And finally Bobby comes back to them one last time and they look at each other with love as we've never seen before and it's just the most beautiful scene ever.
The episode starts with the last scene from the previous episode and a view of the bullet wedged in Bobby's brain. Then Sam and Dean in panic. Dean telling Sam to keep Bobby upright yada yada which he knows Sam would do but he can't help but say it, Sam urging Dean just to drive, I know what I'm doing, I'm not an idiot! Dean phones to find out where the nearest emergency hospital is and they are on their way - Dean with that desperate look on his face that we've seen many times before when Sam was in danger.
While that's going on, we get to go inside Bobby's brain and see what is going on there. Bobby starts his memory journey with the most recent memory of walking through the woods with Sam and Dean in search of the "Jersey Devil." They find the body in the tree and Bobby knows there is something wrong. Something bad is about to happen... or has already happened. Touching his forehead he finds blood - and the truth comes to him. He's been shot. Rushing back to the cabin they were using to dissect the monster in real life, he tells the Sam and Dean in his head that there is something he needs to tell them - no, not THEM, the Sam and Dean in real life. They look at him with puzzlement as he rushes to find a piece of paper and writes down the digits.
I'm not the one for details so I never notice it while I'm watching but at this point, he has the numbers right, even though later on he misses a digit when he writes it onto Sam's hand.
After he writes down the numbers he looks up and suddenly he's in the past with Karen. The way he goes through his memories here reminds me both of Dream a Little Dream, and Dark Side of the Moon. So, it makes me wonder a bit whether Sam and Dean were really dead in Dark Side of the Moon as they went through all those memories. Maybe you're not really dead until you get to the Garden or to your own heaven? Come to think of it, Sam and Dean had no Reaper after them in Dark Side of the Moon - only Zach sort of taking the place of a Reaper... That's weird actually... Anyways, Karen looks happy, asking for her wine but we and Bobby all know that Bobby has jumped into the beginning of the scene where he tells her that he doesn't want to have kids. She starts to tell Bobby what has been on her mind, and Bobby knows word for word what she said so he starts to say it with her.
KAREN: I’ve thought about this a lot. I really...
KAREN/BOBBY:...sat with this...
KAREN:Don’t make fun of me.
I really love the way Bobby says that last "I wouldn't." It's so heartfelt and you can tell just how much he loves her <3
Then he tells her he can't stay because he has to do something and goes to the window as he hears a storm coming. The storm is from another memory. When he looks out the window, he sees himself as a young boy (but doesn't recognize him) running across the field, probably running home for dinner. As he tells Karen he has to go, the scene changes again.
He's outside a church with Rufus, about to burn up a ghost that's been killing men who have broken a woman's heart. He tries to get Rufus' attention and get his help, but Rufus keeps thinking Bobby's talking about the hunt. He urges Bobby to come in as he opens the church doors and as Bobby looks around outside one last time, he sees the same boy, whom we know is young!Bobby.
The boy rushes up to him and urgently says, "God is going to punish you." and Bobby hears the sound of broken glass and looking behind him sees a broken glass of milk before he looks back to find that the boy is gone again.
On a rewatch, we know that the boy is trying to remind him of that day that he killed his father - the day and memory he has to go back to in order to get back to Sam and Dean. This also seems similar to how Sam is able to return to his body in The Man Who Knew Too Much in a sense that a part(or most) of his brain wants him to, and helps him figure out how to do it. As Bobby goes in after Rufus, Rufus is already at the other end of the church opening a door down to the crypts. The choir is practicing up at the front when suddenly there is thunder, the earth quakes, the choir disappears one by one and the lights go off from front to back as the Reaper appears to tell Bobby that he needs to come with him.
REAPER:You’re in a coma, genius. This is what happens. I climb in your “custard” and fish you out.
REAPER:Oh, you think you can lose me.
REAPER:I’ve got places to be, Singer, don’t waste my time.
BOBBY:Might as well – while I got it.
REAPER:You’re prolonging the inevitable.
This reaper is not very good with convincing people to go with him, although I like that touch with the pocket watch - very business-like. I bet lots of folk end up becoming vengeful spirits with him... I wonder if there is a quota for Reapers. Like they have to be able to bring a certain number of people with them to the after-world or they get fired. Maybe the ones that get fired go on to do freelance :D
Back to the story - Bobby gets away from him and rushes down after Rufus but finds himself back at his house, where Sam and Dean have got some DVDs to watch and are quarreling about who is more of a badass - Jet Lee or Chuck Noriss. They ask him to get some bottles of beer for him.
So I want to stop and think about why Bobby might have jumped to this memory. Thinking of it as a meaningful stop in his journey to his hardest memory ever, I'd guess that it's there to remind him of his love for the boys and the happy times he had with them. All the memories of the boys we see except for the very first one are happy memories. These are the memories that are going to give him confidence to stand up to his dad in the end. It's like his brain is trying to tie these memories of his own fatherhood, to that awful memory of his own father because when he opens the doors to the kitchen to get the beer, he comes to that scene a part of him is trying to avoid. Mom is preparing dinner and gets upset with him for coming in without cleaning up.
BOBBY’S MOTHER:You're filthy. God, what is wrong with you? It's like you want him to get mad.
Bobby's not quite ready to deal with that though. He closes the doors and finds himself with Rufus in the crypts of the church. He again tries to convince Rufus that he is dying and he needs to find a way to get to Sam and Dean, but again it doesn't work. Rufus is going on with the hunt and the ghost appears to them. The first thing she does is try to kill Bobby.
This again is a hint toward the door he needs to go through to wake up but it directly parallels his situation up top. Bobby is going through some kind of seizure in real life and the doctors and nurses are trying to resuscitate him.
In Bobby's brain, Rufus cuts through the ghost with iron and saves Bobby but while they are talking, he is thrown across the room and hits his head. Bobby gets to the fire and burns up the bones just in time to save them both. Unfortunately, Rufus was hurt quite badly on this hunt and Bobby can't get his help right away on his quest.
His body though has stabilized and the doctor comes out to talk to Sam and Dean.
DOCTOR:He's, uh, stable for the moment. Just have to see.
Back with Bobby, he's outside of the hospital waiting for Rufus to come out when he again sees his young self looking at him. Finally he recognizes his young self. He tries to get some answers from him but Rufus comes up to him and when he looks back, the boy is no longer there.
Rufus is flirting with the nurse, telling her to call him, which is kind of cute :D but Bobby remembers that this is where Rufus told him about his near-death experience and gets right to business asking Rufus about it.
BOBBY:Listen – after Bridezilla took you out, do you remember what you told me about your near-death experience?
RUFUS:I haven't told you nuthin’ yet. But now that you mention it, pretty sure I almost crossed over.
BOBBY:And what did you see?
RUFUS:What did I see? What are you so riled up about, paco? All right, all right. I saw a hallway, uh, plaid carpet, uh, the apartment building from when I was a kid.
RUFUS:And I wanted
out. I'm not dying on no damn plaid carpet. No, thank you.
BOBBY:So, what did you do?
RUFUS:Well, obviously, Bobby, not being stupid, I started looking for the damn exit door. Y-you know, I swear that's what they mean about your life flashing before your eyes, 'cause every time I opened the door, there was another chapter inside – the good, the bad, the bloody.
BOBBY:So, how did you get out?
RUFUS:Found the right door, obviously.
BOBBY:Well, how did you find it?
RUFUS:Oh, simple – I went deep.
BOBBY:Deep. Like old?
RUFUS:No, deep like... Crap you do not want to think about, so you bury it, you shove other crap over it, and you don't go there, ever.
So this memory of the ghost hunt is actually meaningful for two reasons. The first being the reason that the ghost attacked him, and the second being that this was where he was told by Rufus about how he had found his way back to RL by going through his toughest memory. I again can't help but imagine what Rufus' childhood was like. Why did he hate the plaid carpet? How did he get into hunting? All that interesting stuff we haven't seen. But this whole conversation is so entertaining! I love listening to them.
During their talk, Rufus finally believes Bobby about how he is actually a figment of Bobby's imagination/memory.
RUFUS:I'll be a prima ballerina. Wait, wait, Bobby. Are you trying to tell me I'm just one of your better memories?
BOBBY:Would I make this up?
I love how Rufus is sure he is part of Bobby's BETTER memories<3 Most of all Rufus and the memory are there to help Bobby figure out how to get back. I love how Bobby asks Rufus to help him on his journey <3
BOBBY:I need my partner on this. Please.
Rufus asks why Bobby was attacked by the ghost and Bobby remembers a memory to do with "breaking a woman's heart" which he thinks might be his worst memory.
Boom, we are back with Karen. But this time, the glass of wine is broken on the floor (reminiscent of the milk glass previously/later). Karen is very upset and tells Bobby she hates him, and that he'd tricked her into thinking that he had nothing against having kids and had been living a lie all this time.
KAREN:What does that even mean, you break everything you touch?! What kind of excuse is that?!
And we know this is exactly what his dad told him all those years ago and he had continued to believe it was true.
Karen steps on the glass and hurts her foot. She tells him to leave. I guess that is symbolic of her broken heart too.
KAREN:Just stay away from me! You broke my heart, Bobby! You happy? Just go away!
BOBBY:Just so you know... I'm sorry. I never stopped being sorry.
Rufus can't believe it. He always thought Bobby wanted kids - maybe because of how he saw Bobby with Sam and Dean. He asks Bobby how long after this Karen was possessed, and Bobby tells him three days. If he had known that that would happen, he would have lied and told her whatever she wanted. Rufus urges Bobby to try the door and when he does, he finds himself in eternal sunshine of 89ish. He's decided to go against John's wishes and take Dean out for some catch instead of training him in the rifle. It's a happy memory in which he treated Dean like he wished he had been treated as a child. It's obvious to me that Sam and Dean would not have survived without the vigorous training by John and I don't believe he was a bad father for doing so. However, Bobby is especially sensitive to the need to be different from his own dad, who really was a terrible dad and husband and show the kind of kindness to these young boys that he was never given when he was young. My imagination goes wild at this point, imagining the first time John asks Bobby to take care of them, how reluctant Bobby might have been. It's a big job, and he's not fit to take care of kids. He breaks everything he touches! But maybe John saved him once and has some leverage. Bobby'd have been gruff with them when they first came in the door. Something must have changed as he dealt with them. He begins to love them and that's when he wants to give them more.
Anyway, back on track again. Bobby smiles as he sees himself and Dean playing catch, and Rufus has his little thought to share on this too.
RUFUS:You know, for a guy who'd rather break his wife's heart than give her a baby, you make a hell of a nanny.
Rufus is also still bugged by the reason behind Bobby refusing Karen a child.
RUFUS:No, I really want to know, man – why no kids?
BOBBY:Ain't that deep. Dad was a mean drunk. I figured I'd be just like him. And, hey, look – I was right. No sense passing on the legacy.
RUFUS:Man, you're too hard on yourself. You're more of a cranky drunk. You do know that whatever you're trying to avoid with the eye rolls and the grump-a-lumping – that's exactly where you need to go.
BOBBY:I ain't avoiding nothing.
Rufus as part of Bobby's mind, is asking all the right questions and trying to show Bobby where to go. When they go through the next door, Bobby finds himself back in that kitchen again.
Young!Bobby gets to the table a bit late from having cleaned up and dad has a cutting remark to make about that. Mom's hand is shaking as she gives dad his dinner and answers for Bobby, telling dad that he was just washing up. She asks who will say grace and dad wants to chow down right away so he asks for the buns and Bobby quickly goes to comply, trying to make dad happy. Unfortunately, he knocks over the glass of milk next to the bowl and it crashes to the ground, which is the scene young!Bobby was trying to remind Bobby of previously.
BOBBY’S FATHER: What is the matter with you?
YOUNG BOBBY: I don't know. I'm sorry.
BOBBY’S FATHER: You break everything you touch!
...The same line that Karen said Bobby had said to her when refusing to have kids.
Mom scurries to clean up and suggest they can have a nice happy dinner. Unfortunately, dad has a bit of alcohol in him and is not happy with that answer. He purposefully drops his plate.
BOBBY’S FATHER: I get no respect in this house.
Bobby can't take it anymore and closes the door. Rufus of course knows Bobby is avoiding something in this scene but he can't force Bobby to go through with it. Just as they are talking, they feel the earth quake and thunder showing that the Reaper is closing in on Bobby. Rufus tells Bobby they don't have much time and they can't stop the reaper, and Bobby gets an idea.
Meanwhile, Sam is talking with the doctor who tells them that there is nothing they can do but wait. Dean looks for a bone, reminding the doctor that Bobby's survived so far and that must be good.
DOCTOR:Well, yes. Listen – the bullet didn't shatter. Only one hemisphere of his brain was injured. These are all positive things. But...I don't want to give you false hope here. He's far from out of the woods. Most of the time, cases like this...
SAM: They die.
Sam is more accepting of reality here while Dean cannot consider it. Just as the doctor walks away, a man comes up and asks for Bobby's next of kin. Dean takes on the role and as they talk, he finds out that the man is asking for donation of Bobby's organs. Dean loses it. Bobby is not going to die. How dare this man even suggest such a thing.
Dean is holding on by a thread. I love how he constrains himself and tells the guy to walk away so he doesn't actually punch him.
DEAN: Walk away from me. Now!
Dean walks out for a breath of fresh air and what does he find there but Dick waiting outside in his car. He gets so angry at the sight of Dick that he goes over and dares him to come out and have it out there and then. People who recognize Dick are taking pictures and maybe even video of this famous guy who seems to have a beef with the guy in the plaid shirt. He laughs in Dean's face.
DEAN: We're coming for you, and not just to hurt you – to kill you. You understand me?
DICK ROMAN:Come on, Dean. I can't be killed.
DEAN: You're gonna wish you could, then.
DICK ROMAN: That's some conviction. You'd really crush it on the motivational circuit.
Then we are back with Bobby searching through the books on his shelves, many of which are turning blank. But he's not looking for words. He's looking for something hidden inside one of his King James Bibles - a crucifix. Once he finds that, they start looking for ingredients for the spell.
Next we jump to Sam and Dean again. Dean is getting a cup of coffee from the vendor and seeing Sam, walks up to him. Dean tells him about the "insurance mook" and Dick. Sam's expression changes when Dick is mentioned and we see the anger in him as well. Sam tells Dean that Bobby has started breathing on his own, and Dean wants so desperately to believe that this is good news and that Bobby will pull through. Sam, though, is preparing for the worst. He tells Dean that they have to talk about what to do when/if it happens. Dean though will have none of it.
DEAN: No, we're not gonna have that conversation.
SAM: Well, we need to.
DEAN: He's not gonna die.
SAM: He might.
SAM: Dean, listen – we need to brace ourselves.
SAM: Because it's real.
DEAN: What do you want to do? You want to hug and – and say we made it through it when Dad died? We've been through enough.
We see the deepness of their relationship with Bobby even here. Dean doesn't talk about all the other deaths they have experienced together. He is comparing Bobby directly to dad's death. And that takes me back to them burning dad's body in Season 2. Another thing I think is very interesting is Sam talking about this situation being "real." I wouldn't have thought much of it unless he hadn't sat down here after Dean left and rubbed his hand. Every time he does that, I imagine him seeing Lucifer and rubbing his hand to get rid of him. It is a very telling moment as to what Sam is going through as he assures himself that this IS real and not a hallucination.
Back to Bobby, going through his house, looking for ingredients. Even though some of his cupboards are empty when he opens them, he still seems to be able to find all the ingredients he needs. But the lights outside start going out, showing that Bobby is losing his memory. As he goes through one door and opens a drawer to find an ingredient, he hears himself in the other room, talking on the phone with John, arguing about the fact that he took Dean out to play catch instead of working on his shooting.
BOBBY (on phone): No, we didn't shoot rifles, as a matter of fact. We threw a ball around.He's a kid, John. They both are. They're entitled. Yeah, I know I ain't their dad.
The scene obviously shows Bobby's strong feelings for the boys as well as what he believes they are entitled with. Clearly he has not turned into the kind of man that his father was. When he turns back to the drawer to again look for the ingredients, the drawer is now empty. He goes to the fridge to get some blood and goes back to the study. Finally, Rufus and Bobby get the trap ready and when he summons the Reaper, the Reaper is trapped in place.
The Reaper puts forward the semblance of an argument, saying that Bobby would turn into the monster he has been hunting. He tries to sound kinder than he was before and this time, Rufus joins in to question Bobby's choice. Rufus is Bobby's brain too, so it shows Bobby's mind wavering and wondering if he is doing the right thing. ... Or maybe he's giving himself an excuse not to face what's in that kitchen.
Young!Bobby appears then beside him then and gives him the last chance to get back to Sam and Dean. This time, Bobby is ready to go through with it.
Mom is cleaning up the double mess and Young!Bobby's frozen in his seat until dad tells him to go and get a broom or something. He runs to do dad's bidding but dad's riled up and wants an outlet. He finds a reason to hit mom across the face. Mom turns to Young!Bobby who is watching from the doorway and accuses him of provoking dad and dad adds that this is because Bobby is a bad boy and deserves what he gets.
Present!Bobby answers -
BOBBY: I was a kid! Kids ain't supposed to be grateful! They're supposed to eat your food and break your heart, you selfish dick! You died, and I was still so afraid I'd turn into you I never even had kids of my own.
BOBBY’S FATHER:Good. You break everything you touch.
BOBBY: Uh-huh. Well, as fate would have it, I adopted two boys, and they grew up great. They grew up heroes. So you can go to hell!
His memory of Sam and Dean is what enables Bobby to stand up to his dad here and make his peace with the memory.
Back in the real world, Bobby is showing responsiveness - translated to us as, he is almost ready to go through the EXIT. The nurse allows Sam and Dean to go into the room and be with Bobby for a bit before they transport him.
In Bobby's memory, mom has been hit again and is now bleeding from her nose as well as her mouth, pleading that she is sorry. Dad is not about to stop. Young!Bobby comes in with a rifle and as his dad taunts him saying he's not man enough to use it, he shoots dad once in the head and kills him.
BOBBY’S MOTHER: Bobby, what did you do? God is gonna punish you.
Present!Bobby then goes up to young!Bobby -
BOBBY: You did what you had to do. This is where you learn that... they pretty much never say thanks when you save 'em. Now go get a shovel. Bury the old man out behind the woodshed.
This reaction by his mother would have probably helped him to continue to think that he had really been a bad boy who broke everything he touched.
I can't imagine what kind of life he led with his mother after he killed his dad. There are so many stories behind these little bits they give us this episode. I love that point about "they pretty much never say thanks when you save 'em." I guess he continued to see the same thing when he saved people from monsters too :P
Bobby has just one thing on his mind now that he has been able to face that deep memory. He opens the door into the light.
Meanwhile Sam and Dean are watching Bobby. Sam grabs Bobby's hand and says goodbye.
But as he lets go and they start to leave, Bobby grabs him. Sam exclaims and they both crowd back, Dean stopping Bobby from trying to talk and quickly getting a pen so he can write it down. Bobby writes the unfinished number onto Sam's hand then as he gazes at them one last time, says one word.
Sam and Dean are so happy to hear it that their surprised faces turn to small grins. Bobby also is looking at them with the softest expression on his face. Then he collapses again onto his pillow and his heart stops.
In his mind, Bobby finds himself with Sam and Dean again, getting ready to watch a DVD. Sam and Dean are arguing over the virtues of licorice and the Reaper comes to Bobby and tells him that this is his last chance - the bullet has left only this memory and Bobby is happy that the best was left for last.
And it's left a mystery whether Bobby went with the Reaper or not... but we will already see signs that he did not next episode.