No doubt about it, episode ten has historically packed one heck of an emotional punch and this one is not breaking that pattern. Death's Door was nothing short of perfect.
I've broken the two coinciding streams of this episode apart and examined them as whole pieces, rather than intercut with one another, so bear with me through the somewhat recap-esque quality of this review. The episode was so wonderful, that most every moment deserved mention. I'm still reeling from the information and emotion that was rolled into that intense 40 minute episode. I've already watched it three times consecutively and it still gets me every time. Everyone have tissue on hand? Okay, let's get to it.
We start off with Bobby and the boys back in the woods during the Turducken fiasco, before Bobby was shot. This particular scene was only minutes after Dean and Sam reminisced about how Bobby used to take them hunting/camping as children, which is a fitting place to begin this episode that is all about fathers and sons.
Bobby and the boys end up back at Bobby's house where he realizes he needs to write down these critical numbers (somehow relating to the evil Leviathan endgame) and when he turns around he is another, different memory. This time, we're seeing life shortly before his wife was possessed "“ pre-hunter life. Bobby knows this memory and Jim Beaver plays the subtle emotions of Bobby so very well. He's struck by recall of his lovely wife Karen (played again with gentle grace by Carrie Ann Fleming) but he knows that he has to deal with the inside of his scrambled brain, so he can't stay with her.
Next we flash to Bobby and Rufus working together on a ghost hunt. It's wonderful to see Rufus again (played fabulously by Steven Williams, who will always be Captain Adam Fuller of 21 Jump Street for me). Bobby follows Rufus into the church and encounters his reaper. Reapers are always colourful, charismatic characters, most memorable of course being Tessa. This reaper is matter of fact, clearly powerful and also impatient. We've seen reapers implore their reapee's in various ways to go along with them, sometimes using a soft-touch approach and others using more straightforward, like this one. Maybe because Bobby is a hunter this reaper has elected the latter approach. Either way, Bobby sneaks away and the reaper promises there is nowhere to hide.
"You got handed a small unremarkable life and you did something with it-you've done enough, believe me."
The next memory we're dropped into is Bobby and the boys one assumes, during the three week period when the boys were laying low at Rufus' cabin (I have amended this assumption because Dean has no cast and therefore, it is not during this period - as others have pointed out, this is likely Bobby's house) and Bobby is asked to weigh in on who would win in a fight, Chuck Norris or Jet Li. Opening a door, Bobby looks in on another, darker memory from his childhood. From his immediate turning away from the memory, we know this is going to be integral and revisited for resolution.
So back to the hunt with Rufus, in which Bobby is called a heartbreaker, burns the bones and gets Rufus to a hospital. Rufus, having handily just survived near death himself, tells Bobby how he managed to "get back" to the real world and from this point forward acts as a sort of guide through the memories for Bobby. Until this point, none of the memories we've seen have been of the stab-you-in-the-heart variety, but we're really just getting started.
Bobby and Rufus end up back in the bedroom, presumably in few scenes after the first conversation between Bobby and Karen, as it seems she now knows he does not intend to have children because, as we find out shortly, he is terrified of becoming his father. Painfully, Bobby reveals to Rufus that is was only three days after this fight that Karen was possessed and they were never able to resolve this before she died, which stands as the biggest regret he has. Turning from this memory, it is contrasted with a younger Bobby and young Dean playing catch instead of honing hunting skills as John Winchester requested. Present-day Bobby and Rufus watch, Bobby with a grin on his face. Despite all his fears, Bobby was a great father.
The next scene is incredibly powerful. We push back in on Bobby's parents at the dinner table his father is obviously a mean, horrible human being before we even hear him speak a word. The most intense moment here is when young Bobby knocks the glass of milk to the floor and in slow motion, we all watch with bated breath as it shatters. It seems inconsequential really, such a normal thing: kids knock dishes over all the time. But we know this is a catalyst and can see the storm coming a mile away, which is what makes this a powerful moment. Sure enough, Papa Singer goes nuclear "“ "you break everything you touch!" "“ but instead of getting loud and angry, he's quiet and angry which is worse. This moment has palpable fear of what is to come "“ the danger oozes off this man and he hasn't done more than utter a few words and pushing a plate to the floor.
Bobby can't watch anymore, instead electing to use a reaper trap to slow the reaper down and give him more time to get out, or back I suppose. We begin to see more things fade or blank as Bobby and Rufus go about gathering ingredients for this spell and we know that his brain is slowly dying, memories are disappearing. The reaper shows up and much like Tessa and Dean in the hospital all those years ago, tells Bobby that he's done enough, he deserves to move on now and if he doesn't, he'll become the thing he hunts. Rufus echoes this sentiment, suggesting Bobby maybe accept it and move on. Bobby says he doesn't care if he's "finished" because they're his boys and he won't leave them blind. Bobby knows that he needs to get the information to the Winchester boys so he takes a deep breath and dives back into the horrible kitchen memory of his father.
"I was a kid! Kids aren't supposed to be grateful. They're supposed to eat your food and break your heart, you selfish dick."
In this memory, we see Bobby's mother blaming Bobby for provoking his father, and his father accusing him of being a bad kid. But present-day Bobby finally gets to exchange words his father, calling him out as being a bad dad. And he finally admits that though he didn't have kids of his own, he was a great father: "As fate would have it, I adopted two boys and they grew up great. They grew up heroes." This was a beautiful moment, Bobby finally able to stand up to his father and openly claiming the Winchester boys as his own. Jim Beaver is a powerful actor, as we know, especially in moments like this because while his character is gruff and tough, without breaking this character, Jim Beaver gets across so many emotions and puts the audience right there with him.
Young Bobby returns to the kitchen with a gun, ready to face his father and defend his mother, in the end he kills his father. Ironically, as the reaper points out, with the same gunshot would he is currently suffering from. Bobby's mother tells him God will punish him and present-Bobby explains what happens next, that young Bobby buries his father's body outside and that this is where he learned people aren't grateful as a rule.
Bobby manages to break out - wake up "“ briefly, before returning for one finally memory: he saved the best for last and it is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking "“ only on Supernatural. No other word for it. He watches Sam and Dean squabble affectionately about liquorice. And then, in one of the quietest moments of the series, we are left with a heart pounding cliff hanger "“ "Well Bobby, stay or go, what it is going to be?"
The episode opens where we left last week, with Bobby shot and Sam and Dean in the van. Dean is demanding to know if Bobby is dead and both boys are quickly unravelling, snapping at one another in their panic. Dean drives like a madman to get Bobby to the trauma centre. Once there, we watch the boys panic over Bobby and Dean ask, not for the last time, when are they taking the bullet out.
The doctor reveals to Dean and Sam that Bobby is stable for the moment and it's a game of wait and see from here on out. In this moment, the boys say nothing to one another but the looks they exchange don't need words. Sam is leaning against the wall, unable to hold himself under the weight the dawning realization that Bobby may in fact die and Dean just looks lost, unable to process this reality. Both are devastated, and I'm right there with them.
The doctor talks to the boys again, and Sam realizes that in most cases the patient dies. Another hospital staffer approaches to speak to the boys and Dean pulls him aside to deal with what he thinks is an insurance issue. Actually, they want to harvest Bobby's organs while their viable. I don't envy the people who actually have to do this in real life. It must be an incredibly difficult position: on one hand there is grieving family and you know you're going to cause further heartache with these questions, but on the other, it may save several more lives. That said this poor guy really took his life into his own hands by talking to Dean about organ donation. And poor Dean "“ it was just too much for him. He cannot accept that Bobby will die, because he's always fine and doesn't understand why the doctors can't just do their damn jobs and save him. Dean puts his fist through some glass and advises the man to walk away, immediately.
When Dean walked outside the hospital, I had a few things crossing my mind. First and foremost, when we see Dean this desperate about a loved one, he likes to trade his soul and I though a call for Crowley may be forthcoming. What we got was actually better. Dean recognized Dick Roman's car outside the hospital and takes his anger out on him. Dick says few words, smug and smarmy as always, but Dean has the advantage that Dick is famous and people all have cameras, so he's feeling pissed off, bold and protected enough to share some thoughts with the Leviathan chief. He tells Dick that they are coming for him in no uncertain terms: "You're either laughing because you're scared or you're laughing because you're stupid. I'll see you soon, Dick." I got chills at this threat promise from Dean. Maybe it was just my imagination, but I sensed a slight creeping of pause on Dick's face as he considered Dean's words. Be afraid, Dick, be very afraid.
We next watch Dean shakily get a cup of vending machine coffee and head back to Sam, where he spares Sam a bit by telling him that organ donor guy was just after insurance information. Sammy, for his part looks very "little brother" as Dean walks over but gets his alert face on when Dean informs him of Dick Roman's presence outside the hospital. There is a little moment in here that is really catching for me. Dean asks Sam for an update on Bobby and Sam turns to look at Bobby, but not before casting his brother a concerned sideways looks. From the conversation that follows I think this look is also measuring, because Sam is more willing to accept the reality that Bobby may in fact die, where Dean is fighting strongly against it. Dean is again after the bullet coming out but Sam tells him they aren't doing that yet. Sam takes Dean aside for a difficult conversation and Dean won't entertain it, stating that they've been through enough before walking away. Poor Sam looks just wrecked as he sits down and tries to gain control of his emotions. It's brief, but we see him pressing on his hand wound again and this is telling: Bobby's condition has both boys unravelling, piece by piece.
The doctor tells Sam and Dean that they should see Bobby now, because they are taking him for surgery. Sam clasps his hand, holding back tears, and tells him thanks for everything. And then, Bobby's eyes open. He tries to talk, but Dean gets him writing materials instead. Weak, but determined, Bobby writes the numbers down on Sam's hand and utters just one word: "Idgits" "“ and that's when the ugly cry started. Bobby flat lines and boys are removed the room, watching, devastated, as hospital staff rushes past them trying to save Bobby.
I don't often talk about the mechanics of the episodes in my reviews. Usually the lighting, make up, set design, etc. is very well done, but every so often an episode comes along where it is particularly phenomenal and all the elements come together in perfect harmony. This is one such episode. The scenes in the hospital are cast in grey, muted tones. It's sombre, it's a bit gritty and the world around Sam and Dean is seen with grieving eyes.
By contrast, Bobby's memories take on softer edges and more dynamic lighting. We see candles, bright moonlight and warm sunlight as well as deep shadows. It creates a subtly ethereal quality about the dream state in Bobby's head. Even the scene in the kitchen, while a harsh memory, maintains the dreamscape element. To me, one of the most beautiful scenes is at the end, when the reaper, cast in hazy light, aims to convince Bobby one more time to come with him and Bobby takes a wander through his last memory.
The script in this episode was grade A. Everyone was in character, the reaper was written equal parts impatient business man and sympathetic neutral player. Dean and Sam reacted exactly as you'd expect Dean and Sam to react, given everything, and even Dean's threat to Dick wasn't overbearing "“ it was exactly right. The interchanges between memories in Bobby's mind and real life were well paced and the whole episode clipped along at a beautiful pace.
As always, the acting was phenomenal. The heavy emotion was not overdone anywhere and drew the audience in at every turn. Jim Beaver was principally wonderful, given the range of scenes he had to play with here. All around, the cast of this show is always amazing to watch, particularly with the more difficult episodes such as this one, where the words they speak have to communicate so many meanings and the words they don't say hold even richer emotion.
Favourite Moment: "All right, scoot, jerkface. Show your elders some respect." "You scoot, asshat."
Again, I don't usually give a favourite moment in the episodes I review. That said, this scene struck me so much that I had to give it special mention. The final scene, watching Sam and Dean fight about licorice as Bobby sits back and enjoys the final, favourite memory of "his" boys was just such a breathtaking, quiet moment. We had some humour, a great Sam/Dean brother exchange like we haven't seen in a long, long time (the name calling was reminiscent of the classic "jerk/bitch" exchanges of yore) and a loving Bobby looking on with a gentle proud smile "“ these were his greatest accomplishments in life: his boys.
If you can't tell, I loved this episode. Every piece of it was so perfectly meshed with the other pieces, how could I not? The second half of the season, building from this should be explosive and I'm looking forward to January when it returns. That being said, I'm also somehow okay with the breather we have to process to headiness of this mid-season finale. It was so powerful, that letting it stand for a while seems like a reverent move. The cliff hanger we are left with is, in true Supernatural fashion, cruel but I liked the note we ended on despite that. I would like to say with confidence that Bobby will survive, but I can't. He was able to deliver the information to the boys, he seems to have accepted that they'll be okay without him and looked ready to move on with the reaper at the end when that ominous ticking took us to the end credits.
So, what did you think? Were you in ugly-cry mode too? Ready for Winter Hellatus?
I'm sorry to hear about your father, and your brother - that's very sad.
Thank you for your comments - it's interesting that you point out the final lesson from Bobby may be about letting go...it really is a lesson they need to learn, isn't it? It made me think of two quotes (as always, from Buffy):
"Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does....The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts" and, "In the end, you're always by yourself. You're all you've got. That's the point."
These both come from the end of season 2 of BTVS which for me has a number of themes applicable season seven thus far, such as the stripping away of resources to watch our heroes rise up and succeed on their own.
Anyway, I definitely was in the ugly-cry mode especially at the end. The performances were so strong and amazing! If the Emmys don't take notice this year...then it's rigged!
I'm still shocked/upset over this episode. I give it a high 10 and an A+ in my book. I agree with you...I'm sort of glad hellatus has begun. I need a moment to process everything that has happened. After that short pause, I think I will be able to get on with the second half of season 7 and see where this all ends up. WOW! What a season this has been so far!
The performances on this show are incredible, I'm always disappointed it's overlooked by the award-governing bodies. But I do believe the show has to submit entries for these awards in order to be nominated. Buffy rarely got acknowledgement from the major awards either - I'm just glad these shows have a vocal fanbase who lets the cast and crew now how much we appreciate what they do.
I'm just saying I need a new kleenex box...... *wipes eyes*
There were a few "tip of the hats" to other shows and ideas. The white rabbit was a strong theme throughout. I was off base at first because I thought the kid was going to be a baddie or something that went sideways, and the young Dean put me off kilter too. it wasn't till the dinner table thing that I figured out it was "young Bobby". For a guy that didn't want any kids of his own, he was sure darn good at raising them.
The other thing that this episode cried out to was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". The deteriorating memories, trying to hang onto something fleeting, trapped in your own head, all of that paid homage to a very good movie.
The biggest scene to impact me was Bobby's final "real" scene with the boys, Dean and Sam bedside, Dean scrambling for a paper and pen, Bobby writing on Sam's hand, and his final words "idjits".
And this bears repeating- this episode was bags of awesome.
The idjits was the moment I lost total control on my tears. So, so sad. So, so good.
A lot of people have been writing comments about TPTB killing off Bobby and feeling angry about it....some even saying they will stop watching the show if this is indeed the outcome. I, however, am glad that the writers have the gonads to kill off major characters. The life these guys live is full of violence and loss and to not have people (or angels) they love also be "fair game" would make me, at least, less invested emoitionally.
The relationship between Sam and Dean - co-dependant and screwed up as it is sometimes - works becuase, when it comes down to it, they are all they have.
I know we have to wait until Jan to see if Bobby sticks around as a ghost, miraculously lives, or lets go. Whatever the outcome, I am sure the wiriters and actors will continue to make me laugh, make me cry, and make me stop everything for one hour a week to sit and watch it all happen.
I'm trying to go with the flow and see where the series takes us without being angry or otherwise at a particular twist. That said, I really would like Bobby to live (Cas too!).
As for Dick Roman, I would run if I were him because if Dean Winchester issues a death warrant then you are a dead leviathan; you can count on it.
Bobbyâ€™s love for the boys was one of the most poignant parts of the story. He truly loved them and thatâ€™s way I think he will fight his way back because he knows Dean and Sam need him and that they wouldnâ€™t be fine without him being a part of their world.
Yep, that last scene was a sucker punch in the stomach and I cried like a baby; I really sat through this episode feeling shell shocked by the angst and love that was just so jarring.
Because, if you're actually serious, I'd like to invite you to watch the show again, from season one.
Quote:The post I quoted was put up early last night. At the time, I felt it belittled Sam's losses, but didn't respond because the poster did mention Sam briefly, but the original post did focus only on Dean's losses, not Sam's. My guess is the poster you quoted was being sarcastic in response to Lilah.
Sarcasm. I wish we didn't have to deal with that here as often as we have to. It can be quite hurtful to some.
Thanks for adding your thoughts.
I'm sorry everyone, but please. When someone mentions one brother in a response, they shouldn't have to go through how the other brother feels as well. There's only so much power over time and space. We shouldn't be that sensitive. Unless she blatantly slammed Sam, her comment is fine.
I'm one who really wants Bobby to survive this some way and not as a ghost or spirit.
Wonderful to see Rufus again.
The last scene was so perfect with the boys squabbling like long ago and Bobby looking so proud. God! Rip my heart out why don't you, show?
These actors are just awesome! They've made these characters sneak into my heart and feel real. I suffer with them and laugh with them (though all too few times for that lately).
Please please don't let Bobby die!
As I said above, I don't think we'll lose Bobby, at least not entirely. I'm not thinking spirit, but coma instead.
As long as he lives!!! Maybe while in that coma he can spirit walk, track down God and convince him to restore Cas and Gabriel too, while he's at it.....sigh.
I do have to appreciate the contrast between having angel mojo on the side of the boys for healing/speedy get aways etc. to now. They are dealing with a very human injury - gun shot - and it has to be dealt with in a very human way. I like that the show has brought things back to a human level in this way. That to me is the part of the charm and the heart of the show.
I have faith in the show and their handling of the characters; as said above, I doubt Bobby will bite the dust this time through (though, who knows with SPN?). Is it January yet?!
Yes that shirt is an ugly mistake and yes I find myself missing it. And yes I'm noting the details to distract myself from Bobbygrief.
Detail is good. It does distract from the pain. Thanks for mentioning that!
I hope you're right Elle about Bobby not dying..Â.pleas e, please, please. Sam saying thank you to Bobby for everything he's done, my heart breaks just thinking about it. And Dean. Oh. My. God. Is he going to regret not saying anything if (gasp) Bobby does die. When my mother passed away, my brother left the hospital saying to me that she would pull through, because she always had. Well, she didn't, and he was not there to say his final farewell, and even though he doesn't talk about it (a guy after all) I know he will regret it to his last day.
And thanks for mentioning how perfect the lighting was. Serge Ladouceur is a master.
And yes, I think we do need a breather to process all this.