This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 14 Episode 4
The fourth episode of Supernatural Season 14 brings us a lot of laughs with hilarious nods and homages to classic horror. Does it advance the season arc? Hardly. But it gives us a fun episode perfect for the day after Halloween.
We’ve had geek-pandering moments, fandom baiting, and homages in Supernatural before, but “Mint Condition” is the most homage-y, most nerd-inspired episode yet. Sure, it might have been a bit much at moments with all the nerdy references, but I loved it.
At the comic shop is a Red Hood standie that Sam made a funny face at. It’s funny if you understand the connection. Jensen provided the voice for the character in the animated Batman: Under the Red Hood. Not only that, but Ackles actually dressed up as the Red Hood for Halloween, and his costume was super legit. It is the kind of fun breaking-the-fourth-wall moment we got when somebody mentioned Gilmore Girls or House of Wax in Sam’s presence. It’s a fun nod meant to pander to fan’s who follow the main actors’ careers.
There were more references than you could shake a stick at, including another nod to “Hell Hazers” – the movie from the Season 2 episode Hollywood Babylon. Another similarity to that Season 2 episode, we get a movie trailer, complete with old tube TV filter scrolling through the grainy image to showcase the movie within the show “All Saint’s Day.” Other Supernatura lthemed references include a Scooby Doo lunch box and Dean’s Halloween couples costumes idea: Rocky and Bullwinkle. It’s all shameless fan bait that is more than a little fun, rewarding diehard fans yet not alienating casual fans.
Although the episode centers around a typical ghost-possession, it ends up becoming a beautiful homage to classic 80’s style slasher movies. The Hatchet Man character parading through the misty town near Trick or Treaters with a copyright-friendly soundtrack playing in the background parodied the Halloween movies to a “T.”
We also get a fun parallel when the movie within the story — All Saint’s Day — plays on multiple TV’s as the spirit-possessed Hatchet Man chases someone in the hospital.
Dean is dealing with his new world – freshly unpossessed by Michael, faced with a once-private Bunker now filled with strangers – by regressing to childhood loves – in this case horror movies. Dean avidly watching scary movies is such a gleeful joy, I kinda wish we’d seen more of this before. These moments that show Sam and Dean as regular people and not just hunters 100 percent of the time fleshes out their characters. Sam has a similar moment with an embarrassing story that explains why he hates Halloween. Just because you’ve been on TV for fourteen years doesn’t mean we know everything about the characters. Each new detail is appreciated, especially when it fits in so nicely to the story.
There are a lot of humorous moments at play here, some of them blink-and-you-miss-it. Sam asking if a statue is expensive before chucking it at a window was unexpectedly hilarious. How considerate! Dean’s climactic scene also played on the usual conventions. Normally, he might have your typical action hero moment of smashing the glass to get to the water hose inside. Instead, he lifted his elbow in the air, thought better of it, and easily opened the unlocked door. It was an inconsequential piece but added so much by defying how you expect it to play out.
You don’t have to be a big season arc story to be enjoyable. You need story, character development, humor and the unexpected. Sometimes, that means a fun romp that lovingly portrays horror movie monsters without taking it too seriously.