Supernatural S11E16: "Safe House"
Okay, so “Safe House” might have been filler—and by “might” I mean “definitely”—but it was such good filler that I’m willing to let that one slide. Sam and Dean even mocked their avoidance of this latest version of the apocalypse. The way to my heart, other than being ridiculously attractive, is through self-deprecation and, on TV, self-awareness and the occasional parody. “Safe House” featured some genuinely funny moments, a welcome reappearance of two of Supernatural’s most dearly departed elder statesmen, and some really swell directorial decisions with those seamless parallels and throwbacks.
“Beyond the Mat” was supposed to be Dean and Sam’s vacation from their sad, angst-riddled lives, but since that turned into a case/traumatic experience of its own, what appeared to be an easy-peasy haunting in Grand Rapids, Michigan seemed to be just the thing Sam Winchester ordered and Dean endured the way one endures those uncomfortable clamps at the gyno before finding out that spring break fling in Cancun left an unwelcome party favor all up in your bits. The haunting that wasn’t a haunting was kind of like that.
I don’t think that the wallpaper was that ugly, but it certainly wasn’t trendy or stylish, and when a perk and pretty new family moved in to the steal of a house, it simply had to go. Unfortunately, scraping the dated décor off the wall inadvertently broke the seal that Bobby and Rufus had used “a handful of years” earlier to trap the big bad in his dark and scary nest of interdimensional horrors. Wallpaper seemed like a sloppy choice of camouflage on Bobby’s part given how often people change it and how easily that removal damaged the lock on their soul eater’s cage. Given he was sleeping in his car and fretting for Sam and Dean’s immortal souls at the time, I’ll say we can chalk that one up to the stress of the apocalypse. References to Lilith and seals place Rufus and Bobby’s flashback segments somewhere around Season 4 and, well, we all know that was not exactly a cheerful time for the Winchesters and their surrogate dad. Being the most painful time period in lives that are literally nothing but pain and man-angst is a helluva achievement.
Basically, Bobby is allowed to make a dumb tactical error when on the verge of losing his “boys” and after being trapped in a bubble-world outside of space and time where he hung out with creepy kids, dead Winchester hallucinations, and present-day Dean trapped in the same twisted TARDIS. This is why everyone on this show binge drinks until their livers punch through their abdominal walls and run away screaming.
Between this episode and the nursing home adventure in January, Season 11 of Supernatural is not just willing to show the series’ age, but embraces it. While Sam still secretly harbors hopes of retiring like normal old fogies and chasing each other around on the motor scooters at Wal-Mart, the truth is, those flashbacks to Rufus and Bobby as the “grumpy old men” in the hunting community are hiding a harsh truth beneath their snarky humor.
Rufus and Bobby are dead and have been dead for a “handful of years” now in the Supernatural universe. Bobby, Dean, Sam, and Rufus all made cracks about their age at various times in flashback mode and back in present time. Sam got all wistful for Bobby and Rufus missing out on the Men of Letters stuff as though he was a lamenting grandma missing out on Netflix, but it’s not like Rufus and Bobby were taken out by old age or natural causes. They died violently on hunts and while they may have been considered old timers by hunter standards, they weren’t that old, guys. They were in their 50s? 60s? 60 is the new 40 and I know a few 40-somethings who have way more fun in their current decade than I ever did in my 20s. Dean and Sam are “too old for this” and think of Rufus and Bobby as these mythic figures in hunting lore but those “elder statesmen” were just the wrong side of middle aged, just barely “old” in the actual sense of the word.
That is what Dean and Sam (and mostly Dean) aspire to. Sam, meanwhile, found comfort in the idea of Dean finding him dead on the floor. For all of the humor in “Safe House,” there’s a lot of darkness in that one exchange. In case you were doubting that Sam and Dean continue to have the worst lives ever, “Safe House” was happy to remind you.
That reminder wasn’t something I was looking forward to after so much time away from the main storyline of the season. This isn’t new information and “Beyond the Mat” was such a disappointment that I was eager for Supernatural to put it behind us and move along. “Safe House” was a pleasant surprise though: one part slice of life, one part reflection, and one part crippling man angst. Classic Supernatural.
POSTCARDS FROM THE ROAD TO THE APOCALYPSE
– “My wife” was such a blink-and-miss-it moment, but still really special. *applause*
– This house looked a lot like the house Mary Winchester got torched in. Was I hallucinating or was The CW letting its budget show?
– I love a good old fashioned Winchester Rock Paper Scissors battle, but did anyone else think that maybe letting the boy with the patchwork soul go wandering through a netherworld designed to tear souls apart was a terrible idea? Like why would they even consider sending Sam?
– Then again, Dean is pretty much a trainwreck human being right now too. Lose/lose situations: that’s how Winchesters roll.
– I’m really bummed that Casifer doesn’t spend every waking moment screwing with Sam.
– BOBBY AND DEAN SAW EACH OTHER IN AN INTERDIMENSIONAL RIFT YEARS APART AND EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND EVERYTHING HURT.
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