In the fourteenth episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, YES. YES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For talk of Nazi Germany
It’s unfortunate that so much of this season just feels like it’s plodding along, especially since there was a little burst of decent episodes from “Baby” on. I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed this episode so much. It’s a tense thriller that – most importantly! – commits to the moral conundrums raised by both Lucifer and Delphine. That is so vital to my appreciation of this episode because I feel like the writers are constantly finding ways out of the things they’ve written. Remember when Demon!Dean lasted only three episodes? Or when the Darkness spilled out into the world in a very huge, VERY OBSERVABLE way, and then no one actually saw it?
Granted, there’s nothing that huge within this story, but I still felt like Robert Berens’ script followed the consequences through to the end. It’s a ridiculous time travel story, and it’s also a heist, and it’s also a subtle cat-and-mouse game, and it’s also about THE FUTILITY OF ACTION, and I can’t believe they packed all of this into one script and made it work. First of all, there’s a value in examining Dean’s plot aboard the Bluefin as the most realistic portrayal of time travel possible. While Dean’s mission ends up being a quick shot there and back – he’s there for just a few hours’ time – Berens depicts the entire thing believably. If someone was dropped in the sleeping quarters on a submarine, over seventy years in the past, how disastrous would that be?
EXTREMELY. Dean hides. That’s it. He hides until he can overpower one of the men and slip into his clothes, but how long can that disguise last when EVERYONE PRETTY MUCH KNOWS EVERYONE ELSE ON SIGHT? Thus, this script (in more ways than one) refuses to prolong the awkward disguises. Within a few minutes, Dean is discovered by Delphine and the rest of the crew, and what does he do in response? HE LAYS ALL HIS CARDS OUT ON THE TABLE. Yes. YES. He just says he’s from the future, he’s a Men of Letters, and he’s there to take Delphine’s cargo off her hands and back to his time. It’s absurd, and I love it. Most of the crew don’t believe Dean, and the show never tries to make them. They have bigger issues, like the giant German ship that’s sitting above them and dropping depth charges. It’s that combination that felt so thrilling to me. While there was a supernatural element to this struggle, the show focused on the quiet terrors of the barrage on the Bluefin instead.
Yet even when it comes to the Hand of God (PART OF THE ARC OF THE COVENANT!!!!), I still enjoyed this episode. Delphine is such a rad character, and if “The Vessel” spawned a spin-off just about Delphine’s exploits as a Woman of Letters, I WOULD WATCH IT RELIGIOUSLY. When Dean makes contact with her and explains what it is he needs from her, it’s a treasure to watch Weronika Rosati transform before our eyes. She becomes all purpose and determination. She knows that the Nazis cannot get ahold of what she has, so she doesn’t hesitate to do exactly what was necessary to guarantee that this would happen. Who else wouldn’t flinch while ordering someone to stab them to death? Who else would take the power of God within them, knowing that it meant their death, just so that they could destroy a German ship while their own went down?
But it’s that commitment to history that impressed me the most. There’s no happy ending to “The Vessel.” In the end, history happens exactly as it did before Dean appeared. The Bluefin is destroyed, the entire crew dies, and the German ship is taken down by Delphine. Dean, who has spent ten and a half seasons doing everything he can to save the innocent, must accept that he couldn’t have done anything. Nothing at all. If Lucifer had not pulled him out at the last minute, he would have died, too. It clearly had a huge affect on him, too! He’s visibly disturbed in the final scene of the episode, and we don’t see that often.
Of course, I’m not acknowledging the other factor in this. While Dean is back in 1943, Lucifer toys with Sam in the present. Like Dean’s disguise on the Bluefin, I worried that the writers were going to prolong this masquerade for as long as possible. It’s entertaining to watch Misha Collins play these two characters within the same body, but… well, I’m going to repeat myself. How long could that last? Actually, I have a better question: How long could Lucifer tolerate the Winchesters? Apparently, the answer is “a few hours.” I’m still surprised that the show had Lucifer reveal that Castiel had agreed to be his vessel so soon, and I know it’s why this episode felt so thrilling to me. THEY KNOW! THEY ALL KNOW AND AS AWFUL AS IT IS, CASTIEL STILL WANTS TO KEEP LUCIFER. God, that’s such a complicated thing! Having Lucifer out of his cage and on earth is 100% a terrible plan, and Castiel knows this. Yet he still clings to the hope that Lucifer really does have the power to defeat Amara.
Yet there’s no Hand of God. Lucifer is… well, we don’t know. Somewhere. Dean and Sam most likely won’t work with him in that state. So what now? Do they have any plans at all? No! As far as I can tell, this means they’re back at square one. No hope, no clues, nothing. Well, I’d be pretty upset at that, too.
The video for “The Vessel” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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