[photos courtesy Dean Buscher/The CW]
Submarines and Nazis and collaborators … Supernatural becomes even more surreal when Dean (Jensen Ackles) takes a trip to the past. Again. This time it’s to get a new (to them) weapon to defeat the Darkness: the Hand of God.
We open in occupied France in 1943. A Nazi has obtained a great prize, an unknown object in a box. His French lover stabs him with her hair pin and a knife, and takes the box, saying that the Men Of Letters send their regards.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) commits the cardinal sin — he drinks all the coffee. None left in the bag. He’s stayed up all night doing research, it seems, because he found something. There’s something called the Hand of God, and the last one known of by the Men of Letters was on a submarine that went down in World War II. It was being transported by a French Woman of Letters named Delphine (Weronika Rosati). Dean suggests that he go to the past and get it. It’s perfect, he says, because everyone perished and he can’t screw up the timeline.
This is not the smartest idea ever launched. It’s not Castiel (Misha Collins) letting Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) use his body stupid, but they definitely aren’t thinking about the consequences. It’s a submarine, everyone on it are likely to know each other or at least be under the same command. No strangers. They make no attempt to dress for the period, and there are probably clothes available at the bunker. It’s about to go down in the ocean, which gives them a strict deadline if something goes wrong. And it does. I suppose he only thought of it because he was feeling so (ahem) impotent about the Amara (Emily Swallow) situation. If only he’d had some coffee.
Castifer (Misha Collins) is “ruling” in Hell. Actually, he’s playing a video game. His court is trying to appease him, which is hard to do when he doesn’t pay any attention. Someone brings up the recruiting numbers again — he doesn’t want to know. He is humiliating Crowley (Mark Sheppard) by having a dog collar on him, putting him in a hellish kennel and calling him his dog. Crowley is pretending to be servile.
Castifer and Dean travel in time and space to the boat because Lucifer is also looking for a weapon against Amara.
Unfortunately, only Dean lands. Castifer is kept out by the wards that Delphine has placed on the sub. Castifer bounces back to the bunker. His camouflage is wearing thin. He’s frustrated and defeated and soggy. He says it’s up to Dean to find the wards and remove them. Sam, of course, looks for an answer from their side and finds one, but it’s never been used. Must have a little note by it, like a recipe that you’ve found but haven’t tried yet. It hasn’t been used because it requires an archangel’s power to do it.
Dean knocks out a sailor and dresses in his clothes. He removes a sigil and goes to find Delphine. Delphine smacks him around when he calls her by name. His disguise quickly falls apart and the guy he stripped comes running to announce his presence. Dean tells them he’s from the future and they don’t believe it. They believe he is AWOL or a spy. He tells them that the submarine will be attacked soon.
Delphine does believe him. Maybe because he knows her name and no one on the submarine does, maybe because he says he’s a Man of Letters. She reveals that the last sigil is on her body. She tries to get Dean to stab her to save himself and get back to the future with the weapon. He is considering killing her when the sub gets rocked by a depth charge.
The German war ship shows up and Delphine’s former lover is on it! He’s supposed to be dead, since she stabbed him in the neck and chest. They are after the Hand of God.
Meanwhile, Castifer is performing the spell that Sam found. Sam is worried about it because he’s afraid Castiel might get hurt because he’s not an archangel. He offers to let him take power from his own soul. Castifer loses it. He asks himself why he’s trying to save Sam, since he doesn’t need him anymore. He totally quits pretending to be Castiel and attacks Sam, pulling power out of him. The real Castiel shows up for a bit, says it’s all he can do to keep him from killing Sam and that he did this voluntarily. He also says they need Lucifer to travel in time. Castiel can’t do it.
Dean says he wants to use the Hand of God to save them here and now. Delphine decides all is lost and she has to do what she can to keep the Nazis from getting the Hand of God. She pulls it out and uses it. It’s a rock or driftwood or something imbued with power because God touched it at some point. It flares with power and consumes Delphine, then drops to the floor and Dean wraps a cloth around it and picks it up. Castifer appears behind Dean and pulls him out in the nick of time. The impression is that both ships are destroyed.
They arrive back in the future. Sam warns Dean that Cas is not Cas. Castifer grabs the rock but it is out of juice. He sticks the boys to separate walls so they are powerless and goes after Dean. Sam writes a sigil on the wall with his blood and slaps his bloody palm on it. Castifer is expelled.
Sam and Dean are on a rotted pier, talking. Dean is overwhelmed by his experience. He said he was just a witness. He says they will trap Cas and save him. He can’t believe that Cas did it voluntarily. Sam did his homework. He knows the German ship burned and sank. Hopefully it actually killed that Nazi this time. The Nazi did tell Delphine she needed to burn his body.
Thoughts: This is a really good episode. I enjoyed the past so much I would like to have seen more of it. That would have taken more than one episode. Similarly, I liked Delphine so much that I am sorry it was a one-off. She was vicious with the Nazi, got the better of Dean and quick to self-sacrifice. Maybe too quick. She was a cool character. I even liked her name, which means dolphin. Or possibly “from Delphi”, where the oracles come from. Although that was also named after dolphins.
Dean is the worst time traveler ever. He didn’t prepare for when he was going, he confessed to being a time traveler immediately and unconvincingly, and he didn’t memorize any baseball scores to convince people with. Worst of all, he is in the moment immediately, connecting to the crew and Delphine. He loses his objectivity fast. If he were captain of a star ship, he’d violate the Prime Directive AND be in trouble with the Temporal Integrity Commission.
Misha Collins got a work out. Pretending to be Cas, not pretending to be Cas, being Cas. It’s enough to make your head spin. With just the three of them at home in the bunker, or just Castifer and Sam, there is a lot of affection, trust, and camaraderie. No wonder it was making Lucifer nuts. The huge amount of faith that the brothers have in Castiel shows why this was such a traitorous thing for Cas to do, although I know he wasn’t thinking of it that way.
Questions: Where did the boys go to sit on the rotting pier? It’s not likely they went to find the ocean. I think the Atlantic is about 1,400 miles from there … the gulf over 600. It must have been a lake nearby.
Are they going to return to that thin thread about how many souls are in Hell? Souls are where they get their power from, Heaven and Hell.
New info: There are weapons out there that might hurt Amara. They are rare, can only be used one time, and consume the user.
The boys now know that Cas is possessed by Lucifer. Appropriate that the episode was named “Vessel”.
Next week: wrestling. Not my cup of tea.
Supernatural airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW.