty t-shirt" features Lying Cat, a character from the comic series Saga
written by Brian K. Vaughn, and illustrated by Fiona Staples. In the books, Lying Cat can detect anyone who is lying. Artist Fiona Staples blogged about the appearance here.
Uh, well, she doesn't. Not exactly, at least. It says she tracked our cells to a twenty mile radius, then the signal went out. Huh. This place must be in some kinda, like, Bermuda Triangle.
- The Bermuda Triangle is an area of the Atlantic between Florida, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, where ships and planes are said to have mysteriously disappeared, often with radio contact ceasing.
So, are you gonna invite me into your dungeon, or do I gotta answer your "questions three" first?
- "Questions three" is a reference to the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where in order for King Arthur and his Knights to cross the Bridge of Death, they must correctly answer three questions from the bridge-keeper, or be thrown into the chasm below.
Dean and Charlie used the aliases Hicks and Ripley after the characters Ellen Ripley from the Alien series
, and Corporal Dwayne Hicks from Aliens
Want to tell me what happened back in there, Boo Radley?
Charlie: I'm sorry, I froze. I couldn't Control, Alt, Delete my way out.
- Boo Radley is the reclusive character in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee.
- The keys "Control", "Alt", and "Delete" are pressed on a Windows computer when a program doesn't respond anymore (freezes).
It's okay. We'll come back later when Doris Do-Right isn't here anymore.
- Dudley Do-Right is a character from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. He is part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Sam and Dean are repeatedly compared to Rocky and Bullwinkle, usually by Crowley. See Nicknames.
What did you hack when you were a teenager?
Charlie: Uh, NORAD.
Dean: Yeah, whatever you say, WarGames. Why don't we go grab some grub while we wait.
- WarGames is a 1983 movie starring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy, about a young hacker called David who accidentally starts playing games with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and nearly causes a nuclear war.
So do we need to take Silkwood showers now?
- The movie Silkwood was about the suspicious death of a whistleblower in the nuclear energy industry. The movie shows how when a radiation contamination is suspected, workers are subjected to brutal shower and scrubbing procedures.
Uh. Well. Thanks for the forms, and the fashion advice. You're the best. Don't go changing. Okay bye.
- "Don't go changing" is a line from the Billy Joel song "Just the Way You Are."
Who the hell is she, Jason Bourne? Okay, so we got no forced entry, so either it was somebody that she knew, or...
- Jason Bourne is the titular character in a series of spy thriller movies known as the Bourne series which are based on novels by Robert Ludlum. In The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon, finds himself suffering from amnesia, and attempts to discover who he is. Along the way he finds he has a stash of alternate identities he has documentation for.
According to Robbie Thompson
, Charlie's aliases
are made up of the name of a Stephen King character for her first name and the surname of a famous science fiction writer. In this episode we see passports with other aliases including Christine Le Guin (from the car in the novel Christine
, and writer Ursula Le Guin - U.S. passport), Annie Tolkien (Annie Wilkes from Misery
and JRR Tolkien from The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings
- British passport), and Susan Asimov (Susan from Salem's Lot
, and author Issac Asimov).
You're not going anywhere.
Charlie: Wilhelm Scream.
- The Wilhelm Scream is a stock sound effect which originated in 1951. It has been used in over 200 films including Star Wars, the Indiana Jones series, and well-known movies. You can hear a compilation of it here.
Come with me if you want to live! I've always wanted to say that. What're you doing in my dream?
- The line is from the movie The Terminator where Kyle Reese rescues Sarah Connor from the movie's villain, the Terminator.
Every time I beat the level and save the patients, I get reset back to the beginning, only there's less weapons and the vampires are faster. It's an infinite loop. Like, Pac-Man without level 256.
- A reference to Level 256 in Pac-Man - the infamous kill screen level, a bug that essentially means the game can never be finished.
Well, thanks for stopping by, Charlie. Always wanted to get Tron'd. What's next for you?
- Dean is referring to the movie Tron, in which the lead characters get trapped inside a computer game.
That's my boys... I love you.
Dean: I know.
- The lines are spoken between Leia and Han Solo as he is about to be frozen in carbonite at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Watch it here. It is also said between Charlie and one of her co-workers in 7.20 The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo and a LARPer and Charlie in 8.11 LARP and the Real Girl. However, in those cases, the other character told Charlie they loved her and she responded "I know."
Jared's parent's appeared as extras in the episode.
Man, I am telling you give me five minutes with some clippers...
- Sam's Hair has grown noticeably longer this season.
Alright, well, breakthrough means snack time to me, and I wanna just stretch my legs. I will pick us up some grub, and unlike you, Sam, I will not forget the pie.
- Charlie is referring to Sam's long history of failing to get Dean his pie as requested, a fact she obviously read in the the Supernatural books. Notably, Charlie also fails to get Dean any pie.
The boys laptop has, besides an email from Charlie, an email from Mythology Weekly, Road Food, with the subject header "Find the best diners anywhere in the US"! and some spam headed "Invest Now!"
This episode establishes that Charlie is from the Topeka area (her mother is in a Topeka hospital). The zip codes for Topeka all begin with the number 666.
Writer Robbie Thompson
was on set during filming of the episode and confirmed that Jensen ad-libbed two lines: his first line to Sam "Man, I'm telling you, give me five minutes with some clippers..." and also the line in the morgue, when Sam says "What took you so long, and Dean replies "I stopped for gas."