I liked this episode well enough. It was fun to see more of Bobby and the overall story arc advanced (hopefully). The episode was directed by Tim Andrew. He has only directed one other SPN episode, 7.08 The Episode Which Must Not Be Named. The writing team of Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming have written three other SPN episodes, Slice Girls, Shut-up Dr. Phil, and Route 666. Some of the dialog and jokes sounded kind of clunky and forced and there were some pieces of the case where I would have liked a bit more info. I wonder if the reunion of Bobby and the boys might have had more of an emotional punch in the hands of a different writer. On the whole though, the episode held up pretty well.
There were a couple of things that really stood out for me. One was the house, which must be truly amazing in natural daylight. The other was the theme of letting go which ran through the whole episode. Letting go was explored in so many ways that it almost became a meta on the subject. The most obvious example was of Bobby not letting go of life and his role in the boys' lives or the Leviathan hunt. Sam and Dean tried to let go of Bobby by holding a hunter's funeral and even though they talked about how it would be nice to see him, when confronted with reality, Dean is pretty sure it's a bad idea. Sam seems to be more inclined to give it a whirl, maybe because of the two of them, Sam has always had a greater capacity for hope. He didn't get a lesson from Death about violating the natural order but you'd think all three of them would have an inkling of what a bad idea this could be. In contrast to Bobby, Annie wanted to let go of her life and pass on as soon as she could be freed.
There are a lot of reasons not to let go; fear, the mission, love, loyalty, or denial. Sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control and you can't let go because you are held there by something else - an item, unfinished business or a person. Dexter couldn't let go of his mission to save people from Whitman. Was he ever successful? Whitman couldn't let go of his energy source or his murderous hobby. He couldn't let go of life or his house either. Victoria needed to let go of fear of Whitman to help get rid of him. In order to retain the abilities of the living, ghosts need to let go of the concerns of living. Kind of like with the Force, let go of hate and anger and you too can move pennies. Dean wasn't ready to let go of the flask (or drinking out of it) yet. Annie didn't let go of the case while she was still able to work it.
I like how the object anchoring Bobby to the boys is pictured right next to the anchor on the menu. In a lot of ways, I think Bobby is really anchored to Dean. If Bobby chose the flask as his anchor, he had to know it would appeal to Dean and wouldn't get left behind.
The engraving on the flask looks like Celtic knotwork.
There were quite a few things in this episode that were fabulous from an architecture and design perspective. The house is amazing from the wood floor in the main room to the stained glass windows and the art nouveau dragon doors.
It makes a great looking haunted house complete with a spooky moon.
Although this was the set for a TV episode, there was something about the way the ghosts were positioned that reminded me of a stage play or a very subtle breaking of the fourth wall. The anonymous ghosts don't really address anyone but the camera even if they don't say anything. You almost expect a soliloquy.
More cool windows. For an abandoned house, it's still furnished pretty well and the windows are in pretty good shape. Not nearly the destruction you'd expect from trespassers or time. It says something about Van Ness's strength as a ghost.
The house is a dangerous place but there isn't as much obvious red as usual. There is some in the chair above. The graffiti on the picture looks like damage that is out of proportion with the condition of the rest of the house. A couple of the victims were dressed in red. Victoria was a victim twice over by the end of the episode. Kind of heavy on the whole scarlet woman thing if her red dress is not about danger.
Sam is wearing red but we'll get to the boys in a bit.
Several groups of people let go of common sense, particularly the make-out couple at the beginning and their camera-toting buddies. When you get a reprieve from a ghostly death, run to the nearest exit, don't just stand there and gawk. Can they even tell these are ghosts?
Who takes all these candles along when they go make out in a haunted house? Who wears a red shirt?
Her red shirt isn't really visible until she's dead. Next to flowers. Deliberate? Shrug.
Red curtains for our red herring. Dexter, the stereotypical thug, named after a TV serial killer.
The real baddie looks like he's right out of Gone With the Wind. Frankly, my dear, I can't have you giving me away to the hunters. How was he blocking the reapers?
His crypt pretty much says it all.
His eyes are like cat eyes as he goes up in flames.
So basically your soul isn't safe even if you're dead? Is that what a ghost is, a disembodied soul? The opposite of Robo!Sam? The ghosts in this episode look more corporeal than ones we've seen in the past. Maybe that's because we see some of them from a ghost's perspective. I have to think we're getting an idea of how powerful a ghost can get because Bobby is going to need to go that direction to help in the rest of the season. First we had to start with the ghost version of Yoda, Haskel (Niles) Crane. Cool wallpaper.
It feels right to see Bobby practicing in front of a wall of fish.
Once they get the hang of it, Bobby and Annie get pretty good at the whole ghost business. As a victim, it's interesting that Annie isn't wearing red. Instead she's in blue, which along with plaid, seems to go more with hunters or people helping solve the case.
See Niles above and The Professor.
Poor doomed Annie. She never stood a chance after she slept with Sam. Bobby's women don't seem to fair much better. For a hunter, she headed into the house pretty unprotected. No visible rock salt or gun that we could see plus if you're going into a dangerous situation, it makes some sense to document your whereabouts. That she made it this far is surprising. She is competent on research and the ability to solve problems on the fly though. She's got a pretty level head under pressure. Of course, later our boys go wandering in with flashlights, EMF detector and a cell phone and not even a free hand. It's pretty surprising they've made it this far too.
I'm glad they had to search the house because we got to see a bit more of it as we follow them. Early on in the season, there were lots of mountains that showed up in art. This is the first one I've noticed in a while. This episode had a lot of details related to water; the location, the fish, the ships in pictures and models, the marina and the motel room, which we'll get to. I've been watching for flowers too. There were a few more flowers but most of them seem incidental like the ones on the teacup. There are some on the face of the fireplace and in the upholstery on the sofa.
Note seeing trapped Annie through the bars of a bird cage. How did the police miss this room as a possibility when they searched the house? It has to reek.
Reminds me a bit of the scene around the fireplace after Jo and Ellen were killed.
Who knows if it was deliberate or just in a pile of books, but on the bookshelf outside the hidden room, one of the books you can make out is The Snow Falcon by Stuart Harrison. It was published in 2000 so Whitman has access to Amazon. The story partly tells the story of a kid who loses his ability to speak after he sees his father's death. The rest of it is about a man working to heal a wounded falcon so he can let it go. Deliberate or not, it seems to fit the episode pretty well.
The flowers above look like they just happened to be there like a lot of the red in the house. That holds pretty well until you get to the motel where we see some of the color cues that usually pop up. I don't know if it has to do with the boys being haunted by Bobby or because Annie was in danger or both. Annie wasn't wearing female-in-peril pink but her bed was.
The room is a curious mix of red tones and blues. Danger and hunters?
Dean's arm grabbing clothes. We'll see that again.
The wallpaper isn't red and yellow flowers but when you see it from a distance, it might as well be.
The blues remain prominent until we get close to the boys getting in contact with Bobby. How Dean could hear a thing Sam was saying with the water running is beyond me. This seems like some scene straight out of fan fiction.
See the seagulls from the cap below? We'll cover them later. There's another motel wall full of big heavy rocks. There have been a few this season. There's Dean's arm grabbing clothes again. Most opportunities for fan service were endlessly ignored in this scene.
Oh, come on. All we get of Dean in a towel is a crappy shot in a steamy mirror? Endless, I tell you.
Dean just realized all the things he's been doing with Bobby along for the ride.
Sam had his uncomfortable realization earlier.
For the last couple of episodes, we've had either Sam or Dean wearing red. That Sam is in red isn't that unusual but the fact that Dean was when they were discussing the possibility of Bobby haunting them at the end of 7.18 makes it seem like it's not quite so random. According to the Shirt List, Dean hasn't worn a red shirt since season 1. Denim was season 1 also. Here's a nice shot of the marina. The episode is set in Bodega Bay, California.
Bodega Bay has been the setting for a couple of movies, Puppet Master and Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds. Remember the seagulls? And the bird cage? The Annie in that movie, Annie Hayworth, was the ex-lover and ends up dead too. Our Annie's name, Hawkins, is too perfect not to be deliberate. Even the random book fits in. The boys are staying at the Crow's Nest Motel. In this town, you don't want to have anything to do with seagulls or crows.
They'll poke your eye out.
Time to let go of Bodega Bay.
But before we go, we'll see a couple of nice pictures of Sam and Dean because they didn't look appalled through the whole episode. Somebody has to provide the fan service.
And I will mock their overcompensating dinner. Evidently dinner isn't allowed any chick flick moments either.
Seriously though, at the end of it all, we're left with wondering how Bobby is going to weather being a ghost. I wonder if Bobby felt better about staying behind because he's already had unpleasant dealings with angels and knows enough about heaven that it doesn't sound very appealing. Will the boys defy the natural order again and keep Bobby hanging around? How is that going to figure in the the Leviathan hunt? What are they looking for at archaeological digs? I'm sure Indiana Jones would loan Sam and Dean his hat and bullwhip. That would be fan service.
Caps from http://homeofthenutty.com and true_fellings and the Hitchcock Wiki.