I have said it more than once: The spinoff I really want is Bobby and Rufus in a buddy-cop format, saving people and hunting things. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was when I finally got an episode that answered my prayers.
We Are the World
“Keep your head up,” says Sam. “We’re gonna win this, remember?” That sentence is so much with the “we,” and I’m loving it. Our boys, putting saving the world on the back burner to save a few, who are arguably the world to each other. We’ve had so much of them fighting for each other or with each other over these 11 seasons that it’s sweet comfort to see them forces joined for so long. They even work this entire case together—no splitting up this time. They’re united, keeping each other strong, reassuring each other when the going gets tough. Making each other better. To any big bad facing down Winchester-squared? If they stick together, you don’t stand a chance.
“Grumpy Old Men of Letters”
Two hunters in fed suits with snappy one-liners and a chemistry so strong you could build a set out of it. Sound familiar? Rufus and Bobby. Bobby and Rufus. Rufus. And. Bobby. I love these two so hard. Just as Sam and Dean in the present day, “a handful of years ago” the avoiding of the apocalypse has reached a plateau, and keeping busy means chasing monsters, and they were just the expert hunters to do it. Of course, if Sam and Dean go back to the scene of the crime, how did the case go belly up? The plot wasn’t why I was enthralled, but I admit, that mystery colored me intrigued.
I’ve raved about Bobby Singer and Jim Beaver so much it’s clear what a soft spot I have for the both of them, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Rufus Turner, one of my favorite characters on television. He is written well as it is, but what Steven Williams is able to do with those words is even better. After all, who else could make Bobby Singer the straight man? Between citing Sabbath (for once the holy day and not the band) and shutting down the Neighborhood Watch lady with an, “It’s officially none of your damned business, ma’am,” I was utterly delighted to see that the most beloved grouch since Oscar was back and better than ever.
Days of Future Passed
The intercuts between Sam/Dean and Rufus/Bobby, especially in the motel room and graveyard, were masterfully done. Not once did it feel like a gimmick. Rufus asking a question about the case and Sam immediately answering it. Dean asking if Sam really thinks Bobby and Rufus argued about stupid stuff and immediately seeing Bobby growl at Rufus for making things complicated and calling him a dumbass. Dean grumbling about how there must be a better way to dig graves and cutting to Bobby operating an excavator. The superb direction in this episode was matched only by the editing. Hats off to those behind the scenes for making it a seamless watch. (Side note, speaking of behind the scenes: Willie Nelson singing the line, “The night life ain’t a good life, but it’s my life,” was especially poignant. Kudos, as always, to the music department.)
That’s My Boys
It hit me right in the heart, listening to Bobby call Sam and Dean his boys. It brought me right back to that beautiful moment in Season Seven’s “Death’s Door” when Bobby said, pride and love thick in his voice, “As fate would have it, I adopted two boys. And they grew up great. They grew up heroes.” God, even typing it makes my throat tight. I know some people hate John Winchester, and some, like me, think he did his best with what he had, but I think we can all agree—as father figures go, the Winchesters got a gem in Bobby Singer.
Tell It Like It Is
Dean reading Bobby’s account of a former run-in with a soul-eater that all but made him sound like the hunter’s version of Neo from The Matrix—and then a cut to Rufus saying, “No, no, no, no, no. Do not tell me how you tell it. Tell me how it really happened.” A little hearkening back to the Season Two episode, “Tall Tales”? Whether or not it was meant to be, I’m gonna go with yes. Much like this season’s “Baby,” this episode had a few nods to the past (one of which included a certain bottle of Johnny Walker Blue) that would in no way alienate new or casual viewers but were warm and fuzzy to fandom devotees. They were more subtle, maybe quieter, but they were there, and that always feels like such a rich reward to those who have long loved the Winchesters. Keep it up, writers. We get it, and we love it, especially when handled so deftly.
Break On Through to the Other Side
So that netherworld was pretty damned creepy, huh? I have to say, as secondary as the “ghost” story was to those awesome characters moments, it was a pretty spooky tale. Something that steals souls and locks them ethereally in a netherworld of emotional hell they can never escape from while their physical body withers and dies? Yeesh, and also? Gah! Bobby and Rufus didn’t have the Men of Letters library at their disposal, so they did what they could—when they couldn’t kill the monster they trapped it with a Celtic sigil. Dean and Sam would do one better by killing it, but not without Dean resuming his losing streak at Rock, Paper, Scissors and ending up the one who has to go into its nest. Bobby and Dean being trapped with the stolen souls starts off differently for sure (Dean: “Come and get me, you son of a bitch.” Bobby: “Stay away from me, you son of a bitch.”) but the stories collided as they had to face their greatest fears. Dean saw Sam, dead on the floor. And Bobby? He saw them both, bloody. Broken. What makes them fight, what they love more than themselves, lost. What else would they fear more than that? Fortunately (?), the distraction of a lost and scared kid made their inner heroes reemerge as it always does. Like “father,” like son.
Okay, one nitpicky thing: Why are Sam and Rufus, initially anyway, the absolute slowest painters on planet earth? It ends up costing them in the end, as Bobby and Dean’s bodies are both taken over by the soul-eater and a knock-down, drag-out ensues. During Sam and Dean’s version, the monster promises to protect the boys from The Darkness. It seems that everyone knows Amara, and uses her as a bargaining chip. When that doesn’t work and the soul-eater is killed, Dean and Bobby watch the freed souls vanish before seeing each other, literally sharing a haunted look. And when Dean comes back to himself, the nail on the coffin that is my heart is pounded when Sam holds Dean in his arms and says, “I got you” and strokes his hair. I love that men love each other so much on this show. I think it’s vital to show the bonds of friendship and family that men can share and demonstrate openly. Not a lot of shows do that. People who dismiss Supernatural as nothing more than pretty boys chasing ghosts miss that, and that’s a damned shame.
The Olden Rule
Rufus: “You know more than anyone, Bobby. Even if we find a way to keep the world spinning, not everyone’s gonna be on that bus ride home. Sacrifice. The greater good. All that jazz.”
Bobby: “Yeah, I know.”
Rufus: “Oldest rule of hunting, Bobby. You can’t save everyone.”
Rufus mentions that rule several times in the episode, and it makes sense. Rings true. But, just like Sam and Dean always do, he rescinds it in the end, and we know exactly why. He knows how much Bobby loves his boys and how he’ll save them both or die trying. “You getting’ soft on me?” Bobby asks, and before we can get lost in sentimentality, Rufus replies, “Yeah, soft this,” and hangs up on him. Bobby, of course, calls him an idjit and did I mention I want a spinoff? Now, please?
In the end, two classic cars (one beautifully restored and one, um, functional?) head off, case closed, at least at this location. Bobby gets out one last “Idjits” and Sam and Dean banter about how images of dead Sam can be comforting, and all I can think is how much I love this show, and how I always have, for one reason: It’s a show about family, first and foremost. I fell in love with Supernatural because I lost a sister and I craved a show about the bond siblings can share. I fell deeper when I saw how rich the tapestry of love was on the show, and how found family can fulfill the needs you have even when, for whatever reason, blood relations can’t. Again, don’t dismiss this show as mere horror or suspense. There is so much more going on here beyond the monster of the week.
Swoon. I loved it. How about you? Did you catch anything I missed? Let me know in the comments, and see you next time for Episode 17, “Red Meat.”