Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 19: “Of Grave Importance”
Written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner
Directed by Tim Andrew
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
This week, on Supernatural: Bobby’s back, ghosts can die, and the guys have more in common than they’d like
Since the inconclusive end of “Death’s Door”, fans have been speculating that Bobby decided not to cross over. Last episode, this was confirmed. This week, we finally get to spend some time with GhostBobby. It’s been a while (9 episodes, or since the beginning of December) and Bobby’s absence has certainly been felt, by the characters and the audience. Jim Beaver’s addition to the cast is one of the best moves creator Eric Kripke made and this reviewer, for one, was skeptical the show would work long-term without him. It seems this isn’t a concern, however- if this episode is any indication, Bobby’s around for good, whether he, or the guys, like it or not.
Putting aside the annoying detail that neither Sam nor Dean ask Bobby what he meant with his final message (which one would imagine would be rather high on the To Ask list), the reunion is well handled. Ross-Leming and Buckner give the audience plenty of time to adjust to having Bobby back while baby-stepping Sam and Dean through the process, putting the viewer in Bobby’s shoes after weeks of speculating along with the guys at the coincidences surrounding them. The decision to bring Bobby back in a big way immediately after revealing his presence last week is absolutely the right move and one that should give the Leviathan arc a much needed jumpstart next week.
Also smart is introducing Annie and then immediately killing her off, giving Bobby a knowledgeable sounding board throughout the episode. Besides the hilarious realization that all three of them, what’s the expression, have a Hemingway thing with her, this also opens the world a bit. Every time it seems like all the guys’ Hunter contacts have died, gone nuts, or otherwise left the picture, they bring another in, usually fairly seamlessly. Annie does die twice in the same episode, but the point remains. She also allows the writers to explain, through her conversations with Bobby, why he hasn’t made his presence more clearly felt than a beer here and a book there.
Over the course of the series, the writers have only briefly touched on the idea of what happens to ghosts when they’re salted and burned. The notion of them as thinking, feeling individuals hasn’t really been addressed and this should provide plenty of fodder in the coming weeks. Though we assume Sam and Dean are glad to see Bobby, this isn’t particularly expressed. Between their shock and concern, the guys haven’t quite gotten there yet- hopefully that’s coming, but it does feel appropriate that they are so uneasy with GhostBobby. This must be throwing Dean in particular for quite a loop- first Cas, then Bobby. We do literally know that somebody up there likes him, but while he has gotten his friends back, they’ve come with some rather massive strings. Is this a coincidence, a side effect, or something else? It should be interesting to find out.
There’s a lot to this episode besides Bobby, however. It’s been a while since we had a good old-fashioned ghost story and this certainly fits the bill. Van Ness is an appropriately creepy villain and the house drips with atmosphere and, while the personal connection ups the stakes of the situation, the solution rightly remains the same- find, salt, and burn the bones. With Sam and Dean so much more experienced than they were even a couple seasons ago, it would be tempting to continually change the rules to make their foes a larger threat. At this point, a ghost’s a piece of cake for them, but rather than make Van Ness a SuperDuperGhost impervious to salt or somesuch, the writers derive the tension elsewhere, remaining true to the world and characters.
This problem of escalation is often one of the hardest challenges for writers of genre shows and it’s one that has plagued Supernatural’s larger arcs since the season five finale. How do you top the Apocalypse? They’ve found the answer to maintaining the stakes in their standalone episodes. Now they just need to translate that to the larger picture. Should the series return next year, however, here’s hoping they come up with something more compelling than Eve, DarkCas, or the Leviathans.
Whether we get a season 8, this episode continues Supernatural’s recent streak of strong episodes. Beaver gives a predictably strong performance, Jamie Luner is a nice addition as Annie, and the various ghosts at the Van Ness house all make strong impressions in relatively few scenes. It’s contemplative, moody, and far more interested in character than scares. Only four episodes remain this season- between Bobby’s return and all that comes with and Meg still watching over Cas, we should be in for a rather packed end to the season.
What did you think of this episode? Do you think Bobby was right to stay? Anyone else glad to hear Dean name-check the Roadhouse? Post your thoughts in the comments below!