supernatural the vessel

So, how about some time travel, a collared Crowley, a Woman of Letters, and a secret that’s no more on Supernatural Wednesday? Not a bad way to power through Hump Day.

Starting off in the Gestapo HQ in Nazi-occupied France in 1943, Delphine Seydoux takes a knife to her Nazi lover in order to take possession of a mysterious but powerful artifact. “The Men of Letters send their regards,” she tells the dying Gestapo before taking the box and heading out.

Back to the present, Sam and Dean are still is a desperate search for something—anything—that could help them in the fight against Amara. Sam comes across the reference to the Hand of God, one of many items purported to contain traces of His power. Stolen by Delphine, Seydoux, a female member of the Men of Letters, the item was to be shipped to the very Bunker the Winchesters call home. Unfortunately, the submarine carrying the artifact—the U.S.S. Bluefin—was scuttled by a Nazi warship, never to be found. Sam doesn’t believe they have a chance to recover it but Dean realizes they have “something James Cameron didn’t have.” That something is an angel in the bullpen. Of course, the brothers don’t know that Lucifer has set up shop in their friend Castiel but, when they tell the angel of their plan, ‘Cas’ readily agrees to help out. Sam’s concerns on blowback—the ‘Butterfly Effect’, if you will—is surprisingly put to rest by Dean who points out that the ship has already been lost with all hands so any temporal damage will be minimal. Plan at the ready, ‘Cas’ transports Dean to the ship and returns to the present—seems that the sub is warded against angels.

Dean finds out the artifact is a piece of the famous Ark of the Covenant
Dean finds out the artifact is a piece of the famous Ark of the Covenant

Now that he’s on the sub, Dean needs a way to search for Delphine unmolested. He does so by subduing a sailor and taking his uniform. He ends up finding Delphine and, just as he starts in on the explanation of his mission, sailor and captain arrive. He tells them about the Nazi warship coming to sink them but no one believes him—not until radar picks up said ship coming straight for them. Dean gets more into what’s going down, including the fact that the wards painted around the sub are preventing his angelic backup from getting Dean out. The hunter is able to make Delphine understand the situation and after she explains the ‘Hand of God’ is an actual piece taken from the Ark of the Covenant, she removes the painted wards save the one carved into her flesh. Bad news is the mark is spell-bound to her blood and heart; the only way to nullify its effects is to kill her. Dean’s not too keen on that idea and gets a temporary respite when, after depth charges cripple the sub, the Nazi ship hails them. Turns out Delphine’s Nazi lover isn’t quite as dead as she believed. Turns out his association with the Thule has provided him with a second life of sorts. His demands of the Bluefin’s captain is simple: surrender Delphine, the artifact, and they will be given the highest of P.O.W. treatment.

Sam working with 'Cas'to bring Dean back
Sam working with ‘Cas’to bring Dean back

A quick check-in at the Bunker has Sam and ‘Cas’ working on a way to neutralize the wards preventing the angel from getting onto the sub. Sam finds a Spell of Gathering, used to “focus the power of celestial beings against all drawn forms of evasion”. Theoretical in nature, there’s a major ingredient the Men of Letters never had to try it: an archangel to use as the battery. Sam comes across ‘Cas’ trying to perform the spell and, knowing his friend doesn’t have the power to fuel the spell, offers his own soul as a battery to return to the past and gather Dean. Somewhere along the way, Lucifer realizes he doesn’t need Sam anymore and drops the ‘Castiel’ act. He’s happy to take advantage of Sam’s willingness as well as decorate the Bunker with the hunter’s entrails but, as he prepares to end Sam, Castiel surfaces, preventing Lucifer from gutting Sam. He tries to convince Cas to fight the interloper but the angel reveals that they need Lucifer—not just for the fight against Amara but to get Dean back to the present.

Dead in the water with no real way to fight, Delphine comes up with her own idea. Dean may not want to kill her but there’s another way: she uses the power of the artifact against the Nazis. The effect is blinding and awe-inspiring and, just before she explodes in a torrent of light, Dean picks up the discarded artifact and is picked up by Lucifer. The moment they return to the present, Sam warns Dean that Lucifer’s riding lead in Cas’s body. With the artifact in hand, Lucifer readies to use it but its power is no more, used up when Delphine used it to stop the Nazis. He moves towards the Winchesters, ready to end them but Sam covertly draws an angelic banishment sigil and uses it to send Lucifer to God knows where.

In the aftermath, the brothers talk about what they have to do next. They need to trap Lucifer but Sam reminds him that Cas truly believes they need Luc’s help to stop Amara and probably wouldn’t come willingly. Sam asks Dean what happened on the sub but Dean is still amazed at what he saw. “I was just a witness,” he says, unable to put into words the terrifying beauty of Delphine bathed in Holy Light. As to the fate of the crew—nothing changed, though Sam does tell him the Nazi warship, though also destroyed, was eventually recovered. Its destruction was due to a massive hole being blown into the hull; Delphine’s sacrifice.

The Good

  • Like the King of Hell said, “the cat’s out”. Lucifer realized he no longer needs to parade around as ‘Castiel’ any longer, nor does he require the Winchester’s services. So where does that leave everyone? As Crowley said, Lucifer’s not strong enough to defeat Amara by himself. Even he admits the original fight was “more of a team effort”, and even with all his weapons of war at the ready, it’s a losing fight. On the Winchester side of things, the brothers know Castiel is complicit in Lucifer’s escape because he believed the Morningstar as their only chance against the Darkness. While it’s doubtful the trio will find common enough ground to stand together, will the two sides actively try to take the other down?

The Bad

  • Like ships passing in the night, Delphine Seydoux was introduced before falling to her fate. It’s disappointing because of the potential behind her character. She played her part well and the events leading to her sacrifice appears that it will stay with Dean for quite some time.
  • Broken as he is, Crowley is still a major part of the narrative, though his minimal screen time is another character-specific disappointment, especially considering the potential magic his interactions with Lucifer can bring to the table. It seems we’ll have to wait to see a bit more of these interactions as well as Crowley biding his time to strike and reclaim Hell’s throne.

The Supernatural

  • Old school references to ‘Rosie the Riveter’ and ‘Flash Gordon was a few of the better meta aspects of the script though the music was lacking in this one. Sure, there was Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je ne regretted rien”, a beautifully haunting and apropos tune, but there weren’t any other tunes. But I have to say, using this song alone, and as a bookend no less, gives power to its inclusion.