Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 14 – “The Vessel”

The show lays out a path for the season finale in another above-average episode.

One of the best things about the CW’s Supernatural is that it works on two different levels: one as an extremely intricate multi-verse that contains many canonical rules and theories, and the other, as a horror-themed dramedy that rewards viewers with beloved secondary characters and inside jokes. In other words, it can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be.

The complicated plot of Amara/The Darkness (Emily Swallow) and its effect on the warring divisions of angels and demons bogged down the first half of season 11, but the series returned from the fall hiatus with several fanciful stand-alone episodes that have lightened the mood. Tonight’s episode managed to tie those two halves of Supernatural together, with a time-traveling adventure that was simple enough for a first-time viewer to enjoy, yet still managed to advance the plot.

Sam Winchester’s (Jared Padalecki) research into ways to defeat Amara led to something we’ll likely hear a lot about this season: the Hand of God, or more specifically, objects touched by God Himself that retain some of His power. When Sam discovers that one of these objects was lost in US submarine sunk during World War II, Dean (Jensen Ackles) gets the idea to time travel back to 1943 in order to retrieve it.

Supernatural fans — recently voted by readers of Entertainment Weekly as being the best fandom of all time — likely remember that angels have the ability to transport people through time itself, although the show oddly doesn’t use this concept much. Still, the Winchesters call upon Castiel (Misha Collins) to transport Dean, who finds himself alone on the submarine due to an angel/demon barrier put up by a (Wo)Man of Letters.

Castiel, still possessed by Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), has being ruling Hell with a lazy fist. He spends his time playing Angry Birds and torturing Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who appears here both as comic relief and a way to show you that his character isn’t dead yet. Stuck at the bunker with Sam, Castiel/Lucifer’s lack of interest makes Sam suspicious.

Naturally, Dean Winchester doesn’t fit in very well on a World War II-era sub. The captain of the ship doesn’t trust him, and the men abroad don’t understand his lack of future baseball knowledge or the strange blinking object he calls a phone. Only one person believes his story, French Resistance member and Men Of Letters member, Delphine (Weronkia Rosati). She’s the one who put up the angel/demon barrier and is carrying the Hand of God, but a symbol on her chest connects her to the object. Continuing the show’s tradition of strong, self-sacrificing women, she volunteers to use the object to strike back at the Nazis who will sink them, even though the force of its power will kill her.

Back in the present day, Lucifer clearly can’t stand another second of pretending to be Castiel, so he actually tells Sam what we’ve known all along. His plan is to use Sam’s soul to get into the sub and take the Hand of God for himself, but Castiel manages to break through and overpower him long enough to save the day.

Upon his return, Dean finds out the truth about Castiel/Lucifer. Sam banishes him/them away with a blood symbol, but all involved are disappointed to find that all of the power has gone out of the object. Despite that, the episode did a good job of pointing the way forward: the pieces seem to be falling into place for Sam and Dean to find something that can defeat the Darkness.

Coming Soon:

Next week, the Winchesters’ are drawn into the world of semi-professional wrestling in a new stand-alone episode.

In another episode later on this season, Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Rufus (Steven Williams) will appear in flashbacks, as Sam and Dean investigate one of their old cases.

It’s also been announced that Chuck the prophet (Rob Benedict) will appear in this season’s 20th episode, sparkling speculation as to whether or not he’s actually God.

RATING 7 / 10