Last week’s mid season finale for Supernatural was superb, giving us a character study of Bobby Singer and getting Dean back in the game, while showing Sam’s continuing hallucination problem. "Death’s Door" resonated on many levels, but most of all, it painted a portrait of the core theme of this show: the importance of family.
Family can mean so many things: the place of greatest safety or greatest fear, a place of love or a place of pain. It can be the nexus of our deepest damage or it can be home. In this episode, we see all of these nuances as Bobby Singer tries to outrun his reaper to help his boys.
Bobby has been a loving if cranky presence in Sam and Dean’s life since he was first introduced. Over the seasons, Bobby developed into a father figure to the boys. In this episode we get to see that relationship from Bobby’s point of view, and it makes for very powerful television.
The episode opens with the impact of Bobby’s danger on Sam and Dean. In “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters,” Leviathan Dick Roman shot Bobby in the head, and “Death’s Door” opens with Sam and Dean frantically trying to stop the bleeding while racing to the hospital. The boys are almost incoherent with grief and fear. They’ve lost so many people, as Dean chokes out when Sam tries to get him to talk about the possibility of Bobby dying. Dean refuses to accept he can lose Bobby, too.
The boys share raw grief, but show it differently. Dean digs himself deeply into a state of denial, demanding to know when the doctor will operate to remove the bullet every time he hears Bobby may die. He won’t contemplate his life without Bobby, but the rage seething just below the surface shows he is aware Bobby may die. The scene where Dean punches the glass case before telling the hospital administrator to walk away telegraphs the roiling emotions inside the elder Winchester.
In this state, he’s almost relieved to spot Dick Roman sitting in his limo outside the hospital. Dean can’t heal Bobby, but he can hunt Leviathan. He can avenge Bobby. In a wonderfully written nod to last episode, Dean is back in the game, with Bobby himself providing the reason why. Jensen Ackles delivers a powerful performance as Dean’s ferocity takes even Roman aback.