I hope those of you who read this Ramble are still out there a few days after the fact because this is an episode that requires discussion. Or reaction, at least. Don’t leave me alone out here, guys!
Before I get into the specifics of the episode, I wanted to share a few impressions. And because I’m watching this well after the fact, and have just finished a rather life-changing experience, I may wax a bit personal/philosophical throughout this. Fair warning. Also? I was a tad bit spoiled for this by Twitter – not specifics, but more impressions. I was prepared for tears and for a Really. Long. Hiatus. I haven’t read anyone’s thoughts, reactions, etc., so I apologize in advance if I end up walking down a well-worn road.
Overall, I thought this episode was a collection of amazing performances from all three men – Jensen, Jared, and Jim; very realistic reactions to grief and trauma as well as fantastic editing and pacing of a life flashing before one’s eyes. I loved how the scenes in Bobby’s mind shifted from moment to moment without warning or connection; that effect really drew me in and had me invested in each moment, each memory.
Two personal experience were triggered as I watched the boys be hit by these events, which I’ll get to as I work through the recap part of this, but the overall effect of this stuff had me rubbing my heart for Bobby – the life he lived, the memories he jumped to, the way he loved our boys, the hero he was – and for our boys because he was definitely a father figure to them when they needed one most. And I say was because – and I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this – unless the entire show hits a ‘reset’ button and everyone gets another chance at a peaceful life, I think I know what I want Bobby’s answer to the Reaper to be.
I love this character. Partly because I adore Jim Beaver as the self he is, and partly because of who Bobby’s been to the boys. I said last week that losing Bobby would devastate Dean. That he wouldn’t be able to take it. And that might still be true. It’s hard to wrap my mind around their lives without Bobby in it. Dean’s voicemail haunts me, and the way he just seems more relaxed when Bobby’s around. I think about how he was after John died, when he lost his general, his leader, when his compass was spinning. I think of how he pleaded his case to Bobby on the dreamscape and how he named the ShifterBaby after Bobby. I think of Dean’s grief and my heart just breaks.
But then, as I was watching the episode, I thought of James Malone from The Untouchables and his parting line to Elliott Ness, “What are you prepared to do?” His murder galvanized Ness into action he didn’t previously believe himself to be capable of. It gave him the fire in his belly that he needed to keep swinging and hit hard. It motivated him to do what had to be done to get the bad guy, once and for all.
Sure, I know the Leviathans are a bit more complicated than Al Capone, but the thought process (for me) is the same. Both boys have lost so much. So much. And they’ve saved the world twice over now. Sam’s got his happy place system, but as of last episode, Dean was ready to hang up his spurs. He wanted to let the bus go over the cliff, because what was the point, really? No matter their sacrifice, no matter their struggle, something always came up to try to end it all.
But maybe now…now the bad guys have gone too far. Now they’ve messed with too much. I really believed Dean’s threat to Dick in the car. I felt it, man. And I want him to do it. I want him to win. I want him to dig deep one more time and figure out what he’s prepared to do. And I have to wonder if he’d have it in him to do that one more time without this loss.
Plus…this could be a way they end the secrets and lies and arguments that have driven wedges between the brothers. The “theme” of the season was Butch & Sundance, and in the movie, even Etta had to leave them eventually. This would have the boys truly on their own, dependent upon only each other once more, determined to end this fight. No quick phone calls to Bobby to figure out who the bad guy is and how to kill it. No angel to heal their injuries. Just two hunters and the fight of their lives.
And Bobby…all the things the Reaper said about him were true. As strange as it sounds, I think I’d be okay if Bobby chose to go with him. I would be heartbroken for the boys, but as far as the character of Bobby Singer goes, I think that I would be honored by this death. Nothing took him over, no deals were made. He fought, he was shot, he struggled to give them one last message – the message that you know is going to be the turning tide of this Leviathan battle. He saved them one more time. And if this is the end of Bobby, I’d be okay with it – plus…no one ever really dies on Supernatural.
We’ve seen John, Mary, Ellen, Jo, Ash, Pamela, and Rufus post-demise. Not flesh-and-blood real, not of this reality, perhaps, but they’ve returned. And they’ve helped in their own separate ways. Plus, Bobby’s had to survive the loss (and return) of both ‘his’ boys. And he’s been dead and resurrected himself. I don’t want to cheapen what we saw, what Bobby did for them – all he’s done, all his life – by a magic-wand healing. If his memories, all that makes him him, are truly gone, then he wouldn’t be Bobby anymore. And I don’t want that. I think death needs to have merit again. Be real. No Hail Mary this time. No deals, no miracle saves. Let it be real. Let him ‘return’ Obi-Wan style if need be. But let it be real.
I know there’s been talk about taking so much away from the boys and leaving such a hopeless situation in the gap. I have been guilty of lamenting about the loss they suffer. But when I look at it from a story perspective, this…stripping away of connections is a great catalyst for finding their True North, finding their own way, finding out where they stand the core of it all. Deciding who they are and being that the best way they can.
Okay, so I had to get that out of my system because I sat for the majority of this episode looking like I was saying the Pledge of Allegiance, my hand on my heart. There was just so much here to love and to absorb and to appreciate. And I’ll admit that I could be trying to “make the best of it” because I do love Bobby and I want to be ready for however they handle things in January, but even still, I stand by the I think I’d be okay with it assessment if Bobby goes.
Still want recap and thinky thoughts? ‘Cause I still got ‘em. I mean, as long as you’re here, may as well read on, right? *grins*
The THEN was your basic, Leviathans take over, Rise of Dick, Bobby gets plans then gets shot recap. The NOW started with some cool camera work traveling the path the bullet tunneled into Bobby’s head and pulling out to Sam and Dean’s fear saturating the interior of the van. There were a couple of cool camera shots in this one – I didn’t take note of the director, but I liked him. [ETA: I just looked it up and saw that it was Robert Singer, which is kinda funny in an observationally funny way. Also surprised to find out that Sera Gamble wrote this -- surprised because I liked it so much and she's not one of my favorites by a long shot. Maybe it worked so well for me because the story was Bobby-centric and not focused on either of the boys.]
The boys are scared, snapping at each other as you do in situations like that. Dean yelling back toward Sam, asking if Bobby’s dead, Sam just telling him to drive as he tries to find out.
Dean: You gotta talk to me, Sam!
Sam: He’s breathing.
Dean tells him to elevate his head and put pressure on the wound. Sam yells back that he doesn’t know 1st aid for a bullet to the head. Dean calls information for the address to the nearest “trauma center” – I thought it was interesting he didn’t say ER – and he floors it, his face tense, focused, determined.
I could relate to their panic, in a way. Not to this particular extreme, but the omg something bad happened to my loved one and I’m helpless feeling. Over the weekend while in Vegas for the marathon, my mother-in-law passed out in the middle of a casino food court. Ended up being from dehydration, but it wasn’t one of those eyes close, go boneless faints. Her eyes were open but vacant and she went a little stiff, then sort of slid out of her chair. We couldn’t tell if she was having a stroke, a seizure, or what. Everyone sprang into action, called 911, laid her down, did what they had to in order to get her conscious and make sure she was okay.
I began shaking the moment I registered something was Not Right. I moved tables out of the way, spoke to the 911 dispatcher, got her water when she was okay again, ordered the casino security dude to get a wheelchair, shaking the entire time. I let those who knew what to do help her, but I couldn’t breathe quite right and it took me a long time to stop shaking. I never anticipated that would be how I’d react in a situation like that. I’ve been in plenty of tense health-related situations with the hubs, and I never shook like that. The one thing I noticed, though, is that I had to know what was happening, reading lips if necessary, but looking for answers. That, and I had to be in action. Even if on the sidelines.
I felt the panic in Dean’s voice when he barked at the 411 operator for the address and when he demanded Sam talk to him. I felt it in the way he held his mouth as he focused on getting to the ER. And I felt the fear in Sam’s stuttered breathing. That’s the kind of stuff this show does to me that makes it clear I’ll never leave it. Doesn’t matter how many episodes like “Time for a Wedding” they churn out. It’s episodes like this one that remind me why I’m on the hook.
We tunnel back into Bobby’s head through the bullet wound and suddenly we’re back in the woods with Bobby and the boys, finding Phil hanging from a tree. Dean and Sam act just like they did the first time they all found Phil, but Bobby knows right away something isn’t right and says as much. Dean’s like, duh, there’s a corpse in a tree.
Bobby: Something bad’s about to happen.
Dean: Danger’s on the W2; that’s why we got the guns.
Bobby sees blood on his hands and touches his head saying that something bad has happened already. They head back to Squatters Paradise and it’s obvious that Bobby’s head is bleeding – sort of.
Dean: What’s going on with your head?
Bobby: I got shot in it!
Dean’s like, come again? Both tell him that he’s been with them all day; they would’ve noticed him getting shot in the head. Bobby’s like, no not here, in the real world. Sam tells him to sit down, looking worried, but Bobby’s like, no, I have to tell you something, I just can’t get at it. Boys try to reassure him, saying they’re not going anywhere and Bobby says, “No, not you you, the real you. Out there in the waking world.”
I thought it was interesting that he knew he was dreaming. I’ve had a couple of dreams like that – but when I know I’m dreaming, I’m actually watching myself. A participant and an observer. Usually, the dream is the reality for me, so this, for me, just goes to show his level of desperation to fight for life – just to get to ‘his boys.’
He remembers numbers, says he needs paper, and writes down: 454895. Coordinates? Too short to be a bank account number or a phone number. Too long to be a date. I’m sure there is a lot of speculation out there on the interwebs already. What do you guys think? Puts me slightly in the mind of LOST, but that’s okay. It’s a message that he knew the boys were smart enough to (eventually) figure out. And the writers knew we’d chew on it for a few weeks. *grins*
He puts the paper in his dream pocket and suddenly he’s standing in the doorway of a bedroom holding a glass of wine. There a pretty blonde in a white nightie sitting on a bed, the room illuminated by candlelight.
Karen: You were expecting Farah Fawcett?
Bobby: No, she always calls first.
He’s awed that this is all “just like it was” and tells his wife she’s beautiful. She wants him to sit so she can talk to him. As he does, he remembers what night this was for them and gets a look of dread on his face. Before he can say anything, though, we hear thunder outside. He says there was no storm the first time around and goes to the window. He can see a cloudless night, a full moon, lots of stars. He looks down and sees a young boy, dirty, disheveled, running toward the house from a shed. As he runs, the sky begins to disappear, just…going dark.
Bobby: I’ve got a messed up fruitcake.
The way his mind was shifting from moment to moment through his memories – some good (boys) some bad (Karen, kid, as we learn eventually) – had me thinking about what we file away, what we hold onto. That term “my life flashed before my eyes” is so cliché now, but this made it feel really relevant. I’ve posted before about how I don’t remember some of my childhood – unless I’m with my sibs and we all remember together. But there are moments I can recall with clarity – some I wish I couldn’t, some I don’t want to let go. Most of those moments have happened since I met my husband and had our daughter, but there are still some in my past that I hope I’m able to remember for the extent of my life. I just really liked how they spliced together Bobby’s life in such a disjointed – yet seamless – manner.
Bobby tells Karen he has to go. He heads out of the room and suddenly he’s standing with Rufus outside of a church, both dressed in “Pest Control” uniforms. Rufus is giving him instructions about just acting like he knows what he’s doing and when Bobby says his name, Rufus is all, oh, you know everything – you can just go wait in the car, then. Bobby tells Rufus that he (Bobby) is going to die and Rufus gives him a look saying, “Oh, great view of mortality on a ghost hunt!” His EMF goes whacko and Rufus goes inside the church.
Before he can follow, Bobby sees that same grubby kid run past the church in the rain. He turns to tell Rufus he’s coming and when he turns back to check on the kid, the kid is Right There (startled me a bit), grabbing his arm and saying, “God’s gonna punish you.” Bobby hears the sound of a glass breaking, turns to see broken glass in a puddle of milk on a linoleum floor, turns back and the kid is gone. He goes into the church. *whew*
Inside, there’s a choir singing and Rufus is “checking for pests” with his EMF. Just then, the choir disappears, the lights start to go out, and a man steps out, calling Bobby ‘Mr. Singer’ (reminded me a bit of The Matrix and ‘Mr. Anderson’). The actor who played the Reaper has been in a ton of shows, but in a ‘Six Degrees of Jensen Ackles’ way, I remember him from Dark Angel. He played ‘Sandeman.’
Bobby: Never heard of a Reaper showing up in a guy’s custard.
Reaper: You’re in a coma, genius. This is what happens. I climb in and fish you out.
He tells Bobby not to waste his time, but Bobby’s like, I think I will, thank you very much and runs off with the Reaper telling him he’s just prolonging the inevitable and he can find him anywhere. Bobby runs out of the church and suddenly he’s back at his house – YAY! I missed his house! – with Sam and Dean ‘debating’ about Chuck Norris vs Jet Li movies. This was my favorite memory of his – and I love that he revisited it again. For one, it was a happy time with ‘his boys,’ and two it shows that the boys are sometimes just…boys.
We see all the angst and fight and struggle to overcome, adapt, survive. We see the hunts and the fall out of the job. But we also know there are great gaps in time that we don’t see. And this memory goes to show that they have ‘normal’ nights. Movie nights. Debates that don’t involve life and death and the universe. They are just…brothers. I loved it. I want more of it – but, if they do end up losing Bobby…those moments might be fewer and further between for awhile.
Just because when you lose someone like that, someone who made the world right for you, the world turns backwards for awhile and your heart is so bruised it hurts to breathe and laughter feels like a blasphemy.
Bobby walks in, staring at the boys, as Dean is saying to Sam that there’s no contest.
Sam: Depends on the criteria.
Dean: The only criteria is survival. When the crap hits the fan, it’s not about who has skill. It’s about who is the bigger bad ass.
Dean (turning to Bobby to mediate): Tell Sam that Chuck Norris could kick Jet Li’s ass.
Bobby moves numbly into the kitchen, as if on autopilot, and Dean asks him to grab him a beer while he’s in there. Bobby opens the door to the kitchen and sees his mom setting the table and telling him he’d better have washed up. She turns to look at him and a mixture of fear and concern flashes across her face.
Mom: You’re filthy. What is wrong with you? It’s like you want to get him mad.
Bobby closes the door and is suddenly back with Rufus, down beneath the church in a crypt where they’re working on getting rid of a spirit of a woman who was jilted at the altar, then killed herself and her spirit goes after men who break girl’s hearts. Bobby asks for Rufus’ help again and tells him a Reaper is coming for him. Rufus is like, dude, a Reaper’s coming for all of us eventually. Rufus bashes in the crypt of the spirit’s bones and suddenly we’re back in the now and Bobby is being wheeled into the ER on a gurney with nurses and docs shouting vitals and orders across him to each other.
I’d almost forgotten about the ‘real world’ – I was so wrapped up in Bobby’s story and what memory we’d see next.
The boys are standing in the doorway, both breathing hard, both looking pained and scared and shaky. Sam goes forward to ask how he is and a nurse pushes them out of the room. Dean calls out that Bobby’s their uncle and asks about getting the bullet out of his head. The nurse tells them that if they can get him stable, and if it’s in a place they can get to, and if the swelling goes down, and if….
Sam: …if he lives that long.
The nurse pulls the curtain and the boys are left on the other side. *deep breath*
Back in Bobby’s head, Rufus opens the coffin and the ghost suddenly appears. Her neck is bloody – which I thought was weird because she committed suicide. Did she cut her own throat? Gah! The ghost sees Bobby, calls him a heartbreaker, and plunges her hand into his chest. In the real world, Bobby crashes and the boys hear this, watching the shadows move behind the curtain, both not breathing quite right, both looking downright shattered.
Dean looks back over his shoulder at Sam and the look on Sam’s face had me wanting to hug him. He looked so lost and scared.
In the dream, Rufus cuts through the ghost with iron, saving Bobby, but the ghost shows back up behind Rufus and throws him. Bobby burns the bones, but Rufus is out. Real Bobby is finally stable-ish (heard them say BP was 130/90). Dream Bobby is all, of course this is the one job you damn near got yourself killed on. Which is perfect, really. His brain automatically sought out the one piece of information he needed from the one person he knew could give it to him – his partner. I loved it.
In the real world, the doc comes out to Dean and says that Bobby is stable for the moment, but they’ll just have to see. Dean turns around, looking broken, and glances at Sam, who is trembling and near tears against the wall. Dean’s face softens a bit looking at his brother. As big as he is, as much as he’s been through, Sam’s still Dean’s little brother. And going through this together…for a moment I could see that Dean realized as great as his own pain was, Sam was in pain, too. And that hurt him to see.
Plus, last time someone died on them in a hospital, Sam was on his own for a lot of it – Dean trying to avoid his own Reaper. This had to be bringing back some memories for Sam.
Next time we see Dream Bobby, he’s standing outside somewhere and he sees that same dirt-smeared kid, asking him why he’s making like a white rabbit all over the place. Wants to know who he’s running from…and then he realizes he knows that kid. Before he can do anything about that, though, a nurse wheels Rufus out of the hospital (and Rufus is flirting with the nurse). Rufus sees Bobby and laughs, telling him not to sit shiva for him yet (I’d almost forgotten that Rufus was Jewish…I liked that they wove that into the dialog).
Bobby wants to know what Rufus said about his near-death experience…which Rufus hadn’t actually told him about yet.
Rufus: What are you all riled up about, Paco?
Bobby pushes and Rufus tells him that he just kept opening doors until he found the right one. He went deep – like crap you do not want to think about deep. The way out was through his worst memory. He tells Rufus that he’s in a coma right now (which, of course, Rufus doesn’t believe at first) and that he has to get to that door and get through it – but the reason he gives isn’t because I want to live but because I have to give this info to Sam and Dean. His thoughts are on the boys. *rubs heart*
Bobby: I’m dying!
Rufus: You sure?
Rufus: Well I’ll be a prima ballerina. You trying to tell me I’m just one of your memories?
The world starts to shake and Bobby knows the Reaper is getting close. He tells Rufus he needs his partner on this, so Rufus agrees to go with him. Tells him to aim for his worst memory.
Bobby: I’ve got a metric-ton of ‘worst.’
Awww, Bobby. *sad*
Rufus: How come killer bride called you a heart breaker? You’re a family man if I ever saw one.
Bobby: Thanks for narrowing things down.
Bobby goes back to his memory of Karen, only now she’s in a robe and is having a fight with him – she’s moving through the memories of that fight, and though he stays completely silent the whole time, it’s obvious from her reactions that the other him had said things back to her.
Karen: I hate you! Everything was a lie! Our whole life. Our vows. You knew I wanted kids. You would be a good dad. What does that even mean, you break everything you touch?! What kind of excuse is that?!
She turns and steps on the broken glass of wine from earlier, cutting her foot. She sits on the bed, clutching her bleeding foot, then turns and yells at him to go away saying he broke her heart. *sniff*
Bobby (very soft, very broken): Just so you know, I’m sorry. I never stopped being sorry.
Rufus: Man, I thought you’d want a gang of rugrats. So…how long after this…?
Bobby: Did she get possessed? Three days.
I have to go back to the episode where the dead came back to life because I could have sworn that version of Karen looked a lot older than this one. But I could be wrong.
Bobby: Biggest regret of my life. This fight. You’d think it was when I had to stab her to death. But all through that, I kept thinking we never got to get past this. If I’d have known, I’d have said anything she wanted to hear.
Regret has a hard core and jagged edges and it sits right in the center of your gut and it cuts through you every day, slowly. There are things in my life I regret – things I wish right now were different simply because what if…. It’s easy to say that we should live our life like each day is our last as far as how we treat people, but as fragile, human people, that’s not always a possibility. And my heart just hurt for Bobby in this moment. Especially because what we find out about him later – with that moment in his life, he thought this was his worst memory…that just showed how very much he loved Karen.
Rufus reminds him to try the door, so he does, stepping into a bright light…and he’s outside, at a park, Rufus with him.
Rufus: What year is this? ‘89ish?
Bobby: Does it matter? I’m still stuck in Eternal Friggin’ Sunshine.
Rufus (nodding across the park): I was just thinking, man. You look pretty good there. Musta drank less.
We see a ‘younger’ Bobby walking across the green space with what would have been a 10 year old Dean. And it’s another good memory.
YoungDean: Where’re we goin’?
YoungerBobby: Where’s it look like?
YoungDean: Dad says I’m supposed to practice with a double barrel.
YoungerBobby: We’re going to skip the guns today. Today, you’re gonna throw the ball around. Just like a regular snot-nosed little jerk.
Rufus: For a guy who’d rather break his wife’s heart than give her a baby? You make a helluva nanny.
Bobby: Shut up. We need another door.
They head to a park building that has a door and Rufus is a dog with a bone about the kid thing. Bobby tells him that his dad was a mean drunk, so he figured he’d be just like him. Rufus tells him he’s too hard on himself – he’s more of a cranky drunk. They argue back and forth a bit more, Bobby telling Rufus to get off his ass, Rufus saying he’s just trying to help (sounding a lot like Dean and Sam might in 30 or so years).
Rufus: You want to get out of here, or you want to die?
Bobby: How am I supposed to know what I don’t want me to know?
He opens the door and he’s back in the kitchen with his mom and dad and the kid that’s been ‘haunting’ him (obviously YoungBobby) is there. Dad’s all sarcastic, mom’s obviously fearful of dad and is trying to smooth things over, make things nice.
Mom: Who would like to say Grace?
Dad: Hell with Grace. Pass me the biscuits.
YoungBobby goes to do so and accidentally knocks his milk off the table. He whispers a quick, fearful I’m sorry, but dad is already pissed.
Dad: What’s the matter with you? You break everything you touch!
Mom is on the floor, cleaning up the mess and asks quietly just to have a nice supper. Dad’s all, you want a nice supper? and shoves his plate off the table. “There’s your nice supper.” He takes a drink.
In the background, Bobby is looking angry.
Dad: I get no respect in this house.
Bobby glances askance at Rufus, then closes the door. Rufus says that was gnarly enough to go spelunking in, but Bobby says that was any given Tuesday night and says they’re in the wrong place. Rufus calls bullsh*t and says he can see Bobby’s scared. But then the world starts shaking again. They know that they can’t keep boppin’ through Bobby’s greatest hits; the Reaper is going to catch up. So, Bobby says they have to stop the Reaper.
Back in the real world, the doc is telling the boys that they have to wait until the swelling goes down to do anything and it’s hard to say how long that will take.
Dean: But he’s lasted this long. That’s something, right?
Doc: The bullet didn’t shatter. Only one hemisphere of his brain was impacted. Those are positive things. But I don’t want to give you false hope. He’s far from out of the woods. Most of the time in cases like this….
Sam: They die.
Dean suddenly looks twelve. Just…bereft. But not in the way that made me want to hug him, like Sam had. In the way that I knew if someone offered him just a hint of sympathy, he’d completely shatter.
Someone comes up and asks for Robert Singer’s next of kin, Dean goes to talk to him and it’s about organ donation. Dean’s face is clearly I cannot believe this sh*t. The camera goes in extra close to Dean in this scene, twice. It’s both disconcerting and arresting. Makes Dean look dangerous and close to unhinged at the same time.
Dean: I’m going to say this once. He’s not gonna die. It’s one bullet. He’s gonna be find ‘cause he’s always fine. Why are you talking to me like he’s gonna die?! I do my job. Do your job. Save. Him.
GUH. Oh, Dean. *rubs heart* Just…oh, Dean, you poor guy. I may be okay with losing Bobby to a hero’s death, but I’m really worried about Dean. *wants to cry* He works so hard to do the right thing, to put saving people over hunting things. Who is going to save him? It’s an awful big charge to put on his brother who is dealing with his own brand of misery. *sniffs*
Organ Donor Guy: Of course, they’re doing everything they can –
BAMMO! Dean punches the glass-covered display sign directly behind the guy’s head, breaking the glass and cutting his hand and making the OD Guy’s eyes go hilariously wide with fear.
Dean: Walk away from me. Now!
Dude rushes out so fast I thought there’d be smoke left behind in his wake. Dean is so tangled up in helpless anger, fear, and pain he can’t stand still. He heads outside. His hand hurts, and is bleeding, but he just shakes it. Then he sees a black town car parked outside and something in him just knows who it is. Oblivious of the camera phones and uploads to YouTube that could expose him as one of the ‘notorious’ Winchesters who is supposed to be dead, he charges up to Dick Roman’s car and basically calls him out.
Dick’s too smart to thrown down in a street fight with all the cameras, of course, so he’s all smarmy smiles and low threats. Dean, though, doesn’t care. He is torqued up and ready to kill something. To make something feel as bad as he does. He’s coming after Dick and Hell’s coming with him. He’s ready to seek vengeance and he doesn’t care who knows or how many cards he shows.
Dean’s dangerous like this – and it’s both toe-curling (because OMG he looked lip-bitingly good) and worrisome because he definitely looks like “the bigger bad ass” on the outside but we know he’s walking a very thin line and doesn’t really care what getting the job done will do to him. But he has to care now. Has to because if he gets himself killed taking these guys out, he’s leaving Sam quite literally alone in the world. And while I think Sam’s strong enough to find his way alone – stronger than Dean would be if he were the one left so alone – he still needs his brother, no matter what he says about Dean not having to watch out for him anymore.
They are each other’s balance, and they can’t lose that in a quest for vengeance.
Dean: We’re coming for you. Not just to hunt you. To kill you.
Dick: C’mon, Dean. I can’t be killed.
Dean: You’re gonna wish you could, then.
Dick: That’s some conviction. You’d really crush it on the motivational circuit.
Dean: You’re either laughing because you’re scared or you’re laughing because you’re stupid. I’ll see you soon. Dick.
Back in Bobby’s head, Bobby and Rufus are searching Bobby’s study for an old King James Bible where he’s stored a big cross fixed to a rosary. He tells Rufus that Sam and Dean have come up against Reapers a time or two and he’s picked up a few tricks. Rufus is all, let’s work some mojo.
In the real world, Dean is getting hospital coffee and sees Sam across the way watching Bobby. He goes over to him, drawing Sam’s attention.
Sam: Hey, what’d that guy want?
Dean (shaking it off): Nothing. Insurance mook.
I know it wasn’t the truth, but I was glad he spared Sam the Organ Donor talk. Sam would have been in the better frame of mind to handle that conversation, but he didn’t need to carry Dean’s pained reaction to it. Dean tells Sam that Dick was outside and Sam straightens up, wanting to know what happened. Dean tells him that it was basically a staring contest. He wants to know what’s going on with Bobby. Sam says they pulled the breathing tube out because he was fighting it and he’s breathing on his own, but that they’re not going to try to get the bullet out yet.
Dean wants to know what that means and Sam tries to explain what he obviously barely understands himself. All he knows is that the doc isn’t sure surgery is worth the risk and he pulls Dean away from others so they can talk.
Dean (looking genuinely curious): Talk about what?
Sam (resigned): You know what.
Dean (horror of realization setting in): No. We’re not having this conversation.
Sam: We need to.
Dean: He’s not gonna die!
Sam: He might!
Sam: Dean, we need to brace ourselves –
Sam: Because it’s real!
He’s got a good point. This isn’t a spell or a curse or getting choked by a witch or thrown around by a demon. A real person (more or less), with a real gun, shot a real bullet into Bobby’s head. This is stuff that happens to regular people – like car accidents or drowning in a pool. They weren’t going to be able to find a solution to this. Sam knew that, but he could see that Dean was just clinging to the he’s always all right mindset, refusing to think about any other possible option.
Dean: What do you want to do? You want to hug and say we made it through it when Dad died? We’ve been through enough.
Dean walks out and Sam sits down, looking about four years old, near tears, and rubs his scarred hand, keeping himself present. This is a great illustration of the different ways people deal with grief. Some have to take action, blocking out the actual events impacting them with motion. Some have to talk it out to get past the pain. Some ignore it completely because it’s too real to comprehend. Some get angry, some get teary. It’s so very personal and it’s so easy to hurt each other as we work through our own variations.
About a month ago, my 88 year old Grandpa got very sick. When the docs gave the news of what was wrong and that sometimes, people don’t survive this, my mom called me up. I come from a family of talkers – we have to work through our feelings with words in order to make them make sense to us, and a lot of the time we end up bleeding our feelings all over the listener so that they’re saturated and can’t figure out where our feelings stop and theirs begin. That’s what happened here, only for some reason, I turned my back on my ‘talking’ heritage and became an ignorer. I listened to her and absorbed her pain, but all I could think was he’s not dead yet, he’s survived worse, he’s going to surprise them all and live another 10 years.
He’s okay right now, but looking back, I saw her ‘bracing’ herself, preparing to lose him and talking through it so that when it happened, she’d be ‘okay’ and could make it through what she had to. I wasn’t ready to do that. I didn’t want to say goodbye so I wasn’t going to. Not until I had no other choice.
The way Sam and Dean both reacted in that hallway, in that moment, the way they each chose to deal with their fear and grief was not only very true to their characters, it was very real. And I love that this show that’s about the impossible, the unbelievable, the supernatural can be so very realistic and grounded in visceral reactions. More so than many of the shows that are supposed to be based in ‘reality,’ in my opinion.
Back in Bobby’s head, Rufus and Bobby are getting ready to stop the Reaper, but things are starting to disappear from Bobby’s memory – contents of a closet or a drawer. The light outside going dark. He sees a memory of his ’89 self on the phone with John Winchester explaining that he didn’t take Dean out to shoot because Dean needed a chance to be a kid. He yells that he knows he isn’t their dad before he hangs up. Off that memory, he looks worried, but tells Rufus that they still need gold, hemlock, and mace.
Rufus: So, pretty basic, then.
They finish out the ritual with a Mason Jar o’blood from Bobby’s fridge (I know that’s where I keep my spare ritual blood… *wink*) and call the Reaper, trapping it in a symbol painted on the floor.
Reaper: I gotta admit. This is the first time someone has pulled one over on me while unconscious.
Bobby’s like, I got stuff to do. But the Reaper says he’s trying to help him – calls him ‘Bobby’ and not ‘Mr. Singer.’
Reaper: You’re going to die. You think you can stop it by pinning me like a bug? You’ve seen the dark coming, things going blank. Cell by cell, that bullet is killing your brain. So, this trap won’t last forever because this room won’t hold because you. are. going. to. die.
Bobby: You think.
Reaper: Come with me. Be done. You’ve earned it. Or fight me. Stay here. You know the drill.
Rufus: You want to get stuck? Turn into a ghost? You’re thinking you can help those boys, but how many spirits you meet in the right mind? Some hunter’s gonna cut you down.
Reaper: Bobby. You’ve helped. You got handed a small, unremarkable life and you did something with it. (Aside – I liked that; I can only hope the same could be said of me one day.) Most men like you die of liver disease watching Barney Miller reruns. You’ve done enough. Believe me.
Bobby: I don’t care.
Bobby: Because they’re my boys.
*rubs heart* Oh, Bobby. You might not have been their dad – and they had a pretty awesome dad, all things considered – but you loved them like they were your own. And that’s pretty powerful, right there.
Y’know, hearing about the boys going hunting with him when they were kids, seeing Bobby with a ten-year-old Dean tossing the ball around, makes me really want to know what caused the fight between John and Bobby that had John pulling a shotgun on Bobby and made it so that when the boys meet up with Bobby back in Season 1 it’s evident that they haven’t seen him in a long, long time. I have my own version of it, of course (“Blue Collar Man”), but I’d really like to know what the canon version is one day.
YoungBobby shows up and Bobby gives in, telling the kid to lead the way saying, “The way out is through,” which is incidentally a pretty good NIN song. He looks at Rufus and says it was good to see him again, then returns to the “nice dinner” memory. It’s an awful one, truly. Dad is yelling a mom who is on the floor cleaning up the mess. He tells YoungBobby to get a broom, then tells mom that she lets him get away with everything. She says she’s almost done, suggests he get another drink, but then he hits her because she ‘told him what to do.’
People like this man make me sick. Physically ill. I’ll just leave it at that.
Mom looks up at adult Bobby and says, “Why do you always provoke him?” Dad looks at adult Bobby and says, “Because he’s a bad kid.” Bobby is like, “That’s a load of crap. Who the hell were you to say?” It’s obvious this need to tell his father off has been brewing for a long, long, LONG time. While his mom helplessly tries to ‘shhh’ him, Bobby lays into his dad that he never deserved respect, he was a drunken bully who punched women and kids. His dad says he deserved it – he was nothing but ungrateful.
Bobby: I was a kid! Kids aren’t supposed to be grateful. They’re supposed to eat your food and break your heart, you selfish dick! You died and I was still so afraid I’d turn into you I never had any kids of my own.
Dad: Good. You break everything you touch.
Broken record, much? *snarls at dad*
Bobby: Well, I adopted two boys and they grew up great. They grew up heroes. So you can go to Hell.
In the real world we find out that Bobby’s showing signs of responsiveness, so they’re taking him up for surgery – if the boys want to see him, they have to go now.
Back in the memory, mom is bleeding on the floor, saying she’s sorry. Dad is yelling at her. And YoungBobby comes in with a rifle. We’re obviously back in The Way It Really Happened. Dad laughs at YoungBobby, giving him the you’re not man enough line about using the rifle. He grabs mom up by the hair and mom tells Young Bobby to just go, but obviously YoungBobby has seen how this scenario plays out one too many times and he shoots – hitting Dad in the head in the exact same spot…which…weird – and dad falls down, dead.
Bobby looks like he’s about ready to cry. I welled up at this point, just seeing him have to relive this life-alerting moment.
Mom: Bobby…what did you do? God is gonna punish you.
Bobby (to his younger self): Hey…you did what you had to do. This is where you learn that they pretty much never say thanks when you save them. (*rubs heart*) Now, go get a shovel and bury the old man behind the woodshed.
Which explains where his younger self was running in from when he saw him the first time. Just then, the Reaper shows up saying Bobby has the only genetic case of ‘bullet in the brain’ he’s ever seen. Bobby runs for the door. The boys are at Bobby’s bed, leaning close, faces tight with pain and grief, trying to think of what to say. Sam takes Bobby’s hand.
Sam: Bobby, hey. Just…thanks. For everything.
Bobby struggles awake, trying to breathe, to talk. Dean grabs a pen, telling him don’t talk, don’t talk. Bobby grabs Sam’s hand as he’s fighting to breathe and writes the numbers down on Sam’s hand, then collapses back, weakly. Boys are leaning over him and he looks at them with pure, unadulterated love, and they echo that look as he says, “Idjits.”
I had a huge lump in my throat, but I surprised myself. I didn’t actually cry. My chest was tight, my eyes burned, but it wasn’t like I thought. It wasn’t like when Ellen died along with her daughter because she was damn sure not gonna let Jo go alone. Maybe it’s that I am a mom and have a daughter that their sacrifice hit me so much harder. Maybe it’s because we traveled this journey with Bobby through his ‘custard’ and I saw that what the Reaper said was true. I’m not sure, but I didn’t cry. And when he fell back and the heart monitor went flat line, the biggest thing I wanted to do was hold the boys.
I mourn for their loss, not the loss of Bobby. Does that make sense? I mean, I know we don’t know for sure what he says, but if this truly is it, I mourn for the boys. For their being alone. For their broken hearts. I’ll miss having the curmudgeon around. And I know it will be hard to fight all the bad guys without his wealth of knowledge. But Bobby as a person, as a character, I think this was a good send off.
The trauma room is in action trying to get Bobby back. Boys stand back as action happens all around them, in shock. Dean is not handling this well; while his face is tight, his eyes are shattered and you can see the word please echoed there like a prayer.
Back in Bobby’s head, though, he’s returned to movie night and The Great Chuck Norris Debate. The Reaper shows up and says that this moment, this house is his last island. Everything else was melted by the bullet. Gone. He gives Bobby one more chance to move on, let go. Says the boys will be okay without him. This moment is his last memory.
Bobby: Glad I saved the best for last.
He brings the boys beers while they banter.
Dean (to Sam who is sitting on the couch): Scoot. Show your elders some respect.
Sam: You scoot, asshat.
Dean (looking through a bag): Did we get licorice?
Sam (mouth full of popcorn): No. We got good snacks. Licorice is disgusting.
Dean: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand that, Mr. Peanut Butter and banana sandwich.
Sam: I stand by that sandwich!
They continue to debate the merits of licorice as a classic movie food as they fade away. Bobby looks over his shoulder at the Reaper.
Reaper: Stay or go?
There’s a sound of ticking clock (the Reaper’s pocket watch, I assume) and we fade to black without getting Bobby’s choice. So, with everything they told us – the erased memories, the damage the bullet did – it really seems that the only way to save Bobby at this point is a full-on miracle. A deal, perhaps – I mean, Dean was given this same choice by a Reaper, really, and was spared because of the deal John made.
Castiel could maybe have pulled some strings, but he’s gone. And they’ve no more allies in Heaven – in fact, we don’t really even know who is running Heaven right now. Crowley might be able to do something – he worked out a deal for Bobby’s legs in Season 5 after all – but do they really want to be beholden to the King of Hell? And Bobby would hate that, knowing they did that just to get him back.
So, I go back to what I said. Unless there’s a family-wide reset of some kind (not a cheesy, Dallas-esque, it was all a dream solution, but some kind of reward for a Saving the World Hat Trick that gives the boys what they need to have peace), I don’t want them to cheapen who Bobby was, and what we learned about him, and what he went through to get that information to the boys with a magic hand-wave solution.
I can imagine many of you feel differently – especially in light of what his loss will do to the boys, Dean in particular. And I have to say, I’m surprised at my own reaction. But the journey they took us on was profound and I felt each bump in the road – both from Bobby and from Dean and Sam. I don’t want our boys to suffer, but I also want our show to stay ‘true.’
If you’ve stuck with me this long, I thank you. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I won’t be late on a Ramble again. Next episode is on January 6th, then we have one on January 13th and then another break until February 3rd. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you, too. Thanks for reading!
Also? I had this ready yesterday as previously promised, but LJ was being sketchy and wouldn’t let me post. Sincere apologies.