WARNING: This review contains spoilers
One thing cannot be denied: ‘The Vessel’ was a highly entertaining episode. Any Supernatural episode including time-travelling is already a big win. Throw in a submarine setting, a kick-ass woman of letters and the outing of Cassifer, and you’ve got yourself a pretty satisfactory episode of Supernatural.
‘The Vessel’ was a bit misleading in its premise. At first, it seemed like the most important part of the episode would be the MOL-themed case and that we would only get some Cassifer interactions on the side, but it turned out to be the opposite. Starting with the Nazi case, one of the things that I liked the most was that, once again, the brothers are discussing things and being honest with each other. Dean argues that he should be the one to go back in time because he’s useless in the battle against Amara. It takes some effort, but Sam finally agrees, only because Cassifer reassured him that he wouldn’t take his eyes off Dean. Only that didn’t really happen because the submarine was heavily guarded, leaving Dean alone. I will admit that I was pretty skeptical of how Supernatural could manage an underwater episode, but the directing really helped a lot this time, creating a very immersive (he) experience with the right amount of tension, but without making it too confusing or claustrophobic. The characters and interactions were all entertaining, and Delphine (Weronika Rosati) was an excellent character and the highlight of this side-story.
Let’s talk about the Hand of God. As soon as it was mentioned, I thought that this would be the typical Men of Letters-themed episode in which a new Deus-ex-machina element would be introduced to turn things around. I admit that I was pretty disappointed when it turned out that the weapon was a “one-hitter”. Even the way in which it was announced was pretty anticlimatic (after all, we were focusing all our attention on Cassifer in that moment). This would imply that Dean’s mission had been for nothing, but that wasn’t really the case either.
That’s because the main focus of the episode was actually on Cassifer, and the submarine storyline was only a way for Dean to realize how useless and powerless he feels about everything that’s going on around him. At the end of the episode, he says that he was “just a witness”, and we are left wondering whether his shock and disbelief is towards what happened in the submarine, Cassifer or a mixture of both. Dean has adopted a passive role in the fight against Amara, and it’s not like he can help it either.
The big event in ‘The Vessel’ is that the cat is finally out of the bag, and now Sam and Dean will not only have to deal with knowing that Lucifer is out, but also with the knowledge that Castiel willingly said ‘yes’ and that they might not be able to convince him otherwise.