Supernatural recap: The Vessel
Dean messes with history at 20,000 leagues, and Sam learns who's wearing Castiel's face
Supernaturally evil Nazis. An enemy wearing a friend’s face. Heartbreaking courage and sacrifice. This week gave us yet another stellar episode of Supernatural, so let’s recap.
Nazi-occupied France, 1943: A bald Nazi’s on the phone with Hitler and saying he’s found the artifact and will deliver it. A beautiful woman slinks in; her name is Delphine, and she’s clearly more interested in the artifact than she is in the Nazi.
She wheedles him to open the weathered box, and he complies as he nibbles her neck. We don’t see what’s inside.
“So it’s true,” she breathes, then stabs her Nazi lover to death. “The Men of Letters send their regards,” she hisses. You go, Delphine! (And also, Game of Thrones shout-out?)
In our time, Dean enters the kitchen to discover that Sam drank all the coffee in the bunker and didn’t replace it. Sam is the true monster, you guys, particularly because he doesn’t even apologize and instead starts talking about the Nazis.
“It’s a little early for Nazi trivia, particularly without caffeine,” Dean points out. (When he eventually settle for beer, Sam chastises him for imbibing before noon, but Dean reasonably replies, “You drank all the coffee, so what am I supposed to drink? Water?”)
Sam keeps talking Nazis because, in searching for a weapon that can destroy Amara, he found historical references to Hitler’s men finding the Hand of God. This weapon was rumored to be strong enough to win World War II because it’s one of the objects God touched during Biblical times. Sam thinks they need it to fight Amara, particularly since Lucifer’s caged (oh, if only they knew) and God’s MIA (for now?).
The bad news is that the Hand of God was lost when the sub transporting it and Delphine to the U.S. was downed by a German ship. Its wreckage was never recovered. Clearly, they need to find the ship, and they know just the time-jumping angel who can help them do it.
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Unfortunately, Castiel isn’t himself these days. Lucifer-as-Cas is lounging on Crowley’s throne, and the former king of hell’s been beaten and chained like a dog.
Crowley looks thoroughly defeated, but Castifer still smells a whiff of defiance and knows Crowley’s just waiting to retake the throne. The “good doggie” and his bruised face admit it, taunting that if Castifer were strong enough to beat Amara, he’d be taking the fight to her right now.
Then Dean calls, and Castifer whispers, “No barking. It’s show time,” and puts on the Castiel growl.
Next thing you know, Cas is at the bunker and marveling at the survival of God-touched objects following the flood. They make plans to travel back in time to retrieve it. Sam wants to talk about risks and consequences and blah blah blah, but Dean says its ideal because you can’t mess up history if everybody on the sub’s destined to die.
Sam reluctantly agrees to stay behind as long as Cas doesn’t let Dean out of his sight. Awww, brothers! But when they make the time jump, it’s only Dean standing in the torpedo room full of swastika-decorated weapons.
No surprise that Sam’s startled when Cas slogs into the bunker, drenched. He and Dean made the leap, but Cas couldn’t travel past the hull, probably because of some kind of warding from Delphine.
“I can’t believe I lost it,” Castifer says. At a look from Sam, he corrects himself. “Him. I can’t believe I lost Dean.” Ha!
NEXT: Dean gives a sobering history lesson
Sure enough, Dean’s hunkered under a bunk and sees a sigil low on the wall. He gets the jump on one of the sailors, steals his clothes, and sets off to find Delphine. When he does, he tries to convince her he’s a Man of Letters, but the sailor he jumped, Petey, shows up full of accusations. They search Dean and find his useless phone, scoffing at the idea that a phone could fit in his pocket. So Dean comes clean and announces that he’s on a crucial mission from the future and, in fact, a German destroyer will sink them within the hour.
The captain instead guesses Dean’s a spy or an AWOL soldier. “Flash Gordon here will remain under guard until we reach the shore,” he says.
Then they get word about a ship closing in on them, and Petey stays behind to guard Dean and Delphine. Dean asks Delphine to get rid of any other sigils so his angel can jump back in and get him out of there. This confuses her because her ward shouldn’t work on angels. (Seriously, the clues are all there, guys!)
Meanwhile, Petey keeps asking Dean questions about the future. Who wins the 1944 World Series? At first, Dean says it’s the non-existent Rangers, then admits, “Look, kid, I don’t follow baseball.” Then Petey wants to know who’ll be the next president. “Eisenhower, okay? No, uhhh, Truman,” Dean says. Worst. Time traveler. Ever.
Dean explains to Delphine that he’s fighting a war in the future, an “end is nigh”-type war, and he needs the Hand of God to win, particularly since the ship’s going down, no matter what. Delphine agrees to hand it over because she trusts him, Man of Letters to Man of Letters.
Petey jumps in again. “We all die? Me, the girl, the rest of the crew? I’m just trying to get your story clear.”
“Yes,” Dean finally says as the sub starts to dive to avoid the Germans.
Back in our time, Sam finds a never-attempted spell that could clear all mystical blockages and get Cas on the ship. However, it requires the power of an archangel, so Sam rejects it. Castifer says they may as well try because, of course, Lucifer’s archangel mojo will power it, although Sam doesn’t know that.
Back on the sub, Delphine opens the box to reveal…a really old piece of wood? She says it was more impressive when it was the Ark of the Covenant
“Oh, so full-on Raiders. That’s…okay,” Dean says, confusing everyone else. She warns him not to touch it because no human can survive full contact for long.
Then Petey speaks up again. “When?” he asks. “When do we win? Months, years, decades?” He has friends and family on other ships, in other branches, so even if he doesn’t survive the day, he wants to know what their chances are, and God, this is heartbreaking.
“Years,” Dean says. “1945.”
Petey digests that as the rest of the ship scrambles to load the torpedoes, but somehow, they lose the 3,000-ton warship until it’s right on top of them. The sub dives to max depth, and everyone goes silent to keep any sounds from traveling underwater.
Delphine returns from ward removal and unbuttons her jumpsuit to reveal that the last ward is a chest tattoo.
“Kill me,” she says, holding out the knife. Dean says he can just cut the lines of the sigil, but she says no: It’s spellbound to her blood and heart, and its power lives and dies with her.
Dean rests the knife over her tattoo as a depth charge explodes and rocks the whole boat.
In our time, Cas is chopping up little skeletons and dried husks of animals for the magic removal spell. The props department must’ve had fun finding the weirdest ingredients and biggest butcher knives they could for this scene.
Sam, still thinking they don’t have an archangel, reminds Cas of the time he used Bobby’s soul to power up. It can be fatal, but Sam will do it to save Dean.
Then Cas starts to bray with laughter, his voice and demeanor changing. Fully Lucifer now, he says Dean’s the one with the link to Amara, so there’s no reason to spare Sam.
“I will touch your soul just because you asked so nicely,” he says. “And then when Dean comes back and he finds this place decorated with your guts, I will tell him the truth, Sam. I’ll just say, ‘Dean’” — and here he puts on Castiel’s growl — “’Dean, he knew the risks. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.’”
Then he digs into Sam’s chest, and Sam bellows. Gaaaaaah, how much are you loving Misha Collins playing Lucifer-as-Castiel? Every second he’s on screen is a DELIGHT.
NEXT: Incredible bravery, incredible sacrifice
Oh, but suddenly, Castifer pulls his hand from Sam’s chest and says, “Hello, Castiel.” Looks like there’s a struggle over who’s controlling the Cas ship. Castiel comes to the surface and tells Sam he agreed to this in order to defeat the Darkness, but it’s taking all his strength to keep Lucifer from killing Sam. However, he’s got to turn the control back to Lucifer because only the archangel can time travel. (But Cas can time travel, right? We’ve seen it. Or is that ability gone with his lost-then-sort-of-found grace?)
Anyway, in 1943, the sub’s dead in the water, and the Germans send a message asking for Delphine. She’s shocked that it’s her former lover, the bald Nazi.
“If you want a friend of the Thule to stay dead, burn the body,” he says. This gets Dean’s attention, particularly when the German continues that his whole crew has extraordinary abilities.
He offers the captain a choice: Turn over Delphine and the Hand of God, and the sailors will get the best POW treatment. Don’t, and they’ll be blown to hell so the Germans can get the object from the seabed.
Delphine starts to plead with the captain to protect the cargo, and he immediately says she’s their mission and they’ll never turn her over. Good man.
Then Delphine once again asks Dean to kill her so he can teleport out. He instead asks if they can use the Hand of God to save her and the sub. Forget about his war; he wants to help them now.
“We are supposed to die. Let us do it with a purpose,” she says. She’s going to make sure Dean gets home and they take out the German destroyer.
More depth charges explode, and Delphine takes action, picking up the Hand of God. Its power runs through her, causing her eyes and then her whole body to glow and glow until it hurts to look at her. It burns off her sigil tattoo and she starts to explode when suddenly Castifer is there to bring Dean back to the future.
When they’re back in the bunker, Sam yells, “Dean! That’s not Cas!”
“Cat’s out,” Castifer smirks and power-blasts Dean against a wall. Castifer says donning this grim face of angelic constipation (way harsh!) has been a nightmare. He thought the Winchesters were insufferable as mortal enemies, “but working with you? That’s the soul crusher.”
Castifer gleefully unwraps the piece of the Ark, but nothing happens.
“Well, who’d have thought the Hand of God would turn out to be a one-hitter?” Dean asks.
Thankfully, this disappointment gives Sam time to draw a banishing ward with his blood, and he vamooses Castifer.
And we end with the brothers recovering on a dock. Dean wants to try to rescue Cas right away, but Sam points out that Cas volunteered for this and might not come back willingly.
Then Sam asks Dean about his trip to the past. Dean says he didn’t actually do anything.
“Sam, they… I was just a witness,” he says, still shaken. And he’s right. He watched sailors do their jobs while knowing they were going to die; woman sacrifice herself for the good of an unknown battle in the future; a kid worry about the fate of his loved ones in a war with seemingly no end.
The one bright spot that Dean learns from Sam is this: The German destroyer also burned and sank — presumably from a Hand-of-God-sized hole that wiped a ship full of literally super-powered Nazis off the face of the Earth.
Guys, if there’s a TV show that’s had a more powerful, enjoyable, and surprising 11th season than Supernatural, let me know what it is. Because I can’t think of one.