The Super Sleepy Dispatch
Recap and Review: Supernatural 10:15 “The Things They Carried”
By P.S. Griffin
This episode has great character development for the newish character Cole, gives us a strong and rather terrifying monster of the week, shows both brothers dealing with the emotional fallout of the events from “The Executioner’s Song” and tosses out the strongest and most relevant anvils that we have seen this season. For writer Jenny Klein it was a veritable tour de force.
Furthermore the subject matter played well with the themes of the literary source material, the short story anthology “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brian (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Things_They_Carried). I especially liked how the theme of the heroic soldier and warrior was carried over to the work that the Winchesters do. Cole’s acknowledgement of the brothers as unsung and unappreciated heroes has been a long time coming.
The opening sequence is reminiscent of the torture porn subset of horror genre. We see a struggling women suspended upside down. Her assailant, shown from her inverted perspective, is dressed in military garb. He puts a large plastic bucket beneath her head and summarily executes her with a slash to her throat. We see her life’s blood start to pool in the bucket; however the man cannot wait for the body to be drained before sticking his hand in the blood stream and drinking it. Clearly the murderer is a supernatural perpetrator. The entire opening is brutal and chilling.
Back at the bunker, life is a bummer for Sam who is wearing exactly the same concerned face that he sported throughout “The Executioner’s Song”. He clearly still thinks that Dean is in trouble, and in a nice bit of continuity is actively researching Cain and Abel. Of course an image of Cain slaughtering Abel looms large across his computer screen.
Sam slams the laptop shut when he realizes that Dean has entered the room. Dean appears to assume that Sam is looking at porn and makes an off-color comment instructing Sam not to handle himself where they eat. Sam is predictably uncomfortable.
Now that he has Sam off balance, Dean is easily able to browbeat him into going on a hunt despite the fact that Sam clearly thinks it’s a bad idea for Dean. I am never clear on why Sam thinks that hunting is bad for Dean since it is exactly the activity that rocks Dean’s world. What happened to the let’s get back on the horse Sam from a couple of episodes ago.
In the car Sam continues his surreptitious research on his phone, this time perusing hits from a search on the Mark of Cain. Dean no longer pretends that Sam has a sudden porn fixation. He lashes out in annoyance, “Look, man, we have checked every website, okay? We’ve checked it twice. Sammy, when we work a case, there’s always that… that point… when we have to face the truth, right? Even if we don’t like it. Well, truth is… there’s no way around this. We saw what happened to Cain, okay? I’m not happy about it. But I got to move on. So I’m gonna keep doing what we do… while I still can. And I’d like you to be there with me.”
Dean wants to accept the situation for what it is and continue to hunt with his brother at his side until he cannot fight the bloodlust and murderous urges any longer. He needs his brother’s love and support to be able to do that, a theme that has been hammered in our brains all season… since “First Blood” really. Dean needs support and faith and love to keep it together.
Also Dean doesn’t want to put his life on hold to hunt for a cure that he doesn’t believe exists. Cool. I can understand that, especially since it’s Dean season 3 all over again. Dean didn’t want to focus on his fate then either. He just wanted to enjoy the remaining days that he had with his brother and do some good by hunting. This is totally a Dean thing to….Dean wants to do as much good as he can before he go goes.
Sam veering into his seasons 3 and 4 obsession to save Dean (OR ELSE!!!) bodes poorly for the long run since that noble impulse morphed into an emotional roller coaster ride of bad decisions. Speaking of which, we’ve already seen that his attempts at saving Dean this time around included seducing a drunk man to the crossroads and not caring that the resulting deal meant that the man would lose his soul or that the man’s wife would die. Sam saving Dean will lead him down a dark road and create a whole new mess of problems for the Winchesters.
At the Sheriff’s office Sam is all business about the case and passive-aggressive to Dean, refusing to let him have his cake and eat it! This is just weird. Let him eat cake!
Poor Dean really wants some delicious chocolate cake, but must content himself with a finger swipe of frosting. I feel his pain. Mmmmm… chocolate.
Despite this nonsense they do learn that a military man, Special Forces, was the perpetrator and that he killed himself by drinking gasoline and lighting himself on fire. Thankfully we were spared the immolation scene. Sadly suicide is all too common among returning soldiers. I am not jazzed about Klein using this as a plot point in her monster of the week story.
The Winchesters speak with the dead soldier’s wife and things sure do sound supernaturally hinky. He was thirsty all of the time, thirsty enough to drink bath water (and blood) and his skin was so dry it bled. The Veterans Hospital wasn’t much help because there was a wait to see a doctor, implying the large number of veterans who return from a war damaged in one way or another. She tells them that her friend’s husband, who is from the same unit, also came back with similar issues. She assumes that it’s some kind of PTSD. Again I am not enthusiastic about Klein using serious issues to fluff up her plot. It seems disrespectful.
The second wife is cagey. She says that her husband always needs some space as he re-acclimates to being home; however she does admit that he has been out all night. It doesn’t look good to the Winchesters.
They head outside to see none other than Cole. This is the guy that thought Dean was a human monster for killing his monster father. He kidnapped and sort of tortured Sam for intel on Dean (“Black” and “Reichenbach”). This is the same guy that Demonic Dean and “cured” Dean summarily and soundly defeated in grueling hand to hand combat (“Reichenbach” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”). Yeah… good times!
So it turns out that Cole is childhood friends with the missing man. He insists that his friend is a war hero and is not going to be hunted and killed by the Winchesters. Cole plans to be involved in the process to ensure that his friend is saved, “Look, I know what you two are thinking, but we are not gonna hunt my best friend, who happens to be a friggin’ war hero, by the way. We are gonna find him… and that’s the difference.”
Despite the Winchesters’ initial reluctance, Cole talks his way onto the team by flaunting that he has an in with Military Intelligence. So let’s hope they save his afflicted friend before he’s arrested for leaking government secrets!
This scene is serious but reads comically because of the Winchesters’ visible discomfort with Cole and the character’s cocky pit bull quality. He’s small, tenacious, pugnacious and yapping non-stop as he forces his way into their personal space and onto the hunt using exaggerated cojones and derring do. I like him and think that he has the makings of a believable hunter. Anyhow it’s nice to see Sam upset about something besides Dean.
Meanwhile the troubled war hero has wandered into a convenience store to drink all of their bottled water. He’s too far gone to pay first so a clerk finally attempts to stop the theft. Personally I don’t think that this guy has seen enough horror movies. If I saw this seriously afflicted dude with erupting skim tearing through a store I would run far away or lock myself in the bathroom. That’s classic possession behavior.
Our messed up war hero responds with violence. He breaks a wine bottle, slices the man’s throat and begins to drink the spilled blood from the floor before going after the other clerk (presumably). It’s another brutal and chilling scene. I give Klein and director John Badham props for crafting some dark, scary vignettes.
The brothers and their tagalong comrade are chowing down at the delightfully named Sammy’s Highway Cafe… and Sam is buying. Dean is telling Cole his new philosophy, which effectively is if all else fails you can always eat. This is so Dean season 10. Dean’s obsessive eating has become a thing as he substitutes another vice for pesky vice and pervasive Mark urges.
Anyhow… Cole gets an encrypted email with a video from an Iraqi cemetery that was used as a prison camp by insurgents. The afflicted soldiers were part of a Special Forces team sent to rescue a prisoner of war. They find him but he’s not well and the video ends with the prisoner violently attacking his rescuers. It is clear that whatever has affected the soldiers happened during this mission. The very thirsty thing that they carried home with them is forcing them to kill.
Sam’s technogeek status is confirmed because he gets a news alert on his phone about the convenience store bloodshed. They head over there but learn very little except the expected news that Cole’s friend’s thirst has graduated to blood. His friend’s wife calls because she’s also heard the news. She suggests that Cole look for her husband, Kit, at his father’s cabin.
Cole wants to know what the Winchesters will do when they find his friend Kit. Both brothers need better poker faces. Cole decides to withhold his lead and find Kit on his own. Anyhow,.. Dean finally says something about monsters needing to be “put down” so Cole claims that he’s going to “take care of” Kit’s wife. Luckily for him he sells that lie poorly. Can’t say that Dean didn’t warn him not to pursue the case on his own.
Cole drives to the cabin with the Winchesters surreptitiously following. Kit is clearly in bad shape because he’s draining small woodland creatures and dropping them where he stands. That’s out of control baby!
Cole finds his friend crouched on the bed in a corner. He looks much worse for wear. Being a good friend he apologizes to Cole, explaining that he cannot stop himself, before lunging at him and regurgitating a worm-like creature down his throat. He’s about to give Cole a second gift worm in the mouth when the Winchesters break in and disrupt Kit’s sick embrace. Dean stomps the worm hard, flattening it with a satisfying squish. It bleeds red just like us.
Meanwhile Sam chases after Kit only to lose him in the woods, and Cole is having a major freak out because he’s been impregnated with a slimy, phallic throat worm. It’s clearly not his particular kink.
Dean tells Sam that the worm was a Khan Worm or its creepy cousin (“And Then There Were None”). Yeah… I would go with its creepy cousin since this worm is merely mighty thirsty and not into mind control. It’s a very thirsty desert parasite that sucks folks dry.
Sam goes off to find Kit whilst Dean stays with Cole. Dean is surprisingly determined to save Cole and not put him down like a monster. I guess he recalls their close mirroring from earlier this season. Cole is kind of him in a different life and by saving Cole he chooses to save himself. We’ve been given strong hints before that Dean can only save himself from becoming a monster. After all the current paradigm is monster is as monster does.
Sam somehow is less into saving the afflicted human in this episode which seems out of character for his season’s arc. I certainly don’t expect him to save Dean in the slightest; however I do expect him to work darn hard at failing. He has to care enough to try… right? Sometimes it feels like some of the writers don’t read the memos.
Dean always cares too damn much. Lucky for Cole that he was paired with the right Winchester! At least in this episode Dean is markedly gunshy. Anyhow… Cole wants the worm out ASAP so they decide to try electrocution, the method that worked with the original worm (“And Then There Were None”).
There’s a tense electrocution scene where the third try is totally not charming because Cole is temporarily dead until Dean administers some violent CPR. Dean refuses to try again. They brainstorm and realize that the worms crave moisture. It’s sweat lodge time.
Meanwhile Sam checks in and inexplicably still thinks a bullet to the head is the way to go. Dean tells him that they’re going to sweat the bug out.
Sam arrives just in time to save Kit’s wife from receiving Kit’s special gift once he drained the flower vase and shredded the flowers… because he’s just that out of control. Anyhow Sam ties the guy up, doesn’t watch him and doesn’t do anything to cure the guy. Instead he tries to tell the wife how he’s a hunter that hunts monsters. Okay then… this is more or less equivalent to twirling his thumbs, especially considering how far gone Kit is.
Back at the sweat lodge, Cole is suffering and Dean appears to milk it by giving him hydration porn. Yeah… there’s still a bit of demonic Dean and his cruel sense of humor deep inside Dean. Eventually Cole breaks and tries to get the bottle of water using the ruse that he needs Dean to tie him up pronto. They engage in some sweaty tussling before Cole apologizes and starts to upchuck his resident worm. Dean gets away as fast as he can and squashes the bugger with his foot. The worm goes splat. Again it’s a satisfying sound.
Things don’t go so well at Kit’s house because Sam hasn’t done anything to actually help the man. Kit escapes and Sam is attacked as he hunts for him. They scuffle and Sam loses his gun in the close melee. We later see the woman mourning her dead husband who is sporting a bullet hole in his noggin. Sammy got his gun it seems in the nick of time.
Back at the cabin with Dean and Cole Sammy is angst ridden about not saving Kit. OMG you didn’t even try dude! Are you sad about Kit or are you sad because you’re worried that you won’t be able to save Dean and he will become that supernatural being that was a bit of a dick, a bad singer, and an even worse demon because he didn’t actually do anything that bad. Of course you didn’t care what demonic Dean did or didn’t do. You just cared that your brother had changed. Mean, lean Dean wasn’t all about his little brother Sammy. That Dean left you all alone.
Well anyways… there’s no shame in trying to help Dean… maybe try to listen to what he’s saying. You know be a good and supportive brother.
We know Sam won’t do this because we have seen the signs that Sam is in his “Mystery Spot” mindset. He thinks Dean must be cured whatever the cost. The cost of Sam’s emotionally charged actions the last time something demonic happened to Dean lead him to him make his bed with a demon who lured him into releasing Lucifer.
All signs point to disaster. This will end badly for Team Winchester. Alas! Alack! Luckily for fans, this season’s final actions have the makings of a mytharc driven plotline that has legs. I predict that season 11 will not be the last.