Supernatural Review: “Heartache” (Season 8, Episode 3)

Supernatural returns to its freak of the week format it does so well as Sam and Dean investigate a case where victims are having their hearts ripped out every six months. As with every season, these episodes usually have a subtle undertone of the relationship between the brothers; in this case, it was Sam who felt like his own heart was being ripped out by the hunter lifestyle.

Jensen Ackles makes his triumphant return as the director of the episode, something that has become a treat to us viewers with each coming season. As usual with a Jensen-directed episode, “Heartache” exhibited a sense of rawness atypical of the Supernatural series, which is often noted for its camp and flair.

The only uncertain thing about the opening scenes is how the victim will die. In this case, it was more than obvious and wasn’t intriguing as it usually is, partially because the quirkiness was absent. We saw the victim, we saw the assailant, and we saw him die. Nothing was strange enough to make me want to try and figure out what monster this guy was or even what Dean and Sam were going to go up against. I was somewhat expecting a story episode, but I was in no way disappointed – well except the “then” sequence when Amelia showed her face.

As interesting as Dean’s part of the story is, I find Sam’s somewhat off. When Dean was shown with a normal life at the end of season 5 and the beginning of season 6, it made sense because we knew the price of such a commitment. For Sam, he just up and left everything behind to be seduced by a veterinarian who forced a dog on him and changed him into an organic-eating person.

It all seems too abrupt, as if I was watching two shows in one: Supernatural and some overly sappy version of Grey’s Anatomy. However, I don’t think Sam’s story is going to be as superficial as they are making it out to be with the dream-like quality of his flashbacks. Either Amelia is some sort of demon or….Amelia is a fabrication of some sort of demon.

Throughout the episode, we’re constantly interrupted by Sam’s need to express his want for a normal life. He tells Dean to leave him and to continue hunting without him. Dean’s way of dealing with Sam’s sudden need to be normal again is the good old brother card that has taken these two from Heaven to Hell – literally.

The brotherly love has gone on for seven years and for the eighth, it’s the exact same push and shove. Not that it’s bad, it’s just that we’ve come to expect what will eventually happen – Dean and Sam will put aside their differences to go after the big baddie all in the name of brotherhood. The only reason Supernatural has been getting away with it for so long is because contrary to what the producers want you to think, the story is what drives this series, not the relationships, hence why we don’t care about the constant rehashing.

One of the more disappointing things about this episode was the lack of Castiel or even Benny. Yes this wasn’t a story episode, but that shouldn’t stop it from trying to keep things consistent. There could have easily been a minute of Dean, Cas, and Benny just walking around Purgatory talking about feelings, a minute I’m sure would have still been the highlight of the episode. But this episode is about Sam, who we’re reminded has a dog and has a love interest – I’m going to refrain from saying girlfriend until we know for sure. As many complaints I have about Sam’s side, let’s actually get to what happened in the episode.

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