The title of Season 10 Episode 15 of Supernatural, “The Things They Carried,” references a book of the same name by Tim O’Brien that narrates the experiences of a group of American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The short stories describe what these soldiers carried with them while they were out on missions. Some of the objects are physical items they carry in their pockets or on their backs, but they also carry intangible burdens such as feelings of guilt, fear, and anxiety. In Supernatural, Dean continues to carry the affliction of the Mark of Cain, along with the feelings it elicits and experiences it has wrought.
Supernatural opens to a bucket of blood. Gross. We aren’t big fans of watching humans torture captured humans, even when possessed by a supernatural creature. If we liked that stuff we’d watch Criminal Minds. And just to be clear, we do not watch that show.
Dean thinks Sam is looking at pørn, but instead Sam is researching Cain and Abel. Sam should probably be watching more pørn. Dean tells Sam about an army private killed in a horrible way, and gives Sam little choice but to follow him out on the case. Once they are on the road, Dean calls Sam out on his not-so-secret attempts at continuing to study the Mark of Cain:
“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.”
Maybe Sam just wants to know how the story ends, just in case Dean’s tale really is a reverse version of Cain’s, as suggested in “The Executioner’s Song.” Perhaps Sam is worried he might be forced to play a starring role in Cain & Abel II: A New Generation.
Once Sam and Dean are in Fayetteville, NC they go to the Sheriff’s office, only to find that the case has been solved. It turns out that the assailant was Special Forces Officer Rick Willis, who has committed suicide. The sheriff brushes it off because suicide is so common in a military town: Bleak plot point #1.
Sam and Dean talk to Rick’s wife, Beth. She tells them that Rick was thirsty all the time and his skin got incredibly dry. Beth said she brought him to the VA and he got on a wait list to get on a wait list: Bleak plot point #2. She says he then stopped talking and she figured it was PTSD. Beth says that a friend of hers, Jemma, thinks her husband is acting strangely too. Sam and Dean go and talk with Jemma. After trying to act normal for a while, Jemma admits that her husband, Kit, has been missing since the night before.
When Sam and Dean leave Jemma’s house, they find the Military Dude himself, Cole Trenton, waiting outside by the Impala: Bleak plot point #3. We had hoped to never see Cole again after his last appearance in “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Sam and Dean must have also been hoping to avoid seeing Cole again, if their uncomfortable looks tell us anything. Apparently Cole is besties with Kit, so Jemma called him to help. Cole insists on joining Sam and Dean, informing them that he has military contacts that would help the case. He tells the Winchesters that they need to rescue Kit, not kill him:
“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.”
We find that Kit is alive and acting crazy at the local gas-n-sip, where he stumbles around, drinking all the water he can get. The poor store clerks look terrified, and rightfully so. One of the store clerks is unwilling to approach, but the other underpaid clerk nervously approaches. He clearly feels like he has a duty to deal with this crazy guy, but doesn’t really want to. We’re pretty sure neither of these guys gets paid enough to have to deal with this kind of thing. Kit breaks a bottle and cuts the throat of the unfortunate clerk: Bleak Plot Point #4. Kit sees his blood on the ground and begins to drink it.
Sam, Dean, and Cole have stopped at Sammy’s Highway Cafe for a snack. The cafe sign was definitely the highlight of the episode for us. Cole has found out that Kit and Rick were on a mission to rescue an American Prisoner of War held prisoner in a cemetery in Iraq, reminding us that the war in Iraq continues on in one form or another: Bleak Plot Point #5. Cole has a video that shows that when Rick and Kit tried to rescue the American prisoner, he acted crazy and tried to bite them. Heroic characters trying to rescue someone from danger get infected by evil themselves—sounds familiar. No good deed goes unpunished: Bleak Plot Point #6.
Sam gets an alert that takes them to the gas-n-sip store where the poor clerk has just been murdered. After checking out the gas-n-sip with the Winchesters, Cole gets a call from Jemma who suggests Kit might have gone to his father’s cabin up north. Cole gets off the phone and asks Sam and Dean, “And if you find him, what then?” Sam and Dean look extremely uncomfortable again. Apparently Cole brings out this guilt response in both of them. We can only guess it’s because Dean killed Cole’s father. Dean tells Cole that if Kit’s a monster they will have to put him down. Dean always prefers euphemisms like “put him down” or “take him out” when he talk about killing. Cole pretends he is going to take care of Jemma (not a euphemism for killing), and has Sam and Dean drop him off back at her house. Instead of going into the house, Cole drives up the cabin to look for Kit, but Sam and Dean realize what he is up to and follow him. It’s not clear how you could covertly follow anyone in the incredibly loud Impala, even if you do turn it off just as you roll into the driveway. Of course we actually really love the clearly identifiable rumble of the Impala, it just doesn’t make for a very sneaky vehicle.
Cole enters the cabin and gets attacked by Kit in pretty short order. Kit manages to release a disgusting worm-like creature from his own mouth into Cole’s mouth, which was even grosser than a bucket of blood. Dean and Sam arrive in time to kill one worm, but another is somewhere in Cole’s gullet. During the ruckus Kit gets away. Dean says he thinks it’s similar to a Khan Worm, which we last saw in the Season six episode “And Then There Were None.”
While Sam goes after Kit, Dean stays with Cole to see if they can get the creature out of him. We forgot how much we hated that Cole calls Sam “Sammy.” Not your place, Cole. We didn’t like it in the episode “Black” and we don’t like it now. He calls Dean “Dean-o” too. We hate Cole. Is that mean? What we meant to say was that we struggle to appreciate the nuances of Cole’s character.
Dean and Cole decide to try to get the worm-monster out of Cole through electrocution. Dean seems reluctant to electrocute Cole. We’re not sure why. It’s not like they’re buddies. Suddenly Cole thinks the Winchesters deserve a medal for all their unrecognized work of saving people and killing things. It doesn’t take much to turn him around after a lifetime seeking revenge against Dean.
Kit has returned home. He grabs his wife and is about to infect her with his parasite, but Sam arrives just in time to knock him out.
When the electrocution does nothing but make Cole’s heart stop for a bit, Dean switches tactics and tries dehydration to force the creature out. They turn up the heat and wait. Cole asks Dean to take him out, just like Dean did for Cole’s dear old dad, if he goes full monster. Dean tells him that’s loser talk and that he needs to fight harder than he ever has before. Dean has a moment when he seems to realize that he has expressed similar loser talk about the Mark of Cain. Cole tells Sam to tie him up, but then tries to go for some water when Dean is distracted. Tricky move, half-monster Cole.
Meanwhile, back at Kit’s house, Sam spills all his hunter secrets to Jemma, trying to explain that her husband is monster. Of course with all the gabbing going on, Kit gets free from his bonds. He attacks Sam and begins strangling him. Is it now every episode that someone tries to strangle Sam? It sure seems like it. He must have one strong neck.
At the cabin in the woods, the monster worm can’t take the heat and forces its way out of Cole’s throat. It’s much more gross than scary. Dean crushes the worm.
We find out that Kit’s battle was not as successful, as Sam had no choice but to kill him: Bleak Plot Point #7. Earlier in the episode Sam was quick to point out killing Kit was the easiest way to deal with the problem, but by the end he seems to be angst-ridden that he couldn’t save Kit. Perhaps Cole’s insistence that the boys focus more on the “saving people” part of “saving people, hunting things” had an impact. Sam’s emotional response is also because he is starting to realize that he might not be able to save Dean.
Dean: “Don’t blame yourself for Kit, man.”
Sam: “I can’t help it Dean. It feels crappy.”
Dean: “I know it does.”
Sam: “I tried. I did. I tried. I just … I just couldn’t save this one.”
Dean: “You know, you can do everything right. And still, sometimes … The guy still dies.”
We’re not entirely convinced that the wormy creatures were monsters. They seemed much more like actual parasites than monsters that resembled parasites. It seems to us that a parasite could easily cause a biological response in the host resulting in an overwhelming desire for blood. No supernatural explanation required. Regardless, not our favorite “monster” and not our favorite episode,
In this Monster of the Week episode we get the message that it might be time for both Sam and Dean to accept Dean’s fate. It’s beginning to feel like the end of Season 3 all over again. Though we suspect that a solution will eventually come to light—after all, Supernatural has been renewed for an 11th season. Maybe Dean will have to become a Demon again in order to rid himself of the Mark, though that’s probably just wishful thinking.
Though we were very moved by Jared Padalecki in the last scene, the star of the “The Things They Carried” was clearly Baby. We are seeing more and more exterior shots of the Impala in Season 10, and episode 15 was full of them. The beautiful images of the Impala traversing varied roads and backdrops reminds us that the Winchesters live a well-traveled but somewhat isolated life. Now that Sam and Dean are spending more time in the Men of Letters’ bunker, the scenes of the Impala traveling across lonely landscapes have stood in for some of the fantastic motel rooms we had become accustomed to. Though we want to continue to see fantastically designed hotel room sets, we can’t get enough of Baby, and hope to see lots more of her as Season 10 of Supernatural continues.