Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S07E10 – Death’s Door

In the tenth episode of the seventh season of Supernatural, I hate what y’all have done to me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural. 

Trigger Warning: For death, alcoholism, and child abuse/domestic abuse.

I’m going to be a mess for a long time.

If this show was going to kill off a beloved character respectfully, then this is how you do it. That’s a weird thing to say about Supernatural because death is woven so pervasively through the fabric of this show. People die all the time. Characters come and go like a temp agency. Sometimes, I accept that this is just what Supernatural does. But it’s also infuriated me, like in the case of Jo, Ellen, Henriksen, Rufus, or Bela. The show notoriously gives us a hint of potential, then kills characters off before they’ve had time to grow. In that sense, Supernatural doesn’t give us closure, and it’s a deliberate thing. You could say that’s how the show worldbuilds, since it’s part of the universe of the hunters.

So how would Bobby Singer fit into that? He’s been part of a trio – hell, I just referred to him and the Winchesters as the “trio” in the last review – for a very long time, enough that it was very easy for me to assume that he’d always be here. (OH MY GOD, DEAN’S LINE COULD EASILY BE A STAND-IN FOR THE AUDIENCE HELP ME THERE ARE TOO MANY LEVELS OF HEARTBREAK HERE.) But that’s kind of the point here, enough that the show goes out of its way to introduce something I’ve never seen them do:

They show us that there’s one thing Dean is not prepared to deal with at all.

And it’s a bold, agonizing thing for Supernatural to do. I’ll touch on Bobby’s backstory in more detail in the second half of this, but I really want to talk about the thing I referred to in the midst of the video for this episode. As I watched Sam and Dean stand outside of Bobby’s hospital room, it struck me how odd that scene seemed. As many people have died in the Supernatural universe, I feel like this specific scenario – where a Winchester waits outside a hospital room – was a rare sight. When was the last time it happened? Back at the beginning of season two? Even then, I’m so used to the Winchesters burying who they care about and moving on that it seemed uncomfortable and jarring to see them pacing back and forth in the hallway.

Of course, that unease is then spelled out to me as I watched Dean faced with the truth about Bobby’s condition. It’s important that I don’t forget the context of what Dean’s going through in this season, since he’s already in a delicate state. But as many times as Dean’s had to cope with death (CAS, OH MY GOD), this felt so different to me. Dean relies on anger and denial, he refuses to accept that Bobby’s about to die, and he is wholly unequipped to lose someone like Bobby Singer. Truthfully, aside from Sam, there’s no one in his life who he is closer to or who he loves more. It doesn’t matter how much training he’s had, and it doesn’t matter that he’s spent years as a hunter. Nothing could have readied him for this moment.

There’s nothing supernatural happening here, and it’s somehow more real and more upsetting than anything else. They can deal with supernatural afflictions and threats, but when faced with the fragility of the human body, Sam and Dean are helpless and useless, and it’s a brutal thing to watch.

I’m not going to be okay.

I think I may be less okay whenever I think back on Bobby Singer and his story. The lovely Kim_D09 reminded me on Twitter that I had requested Bobby’s backstory and AHAHAHA THIS SHOW GAVE IT TO ME I AM STILL HURTING. This could have been done exploitatively, for the sake of being dramatic, but the more I think about what this episode tells about Bobby Singer, the more I appreciate it. (There’s one moment that I think is a little strange, but we’ll discuss it in detail.)

Let me first start off by saying that visually, I’m fascinated by the way the show created a manifestation of Bobby’s life. They take the idea of one’s life flashing before their eyes and create this physical version of it, so that Bobby can drift between “rooms,” each of them a specific memory. Mixed in with this is a pervasive threat: a reaper is after Bobby, and we all know that unless you’re a Winchester, you can’t escape a reaper. At the same time, because of what I spoke of earlier, I kept believing it was going to happen. Bobby was going to find a way out! He had Rufus by his side (RUFUS OH MY GOD, TOO MANY EMOTIONS), and he had a way to delay the reaper long enough to get a message to the Winchesters.

I should have know that this wasn’t a promise of safety. Bobby wanted to provide one last message to his boys (gonna explode from sadness, y’all), but that was it. He couldn’t escape the deterioration of his own body. Again, that made this so much realer for everyone involved, and you better believe I am including myself in this. In the episode itself, this is conveyed through disappearance; as part of Bobby’s brain dies from the gunshot, details begin to slip away. I think it was once I realized what that meant that I began to get a lot of dust in my eye. So much dust in my apartment, y’all!

And there’s just so much heartbreak here. Of course this show would do something like making the way out of the coma through BOBBY’S WORSE MEMORY. We get to see how he rejected his wife’s desire to have a child just three days before she was possessed. And that’s his worst memory? NO, NOT EVEN CLOSE. There’s his abusive, alcoholic father who he grew up terrified of, so much so that he wouldn’t even risk having children himself, all because he was worried he’d turn out the same. (You have no idea how real that fear is. Holy shit, y’all, this episode is not even remotely fucking around when it comes to non-supernatural terror, CHRIST.) It explains so beautifully why he’s protective of Sam and Dean, and if that wasn’t enough? Then we get a scene where Bobby yells at John Winchester, a clear demonstration that at times, Bobby was a better father to them then their actual father. (Hahaha, someone should bring out that Worst Father Ever certificate again.)

He needed to be. He needed to be a better father because his own was so terrible that he shot and killed him. While I understood why the writers gave Bobby that line about not being thanked for saving someone, I thought it was a tad victim-blaming for me, or at least entirely unsympathetic to Bobby’s mom, who was abused alongside her son. Plus, she had to watch her husband die at the hands of her young son; I don’t think the first words out of her mouth were ever going to be, “Thank you.” That would be a little strange. Still, this whole thing is an important piece of Bobby Singer’s characterization, and it certainly explains his continued characterization, you know? This is what his life started off with, and it’s informed so much of his behavior.

It’s not lost on me, then, that when Bobby is left with one solitary memory, it’s of one that is painfully normal. What better memory than one that clearly shows us that Dean and Sam were basically Bobby’s adopted sons? What better memory than one of Dean and Sam arguing over something inconsequential (except FUCK LICORICE it’s disgusting) while drinking beers? For a moment, Bobby could imagine a life that he could never have because of his father and because of the world of the supernatural. It’s a fine last memory to hold on to, though I don’t know if he literally held on. Did he choose to stay behind or move on? Will Bobby become something the Winchesters have to hunt? (PLEASE NO.)

Even if he does, it’s undeniable at this point that Bobby Singer is dead, and he’s not coming back. With no Castiel or angelic force to resurrect, I really think this is it for me. It’s a good final story, I’ll admit that. And there’s just so much dust in my eyes in the video for this! I should look into that.

The video for “Death’s Door” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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