Six seasons is an impressive run for any show, and it's even more a blessing in the case of Supernatural, which is one of the rare shows which has consistently improved on itself with each passing year. A lot of shows get better after the first season, and there are shows that don't really hit their stride till season three, but Supernatural was still finding ways to impress all the way up to this season, without any of the signs of creative exhaustion you could expect to see in other genre series. The jury is still out as to whether or not season six will maintain the trend or fall victim to rehashing old beats. But one of the nice things about being this far along in a run and not completely giving over to suck is that the show can feel free to poke around its edges. That's what "Weekend At Bobby's" is all about. No movement on the big mysteries--we don't know how Sam got out of Hell, or what brought Copley back, and what don't know what, if anything, is wrong with Sam. Instead, we get to spend some time with the one of the series' best supporting characters, doing what he does best: saving lives, helping others, and messing with demons.
Last season, Bobby sold his soul to the demon Crowley for a crucial piece of intel. Crowley promised he would return the soul as soon as the troubles were over, and even went so far as to give Bobby back the use of his legs as a sign of good faith. Being a demon, though, Crowley is less than willing to keep his word, especially considering he's now the official King Of Hell. If Bobby wants to stay away from damnation (Crowley tells him he has ten years before the contract comes due), he'll need to find a way to trick a devil out of his due, all while providing back up for apparently every other hunter in the country, avoiding arrest by authorities who don't really understand that sometimes you have to bury bodies in the backyard, and protecting his cute new neighbor from one of those bodies that didn't stay buried.
I'm a sucker for this sort of thing, I have to admit; I love it when a show shifts its focus off the leads for a full episode, because it helps to build the world of that show by encouraging the illusion that every character is still hanging out doing things even when we don't spend much screen time on them. It's clever, and I'm a sucker for clever. At times it can feel like we've slipped into a parallel universe, one where the CW has a hit series about an older man who battles evil and has complicated friends, including a pair of good-looking brothers who are, let's face it, kind of dicks sometimes. Plus, when done well, there's always a chance to get some good jokes in poking fun at established series' cliches. Supernatural has never been afraid of being self-aware, and while that's not a huge element here, the few glimpses we get of the Winchesters' hunt for the lamia are funny and exciting.
For most of its run, then, I was expecting I'd give "Weekend" high marks. Jim Beaver is always a welcome presence on the series, and putting him in the spotlight just makes good sense. It's great to see Rufus Turner again, aka Luther Vandross, aka Rueben Stoddard. (Though he'll always be Mr. X to me.) The two have a loose, playful chemistry, and it was great to watch some non-Winchester hunters at work who didn't wind up getting killed by episode's end. And hey, it was nice to get some closer on Bobby selling his soul. It was obvious Crowley would screw him over, and Bobby's response--using the ghost of Crowley's (real name: Fergus MacLeod) son to find where Crowley's bones are buried, and then using the bones as a bargaining chip--fits the rules of the show.
Except I was a little disappointed at how predictable Crowley turned out to be in the end. This has never been a series much concerned with the the shades of meh between good and evil; demons are invariably evil, nasty creeps (a disturbing number of whom are drawn to possessing hot chicks, but that's for another write-up), so when we get a character like Crowley who has anything even remotely approaching complexity, it's hard not to hope there's something more to him than the standard tricky devil. The Crowley we see here isn't hugely different than last season, and Mark Sheppard is still a treat, but even having been newly named king of Hell, there's something disappointing about his decision to try and wriggle out of returning Bobby's soul as promised.
Honestly, though, my biggest disappointment with this episode is its attempts at some kind of emotional catharsis between the Winchesters and Bobby. In addition to the usual stupid crap about "Talking about feeling is for girls" (yeah, that could be in character for both Dean and Bobby to crack wise about, but given the show's tricky handling of its women, and the fact that the Winchesters spend at least ten minutes every week going full-angst, the jokes get old), Dean's behavior here, and Bobby's outburst about the boys never being willing to help, seems more a case of the writers needing dramatic conflict than something would come naturally from the situation. Can Dean and Sam be overly self-absorbed? Sure. Could Bobby have some resentment towards them, especially in a time of intense crisis? Yeah, that follows. But for Dean to actually come out and accuse Bobby of selfishness, when he knows Bobby is helping other hunters, is flat out stupid, and because of this, Bobby's blow-up in response doesn't work as well as it might've.
Overall, this was a solid episode, but it wasn't quite as good as it could've been. I would, however, definitely watch a show about Bobby struggling to hold things together while the next door neighbor plies him with various dessert treats.
- Rufus is awesome. More of him, please.
- After railing on Twitter about how much I hate music montages on shows, we get a great one with "The Gambler"--Supernatural always does good montage, largely because the music the show uses is so different from the low-key folk you hear on other shows.
- "Hey, have you seen Drag Me To Hell?" "Trying to avoid it."
- Another problem: the ten year deadline. I understand that nobody wants to go to hell, but having a whole decade to solve the problem makes Bobby's desperation harder to understand.
- This was Jensen Ackles first turn as a director on the show (or anywhere). Good work!
- "Okey dokey, woodchipper, that trumps... pretty much everything."
- "End of the day, you're nothing but ghosts with an ego."