The most recent episode of Supernatural brings back a major hanging plotline focusing on one of the major secondary characters in the series. Bobby Singer is a sort of mentor and father figure to the boys, the closest thing they have left to family (except, of course, for the sudden arrival of their previously-deceased grandfather and an entire family of hunters they never knew about).
Last season, Bobby made a deal with the demon named Crowley in order to stop Lucifer. (He also got healed from paralysis, allowing him to walk again.) He had to offer his soul up to Crowley, but it was sort of a short-term deal … Crowley promised to “rip up the lease” when they beat Lucifer.
In the first few moments of this episode, we see that Crowley didn’t hold up his end of the deal. In a flashback to a year previously, just after Lucifer’s fall, it’s revealed that Bobby summoned Crowley about getting his soul back. Crowley says he can’t do it, citing a loophole in the contract that says he’d make his “best efforts” to give back his soul, which means “I’d like to — but I can’t.” Crowley gives him 10 years to live before collecting. Bobby’s attempt to capture Crowley in a Devil’s Snare is thwarted because Crowley summons hellhounds, forcing Bobby to let him out.
Back in the present, Dean and Sam are investigating a series of vicious murders, where the only clue is a strange-looking claw. They call Bobby to help out with the investigation. Bobby takes a while to answer the phone, because he was busy, but decides to help the boys anyway.
What follows is an amusing research montage set to the tune of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” wherein Bobby has to go break into the Sioux Falls University Library in order to get the book that he needs. (My university library had no section of arcane supernatural texts. I think my education suffered for it.)
After a full night of coffee-fueled research, Billy figures out that the boys are hunting a Lamia. “It’s a monster. Juices hearts, chugs the blood. Never heard of one popping up outside of Greece, though.” It can be killed by a silver knife blessed by a clergyman. Dean then hangs up the phone without so much as a “Thank you.” Those boys can be a bit ungrateful sometimes.
Bobby heads into his basement, where we find out he has a female demon tied to a chair inside a Devil’s Snare. He wants Crowley’s true name, from when he was a flesh-and-blood mortal. To get the information from the demon, he puts something in a barrel, though the viewer can’t see what it is. She asks, “What are those?”
“You don’t recognize them? They’re yours,” he replies.
As he lights up a flamethrower, she says, “It won’t work. It’s a myth.”
“Then you got nothin’ to worry about,” Bobby says. He then fires the flamethrower into the barrel, but the demon woman seems to be burning from the inside out. My guess is that he has her bones in the barrel. Burning up a spirit’s mortal remains destroys it, but I’ve never seen this principle applied to demons.
The demon then replies that she can’t, because he’s the king. Crowley’s title was “king of the crossroads,” but now he’s upgraded. It seems that with Lucifer gone, he’s the new King of Hell. After Bobby takes a break to get rid of a cute and awkwardly flirtatious new neighbor who knocks on the door, the demon finally offers up the name Fergus MacLeod … then Bobby kills her.
After the commercial break, Bobby has a series of rapid-fire phone calls. See, he’s kind of the central hub for a network of hunters, where his primary role is to provide them with authentication of their cover stories. He’s got about a dozen phones rigged up on his wall, each marked to indicate how he should answer them – FBI, CDC, CIA, Fed Marshall, and so on.
He’s interrupted by hunter friend Rufus Turner showing up for help in disposing of a dead body – the body of a Japanese monster called an Okami. They bury the Okami, but then a federal agent shows up with the local sheriff (who knows Bobby’s a hunter) looking for Rufus and the body. They find the hole on his property, but it’s been dug out. Bobby plays it off as an exploded septic tank, but calls Rufus. Turns out he screwed up in killing the Okami (you’re supposed to stab it 7 times, not 5 times). The Okami feeds on single white females – like Bobby’s neighbor. Bobby’s able to kill the demon with a wood chipper, but the neighbor’s dinner offer is rescinded. “Story of my life.”
Rufus provides some information about Fergus MacLeod, including that he had a son who died in a 1723 shipwreck off of Massachusetts’ shore. The son had a signet ring, now part of a museum’s sunken treasure exhibit. Bobby asks Rufus to get the ring but things go sideways on it. Rufus swallows the ring while being chased.
Next comes a call from Dean, who wants to talk about how Sam is different. When Bobby takes another call (from Rufus), Dean says he’s selfish … motivating a tirade to both boys about how they are not the center of the universe. “How about you sack up and help me for once?”
In fact, the whole episode is about Bobby asking for help. First, he asks Rufus for help. Then he asks Sam and Dean for help. Next, he asks the Sheriff for help in getting Rufus out of jail.
With the ring now liberated – and sterilized – he performs a ritual to summon Crowley’s son. Rufus believes (and the viewer is meant to be led to believe) that he’s planning to trade the son’s spirit for release of his soul by Crowley. This isn’t what happens. Instead, he just summoned the son so that he could get the location of Fergus MacLeod’s burial site. (I was right. The bones thing works on demons, as well. Now that Bobby’s proven that, I’m guessing that demons will be more careful with their remains.) Sam and Dean are now in Scotland, so Bobby can trade his soul in exchange for not destroying his bones.
With his soul back under its original ownership, Bobby thanks Sam and Dean for their help (almost as painful as asking them for help in the first place). Then, just as he’s about to eat dinner, the phone rings and he’s back to his existence as support staff to a vast hunter network.
This was a great episode. On the surface, it was a light-hearted romp compared to some of the darker episodes, but this episode had some really high stakes. It also showed the less adventurous side of the hunting life and some of the logistics that are rarely covered in detail, such as what to do with dead bodies. In terms of the overall plotline of the season, we’ve go some nice information dropped:
- Crowley is now in charge of Hell, having filled the power vacuum left with Lucifer’s re-imprisonment
- Monsters are behaving strangely. Stranger than normal, that is. A Lamia, normally only found in Greece, is located in Wisconsin and a Japanese Okami is also found in the U.S.
- Demons can be destroyed if their bones are burned.
The episode was also the directorial debut of Jensen Ackles, the actor who plays Dean Winchester, and showed some nice chops working on a cast that doesn’t work together a lot. Sam and Dean are sidelined, which makes sense, because that meant Ackles wasn’t in the awkward position of directing himself at the same time he was juggling all of his other duties.
- Episode 6.3 – “The Third Man”
- Episode 6.2 – “Two and a Half Men”
- Episode 6.1 – “Exile on Main Street”
- Supernatural Seasons 4 & 5
- Supernatural Seasons 2 & 3
- Supernatural Season 1