Supernatural 11×14 Review: The Vessel
The one constant that ties together the various seasons of Supernatural is the act of sacrifice. Be it for family, for friends, or for a stranger, the heroic thing to do is sacrifice yourself to save the day. It’s the Winchester thing to do.
Sadly, it rarely works, and always has unexpected side effects. You’d think they’d all learn that by now.
This was quite an ambitious and entertaining episode. The short joint to the past, penned by Robert Berens and directed by John Badham, took us back to the time of World War 2 to interact with a bunch of very paranoid sailors and their passenger, a much too trusting French member of the war-time Men of Letters.
The theme of the episode seemed to be that self-sacrifice is effectively futile. Dean volunteers to go back in time, only to be stuck there. Sam volunteers to become a potentially explosive human battery to power up Cas and retrieve his brother. He discovers, to his horror, that not only is the power not needed, but that his own living nightmare is walking around wearing his friend’s face. Cas has volunteered to host Lucifer to save his friends, only for Lucifer to take him for a joyride and try repeatedly to kill his friends. Even the victims of the week got into the act, with Delphine sacrificing herself to the Hand of God to save the sailors and send Dean and the Hand home, only to end up with a sunk sub and a dud weapon.
While the change in procedure from the standard “Forget the world, let’s save us” attitude they’ve had till recently is greatly appreciated, it’s still not a workable long-term strategy. It’s great that they’ve learned from their mistakes, and it’s definitely in keeping with the theme of the season, but they need to find a route that avoids the death and destruction of both them and everyone else. Lucifer admitted in the episode that caging Amara the first time was indeed a team effort, and I’m sure that a similar strategy is the best option here. Separate they fall, together they stand. Let’s get on that, shall we? Rescue Crowley, then get him to help rescue Cas, then you can beat the bad guys together. Separately doesn’t seem to be working too well.
I was as surprised as Dean to find that Delphine was officially a member of the group, as their tendency to restrict membership to the male gender has been noted by Dorothy in “Slumber Party”. The episode mention of the inclusion of women in the workforce during the war and the name-drop of Rosie the Riveter was much appreciated. I just hope that the Men of Letters retained that policy after the war instead of restricting it again, as happened with the rest of society. It’s a long time between 1945 and 1958, and I’d love for us to have more historical Women of Letters then just Delphine Seydoux and Josie Sands.
The presence of a Nazi from the Thule Society was a treat. It’s always nice getting good references to interesting past episodes. The Thule were an effective bad guy, and are the type of bad guy you can really enjoy seeing lose. (As a side note, I wonder what Aaron and his Golem are doing now. We need them back one of these days.)
The “Hand of God” weapon being a piece of the Arc of the Covenant was an interesting idea. If it’s in pieces, then the rest of it might be out there somewhere. Add to that the other various bits of biblical souvenirs that God might have touched, and they now at least have something to keep an eye out for. Lucifer did suggest that they might have been wiped out in the flood, though, which makes no sense in the established biblical time-line. Either he’s got a skewed sense of history, or Cas was understating it when he said the Bible got more wrong than right.
Another interesting moment: Lucifer can time travel, but Cas cannot. Why? Is it related to the level of grace they respectively have? Or is it wing-related? After all, Lucifer got from the water in the middle of the Atlantic to the bunker in landlocked Kansas while still completely waterlogged. Is the transition in space as well as time a function of time travel, or does Lucifer still have his wings? If not, when did he lose them? With the rest of the angels, or when he fell at the dawn of mankind? With him outside the cage and in the upcoming episodes, hopefully we get some questions answered.
Although all the main actors did masterful acting jobs during the episode (especially when confronted by Lucifer, the possible loss of Cas, and the historical results of what happened on the sub), I must especially commend Misha on his fantastic acting in this episode, particularly during the climax of the episode. The fight between Castiel and Lucifer for control was enthralling but subtle, conveyed through body language, tone of voice, and facial expression. He managed to make the distinction between the two very clear and quite believable. He also looked like he had a blast filming the scenes.
I’m glad Cas is still in there, and is able to fight back if he truly needs to. Hopefully, this will help the guys get him back in the long run. I’m also glad that Dean continues with his insistence that they’ll get Cas back, just like he did in season 7. Here’s hoping that season 12 follows the example of season 8. We could always use another golden season.
Hopefully, the guys can pull out of this effective kick-in-the-teeth and find a way to accomplish their goals. Preferably without sacrificing anything else. But however they manage it, it’ll certainly be entertaining.
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7 thoughts on “Supernatural 11×14 Review: The Vessel”
Excellent review. I tweeted Jerry Wanek that the boys need to create a Wall of Fallen Heroes (MoL AND Hunters). There has been so many, I want something permanent to help them reflect on how much this secret culture has sacrificed for the good of the world.
I think that’s partly what the book of Members we saw in “Into the Mystic” was supposed to stand in for. But I agree. A wall of photos with our lost heroes would be a lovely touch.
And heaven knows, there’s more then enough hallways in the bunker to have one.
You posed the question about time travel. Castiel has managed to do it three times in the episodes In the Beginning, The Song Remains the Same, and Frontierland. In the Season 5 episode his powers were at an all-time low being cut off from heaven and yet he still managed it. So that leaves me to conclude that the ability to time travel is related to their ability to use their wings. Which is another problem I have. Why does Lucifer have wings and Castiel’s are severely damaged from the fall. Castiel grace was removed by Metatron and he was sent directly to earth. He didn’t fall like the other angels and besides he didn’t have wings to burn up since his grace was gone. So many continuity errors in this series anymore but despite that I really enjoyed the episodes plus Misha is doing a bang up job.
Great review btw.
I don’t think Cas’s wings are damaged from the fall after Metatron cut his grace of, but they were broken after Metatron stealed his grace and used some of it for his spell to make angels fell.
Here are my questions. When Cas stealed other angel grace, why can’t he fly? Is it because it is a stolen grace? If he can steal
grace, why didn’t he steal the wings too or does stealing grace process means he has to cut the wings. This led me to another question, does stealing grace process difference from ripped out their own grace (Anna season 4 ripped out her own grace and she still can fly when she consumed her grace back, but every angel whose grace was stolen can’t fly such as Cas both him stealing from the other or his being stolen. Then, what about Gadriel? Did his grace being stolen or forcefully cut which leave him broken wings? And how did Anna manage to rip her grave off without doing any damage to it?)? I also wonder why Cas was weaken when he was cut off from Heaven in season 5 but Lucifer wasn’t.
By the way, I don’t think Luci lose his wings because in season 5, he can still fly and in season 11, nothing tell otherwise. And I agree with you that time travel require wings to do the job, however, I do not believe they can rely on only wings alone. In season 6, Cas had to touch Bobby’s soul to brought Sam and Dean back from Frontierland and at that time he didn’t even fly. I personally believe that the time travel ability do require a lot of grace depends on how far back the time is from the start time and they do need wings if they go with Sam or Dean. If they don’t, they only need grace. The reason why Luci soaking wet because he intended to go with Dean, not just sent him there.
All the angels had severely damaged wings and were unable to fly including the one who’s grace Cas stole.
Gadriel also had severely damaged wings as demonstrated a couple of times in Season 9 so he also wouldn’t have been able to fly.
I’m assuming the spell is what caused the wings most of the damage and since Anna simply tore her grace out, her true form or essence however you want to describe it would have been left undamaged.
I’m not sure Cas can’t time travel. It hasn’t come up in a while. When Sam and Dean thought Lucifer was Cas they had no problem believing he could get Dean back in time. He has recovery time, and that was why he had to tap the power of Bobby’s soul that once, to get the boys back after exerting his power to send them back. What he didn’t have the power for was breaking the ward on the ship, he needed Archangel grace for that.
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