Oh show. You are the best. “Mint Condition” was a Halloween GIFT. As sweet as Halloween candy. The treat part of trick or. It was delightful, delicious, goofy, and as usual, it was poignant. It was an observation of the brothers’ ordinariness in the midst of them being their extraordinary selves. It was a celebration of being a fan, of the things that bond fans together, of finding people who love the same thing as you, and the crazy conversations we have about those things we love! Plus, it was all kinds of funny and off the scale delightful. I freakin’ loved it. A lot.
It’s episodes like “Mint Condition” that flesh out these brothers we adore so much, giving us a deeper look at a layer we know is there but just don’t get to see that often, those little things that make them just like us. We get to see them through other people’s eyes; having the Winchesters interact with strangers so often reveals or explores a part of their personality, often by mirroring them, as in this case with Sam and Samantha, and Dean and Dirk. Episodes like this also give the brothers space to be brothers away from the pressures of biblical catastrophes! They get to be goofballs, to razz each, which invariably leads to openness because when they are in a good place, even briefly, it’s easier for them to share and encourage their brother to do the same.
Opening on Dean lying across his bed (guh), surrounded by empty food packets and chowing down on pizza while watching scary movies, gave us all we needed to understand where Dean was emotionally. He’d locked himself away, struggling with the emotional fallout of Michael’s possession, and the weirdness of coming back to a place full of people he doesn’t know – “the house is full of strangers”. He’s hiding out in his little bubble. To be honest, Dean is me! Because this is exactly what I do! Junk food, scary movies and cocooning! But thinking of this Dean we see in “Mint Condition”, and tormented Dean of the past, these days Dean is much more emotionally available to dusting himself off, and much more emotionally available to sharing his feels with Sam. I mean, remember when he locked himself in his room, dealing with the aftermath of the Mark of Cain? How different Dean is now! The honesty and comfort that he has finally reached with his brother, that deeper level of trust between them, and in what he has around him, the family they have both built, has changed Dean so much. Gone are the days of “I’m good” when we know damn well he’s anything but, now both Sam AND Dean say what they are feeling, and on the flip side, are able to get how their brother is feeling out of them, because they know, they’ve seen it/lived it themselves, and they know each other so well they can see exactly what’s going on inside. They know when to press and they know when to just leave it be, and they know exactly what the other needs to get them to move forward! Dean is more open about his feelings now than ever before, and it still surprises me what a breath of fresh air is it! (Even if we know it can all be pulled away from all of us at a moment’s notice, and probably will be.)
The entire scene in Dean’s bedroom, complete with novelty socks and dolphin “belleh” (because that’s how he says it), and the mutual teasing was off the charts squee inducing. I mean, seriously, the novelty socks alone, because DEANNNNN d’awwww! I love seeing the brothers have moments like this. I absolutely adore seeing their life away from hunting. Any tiny little moment of their everyday, ordinary life gives me massive heart eyes! Dean may have been hiding out on this occasion, but we know damn well that he loves his movies and that he would definitely lounge around his room watching his favs as an escape from his real world, any time he has down time from saving the real world that is. Oh for a whole episode of them watching TV, doing the laundry, working out in the gym (THAT WE KNOW THEY HAVE, AND THEY NEED TO USE FOR US), cleaning their guns, running errands at the supermarket, Sam reading up on serial killer stuff, Dean watching the latest Halloween. Oh my gosh how I would love that episode! I’m really hoping we get a little of that in the 300th as Comic Con teased. Until then, Dean in “Send Noods” noodle socks and my imagination will hold me over!
Sam knows his brother so well. He probably had other more serious cases that needed attention, some Michael Monsters causing mischief, but Sam knows to get Dean truly engaged, a Thundercats toy come to life is absolutely going to do the trick! He knows that will be irresistible and get his brother out of his funk. The way Sam plays the video waiting for Dean’s reaction, and his smirk as Dean jumps into action is hilarious. Bless him for always knowing how to get to the heart of Dean. Bless these two. UGH! I love them!
“Mint Condition” is not just an homage to slasher movies, it’s also an homage to the Winchesters themselves and to this show; with references to the boys’ past – as in Thundercats, which we know they used to watch in motel rooms, to Sam’s hating of Halloween which was established in the Pilot! There were references to Hell Hazers, which was the movie at the centre of the case in season 2’s Hollywood Babylon and loads of little nods for the fans to catch, from the Red Hood outfit, to the House of Wax poster, and so much more (seriously, check the Wiki!) But what this really was, was a good old fashioned Sam and Dean ghost hunt, and that always feels so very good.
It’s amazing that this style of hunt that the show was really built on, still feels fresh every single time. Even in the 14th season, a straight up hunt is my favourite thing. They never get old, and I always look forward to them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the myth arcs and I love all the characters, and I love having so many favourites back. I love Cas and I love Jack. But there is something so magical for me about Sam and Dean hitting the road together to take on a ghost, because this is where we started, and this is why I fell in love.
It was nice to see the characters in “Mint Condition” treated with respect and as stereotypical as they were, they weren’t lampooned. We see that the nerds the boys think they are nothing like, turn out to have a lot in common with both of them. Sam and Samantha being all smart and problem solving, complete with Scooby lunch-box explosives, and adorable “cool”. Dean and Dirk and that classic best death in horror movies conversation, (who hasn’t had that conversation!) I love that Dean is such a badass tough guy, but also such a huge pop culture nerd (and totally softy, let’s face it), it’s one of my favourite things about his character, that he can be so tough, and yet so dorky! Even Stuart, who is a bit of a dick let’s face it, has people who can see that he’s got good points and who care about him – Dirk is his genuine friend. I appreciated that he was given more colour than just a dude living in his mum’s basement yelling at video games. As usual, the show respects the people who love the show. Us. These three are all of us, and they’re also Sam and Dean.
But really, bottom line, this ep was just a great time. I watched it 4 times in a row. I just kept playing it over and over. It was so much fun. So much fun to see Dean smiling as much as he was (lots of great teeth action…don’t judge, it’s a thing). So much fun to see Dean talking about his favourite movie in a franchise and getting to live out some wacky fantasy taking on his favourite horror villain – even if it didn’t quite go his way. It was so much fun seeing Sam making explosives and quipping about having a messed up childhood. No kidding! I loved the horror moving inside the episode, cutting from the movie to our reality with the security guards as the anchor. So clever and beautifully put together.
Oh, the other favourite thing was the boys trying to lie down in the car to hide from Stuart’s mum! OMGGGGG I WATCHED THAT SO MANY TIMES! Hilarious. One of my favourite moments ever! And did I mention Dean in glasses?
Then we have the absolute perfect car chat. Oh my gosh. The ease with which Sam told Dean he’s really going to have to come out of his room. The easy honesty Dean gives his brother in return when he says he’s not going to just get over Michael, but he understands he needs to get back into it and he’s there for Sam for whatever he needs. The “chief” thing just being the icing on the cake!
This is the Sam and Dean that I love seeing, and I love that we have them like this. I’ve said it before I know, but it’s been such a journey with them, we’ve all been through so much together, and it’s so rewarding to see this level of ease between them. I’m forever thankful that they got here.
Then 13 years on, we finally find out why Sam hates Halloween and it’s brilliant and so not why I thought he hated that particular holiday! Dean’s fake vomiting was great! I wonder if that was an Ackles adlib? Then to round out all of this perfection, we finish on a ridiculous parade of matching Halloween outfits ideas that, well I couldn’t even with any of it! I was giggling with glee. The Js comic timing was amped up to 11 in this episode! They’re such talented guys.
By the end I was actually aching from smiling so damn hard for 43 minutes. Even though the boys were working apart for most of this ep, everything in every scenario was just so wonderful it simply popped off the screen with rainbows and sunshine! Too much? I DON’T THINK SO!
I love this show. I love that I can fall in love with it all over again. I love that I can fall in love with Sam and Dean all over again. “Mint Condition” was smart, funny, sweet, rewarding, and oh so very, Supernatural. It’s such a special thing this show we have.