‘Supernatural’ Season 14, Episode 4 Recap: “Mint Condition”
The episode begins with Stuart, an employee at a comic book store, unboxing a package that includes a Mezco 15-inch Mega-Scale Panthro action figure. Stuart is in the process of stealing this new toy from the shop when his boss, Samantha, calls to voice her displeasure for Stuart insulting a customer earlier in the day. After hanging up the phone, Stuart locks the shop up, taking the Panthro action figure with him. Later, at his house, Stuart is yelling at the pizza delivery person for taking over 30 minutes when the action figure suddenly comes to life. Stuart goes to investigate why the toy is magically in a different spot, when we see the Panthro become animated and start swinging its nunchucks to attack Stuart as he screams in terror.
The next scene opens with Dean lying in bed, hugging a pillow, eating pizza, and watching a horror movie marathon. He is completely into it, when Sam knocks on the door to try and convince him to come out of his room. Dean immediately notices that Sam has shaved his ‘grief beard’ and comments that it is as “smooth as a dolphin’s belly.” We next learn that Dean has been hiding out in his room for almost a week because Cas and Jack are out hunting, there is no new information on Michael or his monsters, Dark Kaia is nowhere to be found, and, as Dean says, “the house is full of strangers.” But Sam knows exactly what to do to get Dean out of the house: entice him with a case involving killer toys. And it works.
Sam and Dean head to the comic book store, dressed in short-sleeve button down shirts; Sam has a pocket-protector, and Dean has a lollipop. (Thank you, costume department.) Dean teases Sam about shop-owner Samantha being a female version of him, so Sam responds that the other employee, Dirk, is a version of Dean. Dean fiercely disagrees right before he and Dirk begin fanboying and discussing the Hatchet Man replica.
After talking to female Sam and learning that Stuart is now at his mom’s house because he was kicked out of his apartment, the boys go to talk to Stuart about the attack. They ask Stuart about the accident while drinking homemade apple cider made by Stuart’s mom — and Dean makes sure to switch mugs with Sam in order to have the one with The Flash emblem on it. Stuart lies and says that he made up the whole story, and when he is questioned further, he kicks Sam and Dean out of the house. The boys, dressed in some amazing jackets (again, thank you, costume department), then head to the Impala to wait for Stuart to leave so they can check the house for hex bags.
While waiting in Baby, the boys discuss Sam’s hatred for Halloween and do more research on Stuart’s online presence. Sam points out that Stuart has been the recipient of a lot of online bullying, and Dean then blesses us with the wonderful line, “Gotta love the internet, where everyone can be a dick.”
The boys duck down in Baby to avoid being spotted by Stuart’s mom when she leaves the house, and they then wait for Stuart to also leave. But Stuart surprises them by coming out of the house bleeding and yelling for help. Sam and Dean run to him to help, and Sam agrees to stay with Stuart while Dean goes inside to investigate the situation. Dean follows a trail of blood into Stuart’s room up to a Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster, when suddenly a floating chainsaw comes flying at his head. Dean ducks just in time, and the chainsaw slams into the poster and gets lodged into the wall.
The following scene shows Sam and Dean at the hospital with Stuart and his mother. Dean explains to Sam that he swept the house for hex bags after the flying chainsaw incident and did not find any. However, he did find significant EMF. Dean ends up staying at the hospital to watch over Stuart while Sam goes back to the house to figure out the ghost situation.
Dirk is also at the hospital to wait for his best friend Stuart to wake up after the accident. He and Dean are watching the Hatchet Man horror movie, All Saints Day III, that Dean loves so much, and they bond while discussing which film in the series is their favorite. As always, it is fun to watch Dean talk about something he loves and is passionate about. The fun conversation takes a slight melancholy turn when we learn why Dean loves scary movies: “Growing up, it was nice to check out once in a while. I like to watch movies where I know the bad guy is gonna lose.”
Meanwhile, Sam, not finding any EMF at the house, has gone back to the comic book store to ask his female counterpart a few more questions. Samantha informs him that the previous store owner, Jordan, recently passed away of cancer and left the store to Samantha and Dirk. Sam asks why Stuart did not have part ownership, and Samantha explains that Jordan had fired Stuart for stealing merchandise, but Samantha and Dirk re-hired him after Jordan had passed. Sam finds out that Jordan was cremated right before the ghost makes his presence known. Sam tries to get Samantha out of the store before it is too late, but unfortunately he is knocked out (again) by the life-size Hatchet Man figurine.
Later, Sam wakes up and finds Samantha. He then has to explain to her that ghosts are real and can possess things, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get her and himself out of the locked store. (The Hatchet Man figurine took the store keys with him when he left.) After failing to break the apparently shatterproof glass, Sam has to come up with a new plan.
Next, we see Dean snacking on junk food and continuing to bond with Dirk over the best gory horror movie death scenes. Sam calls to warn Dean that Hatchet Man is possessed by a ghost and is headed towards the hospital to try and kill Stuart. Dean completely misses the point and actually gets excited that his favorite horror movie villain is on his way to potentially kill him.
The next few scenes are quick snippets of Dean giving Dirk the talk and telling him to remain in the salt circle he just made around Stuart’s bed, and of Sam attempting to pick the lock at the comic book store, all while the possessed Hatchet Man is on its way to the hospital. Dean goes to head off the Hatchet Man, leaving Dirk alone with Stuart in the salt circle. Sam’s lock pick breaks and he has to figure out yet another way to get out of the store. The ghost makes an appearance in the hospital room where Dirk and Stuart are, scaring Dirk so much that he runs away.
In what was an incredible piece of directing by Amyn Kaderali, the next scene has Hatchet Man chasing Dirk throughout the hospital, which directly parallels the Hatchet Man movie playing on the television in the hospital security guard office. The show perfectly cuts back and forth between the real-life chase and the movie chase sequence as both versions of the Hatchet Man close in on their targets.
Smart Sam makes an appearance in the next part of the episode when he puts cleaning chemicals into a Scooby Doo lunchbox to create a small bomb. He hurriedly puts it on the door hook, runs behind the counter with Samantha, and then BOOM! The two Sams excitedly look up to see that the plan worked with a shocked “Cool!” from each of them.
The Sams exit the shop and make their way to the hospital, where Jordan, the ghost possessing Hatchet Man, has chased Dirk down to the morgue where Dean finds him. Hatchet Man suddenly pops up from underneath a sheet and presses the button on the suit to say, “Time to slice and dice!”
Dean gives the ghost the choice to give up and go peacefully or to remain and fight Dean. Hatchet Man presses his button again and says that it is “Time to slice and dice!” Dean smiles, happy that the Hatchen Man made that choice.
The Sams arrive at the hospital and try to figure out how the ghost is managing to go to all different places. Samantha realizes that the keychain with the store keys used to be Jordan’s and has been where all the attacks have taken place. The two rush into the morgue just as Dean is about to be hit with an axe, and Dirk saves him. Dean then rescues Dirk in return and ends up in a Hatchet Man chokehold. Sam yells for Dean to toss the keychain off of Hatchet Man over to him. Sam tries to set the keys on fire, but it is not working fast enough as Dean is being slowly strangled by the ghost. Samantha grabs some ethyl alcohol off a table to use as an accelerant, and the keys burn causing the ghost to also go up in flames. The brothers explain to Samantha and Dirk that Jordan is gone and no longer a ghost and that everyone, including Stuart, is safe.
Our next to last scene is a classic broment while riding in Baby. Dean thanks Sam for making him get out of his bedroom and for helping him out of his funk. Sam implores Dean to not go back to hiding in his room when they get back to the bunker. He then tells Dean what we have wanted him to say since Dean was no longer possessed by Michael:
Sam: What happened with Michael… You said yes for me, for Jack, for your family. You did the right thing. What happened after, just because Michael was wearing your face doesn’t mean any of this was on you. I don’t blame you. No one blames you. You got to try and stop blaming yourself. Please.
Dean: I’m not going to get over it, okay? I’m just not. But you’re right. I’m not doing anybody any good by staying cooped up in my room, so… whatever you need, I’m there. All right, chief?
Dean finally needles out of Sam why he hates Halloween so badly. Surprisingly, his reasoning is actually a fairly normal traumatic childhood memory that many of us can relate to. While he was at a Halloween party in sixth grade, he accidentally threw up all over his crush because of nerves when they went to go bobbing for apples. Dean tells him that he has got to get over that and that next year, they are doing Halloween right. Dean starts spouting off all kinds of matching costumes they can wear including: Batman and Robin, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Shaggy and Scooby, and many more characters that we would love to see these two get dressed up as.
The episode ends with the hospital security guard making his rounds. He makes his way to the morgue and finds the knives and hatchets from earlier. He finally stumbles upon the life-sized Hatchet Man replica lying on the floor, and the scene goes to black with a voiceover of Hatchet Man saying evilly, “Trick or Treat!”
This whole episode was creepy and yet lighthearted and fun in a way that only Supernatural can pull off. I have to give all of my praise to the crew for this fantastic episode. The set design in the comic book store was incredible. It was a blast to try and locate all of the little call-backs and Easter eggs like the Hell Razer posters (“Hollywood Babylon”, season 2, anyone?), the Scooby Doo lunchbox, and the Red Hood cosplay suit. I have already mentioned how much I love the costume department for their work in this episode. I must also give all the kudos to the visual effects team for their hard work with the fake movie All Saints Day III, the Panthro action figure, and everything with the Hatchet Man. Of course, we also have to praise Davy Perez for such brilliant writing and Amyn Kaderali for giving us a classic 80’s horror movie feel within a Supernatural episode. It is always great to watch Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki utilize their comedic acting skills.
Seeing Dean let his inner fanboy out and Sam lovingly put up with Dean’s nerdy geek-outs is one of my favorite parts of this show that we hardly ever get to see. This episode is definitely one to remember!
Stay tuned next week for a brand new episode of Supernatural, Thursday November 8 at 8/7 EST on The CW.