Page 1 of 3
Everything in Supernatural has a consequence. At the end of "Death's Door," we were left to wonder Bobby's choice. At the end of "Party on Garth," we saw that he had chosen to stay. In "Of Grave Importance, we---and Bobby---learn what those consequences might be.
The boys receive a call from a fellow hunter named Annie. She expresses her condolences, but also mentions that she has a few of Bobby's books. She sets up an exchange, and they decide to meet. Unfortunately, she doesn't make it to that rendezvous. Annie is working a job, and in the process, ends up getting herself killed. Sam and Dean are left in the lurch, worrying that something might have happened to her.
They head to the site they know she had been working her job at, and set out to investigate. Unknown to them---as he has been for some time---Bobby is also tagging along. He runs into Annie's spirit, confirming the fears that the Winchesters already have. Upon return to the hotel to start piecing the case together, Bobby desperately tries to communicate. He writes in a mirror that Annie is trapped in the house---and Dean is stunned. Once Sam enters the room, Bobby writes his name to confirm to them that it is indeed him.
Once they return to the house, Bobby in tow connected to the flask, he and Annie try to work the case from their side. They also desire a way to reach out to Sam and Dean, and so they watch another spirit---Haskel Crane---easily manage to move a chair and sit down at the bar. He scoffs at them for being novices---and forewarns both of their future as spirits.
Crane tells them there are two ways to move objects---through calm or through extreme anger. Most spirits on Supernatural favor the latter---bringing hunters to vanquish them often. As a spirit gives into that anger to move objects, it changes them, and as they stand talking to him, another spirit flies at them in a powerful rage. She screams and speeds at them. Her expression is marked by vast fury. Whatever semblance of sanity she may have had has long gone. The spirit explains that this house has numerous spirits---and that spirits decay at different rates. Some become vengeful quicker. Others turn more zombie like---as the other spirit they see stands still and vacantly staring, the flesh on its spectral face rotting away.
No matter what, much like a star burning through its fuel, this is the fate of all trapped spirits on the Earthly plane.
Someday Bobby, too, will have to face these consequences. His choice is rife with good intentions---but as good intentions often go on Supernatural, they always seem to bite one in the behind. Sam learned the hard way in his pursuit of Lilith. Castiel faced the same fate upon releasing the Leviathan from Purgatory. Now Bobby must deal with the consequences of his good intentions.
Yet, despite this dire future prediction, there is a layer of hope. Dean expresses his fears to Sam, stating, "It's not the natural order," and while it isn't, Bobby has so far beaten the odds against him. He doesn't seem trapped in any death echoes. He's not fixated on someone who had done him wrong---only to turn that outward on all that resemble in any way his killer. Certainly, Bobby wants to destroy Dick Roman, but so far it seems that his goal is more to stop a monster instead of avenging his own death. Most importantly, Bobby's fixation is that on helping his boys---something he did in life.
His boys. That's the only reason Bobby chose to stay at all. Annie even reminds him of it when she states, "You have the boys," after she expresses her desire to be put to rest. They were the last thing he saw in "Death's Door," and they are the reason he still remains with them on earth. His reaper told him that he had done enough---but Bobby feels that there is too much unfinished business for him to simply move on. He doesn't want to leave his boys behind to deal with this alone---and it is that love that shines through this episode beautifully.
Even while spectral, Bobby does all he can to guide and support Sam and Dean. He wants them to have all the clues they need---but he needs a way to give them to them. He wants to be a part of this fight---as much as he's always wanted to be a part of this fight. Being left behind by his boys is not something he desires. We've seen it time and time again throughout the series. When Dean tries to leave Bobby behind to go after Lilith before his deal is due, Bobby quips, "Do I look like a ditchable prom date to you?"
Bobby wants, more than anything, for Sam and Dean to know that they are not alone in this fight. Be it Azazel, Lilith, Lucifer---or now Dick Roman, Bobby won't abandon them. This could be in part due to his witnessing John doing much the same to the boys---or it could be connected to his guilt for not giving Karen children. He is determined to aid them, to guide them, and to support them in any capacity that he can provide. As a spirit, that directive has not changed---and that is a good thing.
Certainly, Bobby will have to let go---if he's not returned to the living of course---and move on. Sam and Dean will not live forever, and when they die for good, Bobby could potentially be left behind to morph into any of the vengeful spirits he encountered in the house.
It is obvious that they are still grieving, and the fact that Bobby can't seem to reach them frustrates him almost as much as it breaks his heart to see them hurt so. We can see how it pains him to see their anguish over him in the sad expression on his face in the back seat.
And now I am reminded of the mom grieving her son who was haunting her when Sam and Dean went to find the missing reapers. Her grieving didn't lift until her son had moved on and she felt it. How are Sam and Dean ever going to fully move on with Bobby noticeably there? Hate to say it, but if they aren't going to bring him back to life somehow, then he has to move on. At the very least, fight the Leviathan with the guys then he HAS to go. It's best for all.
I do think a large part of grieving on both brother's parts---and on Bobby's---is due to his decision to stay.
I'm not sure where they plan to go with this. I like the notion that Bobby might buck the trend of confused dead person out for vengeance to destroy any living being in their path, though. And now that the boys can communicate with him, it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.
I don't know that they'll leave him permanently dead, either. But I agree, to a point, that if he lingers too long it will hurt them all.
Love is the biggest thing that stuck out to me in this one. And as I dug deeper into the episode, I realized more than anything it was more about Bobby and his relationship to the boys than anything else. To me, that makes a great episode right there.
You had an interesting take on this episode, what with it showing the love between the three and family. I didn't take that as the main message, as valid as it is. I took it more to mean that Bobby had made the wrong decision, and the narrative of the one helper ghost, Annie's narrative , Sam's optimism and Dean's pessimism supports that.
We'll see. Interesting review.
Interesting that Sam and Dean did reverse roles here on that. Up until Sam saw the mirror message, it almost seemed he was trying to coax Dean into letting Bobby go---after they see him again he tries to breathe hope into the situation.
I'm not sure if Bobby made the wrong choice. I think Dean feels that way right now, but I think that hearkens back to his not going with Tessa than Bobby's actual decision. He knows that those who cheat death only end up facing death and pain, as he has first hand.
I do agree with you that the show can really go either way here, and that's something I like about it. I don't know where it'll end up so I'm engaged in the narrative.
I'd like to believe in Sam's hope, but I am cautious with Dean's realism/pessimi sm about Bobby's decision.
While Jim Beaver is a great guy and has played an endearing character for viewers for so long, I think I'm going to lose all credibility in the character if he somehow manages to overcome everything we know about ghosts and hangs around.
Perhaps there will be some magical resurrection and he'll be back as good ole' Bobby. There again, I'm going to feel like Dean's whole story this season was a waste and that Dean was used as a tool to tell Bobby's story.
I'm sure the writers have something planned that may make sense whichever way they go...well, I say I'm sure. They have been pretty bad in the planning and plotting this season.
It is an interesting dilemna. We'll see.
I think it's a story that Dean has been dealing with since "In My Time of Dying," more or less. He should be dead, isn't, and has had to live with the consequences of living outside the natural order all this time. Dean, before Azazel possessed Tessa, had decided to move on, and I think if he could go back, he would have made sure he could have followed through. Bobby's choice might make him question that decision later.
I think that is really his story and something he may never truly find the complete answer for. To me, that's moving. He is struggling as he watches Bobby make this choice to stay, knowing that it could potentially trap his father figure in a future where he is reduced to an angry and vicious spirit---someth ing he could have become had he chosen to stay prior to the deal.
I am not sure where they're going with the Bobby storyline just yet. I wasn't sure where they were going with it after "Death's Door," regardless of speculation. I found it to progress in a surprising direction, and I am intrigued to see where they take us with it, really.
I think what really worked for me here is the "In My Time of Dying" subtext. I am finding a new and deeper layer in this episode in hindsight when I filter it through that, and that gives so much more substance to Dean's overall story here.
I love reading your reviews, FarAwayEyes, as they are so thoughtful and insightful. You really seem to peel back the surface layers to get to what's beneath. You always seem to give me some new perspective to think about - such as the love/family angle going on here. I recognized it on the surface, but watching the episode again there really is a lot unspoken, which speaks to the talents of the actors.
I'm still torn about Bobby's ghost and what it all means...but I can't tell you how comforting it was to see him on my screen again. Gosh I'd missed Bobby's ornery tone. But I also can't help but wonder what they'll do with him now. Ginger brings up a good point about Tessa telling Dean that if he chooses to stay then that's it, he's stuck for good...and I realize now that it makes Dean's anger all the more realistic for the character. I mean, I understood his anger before but for some reason I'd forgotten that Dean had dealt with a Reaper who wanted to take him, legitimately. (How I forgot when In My Time of Dying is pretty much my very fav episode is beyond me!)
I desperately want Bobby around, but not as a ghost and I'm not sure that bringing him back to life by some magical means is necessarily best either (for the show, and for the credibility of the stakes of hunting). I love the character Bobby almost as much as I love Sam and Dean...I'm so torn!
Upon first watch this episode, to me, didn't seem to have much story to tell - but after several views now there really is a lot going on and I think for that reason it'll rank up there as one of my favorites from season 7.
I usually go into an episode completely clean as possible and let what jumps out to me become the centerpiece of whatever review I take on it. This time, I picked up on the love and connections these characters all have. It is truly why I stick around more than anything else, as cool as monsters and demons and such can be. I'm a genre girl, so you can hook me with the cool monsters, but you better have substance to keep my attention!
I am not sure what the writers will do with Bobby now. I think it's going to be interesting to see if they choose to bring him back to full life or if they will send him out after they've conquered the big bad in Roman. As long as it seems true to the characters and the show, I will be pleased. I do hope they find a way to bring Bobby back, as I truly enjoy seeing Jim Beaver in the narrative and find that his presence brings an extra layer to the story.
I agree that Dean's anger makes a lot of sense in terms of the events of "In My Time of Dying." He has spent all of his time since dealing with the fact that he should, by all rights, be dead but isn't. To see a loved one make the same mistake, this time possibly being stuck for good until a Hunter comes along must frighten and hurt him.
I don't know that I want Bobby to magically be able to overcome all the troubles ghosts encounter that we've seen throughout the show, but at the same time I think it might make for interesting story to see him struggle through it, even if he has to finally make that ultimate decision to let go in the end.
I agree that on the surface this episode played well as a standard MOTW so to speak, but the more I watched and dug into the dialogue and subtexts the more I realized this was a family love story being told. For me, it'll put it high on my Season 7 list, too.
Yeah, after having my revelation regarding In My Time of Dying today, I am anxious to rewatch the episode once more so I can see it in a new way.
I'm really amazed at how deep this episode is the more I see discussion blossom here in my review responses, and how connected it truly is to "In My Time of Dying." I picked up on some quotes and moments that reflected back, but truly, there's a lot more than that going on here. Which is cool.
Lovely review. And I totally agree with you. This episode is all about love, and family - the heartbeat of Supernatural.
I have a couple of observations, in no particular order. I did find it interesting that Sam moved so quickly from "Bobby is dead. He's pushing up the daisies. He can't be a ghost" to "Maybe we could make it work".
He had been fighting the idea so long, even as Dean tried to suggest Bobby was hanging around. I know why Sam did it. He was clinging to his sanity by his fingertips. He didn't want to deal with the pain & grief of Bobby's death AND the possibility he might be hanging around as a ghost who might become a vengeful spirit the boys would have to kill. I can respect his need to protect himself emotionally. That's why I was a smidge surprised that just seeing Bobby could make all those concerns melt away.
That's why I would have appreciated just a little hesitation, before Sam suggested maybe they could make it work. Even just a line that acknowledges Dean's concerns about Team Free Will going against the natural order once again would have emphasized his decision and his desire to be hopeful about Bobby's current state of being.
Speaking of Dean, I really liked the character growth shown here. He has been told many times about the dangers, for all involved, of messing with the natural order. It looks like he may be starting to listen.
That's why I don't think Dean was employing a double standard. I think he's worried now anytime, anyone - Winchester or Singer - chooses to go outside the natural order. Did he use supernatural ways to save people in the past? Yes. Might he again? Probably. But he'll go in with his eyes open, fully aware of the cost (which is why he's so conflicted by Bobby's choice)
I'm not surprised Dean moved from wanting or even hoping Bobby was a ghost to being worried that he actually was. As many others have pointed out, wishing for something and then having it come true are two totally different things.
Like you, I firmly believe that Dean was ready to go with Tessa, and if he could roll back time he would. In fact, I would go back further. Knowing what he knows now I think he might even reject the idea of being saved by Roy LeGrange. (Think of how differently things might have turned out if Dean had died of that damaged heart.. )
I never saw Dean as being angry that Bobby chose to say "I'll stay" to his Reaper. I think he was just sad and worried for him. He loves Bobby and doesn't want him to be in pain, especially after death when he should be getting the peace he so deserves.
I also saw echoes of In My Time of Dying, but also All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2. Dean's mournful questioning of Bobby's decision to stay, was like Bobby's exasperated questioning of Dean's decision to sell his soul to save Sam. Both were reminding the other that their choices had the potential to save their loved ones, but also cause them tremendous guilt, and concern.
I'm really not sure how I want them to resolve Bobby's character. I adore him as a character, and I think this season has really shown the need for, and the richness created by secondary characters. But I don't think I want him to stay a ghost, and be some kind of SuperSpirit that is able to resist all forces and stay sane forever. (I wasn't a fan of how TPTB created a SuperSam who could withstand 2 centuries of Hell in the Cage, and then months of mental torture topside. I think they went overboard.)
Bobby as a SuperSpirit (all alcohol-related puns are totally appropriate here) is just unbelievable. But who am I kidding.. How much of this show is real anyway? Except, as you so astutely pointed out, the love is real. Definitely real.
I think they need to find a way to gracefully tie up his story. He helps the boys defeat the Leviathan and then winks out as they torch the flask. Although I don't even want them to torch the flask. I want them to be able to keep something tangible of Bobby, not just memories and books.
I have theories - maybe Death will return and somehow reanimate Bobby? Maybe God will get a cameo and resurrect Bobby? Maybe Bobby and Castiel will exchange souls or essences, and we'll have the Archangel Robert and Castiel's Clunker shop.
I apologize. I think I might have officially moved into rambling territory. I find this episode gave me much to ponder.
I think Dean is frightened about what will become of Bobby certainly. I understand clearly why Bobby did what he did, but I also know he can't stay as he is forever, either.
I have to agree with your assessment of Sam's reactions, too. I like that he was gentle with Dean trying to coax him into letting go, and I think you're right that this has something to do with his own grip on sanity. I also like the hope he expressed, but a stronger bridge on that might have been a bit better. I do think that I find it a bit easier to take because of Sam's history with gray areas, though. He's never had issue with siding with the supernatural--e specially when that can help someone he loves. At those times, it almost becomes like a blinder, like it's okay for him and his loved ones to break the rules, damn the consequences, you know?
Dean absolutely was ready to die in "Faith," and I think if he could go back, you're right. He'd not have allowed for the "healing" no matter what Sam did or said. He's been struggling with that every since. What happened in "In My Time of Dying" simply compounded the problem, and it really isn't until he hits "Appointment in Samara" that he truly sees the impact not on just himself and the immediate circle, but the world and innocents at large.
I like the thought you have about Death possibly being a player on the board here. It'd tie in with Bobby's comment to Rufus about not wanting his Reaper's "boss" to get involved. Perhaps he might, but I think Death would need a big reason to resurrect Bobby in any form. It's not something he'd do simply out of the goodness of his heart by any means.
All in all, I find that this episode worked on many levels for me because it showed us how strong love is on this show---and it gives me plenty of food for thought about many issues ranging from life, death, and natural order just to name a few. I can't really ask for more from an episode than that.
Feel free to ramble anytime!
As for Castiel, he could be the next Leader of the Army of God, now that he knows what it's like to be angel, human, and the pros and cons of free will. He'll be a compassionate angelic leader.
Dean & Sam: Despite the consequences of breaking the natural order of things, perhaps they were really meant to. If they hadn't, the Apocalypse might have happened as well as a lot of people not saved from supernatural evil.
The more I'm reading up on this episode, the more I am liking it.
I absolutely agree that Bobby must be handled carefully. I do like how they're handling it thus far.