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Cult Recap

'Supernatural' recap: Sam and Dean get animated in 'Hunteri Heroici'

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Supernatural ("Hunteri Heroici" - S08E08): Jared Padalecki as Sam

© The CW / Jack Rowand

Season 8, episode 8

THEN! Sam took a year off from hunting and fell in love with vet Amelia, while Cas also has women troubles - he's being forced to report to angel queen Naomi on the Winchesters' movements… with no subsequent memory of having done so.

NOW! After a rocky start, the eighth season of Supernatural seemed to have hit its stride with a string of solid episodes - the inventive horror of 'Bitten', the tragic romance of 'Blood Brother' and then Castiel's suitably epic return in 'A Little Slice of Kevin'. Unfortunately, having taken a week's break, the show returns with one of this year's weaker offerings.

We open with an Oklahoma man's heart bursting from his chest - a horrific death that appears to have been realised with some laughably bad CGI. But we shouldn't have been so quick to judge, since this 'cartoonish' effect was intentional…

Supernatural ("Hunteri Heroici" - S08E08): Mike Farrell as Fred and Misha Collins as Castiel

© The CW / Jack Rowand



'Hunteri Heroici' is the story of an aged, near-comatose psychokinetic who is inadvertently projecting a "bubble of weird" that warps reality and anything that comes into close contact with him goes "Daffy" - as the Winchesters and Castiel struggle to solve the case, the bodies keep piling up in an 'animated' fashion...

One man briefly levitates, before plummeting to his death Wile E Coyote-style, while a bank's security guard is crushed by an anvil. Bump your head and hear birdies, fire a gun and get nothing but a 'BANG' flag... you get the idea.

Supernatural ("Hunteri Heroici" - S08E08): Catherine Lough Haggquist as Detective Glass, Misha Collins as Castiel, Jared Padalecki as Sam, and Jensen Ackles as Dean

© The CW / Jack Rowand



Having - to his knowledge - cut himself off from Heaven, Castiel (Misha Collins) still wants to seek redemption for past crimes so decides to try his hand at being a hunter. But his unorthodox methods on this cartoon caper don't go down well with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) - Cas lacks the personal touch and his detective skills have seemingly been gleaned entirely from Columbo episodes.

Misha Collins has of course perfected his 'fish out of water' schtick over the past four years, but his Columbo impersonations and cat interrogations feel like a step too far into the absurd. Having Cas comically struggle with human interaction is fine, but having him act like a buffoon damages the character.

Going too far is a problem that 'Hunteri Heroici' suffers from in general - while the TV-mocking of 'Changing Channels' and self-referencing of 'The French Mistake' worked to great effect, the broad central gimmick of this episode robs proceedings of any drama.

Supernatural ("Hunteri Heroici" - S08E08): Jared Padalecki as Sam, Mike Farrell as Fred, Misha Collins as Castiel, and Jensen Ackles as Dean

© The CW / Jack Rowand



Thankfully we do get a little substance courtesy of Sam's ongoing flashbacks - our latest jaunt in the past charts his awkward first encounter with Amelia's hostile army vet father, who - like Dean - has a few harsh words for the younger Winchester about running away from his responsibilities.

But Sam's got bigger problems - his blossoming romance hits a major snag when Amelia receives news that her presumed-dead husband Don is still alive. Guest star Brian Markinson impresses as Amelia's disapproving dad and these low-key but powerful sequences drew us in in a way that the frothy case of the week failed to do.

Like Dean, we're "freaking thrilled" to have Castiel back - the latter's haunted confession to the former about his reluctance to return to Heaven is a stand-out scene - and Sam's romantic troubles helped hold our interest, but too frequently 'Hunteri Heroici' is cartoonish in all the wrong ways.

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