Stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Emily Swallow, Luciana Carro, Jim Thorburn, Venus Terzo, Zoe Fraser
Writers: Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder, series created by Eric Kripke
Director: Phil Sgriccia
Network: The CW, Wednesdays @ 9 PM
Original Airdate: January 27, 2016

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in SUPERNATURAL "Love Hurts" | © 2016 Diyah Pera/The CW

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in SUPERNATURAL “Love Hurts” | © 2016 Diyah Pera/The CW

The SUPERNATURAL Season 11 episode “Love Hurts” is and isn’t a standalone episode. The creature of the week here and how it operates is essential in getting Dean (Jensen Ackles) to open up to brother Sam (Jared Padalecki) about his bond with God’s sister Amara (Emily Swallow). This is good. The mechanism of revelation, however, requires a fairly complicated mythology for a one-shot monster, which in turn necessitates a huge hairball of exposition.

On Valentine’s Day in Hudson, Ohio, we see apparently loving married couple Melissa (Luciana Carro) and Dan (Jim Thorburn) preparing for a date. Uh-oh. Dan is having an affair with babysitter Staci (Zoe Fraser), who is issuing “Tell her or else” ultimatums.

When the couple is gone, Stacy then enthusiastically greets someone we don’t see – who literally rips her heart out.

Sam and Dean read about the case and come to investigate. A shaken Dan admits to them he was cheating with Stacy and shows the Winchesters nanny-cam footage that looks like Dan is the murderer. Lucky for Dan, the guys believe him when he says he didn’t do it. Less lucky for Dan, “Stacy” appears to him and rips his heart out.

Then “Dan” pounds on Melissa’s door. Melissa runs to the fake FBI agents for help and confesses to going to a witch, Sonja (Venus Terzo), for a spell to regain Dan’s love, as Melissa had figured out her husband was being unfaithful.

Sam does research and finds the spell is actually a curse that – deep breath – works like this: something called a Kazim (like a genie, but not) has its heart, kept outside of its body, controlled by the witch. The Kazim takes the form of the deepest, darkest desire of the person being cursed and rips their heart out. However, if the cursed person kisses someone else, they are safe until the Kazim kills the kissee. The boys liken it to “a magical STD.”

Dean kisses Melissa so the Kazim will go after him first. When they track down Sonja the witch at her hair salon – she’s a hairdresser when not doing magic – she tells Sam that she started out just arranging for the deaths of unfaithful men, but she got so aggravated with the repeat patterns of the cheated-on women that she modified the curse to get them, too. “I’m weeding out the idiots.”

When the Kazim appears to Dean, it turns out that his deepest, darkest desire is Amara. With some help from Melissa, Sam is able to kill Sonja and destroy the Kazim’s heart.

Alone with his brother, Dean tells Sam he saw Amara. Mentally, Dean wants to kill Amara, but something happens when he’s with her. Dean is guilt-ridden, but Sam is completely understanding. Amara is God’s sister; Dean can’t help his reaction or the fact that Amara chose him.

Sam’s viewpoint will be shared by most of the audience. As for Dean, it wouldn’t be SUPERNATURAL if one of the brothers wasn’t stricken with shame over something. It makes sense psychologically and emotionally.

The episode’s mythology essentially hangs together, but what was a scary notion in, say, THE RING (that videotape that had to be passed along, or else) feels more like a hassle than a horror here. Director Phil Sgriccia  summons some creepy shadow imagery, but having the lore on the computer instead of being teased out through detective work makes it seem on the mundane side.

“Love Hurts” also seems oddly short – witch and Kazim are vanquished at the end of Act Four and Act Five is very brief. The irony here is that an episode about ripped-out hearts apparently has skipped a beat.

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TV Review: SUPERNATURAL – Season 11 – “Love Hurts”

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