Truth be told, I avoided writing this review for several days. Itâ€™s been too tough. Thereâ€™s so much pain, so much heartbreak, and itâ€™s so hard to see a character Iâ€™ve gotten to know and love through these years meet such an end, whether it be final or not. I needed time to grieve, to process all of this. Only four other â€œSupernaturalâ€ episodes have affected me this much. â€œMystery Spot,â€ â€œNo Rest For The Wicked,â€ â€œWhen The Levee Breaks,â€ and â€œSwan Song.â€ Iâ€™m crushed. All those episodes still sting when I put them in the DVD player. No doubt â€œDeathâ€™s Doorâ€ will become part of this club.
In season six, only one episode earned the A+ honors that I bestow upon only the greatest episodes. That episode was â€œThe Man Who Would Be King.â€ I did that because it wasnâ€™t just the usual amazing acting and story that is guaranteed to rip those heartstrings from your chest. It went beyond that because it was a technical marvel, a score that was second to none, and an all out effort from every single member of the cast and crew that exceeded anything we could have hoped for.
This year, I didnâ€™t have to wait until episode twenty to get that. We got it in episode ten. â€œDeathâ€™s Doorâ€ is easily one of the most fluid and gut wrenching scripts in the series. In a long line of wonderful, this is Sera Gambleâ€™s masterpiece. And Director Robert Singerâ€™s. And DP Serge Ladouceurâ€™s. And just about everyone else in the cast and crew involved. Iâ€™m going to reference this episode plenty in a future article about the technical achievements of Supernatural, because everything done here was sheer brilliance. For posterity though, Iâ€™ll at least share two of my many favorite shots.
(Look at the way the light streams through the trees)
(The lighting contrasts, the angle wow).
Out of all the grand achievements, this is Jim Beaverâ€™s Emmy worthy triumph. Itâ€™s a well earned showcase of the unsung hero that is rarely pushed into the spotlight role. Sure there was last seasonâ€™s â€œWeekend At Bobbyâ€™sâ€ but that was a charming tale of the older hunterâ€™s juggling act. Hanging in the balance of life and death has a bit more urgency. Itâ€™s fascinating to me that the two highest quality episodes of the past two seasons, â€œDeathâ€™s Doorâ€ and â€œThe Man Who Would Be King,â€ took time to prove what weâ€™ve known all along, how stellar the supporting cast of Supernatural really is. As for Jared and Jensen, taking supporting turns this time showed off their incredible versatility as well and they ended up producing something better and more emotional than theyâ€™ve ever done before. This was the bang often times missing with Johnâ€™s death.
Bobby’s supposedly mortal injury of gun shot to the head is far more profound and poignant than the quick neck snap he experienced in â€œSwan Song.â€ This time, we get to see his â€œunremarkable little life.â€ There isnâ€™t much to see, the baggage his daddy issues brought into his marriage, his deep friendship with his working partner Rufus, and his bond with his two surrogate sons. On the surface it doesnâ€™t seem like much. But when put under a microscope, these relationships truly changed the world for the better.
Bobby got to see his life, but we got to see his life not only through his eyes, but other peopleâ€™s as well. We never knew that Rufus thought that Bobby made a good dad. We never knew that Bobby defied Johnâ€™s orders so that he could let Dean be a normal kid for at least one afternoon. We never knew that his first harsh lesson in not being thanked for saving someone came from his mother after he shot and killed his dad to protect her. This wasnâ€™t just Bobbyâ€™s life flashing before his eyes. It was a perfectly woven depiction of how something unremarkable can be turned into something extraordinary. Itâ€™s through helping and saving others.
A Deeper Look
Honestly, to rave on about all the brilliance in this episode and all the philosophical realms, I would need to write a novel, as well as go through several more boxes of tissues. So much has already been said by the other great reviews out there. However, I did notice after it was all over I was swallowed in a collection of discarded tissues, so Iâ€™ve decided take a closer look at the tissue heavy moments of this amazing episode. I better fetch a fresh box first.
Tissue Alert #1
We knew little of Bobbyâ€™s relationship with his wife Karen. I adore the attention taken to bring out her extraordinary beauty through the use of soft lighting, a calm setting in the bedroom, and her wearing her version of the now infamous white nightgown. Candles were burning everywhere, which strangely reminded me of when Sam arrived at Bobbyâ€™s house in his dream state in â€œThe Man Who Knew Too Much.â€ What do you suppose the candles mean specifically for Bobbyâ€™s house? A place of light, illumination, spirit, a guiding path?
The second scene with Karen though, that triggered the first set of water works. Marriages are so delicate and can often be torn apart by one simple admission. We didnâ€™t see Bobby tell her the painful truth that he didnâ€™t want kids. We got an implication thatâ€™s what happened based on Karenâ€™s devastation and Bobbyâ€™s somber surfacing of his regret. He told her heâ€™s not only sorry, but he never stopped being sorry. Of course that didnâ€™t comfort Karen, but it was the first sign of him letting go of the past and addressing the pain that has weighed him down his entire life.
I adore how Rufus was by his side, giving sympathetic support, helping him work through the pain. It goes to show how important a friend Rufus was in Bobbyâ€™s life. He asked how long after this did Karen get possessed. Three days. Then Bobby said this line, and I busted into tears. â€œBiggest regret of my life, this fight. Youâ€™d think it was when I had to stab her to death, but no. All through that, I was thinking â€˜we never got to get past this.â€™ If I had known, I would have said anything she wanted to hear.â€
Life is all about regrets, like hurting those that we love. Itâ€™s about appreciating that whatever happens today could be gone tomorrow and can stick with you the rest of your life. Knowing that Bobby held onto that deep regret all those years, itâ€™s so painful to know. It also makes him very human.
Tissue Alert #2
Okay, perhaps I was already raw from tissue alert #1, but the second I saw Bobby smiling after throwing a baseball around with young Dean in a park, I lost it again. It wasnâ€™t just the smile of past Bobby, but the smiles on both Bobby and Rufusâ€™ faces as they watched. A much happier time. Oh those poor boys, whatâ€™s happened to them since then.
On a side note, I know some people asked where was Sam. He was six years old at the time, and if you recall, he didnâ€™t find out about monsters being real until that Christmas in 1991 (â€œA Very Supernatural Christmasâ€). This was 1989. I doubt John was going to allow Sam to do target practice with his older brother at that stage.
Tissue Alert #3
Iâ€™d be remiss if I didnâ€™t talk about Sam and Dean. These brothers just tear me apart. They have never been good with sharing grief. Dean usually deals with grief with anger while Sam deals with it by withdrawing. Dean was in denial, Sam was being his pragmatic self. When seeing these two like this, unable to lean on each other during their darkest hour, it made me wonder how they manage to spend any time together at all.
Both werenâ€™t exactly coming into this ordeal at their best. Both have been struggling and havenâ€™t been very open with one another about things. Sure, some issues have surfaced, but I doubt theyâ€™ve spent hours talking about whatâ€™s really eating them inside. Bobby has been their only rock of late and truly understood them. Thatâ€™s probably why they havenâ€™t turned to each other for support.
Knowing all this though, it didnâ€™t prepare me for the sucker punch to the gut when Sam tried to talk with Dean about bracing themselves. Dean didnâ€™t want to go there. Itâ€™s understandable. Sam needed to go there. He had to wrap his head around the idea this is real. Itâ€™s obvious why. Reality is the only thing grounding Sam right now, no matter how bad it is. Neither brother are servicing each otherâ€™s needs, and perhaps at this point arenâ€™t capable of doing so. That idea alone triggered deep upset on my end. Then Dean said this, â€œWhat do you want to do? You want to hug and say we made it through when Dad died? Weâ€™ve been through enough.â€
Any tears I had from Deanâ€™s words evolved into massive sobs when Dean walked away, stopped to give Sam one more pained glance, and left Sam to silently fall apart on his own in the lobby. Samâ€™s very upset, and thatâ€™s enough to trigger whatever it is that happens in his head these days during those vulnerable times. He grasped onto his scarred left hand, but his quick reminder of reality wasnâ€™t pleasant or relieving. This reality was scaring the crap out of him and at that moment he had to go through it alone. Samâ€™s silent devastation and deep vulnerability coming from his facial expressions is what delivered the big ole agonizing punch to my gut. It still hurts.
Thatâ€™s not belittling what Dean is feeling though. Iâ€™m very scared for Dean too. All I have to remember is his phone message from â€œHello, Cruel Worldâ€ when he told Bobby in so many words heâ€™d rather be dead than live without him. Dean has to believe Bobby will pull through. I have sincere doubts that those earlier words were an empty threat. If there is one glimmer of hope, he likely wonâ€™t end it all until Dick Roman is dead. He has his reason to fight now.
Tissue Alert #4
Actually, this was several scenes together, but I was pulling out so many tissues by this time they all had woven together. Hereâ€™s the highlights:
Reaper: Bobby, youâ€™ve helped. You got handed a small unremarkable life and you did something with it. Most men like you die of liver disease watching Barney Miller reruns. Youâ€™ve done enough, believe me.
Bobby: I donâ€™t care
Bobby: Because theyâ€™re my boys.
Bobby: As fate would have it, I adopted two boys and they grew up great. They grew up heroes. So you can go to Hell!
Sam (holding Bobbyâ€™s hand): Thanks, for everything.
What can I say about all that? One of Bobbyâ€™s deepest regrets might be not having children, but turns out his greatest accomplishment was raising two young boys that needed him. Two boys that were destined to save the world a few times over. Just after having the memory where he explains to his younger self that you never get thanked for saving them, Sam gives him a thank you. This bearded man who chose to give a damn. This man who risked everything, including a doomed eternity, just to help these boys one last time with a message. Itâ€™s very clear who the hero is in this story.
Tissue Alert #5
Youâ€™d think Iâ€™d had enough by now. My sides are exhausted, my face and hair matted with tears, my overall psyche in shreds. I must not have been finished off enough though, for it was time to be dealt the final blow.
Bobby has one memory left. The reaper still looms, but Bobby isnâ€™t going to pass this one up. â€œLooks like I saved the best for last.â€ It isnâ€™t an extraordinary moment, Sam and Dean, circa in what I guess to be around season two or three (the shirts, including Sam’s long gone Paisley Peril, the messy book clad room, as well as the light brotherly banter), are on his couch munching on snack food and arguing about not only who the better fighter is (duh Sam, Chuck Norris!) but whoâ€™s snack food is less disgusting (sorry Dean, popcorn rules).
All it takes is one look. A radiant smile from Bobby, the ethereal lighting on his face just perfect. It symbolizes a heavenly saint in flannel and truckerâ€™s cap. His impact on this world has been immeasurable. Within a flash though itâ€™s gone, and itâ€™s time to move on. Yeah, thereâ€™s that cliffhanger thing, but Iâ€™ve overlooked that for the bigger picture. Itâ€™s all done in a flash. Cherish it while you can.
So, is Bobby Singer really dead? I could always fall on the popular throwback, no one ever dies on Supernatural, but that doesnâ€™t make this hurt less. Who knows what lies ahead for Bobby but whatever the result, he and all of us are better from this experience. It makes us appreciate all that we do have in this world, for it can be gone tomorrow. Iâ€™m off to hug my kids and pets now.
Overall grade, A++. A definite classic.