Review of Episode 8×19: “Taxi Driver”
Overall: We got to see Bobby again. We got to see him and it was wonderful and epic and brilliant. Do I really even need to talk about the rest of the episode…?
(Yeah, I guess I probably should.)
BOBBY: Nothing could’ve prepared my heart for the joy of seeing this crotchety old hat-wearing dude on my screen again. Even the previews were misleading – they only showed Bobby from the back, and seeing as the scene was obviously taking place in Hell, I figured the Bobby-like figure would turn around and reveal itself as some grotesque, slobbering monster that would try to chew Sam’s face off. (Hey, this is Supernatural – it could easily have gone down that way). But instead we got some sustenance for our souls in the form of Sam and Dean’s real, honest-to-goodness surrogate daddy. This was the genuine Bobby, people – not some twisted, vengeful spirit version of himself. What a refreshing relief.
Sure, he was a little worse for wear – I mean, Hell will do that to you. But he was more or less intact, and even had some of his trademark Bobby spunk, wanting to rejoin the battle on Earth, and making that joke after killing the Sam-Imposter (“It was 50/50 – I took a shot.” Seriously, Bobby? Seriously?). But best of all, he was the stern-yet-forgiving, tell-it-like-it-is role model that we have all come to know and cherish. Bobby’s shock that Dean had befriended a vampire was as honest and believable as his appalled reaction to the fact that Sam had not searched for Dean. Sam: “Dean and I had an agreement…” Bobby: “I know that agreement – that’s a non-agreement.” Thank you, Bobby. THANK YOU.
Bobby voiced the concerns and angers of the fans this season, which made me feel like the writers heard us – and listened. Thank you, Writers. THANK YOU.
I talked to one fan who said the only thing she didn’t like about this episode was that Bobby did not get to really see or interact with Dean. I actually didn’t have a problem with this. Bobby and Dean have had a lot of bonding moments over the years. Also, when John’s spirit made the trek up to Heaven, he interacted more with Dean, while only sharing a look with Sam. This seemed to even things out. Dean got a better goodbye with John, Sam got a better goodbye with Bobby. And Dean did get to see Bobby’s spirit ascending to Heaven after months of torture in Hell. Dean knew that Bobby was safe at last, and that was enough for me.
Dean: “I don’t trust angels.” You’ve got the right idea there, man. Keep following your gut. Although Naomi proved to be a helpful resource in this episode, I hope Dean sticks to his instincts when it comes to this she-devil in angel’s clothing. Cass may be confused about a lot of things right now, but he told Dean outright what Naomi did, and I don’t think Dean’s going to be forgetting that anytime soon.
Another thing Dean won’t be forgetting soon: the torture he and his brother both suffered in Hell. I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sammy walk through those gates alone…I thought they should have gone together. I mean, as long as Sam did the actual rescuing of Bobby’s soul, why couldn’t Dean be there for backup? Then Benny wouldn’t have had to die, because Dean would have been there to lead Sam and Bobby to the portal in Purgatory.
Instead, this episode turned out to be a heartbreaker for Dean in more ways than one – not only did he let his little brother go to Hell alone, but then Dean had to kill someone he cared about just to get Sam back. The pain in Dean’s eyes and the rawness in his voice said it all. But I think anyone who doubted it can now see once and for all: when it comes to Sam and Benny, one person will always come first for Dean – and that’s Sam.
Dean was somewhat gentler with poor Kevin in this ep, trying to coax him out of hiding with food, but still, it wasn’t enough. The kid needed psychiatric help, and Dean had other things on his mind. The level of paranoia Kevin was experiencing should have had alarm sirens blaring in Dean’s brain. Maybe if Sam hadn’t been in Hell, Dean would have been able to focus more on Kevin’s mental health. Kinda dropped the ball on that one, Dean…But I forgive you, since, well, Sam was in Hell.
Sam: Just as I can’t imagine what it took for Dean to let Sam go, I don’t know how Sam found the courage to voluntarily enter Hell when he should’ve been running screaming in the other direction. I’ve always thought of both brothers as brave, but this may have been the greatest test of Sam’s mettle, yet.
Leaving the watch to mark the entrance was a nice touch. Not replacing the giant rock in Purgatory, though? Bad move, Sammy. Not at all in keeping with his character – these guys know to put stuff back where they found it. Especially stuff having to do with gateways and doorways and portals. No way Sam would have left that opening to Hell gaping wide like that. Just seeing it gave me shivers…I’m almost certain that open doorway is going to come back and bite both brothers in the butts – most probably next season – and it ticks me off a bit. You can’t have a smart character do something stupid, just to create a new plotline. If the writers need that doorway open for some future storyline, then they should have shown Sam at least try to move the rock back. They should have shown Sam and Bobby try to move the rock together. Every effort should have been made by these two experienced and intelligent hunters to prevent a stream of Hell-spawn from escaping into Purgatory. Finally, if all efforts failed and Sam and Bobby could not spend any more time trying to move the rock, then I would have been okay with it. But I was so not okay with the two of them just walking away without a second thought.
One thing I was okay with, though – Sam’s treatment of Benny. Despite Sam’s personal feelings, he was willing to bring Benny back to Earth. Later, when Sam told Dean that Benny had stayed behind, I could hear the softness of true understanding in Sam’s voice. He misjudged Benny. He let jealousy cloud over what Dean had always said about Benny being a friend. It was a sweet moment, and a healing one between the brothers. Kudos to Sam on not being afraid to walk into Hell, and double-kudos to him on not being afraid to say, “I was wrong.”
Benny: He let Dean send him to PURGATORY. He allowed Dean to CHOP HIS HEAD OFF. Benny sacrificed his life on Earth to go rescue someone who despises him, all out of loyalty to Dean – take that, all you Benny-haters! This was a great wrap-up of Benny’s storyline. A very different direction than where I thought the writers were going to go with him, and that’s cool. I love stuff that’s not predictable. I’m not saying I won’t miss Dean’s fang-buddy, but he never did seem happy being back on Earth, and this ending seemed to fit. I felt like Benny was back where he wanted to be, and the door’s not closed, so who knows? Maybe someday he’ll be back. (Benny: “Dean, I know you didn’t expect to see me again, but, well, there’s this open portal down in Purgatory, and a whole mess of demons just escaped…” Dun-dun-dun…)
Crowley: Keeping an innocent soul trapped in Hell? That’s low, even for you. But then, maybe Bobby wasn’t totally innocent. He did dodge his Reaper and stay behind, knowing it went against the natural order. Then he became a vengeful spirit and hurt innocent people, so, I dunno…that could be the loophole Crowley used to keep Bobby in Hell. That, or Crowley’s just an a-hole. Yeah, I think I’ll go with a-hole.
Kevin: Oh, poor baby. I could just feel how scrambled his brains were in this episode. He couldn’t tell reality from hallucination, and frankly, neither could I. Even at the end there, I didn’t know whether Crowley had actually appeared and taken him, or if he ran away as Dean assumed. Either way, I couldn’t help but applaud the writers for leaving me wondering.
Evidence for the “It was all in Kevin’s messed-up head” theory:
1.) The glass windows of the boat were not broken when Sam and Dean entered, although Crowley had broken them earlier. Can the King of Hell fix glass?
2.)I think Garth and Co. would be smart enough not to have Kevin’s location stored on a smart phone.
3.) I refuse to believe Tiger Mommy is dead. That’s right, I refuse.
Evidence for the “Oh crap, Crowley really has Kevin” theory:
1.) Dean assumed Kevin had simply run off. And when you assume…well, you probably know the rest of that saying…
2.) Maybe the King of Hell can fix glass – and wouldn’t that be the smart thing to do, if he wanted Sam and Dean to believe that Kevin had taken off on his own?
Naomi: Remember what Dean said once about Bela? “When that b!tch breathes, the air comes out crooked.” Well, I think we may have met Bela’s angel equivalent. Naomi: “Poor Castiel, he’s so confused…He must’ve misinterpreted me.” Really? He misinterpreted you when you had him kill ten thousand fake Deans and then told him point-blank to kill the real one? Not a lot of wiggle room there, honey. Naomi may have saved Sam’s life and Bobby’s soul, but we can’t forget that she only did it to manipulate Dean into trusting her. For all our sakes, I hope she failed.
Randomness: I was a little confused about the rogue reaper – how come he had a body and how come he was visible to Sam and Dean? Previously, reapers were only visible to those whose spirits had left their bodies, e.g. Dean in “My Time of Dying.” Sam and Dean had to do astral projection in “Death Takes a Holiday” so they could communicate with reapers and Dean was actually clinically dead in “Appointment in Samarra” before he could talk to Tess. A little consistency or some explanation of how the Taxi Driver was visible to regular humans would have been a good thing. Other notes: Hell was pretty mild, actually. I would’ve preferred something a little creepier or more original-looking than a red-tinted dungeon. That said, the people Sam encountered were disturbing and suitably tortured/creepy. And the special effects for Bobby’s soul were fantastically beautiful, so all is forgiven.
Last Thoughts: This episode was a relief for me. It reminded me so much of “Born Under a Bad Sign.” In that episode, just like this one, I started out fearing the worst, and it turned out so much better than I thought it would. “Taxi Driver” was awesome and wonderful and it featured the best, most heartfelt brother-hug we’ve seen in a good long time. Definitely one of my favorite eps of the season.