The Things They Carried 10x15
In Reichenbach, Cole made the choice to die because he failed his mission and he was done. In The Things They Carried, Cole didn’t choose death in the name of a crusade for vengeance, he didn’t choose death because he was well and truly beaten. He chose death in this moment because he
was becoming something he didn’t want to be - because it would be better this way.
Cole made the same exact request of Dean that Dean made of Cas in The Things We Left Behind.
They would both rather die as men, than live to see themselves become
the monsters, the killers, they have hunted their entire lives. And Dean
realized it. He recognized the hopelessness in Cole. He recognized the
grim determination to achieve his ending. He recognized the face of a forsaken man who believes that death is peace and penance.
Cole has never had anyone to tell him to just stop. Not before Dean. Cole never had someone who has lived his kind of life tell him that when someone puts a gun to his head and his back is against the wall, death or submission to a far greater force are not the only ways out. He’s never been told that he can fight, or that he can bluff, or that he can do any one of 146 other things to save himself while he’s staring down the barrel of that gun.
And if Dean can recognize and reinforce the fact that Cole has 146 other options that end in his salvation, that end with life, rather than with death - Dean will eventually be able to internalize it, to believe it for himself. Dean will soon find himself staring down the barrel of another gun, and he needs someone to lay out those 146 other options for him, as well. Someone who recognizes his determination to die human, but also understands the value of his life intrinsically. Bound by the brotherhood of the trenches, one mirror to another, Dean was able to be that savior for Cole. Cas is going to be that savior for Dean.