Supernatural "Hunteri Heroici" Review: What's Up, Doc?

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Nov 29, 2012

Supernatural S08E08: “Hunteri Heroici”

Supernatural sure loves a parody. In the past, we’ve had adventures in TV tropes (“Changing Channels”), an ode to classic monster movies (“Monster Movie”), and Sam Winchester’s very own version of Groundhog Day (“Mystery Spot”). In “Hunteri Heroici”, it was Sam, Dean, and their angelic third-wheel in Acme Acres, complete with exploding birthday cakes, anvils falling from the sky, and tweety birds circling the head of anyone who bonked theirs.

Even though time and time again, Supernatural has proven me wrong when it comes to plots that sound like they’ll probably be terrible, I went into “Hunteri Heroici” as a non-believer. I know, I know, I should know better by now.

The episode offered a much-needed break from the onslaught of Winchester Angst (Wangst?) that preceded it, but that’s not to say that it was a full-blown comedy. BJ Hunnicutt used his brain powers to make a man shoot himself in the face because JUSTICE and then Castiel gave the man from M.A.S.H. an angel lobotomy. Sam’s awkward flashbacks also made a reappearance and were every bit as annoying and confusing as they’ve been all season, but at least this time they kind of sort of meshed with the main story. There also seemed to be less random staring into space, but maybe I’m just desensitized to Sam Winchester’s strokes these days.

Beneath all the gags and gore, the underlying theme of “Hunteri Heroici” concerned the impossibility of hiding from or outrunning the past. Like Castiel said, man is the Coyote, not the Road Runner. Dean urged Castiel to go to Heaven and find out whether the angels had anything to do with his escape from Purgatory, but Castiel adamantly refused, arguing that he couldn’t possibly face the carnage he left behind while under the influence of the Leviathan way back when. He decided to become a hunter, Dean and Sam’s “third wheel.” El Winchesters pointed out that the third wheel isn’t a good thing. I pointed out that Castiel has been their third wheel for about four seasons now. Castiel pointed out that the third wheel offers increased stability—how can it not be a good thing?

Well when you put it like that...

Yet for all the hand-wringing and Wangsting over consequences and the past and blah blah blah, the only people who really had to deal with their old lives this week were Fred, an old acquaintance of the Winchesters at the center of Toontown (played by M.A.S.H.’s Mike Farrell!), and Whatshername from Sam’s flashbacks. Now, to be fair, by the end of “Hunteri Heroici,” Castiel was all mentally prepared to go upstairs and visit the famdiddly for a spell, but Naomi laid down the law and the law said Castiel couldn’t attend Sunday dinner unless he got the invite straight from her. Ouch, bro.

Sam, well, Sam hasn’t been much more than a tall, hairy stage prop for most of the season. Why change now? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop in flashback land. This week in particular set off so many red flags with zero payoff. The flashbacks felt dreamlike, shot with the warm colors and the soft filters. Sam’s time with Amelia was even referred to as “dreamlike.” Considering Sam’s history, it was an interesting choice to have the orderly at Fred’s nursing home make the comment about how the catatonic patients “retreat into their own heads” to him. Yet we have nothing concrete, and as fun as the endless theorizing is, we’re at the penultimate episode to the fall finale. Throw me a bone, show. I want to think that Sam’s flashbacks matter because otherwise, what’s the point of including them? It really isn’t necessary to show week after week of Sam in domestic bliss unless we’re building up to something important.

Dean, meanwhile, was probably the least depressed that we’ve seen him all season, and that alone was worth the price of admission—his amazing gag fight with douchey Dr. Mahoney was a bonus. Despite his initial protest of Castiel tagging along, when Castiel ultimately decided to stay behind and watch over the freshly vegetated Fred for a little while, Dean seemed bummed. Unlike Castiel’s previous adventures in hunting, his initial fumbles with how to deal with people and how to function in the world without being pegged for a weirdo eventually gave way to actual competence and Cas’s presence on the hunt was certainly a help rather than a hindrance. He saved that old lady from her dynamite birthday candle—and that was a nice fake-out btw, I spent that entire commercial break wondering if it was awful or amazing that Supernatural exploded a grandma just to come back and see that she was fine. He also provided access to Fred’s psychic mind so that he and Sam could shut down the cartoon projections before evil Dr. Mahoney, who was using Fred’s powers to rob banks on the side, got the best of Dean, who had made the unfortunate mistake of bringing a “gun to a gag fight.” (“BANG.” Love it.)

But just in case we were having too much fun watching hearts explode out of chests and seeing Jensen Ackles make the best facial expressions whenever he saw birdies, once Sam and Cas got through to Fred and stopped this (literal) madness, things got dark. I mean, not “My Bloody Valentine” levels of surprise darkness, but, well, was it really necessary to make Mahoney shoot himself? He was totally a bad dude and yes, he had blood on his hands, but without Fred’s powers, wasn’t he ultimately kind of useless? Why not just leave him tied up for the cops? Even if he babbled about Fred and the psychic stuff, they’d probably just think he was crazy. Dean and Sam just standing aside and allowing Fred to make Mahoney end his own life just seemed like a little bit of a character slip since, historically, the Winchesters have tried hard to avoid killing humans—even bad ones. Emphasis on "tried"... I know they haven’t always succeeded.

However, even with Mahoney gone and Fred lucid, his psychic troubles weren’t over. He knew it was only a matter of time before he regressed again and everyone got their Space Jam on. For a second there, I thought he was going to be wasted too, but Cas came in with the magical lobotomy save, removing Fred’s powers, but also leaving him with a permanent case of the brain damage. How cheerful.

Back in Sam Winchester’s Stepford Life, Amelia’s supposedly dead husband, Don, was revealed to be alive. We almost got a glimpse of Don in the wedding album that Sam found in a moving box before Amelia interrupted. Do you think that maybe we’ll recognize Don? It seemed odd to zero in on the album, get us all geared up to take a peek, and just snatch it away. Is it a CONSPIRACY!? Or is this just my desperation for the flashbacks to not be pointless showing?

Case Notes

– While watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner, Cas remarked that Wile E. was man, and Road Runner was God, and the cartoon represented humankind’s unending quest to catch God. Mind = blown.

– More Amanda Tapping, please!

– I thought the cartoon sequences in Fred’s head were hit-or-miss, special effects-wise. The Road Runner scene was pretty good considering, but the white noise looked awful. What did you think?

Supernatural in a nutshell: Detective, “Do you always chase the crazy or does the crazy chase you?” Dean: “Depends on the day.”

– No, no, no, Dean, we’ve discussed this (in “The Usual Suspects”). You’re not Scully. You’re Mulder. Sam is a red-headed woman.

– Smart Winchesters sighting! Sort of. In the morgue, Castiel sniffed victim numero uno and determined that he had recently gotten over a bladder infection. Sam and Dean combed his personal effects and sussed out a possible affair with good ol’ fashioned detective work. Sure, they were wrong, but the possible affair was still a more helpful clue than “bladder infection.”

– You know that you’re so over the Sam flashbacks when every time a new face appears in Dreamland, you cross your fingers and hope it's a demon.

  • Comments (94)
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  • coolhandkate Dec 03, 2012

    I agree with these Sam-as-a-prop comment. Can the guy get something to do? You'd think that Jared is injured in real life and couldn't participate in any action scenes.

    I agree these flashbacks are building toward something, so I'm a bit more patient to see where it's going. The more I think about it, though, Sam's relationship history is depressing. He hasn't connected with anyone in years. He loves his brother, but that relationship hasn't been equal with Dean always playing the older brother figure. He had a bad relationship with his father; Cas is arguably Dean's friend, not his, and even Bobby displayed a closer connection with Dean than Sam. I want to see all of this Amelia stuff come to a meaningful revelation.

  • GirishStewart Dec 01, 2012

    The episode had much more depth than I was expecting from the promos. It was hilarious as well. Castiel's 'Its the shortened version of my name', the cat's 'Dumbass' and Dean's 'Best Wife Ever' had me in stitches. Oh, thank God the old lady survived. I thought she died too!

    I must be the only one liking Amelia. Not all the flashbacks, but just her. Sam sighing and looking faraway just before they come is groan-worthy though. But, this week's flashback was actually likable and felt like it mattered. They didn't show us his face. So, I agree. Its a conspiracy!

    I love these kinds of episodes and homages on Supernatural. It makes the show that much more lovable.

    "While watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner, Cas remarked that Wile E. was man, and Road Runner was God, and the cartoon represented humankind's unending quest to catch God. Mind = blown."
    Definitely! I was like, what the...! That's amazing and an impressive observation!

    P.S: I didn't like the white noise, but the other stuff was cool. Great review MaryAnn. But the title is 'Hunteri Heroici'.

    Grotesques Villainus - Reminds me of 'Asterix and Obelix' comics for some reason.

  • GirishStewart Dec 01, 2012

    Oh, and I agree. The Winchesters not trying to stop him from killing Mahoney was pretty weird. Very out of character. Maybe Dean just doesn't care too much, but Sam should have done something.

  • radiumgirl Staff Dec 01, 2012

    Yeah, I could see Dean letting it slide. He's been kind of off since coming back from Purgatory.

    I don't hate Amelia nearly as much as I hate the flashbacks, and even with the flashbacks, I was okay with them until they all started to be pretty much the same thing. I agree that this week's was a little better. I just want it to move forward though. It seemed like every time Dean had a Purgatory flashback, we learned something new about his time there. Sam's feel more like filler. Crossing my fingers we learn move next week!

    THIS. TITLE. I've seen so many spellings of it floating around. We'll work on it though! Thanks!

  • GirishStewart Dec 02, 2012

    That's good to know. My gripe with Sam's flashbacks are the same. Seemingly too much filler. They better make the mid-season finale worth it!

  • Super_Dooper Dec 01, 2012

    pretty sure the ep was called Hunteri Heroici

  • radiumgirl Staff Dec 01, 2012

    We'll fix it. Thanks!

  • thisismetoo Dec 01, 2012

    When Cas was doing his bad-cop routine on the wife of the heart-victim, I couldn't help thinking of Comlumbo. If they ever wanted to revive the Columbo series, Misha Collins would be the man to play him.

  • Phoenix8686 Dec 01, 2012

    Why can't Cass stay in one place for 5 MINS!
    I hope this doesn't mean he won't be back for several episodes.

  • Watashii Dec 01, 2012

    I know it is just me but I don't like it when Supernatural does wacky episodes. Therefore I didn't like this one. This episode reminded me of last season 'clown' episode. Its a good homage to WB but its too out of place, personally.

    I would have loved for Cass to stick around though. If he became a permanent hunter, he could have brought a new and interesting dynamic with Sam and Dean.I never liked Amanda Tapping in any of her shows but thank God, she doesn't have a super fake English Accent, or whatever it was she was trying to emulate.

  • natesjokes Nov 30, 2012

    Why all the bashing on Sam's flashbacks? Personally I've been wanting to know why he just up and left that chick. This last episode gave a hint of why, hopefully find out the rest of the story next week.

  • chillli21 Nov 30, 2012

    maybe, they aren't flashbacks...

  • natesjokes Nov 30, 2012

    What would they be then?

  • Anonymous_A Dec 03, 2012

    Evidence of a mental break after everything he's been through? I don't know, I'm just theorizing.

  • mcepin3 Nov 30, 2012

    there was a hint(or writers just playing with us) in this last episode and is also mentioned in review

  • Aesandil Dec 01, 2012

    I'm not convinced that such outcome would be much of an improvement. Sam's mental "Lucifer" problems became something that dragged out and overstayed its welcome. Making it all imagined would be just as grating and tiresome as the actual flashbacks are.

  • natesjokes Nov 30, 2012

    well the very first episode of the season it shows sam leaving the chick. you think they're suggesting that he's imagining what it could've been like had he stayed with her?

  • Aesandil Nov 30, 2012

    It's good to see that Supernatural is still capable of channeling that wackyness of the old. It wasn't better than the other episodes of this mold, but still pretty alright.

    It's just awesome to have Cas back. Misha Collins's deadpan humor has been greatly missed. They better make him stick around!
    And beyond all the crazy of the episode, there were also some serious conflicting emotions battling within our dear angel. The final scene felt like a much needed temporary respite.

    Sam's always been my favorite, so I can only frown upon the treatment he's been getting lately. If these flashbacks don't amount to something interesting, then it's going to be the most awful subplot in the history of the show.

  • jkingslp Nov 30, 2012

    I can't believe you didn't bring up the talking cat. Hilarious! Loved this episode!

  • FAssbenderiwy Nov 30, 2012

    Maybe Don is the Winchester's dad??????

  • Anonymous_A Nov 30, 2012

    I'm guessing you're a newcomer and that you just dived right in tothis season. If that's true, then I strongly suggest that you watch all the seasons before this one but you might wanna leave seasons 6 & 7.

  • mcepin3 Nov 30, 2012

    even if someone were new to supernatural and only started it watching with season 8,he/she couldn't just skip seasons 6 and 7,since then,they would have no clue what happened and would have questions why this and why that in season 8. Season 6 had weak start,but it was great season. Same goes for season 7. But that is just me....and if both seasons sucked so much,why is Supernatural keep coming back then? If both seasons sucked,viewers would have stop watching it and show would be canned. This season is also great. Yes it has flaws(Sam's flashbacks atm...which I am sure they will lead to something better and I don't believe he just gave up on Dean) but is still great season and show.

  • GirishStewart Dec 01, 2012

    I kinda agree. Realistically speaking, season 6 was awesome. Except for them killing off the Mother so soon, the whole season was likable. But sorry, I think season 7 sucked completely, except for a few shining spots like Death's Door, Time After Time, the first two episodes, etc. This season has been good so far.

  • mcepin3 Dec 03, 2012

    well then,it didn't sucked completly,did it? :D not a fan of Leviathan arc,then?

  • Hauntme1 Nov 30, 2012

    really?????if u don't know abt winchester's dad u really don't have a clue about this season.

  • FAssbenderiwy Nov 30, 2012

    Has anybody ever died, gone to hell, purgatory, etc and then come back????? would it be so out of character for Supernatural?????

  • Hauntme1 Dec 02, 2012

    hahaha ok so u do have a clue abt this season

  • mcepin3 Nov 30, 2012

    didn't you watch first seasons? seasons 1-3

  • FAssbenderiwy Nov 30, 2012

    It wouldn't surprise me if Bobby came back, so why not their dad? other than because the actor were otherwise engaged it wouldn't be so crazy

  • FAssbenderiwy Nov 30, 2012

    I watched all seasons, that's why I know anything is possible in Supernatural, i.e.Dean, Sam, Castiel, etc, dying, going to hell, purgatory and god knows where and still being on the show

  • mcepin3 Nov 30, 2012

    yeah but Dean and Sam are main characters. So of course those 2 will be back by any means necessary. As far as dad goes,he was sent to hell in season 1(think it was 1st season) and in season 2 released from hell(at that hell gate and yellow demon thing) and at some point sent to heaven(I think...was he?)
    But yeah anything can happen here, I just think your theory might be really far offense.

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