'Supernatural' Recap: Cartoons Aren't Just for Kids Anymore
They may not be tiny or tuney, but on Wednesday's episode, the men of Supernatural certainly were a bit loony — Looney Tunes, that is. The eighth episode of the eighth season dove into the world of animation — first with types of deaths (a heart literally beating out of a man’s chest, an anvil crushing another victim), and then even more literally, transporting characters into the mind’s manipulation.
But what was most interesting about “Hunteri Heroici” was how it played with a mind’s manipulation in other ways. This seemingly stand alone, “off the wall” episode seems to have deeper implications for the overall season’s theme.
Note: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t yet watched Wednesday night’s episode, “Hunteri Heroici.”
Fresh off his new mission, Castiel (Misha Collins) tagged along with Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) as they dodged Mrs. Tran’s calls and instead took on their new case. Two grown man in a cramped, seedy motel room should be bad enough, but add in a third, and dynamics should shift. Oddly, no one thought it was weird that these FBI agents traveled in threes instead of the usual duo partnership — then again, they were looking at some very cartoon-like deaths, so "weird" may have been relative.
The guys stumbled across a series of bank robberies in which the thief was using a black hole to get in and out. Literally. In the cartoon world, a drawing of a black hole on any surface creates a void you can slip right through, but the effects were wider than just on the one man, and while he was exerting his power, anyone within his radius found themselves living in a cartoon until he was finished and out of there. Hence the collateral damage.
All of the robberies were connected to an old folks’ home, and when the Winchesters (and Castiel) visited, they found an old acquaintance of their father and former psychokinetic, Fred Jones (guest star Mike Farrell). He was sick and slipping into his own world — which just happened to feature his personal love of cartoons — and due to his special powers, he was unwittingly projecting his world onto anyone who came semi-near him.
In the case of the robberies, it was the doctor at the home that was taking advantage of the new world Fred was creating. In order to get control of Fred’s mind, Castiel zapped himself and Sam in there — yes, in the man’s mind — to see if they could get through to him. Meanwhile, Dean fought the doctor in a series of quintessential cartoon moments that showed off Ackles’ physical comedy abilities far better than even the multiple deaths of “Mystery Spot.”
With Castiel, we saw a forceful though somewhat scared guy who was still so ashamed of his actions when he sucked in all of the Leviathans, he couldn’t bring himself to consider facing Heaven to see the kind of mess he created up there. Instead, he was just determined to keep paying his penance, and he did so twice this episode by healing those he could. He may not have been able to save Fred from declining health, but he was able to zap away enough of his psychokinetics so his “magic” wouldn’t be used to hurt anyone again. And by using his own powers for good, Castiel got his confidence back. Unfortunately, Heaven had another plan for him, and Naomi (Amanda Tapping) told him he could not return unless she called for him.
Additionally, though, we were treated to a little more of Sam’s backstory from the “lost year,” too, in “Hunteri Heroici.” And what was most interesting about it was not that it was a completely apple pie normal situation in which he met his girlfriend’s father, but instead the seriously hazy hue over the scenes. We have seen flashbacks before, and they are always stylized, but this was so much more highly so that we had to wonder if it was because the memory was fading with time — or if it was even a true memory at all. Maybe he was softening the memory in his mind, making it more palatable for himself? After all, he did tell Fred that he knows what it’s like to live in a dream world, and that it never lasts without people getting hurt (a theme we always love to see the show revisit). Are we the only ones questioning his own sanity once again?
OMG!: Amelia's (Liane Balaban) husband isn't really dead? Really? Unless this show is planning to pay homage to soap operas next, we smell a set-up. Maybe she's a little bit crazy (hey, we can hope!).
Thank you, TV gods.: Finally a bit more of a look inside Sam's world. It may have been kind of ordinary for a show like this, but it certainly set up a bit more of an understanding for why Sam would leave Amelia behind.
Awk-ward: Castiel has partnered up with Dean and conducted fake police interviews before, but he seems to have not retained any usable skills. After all, even the rest home’s cat was mocking him!
Hotness: Even if he had a weird, open marriage, there’s something really nice about a guy who is so happy to see the girl of his dreams that his heart beats faster — and out of his chest.
Fab-u-lous: All of the cartoon effects were pretty sweet, but our personal favorite was easily the dynamite-candle-in-the-birthday-cake explosion.
Can. Not. Wait.: Though we generally prefer heavy mythology episodes over "case of the week," it is latter episodes like this that make us eagerly anticipate the next homage standalone -- what will it be!?
Celebuzz Meter (1-10): 8
What was your favorite cartoon moment in "Hunteri Heroici"? Let us know in the comments below!