“Slumber Party” explores one of the primary issues which has been examined since the first episode of Season 1 in Supernatural. What defines “home”?
In Season 8, Sam and Dean move into the MOL bunker. Immediately Dean takes up residence. He renovates a bedroom, dons a former MOL’s bathrobe, enjoys the water pressure in the shower, cooks meals regularly and watches Sam fulfill his desire for research with the seemingly unending resources found within the bunker. Dean feels physically safe within the warded MOL bunker. More than that, he feels emotionally safe. When he takes out a photograph taken of him as a child with his mother in “Everybody Hates Hitler,” we see that the little boy who once had a home feels he has found one again.
No so much for Sam. When Sam enters the MOL bunker we see his delight at the array of seemingly endless data that can be located and used within its multiple rooms, floors and possibly dimensions. He develops a filing system that records the results of their current hunts. However, he does not see the MOL bunker as home. It is a place for documentation. In it, they continue their work as hunters and as Men of Letters. It is warded against every evil thing and that provides safety for Sam. He knows that the knowledge contained within the bunker and the knowledge he and Dean gain will continue to be utilized for good. But a place with utilitarian value does not constitute home for Sam.
In “Slumber Party” as Sam and Dean search for the Wicked Witch, Sam quips with Dean about home. It’s a conversation they’ve had before. Sam’s concept of home is different from Dean’s. Is it because Sam has always longed for normal and normal people do not live inside a fortress? Is it because Sam tried to achieve normal with his relationships with Jessica and Amelia and neither of those worked out? What exactly does home mean to Sam? Will he ever feel at home? Will he ever feel he has found a home?
“Slumber Party” examines the concept of “home” through two other characters- Dorothy and Charlie. Dorothy’s father in this ideation of The Wizard of Oz was L. Frank Baum. He not only was an author but a man of letters. Dorothy grew up in the “life” as did the Winchesters. She is portrayed as serious, smart, inventive and self-sacrificing. She must kill the Wicked Witch, who she found in the fairy realm of Oz because the Wicked Witch wants to destroy our world. She goes against the accepted conventions for women of the 1930s and tells the MOL who occupy the bunker in 1935, “Despite all my lady parts, I managed to capture the Wicked Witch.” Reluctant to use their help, she only seeks them out when she runs out of options. Once her quest is over, she is eager to return to the fairy realm to quell a rebellion and to locate Toto. By abandoning her father’s perceptions about her and his work as a MOL, Dorothy is free to pursue her own destiny as a hunter.
Dorothy left her home to discover who she is. In “Slumber Party” Charlie is in a state of flux. When her mother was critically injured, she lost the only real home she had. In this episode, she loses her job. She admits to Sam and Dean that she longs for a life that contains purpose and so she begins to hunt. Alone. While she knows Sam and Dean will chide her for doing so, she hopes that hunting will become magical for her. She yearns for the magic she felt when her mother read Tolkien aloud. She wants to belong to something bigger and more meaningful than herself. Meeting Dorothy avails Charlie a way to not only experience the world of hunting, but to also hunt in a place that contains the magical realms Charlie embraced as a child. In Oz, Charlie will not only be able to use her intelligence, her quirkiness, her creativity, but also her imagination.
“Slumber Party” looks into the idea of home by examining several questions. Is home the continuity of our line? Sam, Dean and Dorothy all descend from MOL. The legacy we receive from our genetic heritage can give us a sense of place and thus a sense of home. Is home a physical place where we can find solace and let down our guard? Is home where we enjoy comfort foods our relatives made for us when we were ill or when we watched television? Is home situated within our hearts as we remember how a parent spent time with us and made us feel special? Is home knowing others value and accept us for whomever are?
Maybe home means knowing that no matter how far we wander, someone will welcome us with open arms whenever we return. A concerned Dean asks Sam if he thinks Charlie will return from Oz. Confidently Sam says, “Of course. There’s no place like home.” Smiling, Sam affirms Charlie acknowledges Sam and Dean are her family.
More importantly, Sam states to Dean what we always knew: For Sam, wherever Dean is, is home.