'Supernatural' Recap: The Heart Will Lead You Astray
It always baffles us when a show as heavily invested in a long arc or larger mythology like Supernatural chooses to switch focus to a “one and done” story. This early into a new season, though, it is slightly less worrisome, though. After all, if Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) can’t make leeway on the biggest issue at hand — which right now is finding Kevin (Osric Chau) — they might as well take on what they know like the backs of their hands, right? And that’s fighting monsters, one week at a time.
The third episode of Supernatural’s eighth season, “Heartache,” was one such “monster of the week” episode, but this one had a special twist: It was directed by series star Ackles himself. Let’s recap the episode and see how he did, shall we?
Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven't watched Wednesday's episode, “Heartache.”
“Heartache” saw Sam and Dan investigating a murder in which a jogger got his heart ripped out on the running trail. It wasn’t the first time — a similar crime happened in the same area six months earlier, leading Dean to believe it could be ritualistic. To his credit, Sam did point out that they were already on a case and maybe, just maybe should focus on finding the tablets since those could, you know, close the gates of Hell and all. But, Dean was itchy to keep killing whatever he could, and so they set off.
After interviewing a Detective (who just happened to be played by Ackles’ real life father Alan Ackles) they found their first potential witness or potential suspect in a slightly portly jogger who was on the same trail as the murder victim. The audience saw him lap the guy and then rip his heart straight out of his chest, but Sam and Dean only saw an older gentleman trying at all costs (and gross cleanse shakes) to get back into shape, so they turned their attention elsewhere.
It didn’t help that while they were talking to him, another heart-less victim popped up. You can’t be in two places at once and all that. Local cops arrested someone for the second murder. But when Dean and Sam went to talk to him, he was just repeating the same archaic chant over and over… until he stabbed himself in the eye in his cell. It turned out he was actually trying to remove an organ donation he had received, and honestly, if the others had taken the same drastic action, maybe there would have been fewer victims. But, not many are as selfless…
See, the Winchesters found the link between the deaths: Super strength gained through organ transplantation. All of the murderers received organs from the same donor: A star athlete. With a little research (but not until after another victim was claimed — and the audience got a little more insight into the sacrifice when the transplantee consumed the heart she stole), the boys learned that the athlete had actually been a thousand year old Mayan who made a deal to live much longer than should be allowed.
He had been making sacrifices to the Pagan God who granted him extra life, but he fell in love with a woman who was aging as any human would, and he decided to end it. He wouldn’t have been able to live without her. But when his organs ended up in other people, they, too, had to continue the sacrifices — even if involuntarily, and for some of them, seemingly unknowingly.
We have to point out that the episode reminded us a bit of “Mannequinn 2: The Reckoning,” mostly in the sense that Sam and Dean were once again faced with a living, breathing, innocent person who they would have to kill in order to stop something so much worse. In that one, a kidney transplant from one sister to another allowed a scorned spirit to carry out her revenge. In that one, Sam and Dean didn’t have to “put her down,” because another force took care of it for them.
For Sam, his heart over the past year was telling him to try to go back to school — to get a “normal” job to go with his “normal” girlfriend and dog. Dean learned about this by finding a stray email from a university admissions office. But in true Supernatural fashion, they rushed off to finish their case before really getting into it. Wrapping up the episode with a quintessential driving shot, though, Sam finally expressed just how deeply he wanted out -- that when they find the tablet, he will be done. Forever. Dean, of course, was sure Sam only felt that way "for now."
Whether or not that may prove to be true over time, as his memories of Amelia (Liane Balaban) dissipate, right now, his heart over the past year was telling him to want many more years of birthday cakes. Of course, he should want that? Who doesn’t love birthday cake! But for Sam, it seemed to represent something so much deeper. The look on his face when Amelia presented him with one — and what we know about the Christmases the Winchester boys celebrated as kids on the road -- implied that a girl getting him a cake and simply saying, “Happy Birthday,” had never happened before. It really is the little things in life.
OMG!: Dean had to gank a stripper; more than hell or Purgatory, that seems like it would be his nightmare.
Thank you, TV gods: We just really appreciated the fact that the show knows what we’re thinking and addresses it, rather than tries to ignore it. On this episode, it did that when Sam pointed out the importance of the case they were already on when Dean wanted to take a one-off detour. Granted, he did it because he wants to find the tablet and get back to his so-called normal life, but still.
Awk-ward: The Mayan God was called “Cacao,” which Sam and Dean kept saying was in reference to corn or “maize,” but in every other world, cacao means chocolate. We’re inclined to believe Sam used Bing instead of Google for that one!
Hotness: Whether the reason is because they had a year off from each other or from the stress of hunting in the “normal” way in general, both Sam and Dean are looking extra healthy lately. And of course by “healthy,” we mean “tan.”
Fab-u-lous: The interaction, and pointed looks, between the two Ackles’ as men of varying authority in their one brief scene together was just perfect.
Can. Not. Wait.: Sam has told Dean what he wants even if not quite why; when will Dean return the favor and open up to his brother about what really went down in Purgatory!?
Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 7
What did you think of this week's "monster of the week"? Was she worthy of Sam and Dean taking time out of their busy schedules to track down and take care of? Let us know your thoughts on "Heartache" in the comments below.