Ghost Bobby (Jim Beaver) returns as Dean and Sam battle a very haunted house in this week's episode of Supernatural.
More than anything else, Supernatural is a show about the inability to escape your nature haunted by it, if you will. How many times have Sam and Dean hung up their guns and tried to walk away from the hunter life? How many times has the idea played out that there's some monster trying to overcome its monstrous nature to be better or more human? You can't get away from who you are, even in death. That's the problem with the murderous ghost in this week's Supernatural and to a great extent Bobby's issue as we see that maybe Sam and Dean might not be happy to have their surrogate father figure pulling a Ghost Dad on them.
The Leviathan threat continues to take a backseat this week (although we do learn that season heavy Dick Roman is funding a suspicious number of archaeological digs), as Sam and Dean investigate the disappearance of a fellow hunter Annie (Jamie Luner) in connection with a house occupied with more than your normal number of ghosts. In one of the unexplored ideas of this episode (something I hope will get explored at some point), one of the spirits has mastered manipulating physical objects while also empowering himself with the spirits of other ghosts.
Mostly, "Of Grave Importance" serves as an extended look at ghost "life" as we learn that spirits continue to age and even lose their mental faculties after death (has this been in any other fiction besides here and The Fades), and it's something of an eye-opener for Bobby who knew the risk of taking on this second life after years of dealing with crazed and vengeful spirits. The other function the episode serves is to provide Bobby with knowledge of how to interact with the world and make his presence known to Sam and Dean. We learn that earlier attempts like turning a page or simply rustling a curtain have in the past caused him to black out for weeks on end, but thanks to a not-so-helpful ghost, Bobby discovers that if he can just calm himself, he can reach out and touch something. This last bit is handled somewhat sloppily, as Bobby goes from desperate to move a quarter on a table to scribbling notes in steam without a whole lot of follow-through in the episode about how he got so good so quickly. Likewise, the vengeful ghost at the heart of this episode gets what feels like short shrift as the plot juggles Sam and Dean's investigation along with Bobby and Annie reconnecting.
The Bobby-Annie story is the real heart of "Of Grave Importance," and the interactions between Luner and Jim Beaver give the episode real emotional resonance. We know Bobby decided not to go to the great beyond for good reasons, but as Annie points out, sticking around is maybe not the best thing, particularly given a hunters' long experience with ghosts. Frustration and anger can take over and next thing you know, a ghost becomes a poltergeist and Sam and Dean will have to do for Bobby what's they've done for malicious spirits in the past. While those of us who are fans of Jim Beaver in general and Bobby Singer as a character in particular would probably rather that not happen, while it's Bobby's nature to be a hunter, it's in a ghost's nature to deteriorate over time. With only a handful of episodes left this season, it's unlikely that Supernatural will get around to the ultimate implications of Bobby sticking around (or how bad it will get), but you can bet it's coming.
Next week: Felicia Day guest stars as a hacker inside Dick Roman's organization in "The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo."