If you have no idea what we're going on about, that's because you've missed the quest we've been on all season long to try to determine whether Supernatural Season Seven will bite it as hard as Buffy's Season Seven did. So far the answer is "no" because Buffy was truly lame that season, but we've got quite a ways to go yet!
And here we give you, Episode 10 as compared by The Maestro:
Supernatural Episode #10 - "Death's Door"
Bobby is trapped inside his own brain, along with a bullet, a reaper, his most painful memories, and a short sequence of numbers that he is literally dying to tell someone about.
There is also a surprising amount of Rufus.
After the previouslies, we are treated to a way too extreme closeup of the bullet hole in Bobby's melon. The camera pulls out to the boys are driving panicked, Dean trying to get to a hospital while Sam tries to confirm that Bobby is okay.
Now we zoom back in through the hole toward's Bobby's gray matter. It's one of those cgi shots from an episode of House that shows just how fat cells from a woman's liver are getting into her bloodstream and for some inexplicable reason causing her to speak Esperanto. But without Hugh Laurie's mellifluous narration it's just kind of gross.
We finally get to the other side, and learn that the inside of the soon-to-be-former Monsieur Singer's brain is filled with the woods from last week's episode. Bobby is reliving the scene that they find the body in the tree when he concludes that the combination of déjà vu and blood dripping from his noggin may mean that something is wrong.
Since the wound disappears, he fails to convince the two idjits with him that he has been shot. He struggles to remember what happened in the previous episode, and manages to write "7 8 15 16 23 42" or something like that on a piece of paper. Before he can express his desire for this extremely important message to be deciphered next episode instead of being strung along for six seasons and ultimately never explained, he is magically teleported to a bedroom where a hot woman in a negligee is waiting for him on a bed. Bobby, we should all be so lucky.
Except, the hot and amorous lady appears to be his deceased wife, Karen. For a moment Bobby appears to want to enjoy himself in the memory, but a pathetic fallacy knocks him out of it. Seriously, an actual thunderclap echoes in the air at the moment he realizes what a bad thing for him this is. More on that later.
The phantom thunder does not appear to be connected to the weather, but Bobby sees a young boy running scared through a field. His line, "I've got a messed-up fruitcake!" somewhat covers the situation.
And suddenly Rufus is here! Hey, Rufus. The young boy wearing Bobby's hat tells him that God is going to punish him, a glass of milk falls on some linoleum, and an earthquake causes both a church choir to dematerialize and lights to dramatically switch off one by one. Bobby is then taunted by a reaper with a kick-ass pocket-watch that fails to offset an unbelievably ugly blue paisley tie. They trade some words about Bobby's inevitable demise in his alcohol-damaged brain, and Bobby employs Standard Escape Death Maneuver #1: Running Away.
On the other end of the church the boys are arguing about action movies while Bobby's mom is making dinner. He and Rufus fight a ghost while the doctors try to stabilize him for surgery and the boys worry. There is seriously a lot of back and forth between scenes in this episode. The shooting script must have been a nightmare.
Bobby tries to call out to the boy he keeps seeing running around when he finally recognizes him, like the fact that they are wearing the exact same outfit was not a clue. Since the writers did not want to spend more than 40 seconds on any one topic this week, instead of pursuing his revelation he instead decides to ask Rufus about near-death experiences. Imaginary Rufus's rules are basically thus: doorways teleport you from one memory to another, but only your absolute worst memory has the door to the outside. This guy must have been a fantastic best friend, or at least that's how Bobby remembers him because he takes the fact that is a figment in stride and easily agrees to go on a brain-hopping adventure to deliver the post-it note of destiny to the real world.
They apparate back to the hot wife in the bedroom crying, and I'm filled with an enormous sense of apprehension. If my memory serves me right, the last time we saw this character was in a zombie episode where Bobby had the excruciating torture of having to put her down for the second time. He ends the episode asking the extremely bone-headed question "How many times am I going to have to kill her?" not realizing that he is on a television show and by the laws of the universe the answer to that question will always be "Well, at least one more now that you just said that. Jackass."
Sure enough, that's close to the memory we're at. Except Bobby now explains the more painful memory is not fighting her when she's possessed by the demon, but in fact the emotional regret of the last fight they had a couple of days before. The fact that Karen is reenacting the scene from Die Hard where Bruce Willis is pulling the broken glass out of his feet does absolutely nothing to distract from the heart-wrenching torture Bobby is feeling. Apparently he let her down because he was too afraid of being a fuckup to have a child with her, and her forthcoming possession by a demon the next day took away any chance of him ever getting to apologize. It's well-acted and also painful to watch.
Unfortunately, it's just not quite painful enough for the character because the door leads him to a park. Now the rules have changed so Bobby can watch himself in the 80's playing catch with young Dean. When Rufus asks why the power couple of the episode didn't have kids, our protagonist decides to speed up the exposition and save use several minutes: he is afraid to screw up a kid by turning into an abusive father like his own.
You know, call me crazy, but I'm starting to wonder if both Supernatural and Buffy might have some hidden underlying theme about bad fathers. You know, it's very subtle and you'd really, really have to look for it. Probably just my imagination though.
Anyway, Rufus theorizes that if that was such a big deal for young Bobby then that's the memory they need to go to. We get to see that a typical family dinner in the Singer household involves beatings, spurred on by that broken glass of milk from earlier. This is clearly the memory, it is totally obvious, but since we're only at the halfway point of the episode we can't do this scene now. So instead of going with the easy and correct Plan A, our heroes decide instead to go attack Death.
Cut to the real world, where a doctor explains how bad things look. Some administrator makes the mistake of asking about organ donation, so it's time to punch a wall. Good job, Dean. That's going to help things. Now you'll get to deal with security guards and pay for a broken window. Come to think of it, why the Hell haven't the police shown up to ask about the two guys with no identities who showed up with a man shot in the head?
Oh well, no time for that. Dean has to go outside and do a little posturing with Donald Trump. Corporate Cthulu is too afraid of people with cell-phone cameras to do anything more than taunt Dean a little bit, but then it is pointed out to him who the main characters of the show are. He looks like he might have a slight suspicion that the boys are probably going to get some all-powerful mystical weapon in the last few episodes of the season, as usual.
Speaking of, Bobby remembers that he has a magical cross to fight Death with, so he figures that he can also fight with a memory of that cross. Sure, whatever, this is your episode so do what you want.
Dean tells Sam about his little tête-à-tête, and Sam updates Dean about the dismal prognosis. Hey, Sammy! You had a line this week! It was really starting to look like that wasn't going to happen. This must have been a lot less work than normal for you, unless you decided to help out in the editing room because all these short scenes were probably a bitch for those guys. Moving on, we get all the usual reactions from the Winchesters that you would expect here, the surly and gruff brother wants to be angry and push his pain down to some secret place inside and the evolved and emotional brother wants to let his feelings out and grieve. It's predictable but it works, and is the right move at this point.
Some of Bobby's stuff starts disappearing as his brain cells die, but they still manage to summon and capture Paisley. The reaper tries to point out the futility of this plan, and reminds us that people that don't go along to the afterlife wind up as ghosts. Rufus seems to consider this, because ghosts on this show are almost always very bad. It's not like Bobby can just stick around as a friendly spirit to keep protecting Sam and Dean, he's more likely to go all angry and special-effecty and get burned and salted by another hunter in the future. But none of that matters, you know why? "Because they're my boys."
Here is where Bobby decides to defy all the laws of television and not kill Karen again. No, he's Bobby Fucking Singer and he decides what torture he's going to take, so let's go with the childhood suffering thing that Rufus had suggested. So we go back to Drunk Dad as he decides to hit Mom instead of Little Bobby for the milk thing, but at this point grown-up Bobby has had absolutely enough. He tells off his douchebag father and informs him that he went on to adopt to fantastic boys that grew up heroes. And it's kind of awesome.
Then Little Bobby shoots his father in the chest with a rifle. Also awesome, though evidently it was seriously traumatic at the time. I guess the choice here was relive killing your wife again or relive killing your dad again. The difference with this time is now that scared little boy has his older self to comfort him and tell him what to do. Paisley breaks out of his trap, but it's too late. Bobby makes it through the door. He comes out of his coma, unable to talk but manages to write the all-important numbers on Sam's hand. Then he takes one last look at the boys and utters his loving dying words, "Idjits."
ER slow zoom out to a string quartet as that sinks in. And finally, we close on Bobby in his living room. His final memory that hasn't slipped away is from not to long ago, sitting on the couch with the boys. Not fighting evil, not saving the world, but having some beers and watching bad movies with popcorn. He fights back tears as the boys argue the way they always do, and suddenly they are gone. The reaper asks him to make his final decision, will he move on or will choose to be trapped. And then we fade to black before hearing the answer.
Buffy Episode #10 - "Bring on the Night"
We open on Xander making a joke about "Life Serial" and how his curse is to repair Buffy's windows for all eternity. No one disagrees. It looks like we're having one of those "research the bad guy in the dusty old books" sessions that were so common in the early seasons. There is no information on The First, despite the fact that we saw otherwise four seasons ago.
The Scoobies lament the presence of unconscious Andrew and his lack of usefulness. Dawn decides to try the "punch him repeatedly" method of waking someone up. When Buffy stops her, she quite correctly points out the Anya gets away with that kind of stuff. This scene is only here to show how good Michelle Trachtenberg looks this week.
We get the first glimpse that something is awry when Joyce hands Buffy a book she is looking for. Buffy is clearly dreaming here, but we know that The First can appear to people in their dreams and can make itself look like anyone dead. So, it's totally vague here whether or not this is The First, or if Buffy is just dreaming about her mom, or if Joyce's spirit is really reaching out to her, or if she is dreaming about The First trying to appear like Joyce's spirit reaching out to Buffy in a dream. And actually I don't think we ever really find out because the point gets lost when more important stuff starts happening later on, so this is really just here to set the mood.
Shirtless James Marsters is being dragged along the ground by the monster that came out of the well last week. The First in Spike's form taunts him, before morphing into Dru (which is a much better choice for this episode.) We get treated to crazy comments with too strong an accent (I say that lovingly) about how long the cave-vampire has been waiting to rip up a girl, and how he's going to warm up first on Spike. The screams of pain segue into the familiar chords of Nerf Herder.
Dawn and Anya are having fun messing with Andrew who is tied to Spike's season 4 bondage chair (the one he got shot with all those arrows in in "Pangs") in a scene that I think is supposed to be a callback to how Anya was playing with Dawn like a giant doll when she was paralyzed a few episodes ago. Buffy catches them, but the comic relief is cut short by Andrew finally actually waking up. As he is no longer unconscious this will be the last time I can stand him this episode. He immediately launches into his "I'm a huge nerd that the nerd fans should relate to" schtick when he's supposed to be scared, so to save us time we skip to him leading the gang to the Manhole Cover of Evil. Andrew's deeds are pointed out to him, but it never sinks in and we're eventually going to just forget about them without him ever really redeeming himself. Everyone grabs a shovel and starts burying the seal. We bump into Principal Wood who is also carrying a shovel. In the basement. At night. And they're just going to let this go.
Seriously, both sides offer extremely lame excuses for what they are doing, and since neither side wants to tell the truth they just accept each other's obvious lie. Which makes absolutely no sense, because at this point they totally can't deny that something is going on with Wood and they know it, and he knows it, and they know he knows (and so on, ad infinitum) but why they would choose to just hold off on dealing with it is ludicrous. And at this point in the season there are still reasons to assume he may be evil and is involved with all this (the audience knows he is just coming back from burying Jonathan's body!) so naturally we should be pursuing this.
By the way, why did he do that? Later on we find out he is not evil and the reason he doesn't pursue the issue with Buffy is he knows all about her and is just waiting for her to initiate the conversation. When in a later episode he finally does reveal all, it seems like maybe he has gotten tired of waiting for her to finally ask what the Hell is going on. It's like when a British guy is too nervous to ask a girl out so he needs you to do introduce him.
Moving on. Wood is as nice as he can be about asking Buffy to get her ass back to work. Back at the house we're casting a magic spell to try to locate The First. It goes less than well. Oh, great, it's another "black eyes" scene. The First takes control of the redhead and speaks through her (and we get a cool brief special effect where the giant monster form of The First from the end of Amends flashes on the screen, nice callback there). Buffy gets shot with some Force Lightning, and Xander saves the day by smashing a piece of pottery. This is why we can't have nice things.
Now, something has gone wrong with my computer because I'm seeing the same scene repeat from like 20 other episodes where Willow is all weepy and afraid of magic because she doesn't want to turn evil again. No, wait, it's not my computer. Anyway, it's tomorrow and Buffy is planning to go out and walk around aimless by herself until she randomly finds the bad guy. A valid plan. But it's just a setup so that she can open the door right before Giles manages to push the bell. Unless he's just been standing out there for hours waiting for someone to open the door so he can do this sce- hey wait!
Hey everybody! It's Giles! He's alive! No chainsaw, but we don't care, we're just glad Tony Head is back on the show!
And the wonderful tear-jerking reunion is totally cockblocked by some random girls we don't know. Buffy is trying to run forward and give Giles the biggest hug he's ever gotten since the last time someone was presumed dead and she gave him the biggest hug he's ever gotten, but some strangers step in and block her path. And guys, she really needed that hug. We really needed that hug. But it's denied because of this stupid "no touching" thing I'm going to get into later.
These girls are "slayers-in-waiting", the girls that the Watchers apparently purchase from their parents to put into a life of training for a job they probably won't even get like some kind of Romanian gymnastics coach. Short version: they have all the training that Kendra had and that Buffy and Faith were supposed to get but didn't, for all the good that seems to do a girl. These are also the girls that kept dying in the unexplained scenes in the early episodes of this season, it seems the Bringers have been going around the world killing all the potentials so there is no one left to be a Slayer when they kill the current one. The First got this idea by reading a book that Christopher Golden wrote about Spike and Drusilla called "All the Pretty Horses" or something like that. I'm told it's actually one of the better books, but still no points for originality for The First here. Buffy has not heard of the book, so she is more impressed. Giles informs the group that the Watcher's Council got themselves asploded. All that's left of their billions of books is a small satchel that he makes one of the girls carry because he's not allowed to touch anything.
See, we saw the scene where Giles almost got killed, but we haven't seen how he managed to inexplicably survive it and we won't for several episodes, so we need to make sure Giles does not touch anything or anybody in order to make sure the audience suspects there is a chance that he is dead and this is The First. Extra points to make him act very odd and unlike himself. A couple of weeks from now the characters and going to catch on and suspect, and then be disproven, but it is going to take way too long because how the Hell does no one give him a hug at all? At no point does anyone notice him pick up a fork or turn a doorknob or anything, even after they have a scene in an upcoming episode where The First does kill someone and impersonate them and they fail to institute any kind of "prove you are alive" rule. And I get what they creators were going for with this, and they get credit for the effort, but I would have just rather he be allowed to put his hand on Buffy's shoulder for comfort when she clearly needs it.
Moving on again. Andrew makes his presence known again, and gets his mouth duct-taped. I wish that could happen all the time. Giles explains exactly why they should suspect anyone that avoids touching things. The First is apparently really, really, really scary, and only Buffy can stop it. Luckily everyone believes in her, except for Kennedy. Seriously, f*@# you Kennedy. You are not a character yet, you shouldn't ever get to be one, and I really wish you would just die. If only you were the one to run off later instead of Annabelle (which would actually make much more sense given this outburst) the rest of this season would be so much better.
Now we get a scene I really don't get. The cave-vamp is drowning Spike. In water. While Dru is pointing out how it great it is that doesn't work. And then he does it some more. I'm assuming this is that thing where sometimes choking works on the vampires only when they are distracted and temporarily forget that they don't need to breathe. But other times when they are more clear-headed it doesn't work. But I can't begin to guess why Dru would lampshade it.
Giles and Buffy discuss how great an episode "Amends" was while he points out that this is in fact also a Christmas episode. Then they have a touching heart-to-heart about missing each other while I jump up out of my chair and scream at the screen to just put your fucking arm around her Giles GOD DAMMIT!!!
Andrew declares his intention to try to join the good guys' team and I cringe because even when I first saw this I knew it would happen, despite being a terrible idea. Then Kennedy decides to make a pass at Willow, and a little piece of me dies inside. The new girls are talking, and I start to realize that this is the show now. It is no longer about the old cast, it's these new people who are going to become the focus and overshadow the people I actually care about more and more as the year goes on. Thanks. Anyway, we found the spot where the showdown in "Amends" takes place and Buffy falls into a cave. Then Fugly shows up and attacks her. His makeup and clothing are very reminiscent of The Master, which I'm pretty sure was the whole idea, but Buffy is shocked and scared when she stakes him and he does not dust.
This confuses me, because at this point she should just assume he is not a vampire. I mean he looks a little like one, but mostly not, and everything else that she usually kills does not explode into ash and sand when poked with wood. But since she for some reason instinctually believes it is a vampire her world-view is shattered. She doesn't even think to check if he is wearing a magical ring than can be destroyed suspiciously easily, she just panics. So, she loses the fight but manages to climb up out of the hole. No idea where Giles is, it's not like he went to get a rope for her. But, oh! There he is. And he brought the sun with him. Like Gandalf. That was nice of him, but he still fails to give her a hand up or anything like that.
Also, how it suddenly got to be daytime is very confusing. Back at the ranch, Giles has been waiting to explain the new monster to Buffy for the whole walk home so the new main characters can hear it too. It seems this monster is an "Uruk-hai", Saruman has been mixing orcs and men to make a new master race that will invade Poland, or something. Or, it is the vampire prototype, the original ones that eventually got watered down into the modern version. Except that totally defies the established mythos of the show when the vampires are only created when the last true demon left the universe, and implies that these are the things the First Slayer used to hunt (and Buffy has been playing on easy mode this whole time) but it does explain why these things look like The Master. Or rather, as he aged he started to look more like them.
Missing is the explanation of why they don't look more like that spiky creature that Angel turned into when he was in that parallel dimension that gave him access to the full demon instead of the halfway form, but we'll ignore that.
The new girls are scared that they will die when the sun goes down, and Buffy decides to go to work. The books don't work, so she's going to use a non-lawsuitable version of Google. No one tells her that Angel Investigations has had access to an actual search engine that does find information on demon bad guys for three years now, because the two shows have different sets of rules for how to get things done.
I see that Buffy has one of those old G4 iMacs that looks like Eve from Wall-E had a baby with a desk lamp, which seems like that basis for the weirdest Pixar fanfic ever. Even though that movie won't be out for more than five years, and that thought then makes me realize that this episode is from a decade ago.
Buffy has weak Google skills and needs to filter her search results better. She and Wood make small talk about evil where he tries really hard to pique her interest and get her to ask about him, but she's too distracted with this other thing (which is part of the same thing) to ask him about this important stuff she needs to know.
First Dru is doing more of her ridiculous Dru thing which is stupid and chaotic and I don't care because I still like it. Spike even points out that she's not really Dru, but The First counters that she's still Juliet Landau so that should be good enough. And I really can't find a flaw in that argument. She asks that Spike get in line and join the dark side again, and he basically tells her that he's too busy being tortured to talk to her right now.
Buffy is suddenly really badly bruised, and Ambiguous Dream Joyce is there is talk to her again. She has fallen asleep while some poor kid was pouring his heart out to her while Wood watches creepily from a window.
At Buffy's house Xander tries to use his carpentry skills to keep himself on the show that is clearly about these new girls; Willow likewise talks about her whole "I wish I could do magic without being evil" thing for the billionth time. Even Andrew also asks if he can be a good guy. I wonder if this scene is here because the episode was running short. Oh, it's so that Annabelle can run away in fear instead of Kennedy, which is what I really wanted to happen. She left the house five seconds ago, so clearly she is already in the warehouse district which is right at the end of Buffy's block. Or maybe the actress just doesn't know her way around the soundstage. Either way she runs right into the hands of Ubey, who just happened to be there in that exact spot because, hey, why not?
Before the actress can care that that makes no sense, she is already dead. Then Buffy really casually and calmly walks into the same spot (since it's right by her house) and finds the corpse. Not Annabelle! We had so much time to grow to care about her as a person! So fighting ensues where Buffy limps away in fear and the orc slowly pursues her like a T-1000 or Pepe Le Pew when they have a target and know that like in any slasher movie they will catch the victim not matter what the difference in traveling speeds are (you know, an example from that exact stereotype that Buffy was created to avert?). More fighting, Buffy drops a pile of pipes on the guy. We can clearly see that he must have been flattened paper thin because all the pipes are sitting evenly on the ground, but somehow he reforms to climb out of them defying all the laws of geometry.
Then he throws her through a wall and drops the wall on her, and then I guess he gets confused and wanders away because that where she stays, helpless and unconscious, when Xander finds her later.
Spike declines to join The First because of some silly thing about Buffy believing in him, which I understand is a bone being thrown to the 'shippers but really doesn't fit in here because she's a little bit busy right now deciding if she believes in herself. It's not constantly about you, Spike.
Cut to Buffy wallowing about failing to to anything to safeguard the remaining 66% of the Potentials she possesses, and overhearing the doomsaying of all the other characters in the next room isn't helping her self-esteem any. So then here it comes. The speech. For all Buffy's confusion and doubt lately, and her losing to this monster that will prove to be easy fodder later, and her sorrow and misery and all that: she's going to try to make up for it here. She comes in to make a grandiose monologue about how much shit they are in, but now it's okay because she is seriously pissed.
Epic music slowly grows in the background as she gets her resolve on. They been in deep shit before, but this time its evil that should be afraid. Evil is going to get pimpslapped.
Other than at the end of "Checkpoint", she has previously only made speeches like this at season finale time, so this is a big deal. Later on she will start doing this every week, to the point where even the characters are openly mocking it. With repeated pep-talks it will start to lose its effect (I think even Xander makes one or two before then end) so there are definitely diminishing returns. But none of that matters yet because this one here hits with full power for one very simple reason: SMG acts the shit out of this scene. Some claim that partway through this season she starts phoning it in but at this point she stands there with all the wound makeup and and she hits her fucking mark. She may have lost the fight with the monster but she just kicked the ass of this speech.
How do the eps compare?
I could say how Buffy is the only character in her episode to show any real feelings and everyone else is disconnected, and how the single minute we get of Sam and Dean showing their feelings is spot-on perfect, demonstrating that they will go through this in exactly the way we would have assumed. But it doesn't matter because it isn't about them.
This in the end comes down to tragic loss of a beloved surrogate father figure going out in a good way, versus the hopeful return of a beloved surrogate father figure we had feared lost. It's a Bobby versus Giles (which is fair, because Bobby really always has been the redneck American version of the librarian anyway.) And while I was overjoyed that Giles was still around and hadn't been killed off, the method of his return was a giant missed opportunity (partially because of the no touching thing and partially because the story arc was currently off its footing). As much as I didn't want Bobby to go, this is a great way to go out and worthy of his character; I can't think of a better way for him to die. Giles deserved a better way to survive his decapitation than he got.
Best Imaginary Reappearance of Dead Beloved Character - Rufus narrowly beats out Joyce (Dru is not eligible), though her presence is bigger deal, but she is not given enough to do with it whereas Rufus really manages to come through for our hero despite not even being real. Winner: Supernatural
Best Episode Villain - Going to actually give this one to Buffy. Neither one has a clearly defined single villain, the Turok-Han is only briefly impressive and lame later, and The First does little more than ham it up as Dru. And Bobby's real enemy is a bullet in his brain, the big bad of the season only speaks to Dean and Bobby's antagonist, the reaper, is actually just trying to help him. So in the end let's call Bobby's real conflict his race against time and Buffy's real villain is her own self-doubt. And while Bobby's triumph was bigger, self-doubt can be a terrible fucking nemesis. Winner: Buffy
Best Ending - I won't deny that Buffy had that one fantastic scene right at the end, but the powerful and poignant send-off for one Robert Singer was perfect, and exactly the way for him to go out. The scale is tipped over the edge by the ambiguity of not knowing if we will have Bobby's ghost potentially be around later. Winner: Supernatural
A midseason finale that is a worthy sendoff to a fantastic character has too many advantages over the middle part of a three episode arc about a minor villain. Maybe it is a bit unfair, this was probably the single best episode of Supernatural to not start with “Carry On Wayward Son.”
Now I'm going to go watch the scene from the end of "Sex and Violence" where Bobby shows up to kill the siren. Repeatedly. In slow motion. You idjits.
Season tally so far: