Today’s the day — the creatures are crawling, the ghouls are groaning, the pumpkins are lit, and the monsters await. Happy Halloween to our readers, and thank you for joining us all month for our Nerds Gets Spooky series! This year, we explored our favorite Halloween-themed episodes across all genres of television. We’re wrapping things up today with a very appropriate final bow — the masterpiece that is Supernatural‘s “Mint Condition” from season 14.
Time to slice and dice …
Set in Salem, Ohio on Halloween and the days leading up to it, “Mint Condition” is the ultimate Monster of the Week episode for Supernatural fans with a love for Halloween, comic books, action figures, and classic horror films. Beyond the fun plot, it’s jam-packed full of nerdy Easter eggs, enough that you may need to watch it twice just to catch them all!
This episode revolves around an old, fictional horror franchise entitled All Saints’ Day, in which a mechanic named David Yaeger is killed in a prank gone wrong and returns to get his revenge as the Hatchet Man on the day after Halloween. Dean Winchester, our secret resident super nerd, is a huge fan of the series — he’s binge watching it when Sam interrupts him to inform him that he’s found a case. Despite Dean’s initial resistance to leave where he’s been comfortably holed up in his room for quite some time, his nerd radar begins blaring as Sam informs him that the case in question involves a supposedly possessed ThunderCats action figure.
The Winchesters head out to investigate at a comic shop, Smash! Pow! Collectibles. They meet two of the shop’s workers, Samantha and Dirk, and Dean proceeds to geek out over a life-size Hatchet Man mannequin — which he’s fully prepared to haul outside into Baby and bring to its brand new home (much to Sam’s dismay) at the bunker. Posing as insurance agents, the brothers’ next stop is Stuart’s house, the guy who was supposedly attacked by the Panthro action figure.
Though Stuart initially backtracks and states that the video was fake, he comes running out of the house shortly after Sam and Dean head back outside to sit in Baby and discuss their next move … and he’s bleeding. Dean heads inside to see what’s going on and narrowly avoids getting his head chopped off by a chainsaw that comes flying by him and smashes into a poster for the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (ha).
Stuart is taken to the hospital, and the Winchesters begin to speculate what kind of supernatural being they’re dealing with. Dean’s reassurance to Stuart’s mother (and subsequent backtracking of it when he leaves the room) is truly an all-encompassing summary of the show as a whole.
Everything’s fine …
… everything is NOT fine.
Later, Dean truly taps into his inner nerd with Dirk at the hospital as they discuss their favorite All Saints’ Day films while the third one is currently playing on the tv (and, go figure, it takes place in a hospital). He also explains where his love for horror films comes from — he likes to watch movies where he knows the bad guy is going to lose (and you can’t really blame him, now can you?).
Sam, meanwhile, continues to investigate, ending up back at the comic shop with Samantha. He learns that the previous owner of the shop, Jordan, died from cancer and left the store to Samantha and Dirk. Stuart, on the other hand, had been fired twice for stealing. As he puts the pieces together, Sam realizes that Jordan’s ghost is hunting down Stuart, having begun his hellbent quest for revenge by possessing the action figure that Stuart had stolen. Jordan’s ghost manages to escape the shop using none other than the Hatchet Man mannequin, and Sam calls Dean to warn him that he’s on his way. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Dean is full of glee when he realizes that he’s going to get a chance to fight Hatchet Man … sort of.
This episode of full of irony, because the hospital security guards are watching All Saints’ Day as Dirk is being chased down the hallways by Hatchet Man in an almost identical scene. Just when it appears that Dean and Dirk might both get sliced and diced by their favorite horror villain (side note: it doesn’t get much better than Jordan’s ghost having to press the voice box button to threateningly utter one of Hatcher Man’s catch phrases), Sam and Samantha arrive to save the day. Having figured out that Jordan’s ghost was tied to the shop’s Batman keychain, they proceed to burn it and thus the mannequin is possessed no longer.
After they leave, Sam finally admits to Dean that the reason he doesn’t like Halloween is because he threw up all over a girl that he liked in 6th grade when he was bobbing for apples at her Halloween party. Whoops. The episode closes with a classically ominous and ambiguous horror movie ending. The security guard walks into the morgue and the lights flicker, and as he bends down to look at the Hatchet Man mannequin … it says, “Trick or treat.”
Overall, this episode was an incredibly fun nod to nerd culture and horror film appreciation, with peak geeky Dean Winchester (black frame glasses … The Legend of Zelda?!) to boot. What more can you ask for?
Thank you for joining us for this year’s month-long Halloween celebration with Nerds Gets Spooky! If you’re looking to queue up a marathon of creepy shows and movies this evening, make sure to look back at our previous articles from the series for some inspiration.