The continuing problems with Crowley and Castiel’s tangential positioning to the plot has been weighing the show down recently, so it’s both a relief and a breath of fresh air to spend an entire episode with Charlie. When last we saw Charlie she was disappearing down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and it was unclear when we’d next be seeing her (though her position as a fan favourite guaranteed we would see her again). Now she’s back from Oz, but she’s brought someone with her and she looks just like the Charlie we know and love.
Charlie has often been used as a parallel to Dean, but one who always chooses a different road from him in the end. In the series eight episode, Pac-Man Fever, Charlie is able to move on and let go of her mother’s death, while Dean chooses to never let go of Sam. It’s an example of Dean’s inability to grow and ultimately make healthier life choices, and Charlie’s presence in There’s No Place Like Home illuminates this once more. Here, Dark Charlie and Good Charlie serve as a parallel to ‘Good Dean’ and the Dean when he’s under the influence of the Mark of Cain. As the end of the episode demonstrates, they are essentially one and the same thing. Charlie is both Good and Dark and must accept this and learn to live with it.
It was a quiet episode for Sam, but Dean and the two Charlies more than made up for this. Additionally, though Crowley and Castiel are both hugely popular characters, their presence wasn’t missed in this episode (though there were several shout outs to Misha Collins in the dialogue) and the plot zipped along pleasantly without the weight of secondary storylines dragging it down.
Though this episode wasn’t focused on removing the Mark of Cain, the parallels with Charlie meant it was never far from our minds and the episode certainly continued this season’s theme of the monster within us all. Hopefully by the end of this season Dean will have stopped fighting his demons and accepted who he is for the first time in a long time.