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When you strip everything else away, this week’s episode of Supernatural was pretty straightforward – was this the final hurrah for Bobby Singer? No matter how it unfolded, “Death’s Door” had the singular task of either shuffling Bobby off this mortal coil or bringing him back into the fold for one more round with Sam and Dean. As I flashed back to the last time the Winchester men – John included – were at a hospital together, I was reminded of how the ending was heartbreaking and served as a turning point for the whole series. I expected the same kind of clarity with Bobby’s life on the line but sadly “Death’s Door” ended on an ambiguous note meant only to stretch a cliffhanger over not one – but two – episodes. Arguments can be made either way about what the ending “implied” but none of us truly know the answer to the question “did Bobby die?” Let’s discuss the rest of the episode and then come back and talk about this questionable ending.
It’s kind of like Inception with a Supernatural twist.
The setup for this episode was amazing. Throughout the series we’ve seen bits and pieces of Bobby’s backstory but the history lesson hasn’t gone much further back then when he was forced to kill his possessed wife. Seeing Bobby as a kid and even watching adult Bobby play catch with Dean were priceless moments that really added depth underneath Bobby’s tough exterior. I was riveted the entire time and Bobby’s line about “adopting two boys who grew up to be heroes” had me tearing up. This was undoubtedly some of the most emotional material Supernatural has ever dealt with and it really worked because despite all his grumbling and name-calling, Bobby’s love for Sam and Dean is unwavering. The slightly clichéd nature of what actually happened – Bobby “took a bullet” for his loved ones and had his “life flash before his eyes” – thankfully paid huge dividends.
Because of how the episode was structured, I truly felt I was watching Bobby’s swan song. Whether the showrunners were revealing Bobby’s past to make his death even more gut-wrenching or because they wouldn’t have another chance to cough up his valuable backstory, it just felt like everything was leading toward Bobby letting go once his mission was complete. Then again, Bobby’s a stubborn SOB, more so than either of the Winchesters. Even after he completed his mission – which involved giving Sam and Dean numbers from the Leviathan intel he stole – there was no guarantee that he would go quietly with the reaper sent to collect him. The reason I thought he might actually “go into the light” was because he was aware from the beginning of how grim his situation was in the waking world. Add in the fact that reapers have been depicted as straightforward and honest and Bobby could see the writing on the wall. There was no coming back from this and no place to run. His time had come.
You’re never really dead on this show.
Part of what made “Death’s Door” so successful was the inclusion of Rufus, Bobby’s old hunting partner who was killed in rather lame fashion last season. I’ve really missed having Rufus on the show because he gave Bobby someone to interact and talk with who was his own age. Being a hunter means a lot of your friends are probably dead, so the fact that Bobby had someone as crusty and cantankerous as him still around was a gift I felt the show never fully explored. The banter in “Death’s Door” between the two old hunters was spot on and deftly mixed humor with heavier material. Despite the limited time we spent with Rufus, he felt like the right person to be there with Bobby during his near-death experience. Bobby said it best: “I need my partner on this one.” I’ve really hope we see Rufus again.
If you can’t make a decision, just flip a coin.
I’ll go ahead and say it: that cliffhanger was a total cop-out. To leave that big of a question unanswered until January does the viewer a disservice and also robs a great episode of the payoff it deserved. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who shouted “Come on!” at my TV when the credits rolled. Yes, it seems rather obvious that Bobby is dead. He was flat lining, his memories were gone (I was fighting back tears again in that final scene with Sam and Dean) and his mission had been accomplished. Yes, it would be a fitting end for Bobby to be his same defiant self to the bitter end. Yes, the ticking clock coming to an end implied that Bobby’s life had run out. But what frustrates me is that the writers missed a chance to give Bobby the peace of mind he deserves after the life he lived. Even the reaper said Bobby had earned it.
“I’m going.” Those two little words could’ve told us so many things: that Bobby knew the boys would survive without him because he’d raised them right, that he had lived a life he could leave without fear of what would come next, and that he had faith Sam and Dean could take down the Leviathans. Yet we didn’t get those two little words because the showrunners think we’d rather have a month-long cliffhanger than resolution for one of the show’s greatest characters. Needless to say, they’re wrong. All the best cliffhangers in the show’s history – Sam dying before the season 2 finale, Dean getting ripped to shreds and sent to Hell, Lucifer being unleashed – succeeded because they gave us clarity before leaving us hanging. I loved this episode but disliked the ending. Am I the only one who feels this way?
Line of the week
Bobby: “This is where you learned that they pretty much never say thanks when you save them.”
Next week on Supernatural
We’ll have to wait a whole month to see if Bobby truly is gone. Let the countdown begin!