Now that the Thanksgiving celebrations have come to an end, it’s time for the return of Supernatural. Unfortunately, this return is short-lived, as we have come to the newly crowned midseason finale. Breathe it in, folks, because this is the last episode of Supernatural for 2011.
Throughout Supernatural’s seven year run, numerous characters have jumped in and out of the series, as Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) make their way through the current apocalyptic predicament that stands before them. While the majority of these characters rarely last long enough to become memorable, there have been a few that have held strong in the hearts and minds of Supernatural fans. And then there’s Bobby (Jim Beaver).
The tough-as-nails junkyard proprietor, Bobby Singer, has been somewhat of an enigma in the series. His role, which initially was to help Sam and Dean track down their father in the series’ first season, has grown exponentially through the years, however, we never knew much about him.
Mirroring Sam and Dean’s relationship with Bobby, we, the audience, only knew slight pieces of his past. As Supernatural progressed and began revealing aspects of Bobby’s life, there was a duality in the manner in which profound revelations in Bobby’s past not only shocked the audience, but it also shocked the two Winchester brothers.
An episode here and there, scattered amongst seasonal arcs, will shine a light on the mysterious man that is Bobby Singer. As each layer of Bobby’s past is slowly peeled backed, we begin to get a better look at the life he once had, and how he painfully lost it all.
The Supernatural season 7 midseason finale is not only the best episode of the season, but it also turned Bobby’s life into a proverbial open book for the audience. Using the familiar storyline of a character attempting to save their life by reflecting upon it (you might be surprised how often it occurs), Bobby, who is stuck within his memories, must replay various events in his life, in an attempt to find a way to send an important message to Sam & Dean.
While theoretically there isn’t must of a difference between the various televisual forms of this storyline and what Supernatural is presenting, it’s the manner in which this element that was executed that not only sets itself apart, but also raises itself above all other attempts. By using a character like Bobby – a character that seemingly has no past – each and every scene was equally as intriguing as it was impactful.
Having to begin his journey with happy memories and then progressing to unhappy ones, the audience is allowed to see the entire scope of Bobby’s life. As each memory quickly shifted to the next, we’re not only allowed to take in each memory on our own, but then we hear Bobby’s commentary about that memory and what it means to him.
Serving to engage viewers with every turned, we’re presented with particularly painful encounters, which seem important visually, but turn out to be nothing more than a common occurrence for Bobby. Thanks to the return of Bobby’s not-so-friend-yet-friend Rufus (Steven Williams), the audience’s questions and comments are seamlessly conveyed through him, as if they knew what we’d like to hear more about.
What’s surprising is that all of these brilliant crafted character moments are occurring without the actual presence of Sam and Dean, the series’ leads. Proving that this may very well be Sera Gambles opus, she was able to craft one of the best episodes of the series by barely including Sam and Dean’s present storyline.
Taking note that it’s over half-way though the episode before Sam and Dean are really involved in this episode, the Supernatural midseason finale never felt that it was missing something. While previous supplementary episodes that pause the current season story-arc can sometimes feel like filler, there was never a moment when you wondered (or cared) about progressing the overall story. If anything, it was all about reveling in the heartbreakingly beautiful adventure that our fallen hero is forced to undertake.
But then reality beings to set in and we’re informed of what’s occurring. Lying in a hospital bed, Bobby is reliving moments of his life in his head. On the outside, we find out that his brain is shutting down. Each and every time Bobby ventures into another memory, there’s fewer places to go.
In move that most likely emotionally drained all those watching, Bobby is left with only memory: his happiest one. As Sam and Dean slowly enter the memory and begin joking around, we realize that Bobby’s happiest memory is spending time with these two boys he watched grow up.
Despite being difficult to envision the series without Bobby in it, one can’t deny that this would be the best way he could go out. Even though Sam and Dean have died (multiple times), it was always shocking, but never emotional. Perhaps it’s the fact that they are the two main characters.
While Bobby’s role in the series can be debated for hours and hours, this is the first time where a characters fate could go either way, or where the time and care given to a character’s death would have been more than appropriate.
Given the circumstances presented, the character of Bobby could easily exit after this brilliant episode.
Of course, there is the old Supernatural rule: *nobody is ever really dead.
And then there’s that asterisk… for when they really do die.
Supernatural returns Friday, January 6, on The CW
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