Supernatural returns on Wednesday nights with New Guy Cole tagging along to save military buddies from a supernatural parasite.
We are introduced to “The Things They Carried” with a delightful “I don’t know” montage showing all the times Sam and Dean faced up against something unknown. Did it tie into the episode? Eh… no. But it led to an episode that was enjoyable, even despite a couple minor hangups about “realism” and “Cole having the personality of wet cardboard.”
The monster they face is a repeat—the Khan worm. If you didn’t just scream “Khaaaaan!” in your head then you need to reevaluate your life choices. The worm appeared previously in Season Six, “And Then There Were None”, when the boys and Bobby were trapped in a cannery, In that episode, we saw the worm possess and control people. This time we saw it turn people into dehydrated murderers. Basically the plot of Angel “The Price.” Not holding that against the writers—parasitic worms are a common staple of scifi and fantasy shows.
We get the team-up between the Winchesters and Cole, who initially tags along to make sure none of his military buddies are unnecessarily hunted. I’m not sure how to feel about Cole. He needs a little bit more character development before I truly like him. At the moment, he’s got a bit of the personality of wet cardboard, spouting military cliches, like when he wants the worm residing in him to go “AWOL.” There needs to be more to his character.
I need to call foul on two silly moments. One is how easily Cole obtained the classified footage of the soldiers being attacked by the worm the first time. I don’t care that someone in Military Intelligence owed him a favor—that other guy is gonna be in major trouble. The other moment was Dean drinking bottled water directly in front of the infected Cole. Dude. You know better.
Kit’s death by the hands of Sam hits the gentler Winchester brother harder than usual. Yes, he’s used to this kind of thing, but he likens his inability to save Kit to his futility in helping Dean. I think Dean understood this too, as he explains to Sam that you can’t save everyone.
Let’s take a little humor in Cole’s line that for Dean, eradicating a supernatural parasite from someone via jumper cables is just another Tuesday. Ironic given the fact that this was the first episode moved from Tuesday to Wednesday. You can’t predict these things when you write an episode.
Overall, this return to Supernatural was a strong one. The tone, the story, and everything was just right. I’m grading it high even given the stupid moments and Cole’s fill-in-the-blank personality. I think we need time to get to know the New Guy better, and we’ll get there eventually. Really, this episode just felt right. The visuals told the story and captured the fear of the unknown in the beginning so cleverly that that alone hooked me along for the ride. Now we need to see if it keeps up the momentum next week.
In case you were wondering, the title of the episode is a reference to the book The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. The book is a collection of fictionalized stories of soldiers and their traumatic experiences at wartime.