Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S08E03 – Heartache

In the third episode of the eighth season of Supernatural, Sam and Dean follow a particularly violent set of murders linked to hearts. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Trigger Warning: For talk of body horror/gore, and cultural appropriation.

This is an okay episode. I understand how it functions within the exploration of Sam and Dean’s contrasting stories in this season, and I think this case had to feel like something out of season one for it to truly work. Sam and Dean are on such polar opposite journeys because of the events at the end of season seven, and that’s made painfully obvious through a case that’s reminiscent of where the Winchesters were when they started. If they can’t even handle a normal case together, what’s going to happen when they do locate Kevin? What happens if they truly do close the gates to Hell permanently?

I definitely found this subplot to be a whole lot more fascinating and rewarding than the case within “Heartache.” It’s undeniable at this point that these brothers are being brutally honest with one another, much more so than they’ve been in the past. It’s just unfortunate that they’ve finally gotten to this point right when they’re more disagreeable than ever! Dean can’t accept that Sam might want a life outside of hunting, even though he appears to successfully had one for a year. This is exacerbated by Dean’s experience with the “purity” of Purgatory. And it’s not like this dynamic was pulled out of thin air, either. Dean’s always been more prone to the hunt, and Sam had already tried a life away from hunting. So I did find it believable that Sam would consider a relationship with someone, or that he’d pursue college again. (I relate to that personally because I’ve had an inkling in the last few years to actually go finish a degree, but it’s complicated. Mostly because FREE TIME??? HAHAHAHAHA.)

Unfortunately, Dean is quick to dismiss Sam’s feelings while Sam openly validates Dean’s. It’s sad to watch because Sam has no desire to stop Dean from going after what he loves and what makes him feel alive. And yet, Dean is quick to tell Sam that this fantasy of his is absurd and just a “phase.” I don’t expect that this can be resolved by brute force or by ignoring the emotional state either brother is in. Dean is still hiding Benny from Sam; Sam’s time with Amelia is still largely a mystery to the audience. (I’d like more flashbacks to it, but I could do without that Touched By an Angel sunny hue to them. It’s weird!) These two have so much more to work out, but I’m worried they’re not going to get a means to talk about it until it’s forced into the open.

I do wish that the rest of this episode was as engaging as Sam and Dean’s relationship. I definitely had fun trying to figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but the story lost me once it invoked a culture in a way that was too ridiculous for me to accept. While some of the lore professed in “Heartache” is technically correct in terms of who Cacao was, this episode utterly lost me when the thousand-year-old Mayan athlete is portrayed as a white dude. You’re kidding me, Supernatural. And it’s not like the show even bothered to explain how Brick came about! At some point, did Inyo suddenly realize he couldn’t play sports in America as a brown dude, so Cacao reincarnated him as a pale guy??? WHAT? Because it’s clear that Brick Holmes only subtly changed his appearance for at least seventy years. There is a 0% chance he always resembled the guy we got to see in this episode.

I admit that this is a little personal to me because I’m part Guatemalan and part El Salvadorean (thanks, blood tests!), and Mayan culture has had a long-lasting influence on people of those nations. (PS: THE MAYANS DID NOT DIE OUT, NOR COULD YOU EVER CLAIM THAT THEY WERE SINGULARLY OBSESSED WITH VIOLENCE AND CONQUEST. You know who you could describe in these terms? The fucking conquistadores from Spain who committed genocide of the Mayan peoples.) The writers hijack this culture for their own needs, and they do so poorly, y’all. It doesn’t even make for a good story! What happened to the two men who had Inyo’s organs within them? Did they die? Are we supposed to believe that someone would gain superhuman strength and the ability to never age and they’d hang out for years in a shitty strip club??? Which isn’t to slam on strip clubs or sex workers, but it just seems really strange to me that Randa feels like she’s a warrior, and she uses this newfound thrill to… work in a strip club? Does she feel like a warrior there? If so, the show should have explored this and explained why, but instead, Randa is a wholly one-note character with no real motivation. She’s nothing like Paul Hayes, whose health issues influenced his decision to keep up Inyo’s sacrifices. She doesn’t get any development at all.

All in all, this was a so-so story that showed promise for a while. I don’t think I’ll remember much about this by the time I finish Supernatural.

About the future of Mark Watches Supernatural! With the recent news that Supernatural has been given an eleventh season, I’ll confirm that I will be watching the show for the site! When I catch up through season 10, the show will be replaced entirely by Star Trek: The Next Generation so that I can finish my journey through the Star Trek canon by my scheduled date of 11/07/2017. When season eleven begins to air, I will do weekly reviews for each new episode. I will record my reactions and post a review on Thursday. At this point, I don’t quite know what time the review will go up, since I don’t know how long it’ll take me to record/write on that day, but I’ll set up a regular time once I get this going. Huzzah!

Please look at my Master Schedule, as all episodes through 10×23 are already on it.

The video for “Heartache” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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