Supernatural, S8 Ep8 – Hunteri Heroici

Dean's gun shooting BANG sign

Supernatural loves to add humor to all the gore and demon-fighting; it’s one of my favorite parts of the show. But every so often they do episodes that are pure crack–completely ridiculous plots that end up being fan favorites, like “Changing Channels” or “Mystery Spot.” This was one of those episodes. I always love the crazies, and this was a good one. For being essentially a Monster of the Week type story (and if you’re familiar with my reviews, you know I’m not overly fond of those), it still dug deep into the roots of the show and the characters while giving us a unique plot separate from the main story arc.

Guy with heart beating out of his chest

That can’t be comfortable.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this one going in, but I ended up liking it a lot. You can tell from the beginning that there’s a cartoonish bent to the story when a guy’s heart pounds out of his chest. Literally. The writers have an obsession with hearts this season–Mayan gods, werewolves, and now Looney Tunes. I was worried about how they were going to pull off the cartoony parts of the episode, but I think they did a great job of trying to show how unrealistic things we see in animation might actually work (or not work) in flesh-and-blood reality.

Despite the ridiculous fun and hilarity of the cartoon world melding with the real world, there’s also lots of deep character development and moments that make you want to cry.  That’s another thing Supernatural loves to do, mixing you up with dark and light until you don’t know which feelings you should be feeling, and you end up on the floor laughing and crying at the same time, and possibly retreating to a blanket fort to eat an entire jar of olives. At least that’s what I like to do.

Sam tries to convince Fred, an old contact of John’s who also happens to be a powerful psycho-kinetic, that he needs to stop hiding from reality in a dream world, and to stop running from the painful truth.  Sam was obviously talking about himself as well as Fred. But the message also resonates with Castiel. Hell, it also applies to Dean. The message of this episode highlighted a major theme of this season, highlighted it in big bright sparkly letters flanked by go-go dancers: these guys are all damaged and in pain, and they’re trying to hold on to something, anything, to hide away from the worst of it, to run from the terrifying truth waiting for them.

Dean has barely let go of his military alertness after coming back from Purgatory, his training the only thing keeping him sane. Sam is still holding on to his dreams of being normal one day, running from the cold hard truth that he’s a hunter, that there’s evil out there that someone has to take care of, and he’s the best man for the job, whether he likes it or not. Castiel, as he revealed this episode, is afraid to face the devastation he wrought upon heaven and how it has been shaped by those actions. Fred was merely the conduit for the main characters to express their own feelings that they’ve been bottling up for so long.

Cas and Dean in motel room


We learned a lot of surprising–or not so surprising–things about our boys in this episode. The most startling revelation by far was: Dean talking about feelings. Yes, Dean Winchester has been much more open this season, and this episode he didn’t shy away and make bad jokes about chick flick moments when he could tell that Castiel was trying to avoid something. He made Cas talk it out, like a real friend, like a brother. I am loving the relationship with Dean and Cas this season. The two of them have always had a bit of a strange friendship, Dean being guarded about whom he lets close, and Cas not understanding basic human social conventions, but they have still been friends.

Recent seasons, however, have sort of built a more antagonistic edge into their interactions, something that I had always felt didn’t belong, not with what they had gone through together. It was teasing, yes, but sometimes it just got plain mean. Like Cas was an interloper that Dean still didn’t trust after all this time (like the third wheel Cas was so proud to be in this episode). But this episode, this entire season, has treated them like actual friends that care about each other, and talk to each other about things, and, and, and…excuse me, there’s something in my eye…

Sam before flashback

Sam sneezing his way back in time.

Ahem, as I was saying, I’m really digging the Dean/Cas dynamic this season. Though I fear it may be coming at the cost of the Dean/Sam dynamic. Cas can be a bit of a third wheel when the writers don’t know what to do with him (emphasis on the last part). When he was first introduced, he was basically Dean’s replacement for Sam when Sam was pulling away, trying to hide his demon blood addiction and his relationship with Ruby. Sam is trying to pull away again, trying to get out of hunting, trying to hide the truth of what actually happened between him and Amelia. I think that Sam, even though his speech about not running away was aimed at the flashback versions of him and Amelia who had both been using each other as life rafts to deal with their respective losses, is still running. He’s still hiding from things he’d rather not think about. How did things really end with him and Amelia? He doesn’t want to think about it, but it’s coming to a head, you can feel it.

We got a big revelation this episode: Amelia’s husband, Don, is still alive! And next week, Cas is having Dean’s baby! Okay, that last part isn’t true (that we know of…), but with Don still alive, what happened to Amelia and Sam? She tried to move on and start a life with Sam, but then she had to choose between the two men she loved. How did she choose?  When we first saw Sam at the beginning of the season, walking out of the house and leaving her behind, maybe he wasn’t leaving her to go to Dean, maybe he was leaving so that she didn’t have to choose. Maybe he left to spare her that pain and let her go back to her husband.

I’ve said it before: Sam’s flashbacks aren’t nearly as exciting as Dean’s were–they’re more soapy than bloody–but I’m still hanging on to see how things play out. I wish they had better transitions to the flashbacks, though; Sam’s “I’m remembering something” face looks more like “I think something flew up my nose.” Anyway, as I was saying, Sam is hiding things from Dean, despite what he may have said before. Maybe it’s nothing important; it could just be emotional scars and relationship details, but he’s still hiding something. And because of that he and Dean have a distance between them.

Castiel is also hiding things, but he doesn’t know it. We got another surprise!Naomi drop-in at the end of all this, and she stopped him from going through with his major character development decision of the episode–to go face what happened to heaven due to his past intervention–but he still managed to “stop running,” as he put it, even if he didn’t get to face the damage. And now I’ve got to ask: what has happened to heaven since he’s been gone? We haven’t seen it in a couple of years, not since the beginning of season seven when Cas killed off thousands of his brothers and sisters. How did they regroup? Is Naomi part of the new order, and they’ve decided to use Castiel as their secret weapon to gain info? Is she just going to pop up and block Cas every time he tries to make a decision? I hope that doesn’t extend to telling him which kind of hair gel to buy or which book to read. For all we know they have secret chats every few seconds and they talk about hockey or knitting or something.

Dean making ridiculous face

This is the man who helped stop the apocalypse.

Okay, so this episode was supposed to be a fun romp about cartoons coming alive, but I’ve spent this entire review discussing serious character introspection instead. Now I think it’s time I round up the funniest parts so that you don’t think I’m completely tragic. A-one, a-two, a-three:

-A bit of literal Castiel for your amusement: “What’s the word, Cas?” “It’s a shortened version of my name.”

-“An ass-load of drugs” (is that a technical term, officer?)

-Bugs Bunny = Insect-rabbit hybrid.  Why didn’t I ever think of that before?

-Castiel’s interpretation of Roadrunner is possibly the best thing ever

-Dean’s response to Castiel wanting to stay in the same motel room as Dean and Sam: “Oh okay, yeah, we’ll have a slumber party. Braid Sam’s hair.” (Well, you could…)

-Castiel saying: “I’ll interrogate the cat.”

-The cat’s response: “Dumbass.”

-The fight scene at the end between Dean and the doctor was hilarious. He used a FRYING PAN as a legitimate weapon!

-And finally, “Hunterus Heroicus” (plus, the accurately pluralized episode title, “Hunteri Heroici”)

Dean jumping Dr Mahoney with Hunterus Heroicus subtitle

Well, that’s all, folks! Join us next time for the mid-season finale “Citizen Fang,” where Benny the vampire returns.

Dean and Benny carrying knives