Operation is a game of fine motor skills that involves a patient named “Cavity Sam”. The game is an electrified wire loop derivative that involves removing certain “ailments”, many which involve fake body parts, like the funny bone. For the game, you get ONE TOOL, only one… and you must use it to remove all the pieces, performing procedures correctly and collecting the most money to win the game.
The trick to Operation is to adjust the way you use what you are given in order to remove each piece. The angle and pressure you use for one piece will not work on a different piece. One wrong move and you “kill Sam.” We spend 10x15 watching Dean adapt with what he’s given and come up with a successful solution to remove Cole’s Khan worm cousin. He looks at the problem’s parameters and changes tactic to remove the ailment and thus “win the game”. Sam, on the other hand, is shown all episode using the same ol’ tactics to try and remove the worm, only to fail. He was the player that tries to remove the butterfly the same way one removes the pencil. Not going to work. Sam spends the episode searching the basic phrase, “Mark of Cain” hoping to learn something new. Over the past couple of episodes, we watch Sam discouraging Dean from things like cake in 10x15…
and Taylor Swift in 10x12.
Dean changing himself (the environment the “disease” is rooted in) is proposed by the narrative as “the correct procedure” to “win the game”, but we see Sam failing to encourage this, and outright blocking it in 10x15 with Dean’s desire for cake. Ironically, it is Sam who ends up with the dead “Cavity Sam” (with Kit), not Dean (with Cole). Sam’s mistakes may end “the patient” yet and he doesn’t even realize this. In 10x15, he is faced with his worse nightmare, doing “everything right” (only he didn’t) and still losing (in his case, Dean, to the Mark of Cain “ailment”).
There is one way to not “kill Cavity Sam” but still use crappy technique… you cheat. For Sam, this may mean taking the proverbial batteries out of the game (we all did it as kids, don’t lie). For Dean, this may mean sneaking a bit of the proverbial cake anyway. After all, some of Operation involves not getting distracted by your fellow players’ verbal taunts and attempts at making you laugh. Dean may “distract” Sam yet, and then take his turn with the “correct procedure” (his own will) and finish out the game. Let’s just hope “Free Will” is a card that never leaves the Specialist stack.
The lobotomy was popular during the 1940s and 50s, and was performed on some 40,000 patients. The risky operation became popular because, historically, there was no alternative, and because it was seen to reduce overcrowding in psychiatric institutions, and the increasing cost of caring for mentally ill patients. Many patients suffered unimaginable pain and complications, and a lot of them committed suicide after they were forced to go through such an agonizing ordeal.