“What’s Dead Should Stay Dead”
Remember when dying on Supernatural meant something? Mary’s death? It set the entire show in motion. Jess’s death? It brought the boys back together. John’s death? It solidified their relationship and put the responsibility for finding the YED on them. Part of what made those deaths significant was that they were permanent. Sure, we saw John and Mary briefly as ghosts, but we knew that they weren’t really coming back and more importantly so did the Sam and Dean.
Even “lesser” deaths held significance. I remember the shock at finding the roadhouse burnt and the guilt the boys felt over Pamela’s death. Many fans feel that Jo and Ellen being brought back only to be killed in Abandon All Hope was an insulting use of the characters as a plot device, but we felt it. They were gone and they weren’t coming back. It was a reminder that Sam and Dean lose everyone they love. Sam and Dean may come back from the dead, but others don’t.
Fast forward to Death’s Door (7.10), which was probably one of the best episodes of the series. Beautifully written by Sera Gamble and heartbreaking. Gamble as showrunner had said that the boys were going to lose everyone close to them and find themselves completely alone. They’d already lost Castiel, and then Bobby dies. For me and a lot of fans, Bobby’s death was far harder to take than John’s because Bobby was in some ways a better father to them, especially to Dean. I’m not one of those “on the floor crying” fans, but yeah, I got teary over Bobby’s death. It had emotional significance.
It meant a great deal until he returned a few episodes later as a ghost. That undermined it to some extent. Of course at the end of S7, Sam and Dean burn the flask to finally vanquish Bobby’s spirit. It was a little rushed but they’d finally put Bobby to rest having learned a lesson about how people inevitably become vengeful spirits if left to roam the earth. Unfortunately, Jeremy Carver couldn’t let Bobby rest and brought him back in Taxi Driver (8.19) an ill-conceived, canon wrecking, rushed fiasco written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming (who is coincidentally Robert Singer’s wife).
[Some minor spoilers for S9 start here.]
So now we learn from Carver in a Dailymotion preview that Bobby will return in S9 as will Alaina Huffman as Abbadon. Now, I love both of these actors and their characters, but I think that bringing secondary characters back this way — in Bobby’s case repeatedly and for no good reason — makes their deaths as individual characters meaningless and death as a state of being insignificant, and oh yeah, Death is going to return this season. Maybe, it’s because he’s pissed off that no one stays dead anymore.
I mean look, one of the things that separated Sam and Dean from everyone else is that they came back from the dead. Then, it started happening to Castiel. Now, secondary characters may not actually come back to life, but they aren’t “gone” either. They return as ghosts not as Mary and John did to help the boys out briefly, but for a number of episodes and repeatedly. Why?
Bobby’s death was perhaps the most perfectly rendered and meaningful in the entire series, but the impact of it for viewers and for Sam and Dean themselves probably, has been undermined by his repeated appearances since then. I can’t help but believe that Castiel and Bobby were both brought back in S7 because they are popular characters, with both fans and producers, not because it was good storytelling. In the case of both, their deaths would have had far more significance if they’d never been seen again. It was clearly Gamble’s intention to bring Bobby back as ghost even when she killed him, but Carver has no good excuse for bringing Bobby back in S8 or 9 other than ratings. Yeah, I’m cynical.
And Abbadon? I love Alaina Huffman and I’m glad to have her back, but why kill her and then have to tromp on canon to bring her back? Are we to believe that she is so powerful she can recreate vessels? Whatever. Carver has no respect for canon, and that may be his undoing. And does this mean we can have Rachel Miner back as Meg? Please? Because there’s a story arc that was cut brutally short. Meg was in her way as important a character as Bobby. She’d been on the show longer! The only long-term female character! But that’s another rant altogether.
- How do we see Bobby Singer Now? (samanddeanbrothersinarms.wordpress.com)
- How do we think Bobby might come back? (samanddeanbrothersinarms.wordpress.com)