This week’s Supernatural is one of the “off the reservation” kind of episodes the show typically does very well. “Hunteri Heroici” is written by Andrew Dabb, who usually writes in partnership with Daniel Loflin. His solo effort gets a lot of things right, but also highlights where some of the issues of the season are. As we approach the fall Hellatus, those issues are beginning to cast a very large shadow.
The main story involves Sam, Dean, and Castiel having to deal with Fred Jones, an older and sick hunter who has retreated into his own mind. Problems arise because this hunter—guest star Mike Farrell—has psycho-kinetic powers of a magnitude that can change reality. And since Jones loves cartoons, he creates a bubble of cartoon physics around him. Hilarity ensues.
And for the most part, it does. The episode allows Jensen Ackles to show off his excellent physical comedy skills, as he dodges dropping anvils and runs into frying pans while chasing Dr. Mahoney, the nursing home thief who is tapping into Jones’ bubble of weird. Dabb weaves in many references to classic cartoons—he knows his Looney Tunes. It’s no small feat to make a talking cat (voiced by executive producer Robert Singer) work in a dramatic series.
Dabb also weaves in some emotionally potent scenes to balance the cartoon mayhem. Dean and Cas have a lovely scene where Dean not only tells Cas he is glad he’s back, he then looks past an angry outburst from his friend to ask what is really wrong. Instead of the kind of angry and often distorted communication we saw between Sam and Dean in “Southern Comfort,” Castiel shares the depth of his shame at his killing spree on Earth and in heaven. He’s cut himself off from heaven so he doesn’t feel driven to kill himself in remorse.
This is interesting stuff, because of course, Cas is not as cut off from his former home as he imagines. He’s an unknowing double agent controlled by mysterious angels in a part of heaven he knows nothing about. Cas ends the episode realizing he cannot escape his past, but not yet realizing he needs to escape Naomi’s clutches.