Supernatural, “Weekend At Bobby’s”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for the “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” storytelling approach that sees individual episodes shift the focus away from the usual main characters and onto the supporting players we’re certainly familiar with, but don’t always get to watch in action on their own. House tried it twice last year, nailed it once with the Wilson-heavy, “Wilson,” and couldn’t quite recapture the glory the second time with the Cuddy-centric “5 to 9.”

“Weekend At Bobby’s” is Supernatural‘s run at the gimmick and thankfully Jim Beaver is just so awesome that there is no way that a Bobby-focused effort could be awful. Moreover, the episode actually includes an intriguing, albeit frustrating point about the relationship between Bobby and the Winchester brothers, something that, for whatever reason, never really clicked with me and now totally makes sense.

Sam and Dean are needy, oftentimes annoying crybabies. But because we spend almost all of our time with them, we don’t think twice when they call Bobby up for information 10 minutes into an episode, struggle for another 25 minutes and then receive a quick solution from their father figure at the last moment. It seems natural, like that’s how it should be. They call Bobby, he helps and they save the day.

Yet, while Sam and Dean are busy getting their asses kicked and too stingy to do the research themselves, Bobby’s slaving over hundreds of dusty old books, breaking into libraries for additional information and staying up all hours of the night to help them. And he’s just not helping them, as he’s basically the saving grace for dozens of hunters when they need anything from spells or just their asses covered by suspecting law enforcement. In short: Bobby lives one hell of an unselfish life.

All that, particularly the great montage set to “The Gambler,” works gloriously here. What doesn’t work quite as well is how Sam and Dean’s selfishness gets pulled into the events of the episode.

While he’s dealing a mess caused by Rufus and having Dean call him about Sam’s “different-ness,” Bobby’s still trying to find Crowley and get his soul back. After Lucifer got shoved back into the cage, Bobby tried to get Crowley to agree to the deal, but of course, crossroads demons don’t really tell the whole truth. Instead, Crowley tells Bobby he has ten years and appears to really want Bobby to try to figure out a way to get out of the deal, as if he just enjoys the thrill of the game.

A year later, Bobby’s still struggling with that game. He’s made some progress, but not enough, particularly with no help from people like Sam and Dean. So when Dean calls crying about Sam, Bobby completely unloads on him for being a bratty twit and Dean calls him selfish.

This, I don’t really buy. I believe that in the heat of the moment Bobby would say those things to Sam and Dean, but I’m not sure Dean would ever call Bobby selfish, even after being out of the hunting game for a year. He knows the sacrifices Bobby has made over the years and how much work he puts into being the support system they need. He knows that Bobby is also helping other people. Dean is not stupid and the moment makes him so just to create some sense of drama that didn’t really need to be there. Bobby could have easily just been frustrated (like he was) and simply unloaded on them for not helping (like he did) and it would have served the same purpose. The overall end goal is to have Sam and Dean realize they need to help Bobby more often and though that’s reached here, it could have been do so without the angst.

However, this episode features so many wonderful moments that it’s hard to get too caught up in those moments of faux angst. Along with the great montage of Bobby’s life early in the episode, all the scenes with he and Rufus are fantastic (enough so that I’d watch a series with just them) and the new information about Crowley is certainly intriguing. It seems that he’s something of the literal king of hell post-apocalypse (which is convenient, but whatever) and no one is really following his new direction — just like Cas in heaven.

Those tidbits of information helped start to convince me that perhaps the season is going to work out okay because now the themes are coming to the forefront. With heaven all screwed up, hell a mess and earth full of crazy monsters doing things never thought possible, the series is slowly building up a nice sketch of what happens after hell and heaven wage war on earth. Now, even though things seemed to be getting better, the aftermath of a horrible event often makes things worse before they get any better.

So although I think these first four episodes have been wholly disjointed and ultimately disappointing, the threads are slowly coming together. I still think each episode has been vastly different from the one before it in a way the series has never done, but now that the season has touched base with all the main characters, it’s time to move forward. And after “Weekend At Bobby’s,” I’m a little more optimistic for where things are headed.

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