I admit that I was less enthused coming back from the month long break. Episodes 11-15 were lackluster at best (minus the brilliant “The Vessel”). I also knew that the show doesn’t like digging to the mytharc until about episode 17 or 18, so we were due some more standalone filler. Well, this is the prime example of how a standalone episodes should go. Robbie Thompson again hits a home run.
“Supernatural” has tried the nostalgia trip before, often with mixed results. Too many times mentions of the past end up being quick shoutouts rather than meaningful story tie-ins. But the mere concept of this episode was brilliant, let alone bringing back two departed fan favorites. Two hunts, same house, same MOTW, different time frames. Showing them frame by frame in parallel took an average MOTW story and made it extraordinary. I was engrossed from the beginning and as the hour grew so did the smile on my face.
It does take a couple of viewings to grasp what happens, which makes me even happier because I love complexity in a story. The soul eater concept is definitely one of the more complex ones, but when all the threads were put together it came out complete and satisfying. I wondered how they would explain that inconsistency between the victims in Bobby and Rufus’ case waking up and Harvey in Tennessee not waking up. We had to wait for it, but the payoff was awesome. All that had to happen was Sam drawing a blood sigil on a wall in 2016! It all makes sense when applying a little quantum physics. Hey, it’s not any more mind blowing that the “time line remnant” problem with Eobard Thawne from The Flash earlier this season.
I geek out over the time stuff though. I do have experience with this whole space/time continuum thing by watching a lot of Star Trek and currently The Flash. So, I must say, I was really digging the twist about The Nest not having time as a constant. It was brilliant for a few reasons. For one, because of time, the stories ran in parallel. So what better way to bridge the past and the present than to have Bobby and Dean have that brief encounter in a place where time has no meaning. It really completes the story. Second, the plot was unpredictable. I had no idea how this was going to turn out, and trust me when a show hits 200+ episodes, that’s a hard feat.
So, by killing the soul eater all his victims were sent back to their respective times. They all probably awoke next day like the victims in this case, unless their bodies truly did wither away to nothing. Does that essentially then change time? Not really. From Sam and Dean’s perspective, if a victim awoke, it happened years ago. To think, they were responsible for saving a bunch of people before they were even born! I’m just reeling over the idea that Sam and Dean saved Bobby’s life in season four by using their Men of Letters solution in season eleven. Its brilliant! I’m calling that a big win and Sam and Dean could use one.
Putting all that brain stuff aside, how much do you wish we could get some type of a six to eight episode spinoff of Rufus and Bobby to run during the Hellatus breaks? The chemistry between those two is priceless. They were just as good together in this as “Weekend at Bobby’s.” Heck, the idea is working for Marvel over at ABC, so why not?
I loved Bobby and Rufus’ respect for the oldest rule in hunting, you can’t save everyone. Bobby at the time was putting a huge burden on himself to save Sam and Dean from Lilith and the looming apocalypse. It’s so Bobby, but he had reason to worry. Sam was actually lost in that battle. When you look back at Sam and Bobby’s goodbye hug in “Swan Song,” this episode adds more meaning to that moment. Robbie really did his homework.
Rufus: But you know more than anyone Bobby, even if we find a way to keep the wheels spinning, not everybody is not going to be on that bus ride home. Sacrifice, greater good, all that jazz.
Bobby: Yeah, I know.
Rufus: Oldest rule of hunting Bobby, you can’t save everyone.
I also wonder if this is some sort of foreshadowing. Sam and Dean have sacrificed themselves for each other so much, I wonder if they’ll come to terms with the oldest rule. There’s been plenty of hints that one of them will die this season (cough, Sam, cough), so I wonder, will the other be able to let go for the sake of the greater good? Of course Bobby was given those words of encouragement from Rufus to forget the oldest rule, so who knows? Maybe it’ll never apply to brothers named Winchester.
Then there’s Sam’s comment at the end to Dean, “How messed up are our lives that you seeing a vision of dead me is kind of comforting?” I took that to mean that it’s not the worse thing they face, and lord knows Sam and Dean have died in each other’s arms a few times so they’ve faced it before, but it’s an odd comment don’t you think? You think Sam is also saying that once they die, the fight is over? Its kind of weird given his intense relief over getting Dean back. I mean, just look at this:
I’ll just tuck that away in the “might be important for later” category, but for right now I’m probably reading too much into it. This episode had so much goodness, it’s really hard for me to do a real coherent review from this point. How about I drill down what’s left in some easy to read points?
Returning director Stefan Pleszczynski once again did an incredible job. Wednesday does a much better job of showcasing the visuals in her review, but I just love this shot:
The neighbor Sam and Dean spoke to said that she first talked to the other FBI agents “A handful of years ago.” I LOVE that when they started the flashbacks, the label ended up being just that, “A handful of years ago.”
LOVE the piece of continuity with season seven’s “Time After Time.” If you recall in that episode, Jody Mills found a bottle of Johnnie Walker blue (a very pricey whiskey BTW) in Bobby’s things with a note from Rufus attached to it. It’s so wonderful that Robbie Thompson found a way to tie in that bottle to the hunt in this episode. That wasn’t just a shout out. It was a tie in to events of the past. It’s beautiful, especially when season seven really botched Bobby’s story.
Robbie Thompson at the Celebration of Supernatural event at DePaul last year said he wanted to bring back Rufus and do a spinoff, The Grumpy Old Men of Letters. He made it happen! He even got Dean to say the line. I couldn’t be happier to see this come to be. Awesome Robbie, awesome.
Did anyone notice that Sam was looking up something from the Men of Letters archive online? So he’s computerizing the library now? So cool, and so Sam. Now he has access at his fingertips when traveling. I hope they have one bitching modern server in the computer room now to go with the antiques
The hospital was St. Eligius! Any St. Elsewhere fans out there? That was one of my favorite shows several years ago. Heck, I wrote a "Supernatural" fan fiction loosely based on my favorite St. Elsewhere episode. (After Life). Actually, I wrote a "House" one too based on the same episode. It’s one of my favorite concepts.
The “Travel USA” motel has been used before. I remember it in “As Time Goes By” and I swear “Fan Fiction” was there too. I’m sure there are others, please share if I’m missing anything.
Dean calling Bobby a “slacker” over not updating his journal, and it turns out it was Dean that caused the distraction. What goes around, comes around. Same with the line, “You think Bobby and Rufus wasted any time arguing about this kind of crap?” and that’s exactly what they were doing.
I love how Sam and Dean haven’t figured out the easier way to dig graves yet. Score one for Bobby! I really, really miss him.
I’m with you Dean. I’m kind of over the Rock Paper Scissors thing. You’ve got to admire Sam’s record though.
Why would Bobby cover up the wall with such ugly wallpaper? He had to know someone would redecorate with that poor redecorating taste and break the seal.
Bobby: Were you ever nice?
Rufus: 1985. Worst year of my life.
Overall grade, an A. One of the best of the season for sure. I remember Jim Beaver tweeting that he hadn’t filmed a scene with Jensen in four years. I got emotional just reading that. I definitely got emotional seeing it. Let’s hope this little momentum boost keeps going for the rest of the season.