Quick Take: Supernatural, "Death's Door"
Bobby Singer, this is your life.
Review: Supernatural, "Death's Door"
(S0710) Okay, I need to come clean about something. I was one of those haters that went into this episode going “BAWWW YOU CAN’T HAVE A BOBBY-CENTRIC EPISODE LEADING INTO HOLIDAY HIATUS.”
It’s not that I don’t love Bobby, because I do. And Jim Beaver is the man, I tell you, the man.
I just, you know... I have needs. One of those needs is Jared Padalecki on my television as often as possible because I’m shallow and I want to French braid his hair. I don’t even know how to French braid, but I’d learn if the opportunity presented itself.
But from the jump, “Death’s Door” is utter perfection that allows me to begin the process of forgiving the powers that be for the slew of crap that that plagued a good chunk of the season after “Hello, Cruel World.”
Picking up immediately where “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” ends, Sam and Dean rush a grievously wounded Bobby to the hospital, where he slips into a coma and doctors warn the Winchesters that his odds for survival are practically non-existent.
While the brothers hover and angst out in the waking world, Bobby is trapped in his own mind where his life is, quite literally, flashing before his eyes. He immediately has suspicions about what’s going on, and the sudden presence of a cranky, pocket-watch toting reaper confirms those suspicions. “Something bad is about to happen.” he theorizes, “Or something bad happened already.”
Both, actually. Bobby finds that he can interact with the memories that he stumbles through, and eventually meets up with a memory of Rufus after the hunter survived his own near-death experience. I love the fact that as a bunch of guys who tangle with crazy supernatural stuff on a daily basis, a near-death experience isn’t so much a life-changing phenomenon as it’s just another day at the office for them. Bobby picks Rufus’ brain for the answers to outsmarting the reaper and learns that the way out is through his worst memory.
For a guy like Bobby, that leaves a pretty wide selection to choose from, but I’m guessing it’s going to have something to do with that adolescent boy who keeps randomly popping up in memories that he doesn’t belong, warning Bobby in their very first encounter, “God is gonna punish you.”
From here, it’s a race through what Bobby’s reaper fondly refers to as a “gin-soaked rat maze” of good and bad memories: we see Bobby and a pre-teen Dean playing catch in a park, we see Bobby devastating his late wife with his refusal to have children, an argument that takes place a mere three days before he is forced to stab her to death during the demonic encounter that turns him into a hunter.
Time is running out as Bobby’s condition deteriorates in the hospital. The bullet still lodged in his brain is killing brain tissue, wiping out memories, and the representation of that physical dilemma in Bobby’s mind is delightfully clever, with the stars in the sky winking out, well-read books opening to blank pages, drawers and closets emptying themselves of contents in the blink of an eye.
But through it all, there’s one constant: that creepy kid, whom Bobby gradually comes to recognize as himself. Supernatural has had characters interact with their younger selves before, Sam’s conversation with his eleven-year-old self in season four’s “When the Levee Breaks” is heartbreaking, and so is Bobby’s interaction with himself in “Death’s Door.” Apparently, this is just one of those things that the show does well and with that in mind, I’d love to see Dean get the same treatment at some point. I bet that conversation would be a doozy.
It turns out that Bobby’s worst memory is from his childhood, an event that comes to define him more than the death of his wife, more than any hunt: the night Bobby shoots and kills his abusive, alcoholic father as he gears up to beat his mother after Bobby spills a glass of milk at the dinner table.
As his father hits the ground with a bullet through the brain, Bobby’s mother tells him, “God is gonna punish you.”
Bobby tells his stricken adolescent self, “This is where you learn that they pretty much never say thanks when you save them.”
Having faced his horrific past, Bobby comes to in the hospital just long enough to write a string of seemingly random numbers on Sam’s palm. Another theme running beside Bobby’s trip down memory lane is the importance of those numbers regarding the Leviathan. He insists that he has to let Sam and Dean know about them, implies that they are the key to defeating the seemingly undefeatable monsters...but having exhausted his physical body in effort to relay the numbers to “his” boys, Bobby is unable to explain their meaning before slipping back into his ruined mind.
Back in his headspace, the reaper explains that everything is gone now, every single memory in his mind has been destroyed, except for this last one. He implores Bobby to come with him, that he's a good man, that he deserves to rest; and as Bobby's final good memory fades: Sam and Dean bickering on his sofa about whether or not licorice is gross (it’s gross, Dean, listen to your brother), Bobby seemingly finally dies.
And that’s our big cliffhanger going into the winter hiatus, kids. We won’t know whether Bobby is truly dead until January 6th, although I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he will somehow be miraculously saved. Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Jared Padalecki’s hair are immensely talented and an absolute pleasure to watch week in and week out, but if Bobby bites it, Supernatural will effectively no longer have a supporting cast and that’s just silly.
Then again, the implied storyline of Sam and Dean searching for the meaning to those seemingly meaningless numbers sounds like it could have potential. And the loss of Bobby and all of the deus ex machina he tends to bring at times fits perfectly with season seven’s theme of destroying Dean and Sam’s hunting resources: no Castiel, no credit cards, no extensive library of rare books, no Impala...no Bobby?
Pass the gin, this is going to be a long hiatus.