"Death's Door" Review
By Bekah James
Supernatural 7.10: Death’s Door
Written by Sera Gamble
Directed by Robert Singer
I apologize for the lateness of this week’s review. I confess that every time I attempted to write this, I teared up and felt sick to my stomach. After some intense therapy via fandom friends, I think I am ready to attack this. Okay everyone, deep breaths… and here we go.
This episode picked up exactly where 7.09 left off, with the trio in a van, with Bobby shot in the head by Dick Roman. Seeing Bobby in the hospital with that bullet in his head was enough to send my heart racing. I had hope that Bobby would pull out of it relatively unscathed… until he appeared in the woods with Sam and Dean. That was when I knew I need to put my big girl pants on and accept the inevitable. And yes, I am aware that Bobby has not officially been labeled dead on the show (I’m avoiding spoilers, so I’m not sure what the word on the street is), but I believe he is gone. If I am wrong, I will celebrate like it’s 1999. If he does manage to survive, I hope it is as a real live person, and not some Dresden Files-esque ghost sidekick to the Winchesters. I’m guessing that Sera wouldn’t want to sully Bobby’s memory in that way.
It was extremely sweet that Bobby’s subconscious took him directly to memories of Sam and Dean. It proved what fandom has known all along—Bobby views the Winchesters as his sons. The evidence was strengthened with the memory of Bobby playing catch with itty-bitty Dean, and driven home by Bobby’s impassioned assertion that “…they’re my boys!” Heck, the entire episode could be proof of his love. He was fighting his Reaper (hauntingly portrayed by Herni Lobatti) in order to help his boys by delivering a set of numbers (most likely map coordinates).
It was pretty clear early on that Bobby would have to confront his worst memory in order to make his way to the exit (and back to Sam and Dean). The little boy, who was clearly Bobby in his childhood, led me to believe right away that that memory would involve some sort of child abuse and/or traumatic childhood event. But then that idea was muddied by Karen Singer’s appearance. Ah-ha, I thought perhaps we would be seeing the moment in which Bobby killed his possessed wife. I was truly surprised when Karen started screaming at him for breaking her heart (three days before he killed her). We did not see any animosity in Karen’s previous appearances on the show, just love. I always assumed Bobby felt guilty about killing his wife just because he KILLED HIS WIFE, but now we get clarification… he killed his wife AFTER breaking her heart and dashing her hopes of being a mother. I felt badly for both of them. Perhaps Bobby would have come around to the idea of parenthood had he not killed Karen. I like to think he would have.
Ultimately, the memory he had to confront was the night he shot his father and buried him in the back yard. Say what? Wow. He faced his father and stood up to him, telling Ed Singer that he’d adopted two boys and that far from breaking them, they turned out to be heroes. The pride in Bobby’s voice was evident and made my heart clench. I found absolutely no fault with little Bobby popping his dad in the head, although I was glad Bobby’s Reaper made a joke about the “first genetic case of bullet in the head.”
Jim Beaver demonstrated his capabilities in this episode. It had to be hard to film knowing that your character’s death would be the outcome. He handled himself with aplomb. His desperation to find his way back to Sam and Dean was palpable. His anger inspired my anger. His bittersweet smile as he watched Sam and Dean bicker about licorice was so real that I could feel his true sorrow at his run on the show ending. He took the denouement the producers gave him and said his goodbye to fans in the only way he could—with a stellar final performance.
It was excellent to see Steven Williams back. I’ve always had a soft spot for Rufus, so it warmed my cockles to see him in Bobby’s spirit world, willing to lend a hand. His earring was a little questionable. It was just so… dangly. I forgive him simply because he said: “Well, I’ll be a prima ballerina.” That was epic, and so very Rufus.
Dean and Sam had more of a supporting role in this episode, which I imagine will upset some fans, but I think it worked out very well here. The looks the brothers shared in the hospital hallway after Bobby stabilized were incredibly poignant, and said so much without a word. I could see Dean’s anguish, but also his resolve to be strong for his little brother; to take care of him. I could see Sam’s heart break and his struggle to hold it in so as not to upset Dean further. Those few seconds made me so sad I thought I was going to puke. Later, as Bobby slips away after delivering his final message, the shock and horror on the boys’ faces socked me in the gut once more. It was interesting that Sam turned the tables on Dean, pulling himself together and stepping up to be the strong one, despite his obvious struggle with the collapse of his Wall. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to any fan that Dean rejected Sam’s attempts. Oh, Dean, what will come of you now? I recall, a few months back, Sera Gamble saying something about Dean’s dark path this Season. First the loss of Lisa and Ben, followed closely by the death of Castiel, and now Bobby’s murder. That’s a lot for anyone. I’m going to be keeping an eye on Dean for signs of complete mental collapse.
Now, about the look and feel of the episode. I thought it was perfect. Apparently death uses the same system as Heaven, which makes sense, only instead of roads, there are doors. The way people kept disappearing from Bobby’s memories was an excellent tool to show his physical body and mind breaking down. The creeping darkness was not only creepy, but it gave the viewer the feeling that death was definitely winning the battle. The difference in lighting was an excellent and subtle choice. The light used almost exclusively on Bobby in the spirit world was yellow and warm, almost like firelight. The spirit world light used for Sam, Dean and Rufus was white and cold, almost like a spotlight, which gave the feeling that they were too far away for Bobby to touch. At the end, as the light outside of Bobby’s library blink out, the closing in of death became so apparent that I broke down and cried. After the Reaper was trapped, the shots went blurry and soft around the edges. It was a powerful way to show how hard Bobby was clinging to life and/or the boys.
Another brilliant choice was the bright light beyond Bobby’s last door. It led him directly back to Sam and Dean, where he successfully delivered his message—and his last word. Idjit. Sera nailed this one. Jim nailed the delivery. Jared and Jensen nailed the emotional shock. Home run for the entire crew on that shot. Oh how I cried.
Here are a few things I loved that didn’t seem to fit anywhere:
* For some reason, I’m not surprised that Dean is a Chuck Norris fan. It was nice to see some brotherly interaction that doesn’t involve a case or angst. I’ve always wondered what the boys do in their down time.
* Sam’s pinkish shirt from Season 2. I thought it was an excellent touch to have it reappear in Bobby’s final, and best memory.
* I’m so glad Dick Roman’s name is Dick. I love how it gives the boys free rein to call him dick/Dick as often as possible. I suppose the censors can’t get all censory if it’s the guys name! Brilliant.
There is a reason this episode beat NBC in the ratings this week (yay). Not only was it a beautifully crafted episode, but also word got out that one of the most beloved characters in Supernatural history was on his way out. Sera Gamble wrote a fantastic script that highlighted the best of Bobby, captured the essence of Rufus, and gave Sam and Dean an emotional reach surpassing anything they’ve done before. Robert Singer made it all come to life with such precision that no bells and whistles were needed to leave its mark forever on Supernatural mythology.