Episode Title: "Of Grave Importance"
Writers: Eugenie Ross-Leming & Brad Buckner
Director: Tim Andrew
Somewhere on the road, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) get a call from Annie Hawkins (Jamie Luner), a fellow hunter and at least a one time lover of the late Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver). Annie offers her condolences about Bobby's demise and she offers to give them some of Bobby's books if they meet her for dinner in a nearby town. At the same time, Annie approaches an old abandoned house where young lovers Dudley Scott (Steven Richmond) and Debbie Tillen (Stephanie Van Dyck) are frightened by the sudden appearance of Dexter O'Connell (Derek Gilroy), a seemingly malevolent ghost.
By the time that Annie gets into the house, Debbie and Dudley have been horribly murdered. And behind Annie, the door slams shut. Some time later, Sam and Dean await Annie and they become frustrated when she doesn't answer her phone. While investigating Annie's hotel room for clues to her location, the brothers realize that Annie had slept with both of them on two different occasions in addition to her romantic past with Bobby. Unknowingly, the Winchesters are shadowed by Bobby's ghost, which is tied to the flask carried by Dean that once belonged to Bobby himself.
The Winchesters eventually identify the Van Ness House as Annie's intended location. Once at the house, the Winchesters find and see nothing except for Annie's cell phone. But Bobby sees several ghosts in the house, including the home's former owner, Whitman Van Ness (Antonio Cupo); who warns Dexter about his behavior towards Debbie and Dudley. Annie eventually shows up and approaches Bobby, who tells her that if she can see him than she's dead as well. As Bobby explains his current state, he reveals that he doesn't have much of a handle on his afterlife as a ghost.
In the parlor, Bobby and Annie are both impressed by a ghost named Haskel Crane (Russell Roberts), who seems to be able to move objects at ease. Although Haskel is also an arrogant jerk, he eventually offers them a few pointers on moving objects and he also shows them some cautionary cases of ghosts who visually deteriorate until they lose their sanity and what little physicality that they have left. Annie also notices a female ghost, Victoria Dodd (Elysia Rotaru) watching her and she realizes that Victoria attempted to warn Annie through her cell phone.
Before they can get any info out of Victoria, Bobby is pulled away when Sam and Dean leave the house with the flask. Some time later, the Winchesters visit a man named Quentin (Craig Erikson) from the Bodega Bay Historical Society. Quentin fills them in on Whitman and states that Dexter killed Whitman's fiancee on the eve of their wedding. Quentin also tells them that Annie visited him earlier in the week and he told her to stay away from the house. As Sam continues researching Dexter's alleged crimes and Dean takes a shower, Bobby tries writing on the bathroom mirror to finally communicate with them.
The Winchesters soon find Bobby's signed note on the mirror warning them about Annie being trapped in the house. Meanwhile, Debbie and Dudley's friends, Brian (Billy Wickman) and Jesse (Bonn Smith) stupidly enter the home while filming their exploits. Soon enough, Dexter appears and warns the morons that they shouldn't have come there. But Whitman appears and browbeats Dexter into backing off… right before Whitman kills Jesse and Brian. Whitman also destroys Dexter's spirit for attempting to scare his prey away. From the shadows, Annie sees everything except where Whitman took the bodies of his latest victims.
After Whitman leaves, Annie tries to grab the camera of his latest victims… and when she can't, Annie convinces Victoria to grab it for her. Reluctantly, Victoria explains that Whitman framed Dexter for his crimes and that he feeds off of the dead and the living to make himself stronger. Outside, the Winchesters return to the house with Bobby unknowingly in tow. To keep himself from being torn away again, Bobby swipes the flask from Dean's pocket and hides it. Victoria slides the camera to the Winchesters and they see an image of Annie in the footage taped by Brian and Jesse.
Bobby and Annie convince Victoria to appear to the Winchesters and explain what's happening and to tell them the truth about Whitman. But before Victoria gets very far, Whitman overhears her and burns her body to dissipate her spirit. The Winchesters then race to the Van Ness family plot at the nearby cemetery unaware that Whitman slipped a key in Sam's pocket so he can travel with them. Unable to help the brothers, Bobby and Annie find Whitman's secret lair where the bodies of his victims are kept, including Annie's body.
Annie is shaken, but she asks Bobby for a hunter's funeral rather than remaining trapped as a ghost. On the road, Whitman nearly causes the Winchesters to get into a violent crash before he attempts to kill Sam. Dean destroys the key and sends Whitman back to the house, where he begins pursuing Bobby and Annie. Just as Whitman begins to drain Bobby's energy, Sam and Dean burn Whitman's bones and destroy him. Bobby collapses and awakens sometime later right before the Winchesters arrive. And this time, they can see and hear Bobby.
Bobby explains that he held on through the flask before returning it to Dean, but the brothers are aghast that Bobby passed up his chance at heaven to remain behind for them. Together, they burn the bodies of all of Whitman's victims, including Annie. Bobby and Dean get into an argument over whether Bobby should have moved on before Bobby gets upset and disappears. In the car, Dean claims that Bobby has gone against the natural order and that never ends well. In the backseat, Bobby listens in silence while remaining unseen by the Winchesters.
If this is the new status quo for "Supernatural," then I'm all for it.
The episode dealing with Bobby's death was one of the best installments of the seventh season, and if that had been the last time we saw Bobby SInger on the show then I would have been okay with it. But I really like the way that Bobby's spirit lingers on in this world as a not always useful ally to the Winchesters. If anything, it seemed a little bit too easy for Bobby and the Winchesters to be able to speak to each other again so quickly. That was probably because the producers don't want to waste any time now that Jim Beaver is back on the show.
Within the context of the episode, I think that Bobby may have absorbed some of Whitman's excess ghost energy; which may account for his new visible state. However, that wasn't confirmed within the story itself and it's not clear if that will carry over into next week's episode. While the reunion between Bobby and the Winchesters was fun, some of the best scenes dealt with Bobby's frustration about his inability to communicate with the brothers. And Beaver's return to the show brought back some of the fun that's been missing for most of this season.
I've only been watching "Supernatural" for a few seasons, so I was fooled by the writers into thinking that Annie Hawkins had appeared on the show before. Instead, Annie was apparently created for this episode and she had a sexual history with Bobby and both of the brothers. That was an amusing joke the first time it came up, but it was never really dealt with again aside from an offhand remark by Bobby. And we only got that information second hand, without any confirmation from Annie herself.
Among the ghost guest stars, Elysia Rotaru's Victoria had some of the best material, especially when everyone ignored her attempt to gloss over her former job as a prostitute. And Russell Roberts' Haskel Crane might have been the first ghost in a long time to be an a**hole without actually being evil. Haskel's brief scene was a pretty effective way to explain what Bobby should be able to do and what he may become.
Whitman's status as an usually powerful ghost had some intriguing moments, but he was ultimately beaten the same way as every other ghost on this series. In other words, Whitman wasn't all that special despite the so-called power he had amassed over a long period. I'm curious to see if some of that power was passed on to Bobby and if we'll see him deteriorate like the other ghosts in the mansion. There's a lot of potential in the idea that Bobby's ghost can suffer a fate worse than death if he stays in our world.
Next week on "Supernatural," it's Felicia Day as "The Girl With The Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo;" which may already be my favorite episode title of the season. Now that Bobby is back in play, "Supernatural" looks like its heading in the right direction as the season winds down.