Upfront, this recap is not going to be a typical recap from me. There’s no way I’m going to sully the amazingness of this episode with snarky one-sided banter. Is it possible for banter to be one-sided?
Why am I so somber? Because this episode began with a bullet hole in Bobby Singer’s head.
This episode picks up right where 7×09 “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” began, with Sam, Dean and Bobby in their getaway van. Sam in the back trying to assess the extent of Bobby’s injuring, Dean is panicking in the driver’s seat and Bobby? Bobby is taking a trip around his internal hard drive to a scene we all recognize from the previous episode. He’s in the woods hunting last episode’s MotW with Sam and Dean, but Bobby is fully cognizant of the fact that this is not his first trek through this terrain. Also, blood is trickling down from under his cap. Bobby figures out that he’s not in “the real world” and needs to tell Sam and Dean, the real Sam and Dean, about what he espionage’d out of Dick Roman’s folders of grand info and importance. Turns out it’s a sequence of numbers. Way better than when Lost did it though.
And then, boom, Bobby flashes on a memory of Karen, his deceased because she was possessed by a demon and Bobby hacked her to bits wife, trying to have a serious conversation with him. In lingerie. Bobby remembers this moment from his past and it doesn’t seem like it’s a good flashback for him, but he’s willing to hear Karen out. Again. Until the thunder claps, something Bobby doesn’t recall from the actual time of this memory formation. He looks out he window and he sky is clear. So clear in fact that the stars and full moon fade away as a little boy goes running through the backyard.
Confession time: for a split second I thought that the little boy was Lucas Haas and the show had for some reason nabbed permission to use a clip from “Lady in White”. I’ll forever wonder if that was on purpose.
Bobby is suitably freaked out, bids Karen a heartfelt goodbye and strolls out the door directly into a flash of lightening. On the other end of that blast of white light is our old pal Rufus. Sorry Bobby, I know you’re going through a rough patch, what with a bullet in your brain, but so I’m over the moon at seeing Rufus, that your major head wound thunder was briefly stolen.
I have to pause to tell you that the above lightening/thunder pun was purely accidental. And I apologize to every one of you for it.
Where was I? Oh yes, Rufus.
Bobby’s attempting to explain his current predicament, Rufus is busy being decked out a very authentic looking pest control uniform while carting his trusty EMF meter and his quick wit. He’s not trying to hear Bobby right now, he has a ghost to bust.
As Rufus enters the church they’re standing in front of Bobby sees the little boy run past again. Then flash of lightening and the boy is standing right there, grabbing Bobby’s wrist and looking dirty and disheveled warning Bobby that God is going to punish him. And then he’s gone and Rufus is back, peeking his head out the church door and rushing Bobby along. Inside the grand church is a choir group, but they don’t sing, they fade away one by one.
Then the lights go out.
Then a man approaches, greeting Bobby while flipping a pocket watch. He’s a reaper and according to him Bobby Singer’s time is up. Bobby disagrees and runs off through another door.
In the current outside world of reality, Bobby Singer is being rushed through ER trauma while Sam and Dean look on, devastation and fear clear in their eyes, as the trauma unit shouts blood pressure numbers, heart rates and other vital stat hospital jargon that translates to “this is bad, this is really freaking bad”.
Back into his own home, circa current. Sam and Dean are in the middle of heated debate pitting kickass-ness of Chuck Norris vs. Jet Li. Guess who’s rooting for who. I have it on good authority that the answer should have been John Wayne, so both boys are tragically incorrect, however Bobby doesn’t have time to school the whipper-snappers and heads toward his kitchen door, but not before Dean can make a request for beer.
That door opens to Bobby’s kitchen, but now it seems to be circa… I don’t think I should put a date on Bobby; he’s a timeless badass. How about we say circa his childhood? His mother is setting the table and telling Bobby that he’s filthy and is apparently potentially antagonizing his father with his state of disarray. Bobby is quick to shut that door.
Which sends him back to his ghost hunt with Rufus. They’re in the middle of a salt ‘n’ burn; a bride was left at the altar, committed suicide and is now exactly revenge on heartbreaking men. Bobby is pleading with Rufus to focus on the reaper on his tail, Rufus choose to get existential about it: there’s a reaper on everyone’s heels. Besides they have a ghost to vanquish. The ghost appears and in a scene reminiscent of the Pilot, jams her hand into Bobby’s chest plate, grabs his heart, squeezes and calls him a heartbreaker. Rufus comes to his rescue and but the ghost immediately reemerges and tosses Rufus against the mausoleum, cracking his skull open. Bobby torches her corpse and tries to rouse Rufus to no avail.
Back in reality, the boys get a status update about Bobby and it isn’t optimistic. Dean’s face just crumples as his eyes fill with tears and Sam pushes his back against the wall like a scared child.
We’re thrown back into Bobby’s head as he confronts the little boy that keeps popping up. I don’t know about you, but once I realized he wasn’t a superimposed image of Lucas Haas as a child I figured out he was Bobby Singer of decades past. Bobby is starting to twig to this as well. One could argue that Bobby should’ve known, but I wonder if in 15-20 years I were to run into a twelve year old me, would I recognize myself? No promises.
Just then Rufus is wheeled out of the hospital doors, smiling and hitting on the nurse.
(side note: One of the things I really enjoyed about these scenes, aside from the continuity of the doors which was fantastically maintained without being an anvil to the skull, is that Bobby is completely aware of the fact that he’s in his own head. Bravo, writers)
Back to Rufus:
He’s fine, but it seems it was touch and go for a minute there and Rufus played a rousing game of “This is Your Life”. He’s also annoyed that Bobby is pressing for details, until Bobby tells him this is all going on in Bobby’s head and the real Bobby is in a coma and could Rufus kindly walk him through pulling out of that coma. Rufus does. Because Rufus is awesome. The trick is that every memory is a door, the hardest door to walk through, the one you avoid at all costs, is the one that gets you out. They proceed to walk back through the hospital door, they’re halfway inside when Rufus turns the interview mic on Bobby and asks why the ghost bride called Bobby Singer, surrogate dad extraordinaire, a heartbreaker…
That seems to narrow things down for Bobby, because once they’re through the door we’re back at Bobby’s house, circa Jacqueline Bisset, and smack dab in a knockdown, drag-out fight between Bobby and Karen Singer. Seems Bobby has sat Karen down and told her in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want his genetic code to continue on, his daddy was a mean drunk and he refuses to risk letting history repeat itself. Karen always dreamed of a sitting on the porch screaming “no” and “stop that” as her children ran wild in the yard. Bobby crushed her dream and broke her heart. Adding to the pain, Bobby confesses to Rufus that this argument happened three days before Karen was possessed by a demon and Bobby had to kill her. Bobby’s biggest regret is never making things right with her and he’s convinced this is the memory that he had to get through to get back to Sam and Dean, so he walks out the door into a bright white light. Right into another scene from his life. Clearly, whatever Bobby has hidden in his psyche is worse than this.
The next moment we see is a happier memory from Bobby’s past, circa “The Big Easy”, Bobby and wee Dean Winchester are strolling through the park. Dean asks Bobby about the gun training he’s supposed to be doing, but Bobby makes an executive decision to ignore John Winchester and play catch in the park with Dean. Coma!Bobby’s eyes soften at the memory and Rufus notes that Bobby would have been a great dad. Either way, this memory is pleasant so this can’t be it and Rufus tells him to man up and dig deep. Through another door they go.
And we’re back at Bobby’s house. At the kitchen table sits Bobby’s father reading the paper, at his side stands Bobby’s mother shakily spooning peas ’n’ carrots onto the elder Singer’s plate. Ed Singer is wondering where his tardy son is while Bobby’s mother tries to explain Bobby is just washing up. Mr. Singer feels Mrs. Singer coddles the boy. Bobby finally slides into his place at the table and makes to hand his father the biscuits he’s demanding when his arm grazes his glass of milk sending it crashing to the floor. Daddy Singer is not pleased, he tells Bobby he breaks everything he touches. Bobby sits there silently, trembling like a rabbit. Momma Singer tries to ease the tension, this results in Bobby’s father flinging his dinner plate to the floor sending peas, carrots and meatloaf flying. Bobby and Rufus watch the scene, Rufus thinks this was a pretty intense memory, Bobby informs him this was par for the crappy golf course of young Bobby Singers life and shuts the door. He decides that he needs to buy some time and pause the reaper’s pursuit with a spell.
We check in on the Winchester brothers at the hospital and find that the news they’re being given by the doctors is not optimistic, to the point that Dean, as next of kin, is questioned about whether or not Bobby is an organ donor. Dean’s response was to punch a glass display on the wall next to the organ guy’s head. When the only words out of Dean’s mouth after are a command for the guy to walk away, the guy does as he’s told. Dean heads out of the hospital to walk it off and get some air and who does he see but Dick Roman, sitting in his fancy, black-out tint car. Dean is not in the mood and makes sure Dick knows it. And to credit Dick Roman, he’s smart enough to not take Dean out while wearing a highly respected and recognizable public face when all the people in the parking lot with smartphones are poised to immortalize it on YouTube.
Inside the waiting area, Sam Winchester looks defeated, in fact he looks amazingly small. He’s losing his optimism fast and tells Dean as much. Dean is not willing to accept that Bobby may not pull through and walks away from Sam, leaving Sam alone and scared as he rubs at the fading scar on his hand.
Rufus and Bobby are still knocking around Bobby’s noggin and getting the spell ready. Bobby notices that while he’s in his house, with his books and supplies that he knows like the back of his hand, some of the pages he flips through are blank and lights seem to be fading out. Quick as they can they bind the reaper, but the reaper makes it clear that this isn’t a solution, it’s merely procrastination.
Bobby understands that, but he has to get back to the boys, he has to tell them what he knows, he has to face his worst memory.
Little Bobby Singer sits at the dinner table while his mother scurries to clean the mess the floor has become. His father pours himself a drink and tells Bobby to get up and help. In an attempt to diffuse the situation Bobby’s mother tells her husband to relax and have another drink. Ed Singer doesn’t take kindly to his wife telling him what to do and makes sure he knows it. With his hand. Clutching her bruising face, Bobby’s mother blames her young son. Grown-up Bobby steps in, standing up to his father, telling him what an abusive asshole he is, so much so that even after his father was dead he was too afraid to have his own kids because the memory of his father and the fear of becoming him. Ed tells Bobby that’s a good thing, reiterating his feeling that Bobby breaks everything he touches. Bobby corrects him sternly, informing this horrid memory-ghost of his father that he adopted two amazing boys, helped raise them right and those boys grew up to be heroes of the world.
In the hospital those very boys are informed that Bobby is stable enough for surgery. The nurse rushes them in so they can see him before the staff preps him.
Back in Bobby’s head his mother is sniveling on the floor as her husband continues to yell at her. Young Bobby appears in the doorway with a rifle as he shouts at his father to stop. Ed doesn’t think his son has the balls. Adult Bobby watches as his young self shoots his father in the head and Bobby’s mother tells him that God will punish him. Adult Bobby tells his young counterpart that this is where he learns that the saved rarely thank their savior and it’s time to get a shovel and bury his father’s body, the body of the first demon in his life, behind the woodshed.
Sam and Dean stand by Bobby’s bedside, somber and grateful for everything Bobby has been to them. With that, Bobby stirs, he grabs Sam’s hand and Dean shouts for a pen. Bobby can finally pass on the message he needs to get to them, a series of numbers. Breathing heavily Bobby scrawls on Sam’s hand and looks at the boys with the deep affection that a father who’s boys mean everything to him and lovingly calls them “idjits”, before shutting his eyes again.
Inside his head the reaper is telling Bobby it’s time to go. Everything is fading, this house is all that’s left. Bobby says he’s glad he saved the best memory for last and grabs the beers Dean sent him for earlier. He hand each Winchester a bottle, sits in his chair and serenely watches them bicker like children over the validity of licorice as a movie snack. As they debate, they fade away from him.
The episode ends with the high-pitched drone of a flatline and the trauma unit scrambling to action.
As always, I try to not “pick sides” in my recaps. That said, I do have a side. Bobby Singer was a hero, Bobby Singer did his part for the world and Bobby Singer deserves to rest. This show could take another route, it’s “Supernatural”. But it shouldn’t, Bobby Singer deserves better than a kitchy miracle.
If you had a dry eye after this episode, I don’t know how.