I didn’t know this episode made Kripke cringe. I think it’s really good! (I know Kripke regretted Bugs.) And I have the advantage of watching these with someone who has not watched SPN early on. She was cheering for Dean to outsmart the monster (which he did). I think this one is good and creepy (and I actually like camping) and there is so much insight into Sam and Dean and their personalities and dynamic for only being the second episode!!! I had forgotten how Dean was, right away, verybtuned in and caring towards Sam and Sam listened to Dean trying to give him caring advice. Peanut M&M’s are gross. I’d be dead, unable to leave a trail.
And yes, sad seeing Cory Montieth.
Even here, Dean seemed badly injured and kept going. I too am trying not to think about the finale, but there were some similar “pain” expressions used by Jensen even way back then. Very effective. And he let Sam drive. I remembered him as much more of a cocky jerk early on – he was caring – about the family of orphans, about Sam.
Even though Sam was dead-set on avenging Jess’ death, I loved how he always got a bit lost in research and figuring out a case.
Sam was so level headed and protective of the brother and sister they were trying to save.
There was also some fun, cocky dick waving from the backwoods guide and I thought the effect of the Guide getting grabbed by the head by the monster was a good one.