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The episode had a serious flavor with a sweet undertone. Questions about life, death, afterlife, and the natural order of things percolated throughout its fabric, but what makes Supernatural stand out time and time again from the pack of other genre shows is the heart that beats soundly at its center. The ghost hunt that took place on the surface only gave the real story underneath: that of love.

Bobby loves his boys---and they in turn love him. Its tangible in the fabric of the scenes they share together---and those they don't. Bobby hated being left behind in the motel room, until Dean remembered his jacket holding the flask. The love here flows both ways. Sam even expressed an almost relief when he realized that the reason his spirit board hadn't worked is because he had done that without Dean---and the flask. The living and the dead missed each other here, all the while being together all along.

Really, when it comes down to it, this show is more about love than it is about monsters or demons or angels. It is more about the human connections we possess with our families---and as Bobby famously stated, "Family don't end in blood, boy." Each person in their close family is connected to them deeply, and Bobby is closer to Sam and Dean than anyone else. "Of Grave Importance" proved this again and again, showing it in little actions from Bobby writing on the mirror to his affectionate "Idjits" when the boys took a bit longer to figure out a clue.

Love is the thread that ties them together---and it is that love that will keep Bobby sane.

The episode also harkened back to "In My Time of Dying," several times. We see it in Dean echoing Bobby's spirit. While at the hotel, Bobby tells the boys, "Let's get rolling," and Dean says a second later, "I say we get rolling." It comes again after Bobby writes on the mirror when he says that they need to get back to the house and Dean echoes the same sentiment a moment later. It's not unlike when Sam mirrored Dean's statement about "finding a hoodoo priest and laying some mojo" on him in that earlier episode. Sam admitting to attempting to contact Bobby through a talking board also brings back the scene in that episode where he used an Ouija board to do the same with Dean, a spirit at the time.

Antonio Cupo played a sinister but suave Whitman Van Ness. He seemed to be the good ghost admonishing the bad ghost when he shouted at Dexter, but as it was revealed that he was truly the villain here, all of that fell away. Cupo showed Van Ness's relish in destroying those that threatened his secret. As he would attack another spirit---or the living---a wicked smile would cross his lips to make his actions that much creepier. Cupo showed Van Ness's cunning in slipping the key into Sam's pocket and the glee upon seeing Bobby and Annie trapped in the house as he rode away. His smiles were chilling and cold, amping up the effect. When he is snapped back to the house by the boys, his anger is in his face and it is a frightening moment when he shouts, "Is this how you repay my hospitality!"


Elysia Rotaru played a convincing Victoria Dodd. Her "fancy lady," stayed trapped in the time period from which she died. Rotaru kept the mannerisms in place well, showing distaste at the word "hooker" and stating calmly that in her day they partook in "polite conversation." Rotaru made Victoria sympathetic. She also showed how accepting she was of her fate---and how even in death she valued her survival, even if she lost it in her desire to gain freedom.


Jamie Luner played Annie with a tough as nails and sophisticated flair. It's a shame Annie met her end so soon. Her no-nonsense air and can-do attitude made her instantly likeable. One couldn't help but feel sad for her when she came across her own corpse and realized that it was true. A look of sorrow crosses Luner's face, drawing the viewer instantly in to her pain. Luner knew how to make Annie shoot straight from the hip. She played off well against Jim Beaver's Bobby as their chemistry belied the friendship---and more---these two characters had in life. Annie also showed acceptance, and Luner provided that in facial expressions and soft vocal tones alone.

Jensen Ackles showed a grieving Dean well. He has been reeling since "Death's Door." Ackles shows it in the way Dean handles the flask. It is with a strange reverence and love in the action. He also shows Dean's struggles with Bobby haunting him. Convinced by Sam, Dean feels that it is mind tricks and nothing more. He believes this until Bobby writes the message. Ackles has Dean switch gears, then, almost enthusiastically following the clues his father figure has provided. After the case, we see Dean's grief flare into a different light when he expresses his concern for Bobby's future. His voice grows soft as he talks to Sam, and Ackles makes it vulnerable. We also sense an uncertainty from Dean in that last scene. Sam's hopeful question plants the seed of doubt and nags at him. And yet, he can't accept the hope with the final line of "It can't end well." Something says that Bobby may just accept that challenge and prove him wrong.

The gentle and hopeful side of Sam emerged in Jared Padalecki's performance. It came in facial expressions and tone of voice. As the brothers debated about Bobby's possible presence, it is Sam that gently tries to coax Dean into the long process of letting go. He urges that Dean put the flask aside, that it is only causing Dean pain. Padalecki makes sure that Sam comes off as soft spoken and unobtrusive on Dean's grief, yet full of concern. He expresses hope, even if he knows the truth before they learn it, about Annie. Padalecki's performance is subtle. He makes each line land with impact. He also provides one of the comedic moments as he reveals that he and Annie had "gone Hemingway" while he hadn't had a soul. Padalecki makes it come alive with an uncomfortable facial expression and awkward tone.


Jim Beaver shined in this episode. He showed all of Bobby's feelings effortlessly, with simple vocal cues and body language. We saw his frustration when Sam and Dean didn't respond. Familiar catch phrases that are dear to the fans rolled off his tongue with ease. Beaver makes Bobby real. As the episode progressed, we saw Bobby's doubts about his choice, only to be refuted by his firm statements that he had to help Sam and Dean. Beaver demonstrated Bobby's tenacity and drive. Even in death, Bobby couldn't "quit the life." Beaver also showed Bobby's love for Sam and Dean in simple gestures. Upon realizing that the vengeful spirit had slipped its keys into Sam's pocket, therefore tagging along, while his flask was left behind, Beaver shows Bobby's anxiety. He isn't concerned for himself---it is his boys that he worries about. More than anything, Beaver takes a gruff character and makes his inner truth shine through brightly.

Looks like next week the Winchesters will make a stab a playing match maker for none other than Dick Roman!

Comments  

digyd
# digyd 2012-04-23 16:12
You know, I was on the fence about Bobby staying or going, mostly not caring which way the writers chose to go. But then you wrote:

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.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 16:37
That's an interesting point.

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.
KELLY
# KELLY 2012-04-23 16:18
Loved the review! It was a wonderful character study, which are definitely my favorite kind of review (and shows).
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 16:38
Thanks. I'm glad you liked my take on the episode.

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.
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-04-23 17:53
It was interesting in Death's Door that Dean was in the viewer role of unwilling to accept that Bobby would die, and Sam was used to prepare the audience for Bobby dying. Those roles were reversed in this episode. Sam is giving the audience hope that Bobby will live either as a ghost or be resurrected, and Dean is the one saying that no good thing can come from this. Leaves it open for the show to take it either way.

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.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 18:37
I'm glad you liked the 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.
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-04-23 20:11
Quote:
I'm not sure if Bobby made the wrong choice...I do agree with you that the show can really go either way here...I'd like to believe in Sam's hope, but I am cautious with Dean's realism/pessimism about Bobby's decision.
I have very mixed feelings about this. Tess told Dean if he didn't go, there were no second chances, that he would end up being the very thing he hunted. Death told Dean about the natural order of things -- that everything had an ending. Annie told Bobby he knew better. The ghost told and showed Bobby what would happen. Throughout the history of the show, the audience has been told that ghosts turn vengeful.

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.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 21:54
I don't know that I agree that this would be a waste of Dean's story.

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.
Michelle Kinseth
# Michelle Kinseth 2012-04-23 20:57
Quote:
Really, when it comes down to it, this show is more about love than it is about monsters or demons or angels. It is more about the human connections we possess with our families---and as Bobby famously stated, “Family don't end in blood, boy.” Each person in their close family is connected to them deeply, and Bobby is closer to Sam and Dean than anyone else. “Of Grave Importance” proved this again and again, showing it in little actions from Bobby writing on the mirror to his affectionate “Idjits” when the boys took a bit longer to figure out a clue. Love is the thread that ties them together---and it is that love that will keep Bobby sane.
And this stuff is precisely what keeps me watching week to week. I could care less about the monsters/demons /ghosts/etc...I am caught up in the plight of these two brothers, their familial love, and those around them like Bobby. Of course it helps when the monsters/ghosts /etc can work with the emotional conflicts of the characters because that makes the weekly story-telling much richer - and I think that happened this week.

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.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 21:45
I'm glad you liked my take on this episode.

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.
Michelle Kinseth
# Michelle Kinseth 2012-04-23 23:26
Quote:

I'm a genre girl, so you can hook me with the cool monsters, but you better have substance to keep my attention!
I guess I spoke unfairly, cause I can get hooked by this stuff too - the there's character and as you said, substance, to keep my attention!

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.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 23:52
No, no. I work in a store and I check in a lot of genre stuff sometimes and I shake my head because a lot of it is flash and no heart. So yeah, I need something real inside that magic or sci fi or whatever to make me stick around.

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.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2012-04-23 23:23
Hi Farawayeyes,

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.

Thanks!

Pragmatic Dreamer
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-23 23:38
I'm glad my review helped provide a lot of food for thought here.

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!
FMJemena
# FMJemena 2012-04-28 06:49
I'll definitely go with God turning Bobby into an Archangel--some one in charge of dangerous supernatural weapons like the Staff of Moses.

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.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2012-04-24 15:23
I do so enjoy your reviews, Far Away Eyes. I love that you brought up the love that Bobby has for "his boys" and the love they have for him. I'm kind of glad Bobby is still around, but oh so frightened as to what will become of him. I don't think he can remain a ghost on the show, that would change the spin IMO. As SweetonDean said in her review, I don't think anyone wants this to turn into "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir". I would like for him to become corporeal, but it will need to be done very delicately.

The more I'm reading up on this episode, the more I am liking it.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2012-04-24 16:30
Thank you. I'm glad you like my takes on the episodes. I find that they enrich my viewing to write them.

I absolutely agree that Bobby must be handled carefully. I do like how they're handling it thus far.