Supernatural 8.03 – Heartache

Opening scene: a fairly athletic looking man jogging through the mist of the night. He has his earbuds in so he doesn’t notice the guy dressed as the Kool-Aid man running up behind him until the man Usaine Bolts right past him. The fit guy is a sport about it and congrats the dude. The guy, clearing used to this kind of praise, shoots off the first of many a heartfelt pun running rampant through this episode.

Then he rips the strapping young man’s heart clean out from under his ribcage.

Post title card we catch up with Sam and Dean at a lovely farmer’s market. Sam has found an apple to munch on and, if you’re not overinvested in the ever changing oxidation levels of the apple he’s eating and with how thoroughly he chews, you may realize that Dean’s found a case. Six months like clockwork someone loses their heart in Minneapolis, and since the boys have been spinning in circles looking for Kevin Dean figures a hunt will do them good.

Sam is reluctant. He figures if he closes his eyes and hums real loud then the monster in Minneapolis isn’t actually an issue. Did you know that avoidance and disinterest are symptoms of PTSD? Chew on that bit of organic information, Sam Winchester.

Nevertheless, Dean convinces (*cough* guilt trips *cough *) Sam into taking the case with him.

Over in Minneapolis, Sam and Dean try to get down the heart of the matter but the local police don’t have much to go on. They did have a nifty vid from park surveillance showing the victim and the rotund runner that sprinted past him. Turns out his name is Paul Hayes, now MPD has questioned Mr. Hayes, but they reckon his story of innocence by claiming not to know what the heck they’re talking about holds water. Plus the guy has like ZERO parking tickets, so clearly he also has ZERO homicidal tendencies. Because that’s how that correlation works. Sam and Dean are less convinced. And since they’re already wearing their fancy Fed suits, they may as well pay Paul Hayes a visit.

Paul Hayes is a man changed. He’s gone from greasy goodness to green smoothies. He’s not doing it for the taste; he’s doing it for his health. Sam is pleased, he likes when complete strangers validate his life and food choices in front of Dean. Sam and Dean delicately ask Paul to explain how he outran someone younger and fitter than himself, Paul isn’t offended, he knows he’s a bit on the tubby side, however he makes sure to let them know that he’s actually in better shape than he was a year ago after his lardaceous lifestyle lead him down a scary pre-death path. Now he’s staying healthy and young at heart.

Sam doesn’t think Paul has a penchant for heart wrenching, but Dean is still dubious… until he finds a victim killed in Ames, Iowa two days after their vic the exact same way. Unless Paul has mastered astral projection there’s no way it was him.

Over in Ames they hit up another precinct with minimal answers, they do happen to have a suspect, a former cop who was found with the pizza boy’s blood on his hands. Oddly enough the suspect, Arthur Swenson, was in court testifying the week before the murder, which rules him out as the perp for the Minneapolis case.

Swenson doesn’t seem to have the heart or head for murder; he’s pretty much a babbling mess in the interrogation room. Sam and Dean listen to his rambling, which sound like he’s looping the opening to Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You”. Sam and Dean try everything to get a reaction out of Swenson, but nothing works, not even bringing up the two eyes-two colors condition. Swenson just keeps on chanting.

Later that night, Swenson adrenaline gets going, he cracks off a piece of his bed frame and gouges one of his eyes out. More on that in a sec.

Off in there hotel Sam and Dean try to decipher Swenson’s chanting with no luck. Even Dean’s phone app can’t recognize it. That’s when Sam’s phone rings and we find out two things: 1) Sam’s apparently the one giving out the Winchester contact info and 2) Sam is using his Agent Sambora alias, which is 100% against the instructions Frank Devereaux gave them last year and is also totally fitting given how good Sam’s season 8 hair looks and how good Richie Sambora’s 1980s hair used to look.

Dean heads to the hospital where he finds out from the doctor on call that Swenson was a transplant recipient and unplanted his new eye right out of his head. Dean’s new game plan? Tracking down the organ donor.

Meanwhile, Sam’s medical record hacking turns up intel on Paul Hayes. He was a transplant recipient too, at the same time as Arthur Swenson. Sam also thinks that maybe Dean’s babel-app failed not because the language was gibberish, but because it predates the software. He emailed the file to the doctor that helped them out with their Amazonian women case last year. Dean doesn’t really look keen on discussing that, but whatever. Dean figures out that their next stop should be Boulder, Colorado. Off they go. On the road they have a lovely heart to heart about how Dean’s found his calling (again) and Sam reckons that means Dean doesn’t need him anymore (again). That’s right, Sam Winchester is talking about early retirement and not in the dead way, but in the white picket fence kind of way. They’re interrupted by the doctor Dean spoke with calling. She’s got info on the donor, he’s none other than fictional football superstar Brick Holmes. Like Tom Brady or Bret Farve or something. Remember when Tom Brady had Jared Padalecki’s hair? Good times.

Over in the 303 area code we meet Randa, an exotic dancer who seems to be biting off more than she can chew when she takes her “don’t touch the merchandise” sign from around her neck. The john in the alley seems completely enthralled with her, and we all know that your biggest fan can be your scariest fan. Unless you’ve already pegged what’s gonna happen here. You guessed it, he’s about to find out what becomes of the brokenhearted; they end up with their heart ripped out of their chest. Randa takes her prize back to her lair, summons Chaka Khan, eats her heart out and takes in some kind of orgasmic looking power complete with glowy red eyes.

Sam and Dean hit up Brick Holmes’ grieving mother, Eleanor. Sam goes on about how Brick was his idol in high school and rattles off stats like an ESPN color commentator. They start asking her more awkward questions about Brick’s death and his choice to be a donor. Eleanor hedges hard and pretty much kicks them out. Then we find out that she knows Randa. Randa is the proud owner of Brick’s still beating heart.

Obviously, the Winchesters are suspicious. Meanwhile, the professor has cracked the language code and Sam was right, it is an ancient language, Mayan to be exact. Translated the chant is a to the Cacao, the Mayan hot chocolate god of corn. Or something. Dean also finds another transplant recipient from Phoenix, or rather doesn’t find him because according to the local cops the guy is missing. Oh, and Sam has an email from a university with some info on admissions. That’s just dandy as far as Dean’s concerned, just peachy and lovely.

Dean’s bigger fish is this case so back to Eleanor Holmes’ estate the go. They poke and prod and all they turn up is Eleanor’s clothes hanging in Brick’s closet. The options can range from a grief-induced desire to be closer to her deceased offspring to Brick being a secret cross-dressing, but Dean’s going with maternal May/December incest. Sam’s grossed out.

Why he’s trying desperately to not process matters of the disturbed heart they stumble upon a hidden room full of sports memorabilia. The collection is extensive and Sam is impressed by Brick’s fanboy devotion to the genre, however as the boys dig deeper it gets weirder. Brick also has a collection of letters addressed to a woman named “Betsy” from a paramour that simply signs the letters as “Me”. The letters tell the tale of a man that play pro sport after pro sport for decades for the love of the games, but only had “Betsy” in his heart. The most recent letter comes off more suicidal than hall of fame bragging.

Sam decides to run the names on some of the trophies in the room and when he pulls up pictures of the men they all look eerily similar to one another, like identical quadruplets decades apart. A perpetually 25-ish year old prime athlete rotating through different sports disciplines to hide himself. They also find a picture from the 40s with “Betsy” in it. “Betsy” looks a lot like a fresh-faced Eleanor. Time to confront Eleanor.

Eleanor confesses that her husband was a 900+ year-old Mayan that was such an endorphin addict that he want to exercise for an eternity so he made a sacrificial deal with the Mayan Magic Man. And when Eleanor found out about it, and the details, she was more or less cool with it. She’s remorsefully now. Probably because she’s all alone now. Dean doesn’t even try to fake any sympathy. Besides, he’s most likely being super smug on the inside, he wasn’t really wrong about a relationship that gives Oedipal a fresh new twist. Eleanor/Betsy does give them the key to ending it all. She knows that if they can just shatter Randa’s heart of glass all the other organs will lose their power. She tells them just where to find her and gives them the ancient Mayan heartburn knife that’ll take Randa’s out.

The boys pull up to the The Bunny Hole and head in. Dean breathes deep and takes in the aroma of sweaty girl, Bath and Body Works Plumeria and Suave hairspray. He looks about half a second from licking flavored body glitter off the floor. Sam is once again grossed out by his brother.

Randa’s ready for them; she’s a barracuda and she’s got her transplant brethren and the fight is on, but in the end she’s no match for the Winchesters and Dean shoves the knife into her heart-shaped box.

The episode ends with the boys in the car talking about Dean’s inner warrior princess roaring and Sam’s need for a normal life surfacing. Sam flashes back to Amelia and his dog and what he acts like is his very first birthday cake ever. Obviously, Jessica never went out of her way on Sam’s birthday… Either way seems like Sam is still fully set on leaving the life as fast as he can.

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  • Mariapia

    I kind of don’t like the feeling that Sam was relieved when Dean was gone because he was free to pursue his white picket fence life and he’s kind of annoyed his brother is back. I can’t shake that feeling. Hadn’t thought about Jessica on the birthday cake thing, but now you mention it, it makes sense. However, I remember Dean going out of his way to get young Sammy some Xmas presents back in the day, so I’m pretty sure Sam at least got a cupcake once in a while.

    • I agree. Moving on is one thing, but the emotional distance Sam has created is OOC in my opinion; on the other hand I’m completely willing to see where they take that.

      I’m a Samgirl through and through, and the fact that they are negating his relationship with Jessica, the woman he thought he was going to marry, is almost insulting. And I agree about Dean, there’s no way Dean didn’t hustle some funds and take Sam to Putt-Putt or something for his birthday at least once.

  • spnMom

    @Mariapia, there is a big difference between a cupcake for your birthday and a surprise Birthday cake. Sam went from anxious that Ameleria was missing (remember him calling for her like he though she might have been kidnapped), then he rounds a corner and all of his fears (like another person gone from his life) are replaced by relief so profound he is speechless…

    I am hoping that the writers are not trying to show us that Sam was relieved Dean was gone. I am hoping it is more like PTSD that Vanessa mentioned. I read another analysis recently that made me feel a little better about this totally OOC Sam. One form of PTSD results in apathy and avoidance (kind of trying to pretend “it never happened”). Another kind is hyper-vigilance. Kind of like the manic hunter extraordinaire that is Dean right now.

    I am hoping the guys manage to bring each other back to a happy medium. I was waiting all through Season 6 & 7 for Dean and Sam to help each other with their Hell Trauma, but except for that one great warehouse scene in 7×02, it never seemed to happen. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it might happen this season. We can’t have Sam just give up and leave. That can’t be what they are going toward if there is even a hint that they could go 10 seasons.

    In summary, I hate what they are doing with Sam’s character, but if I wasn’t such a Winchester Brothers fan, I would have really enjoyed this episode. However, I am just dying for the brothers to bond again. I want to see some Mystery Spot / Christmas episode brotherly bonding… NOW!

    • I really hope I’m right (or at least semi-right) about the PTSD. I think it would be interesting to see writers explore the less showcased symptoms, plus it would explain a lot.

      I’m intrigued as to how they’ll tie it all up, since, like you mentioned, there’s a strong possibility the show will go til s10.