Never one to leave the audience at ease, ‘Supernatural’s’ mid-season finale, while light on action, is filled with the familiar drama when it asks the question how one faces the inevitable decision of one’s own mortality.
Picking up seconds after the last episode, the Winchesters rush a mortally wounded Bobby to the hospital. Unconscious from being shot in the head, Bobby takes a trip in his own mind. It goes without saying at just how powerful memories can be and death has a way of bringing forth the best and worst of them. He starts at the last case with the Winchesters. It’s not too long before he realizes he’s been shot, and he knows there isn’t much time to lose before his world is swallowed up. As he travels from memories, first to Karen, his wife, then Rufus and a familiar young boy, darkness slowly starts to overtake the world around him. Not long after, Bobby comes face to face with his own reaper. Instead of taking the reaper’s hand and accepting death, Bobby stingily clings on to life; he has important information to get to the brothers and will not give up until he completes this one final mission.
In the real world, Sam and Dean watch helplessly as doctors work on saving Bobby’s life. They stabilize him but can do nothing more until his swelling goes down. The brothers watch on, pain and sorrow etched across their faces. Bobby has been the only person that has always been there for them, regardless of the situation. When they’ve been at each other’s throats, Bobby was the one to give them tough love, re-directing the “idjits” towards what truly matters. Losing him would cut a hole in the both of them deeper than even their father’s death.
The difficulty of tracking an episode of the mind is that, like the mind, things are jumbled around in such a way to prevent a precise linear recap. There are several vignettes Bobby is thrown into throughout the episode but the primary stars are Karen, Rufus, and a younger version of Bobby. Subconsciously selecting a job where Rufus was nearly killed and shared with Bobby his near death experience at the time, Bobby enlists Rufus’s aid in escaping his own mind.
He explains to Bobby that the door he’s looking for will be mired in the deepest, darkest memories, ones buried deep because you don’t want to face them. Taking that advice, Bobby goes to the memory where he broke Karen’s heart, confessing to her his aversion to having children. He admits to Rufus that, despite having to kill her a few days later after she became possessed, not being able to get past breaking her heart, was worse than stabbing her to death. He goes through the door, but instead of exiting, he comes across a memory of playing catch with Dean. Rufus questions Bobby on the memories he’s choosing, especially after they come across a scene from his childhood where his drunken father was present. Not wanting to admit his fear, Bobby gets the idea of stopping the reaper to give himself more time.
Back in the hospital a pissed Dean confronts Dick Roman, the Leviathan leader, who idles by outside. Dean promises retribution against Dick and his hoard while the Leviathan only laughs. “You’re either laughing because you’re scared or laughing because you’re stupid,” Dean responds to which any mirth in Dick’s features melts into grudging concern. He knows the Winchesters’ reputation and hubris aside, knows not to underestimate the brothers.
When he comes back inside, Dean informs Sam on his interaction with the Leviathan while Sam relays Bobby’s condition. It’s as if the brothers trade places here; Dean refuses to acknowledge the probability of Bobby dying while Sam is grounded in the reality of the situation. Dean, tired and angry, storms away stating “We’ve been through enough”, leaving Sam to his own devices. The younger Winchester rubs his hand, a reminder that Sam has his own issues yet to be fully resolved.
Still trying his best to stay out of the reaper’s crosshairs, Bobby creates a temporary trap. The reaper reiterates just how little time Bobby has left. “Come with me. Be done. You’ve earned,” the reaper murmurs. Rufus believes Bobby should take the offer; the reaper commends the hunter on a life well lived. Knowing his time is limited, Bobby goes to the one place he feared to go. He confronts his father, unloading years of fear, anger, frustration, and guilt on the man while accepting the fact that he killed his father. In a wonderfully crafted piece of symmetry, Bobby’s own gunshot to the head mirrors that of his father. The memory provides Bobby with a temporary exit…he awakens long enough to give the brothers’ the message he’d been holding out on before smiling at his “Idjits” and flat lining. In a moment of solidarity with the brothers’, I watched as my own emotions bubbled to the surface in losing such an integral force in the world of ‘Supernatural.’
Back in his own mind, Bobby has one last moment with Sam and Dean as his world is almost gone. “They’ll be okay without you,” the reaper assures him and as his final memory fades, Bobby is left with the choice of taking the reaper’s hand or allowing himself to become a ghost.
“Well, Bobby. Stay or go, what’s it gonna be?”
And like Bobby’s mind, the screen fades to black.
‘Supernatural’ is a show that has never gone easy on its characters. To stay true to its roots of horror/drama, death is part and parcel to the series. John, Ellen, Gabriel, and Jo are but a few of the recurring characters that have met their demise throughout the show’s history. Even Sam and Dean have been pulled close in death’s embrace more than once—though their position as series anchors gives them a Get Out of Death Free card (and quite literally at that).
Though he’s not graduated to the status of series regular, Bobby Singer has been with the show since the beginning and has been a stronger driving force in the Winchesters’ adult lives than anyone else in their lives. He’s the foundation for two men that have no home, their anchor to keep them grounded. With him gone, it’s gotten just that much harder for a mentally fractured Sam and emotionally crippled Dean to maintain their balance and not succumb to the weight of the world that’s now firmly resting on their shoulders.
- A wonderful performance by all characters. Jensen Ackles continues to impress as Dean where non verbal emotions are needed. It speaks to his growth as an actor, one that mirrors Dean’s own growth as a character. Who didn’t love his threat to Dick that wiped the smirk clean of the Leviathan’s face!?
- One of the tings that keeps ‘Supernatural’ lively is the fact that mortality isn’t just an empty word. If Bobby is truly dead, while it is a horrible thing for the Winchesters’ and fans alike, it gives credence to just not knowing who will be the next to die.
- Holding onto something longer than you should. How many of us have done that in life? Though consequences vary, none could be more damning than ending up a ghost like Bobby if he refuses to take the reaper’s hand.