A Dose of Reality on Supernatural ‘The Vessel’

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From the first frame of “The Vessel”, with the gorgeous sets and haunting Edith Piaf soundtrack, this episode felt like a feature film. Not a rarity with Supernatural, but some episodes have that feeling more than others, and this was one. Every episode of Show is a collaboration, but on this one that collaboration was front and center. Robert Berens’ writing, John Badham’s directing, Jerry Wanek’s amazing sets, the VFX team’s magic, Nicole Baer’s tension-building editing, Serge Ladouceur’s evocative lighting, and of course the acting.

Show has been hitting it out of the park this season with guest stars, and Weronika Rosati was no exception. Her portrayal of Delphine made her courage and sacrifice believable; I bought her totally as a Woman of Letters, and that’s really saying something.

11.14 delphine

Berens live tweeted the episode’s east and west coast airings, and gave credit to all his collaborators, in keeping with the #SPNFamily tradition.

Berens: There is a special, accumulating intensity to tonight’s Supernatural that really is a testament to nikbaer’s crack editing.

I agree. There were times when I got so caught up in wondering if the sub’s courageous crew was going to survive, I almost forgot to be upset that there were no Winchesters on my screen at that moment. Almost.

He also gave a shout out to Jay Gruska for the music, which added so much to the episode, and to the VFX wizards.

Berens: Amazing to hear @jaygruska adapt his brilliant scoring to a new environment and time period in this episode.

Berens: Also big holy shit kudos to @rotomonkee and the VFX team! Those VFX shots carry so much story and they are beautiful!

Berens also gave kudos to all the actors. He tweeted that one of his favorite parts of the episode is the layered, weary look Sam gives Dean when Sam says ‘be safe’ and Dean asks “when am I not?”. As Berens said, “familiar beat made touching and fresh.” That’s what these actors can do. That scene had such poignancy, just that small exchange between the brothers carrying so much meaning. He also commended Jensen in that last scene.

Berens: And then Jensen Ackles bringing incredible bigscreen gravitas and emotion at the end—and doing it every week.

That’s the thing – they all do it every week! Instead of phoning it in since they’re in Season 11, they’re still caring about these characters and giving their all to bring them to life and continue their epic journey.

Jared gave Misha a shout out at his meet and greet in Houston last week, and I thought he did an incredible job in this episode. Misha made every scene with Sam and Casifer so full of tension – all those little exasperated faces that Misha kept making said so much, always just out of Sam’s eyesight. I confess to really enjoying Misha’s portrayal of Casifer – it’s both hysterical and stomach-turning at the same time. He’s conveying so much with every twitch of an eye or almost-smirk. You can see that Sam is suspicious and somewhat confused, but he’s so worried about Dean and focused on getting him back safely that he’s missing cues that he otherwise probably would not. And Casifer knows that, and takes advantage.

The way he snaps back to sincere, wide eyed Castiel mode? Chilling.

11.14 cas earnest dean face

So anyway, I agree with Berens’ kudos all around. Everyone did a fabulous job.

I think I’m getting spoiled by all the conversation between the brothers this season – please, Show, don’t stop!!! I loved the first scene in the bunker, Sam once again busy doing research, Dean once again waking up and joining him.

Sam and the bunker both looking beautiful
Sam and the bunker both looking beautiful

This time he’s not hung over, but his grumpiness over “the coffee situation” was incredibly adorable. As was Sam’s utterly unapologetic “I drank it.” I laughed out loud. Brothers, seriously.

And the spoiled stuff in the bunker fridge is becoming a thing. Hey guys, I’m happy to do a grocery store run for you if you need supplies. No problem at all, really…

I love seeing Sam’s determination to go after Amara; to hunt down any possible weapon they might be able to get their hands on. I also love Sam speaking French (Ooo la la!) even though I’m skeptical about Dean not being able to interpret it. Or know who Jules Verne is!

I also like their discussion of gender equality (Rosie the Riveter!) and Sam’s eyebrow raised at Dean’s morning beer.

Dean: What? You drank the coffee – what am I supposed to drink, water?

The incredulity is pure Dean. Brotherly banter. Have I mentioned how ecstatic I am to have it back???

Of course, the playfulness of the scene eventually gives way to poignancy as Dean insists that he go to retrieve the Hand of God, much to Sam’s protective dismay.

Dean: I’m the least valuable player.

Ouch. Sam doesn’t like it, and neither do I. But Dean has a point. He knows they need Sam to go after Amara, and Sam knows it too. I do like how he only agrees when Cas promises to keep an eye on Dean.

Sam: You’ll stay by his side the entire time?

Casifer agrees, for his own selfish reasons, and Sam finally says okay.

Sam: Be safe.

Dean: When am I not?

11.14 protective sam 1

11.14 sam let me go

That look Sam gives him, the one that Berens commented on, was so full of meaning. Jared conveyed Sam’s love and fear and protectiveness without a word. Dean, who has died and gone to hell and been trapped in purgatory…when am I not? When ARE you? Safety is a luxury the Winchesters rarely have.

Meanwhile, we take a little trip to hell, where Casifer is playing video games and ignoring his frustrated demon minions – who are all wearing suits and sound exactly like the frustrated angel minions in their quest for direction. I was actually shocked when Casifer pulled Crowley from his pen – seeing how he was dressed, chained, collared, gagged – I gasped out loud. What a change!

We all know Mark Sheppard is an amazing actor, but he blew me away in this scene. No matter how much of a bad guy Crowley is, I think we all have a soft spot for him – and that’s because of Mark’s portrayal. He’s brought a vulnerability to Crowley that makes it impossible to just out and out hate him. So seeing him like that, humiliated and broken, was shocking.

11.14 crowley doggie

Mark sold that brokenness so well that it made me queasy. Just the way he held himself, shrinking in on himself, crouching to make himself small, rang so true. The way he flinched when Casifer even gestured toward him. It screamed trauma, and it hurt to watch.

And then there were those little glimpses of the defiance that Casifer is smart enough to know is still there. Mark sold that too, just in a few short flashes of emotion that Crowley is working hard to hold back.

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Misha gives Casifer just enough of a mean sadistic streak to make him frightening, despite the casual manner and silly faces. You get the feeling that’s all surface, and that what’s underneath is truly dark and evil and terrifying.

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Also I love how Lucifer goes into his ‘Cas voice’ to talk to the boys – it’s an actor whose character is also acting, and that’s complicated!

The acting on this Show, I swear.

Also, Wet Cas was kinda adorable.

Casifer: Can’t believe I lost it. Err…him. Can’t believe I lost Dean.

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It was fascinating to watch the interplay between Sam and Casifer, as Lucifer becomes increasingly tired of keeping up the façade and it begins to slip.

Casifer: (sarcastic) You’re really bringing your A game, Sam…

Sam is increasingly suspicious, but each time the wheels start turning, Casifer snaps back into character and Sam gets distracted by his determination to save Dean. I found myself becoming more and more tense as the episode went on, until I think I was probably biting my fingernails waiting to see if Sam would figure it out.

The look on Misha’s face when Casifer has finally had enough was priceless.

Casifer is 100% over it.

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And poor Sam, wanting to sacrifice himself to save Dean, willing to let Cas tap his grace to save his brother. His horror as he realizes who he’s actually talking to. Misha was chilling in this scene, his resentment at Sam refusing him making him ruthless. I actually screamed when Lucifer reached into Sam’s chest – almost as loudly as Sam did.

Poor Sam ends up on the floor. Again.

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I loved the moment that Cas took control back to save Sam – and his heartbreaking reminder to Sam that they need Lucifer to save Dean. That Cas himself is helpless, unable to do it. Oh, Cas. He’s trying so hard to do the right thing, but wow, this is one of the worst well-intentioned decisions he’s made.

Meanwhile, Dean is on a submarine. In a cute little sailor hat and a very fitted shirt. Looking very fine indeed.

Tweet @nikbaer
Tweet @nikbaer

Delphine overpowers him despite those broad shoulders, which makes me respect her quite a bit. Woman of Letters indeed! He’s saved from a knife across his throat by the captain.

“Search him!”

The sailors pat Dean down, and I manage not to yell at my television screen asking whether they need some help with that.

The guest cast on the sub was fabulous, making those sailors relatable even in the short amount of time we got to know them. Their heroism – and Delphine’s – were inspiring. Especially when the one young sailor began to believe Dean, and with that came the heartbreaking realization that he – and his loved ones perhaps – would die.

“When do we win?”

Dean looks so regretful when he answers. “Years. 1945.”

Caring about the sailors just amped up the tension more as the sub sank downwards, an eerie quiet descending as they went into silent running with the German ship right on top of them. The set itself was beautiful, and the lighting magnificent. I felt like I was right there with them.

Jensen portrayed Dean’s fear vividly in that moment, and I love that he can give Dean that vulnerability.

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“What’s happening?” he asks, as everything goes sideways, and damned if I wasn’t biting my nails again. How terrifying would that be, to be stuck on a ship deep underwater, slowly sinking and about to be torpedoed?

Delphine is heroic until the end, using the power of the Hand of God and sacrificing herself in the process.

Delphine: We’re supposed to die. Let us do it with a purpose.

It’s such a Winchester thing to say. Such a Men/Women of Letters thing to say. She does – with some awesome VFX – and Dean is zapped back to the bunker with Casifer, who tosses him across the room and pins him to a wall. We get some smart resourceful heroic Sam, slashing his own hand and painting a blood sigil that sends Casifer away before he can do permanent damage to Dean. Oh, and the Hand of God? Apparently only works once.

Me: You’ve got to be kidding!

Dean leans his head back against the wall, his exasperation clear. Sometimes I really have to wonder how the Winchesters get up in the morning. The constant trying, the price they pay, for so little payoff. And that brings me to the last scene.

On rewatching, I liked the last scene quite a bit. The first time I watched it, however, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. We hadn’t had quite enough time to see Dean develop genuine caring about Delphine or the crew of the sub, so all that emotion just confused me.

“I was just a witness,” he said, but it didn’t hit me at first what that really meant.

The more I thought about it, though, the more tragic this episode seemed. The more tragic the Winchesters’ lives seemed. They try so damn hard – they put their lives on the line, endure all sorts of painful things, watch others be hurt and die – and sometimes, often, nothing comes of it. This was one of those times, and that must be incredibly hard to take.

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Dean couldn’t save anyone; he knew they were all going to die. At the eleventh hour, he wants to try anyway, and it’s Delphine who discourages him. She and the sailors accept their fate, with courage and determination. Dean must have been impressed by that, but in a way it must have made his helplessness to save any of them even more painful. What happened in this episode is a painful dose of reality for the Winchesters (and for Cas and Crowley too). About who really has power and who doesn’t, and over what.

Jensen used the word helpless to describe Dean in his meet and greet at Houston, and this episode really made that clear. If there’s one thing that’s very hard for Dean Winchester to be, it’s helpless. He insisted on being the one to go on this mission, feeling helpless in the quest to destroy The Darkness and wanting to be useful in this instead – but he ends up helpless once again. I think a lot of his sadness in the last scene is from that helplessness, that impotence.

Seeing it that way made the whole scene much more powerful.

I also wasn’t quite sure what to make of Dean’s insistence that Cas must not have chosen willingly to be Lucifer’s vessel.

“Not possible,” he says. But why? Cas has made some questionable decisions before, always with good intentions. I guess I was also surprised he made this particular one, though. It seemed pretty clear that it was a bad decision from the jump. Perhaps Dean had just had enough of bad news, and needs some time to digest more. He seemed almost in shock, like he’d hit a wall – I think that’s probably understandable.

I loved Sam’s gentle probing, asking what Dean did on the sub and if he wanted to talk about it. Once again, he accepts Dean’s ‘no’ – but it’s not a shutting down like it might have been in other seasons.

Dean: Story for another day.

He’ll tell Sam, eventually. And Sam knows this. He gives his brother some space, but he claps him on the shoulder as he goes.

11.14 end sam worry

I’m here, I’ve got your back. When you’re ready to talk, I’ll listen.

It’s a new way of relating for the Winchesters. And I like it.

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Lovely caps courtesy of the lovely @kayb625!

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18 thoughts on “A Dose of Reality on Supernatural ‘The Vessel’

  • It was definitely an episode to re watch. I missed a few things the first time around but that usually happens to me. (Hard to concentrate?) I have to admit I was a wee bit disappointed that Sam didn’t pick up on Casifer earlier. When he said ” Right. We’ll double down on what screwed us the first time. You’re really bringing your “A” ideas today”. and also “I can’t believe I lost it. Him. Can’t believe I lost Dean”. I though for sure Sam would catch on.
    He must have been too worried about Dean because Sam is usually sharper than that.

    The sub set was great and looked very realistic (keeping in mind, I’ve never been on an actual sub). The whole crew did a great job on this episode with no jarring FX, props, lighting or anything else. Poor Dean, sometimes they win, this one, they lost. It keeps getting harder and harder to deal with all those losses.

    Misha was great this episode, especially turning from Lucifer to Cas and then back to Luci. It takes a lot of talent to go back and forth like that. Reminded me of Jared when Sam was Gadriel/Sam. Good episode and like you, really enjoying the closeness of the brothers this season. Actually talking and everything!! Woo hoo,

  • It has indeed been a fabulous season for guest stars as well as strong women characters. I loved this episode and concur with your review. I’ve beaten the disappointment I personally have with Casifer to death but I loved Misha’s portrayal of the character in this ep to death. I am happy at least the secret is out now…and speaking of getting out…it was nice to see Mark/Crowley for a few minutes or so. I wonder what the Show has in store for him when he gets “back on his feet.” The boys’ relationship is definitely heartwarming as it has quietly evolved this season and both Jared and Jensen look like they’re having a blast in their roles. I also want to mention how much I love the Men of Letters home base the Show continues to utilize. I thought off and on that at some point the “bunker” might be blown up or demolished in a demonic moment but have been pleasantly surprised it has remained as a home, library, rest stop, recalibration point, etc. for the Winchesters. I don’t think the SPN creators and writers get enough credit for its introduction to the Show, not to mention its longevity. I think it was a subtle, genius move to give the boys a “base” to fight evil from.

  • I really loved this episode, especially for what it did with Dean, Delphine, and the submariners, and for the honest interplay between Sam and Dean. Badham’s choice to use Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regritte Rien” (No, I Regret Nothing) in that final scene struck me as particularly inspired; it captured the determination and resolve of Delphine and the crew, while emphasizing that Dean, denied the chance to actually accomplish anything, was cursed with regret for everything he wasn’t able to do. That was heartbreaking. And while I’d normally call the production out for a music choice that warped the timeline (since the song wasn’t written until 1956 and recorded until 1959, it couldn’t actually have played in the timeline in the scene introducing Delphine in 1943), it fit that closing contemporary scene so well that I rationalized the introduction scene as Dean imagining Delphine acquiring the Hand of God. I also call kudos on Misha portraying Lucifer pretending to be Castiel, complete with exasperation for all the pretzel contortions it forced him into; that was quite a performance to watch. I had my own exasperations for Sam not catching on to his duplicity earlier, but I’ll buy your theory that his concern for Dean distracted him.

    The only thing I really didn’t care for was the continuing depiction of Hell’s earthly annex as a bizarrely decayed bureaucratic corporate entity complete with whining, groveling, impotently incompetent demons. Yes, I enjoy what Mark Sheppard always brings to Crowley, but Hell has lost whatever terror it once inspired, and frankly, so has Lucifer. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt; not impressed with how banal and degraded Hell and Heaven both have become.

    • I’ll agree with you on Heaven and Hell. They need to be restored to what they are supposed to be. Although Lucifer I find totally terrifying in his Casifer form. Even more so while deceivingly wearing a close and trusted friend. Now the cat is out, we’ll see what’s next.

  • Amazing episode. As have been almost all this season. I keep saying it because I confirm it every week: Supernatural just keeps topping itself over and over. The broments we all live and die for, Sam’s obvious discomfort with the idea of letting Dean go by himself on the time traveling quest and that last scene, shoulder clap and all, were all so heartwarming. You can feel the closeness between them, their silent communication of feelings that do not need words to be spoken. Have I ever said I fall in love with them a little more every time? Yeah, I’m sure I have. I had a similar reaction to Crowley’s situation. It was shocking to see him like that. I think even Sam and Dean have a soft spot for him. He’s a bad guy you cant just outright hate. Delphine was all I’d expect from a Woman of Letters and her immediate and absolute trust in Dean made me like her even more. Dean is used to people’s distrust and desbelief. I think it must have felt good for him not to be distrusted or second-guessed for once. And Casifer! Whay can I say? Misha knocked it out of the park. That contained exasperation finally bursting out in that creepy laughter gave me the chills. I had been trying to yell “Poughkeepsie” for a while by then, trying to warn Sam but he just wouldnt listen. I too wonder about the comments over Cas being or not Lucifer’s vessel willingly. I’m sure there’s some foreshadowing there but I cant put my finger to it. And I’m a little scared for Dean. Its always been in those moments of big dispair and desperation that Dean has made some of his worst and most reckless decisions before… I’m so praying this is not the preamble of yet another because poor Sam is gonna have a stroke this time if he’s left alone to pull both Cas’s and Dean’s lame asses out of the fire.

  • Things I like: That the brothers are back on the same page and not perma-pissed off with each other anymore. They even seem to be starting to joke around again which we haven’t really seen since, what, season 1 and 2? We saw a little last season with Dean and the whole toothbrush/armpit thing, but did Sam ever find out about that? Apparently not, so it lead absolutely nowhere as far as story goes–he didn’t get to get revenge, you know, glue Dean’s hand to another beer bottle.

    Things I dislike: Casifer/Lustiel, whatever–It’s not that Misha isn’t doing a good job, he’s doing great, I just hate the whole concept. Ever since his (Cas) introduction, the character has had a huge growth arc, I’ve loved watching it. But this is a repeat of season 6, breaking open Purgatory and the leviathans (substitute with a worse bad guy…maybe, which is Luci) (at least it seems like a repeat to me) it’s like the character suddenly stepped backwards in his growth. I suppose in reality that does happen, and in the writers’ defense what the hell do you do with a character that is that powerful? You have to keep knocking him down, or get rid of him. And, since I’d rather not see Cas go away (even though I stuck it out through season 7) I’m still … just, yeah, I just don’t like the Casifer situation. What’s worse, is now that Cas does realize, I hope, the gravity of his decision (nearly getting Sam killed) how’s that going to make him better when/if they do finally lock Luci back up? And now that the guys know, and when they find out that he actually agreed to it, what then? What will they think of him then? And seriously, why the hell did they go to Lucifer anyway? Why not Michael? That would have made a hellofa lot more sense to me. I understand, the fans wanted to see Luci again, but…I don’t know, it’s just rubbing me in all the wrong ways.

    And how about Crowley? Certainly he won’t be too happy when Cas get’s back to his usual self, after all, his decision did get Crowley’s mother killed, and Crowley locked in a cage and treated like a dog. Although, Rowena’s death was a bit of her own fault.

    And some of the CG has left a whole lot to be desired–in fact it’s starting to really disappoint me.

    The episode before this one, except for the last 5 minutes or so, really didn’t seem to fit in very well. I did like that Dean was honest in that episode, that was a bit of a surprise, but the connection between the monster and the brothers’ ending conversation seemed pretty weak to me. Also, Dean did try to kill Amara, the Angel blade broke, so where is everyone coming off with this “he can’t kill her” stuff, he can, he already tried. It didn’t work, so new plan, but now he’s in this slump of “I can’t do it” (Let’s see, Season 4, Episode 15, Death Takes a Holiday, “I’m not strong enough” I believe was the phrase used). Lynn, this is what I meant by red flags going up, we’re…starting to repeat. And I’m not the only one that’s said as much, I’ve seen similar comments all over FB. It worries me because I really do like this show.

    If I were to be completely honest, the season hasn’t impressed me much, yet. There’s been a few surprises and things that just royally pissed me off, some laughs (okay, wet Casifer was pretty damn funny). I will say that unlike shows such as Bones, I don’t usually figure out the ending in the first 10 minutes, its part of what’s kept me hooked for the last couple of years. The writers do have a tendency to surprise me, I like that.

    Am I going anywhere? Nope. But I won’t stay quiet about things that really do bother me either. I expect better from the VFX team–yes Mark, I’m talking to you, since you put me on Twitter hold! And without any music! 😉

    And as for the writers, I love you guys, but there’s a lot more story, no need to repeat as Hollywood seems to love to do lately.

    • Ignoring Michael entirely does seem strange, but Lucifer did manipulate Sam into thinking God was sending him visions. Also, Lucifer is the literal “light-bringer” who fought the Darkness before and took on the Mark, so on paper he does seem like the best bet. Also the worst. Such is the Winchester way.

  • The episode gripped me because you can definitely see the brothers becoming better friends again. Seeing both Sam and Dean wanting to take whatever burden weighs the other down feels true. Instead of earlier seasons where the brothers hide, mope, and lie to get through the day. The Cas/Lucifer (I refuse to put the names together because Mark Pelligriino is the only Lucifer.) storyline doesn’t sit well with me because now Carver is basically taking the basis and heartfelt performances of Jared and Mark Pelligrino and chucking it all out the window. What happened to Sam being Lucifers one and only true vessel.? Why hasn’t Cas’s vesselstarted to fail? Now, I can believe that Cas has a vessel that is strong, but I’m almost certain that Jimmy Novak is Cas’s true vessel (as mentioned in 4X20, when Castiel found his way to Claire), and that anything that comes his way, he can handle. Why mess with a great thing and try to rewrite Lucifer in a way that makes no sense. I seem to be the only person who doesn’t care for Misha’s acting skills as Lucifer. (I will admit I laughed at the thought he couldn’t get on the ship and bounced hard in the water) His rendition of Lucifer seems overbearing as he tries to mimic Mark P’s own masterpiece that is Lucifer. While playing two character can be overwhelming, and requires skill, most of Misha’s attempts fall flat. The crew and Dean, along with Delphane were magical, sincere, and utterly heartbreaking. I felt each of their emotions that crossed each of their faces as the realization that what Dean said was true, and that they were fated to die. Woman of Letters rocked BIG TIME. That is another thing I thought was good this season verses those of the past….losing integral people of the Winchesters lives that were female, this season seems to be keeping the females that still remain; (Go Kim R and Brianna!!! You rock!) and their stories still open for deeper interpretations later on down the road. Instead of killing them off to give a lazy and contrite out to bring the dark side of the Winchester brothers come out. (Charlie still hurts my heart) Pros for this season: brotherly confessions/bonding, Dean confiding to Sam about his inability to get the job done with Amara, to Sam finally telling Dean about how he felt about things that still bothering him when Dean was in Purgatory. As well as seeing so old familiar loving faces…Cons for this season: Carvers inability to not plagiarize Season 5, to the blantant snub to the brilliant story writing of season 5. An addition the retelling of some of the greatest things we learned in season 5.
    Like someone early said, am I going anywhere? No, I made myself a promise to ride out this emotional roller coaster ride for as long as Jared Padalecki wants to tell Sam Winchesters story and Jensen Ackles want to tell Dean Winchesters story as well.
    One final note: I have to agree with the authors POV in regards to Crowley; who’d of ever thought we’d see Mark Shepard dressed like that? Even loved the defiance he still had and didn’t cower it away when Cas/lucifer made it clear he knew what was up. I wouldn’t mind more season 11 of the Winchesters brotherly journey, and it’s that love the brothers share that pulls all the ugly pain and craziness away! (But we wouldn’t have a show, right?)

    • My personal hand-waving explanation for Cas’s vessel working for Lucifer and not deteriorating when Sam is the true vessel: Cas isn’t in a real person anyway, Jimmy Novak exploded in season 5 and Cas was put back on earth in a form that was familiar to Sam, Dean, and Bobby. Cas is an angelic M&M – he’s all angel in a candy coating, not real person. Hence, another angelic being could also step into that shell.

  • Great review! I’ve come to observing the brothers’ love for each other more in the past few seasons and this season is truly very brother oriented and it’s really amazing to see the writers keep that alive despite having 11 seasons under their belt

  • Excellent review! Really captured all the elements that made this such a great episode. It was the combination of writing/acting/directing/casting/sets/editing(what!) that combined for stunning effect on the viewers/fans. And the music! Honestly, I never thought they could top using Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’ but choosing Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, Je ne regrette rien’ was a match with incredibly profound impact. Highest kudos to Jay Gruska for that!

  • Season 11 continues to shine save episode 3. “The Vessel” combines the German Movie “das Boot” with Speilberg’s documentary “Shoah”-witnesses to the Holocaust. The question of what is and who has power over destiny resurfaces in a telling tale chock full of wonderful moments as reviewed. The portrayal of Hell’s minions parallels the Angels Heaven- there must be a reason. Both angels and demons seek direction, purpose with absent leadership- either physically or just uninterested. Let’s give Lucifer a pass on his interest in Hell. It was not his choice to be there at any time and given his recent landing he has much to experience and his focus is on Amara’s demise as well as Sam’s. The season is about the Winchesters and each episode reveals more about them while keeping the big bads just out of reach. It seemed that Cas said yes to Lucifer willingly despite Dean’s non-belief. This would not be the first time Cas ( or a Winchester) made a quick decision without thinking through the consequences for others. Then again, Cas knows that Lucifer is needed to go after Amara- does Cas have a “Poughkeepsie” in his arsenal that has yet to be revealed. Dean’s look at the end for me was one of being the witness without power to engage or change events. Sam’s clap on his shoulder is a perfect gesture. The subtle expressions this season have revealed so much about beloved characters-okay Casifer is not so subtle but brilliantly played just out of Winchester eyesight.

  • I like it when an episode sneaks up on me, and this one did. I didn’t expect anything special out this one (other than my usual enthusiastic “Oh yay! It’s time for my weekly dose of Winchesters!!”) But there were multiple times during this episode that I found myself holding my breath, wide-eyed and staring just waiting for the outcome. And those outcomes were known! We knew the sub went down. We knew Delphine didn’t make it. Dean even said that as far as messing with history goes, a ship full of people about to die is about as good a choice for a landing as you’re going to get. And yet, I was completely engrossed.

    I did expect the sailor put in charge of Dean to turn out to be a bad guy, though. I’m not sure why, but I thought that was a set up for something terrible. I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t. It’s nice to have things not turn out duplicitous once in a while.

    I was happy (although that seems like an odd way to put this) that the Thule was involved in the evil Nazi plot. Because on a show where you can actually sympathize with the King of Hell, you still are going want all the Nazis to die burning and screaming. Twice.

    I am a little disappointed with the Casifer and Sam scenes. I can see the point that Sam was so distracted by his concern for Dean that he would’ve wished away all the Cas inconsistencies, but I think Sam would’ve caught on. Also, the idea that Lucifer would’ve been that impatient instead of enjoying the slow torture of Sam seems odd. I was looking forward to seeing how that manipulation would’ve played out.

    As far as foreshadowing goes, there’s something about the way that doomed sub still went down and the rescued object still couldn’t work spoke to fate. Dean’s choked up explanation that he was “only a witness” makes me wonder about fate and destiny and where this is heading. It was even called The Vessel. (And yes, I’m like the shipper of the Destiny argument – I can find it anywhere, but this one really struck me.)

  • All I can say- this episode was so fantastic! SPN is so great this season, but this one in particular, had suspense and tension that continued practically thru the whole episode. Really stellar.

  • I wasn’t certain they could pull off an ep set mostly on a sub. That’s big-screen stuff, and the CW allows them a small budget compared to the major networks so I was a little worried it would look cheesy. Should have had more faith in the wonderful Jerry Wanek for a great sub set, and for director John Badham to bring his big-screen brilliance to bear! This was a solid and very poignant ep, underscored by so many nuanced moments between the brothers and in their realizations about themselves and one another.

    I disagree with those who feel that Sam should have figured out Casifer isn’t truly Cas; he believed Luci was back in the cage with Michael with no indications otherwise. And while Cas might not have been completely Cas, Sam *was* distracted, as noted, and he also didn’t expect to have “Cas” show up when he was supposed to be on the sub with Dean.

    I was relieved that Delphine was written and played as a fully-realized, heroic woman, as opposed to a potential lust object, and that Dean didn’t resort to wisecracks. He took his mission seriously, and clearly respected the hell out of Delphine. That’s not always how Show writes Dean, and it was refreshing. And it was pure Dean Winchester for him to offer himself as the one to use the Hand of God, regardless of risk; but that was Delphine’s role, and she sold it beautifully.

    And the acting . . . these two guys just continually amaze me with the depths and nuances presented week in and week out. Even when some scripts falter, and some are very weak (except so far this season!), the acting is always superb. I love that the boys are more open to one another this year, as if Dean knows he ceded point to Sam last season because of the MoC, and now his link to Amara, so he’s actually giving Sam a bigger role. He *asked* Sam to LET him go back in time, rather than demanding it, as he would have once. And Sam knows he needs it. Lovely, heartbreaking end-scene. Dean Winchester couldn’t “pull a Dean Winchester” and save anyone.

    Season 11 continues to be the most consistently excellent season in years. Kudos to all!

    • Your review of this was spot on and even better than the original author! (No disrespect meant here, just wanted to give kudos) EVERYONES take on the ep was good and refreshing to see

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