If we're going to analyze the twist reveal of "For The Future" in terms of disability, let's start with the basics... How do you define a “disability”?
In basic terms, a disability is a physical or a mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities; a disadvantage, or a handicap.
In the universe of the Boiling Isles, there are a few things that can be considered a disability which do not apply to our world. For example, Eda’s curse is a pretty clear metaphor for disability, and would absolutely count as one. It limits her, it limits her magic. It’s a disadvantage, a handicap. Curses are disabilities; ones that can be caused by other people or inflicted onto someone with malicious intent, much like disabilities that can come from injury.
Furthermore, magicless witches and witchlike creatures are also disabled. The entire Boiling Isles runs and is dependent on magic and the assumption that everyone can use it. The inability to do magic is, again, a limitation. A disadvantage.
We even see parallels in disabled experiences in those with weak magic. Willow was bullied relentlessly for years because people thought she her magic was weak. This reflects the experiences of many disabled children’s school years; disabled children are more likely to be bullied because of their disability. Willow is often called “half-a-witch Willow”, which, as we learn in Any Sport In A Storm, is an established term not just made up for Willow. “Half a witch” is an established, well-known derogatory term for witches with lacking magical abilities. The very existence of derogatory terms for this obviously draws parallels to minorities of the real world; with, of course, the most apt metaphor being disability. Hunter later also uses the term to insult himself for his own lack of magical abilities. A sort of internalized ableism; one that could have (dare I say it? should have) been resolved within his storyline.
This would be a disability that one is born with, as opposed to gaining, like Eda’s disability is. Willow is naturally bad with abominations, and Hunter was created without a bile sack; thus, without a natural ability to use magic.
So, now we have established that powerless witchlike creatures are disabled in their universe.
Hunter as a disabled character is quite an interesting point of analysis, especially in terms of his relationship to Flapjack. Flapjack is his disability aid. Not just in the “emotional support” sense for his PTSD, but using Flapjack’s magic (rather than just being unable to use any magic due to his natural lack of it) is a form of disability assistance. Flapjack made it easier for Hunter to exist and function in this world not made for creatures like him; powerless ones.
So, when they killed off Flapjack, this is, metaphorically speaking, them killing off not only the disabled character’s best friend, but also taking away the disabled character’s disability aid as a form of or catalyst for "character development". Which, itself, is an ableist trope which might deserve its own analysis on how it appears in The Owl House.
And then, here comes the writers, saying that Flapjack’s death gave Hunter the ability to naturally use magic.
To put this into perspective, in terms of the allegory here, this is the Boiling Isles equivalent of a writer killing off my service dog and then saying that the death of my service dog cured me of my autism.
If you are unfamiliar… The “curing the disability” trope is incredibly, infuriatingly ableist. It:
1 ) Implies that disability is something that can be overcome or cured in the first place.
2 ) Oftentimes, it’s treated as a "reward" for a character undergoing development. Hunter, of course, only was able to be "cured" because of how close he became with Flapjack. The disability being healed, narratively speaking, is his "reward" for overcoming his hatred for wild magic and Palismen, and making a true friend.
3 ) It implies that disabled people cannot be truly happy the way they are. If the happy ending that the writers imagined for Hunter was him magically losing his disability… That’s pretty damn depressing for us with disabilities in the real world.
And this isn’t even going into that many real-life disabled people don’t want to be cured.
So, basically: this plot development is bad. When Flapjack first died, I worried that this might be where they take it, but I ended up putting my fears aside. They did a very good job with portraying Eda’s disability; surely, they would have done enough research to know to avoid this well-known ableist trope with their other disability allegories!
Well, apparently not.
Disabled people deserve better than a show which is stated in its marketing of this season to have themes of disability having a disabled character’s disability aid and service animal die, and then be “cured” because of it. We deserve better than where Hunter’s arc is going.
We deserve better than this.