The Road So Far: “Heartache” Review


This week’s episode was all about Sammy and a little about Dean, and how their past year apart is leading them both down radically different paths. All this emotional turmoil is the juicy center of a chocolaty treat…er, I mean, Sam and Dean fight off the god Cacao.

Cacao is a Mayan god of maize… corn. I was confused too. Wikipedia informed me that Supernatural‘s writers aren’t entirely off base with this. There is something about Cacao or some god with a similar sounding name that is a corn god, but I also saw a lot of sites about the Mayans and cacao, as in chocolate, not a god. So sorry guys, but I have no idea what to tell you about how accurate the portrayal of this Mayan god is. The most I know about Mayan gods and culture comes from grade school history classes, The Road to El Dorado, and the brief internet search I did before writing this review. Anyway, the actual god does not feature, but a football player (that Sam apparently idolized as a kid) was an ancient Mayan athlete that made a deal with the god Cacao for strength and eternal youth so that he could continue being a star athlete. The only catch was to appease the god he had to sacrifice hearts to Cacao, by ripping them out of someone’s chest and eating them.

I just really wish someone had made a joke about chocolate and the god Cacao, because the whole time I was thinking about chocolate and wishing my candy bars would make me more athletic.

Overall, the monster isn’t all that interesting. We do get another evil/sexy female character, but she is balanced out by a good female character so I have no complaints.

The actual interesting thing about this episode was Sam, so let’s talk about him. Sam wants to live a normal life and by the end of the episode has basically decided that after helping Kevin and closing the gates of Hell that he is retiring. The episode shows a parallel between Sam and the football player. The football player, Brick Holmes, was immortal and lived this extraordinary life, but eventually got tired of it and killed himself. This parallels Sam living the crazy life and now wanting to leave it. After all Sam went to hell and dealt with Satan. Doesn’t he deserve a break? After he takes care of some the things he is still responsible for, can Sam quit hunting?

Well yeah, maybe, but not the way he has been. I have always maintained that Sam’s problem with trying to live a normal life is that he tries to erase his past. I really hope the plot for this season explores this. Sam has never embraced who he was in past and then moved on with his life.

Let me explain, first Sam lived a normal life for four years at Stanford. Yes, apparently there were demons watching over him, but as far as Sam could tell, everything was normal for four years. And yes, Sam did have issues with his father and Dean that caused him not to talk to them, but Sam still tried to forget and recreate who he was in his past. Just like his mom did, and it came back to bite her. The same thing seems to have happened with Sam this time. This past year he had a girlfriend and a dog, but he tried to erase who he was before and create a new identity for himself.

Now, I understand that Sam isn’t exactly going to go around telling everyone he meets that he used to hunt monsters but now he’s normal; however, how Sam relates to the normal world is reflected by how he treats his girlfriends. First it was Jess and now it’s Amelia, and each time he hides everything from them. Now to be fair, we only got one small flash back with Amelia so maybe he did tell her everything, but it doesn’t seem like Sam. Especially, since he slipped away from her while she was sleeping. He didn’t tell her where he was going or what he was doing—he just left. I hope that, if Amelia shows up again, she’ll be pissed. I would be. I also hope she isn’t the token girlfriend character.

Anyway, it’s telling that every time Dean has a serious girlfriend he tells them he’s a hunter. Cassie knew and so did Lisa, now things didn’t work out with them, but it made their relationships, in my opinion, healthier. At the end of the day, Sam is constantly lying to a person he claims to truly love. Sam was going to marry Jess and never tell her about his past. That seems shady to me. It also says something about Sam and Dean that plays into the current conflict. Dean cannot let go of being a hunter. Dean can’t move on from his past. Sam, however, can’t accept his past and who he was, which inevitably makes it impossible for Sam to move on with his life. As usual, the brothers mirror each other. Dean could probably have a normal life if he just allowed himself to move forward, but Sam ignores so much of who he is that basically every time he tries to move on he creates a new identity for himself that ultimately falls apart.

I am further convinced that Sam and Dean could have good healthy relationships with women, but they just screw them up by overthinking. Seriously, Dean’s thing with Lisa could have worked, but then he got scared and ran away. Sam tends to be deadly to female characters, but there was Sarah from season one (I think), who was a fan favorite who knew he was a hunter (she even got Dean’s blessing)—but Sam ran away from that.

But I digress, I do think at this point Dean is done trying to have a normal life. He tried, it didn’t work out, and then he found himself in Purgatory. Really, Dean has always enjoyed being a hunter more than Sam, but his own past experiences make him think it is impossible for him to have a normal life for two reasons. One, there will always be something after him. Even if Sam gets out of the life, it’s not like Crowley or any other monster would forget about Sam. No, he’d still be a target, so as sad as it is, Sam may not be able to walk away. Two, and this is the important part, responsibility to the world. Dean, probably thanks to experiences from past episodes like “What is and What Should Never Be”, knows in a very real way that without him people would be dead. Heck, even Lisa and Ben would have probably been killed by changelings. Dean actually saved people he cares about, because he’s a hunter. Whereas Sam mostly has people he cares about dying, because he’s a hunter. Not that Sam hasn’t saved people, but other than people like Dean or Bobby (who can/could take care of themselves) Sam couldn’t save people like Jess, Madison, Brady, or any of the kids with demon blood. Everyone Sam knew that wasn’t family died. So of course he sees little value in being a hunter.

Also, Adam is still trapped in Hell with Michael and Lucifer. I just want to keep reminding people of that.

But here is the real problem and again, the theme of this season, can Sam morally ignore it when he knows some monster is killing people? It’s true that people die every day and you can’t save everyone, but Sam can and has saved everyone. He actually has the skills and knowledge to help people. So, is he morally obligated to do so?

Well, I doubt Sam is leaving hunting… unless the show gets cancelled, which I doubt, so… sorry, Sam!

And now here is a funny video about Cacao, from another favorite TV show of mine, Portlandia! See you next week, SPN fans.