Bobby's taken one to the dome--will the mid-season finale be the end of Sam and Dean's surrogate father?
****Spoilers below the break.****
You know, beyond some minor structural flaws, this mid-season finale of Supernatural was actually a pretty great send-off for long-serving supporting character Bobby Singer. After the bullet to the head in last week's episode, "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters," I erroneously believed that the focus here would be on Sam and Dean--in particular the latter--as they grappled with the death of their last real vestiges of family. And there is a little bit of that--never ask a Winchester to fill out an organ donation form, apparently--but Bobby was front and center this episode, as he attempted to evade one of Death's reapers in the hopes of waking up and delivering the information he discovered in Dick Roman's (James Patrick Stuart) office.
Trapped inside of his own head, Bobby has to evade the reaper who wants Singer to pass over before he becomes a ghost. Bobby, thanks to a memory of his fellow hunter Rufus (Steven Williams), Bobby figures that he simply needs to find a key memory--his worst, actually--in order to walk through the door that will allow him to wake up. While the memory Bobby returns to is pretty intense (likewise, the reason why some of his memories are starting to fade away), the show runs into a little hiccup when it's pretty clear from the first time we touch on the scene that the memory has something to do with Bobby's violent father, and the script's tap dancing to avoid dealing with the obvious becomes a little protracted.
Bringing Williams back was actually one of the highlights of the episode--his almost offhand death last season felt like the sacrifice of a really interesting character for what was ultimately a go-nowhere villain. His rapport with actor Jim Beaver is wonderfully familiar and antagonistic, and in just a few lines you get the sense of a long professional friendship between two very different men. Likewise, Dean (Ackles) gets a well-done scene with Dick Roman that ups the ante on their antagonism. Sure, Dean might have been blowing a little smoke, but the look on Roman's face at the end of their conversation was perfectly delivered.
The story here actually serves triple-duty, giving Bobby a reason to need and want to hang around, a chance to explore a little bit of his messed-up past, while providing a nice coda to his relationship with the Winchester boys. And why the final scene leaves it in some doubt whether Bobby will actually cross over (and this felt like such a strange, non-issue to tack on), it does provide some lovely finality for the character who's acted as an emotional rock for Sam and Dean over the years.
Supernatural will make its return to the CW on Friday, January 6th.