You should be aware that this post contains mega spoilers for the Dec. 2 episode "Death's Door," as well as wildly uninformed speculation on where Bobby's character goes from here.
I've mentioned before that I don't read spoilers. I like talking about ideas with other fans and I like taking note of what future guest stars may be on the show (Jason Dohring!) but beyond that, I don't look. So I went into this episode with no idea whether or not Jim Beaver is shuffling off the show ala Misha Collins. The show certainly hasn't hesitated to kill off characters in the past, so I've been a little concerned ever since the last episode when the aptly named Dick, aka Head Leviathan, shot Bobby in the head.
We pick up where we left off, with Sam and Dean freaking out and Bobby bleeding. As they rush him to the hospital, we cut to a different take from a scene last week, when they find a victim up a tree. But Bobby quickly realizes that this isn't exactly reality and that he in fact is the victim. From there, he begins bouncing around to different scenes in his life, including a meaningful conversation with his wife (although we're not sure yet why it's meaningful) and a job he once worked with Rufus (nice to see him again!) There are also some memories of Sam and Dean, then Bobby seeing his mother in his kitchen and instantly closing the door. (Major foreshadowing and I called the eventual plot development right there.)
Meanwhile, in what Bobby calls the waking world, doctors tell Dean and Sam to prepare themselves for Bobby's likely death. At one point later in the episode, a hapless hospital admin approaches Dean to ask how Bobby felt about being an organ donor. Who else got chills in that scene?
It turns out that the reason Bobby's mind went to that particular job with Rufus was because his former partner had a near-death experience. Rufus shared with Bobby that the way he escaped death was finding the right door--the one that makes you walk right through the memory you least want to face. Bobby explains that he's been shot and that Rufus isn't even real and his former partner becomes his spirit guide or what have you. They return to the scene where his wife Karen was, who is now violently upset. Turns out that she and Bobby had argued bitterly that night because he didn't want to have kids. (More accurately, because he didn't want to be a father.) Their argument was only three days before her posession and his eventually having to kill her and one of his worst regrets. Rufus is hopeful that this was the memory Bobby had to confront, but of course there's way too much left in the episode for it to be that easy! And, as Bobby has a Reaper on his tail (or, as Bobby put it, in his custard) we know it's going to be quite difficult. At this point, I was betting Bobby would in fact die.
In one of my favorite scenes, we see Bobby playing baseball with a young Dean even though they'd been expressly ordered by John Winchester (worst dad ever) to practice shooting. We also get a funny memory of adult Sam and Dean asking Bobby to solve the debate of who's a bigger bad-ass: Chuck Norris or Jet-Li. (Feel free to weigh in with your vote in the comments.)
Bobby tells Rufus that while you can't stop a Reaper permanently, he and the boys have run across them enough to pick up a few tricks. He manages to trap the Reaper, but the Reaper points out how parts of Bobby's mental world are disappearing because his brain is dying. Because of that, the trap will eventually fade and the Reaper will get him. Is Bobby merely postponing the inevitable because he has knowledge of the Leviathans he needs to give the boys?
The theme of the episode was clearly fatherhood (with the secondary theme of Bobby Singer Rocks) and we get a glimpse of Bobby on the phone arguing with John and admitting, "I know I'm not their father." But come on, we all know differently. Bobby Singer was the best parent those poor kids ever had. And in the final confrontation with his own abusive, aloholic father, Bobby concludes that as well. Bobby's late dad sneers that he's glad Bobby never had kids because he would have sucked and Bobby rejoins that, as a matter of fact, he adopted two and they grew up GREAT. They're HEROES. (Big Damn, if you'll pardon the Firefly reference.)
The awful childhood memory played out the way I figured it would, with young Bobby shooting his father in order to save his mother (at which point she immediately told him God would punish him. Yikes, the parents on this show.) And as the Reaper lunges for Bobby, he finally escapes death through the right door and...
His eyes opened in the hospital. Dean and Sam were ecstatic and for a second I actually thought the status had been returned to quo (they've dodged death plenty of times before). He tries unsuccessfully to tell them something and when they get him a pen, he scrawls the important numbers (what they are and why they're important, I don't know) on Sam's hand. Then he smiles at them and it hit me in the gut that he was totally gonna die. He opened his mouth and I braced myself for an admission of "I love you" that would make me sob. My husband said, "He's gonna say 'I'm ready.'" But, no. In classic Bobby fashion, all he said was, "Idjits." And then he flatlined. And I sobbed.
I thought that was the end of the show and was surprised to see us back again in Bobby's "house," the darkness ever growing outside it. Sam and Dean are in the living room arguing about proper movie snacks (and I laughed out loud at Dean's insistence that licorice is "chewy bites of heaven"). The Reaper tells Bobby it's now or never, is he gonna cross over peacefully or become a stuck spirit? He also says, "They'll be all right without you," the boys fade, and credits roll.
So, without citing interviews or spoilers that give us the answer (assuming they exist), what do you guys think? Is Bobby gone??? Will he return a horrible shade in the new year, caught between two worlds and warped by his own good intentions? (If so, did dude learn NOTHING from Cass?) What were those numbers? It all makes my head hurt. Although that could be from the crying.
What I do know is that, even if Bobby's "gone," this show is great at unexpectedly bringing back the dead for guest spots and episodes showcasing Jim Beaver's talents are always excellent. That said, holy crap, they killed Bobby!