Supernatural 7.19 – Of Grave Importance

This week’s episode opens with a very important message. Dean Winchester cracks the drive-thru restaurant code; no matter where you have your fast food fix it is designed to taste 92% the same from coast to coast. What a comfort. And as long as you realize that Taco Bell isn’t remotely authentic then everything’s fine.

Sam and Dean are enjoying their “tacos” on the hood of this week’s car when Dean gets a call from an old friend named Annie. She just heard about Bobby and wants to pass on some of his books to the boys. She’s on a case in Bodega Bay, so they arrange a lunch meeting in the area.

Annie’s case takes her to a run-down haunted mansion of a place where she finds the bodies of two teenagers who thought making out in an abandoned house was smart until the ghost of the groundskeeper showed up. Annie herself doesn’t even get the chance to investigate before the title card splats the screen messily. Guessing she didn’t make it either.

The next day, Sam and Dean are seated at a restaurant, going over Dick Roman’s goings while waiting for Annie. She’s late. Annie is apparently never late. To pass the time, Sam casually mentions that Annie and Bobby had a “thing” once when the going got tough and the world was collapsing. Dean admits that he dipped his toe into Annie’s pool also, under similar circumstances. Sam, not to be left out, also lets the cat outta the bag that back when he was a soulless, uncaring robot he also took a spin. Annie has her own way of dealing with work stress. Can’t blame the gal, either; she’s got taste.

Dean Irishes up his coffee and tries to reach her on his 2004 flip phone, but gets no answer. He wonders if she’s bailing on them; Sam is hoping that all that’s going on is that she’s flaking. Bobby’s flask rocks as it sits on the table.

The boys try to reach her one more time as they leave the restaurant, but nada. Dean’s gone through a flask’s worth of booze by what one can only assume is about 2:00-ish in the afternoon and needs a refill. Sam, on the other hand, is tired of the figurative ghost of Bobby Singer lingering over them because of the damn flask and asks Dean to put it away for a while. Dean’s thought about it, but he’s one schmaltzy sucker and he’s not ready for it to not be in arm’s reach at all times. Meanwhile, the literal ghost of Bobby Singer sits sullenly in the backset of the car.

The guys head over to Annie’s empty motel room and start digging through her research. She was investigating the Van Ness house. While they research, Bobby nearly blows a vessel making a curtain waft gently.

The boys head out and Bobby lingers until Dean reaches back in for his emotional crutch. Turns out Bobby is tied to the flask, so if it don’t go, he don’t go.

As the three men enter the creepy estate, the Winchesters wander around aimlessly, while Bobby stops dead and takes in the room full of ghosts that only he can see. Even thoug the EMF is redlining, Dean is still able to get a signal on his antique phone so he tries Annie one more time. Sadly, her phone is right there, ringing alone. By the way, Annie has a touch screen phone. Upgrade yourself, Dean.

Bobby is still in the foyer, AA meeting his intoduction, but no one pays him any mind. He even tries to communicate in French. With a vaguely Australian accent. It gets him nowhere. He does spy a dapper looking ghost scolding the Farmer John-looking ghost from earlier whose name is Dexter. He also spots a pale-looking Annie; Annie can see him too. Bobby adds it all up and it all spells dead huntress. Annie isn’t taking it well, but she is taking it calmly. She’s not happy with Bobby purposely choosing to stay on this plane. She spots her teenage couple floating by, but the Maitlands, while a cute couple, are nice and stupid so they don’t see her.

Bobby understands their struggle. He still doesn’t get why poltergeists can stack chairs without breaking a sweat but he can’t push a penny under a door. Just then a stuffily dressed ghost walks into the room, picks up a chair, moves it slightly and plops himself down to read a book. Bobby’s anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better kicks in… and fails. The ghost mocks them and their newborn level abilities. He rancorusly tells them the only way to move things is to go full on yoga pose deep breathing on it or to rage against the machine. Bobby can’t seem to do either. The ghost, Crane Haskill, is so very unimpressed with them and reminds them that ghosts go mad. Some sooner than later, but all of them go full on Drusilla at some point.

Annie spots the Winchesters and yells for their attention, but rule #2: the living usually won’t see the dead. They take notice of yet another ghost, Victoria, who had tried to reach Annie through electro-spectro phone waves. Just as they’re getting to the good stuff, Sam and Dean leave the house and the flask tether snaps Bobby into the car with them. The boys are off to get the SparkNotes version of the house’s history. Whitman Van Ness owned the house first; seems he had a terrible life for one so privileged, considering the groundskeeper, Dexter, was an ex-con who had been on the noose for killing Van Ness’ family. Dexter got his in the end though, GSW to the belly in the middle of the house.

Back at the motel room Sam researches, Dean showers, and Bobby tries to play Quarters. Bobby has had enough of this, when he was alive he could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but he can’t find his calm and toss books around the room? Uh-uh, he’s fixing this.

And he does, he manages to convey that Annie is trapped in the house and let the boys know who he is with the power of steam and a bathroom mirror. Sadly, no smiley faces were drawn. Sam realizes the flask is the key, but Bobby doesn’t think they have time for that and pleads with them to head back to the house. They can’t hear him, but Dean echoes this statement and the Winchesters head back to the Van Ness house. One can only assume at this point that Dean remembered to put on pants.

In the meantime, two up-and-coming YouTubers head to the house to find their friends. They give some background to the camera as they head into the house. Inside, the house gets creepier, doors start slamming and flashlights start flickering as Dexter charges at the vlogbrothers growling that they shouldn’t have come. Van Ness appears, angrily telling Dexter that he was warned not to interfere as he reaches into Dexter’s chest and fireworks him out of existence. The vloggers are relieved… until Van Ness shoves his hand through their chestplates, too. Victoria explains to Annie that Van Ness drains the other ghosts of their power to feed his own strength (and for funsies) and that he punished Dexter for warning the teenagers and for warning Annie. Whitman Van Ness, in case no one figured out the plot twist by now, was the one who killed his own family, framed Dexter, and then killed Dexter. The entire house is filled to the brim with Van Ness’ kill count.

Just then the trio pull up to the house. As they enter Bobby pick-pockets his flask out of Dean’s jacket so he can go rogue and find Annie. Dean stumbles upon the vloggers camera and plays back the footage, but he’s not a fan of the IFC because nothing ever happens in movies without studio backing. Dean saw Ten Inch Hero, it seems. Awkward.

At the urging of Annie and Bobby, Victoria reluctantly musters up all her spirit juice and makes Sam and Dean see her. She tries to fill them in, but Van Ness interrupts by deepfrying her. Since the boys can’t see Van Ness they don’t notice that he’s slipped a skelton key into Sam’s pocket so he can hitch a ride outta the house with them. With no other option, Annie and Bobby take advantage of the cat being away to search Whitman’s room. What they find is Victoria’s remains smoldering in the fireplace, what they don’t find are any other bodies. Since the house was a boarding house, a brothel, and a speakeasy Bobby figures there’s got to be secret rooms. Bobby yanks a candle holder on the wall and boom! hidden passage for them to walk through.

Of course, being that they’re ghosts couldn’t they have just floated through?

In the hidden room they find all the bodies, including Annie’s. Annie gets existential as she stares at her bloody corpse and wonders about heaven and hell and the great beyond. Bobby says he doesn’t know about any of it, but he thinks it just ends.

Remember when John went into the light?

Remember when Dean went to hell?

Remember when Sam and Dean kept going to heaven over and over?

Yeah.

Anyway, Annie decides that she wants Bobby to torch her with the hunter’s respect she deserves.

In the meantime, Sam and Dean deal with Whitman Van Ness making their car go all Christine and then immediately break the object bond Van Ness created.

Van Ness arrives back at his home just in time to catch the pyre Bobby has set up. He’s realy offended that they’d be so rude to such a gracious host. Just as he‘s roasting Bobby from the chest cavity outward Van Ness goes up in flames. Cut to the boys torching Van Ness’ grave. Case closed.

As the Winchester boys head back into the house, Bobby sarcastically greets them. Shockingly, they answer back because suddenly they can see him. Bobby explains that he was able to stay at the house while they set Van Ness ablaze because he stole the flask, Sam realizes that that’s the reason all his attempts at reaching Bobby failed; the flask was always in Dean’s possession. Dean? Pretty sure Sam just called you a lush. Again.

Unfortunately, the brothers being able to see him isn’t the reunion Bobby was hoping for. Sam and Dean are not stoked. Dean is bitter and judgy about the whole thing and gives Bobby the condensed version of the “what’s dead should stay dead” speech from years ago. Bobby, hurt and pissed, blinks out of sight. Dean tosses the flask in the trunk and the boys have a downer of a conversation about what to do next as Bobby sits silent and invisible in the backseat.

Pop Quiz:

So, what do you guys think of this turn of events? Are you surprised at Sam and Dean’s reaction to Bobby? Did you find it really interesting that every time Bobby had a plan of action, Dean would echo it? Does that mean the boys really don’t need Bobby anymore?

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  • Lisa

    I did think that their reaction to Bobby was out of character, but then again, no one seems to have the first clue how to write Dean for about…two seasons now.

    Dean repeated what Bobby said often enough that I do think he’s picking up on it somehow.

    And I had the same thought that you did about Bobby and Annie’s discussion of the afterlife. Not only do they have first-hand accounts of both Heaven and Hell, but I believe the reaper flat out told Bobby that there was something, even if he couldn’t tell what it was. So yeah, the sudden nihilism makes no sense.

    • I think the reactions were odd for both of the boys, I’m not sure if the writers were going for shocked/stunned and it came across as cold or what, but it was not at all what I’d envisioned.

      Bobby’s dismissal was so bizarre to me. I’m really hoping they pull the threads tight for the last eps.

  • Brittney

    I think that Bobby was saying that there is nothing next, heaven or hell, for ghosts, not that there wasn’t an afterlife at all.

    • Interesting take, I hadn’t thought of that interpretation. I can see that.

  • Rachel

    Y’know, I’m not sure the afterlife question is so clear-cut. Presumably the Reapers take you to your place wherever, and it looks like demon-deals have the Hellhounds take you straight on down, but for the lingering, decaying ghosts who turn down the Reapers – maybe it’s not as simple as the show’s heaven/hell scenario. And that’s even working within the narrow confines of that particular theology. The guys have a pretty limited experience of what could be a pretty wide range of possibilities – heck, they didn’t even know about Purgatory until relatively recently. And given that the show’s version of Heaven and Hell are pretty much the Matrix, with human souls as batteries – they can even trade those batteries – than some kind of ultimate reward/punishment, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to theorise that there could be afterlives relevant to more than one kind of theist approach. They’ve met a variety of gods, after all :).

    • I just think that given what they’ve experienced and what they know of spirituality, Bobby’s reply to Annie seemed dismissive in my eyes. I don’t know, maybe, considering no one really knows where anyone will end up he didn’t want to freak her out?

  • Mickey

    Both Sam and Dean know that Bobby, if he stays a ghost, will become a tortured demented violent spirit. They don’t want that for him, they want him to be at peace. This seemed perfectly in character to me. Dean would rather make the sacrifice of not having Bobby around, than have Bobby make the sacrifice of his sanity and peaceful rest. Sam was more hopeful and optimistic about it, like maybe they could find a way to work it out. But I don’t think he really believed it either, he looked like he agreed when Dean said “what are the odds?”

    • Oh, I agree with that, I just wasn’t expecting them to be so cold. Which, considering I was hugely against Bobby coming back, is weird that I feel that way. I also agree that Sam wasn’t buying his own optimism at all.

  • Percysowner

    I agree with Brittney, Bobby was saying he doesn’t know what happens when a ghost “dies”. If a person goes with their reaper then Heaven and Hell are both possible. With a ghost, they may have missed their chance. Yes, we saw John go “toward the light”, but later Ash said he couldn’t find John OR Mary in Heaven, so we don’t know exactly where they went.

    You noticed one of my nitpicks, why couldn’t Bobby and Annie just walk through the walls to the hidden room? Van Ness couldn’t because he was dragging bodies the first time, but he just popped in on Annie and Bobby.

    I’m thinking Dean is just too stunned that Bobby is there. I think he was upset because Bobby CHOSE to stay as opposed to getting stuck. Dean hasn’t had much luck with people who stick around voluntarily and he panicked. I also kind of think that he would have preferred it if Dean had been in control of Bobby staying or leaving. Then he could have made the decision. Instead, if he decides Bobby needs to be sent on, he will have to do it against Bobby’s will. Sam was stunned, but is already trying to see the bright side. He at least wants to make it work. I hope they can find out a way to do that.

    • Yes, we saw John go “toward the light”, but later Ash said he couldn’t find John OR Mary in Heaven, so we don’t know exactly where they went.

      Good point! I’d forgotten that.

      Regarding our mutual nitpick: I think shows write themselves into corners when it comes to incorporeal beings. The physics are so touchy; Bobby and Annie didn’t fall through chairs when they sat. Bobby and Annie looked for a passage way, but never does Bobby open a car door to get in the backseat. Ghost character pet peeves.