A Deep Dive into Hunter from The Owl House
Most fans of The Owl House will agree with me when I say this: Hunter is a sweet cinnamon bun and must be protected at all costs!
Joking aside, Hunter might be one of the absolute best characters on The Owl House. Played to masterful levels by Zeno Robinson, Hunter started the show as this younger, goofier version of Darth Vader. He was the Emperor’s enforcer, his right-hand man, this man of mystery. However, it took a little while for us to get a look behind the mask to find he was anything but a Vader. Instead, he had more in common with Prince Zuko from the Avatar franchise. He’s this young, inherently compassionate person who devoted his life to trying to please this toxic authority figure he looked up to. Hunter began to learn more about the outside world by meeting Luz and, later, her friends. Thanks to them, he realized that the man he looked up to was, in truth, an abusive monster. So, he ran and would’ve kept running had he not found people who cared about him for who he was.
Hunter’s story in The Owl House is about someone who’s been the victim of domestic abuse his entire life. It’s a journey that helps him to slowly realize how horrible his life truly is and seeks to escape it with the help of the people that truly love him. More importantly, it’s about said victim finding the strength to overcome said abuse, stand up to the person responsible for it, and come out on the other side a better person than their abuser ever was. This is the story of Hunter, this generation’s Zuko.
Our First Impressions: Like Vader, but Goofier
Introduced in the final moments of the season one finale, the Golden Guard was subject to rampant theories and fan speculation during the seasonal interim. Who was he? What was he like underneath the mask? Was he going to take Lillith’s place as Emperor Belos’ chief enforcer? Would he become Luz’s main rival in the second season?
Eventually, the season two premiere of The Owl House, “Separate Tides,” rolled around, and we got our first look at the Golden Guard. From Lillith’s own experiences, he was this hotshot young Witch that got special treatment from the Emperor, much to her and many others’ jealousy. Once he gets involved in the plot, serving as the primary threat of the episode, we see his reputation isn’t unwarranted. He’s authoritative, confident, and willing to use underhanded tactics to get his way. Case in point, he blackmails Luz and Eda into doing his dirty work by using King as a hostage. That’s a very Vader move!
At the same time, though, the Golden Guard is quite unlike Vader. He acts like a typical teenager, finding enjoyment in messing with King. He even undercuts how threatening he is with his goofy farewell to the trio.
I knew right away that I would enjoy having the Golden Guard around. However, I didn’t realize how much we’d grow to love him.
Getting a Look Underneath the Mask at the Real Hunter
Besides a brief appearance at the end of “Escaping Expulsion,” Hunter’s next appearance would be in “Hunting Palismen.” That episode would give fans our first glimpse underneath the mask and see who the boy underneath really was.
It starts in the episode’s cold opening as the Golden Guard sees Belos away when his health catches up to him. He looks away from the silhouette of what Belos transforms into, but otherwise, he stays by his side. His concern for Belos, who we learn is his “Uncle,” is genuine. Yet Belos threatens to skewer him when he suggests using wild magic to cure him before ordering him to bring him a new Palismen.
Thankfully, his mission doesn’t succeed, thanks to the wild card that is Luz Noceda and the jealous rival that is Kikimora, the latter of whom tries to kill him. Thankfully, Luz’s compassionate nature prompts her to save him, much to his anger. The remainder of the episode amounts to Hunter going through a conga line of humiliation. He gets slapped by Luz, brushed off by the Emperor’s Coven, forced to reveal his lack of magic to the Human, and then outsmarted by the girl as she escapes with the Palismen. By the end of it, most of the mystique he had as the Golden Guard’s non-existent.
In exchange, though, we got something better: we got to see a little bit of what Hunter’s like underneath the mask, literally and metaphorically. For starters, he’s not just a teen; he’s young enough to pass for a Hexside student and a very skinny one. In addition, without the mask to hide his face, Hunter’s emotions are free for all to see, and we see someone whos very insecure about being a magicless Witch. Thus, he must constantly prove himself to Belos, his father figure. However, despite obediently following Belos’ commands, Hunter’s curiosity about wild magic shines through, even as he spouts the Emperor’s rhetoric that such things are dangerous. This desire proves strong enough that one of the Palismen, a cardinal named Flapjack, stays with Hunter, much to his confusion.
Forming the First Positive Relationship in His Life
The next time we see Hunter is in the episode “Eclipse Lake.” Following his failure to capture the Palismen, the young man finds himself on thin ice with Emperor Belos. Desperate to retain his Uncle’s approval, he sneaks out behind the Emperor’s back to travel to Eclipse Lake. His goal is to sneak past Kikimora and the Emperor’s Coven, retrieve the vial of Titan’s Blood Belos needs to activate the Clawthorne family’s portal to Earth and win his favor again. It’s a poorly thought-out idea, but Hunter is desperate to prove himself useful. Too bad for him, his plan goes sideways when he’s captured by Amity, Eda, and King, who are there for the same reason he is.
Continuing from his previous outing, this episode takes every chance to humiliate Hunter, forced to follow the Owl House gang as their prisoner, with Eda and King taking the opportunity to dunk on him. Or, in King’s case, bite his head. He and Amity do briefly connect due to their shared beliefs that they have to earn the approval from the ones they care about to matter to them, but unlike Amity, Hunter doesn’t grow out of this.
Then we have the big moment when we see Hunter at one of his lowest points. Eclipse Lake’s dried up, the Titan’s blood is gone, and Hunter knows he can’t return to Belos empty-handed again. So, he starts digging his own grave! At the time, it seemed like an example of black comedy. However, later, we learn how justified Hunter’s fears are, and the joke…isn’t as funny as before.
In the end, Hunter manages to get his hands on the portal key, meaning his quest isn’t a waste. More importantly, though, throughout this experience, Flapjack stuck beside him, supporting him no matter what. The experience helps the two bond, and by the end, Hunter’s formed the first positive relationship in his life.
More will soon follow.