The Owl House centers itself around several outcasts bonding. Luz finds a mentor in Eda the Owl Lady and later a community at Hexside with Willow, Gus, and, eventually, Amity. Dana Terrace’s series leans heavily into mixing found family and born-familial bonds, meaning accepting people overtime as they grow and change. Hunter (Zeno Robinson) poses a major test as a member of the Emperor’s coven and Belos’ (Matthew Rhys) second in command. Over time, Hunter shows not only his passion for magic but also fully comes to terms with how the Emperor has abused him. Our heroes showing him kindness and relating to him throughout helps Hunter pull himself out of Belos’ reach and start to heal.
Hunter carries a lot of weight in just his existence. Belos spent every conversation with Hunter emotionally manipulating him – isolating him from witches his age, forcing him to practice physically grating training, and making him compete with everyone he meets for any affection. Only the coven head Darius (Keston John) forms a bond with Hunter because he sees him as a lonely but enthusiastic kid – and he has barely any time for him with the coven’s duties. Not to mention he watches Belos murder palisman to survive daily and also the physical abuse. The way Belos grips his shoulder and sends a knife-like hit towards Hunter’s face in the episode “Hunting Palisman” is deeply unnerving.
However, Hunter is not a witch nor a human – he is a grimwalker. He’s one of several clones of Caleb Wittebane, Belos/Philip’s brother. Mind you, Belos killed Caleb for falling in love with a witch. He then made so many clones that he killed them for betraying him and trying to help witches that there is a hole filled with Golden Guard skeletons referred to as “where the failures end up.” So, Hunter is not just an embodiment of his own trauma, he is an amalgamation of hundreds of years of abused, beaten people all because they loved magic. He is a representation of generational trauma all centering around a vile leader.
Friendship Helps Hunter Drop His Guard
He is all of that baggage in a child-sized package. Luz (Sarah-Nicole Robles) says Hunter looks like a Hexside student when she gets her first look at him without his mask. He shows that even in his early scenes: his confidence as the Golden Guard commanding authority, waiving and shouting “byyyyyyeee” as he leaves Luz playfully, even acknowledging how King is endearing in his cage. Now, Hunter gives Luz a poor first impression – putting King (Alex Hirsch) in a cage and threatening to kill her and Eda (Wendie Malick). That changes in “Hunting Palisman,” when Luz sees who Hunter is. She sees a young witch who’s put a ton of research into glyphs – the first time we see Hunter get excited is when they share knowledge of glyph combos and they read the same book. Hunter then opens up to Luz and shares his insecurities about being a powerless witch and being grateful for Belos finding him and also feeling trapped about not choosing his future.
That kinship and shared passion for magic pays forward. Hunter chooses to tell Luz his name for the first time he’s referred to as someone other than the Golden Guard. He not only lets Luz get away with the palismen, he also takes in Flapjack and slowly starts to befriend the old bird. They have other moments of bonding together – particularly in “Hollow Mind,” when they are trapped in Belos’ mind and unravel the truth about the Emperor. But that shared aspect is not what made them friends; they both had the same passion for magic and witchcraft and they are both outsiders. Luz is the first person Hunter’s age to actually connect with Hunter without using him and that goes a long way. Hunter also goes to Luz when he fears Belos had followed them to the human realm, and Luz walks with him to check and proposes wearing masks to help Hunter’s confidence. When Luz tells him she wants to keep him safe and calls him “family,” Hunter breaks down and cries in his mask as Luz consoles him. One of the most guarded characters on the show lets out some emotion and he does so with someone he feels comfortable around.
Willow and Gus Bond With Hunter as Well
Luz is not the only teen Hunter meets and connects with. Particularly, Willow (Tati Gabrielle) and Gus (Isaac Ryan Brown) get to know Hunter from the golden guard’s brief excursion at Hexside. Gus is a tad suspicious of Hunter’s intentions, telling him to be kind to Willow as she’s had a tough year. Hunter wins them over quickly with his enthusiasm for playing Flyer Derby, his skills, and his enthusiasm for the sport. In reverse, Willow and Gus see that behind the hard exterior he’s a fun guy. They even let Hunter choose their name – the Emeral Entrails “because we’re green and there’s more to us than you think.” Of course, Hunter has them taken into the Emperor’s Coven and nearly arrested, but he turns back on that and lets them go. They never fully blame Hunter for that – with Willow adding him on Penstagram.
They later take him in when Hunter hides from the Emperor in “Labyrinth Runners.” Gus sees Hunter struggling and gives him his lunch. Hunter then saves Gus from getting a coven sigil and protects him from his former co-workers. Gus also recognizes that Hunter is scared of returning to Belos’ castle and helps him breathe when Hunter has a panic attack about returning to the Emperor’s coven – a breathing technique he learned from Willow, mind you. He also relates to Hunter’s inability to trust people, talking about how other students used him to get through classes. Gus mentioned that meeting Willow and later Luz helped him realize that he needed to meet people who would not use him. Hunter would not fully trust Gus yet – that Emperor’s Coven branding was pretty deep – but the message stands. Hunter stuck with Gus because he could see he trusted him.
Later, when Hunter is questioned by several students and teachers at Hexside, it’s Willow who believes him. She hears him frantically talking about a “breathing thing” which is all too familiar to him. Like Luz, Willow and Gus see Hunter for who he is and recognize that he’s hurt. Hunter even helps Gus break out of his panic attack with that breathing technique and connecting with him. Hunter hears Gus questioning himself not being able to “trust” himself because he keeps getting tricked, and Hunter relates with his experience with the Emperor’s Coven and Belos, saying that it’s comfortable to believe the lie that the Emperor was good, or that Gus is not worthy of trust. Hunter saw that he could trust Gus and opened up to him, relating with Gus in his lowest moment.
In the human realm in “Thanks to Them,” Willow sees Hunter panicking about his lineage and closeness to Belos and gives him a haircut. Later, Gus laughs seeing Hunter glow about wolves, and then acknowledges that Hunter is “smiling” more in Connecticut, away from Belos’ scouts, and just hanging out with friends. Hunter pushes that aside, but Gus says it’s good to see him happy. That comes as Gus acknowledges he’s homesick – “One of us might as well be.” Gus then asks Hunter about life in the Emperor’s coven and Hunter finally opens up, talking about how he trained a lot and did not spend much time with other scouts. They then share how they miss aspects of the demon realm and Hunter reassures Gus that they’ll find a way back.
These Friendships Are Positive Impacts on Hunter Rather Than Negative
These interactions are also helpful for Hunter: pure, kind, friendly. Gus asks Hunter about the Emperor’s Coven but never tries to pry information out of him. He is patient and Hunter shares with him when he is comfortable. Gus also is willing to share his insecurities with Hunter knowing that he will listen. Again, like Luz, Hunter is able to be comfortable sharing his joy and pain with them and not just for competitive purposes, but because he is with people who love him.
Flapjack also deserves praise her as well. He meets Hunter and stays with him throughout the series. He helps Hunter fight Amity in Eclipse Lake, stays with Hunter recruiting for the Emperor’s Coven and in Hexside. Keep in mind, Flapjack knew the original Caleb and has a scar over his eye – they never explain where that came from, but Flapjack does have a fear whenever the Emperor is around. The series makes it clear that a witch and their palisman hold a strong bond, and Flapjack is willing to hang with Hunter fully knowing the harm that Belos is capable of because he sees the same spirit in Hunter that he witnessed in Caleb.
Hunter’s friendships helped him get out of the Emperor’s Coven and Belos. They even helped him escape literal possession. After taking control of Hunter’s body in the human realm, Belos fights the Hexsquad and nearly kills Flapjack. As Belos tries to suck Flap’s life force, Hunter returns and finally tells off Belos. Flapjack later gives up his life force to save Hunter, in the process, changing Hunter’s eye color from Magenta to brown. That’s, of course, the same as Flapjack.
The physical transformation shows that Flap is a part of Hunter and also a sign of their bond. It’s different from how Belos sucked the life force of the palismen he consumed – which dissolved afterward, but also they showed us the tortured souls of the palismen haunting Belos in “Hollow Mind” as Belos never respected them like true partners. Hunter did as he does all magical beings, and it saved his life. His bonds also created an avenue for him to cope with his personal and generational trauma. They give him the kindness and support Belos never had for him, nor the Emperor’s Coven members could give. Hunter’s friends are a model of support for anyone in need of a little magic.