Truth be told, I avoided writing this review for several days.  It’s been too tough.  There’s so much pain, so much heartbreak, and it’s so hard to see a character I’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 “Supernatural” episodes have affected me this much.  “Mystery Spot,” “No Rest For The Wicked,” “When The Levee Breaks,” and “Swan Song.”  I’m crushed.  All those episodes still sting when I put them in the DVD player.  No doubt “Death’s Door” 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 “The Man Who Would Be King.”  I did that because it wasn’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 didn’t have to wait until episode twenty to get that.  We got it in episode ten.  “Death’s Door” is easily one of the most fluid and gut wrenching scripts in the series.  In a long line of wonderful, this is Sera Gamble’s masterpiece.  And Director Robert Singer’s.  And DP Serge Ladouceur’s.  And just about everyone else in the cast and crew involved.  I’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, I’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 Beaver’s Emmy worthy triumph.  It’s a well earned showcase of the unsung hero that is rarely pushed into the spotlight role.  Sure there was last season’s “Weekend At Bobby’s” but that was a charming tale of the older hunter’s juggling act.  Hanging in the balance of life and death has a bit more urgency.  It’s fascinating to me that the two highest quality episodes of the past two seasons, “Death’s Door” and “The Man Who Would Be King,” took time to prove what we’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 they’ve ever done before.  This was the bang often times missing with John’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 “Swan Song.”  This time, we get to see his “unremarkable little life.”  There isn’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 doesn’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 people’s as well.  We never knew that Rufus thought that Bobby made a good dad.  We never knew that Bobby defied John’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 wasn’t just Bobby’s life flashing before his eyes.  It was a perfectly woven depiction of how something unremarkable can be turned into something extraordinary.  It’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 I’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 Bobby’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 Bobby’s house in his dream state in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”  What do you suppose the candles mean specifically for Bobby’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 didn’t see Bobby tell her the painful truth that he didn’t want kids.  We got an implication that’s what happened based on Karen’s devastation and Bobby’s somber surfacing of his regret.  He told her he’s not only sorry, but he never stopped being sorry.  Of course that didn’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 Bobby’s life.  He asked how long after this did Karen get possessed.  Three days.  Then Bobby said this line, and I busted into tears.  “Biggest regret of my life, this fight.  You’d think it was when I had to stab her to death, but no.  All through that, I was thinking ‘we never got to get past this.’  If I had known, I would have said anything she wanted to hear.”  



Life is all about regrets, like hurting those that we love.  It’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, it’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 wasn’t just the smile of past Bobby, but the smiles on both Bobby and Rufus’ faces as they watched.  A much happier time.  Oh those poor boys, what’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 didn’t find out about monsters being real until that Christmas in 1991 (“A Very Supernatural Christmas”).  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

I’d be remiss if I didn’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 weren’t exactly coming into this ordeal at their best.  Both have been struggling and haven’t been very open with one another about things.  Sure, some issues have surfaced, but I doubt they’ve spent hours talking about what’s really eating them inside.  Bobby has been their only rock of late and truly understood them.  That’s probably why they haven’t turned to each other for support. 

Knowing all this though, it didn’t prepare me for the sucker punch to the gut when Sam tried to talk with Dean about bracing themselves.  Dean didn’t want to go there.  It’s understandable.  Sam needed to go there.  He had to wrap his head around the idea this is real.  It’s obvious why.  Reality is the only thing grounding Sam right now, no matter how bad it is.  Neither brother are servicing each other’s needs, and perhaps at this point aren’t capable of doing so.  That idea alone triggered deep upset on my end.  Then Dean said this, “What do you want to do?  You want to hug and say we made it through when Dad died?  We’ve been through enough.”     



Any tears I had from Dean’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.  Sam’s very upset, and that’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 wasn’t pleasant or relieving.  This reality was scaring the crap out of him and at that moment he had to go through it alone.  Sam’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.  





That’s not belittling what Dean is feeling though.  I’m very scared for Dean too.  All I have to remember is his phone message from “Hello, Cruel World” when he told Bobby in so many words he’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 won’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.  Here’s the highlights:



Reaper:  Bobby, you’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.   You’ve done enough, believe me. 
Bobby:  I don’t care
Reaper:  Why?
Bobby:  Because they’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 Bobby’s hand):  Thanks, for everything.  

Bobby:  Idgits.  

What can I say about all that?  One of Bobby’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.  It’s very clear who the hero is in this story. 

Tissue Alert #5

You’d think I’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 isn’t going to pass this one up.  “Looks like I saved the best for last.”  It isn’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 who’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 trucker’s cap.  His impact on this world has been immeasurable.  Within a flash though it’s gone, and it’s time to move on.  Yeah, there’s that cliffhanger thing, but I’ve overlooked that for the bigger picture.  It’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 doesn’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.  I’m off to hug my kids and pets now.   

Overall grade, A++.  A definite classic.  

 

Comments  

sweetondean
# sweetondean 2011-12-07 21:35
Crying again! Beautiful episode. I agree, everyone's masterpiece, Sera and all the cast and crew. - Amy
MisterGlass
# MisterGlass 2011-12-07 21:44
Thanks for the eulogy review Alice, it was as touching as the episode.

I liked Bobby from the start, and I knew that I loved him after his speech in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II". I did not realize how much I loved him until this episode.

I knew it was coming. Foreshadowing was there from the first episode of the season, but knowing didn't help. It is so painful to lose him. Bobby and Castiel. I don't think I've been this moved by the loss of fictional characters since Bambi's mother. (And how ironic that Bobby mentioned her as a deer hunting target?)

Bobby meant so much to me. He gave me hope, however pessimistic he acted, because he kept fighting, not for himself, but for the boys.

Saying he will be missed just doesn't cover it.
Teresa Pezzino
# Teresa Pezzino 2011-12-07 22:08
Alice, this is one of the best reviews you have written. With relatively few words, each paragraph gets to the heart of this show. This show is called the little show that could primarily because it delves deeper into the human condition than almost all other shows out there and it does it over and over again. Like so many others out there, I have had a huge amount of loss over the last few years, and this show, this cast, this crew and this fandom itself have all been helping me to come to terms with it. Reviewers like you with the courage to reach out and share your thoughts and feelings in such eloquent ways help to remind me that we really are one big family - not just SPN but the world - and I wish I could hug every person in it, including you. Now I am going to go hug the family I still have. Thank you.
margena
# margena 2011-12-07 22:36
OMG! Very well said..no one could have said it any better. I totally agee and with Dean holding back all his feelings. "Dick" better what out, cuz Dean definitly will be on a war path for payback.
Michelle Kinseth
# Michelle Kinseth 2011-12-07 23:05
I can't read any of these reviews without crying, which is indicative of how much Bobby as a character means to me. I never really even knew how much until now, when I might lose him. And that's the biggest compliment I believe can be paid to Jim Beaver.
I won't even guess what might happen come January, all I know is what I hope; and what I hope is for Bobby to survive because I don't know what will happen to those boys without him.
This is definitely one of the most beautifully shot, acted, written, directed, and produced episodes this show has ever done. I want to rewatch it for those reasons, but it hurts to damn much.
Oh Bobby.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-12-07 23:12
Wow Alice! That was a fantastic summary of a masterpiece episode. I needed tissues just reading it!

I really appreciate your take on Sam & Dean's differing grieving styles. Sam's only buffer against the hellucinations of Lucifer is reality. But right now reality sucks because his Stone #2, Bobby, is possibly about to die.

Meanwhile, Dean's only buffer against the reality that is tearing him apart - the world is screwed AGAIN and his brother is broken AGAIN and he can't save the people he loves most AGAIN - is to get angry and deny that reality. If he doesn't stop to think about it... If he shoves it into that lead friggin' box with everything else.. Then maybe it won't really happen.

There's a great book called "The Mourner's Dance" by Katherine Ashenburg. It's an examination of grief and mourning rituals, and the different way men and women grieve. In this instance, Dean is acting stereotypically male (don't want to talk about it.. I'll deal with it in my own way) and Sam is reacting more stereotypically female (let's talk.. let's help each other.) It's quite fascinating because those two mourning styles can only clash, and often cause more misunderstandin g and pain. It's no surprise that so many marriages break up after a child dies.

I fear that Bob's possible demise will be what stokes the fire in Dean's belly. But denial will be the fuel. He's still going to have to deal with all his crap eventually.

I also think Bobby's situation will be what helps to shatter Sam anew. He's trying so hard to hang onto the broken pieces, but you can see in this episode that his grip is starting to slip.

The three things that touched me most:

1. His pride in raising the boys. It's proof that it truly takes a village to raise a child. He gave them experiences and support that John couldn't. It doesn't make John a lesser father, just a different one. If they were musicians, John would have been the one who taught them technique and Bobby would have been the one teaching them about feeling the emotion of the notes.

2. The Reaper's line about taking an unremarkable life and making something out of it... What a remarkable accolade. I'd be so pleased if people ever say that about my life. (Of course I'd likely be dead when they're saying it and wouldn't hear it. Still I'm sure the sentiment would be warming to whatever of my energy lingers!)

3. Bobby's last memory wasn't about some big hunting victory. It was sharing a movie night with the boys. Love & family. That's what matters most to him, and probably most of us.

I just finished rewatching the episode, and a couple of things popped out at me. Dean saying "I do my job. You do yours." It's probably a sign that Dean is back in the game. But I also wonder if it's a hint about how his brain works. "I do my job day after day, and still things go to crap. Why can't everyone else just do what they're supposed to?!!!"

Also, Bobby's comment that only Death can call off a reaper. Rumour has it (okay an interview with Julian Richings on InnerSpace) that Death will be back sometime this season. Hmmm. Intriguing.

And on second viewing, I saw a lot of "Dark Side of the Moon" in this episode -- the full moon, the going through doors. Is is possible Bobby was in Heaven?

It also made me think of the movie "Heaven Can Wait" where quarterback Joe Pendleton is grabbed by an over-anxious angel. Turns out he's not really supposed to be dead, and head angel Mr. Jordan has to set things right. (Which would be a brilliant Supernatural meta episode, by the way.) Maybe Bobby's not really supposed to be dead? Maybe the Reaper's watch was broken?

I think my only regret in the episode is that Sam & Dean weren't privy to any of Bobby's memories. Just think how much deeper their understanding of Bobby would be if they knew he'd had to kill his own dad, or that he'd told his wife he didn't want to have kids. Hearing some of those stories from Bobby might even help them gain a better understanding of their own motivations and hang-ups.

I've heard some people wonder if it was right to devote a mid-season finale to a supporting character. But I think it was amazing what we learned about Sam & Dean when the spotlight wasn't on them. We saw them in our peripheral vision, and that new perspective offered incredible insight into the men those "boys" have become, and where they are now emotionally and maturity-wise.

You're right that whatever happens to Bobby this episode we're better for the experience.

(And I really don't think Bobby's dead. But I think he will suffer the long-term effects of this, just like Sam, his hallucinations and his scar)
rmoats8621
# rmoats8621 2011-12-07 23:51
There have been so many wonderful comments and articles written about this amazing episode that I don't think I can add anything else except this...BRAVO!
Lindab30
# Lindab30 2011-12-08 00:08
Dear Alice,

Thank you for your wonderful review. Now I have to ask a question. Why oh why are so many people saying "Nobody really dies on Supernatural"? Mary, Jessica, John, Ellen and Jo are dead and they are going to stay that way. People do die. Perhaps it's denial of the possibility that Bobby truly may die that is being expressed.

Personally I think that Bobby will die. Otherwise a truly beautiful, emotional, heart wrenching story is cheapened if he doesn't. Don't get me wrong, I don't want Bobby to die. But, all we've heard about from the Powers that Be for this season is how everything the boys have come to depend on is being taken away from them and they will have to rely on each other. They've lost the Impala, their credit cards, their lovely motel rooms, and their only home (Bobby's house). They can get by without all of that. The question is, can they survive without Bobby?

In your review you said:

"Bobby has been their only rock of late and truly understood them. That’s probably why they haven’t turned to each other for support." I think you hit the nail on the head. They haven't been turning to each other because they haven't needed to. In order for them to rely on each other Bobby will need to be gone. They will simply have no other choice.

After How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters I was pretty confident Bobby would spend the rest of the season in a coma which would force Sam and Dean to look towards each other. Now, I think he will actually die. Having said all of that I will be happy for Bobby to survive IF they can pull it off with some believability and credibility.(Su pernaturally speaking of course.)

Thanks again for another thought provoking review.
Cathia
# Cathia 2011-12-08 03:39
Previously it was only one episode that ended in my tears - "Swan Song". It was such a perfect ending, such a nice closure of all the five seasons - it all made sense. Bobby's death, however, does not. And no matter what, I will always say that. One of my friends said that for him it is the end of SPN - he stops watching. He probably will. I have one other fav character left alive, so I will take my chances.
I know, it would be improbable to let Bobby live after a shot in a head, but... why allow him to be shot in the first place??? I dunno. Kinda expected summoning Crowley and a deal when Dean stepped out of the hospital. Also, I don't understand Dick coming there... What for?
The episode itself was very very beautiful. I truly enjoyed Karen, the real woman this time. It was a masterpiece, that's true. But gods, WHY?
Gloria
# Gloria 2011-12-08 21:36
I think the point is that death often doesn't make that much sense. People die, when by all logic, they shouldn't. I don't think the writers are trying to make it 'make sense' or give 'a perfect ending' here. This is after all, only the 10th episode. It's not really supposed to tie in to the bigger picture.
Sharon
# Sharon 2011-12-08 04:01
Thanks for the review Alice.
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2011-12-08 08:07
ALice: Brava!

After the tears, and regret that Bobby isn't more known or honored in the SPN world, one thing struck me:
HEROISM = loving/caring for another

Aside from spectacular acts of bravery and such, I've always thought that people who care for others (in simple ways) are heroes, too, and should be recognized as such.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2011-12-08 08:13
No matter how many reviews I read about this perfect episode, I tear up every time. You put it so eloquently. Whether Bobby lives or dies, this is how you write a send off for a beloved character. I think the last time I was so moved by a fictional character dying was when Buffy's mother died. I remember crying my eyes out on that one. And Bobby's no different. From season 1 he's been there for Sam & Dean, now I'm very worried about how both of them will do.

Thanks again Alice for a most beautiful review.
Bren
# Bren 2011-12-08 08:16
Alice, I'm so glad I ran into your article. A great tribute to my favorite episode. I love your attention to details, Serge is important too!!
Very well - done *claps*
sofia
# sofia 2011-12-08 10:58
Alice,

Loved this. I'm crying at work right now but I don't even care. Jim Beaver was amazing in this episode and you captured his pained expressions perfectly in the screen shots. Thanks!
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-12-08 11:03
Wonderful review Alice. The thought of losing Bobby is upsetting in so many ways for me. A very recent personal loss has made this extremely hard to take.

I certainly won't complain of this episode cheating me if Bobby somehow survives. I can't imagine right now those boys that I love having to carry on without him. It actually hurts thinking about. As someone above stated, this was the worst since Bambi's mother and that traumatized me as a young child.

Can't help babbling on about it, so I just hope he survives. It won't cheapen this episode for me. I need to see a little glimmer of hope for the future in my favourite show.

Loved to see Rufus again. Don't want to see Bobby in the same way, as a spirit. I guess I need Bobby.

The 3 J's were awesomely magnificent in this episode. Everything in it was Emmy worthy, if those awards even mean squat any more.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2011-12-08 14:58
I'm with you on this Bevie. I won't feel cheated at all if Bobby does not die. And I don't think him coming back to the Winchesters will diminish this beautiful episode at all.

I'm sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to watch anything having to do with death when we so recently experienced it. But I'm a firm believer that crying for whatever reason is a great catharsis and helps us through our loss.
Bevie
# Bevie 2011-12-08 20:40
Thank you Sylvie. Been doing a lot of crying lately I'm afraid.

Appreciate your words. :-)
Mer
# Mer 2011-12-08 11:44
I applaud you for being able to write this review, I couldn't do it. It's all I can do to write this comment!

I saw the show I am still crying days later--I can't write or think about the show without the waterworks! I am a very emotional person and I watch this show at my own risk.

Like you, watching Swan Song stings still and now that I saw what other episodes greatly affected you, I started crying about those too! Help!

In fact, when I think of any Supernatural episode, there is at least one part that gets me....
I have to go now....
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-12-08 18:58
There were one or two things that struck me while reading your review, Alice (apart from the fact that it was amazing!). One of those, and perhaps the most painful one of all, is how rarely we got to see Bobby smile in the past six odd years. We saw him throw out sarcastic grins etc but smiles of genuine happiness were few and far between. Bobby has always been weighed down with some responsibility, some memory, some case etc so to see him so openly happy, at such simple memories is, for me, one of the reasons why this episode deserves a very high rating.

Another thing that struck me as I was reading was just how much Bobby actually suffered because of those whom he choose to love. I feel guilty for not considering it before (probably because I was so caught up in how Sam and Dean’s actions affected Sam and Dean and not Bobby) but just as some of Bobby’s happiest moments were when he was with Sam and Dean, would it then not stand true that some of his worst moments would also be in relation to them. While Sam only worried about Dean, and Dean only worried about Sam, Bobby worried about them both. He loved them as sons, therefore the pain of their suffering and sacrifice would have hurt him as much as if he were their biological father. You can’t get the good without the bad (or so my gym instructor keeps telling me).

It’d be very scary to be inside Sam’s head right now because scar pain or no scar pain, he’s got to be confusing hallucination with reality. He believed he had lost everyone while he was in the Pit, now he’s on the verge of losing everyone again. Bobby is (might be) dead and he is, at the moment, both physically and emotionally estranged from Dean. Given that Sam and Dean both deal with grief so differently I don’t know how this situation will unite the brothers. Sam is now in hell both inside his head and in ‘reality’. It would be difficult to know which one he’d prefer at the moment; to ‘know’ he is still be in the Pit and have Bobby’s potential death to be a mere jolly for Lucifer or to know he is topside and have Bobby’s potential death to be real.

We saw that Dean after John’s death, Sam’s death, Castiel’s ‘death’ etc closed himself off. Any sign of grief was quickly covered over with a winning smile and a glib remark. However, we also saw but a mere glimpse of what is simmering in Dean when he was talking to Dick Roman. For Bobby’s (potential) death to be the catalyst for that anger to be wholly unleashed could be devastating for Dean. He already sees himself as a killer with little redeemable qualities. I would be worried that if he does decide to go all Chuck Norris with revenge (I don’t know if this reference applies cos I’ve no idea who Chuck Norris is, sorry) then he will start losing a bit of the purity of soul that we know is there, but Dean doesn’t.

If Bobby is taken away from him then it’s possible he might find himself on the same road that Sam found himself on in season 4, doing things that, if he were in his right mind, he would never consider doing. And y’know, I kinda like who Dean is, I don’t want to see the bits that make him who he is slowly corrode away and leave behind a mere shell of a man.

I think Dean needs to be reminded, as Bobby was, about the extraordinary life he is living. He has done something worthy with his life, and he has changed the lives of others. (I’d rather Dean didn’t hear this from a reaper obviously, but sometimes a bit of validation is nice, regardless of whom it comes from.) Even for Dean to know how great and heroic Bobby thought he turned out would greatly help Dean in his dark hours because very often it’s not what we choose to do that makes us worthy, it’s what we innately do. Bobby might have chosen to not be a father, but at his core that’s what he is (was, is, whatever...). He proved this with Sam and Dean. Dean might not consider himself a hero but at his core that’s who he is because helping others, whether it be strangers, or Sam or Bobby or angels is as natural as breathing to him. That, to me, is a worthy life well lived. Jeez, but that dude needs an awful hug and maybe a motivational badge or something.

Thanks for this, Alice. And look, it’s Thursday night already, almost one week down, three short weeks to go. (See, I can do optimism!)
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-12-08 19:21
Amen to this Tim. All that you wrote about Sam & Dean is why I kind of wish they could have been in Bobby's head for some of this. They would have seen what he went through, and got a clearer picture of just how much he's been loving and supporting them all these years. But also, that you can make a remarkable life out of something ordinary, and that at least one person in the world considered them great men and heroes. What a salve that would be to the wounds in both boys' souls!

Just like you, I don't want the essential goodness of Dean, that survived Hell, to be scraped away here on Earth. Somehow he needs to come to a better opinion of himself. And then he'll be able to help Sam find his way to seeing all his strengths too.

Thanks!

Pragmatic Dreamer :-)
BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2011-12-08 20:10
This episode is definitely on the list of "left me an emotional wreck". I'd have to add Abandon All Hope & All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2 to your list as well, Alice.

I can't add much new to what everyone else has posted, especially Tim & Dreamer. So true, all those thoughts! I too wish the boys could have been privy to Bobby's memories, to actually see what the man had endured in his own youth & how much "his boys" truly meant to him. Although, I think he conveyed that love quite thoroughly to them in that one word "Idgits". That said it all... and made me grab for yet another tissue.

Thanks for a great review, Alice!
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2011-12-09 01:01
Something triggered by what Tim and Dreamer posted:
I don't know if you will agree with me on this, but of all the SPN main characters, Dean is the only one who hasn't truly fallen. (I don't think his Hell time really counted--that was due to Alastair's unspeakable torture. He hadn't gone through what Sam and Cas did--going the wrong route because they thought it would lead to good for all.)
As painful as it is for me, it seems a fantastic route for the SPN writers to take. And may solve the divide between the brothers. A Fallen Dean will lead to a Broken Dean. A Broken Dean may just reach out to the person who loves him most--Sam. (And Bobby, if he's alive, and Cas, if he came back ok.)... I wrote this because, when I really broke, I was forced to reach out to others.
CitizenKane2
# CitizenKane2 2011-12-09 02:33
Alice, Alice ... what have you done ?You've gone and made me all teary.

Wonderful (and creative) review. I think what made "Death's Door" so stellar was not only its emotional depth, but also its highly intelligent and cohesive plot - I like how the episode flows from the main Levithan plot (Bobby trying desperately to pass on important information he leanred about the Levithan's plans to the Winchesters), as well as the highly plausible premise - that to come back from the dead, one has to confront his/her worst memory.

I can recall some previous instances in Supernatural where great emotional depth (and acting) were somewhat marred by what I can only describe as poor plot lines. But in "Death's Door", everyhing seems to come together to deliver a wonderful (and bitter sweet) punch.
subwoofer
# subwoofer 2011-12-09 19:21
Whoot! Well said :-)

My wife was enough of an emotional basket case at the end of this show for both of us. Myself, I just can't picture the show evolving without Bobby. The world isn't flat and Supernatural is more than just Sam and Dean dang it.

So a couple of things. We need to start a "get Jim Beaver an Emmy" campaign and if - heaven forbid- Bobby's really dead, we need to start a "bring Bobby back" campaign. I call it operation "Occupy Hollywood". heh.
yim
# yim 2011-12-11 20:31
Alice - excellent review, as always.

But, aww crap!
I used to really like this episode. I love how SPN's heroes rise up against realistic pain & loss, and shine the brighter for it. Bobby becoming a hero in face of background is so typically SPN.

But…
When I loved this story, I assumed it was metaphorical when child!Bobby kills his father. It happened right when present time Bobby finally yelled at his Dad. I thought that this freed Bobby's inner child to break free via violent imagery. A metaphorical dream of healing from past hurts is drama enough. Bobby didn't need to kill his dad as a kid to be a "hero". I loved this episode until I thought Bobby really murdered his dad.

But…
I find that I'm in the minority. Most think that Bobby really murdered his dad when he was a child. God I hope not. It strains my suspension of disbelief (covering it up, or trying to have a normal life afterward). Also, it brings me closed close to hating Bobby.
I don't think a screwed up drunk father deserves to be murdered. I didn't like Amy killing "bad people", and I don't like Bobby doing it either. I've known abusive fathers to get better. Bobby's father was obviously hard working, and his family had clothes & food on the table. Sometimes, screwed up men really love their families, but don't know how to handle their rage or addiction issues.

Self defense is different.
A stranger unfamiliar with that daily family drama might mistakenly think mother & child are in mortal danger. Then killing the dad is a tragic misunderstanding.
Or, a child might mistakenly think his or his mother's life is in danger.
I'd fan wank this in my head as child!Bobby doing mistaken self-defense.
But no, with Bobby's speech to his younger self, it looks like Bobby says it's acceptable to kill humans who are mean drunks.
Gah! I hate that. Children killing parents should be a subtle exploration of right & wrong, not melodramatic overkill. Now I've got to clear the taste of this out of my mouth. :(
Amara
# Amara 2011-12-13 19:31
I'm not the sort of person who cries at books, movies, or TV shows. This one made me cry. I'm sure I'm not the only person for who this was true, but I had outside circumstances going on in my life that the episode paralleled too well. Literally two hours before I watched this episode, my best friend called me in tears because she found out her mom has leukemia. So Supernatural was going to hit me hard no matter what they threw out...and then they do this. I had to walk around outside for almost an hour just to calm down.

Anyways, like I said I'm sure I'm not the only one who related real world circumstances to this episode...which just shows the power it held. That's a truly great, well done story, a story that the entire audience feels a strong emotional resonance with.

Alice, thanks for stating my feelings with more eloquence than I could ever hope to achieve : )
Talos
# Talos 2012-01-05 12:11
"The Man Who Would Be King"? You're kidding, right? If any television episode deserves first place for Insult to the Intelligence of the Viewing Audience, it's that schlocky, soggy, melodramatic mess.