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It’s been a while since we’ve seen Supernatural’s unique sense of humor but that changed this week, as “Hunteri Heroici” got daffy with a case of cartoon murders. Some of the show’s best episodes are its comedic ones and this episode was no exception. “Hunteri Heroici” was solidly entertaining from start to finish, buoyed by the chemistry between Castiel, Dean and Sam, which has been honed to perfection at this point in the series. Cut off from Heaven, Castiel informed the brothers he wanted to become a hunter and had even selected a case. This was the perfect setup for Misha Collins to play the version of Castiel who struggles to the nuances of human life, which has always been the side of his character he’s best at playing. The case Castiel found took the trio to Oklahoma City, where a man’s heart leapt 10 feet out of his chest.
I’ve been doing research. I can crack her.
The case was the heart of this episode, and writer Andrew Dabb delivered the most memorable case we’ve seen on Supernatural in years. I’ve been reliving the early seasons of the show on Netflix and it’s striking how the audience was shown the research and legwork that went into solving each case. It’s been a while since we’ve seen multiple scenes of Sam and Dean hashing out a case, hitting a wall, going back to the drawing board and coming up with a new theory. Too often the show will gloss over the fact that hunting is a tedious job that requires a lot of research and guesswork, even for experienced hunters like Sam and Dean. When our three heroes finally cracked the case, the payoff was earned rather than feeling like a foregone conclusion.
With Castiel’s help, Sam and Dean discovered that an old family friend named Fred was being manipulated into rewriting reality so that the director of his nursing home could rob the elderly of their stashed possessions. A psychokinetic, Fred was turning the cartoons he watched into reality and causing the rash of cartoon-style deaths, which included the aforementioned leaping heart, a guy floating in midair before looking down and plummeting to his death, and an anvil crushing a security guard at a bank. The writers had a lot of fun with the effects in this episode. We got a “BANG” flag shooting out of Dean’s gun, a talking cat and even an imprint of Dean’s face smashed into a frying pan. But perhaps the greatest payoff was Castiel comprehending cartoons on a spiritual level, saying that the Roadrunner was God and Wile E. Coyote was man as he watched the famous cartoon. There are few things funnier than Castiel misconstruing the trivial elements of human life.
Dean kills monsters. Sam cleans dishes.
We were treated to another round of Sam’s flashbacks in “Hunteri Heroici” and the result was a mixed bag. It’s hard to care too much about Sam’s year away from hunting when his brother was living day to day in Monsterland. We’ve seen Sam hit a dog, work at a motel, and this week he meets Amelia’s dad. Does that sound near as exciting as Dean befriending a vampire, killing Leviathans and losing Castiel at the portal? That’s not to say these flashbacks aren’t important. They just aren’t as exciting as Dean’s flashbacks nor do they seem as significant since nobody outside of Sam has met Amelia. Heck, the audience hasn’t really met Amelia outside of flashbacks.
So this week we met Amelia’s dad and he was predictably rotten toward Sam, who tried his best to connect with the old hardass. Sam’s efforts come up short, and it isn’t until Amelia pleads with her dad to let her and Sam “be messes together” that he finally stops acting like a jerk. The whole sequence dragged down the episode until the very end, when it was revealed that Amelia’s assumed-dead husband Don is actually alive. Granted, we know that Amelia stays with Sam since he left her bed in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” but at least this storyline will have some conflict now. I’m interested to meet Don and even more excited to meet Amelia in present day, but since next week’s midseason finale is Benny-themed, I guess that’ll have to wait until 2013.
Is there a suicide hotline for angels?
Castiel’s storyline has been fantastic thus far in Season 8. I’m grateful to have normal Castiel back and the writers have to be applauded for using his past sins as motivation this year. As we learned tonight, Castiel is tortured by the fact that he vaporized thousands (wow) of angels after ingesting all the souls from Purgatory. He’s reluctant to return to Heaven because seeing his destruction would likely cause him insurmountable grief. But a trip inside Fred’s headspace allows Castiel to see Sam’s resolve in not running from the past, and the angel works up the courage to return to Heaven.
Only that’s not allowed, at least according to Naomi, who seems to be Heaven’s new leader (or at least one of its higher-ups). She zaps Castiel to Heaven for another chat and tells him that his penance for killing all those angels is to report back to her on Sam and Dean’s progress. This conflict will undoubtedly come to the forefront later in the season, but for now, Castiel is parting ways with the Winchesters until he can figure out what to do.
On a final note: Season 8’s stellar continuity continued this week, as we learned that Madoff (the guy who fell from the building – and yes, that’s what he’s credited as) committed suicide because he invested everything in Roman Enterprises and the corporation went belly up. It’s good to know the writers are aware of just how far-reaching Dick’s empire was last year, and how much fans appreciate knowing what happened after Dick exploded.
Line of the week
“That’s straight up Bugs Bunny.” – Dean
“So we’re looking for some sort of insect-rabbit hybrid. How do we kill it?” – Castiel
Next week on Supernatural
The Benny-Dean-Sam drama comes to a head in the midseason finale.