Supernatural – S14E04 – Mint Condition

     Nobody loves Nerd!Dean or Geek!Dean (Dweeb!Dean?) more than me, especially when he’s also Fangirling!Dean. And that’s exactly what we got this episode. It was so good, it was almost enough to make me forgive them for resolving the Dichael thing so quickly. Almost. But it did keep my mind off of it. So with that, let’s fangirl together over a show that has actors who look like they’re still in their original packaging. (Seriously, do they age? Did they wish on a monkey paw? Do they each have a hideous portrait somewhere in their attics?) 

The Road So Far:

Just to remind you, Dean has a very, very strong love of all things pop culture. Need proof? Look here. (And that’s not even a complete list!) We will be dealing with a ghost this episode, so it seems like the show thinks we’re neanderthals who needed to be reminded that ghosts couldn’t cross salt circles. You should also catch up on 2.18’s “Hollywood Babylon” and 1.18’s “Something Wicked”. And may I also recommend checking out the trailer for Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning, which you can find here.

Now:

     So, there’s a Halloween marathon happening on Shocker TV, including the movies we saw during “Hollywood Babylon”, Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning and Monster Truck. (Was “Monster Truck” based on a certain book series from this world??) It must be weird for Dean to see a movie on the marathon that he was a PA on! And whose lead actress he…ahem…helped in her trailer. But I really appreciated this callback to so long ago in the show’s history. Seriously, keeping these touches of continuity is something the show is (usually) really good at and makes it stand out above the rest. It’s one of the things I love most about the show. So that’s why it also pisses me off so much when the show occasionally craps all over its established lore/continuity. When you’re used to excellence, mediocrity is an affront, you know?

     With this background set, interspersed with shots of classic pop culture memorabilia, I was already all in. This is all right up my alley. Especially after being introduced to Stuart, who (minus the stealing and anger issues and living with mom parts) is basically my DM in real life. From the gaming to the working at a comic store, to using his job at the comic store to get first dibs on all the best collectibles. He even looks like my DM! But Stuart isn’t the people person my DM is. And it seems he’s making trouble for the store…and for some poor pizza delivery guy. Worst of all, Stuart took Panthro out of his original packaging. He really is a monster! I don’t really blame Panthro for wailing on him. And yay! ThunderCats! The show has referenced ThunderCats a few times and I love it. Specifically, I remember the boys watching ThunderCats in the episode 1.18 “Something Wicked”. I used to love Thundercats when it was on.  I even had one of those Panini books where you had to collect all the stickers from the sticker packs to fill it up. Unfortunately I was never able to fill it all the way but I did get about three quarters of it done. It was a great cartoon!

     But enough about Stuart, can we please focus on Shut-in!Dean? Because I kind of love him. From the intense focus on the movie marathon to the excessive pizza and snack eating to the alcohol consumption to the “send noods” socks to the “I’ll clean it later” attitude…this Dean is my weekend goals! (Okay, okay, life goals.) So Dean is all safe and nestled in when Sam comes in to disturb him. I mean, after finally adjusting to the Sam beard, Sam has to then go ahead and shave it off, throwing Dean for a loop again! Rude!

     Seriously though, it seems Sam’s worried about the fact that Dean has been a shut-in since he returned. And Dean has some pretty good reasons to want to hide away for a bit. They have no leads on Other!Kaia (who, from now on, will just be Kaia seeing as our Kaia is gone) or Michael and, like I guessed, Dean’s a bit of an introvert and isn’t liking the fact that his home is full of strangers. (Reason #362 I relate to Dean Winchester. I’d stay in my room too!) So Sam tosses out a transparent bit of bait in order to get Dean out and hunting again. And since it’s Thundercats, Dean, of course, bites.

     They start at the comic shop where Dean finds Sam’s Wonder Twin. (Okay, Dean used a Wonder Twins reference? Now I’m in heaven! I loved the Wonder Twins on Super Friends back in the day. This episode couldn’t be more tailored for me if they tried! Wait, maybe it could, let’s try show, let’s try!) And this twin of Sam’s is even named Sam as well! And she’s wearing plaid! It’s Kismet! Of course, Sam then turns it on Dean and says Dirk is his twin. It’s funny, Dean linked Sam and Sam based on looks (“soft, delicate features, luxurious hair”) while Sam linked Dean and Dirk based on shared tastes. Not sure what that says about the brothers, but they definitely look at the world differently, that’s for sure.

     All too soon, Sam’s ready to help the boys. (Seriously, I could watch Dean fangirl over the David Yeager statue all day!) She warns them of Stuart’s…abrasive nature and directs them to where they can find Stuart at his mom’s house.

     At Stuart’s house, his mom makes the boys apple cider while they wait for Stuart. (Apple cider! Yum! Reason #6483 I relate to Dean Winchester.) Dean, of course, grabs the Flash mug before Sam can take it. (You go, Dean!) And oh my god, the glasses! Not sure just why Dean felt the need to add glasses to his “disguise” but the fact of them is hilarious at the same time that they are also strangely appealing. This guy seriously looks great in anything! While drinking their cider, the boys overhear Stuart getting a little too invested in his Fortnite game. Dean discloses he’s Zelda for life. We are learning so much about Dean this episode! I’m personally a Final Fantasy for life kind of girl, but Zelda’s in my top five. I have never played Fortnite. How about you guys what do you guys play?

     It’s funny that Sam tends to know more scholarly type things while Dean leans more towards knowing pop culture, yet here it’s Sam who knows what Fortnite is and internet slang like mirl, while Dean is left clueless. Yes, Sam knows more about computers, but you’d think it would be Dean who knows more about games and chat rooms. Makes you wonder, why does Sam know what mirl means?

     Anyway, Stuart has changed his story and is denying everything after being thoroughly lambasted in the comments section of his video. That “Snarf’s love child” comment was a good one! He kind of does look like Snarf, with the beard. With no other leads to follow, the boys stake out Stuart’s house to see if anything more happens. Just as Dean’s getting to the bottom of why Sam hates Halloween, Stuart’s mom leaves the house. The boys awkwardly ducking down in the front seat so she doesn’t see them is absolutely delightful! Shortly after, Stuart comes out seriously injured and calling for help. While Sam stays with him and calls an ambulance, Dean checks out the house and almost gets Chainsaw Massacred. How rude! He apparently also takes the time to sweep the house for hex bags (nothing) and gets out the ol’ EMF meter (off the charts).

     When they get to the hospital and get Stuart and his mom safely taken care of, Dean tells Sam that they’re dealing with a ghost. Dean decides to stay at the hospital to keep Stuart safe while Sam goes digging to find just who the ghost may be. Don’t worry, our boys may split up, but they soon gain their own Wonder Twin sidekicks! Wonder Twin powers, activate!

     At the hospital, Dirk shows up to visit his friend and runs into “super awesome insurance” agent Dean. Dirk explains that, as abrasive as Stuart is, anytime Dirk was having a rough time with his dad, Stuart let him crash at his place, no questions asked. They would just eat pizza and watch movies and zone out. Just from Dean’s expressions, you can tell he can relate. Seriously, how does Jensen Ackles not have an Emmy yet?

     Turns out, Dirk and Dean can also relate to each other’s love of the All Saints Day franchise. (Hee hee, the marathon started with the Halloween franchise followed immediately by the All Saints Day franchise! That’s funny!) And yes, Dean’s right that hospitals (especially rural ones) can be pretty empty overnight. (Unfortunately, I know from experience.) The two guys geek out over their favorite movies of the franchise and recite some dialogue. When Dirk comments on how well Dean knows his stuff, Dean’s response was just like a chainsaw to my heart.
“Growing up, it was, uh, it was always nice to check out once in a while. I like to watch movies where I know the bad guy’s gonna lose.”
Ugh, just…ugh! Reason #8 why I relate so freaking hard to Dean Winchester. First thing I do if I ever, through some kind of magical means, meet Dean, I’d give him a huge hug. He needs one.

     At the comic shop, Sam learns that the original owner of the comic shop, Jordan, recently died.
“Cancer Sucks, ya know?”
Girl, truer words… I get why Sam describes Jordan as their Willy Wonka, as he introduced them to the world of comics, then left them the store, but… Sam, you do realize Willy Wonka was kiiiind of a dick, right? And it doesn’t seem like Jordan was. (Until the whole vengeful spirit thing, anyway.) So it turns out Jordan didn’t include Stuart in the gift of ownership because Stuart would steal stuff from the store and Jordan had hired and fired him several times because of that and his lack of customer service. Sam rehired Stuart after Jordan’s death and though he was still taking every collectible that caught his eye, Sam was just taking the cost out of his paycheck. Seems that Ghost!Jordan wasn’t aware of that part of the equation.

     The bigger problem is that Jordan was cremated so Sam has to find out what personal belonging is tying him here. Oh, and also, the ghost is here right now! Sam does a good job with the carbon monoxide story, trying to get Sam out, but it’s too late and he’s attacked by a ghost-infused David Yeager statue. Oh! Poor Sam and his knocked-unconscious-head-wounds! He would be safer playing football at this point!

     When Sam comes to again, he finds Sam scared but thankfully unharmed and he explains about ghosts. He then discovers that Jordan took the keys and they’re now locked in the store. So Dean is going to have to face Hatchet Man on his own at the hospital.

     Speaking of, Dean and Dirk are settled into Stuart’s room, eating junk food and watching Shocker TV and still going on about their love of all of the All Saints Day movies . Sam calls to warn him about the David Yeager statue that’s on its way but Dean seems more excited than worried. Dean, you aren’t a girl and you aren’t a virgin. No way you survive in a horror film! And yes, show, with all the mentions of the keys, then this very heavy-handed close-up of the keychain, we get it! That’s what the ghost is attached to. Seriously! We aren’t clueless!

     So Dean has to let Dirk in on the “ghosts are real” secret to try to protect him. Dirk, of course, wants to know what else is real. Wouldn’t you? Dean makes a salt circle around Stuart’s bed to protect him and tells Dirk to also get in the circle and stay put. At least one of them should stay put, seeing as Stuart is unconscious and all.

     Unfortunately, at the first sign of the ghost, Dirk freaks out and takes off…where he finds Jordan frightening Stuart’s mom. So Dirk bravely tries to protect her and Stuart by reminding Jordan that Stuart is their friend and that if he still wants to hurt Stuart he has to go through him. Unfortunately, Jordan does still want to hurt Stuart and starts trying to go through Dirk. This begins a great montage where we alternate between the security guards watching All Saints Day (3, I think) on TV in the guard-room while they are simultaneously missing a very similar scene play out on the other screens, the surveillance screens, in the same room. Is this a smart take on how these days we are missing all the reality going on around us because we can’t look up from our screens, our entertainment? Is it a meta statement (although a very subtle meta statement, when it comes to this show) of how Sam and Dean’s reality really is entertainment? Not only in their world (books) but in others (“French Mistake” world and our world as a TV show)? Or maybe they’re just saying the lives of Sam and Dean are just as batshit as our more extreme forms of entertainment? I mean, imagine if our horror movies were actually, really, real? Whatever you take from this, the montage was excellent! Especially with the guards’ commentary added in. This mirror (I can’t stop seeing this!) between the real world and the horror movie was yet another example of Wonder Twins in this episode.

     Oh, and kudos to the wardrobe department for really nailing that 80’s aesthetic when making the costumes for the All Saints Day movies! Outstanding! (From someone who survived the 80’s fashion!)

     Back at the shop, Sam is attempting to science his way out of the locked store by mixing up a chemical bomb. Which was clearly just vinegar and baking soda, show! You couldn’t do a better MacGyver moment? But I did love that he built the bomb in a Scooby-Doo lunch pail! Working out some Velma issues, Sam? Lol! So how does Sam know how to do this?
“I had a messed-up childhood.”
Understatement, Sam, understatement! Interestingly, this is the only time we see Sam and Sam may have something more in common than a surface aesthetic. they both like the big booms! (Explosions, guys. They like explosions.) Coincidence, or did Dean see deeper than surface-level from the start?

     We check back in at the hospital where Dirk has run into the morgue to get away from Hatchet Man, only to run into Dean, who really wishes that, just once, someone would stay in the salt circles he tells them to stay in. And Dean and Dirk aren’t alone, Jordan as David Yeager is also there. Dean, maybe because Jordan is more newly dead and still reachable, maybe because it’s in front of his friend Dirk, offers Jordan the choice of giving up and heading into the light or having Dean put him there. Jordan, not knowing who Dean is, decides to take his chances in a fight. Dean’s excited about his chance to go toe-to-toe with Hatchet Man, but finds he may be in slightly over his head. Just when it seems like Dean is in for it, his Wonder Twin takes the form of a knife in Jordan’s chest. That distracts him just long enough for Dean to get up and fight again. Sam and Sam have discovered that the keychain is what’s keeping Jordan here and they come in just in time for them to tell Dean, who grabs the keys and throws them back to Sam, who burns them in a dish with the ethanol that Sam grabs. All four Wonder Twins work together to take down this ghost. (And did they ever play up the “twin” angle! Just look at this picture, where Sam and Dirk are dressed just like Sam and Dean have been at various points in the show!)
Supernatural - s14e04 - Mint Condition - Picture 2

     Back in the car, Dean thanks Sam for baiting him into this hunt, to give him a win and get him out of his funk. Even though it didn’t go how Sam thought it would, it was everything Dean could have dreamt of. Sam then tries to tell Dean that no one blames him for saying yes to Michael and that they all know Dean didn’t want Michael to keep going after defeating Lucifer and that everything Michael did while wearing Dean’s face is on Michael, not Dean. But this is truth and common sense, neither of which is strong enough to defeat Dean’s self-blame and guilt. Seriously, Dean’s been strengthening those two powers for a lifetime. So of course he isn’t willing to cut himself any slack over what he had no control over. But he does agree to rejoin the rest of the bunker, doing whatever “Chief” Sam needs him to do to hunt as part of this newfound team.

     And it seems Sam is also due for some cathartic confession. Apparently, the reason Sam hates Halloween so much is due to him embarrassing the hell out of himself in front of his crush, Andrea, during an unfortunate bobbing for apples incident. After which, he hid out in the woods until Dean came to find him. D’awww! Dean is determined to get Sam over this dislike of Halloween. (I mean, seriously, you really made more of this than it was Sam. You would have moved towns by the next Halloween, so it’s not like you would have had the same kids reminding you about this incident year after year. How did this spread from one incident to hating all of Halloween? It should have faded by now!) So Dean says next year, they will do Halloween up right. (Yes!) And it will probably involve matching costumes. (YES!) Like Batman and Robin. (OMGyespleaseohChuckyes! I would pay so much money to see Dean dressed up as Nightwing…or Batman…either one, I’m not picky!) Also on the table: Bert and Ernie (nope, too weird), Rocky and Bullwinkle (LOL! All the lol’s!), Shaggy and Scooby (More lol’s!), Turner and Hooch, Ren and Stimpy (Some kind of dog thing going on here? Is Dean still having doggie tendencies from “Dog Dean Afternoon”? Well, as far as costumes go, you’re reaching now, Dean!) Then, for the button, Thelma and Louise. Just put it in drive and go. Which…whoo! You do know what that meant, right Dean? How the movie ended? Are you okay, Dean? Please tell me this isn’t foreshadowing anything! Wow, that last part just took me from fun Halloween feels about Nightwing!Dean to dread in the blink of an eye! Did you see Jensen Ackles’ delivery of that line? It seemed to me there was more than an edge of manic energy and desperation there, in my opinion. (Batman, Robin, Batman, Robin, Batman, Robin) Okay, I’m back in my happy place.

     You would think that would be the end of the episode, but nope, to fit with the “evil never dies” vibe of a horror flick, you’ve got to head back to the hospital to find the guard discovering the “remains” of the gang’s fight with Jordan. Will Hatchet Man return? Find out in All Saints Day 13: Yeager vs Freddy!

     Okay, so I really liked all of the mirroring that went on in the episode between Sam and Sam, Dean and Dirk and reality versus the horror movie. What do we learn from what we saw reflected? I already talked about the movie/reality montage. So what about our Wonder Twins? Well, Dirk had issues with his father and used movies, especially horror movies, as a form of escapism. When needed, he stood up to the scary monster to protect not only his friend Stuart and Stuart’s mom, but also Dean, a relative stranger who was helping him and got into some trouble. Hmm, reminds me of someone, but nothing really new there. What about the other pair? Well, Sam was also willing to do anything to help a friend, even if it meant taking steps to make up for their bad behavior behind their back. Does Sam think he needs to make up for Dean sometimes? Yes, he tells Dean that no one blames him for saying yes to Michael, or for what Michael did afterwards. And I believe Sam. But does he also feel that amends still need to be made anyway? It’s no one’s fault, still a price needs to be paid? Will he “take it out of Dean’s check” so to speak, where Dean won’t even really be aware that Sam is doing anything? I guess we will find out.

     One other thought, I’m looking forward to seeing a new dynamic between the boys. It has usually been mostly the two of them, with Dean being the leader. When others have become involved, like Cas or Bobby, it’s either been a group vote, or they’ve capitulated to Dean’s leadership. But large groups aren’t really Dean’s thing, that’s more Sam. Like when Sam rallied all the hunters against the British Men of Letters in season 12. And Sam, or “Chief”, has been there, been in charge of the apocalypse world survivors, for months while Dean was hijacked. So if Dean really is going to try to integrate into the group, it will be as just one of the gang and subordinate to his younger brother. It might be a nice change of pace for Dean, letting go and letting someone else take on all the burdens and pressures of being in control. But can you see Dean relinquishing control that easily? I can’t, even if he may want to, even if it may be good for him, that instinct to be in control comes directly from that instinct to protect Sam. In order to protect him, he has to be in control. And these are things that have been drilled and pounded into him and reinforced over and over, relentlessly, since he was 4 years old. Dean may want to be just part of the gang Sam’s leading, but that doesn’t mean it will come easily. Old habits die never. Like a horror movie villain, they keep returning and returning and returning, even after you think you’ve killed them off.

The Road Ahead:

  • Any horror movie fans here? What franchises? I personally think I burned myself out on horror films. My uncle got us kids into them really early on. You might even say too early. I was watching stuff like Cujo, Psycho, Friday the 13th and The Exorcist starting at around 7 or 8 years old. And I was a fan, a huge fan, of horror movies for quite some time. But now, nothing in horror movies seems to scare me anymore. Nothing in horror movies even really excites me in any way anymore. In fact, my favorite horror films now are Scream and Cabin in the Woods. And I like them specifically for deconstructing the horror genre. (Though, I also liked the first Saw because it had a decent thriller aspect to it along with the grotesque bits.) But if you’ve got something you think I should watch…let me know!
  • ThunderCats, Super Friends, Zelda, what pop culture were you into as a kid?
  • Was Willy Wonka kind of a dick, even if the kids deserved it?
  • Does Sam feel he needs to make up for Dichael?
  • Do you think Dean can let Sam be Chief or are we in for a power struggle?
  • What should Dean and Sam dress up as for Halloween next year?

     Well that’s it for this episode, which I thoroughly enjoyed even as I’m still mad at the show for resolving Dichael too quickly. It’s like when your significant other makes you laugh after a fight but you aren’t quite ready to forgive them just yet! And speaking of Wonder Twins and dressing up for Halloween, my sister’s having fraternal twins! So, can you guess what I’ll be angling to dress them up as for Halloween some year? I’ve already corrupted my niece. She went as Harley Quinn this year! Oh, and Raven Wilder, I haven’t forgotten about you. Things have been busier than normal for me the past few weeks but I will get back to you soon with my list of episodes that you should watch between season 8 and season 14, I promise. Until next time, be good to each other! XO