The dead rarely stay dead on "Supernatural," and "Party On, Garth," proved this.
Before we get to the big moment, let's look at the wackiness and silliness that is Garth.
From the moment the song "Poison" starts to play, we know that Garth is bringing his own quirky brand to hunting. He approaches the witnesses that saw the crime happen in the forest---which takes place not unlike a slasher film opening---and instead of instant respect as other hunters get, he's mocked as being "Top Gun." He rectifies it by taking off his oversized sunglasses and flashing his badge. He quips, "For starters, I'd like a little respect." The girls trip over one another and talk simultaneously.
There, he learns the ghost story told around the campfire the night before. Garth takes this to mean it's a simple salt and burn. He digs up the grave and puts Jenny to rest---"All right, Jenny G. Your ganking days are over."---only she wasn't the one doing the killings. Something else is---and Garth is stunned as he hears another death come across his police scanner. He expresses in disbelief, "How can that be? I Garthed her?"
Garth knows he's in over his head and quickly calls in backup---Sam and Dean.
The Winchesters are still reeling from the events in the psych ward and leaving Castiel behind with Lucifer hallucinations. Sam openly responds to Dean's inquiry about his sanity, "It's all right. It's getting better. Just wish it wasn't like the damn tape from 'The Ring.' I mean, I feel like I'm okay 'cause I passed on the crazy." Yet, it seems from Dean's response, " No, you didn't. You heard what Cas said," that it might be temporary. It would also seem that Meg is keeping in contact with the brothers concerning Cas, as before Garth calls, Dean ends a call with her.
Sam and Dean arrive and find Garth at the morgue with the second victim. There, they learn that the first victim is the brother to the second. Garth also tells the brothers that he has already salted and burned Jenny Greentree, so is unsure as to why another victim would be found. Looking at the deaths, Garth muses, "Plus, is it me, or is this less evil spirit, more monster chow?"
Sam finds out about a brewery with the crass name "Thighslapper." Dean quips that it is a "Beverage for douchebags." It turns out that the two dead boys are sons of the owner. The brewery is also about to be sold---and the owner's children are being picked off one by one. If the ghost allegedly committing the crimes is already salted and burned, than what else could it be? It's invisible, so that rules out most monsters---but it is also a clue.
It isn't until Garth and Dean go to question the little girl that saw her mother murdered that they realize what might help them to see it. Garth, while inept and wacky, is loveable and oddly endearing. To coax the child into telling them what happened, he pulls out a sock puppet. It's equal parts awkward and sweet. Dean is skeptical and annoyed, quickly telling Garth that he'll put "Mr. Fizzles where the sun don't shine." Garth turns a shocked and hurt Mr. Fizzles his way, the mouth open in a giant O. Despite the ridiculousness of it all, it works. The little girl, unwilling to talk before, spills what happened to the two hunters.
As they leave to meet up with Sam, Dean connects the dots. The first victim had been drunk and had screamed about a monster. The little girl had admitted to drinking her mother's spiked orange juice and seeing the monster. Somehow, one had to be drunk to see the being. Now that they had a how to see it, they had to find out what it was. As they dig into the case, it comes out that one of the brewery owners had killed themselves. He had also been against the sale of the brewery. Before committing suicide, Dale had given his partners a gift---a mere two weeks before the sale was to take place.
That gift was an ornate Japanese styled box with a bottle of sake in it. The brothers watch surveillance footage in the office to see what came out of that bottle---but only see the first victim enter and open it. It isn't until they both drink that they see it appear on screen. Sam surmises, while under the influence, "So, he "“ he let that thing out of the box, and it must have just followed him to the place with all the thingies."
The brothers take the sake box to a sushi chef and he informs them that it had contained a shojo monster, a Japanese alcohol spirit. Dale has set it loose upon his partners in retribution for selling his brewery. Sam had learned from Dale's widow that he had considered the brewery his baby. As they took his, he would now take his partners'.
The Winchesters and Garth do some research and put together that this monster needs to be killed with a specially blessed samurai sword. Dean goes to a pawn shop and acquires the sword and takes it to the Japanese suishi chef to have it blessed. Meanwhile, Garth is busy trying to protect the son of one of the brewery owners---a lovechild from a hidden affair. He is poor protection---especially as inebriated as he now is. He calls Dean to inform him, and the silliness of the conversation culminates in his whisper, "Dean, it's here!" Only he can see the monster coming, and it isn't until it throws him aside that the boy takes his advice to flee.
Luckily, Sam arrives to help, but that luck changes quickly when it tosses Sam aside, too. It isn't until Dean arrives on scene with the sword that the monster can be stopped. Only problem is, Dean is not drunk, and so he can't see his target. Garth has been knocked out of the fight and is unhelpful. Sam, coming to, points out to Dean which direction to swing. The monster, however, manages to knock the sword free, and it skitters across the floor harmlessly. Without that weapon, they stand no chance to kill it.
Just as the monster is going to advance on Dean and knock him out of her way, the sword miraculously flies back into his grip. At first thought, it might seem that the sword would do so due to the blessing, but it seems unlikely as other blessed weapons do not behave in this manner. Later, Sam would muse that perhaps the monster had been going for the weapon, too. It doesn't seem anymore likely, however. Then how did it get there?
Dean, rearmed, easily runs the monster through and it dies. He looks around, stunned that the weapon had gotten back into his hands. For some time now, Dean has suspected that Bobby's spirit has been around. He frantically calls out to him, demanding a sign---anything that will confirm that Bobby is indeed with them. It seems for naught and is nothing more than wishful thinking, and so with a heavy heart they leave the brewery and return to the motel room.
Once Garth parts ways---with hugs for each brother---the Winchesters return to the room to pack up and move onto the next case. They discuss what happened at the brewery, if it's at all possible that Bobby is somehow still with them. Sam admits that he tried to talk to Bobby through a spirit board. He tried to connect through EMF and other means. It seems more and more like it's wishful thinking and seeing what they want to see. Sam elaborates when he says, "Or they just miss "˜em a lot. I mean, they see a face in a crowd, we see a book falling off the table. Same thing, Dean."
Dean is adamant. There's too many instances where something happened. A beer bottle drained. A book falling open to the right page. A business card leading them to Castiel. The sword flying back into his hand. Dean is convinced that there has to be something more here than just coincidence and a hope and a prayer.
The one thing that is connecting the brothers to Bobby is not far from Dean---Bobby's flask. Garth, as sweet and doltish as he can be, points this out to Dean. He looks at Dean when he drinks from it and wonders,"So, uh, what's with the Grody flask anyway? Lucky charm? " Once Dean tells him it's Bobby's, he says that maybe Bobby's "riding his wave." Dean scoffs, saying that they salted and burned him---that there's no way. Even though he is steadfast in his conversation later on with Sam, Dean has doubts, too.
Garth manages to nurture the seed already in Dean's mind. Anyone else, and Dean would have shut them down immediately. He might be foolish, inept, and frustrating, but Garth was also Bobby's friend. His coaxing that Bobby might be with them still isn't brushed off easily. Because of his connection, he is also fitting in a way to help them take the first real steps in realizing that Bobby is still indeed with them. He is the one that has noticed the strange EMF readings connected to Bobby's flask. It is the genesis point the brothers need in order to get a real answer about their surrogate father figure. Garth might not seem like a reliable source, and he may come off as over the top silly, but in these scenes discussing the potential for Bobby's spirit to be with them he is deadly serious. His voice is also hopeful---giving the brothers something to grasp on even if they determine perhaps it is in their heads after all.
It isn't until the brothers leave the room and the camera pans back to show us the one figure the brothers---and viewers---have been aching to see: Bobby stands alone, staring forlornly at the door. It swings open again, and Dean stands in the doorway with a relieved expression on his face. He whispers, "There you are."
Bobby stares back, just as relieved. He watches Dean approach, and is waiting for his hug---waiting for acknowledgment of any kind. Instead, Dean picks up the flask and walks back out the door---leaving Bobby to mutter, "I'm right here, you idjit."
Underneath all the wackiness and the sweetness of Garth, the story of Bobby runs throughout. He has been helping the brothers, even when it seems that he's gone. His absence has been felt, and his mentoring has been missed. Yet, the littlest things provided clues. Bobby may not be alive, but he's never ever left his boys---for that is what they are---his boys.
Bobby's reappearance is a stunner, and is overwhelming emotional---even if it is a brief moment in time. It reminds us of what Bobby said himself so long ago: "Family don't end in blood, boy."
There are also several key clues and shout outs to Bobby's history on the show hidden throughout this episode. The monster is a Japanese monster---and each episode that has featured one in some way has also featured Bobby: "Yellow Fever," "Weekend at Bobby's," and now "Party on Garth." Jim Beaver can speak fluent Japanese---and so can Bobby. The monster of the week being an actual alcohol spirit refers back to Bobby's self-proclaimed history as being a "mean old drunk." Randy Baxter tells Sam and Dean that he has no kids---other than his partner Jim's---another shout out to Beaver himself as a father and to his character Bobby"”who is not. Baxter says, "Just Jim's. They'd borrow my car, raid my fridge." Bobby adopted John's sons as his own, and there's no intention of him letting that go---even in death.
The clues are sprinkled throughout---only truly readable after the reveal. The spirit is invisible. In "The Born-Again Identity," Sam helps Marin put her brother to rest. He, too, was invisible. Just because Bobby hasn't shown himself to the brothers---or is incapable as the last scene suggests---doesn't mean he's not with them. He's also connected to his flask---as Marin's brother was to the bracelet. In terms of "Party On, Garth," the "Then" segment provides the viewers with the writers tipping their cards if only momentarily. The second victim's death is very much like Ranger Phil's in "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters." Garth is stunned that his salt and burn didn't stop the killings, but it's suggested that perhaps she is attached to something else---as Bobby himself is to his flask. It's hinted at again as the brothers discuss the clues that imply Bobby's presence. They've been alluded to before and have teased at the edges of episodes since "Death's Door," making it easy to dismiss until the final moments. It is a brilliant play at keeping such a surprise hidden---as Bobby has been throughout the back half of season 7.
DJ Qualls reprises the goofy and sweet Garth. He might not know what he's doing half of the time, but he tries so hard. Even when it seems like what he's doing might only blow up in his face, he manages to surprise, too. Qualls gives the character a loveable quality that makes him, as Dean says, "grow on you." He's ridiculous and boneheaded. Qualls showed both his ineptness and his sweetness throughout the episode. Even though he's not good at fighting the monster---and ends up missing most of it yet again---he at least tried. His heart is in the right place. Qualls connects well with both Ackles and Padalecki. His farewell scene hugging first Dean and shaking Sam's hand only to go in for the hug is full of delight. His character is a hunter, but he just doesn't have the rough edges or hardness that marks the others seen in the show. Instead, he is socially awkward. Qualls brings his own distinctive flavor to the show, and his scenes are a delight for the comedic timing he provides.
Ackles gave us many sides of Dean in this episode. He was frustrated, tired, silly drunk, and desperate. He played an excellent straight man to Qualls's Garth---especially in the sock puppet scene. His eye rolls and muttering, "Mr. Fizzles is going where the sun don't shine" made the scene even funnier. His disbelief that Garth managed to get the little girl to talk also made it delightful. When Sam and Dean later on go to see the surveillance and get caught drinking, Ackles plays up Dean's silly side. He is giddy and joyful, pouring more booze into his glass. His childish "Me likey," is funny---and it only gets better once they're caught. Much like a little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar, Ackles has Dean spit the booze back out into the glass. Later, once he has slain the monster, Ackles shows just how desperate Dean is in wanting Bobby back. His eyes roam and search, his body tenses, and his eyes grow soft with unshed tears. His most powerful scene is only one glance---when he returns to the hotel room to retrieve the beloved flask. Ackles has the viewer convinced for a moment that he, too, sees Bobby. His eyes glisten, his expression relaxes into one of relief, and his voice whispers almost in joy, "There you are." Once he approaches and grabs the flask, all while ignoring Bobby, we can see how Ackles conveys that Dean has yet to learn that Bobby is indeed still with them.
Jared Padalecki fell into a more normal role for Sam in this week's episode. He researched and helped Dean as partner. Padalecki conveyed Sam's skepticism well about working with Garth---and yet we could see him warming up to him. Sam's smug smile on passing Garth onto Dean as partner at the hotel is hilarious. Just as Ackles showed Dean's embarrassment at getting caught, Padalecki shows just how uncomfortable Sam is in these situations. His shoulders hunched and he stuttered trying to find words to talk himself out of it. After as many awkward situations as Sam has been in, it's endearing that he still has this quality. Padalecki's best scene was at the motel room, discussing the possibility of Bobby still being with them. His facial expressions conveyed Sam's pain, and his voice Sam's frustration. He wants Dean to be right---but he just can't accept it because it hurts.
Jim Beaver closes out the episode. He is a welcome sight. Beaver may be in the episode for a short scene, but it is packed with power. He conveys Bobby's desperation to be heard with a simple line, "I'm right here, ya idjit." We see his hope and love for Dean on his face. We also see his heartbreak at being stuck as a spirit. Beaver puts it all in simple facial expressions and body language. He is tense until his shoulders sag in defeat and he mutters his iconic, "Balls." The only thing Bobby wants is to be with his boys---and Beaver shows it in the way he looks at Dean. Tears spring into his eyes and in turn into ours. It is a simple scene---and yet it has huge impact. More than any scene in the episode---and perhaps season---it is powerful and emotional seeing Bobby stare back at Dean in joy at possibly being acknowledged. It is a testament to the current that runs throughout this show's foundation: love.
Judging by the preview for the next episode, we'll get to see much more of Bobby---which is more than welcome.