Ever since Supernatural season 8 began, fans were waiting for the producers to deliver on their promise of bringing the series back to its origins. In this week's episode, "Southern Comfort", written by fan favorite Adam Glass, viewers finally saw some semblance of the series returning to its roots, thanks to the return of Garth (DJ Qualls), now serving as a Bobby (Jim Beaver) stand-in.
A specter (not ghost) is on the loose in Mississippi, attracting Sam and Dean to the case. After arriving in Mississippi, the brothers are finally forced to face Bobby's death head on, now that Garth has taken it upon himself to fill-in for their fallen friend. And thanks to Garth's incorrect delivery of Bobby's iconic lines, fans were finally able to see Sam and Dean deal with Bobby's passing in their familiar, often hilarious, ways – especially Dean.
The story presented in "Southern Comfort", though lacking in some of the series' familiar mystique, comes with a surprisingly rich backstory and a satisfying revelation at the conclusion. Because this episode's purpose is to essentially focus on Sam and Dean's relationship, it's set up in such a way that Sam, Dean and Garth can seamlessly step in and out of investigating it and provide some much needed exposition and explanation, all while naturally progressing the overall case.
Inserted throughout the episode (once again) are more flashbacks of Sam's relationship with Amelia. On one hand, Sam's flashbacks allow fans to see some more emotionally poignant moments (even if they are more fulfilling than Dean's flashbacks). On the other, neither Sam nor Dean's flashbacks are all that successful in their execution and intent. And even if there are some moments where the flashbacks are enjoyable, their inclusion doesn't make up for the absence of important storytelling this season's time jump created.
Fortunately, this episode does appear to make up for the lack of emotional attachment the time jump created, by forcing Sam and Dean (now haunted) to confront each other over their past mistakes, errors and lapses in judgment. Though this conversation is meant for Sam and Dean to "hash things out", one could strongly suggest that both Sam and Dean were talking to the audience, apologizing for some of this season's past errors.
And as if Supernatural received a free therapy session, everyone exits this episode much better off than they entered it. But now that Sam and Dean have a replacement Bobby, will we see Garth returning more often? Could Bobby ever come back?
Bobby's story never really received a satisfying ending. While there was a single episode last season that provided fans with the emotional moments they needed to allow Bobby to die, him returning to the series as a ghost served to complicate his entire story, somewhat ruining the emotional impact his initial death provided. And with the rushed conclusion Bobby received last season, combined with the instability of the series storytelling, as of recent, fans didn't know whether or not they should expect to see him return.
But now that Garth has taken up the role, do you think he should continue? Or would you like to see Jim Beaver return (again)?
Supernatural returns next Wednesday with "A Little Slice of Kevin" @9pm on CW. You can check out an preview of next week's episode below: