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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 11×14 “The Vessel”

Welcome to another Supernatural Roundtable, this week we are talking about 11×14 “The Vessel” written by Bob Berens. Participants in this week’s discussion are Michele Villery, Stacy Miller, Jackie Bojarski, Amna Shabbir, Talya and Debbi Bach. As always we encourage feedback, so make sure you add them in the comments below: Here’re this week’s topics:

Casifer:

Amna: I have to say I was a little wary of this episode because of Casifer’s return. I wasn’t particularly impressed with Misha’s impersonation of Lucifer in the past at all. However, I think he improved quite a lot this episode and I was actually able to enjoy it without cringing. I also have to give him mad props for being able to switch back and forth between Cas and Lucifer effortlessly and being able to sell it so well. Moving on to the actual plot: I’m really, REALLY excited they didn’t drag the Lucifer-pretends-to-be-Cas plot out for too long. It would have gotten boring and not made sense at all because Lucifer doesn’t really need to do that. But I’m also curious, doesn’t Lucifer still want to get Sam’s vessel? If I remember the lore correctly, Angels have specific vessels that they need to use because other vessels can’t properly contain the Angel for long. This is why Lucifer spent so long trying to get Sam’s vessel back in Season 5 even when he already had Nick’s vessel because Nick’s body couldn’t contain him for long. Does this not also apply to Jimmy/Cas’s body? Should it start giving in under Lucifer’s power too and eventually disintegrate? If that’s the case, why didn’t Lucifer use his advantage of being undercover as Cas to secure Sam’s vessel? I hope it’s not a case of another writing inconsistency and we see this issue explored further.

Jackie: I’ll admit that I was on the fence about Casifer prior to this episode. When he first debuted, I thought that Misha Collin’s performance was a tad over the top, which led the scenes to be comical rather than dramatically intense. In this episode, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Casifer scenes. Collins did a great job of mimicking the mannerisms that Mark Pellegrino had established as Lucifer, and watching him switch between Lucifer and Cass was a delight.

One thing that I notice that’s different between Mark Pellegrino’s performance and Misha Collins performance, however, is that Pellegrino brought a unique blend of humor and danger to the role; he could easily go from light-hearted quips to terrifying threats that oozed sinister intentions at the blink of an eye. I haven’t seen that yet with Collins, but perhaps we’ll see more of that in future episodes.

Of course, the highlight of the episode was getting the chance to finally watch Casifer and Sam interact. In many ways, this episode was a test of how well Collins could act like Lucifer since Sam is the one who has spent the most time with Lucifer and is the one who has attracted Lucifer’ attention since the beginning. I was pleasantly thrilled with their dynamic in this episode. Collins and Padalecki were able to reproduce that tense chemistry between Lucifer and Sam that I previously saw between Pellegrino and Padalecki, which made their scenes engrossing. In all honesty, I could’ve watched an entire episode of just the two of them. Flipping between their scenes and Dean’s scenes in the sub felt more disruptive than anything else, and I’m disappointed that this could be the last time we see Casifer and Sam in close contact.

One last thing before I move on: I’m intrigued by the fact that Lucifer seemed perplexed by his own reactions to Sam. As he says, he doesn’t need Sam as a vessel anymore (and isn’t that just a slap in the face to canon? Lucifer should still want Sam as a vessel because he is only at full-strength when he’s possessing Sam) so why is he sparing Sam? He has an attachment to Sam that even he doesn’t understand, and I found that fascinating.

Stacy: I’m still not a fan of this plot point although I enjoyed the scenes between Casifer and Sam more than those with Crowley and the Hell employees. I didn’t understand why Lucifer would say he doesn’t need Sam as the vessel anymore after all his efforts in Season 5. I liked how Cas briefly gained control to save Sam. I would love to see and scene where Lucifer and Castiel battle each other for control like the mirror scene with Sam and Lucifer in “Swan Song.”

Michele: While I’m still on the fence with this, I do think that Collins was pretty good in his portrayal as Lucifer in his episode. Lucifer in this world is a complex person with a charismatic yet chilling personality. Collins is making it his own and I respect him a great deal for it. I did like his interactions with Sam a great deal. But, it was weird that he was willing to destroy his true vessel to me before Cas was able to take over. This is still paralleling Swan Song to me and I’m curious to see how this ends.

Debbi: I’m not sure what it says about me that I find Casifer infinitely more interesting than Castiel – maybe that’s because Mark Pellegrino created such a multi-layered character in his portrayal of Lucifer? Misha Collins is doing a fantastic job of continuing the characterizations that Mark gave to the Lucifer character which makes the possession of Castiel by Lucifer that much more realistic and much more frightening. Misha’s Lucifer, while perhaps not as light-hearted as Pellegrino’s, is certainly menacing with a cruel streak a mile long. Misha has taken Pellegrino’s body language and facial expressions and made them his own and it is a joy watching this character interact with the others.

I think Lucifer feels quite at home in his new vessel and he alludes to that in his conversation with Sam in the bunker where he dismisses his need to keep Sam around. This was a great scene between Padalecki and Collins. Both seemed to be taken by surprise by this turn of events. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to get Lucifer out of this vessel when the endgame rolls around.

Talya: This is showing just how good of an actor Misha is. He seems to be able to just slip into what Mark Pellegrino established when he had the role of Lucifer. I’m really loving the little things that Misha is doing that echo back to what Mark did.Personally I love Cass and really want the boys to exercise Lucifer out of Cass’ body as soon as possible.

Crowley:

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Amna: It’s very interesting to see the King of Hell having tables turned on him. I’m interested to see what Lucifer’s endgame is for him and what Crowley’s storyline is moving forward. I love Crowley and Mark Sheppard VERY much but I feel that Crowley, much like Cas, and his storyline has way way overstayed his welcome. It feels like they have both outlived their projected storylines and are only being kept around because they are fan favorites. I would love to see both of their storylines nicely wrapped up and finished this season but I highly doubt that’s gonna happen.

Jackie: Poor Crowley. I really hope he breaks out of that “kennel” soon so that he can help the boys. We didn’t get to see as much of him in this episode as I had hoped, but from what we did see, I think it’s fair to say that Crowley will hold a massive grudge against Lucifer. Being treated like a dog has to smart, but he’s also savvy enough to still reprimand his prior demon minions of being disrespectful toward Lucifer. Will he lure Lucifer into a false sense of security and then betray him? We’ll have to keep watching to find out!

Stacy: Crowley’s scenes were too insignificant. I miss the King of the Crossroads and the strong King of Hell we’ve seen in seasons past. “Dog” Crowley didn’t work.

Michele: Crowley, you are the King of Hell. There has to be a way for you to get out of the Kennel. Maybe he’ll trick Lucifer into thinking he’s going along with things? Time will tell. But I am missing the King of the Crossroads.

Debbi: My how the mighty have fallen! I love the Crowley character and think that Casifer treating him as his pet is a brilliant plot point. It’s hard to imagine anything more humiliating for Crowley than to be reduced to the court jester of hell. That said, I don’t count Crowley out just yet. Crowley hasn’t been around this long just to get shoved aside without a fight. I’m looking forward to Crowley’s counter move when it comes. The fact that Cassifer has Crowley dressed in cheap tourist clothing makes the situation that much more humiliating for Crowley and humorous for us!

Talya: Oh how the mighty have fallen. You can see that Crowley really wants vengeance on Lucifer. It almost seemed like every word he said to Lucifer was almost vomited out of his mouth. Kind of makes me feel bad for him but not too bad. I mean this is Crowley after all.

Sam:

Amna: Sam’s decision to offer up a part of his soul to Cas so that he can successfully bring Dean back to the present was very touching and just showcases his selflessness and undying love/devotion to his brother. His reaction to finally realizing Cas is Lucifer made want to cry. You can just see the terror and desperation in his face as he realizes, after spending a few minutes in denial and disbelief, that his worst nightmare has come true. Not only is the devil back on earth, but Sam is once again at his mercy. I can’t even imagine the PTSD that must bring out for Sam. A++ acting by Jared.

Jackie: Sam’s scenes with Casifer were the highlight of this episode for several reasons. For starters, Padalecki and Collins have awesome chemistry together, which made their scenes a treat. Second, it was almost like getting to see Sam interact with two characters: Cass and Lucifer. Despite everything that Sam has been through and everything Cass has done to Sam, Sam still trusts Cass–which was why the reveal that Cass said yes to Lucifer was so heartbreaking. In my opinion, Cass saying yes to Lucifer was the ultimate betrayal of trust. He’s the only person besides Sam who has seen what Lucifer is capable of, and he should’ve known better. Moreover, letting him in so easily after Sam had so valiantly defied Lucifer was a slap in the face to all of Sam and Dean’s sacrifices. It’s going to take a lot for Cass to redeem himself in my eyes–and hopefully in Sam and Dean’s eyes–but I’m worried that the writers won’t treat this transgression with the gravity that it deserves.

Stacy: Although I loved research guy Sam as it harkens back to Supernatural’s heyday, I wish he had accompanied Dean to the past. I wonder how he would have interacted with Delphine.

Michele: I love Sam in full research mode. His scenes with Casifer were chilling. I think Sam was so full on into research and getting Dean off the sub that it was why he initially didn’t figure out who Casifer really was. Also, since Sam now knows the truth about Casifer, he still was compassionate and understood why Cas did what he did.

Debbi: I am absolutely loving Sam this season. This is the strong and steady character that I think he was always meant to grow into. Jared Padalecki is playing Sam’s redemption to perfection. He doesn’t hesitate to offer himself for the mission and takes Dean’s reminder that he himself will not be able to face Amara with a stoic strength that seems to give Dean the confidence he needs to go back for the relic. Then, when he thinks ‘Castiel’ needs additional power to trigger the spell and break the warding on the U-boat, he doesn’t hesitate to offer up his own, even though he knows the risk involved. He is proving to Dean and to himself, that he’s got his brother’s back every step of the way and that he will not let either of them down. This is the Sam and Dean dynamic at it’s very best.

The look on Sam’s face when he realizes that Castiel is hosting Lucifer is nothing short of heartbreaking. Padalecki says volumes with his eyes alone and he almost seems to lose his bearings. I think Sam is much, much stronger than he was the last time he battled Lucifer and I don’t think either Lucifer or Castiel realizes just how far Sam is willing to go to defeat Lucifer again and this will ultimately prove to be Casifer’s undoing.

Talya: Sam is kind of breaking my heart this season. He feels like more of a lost puppy than he ever has before. There’s always been a quiet strength about him but it feels like it’s being overshadowed by his guilt. The look on Sam’s face when Lucifer outted himself made me want to just give him a big hug. The realization that Cass actually accepted Lucifer seemed to have broken Sam’s heart. It was just an all around bad day for our poor Sam.

Dean:

deanthevessel

Amna: Loved seeing the whole time-travel thing explored again, and it was really interesting to see Dean’s interactions/dynamics with all the characters there. The thing that really upset me and kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the “I’m useless right now” line from him in the beginning of the episode. I hope the show isn’t trying to undermine Dean’s character and that this is just Dean having inner turmoil over the Amara mess. Yes, Dean’s a little off his game when it comes to Amara because of her hold over him but that does not mean he is “useless.” Dean is a very important character and he is very resourceful and useful. I would have loved to have a heard a counter line from Sam reassuring Dean that he is not “useless.” Hopefully, we will see a storyline to that effect in the rest of the season. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see Dean witness the death of all of those people especially when he knew it was gonna happen but had no way to stop it. The lasting ramifications on his heart from that witnessed in the ending scene was heart wrenching and showed another incredible performance by Jensen. His talent is not appreciated enough. I loved the camaraderie between Dean and Delphine. It was the highlight of the episode for me. I’m sad we had to say goodbye to her.

Jackie: Poor Dean. He really believes that he’s of no use in the battle against Amara, and it’s still eating him up inside. Those feelings led him to feel like he is expendable, so it wasn’t a surprise that he insisted that he be the one to go back in time so as to retrieve the Hand of God. I really enjoyed his scenes with Delphine and wish that we could see more of her in future episodes, but I doubt that will happen.

I thought it was incredibly interesting that Dean ended up being a witness to Delphine’s and the submarine crews’ sacrifice. I personally think that this is foreshadowing and that rather than Sam and Dean being active participants in the fight against Amara, they will be witnesses, bystanders, people on the sidelines. It’s a change of pace that hasn’t been done before, so I’m excited to see what unfolds.

Stacy: Dean willing to sacrifice himself by time traveling stayed true to his character. Great chemistry with Delphine.

Michele: It’s so weird seeing Dean on the sidelines so to speak. He knows he can’t defeat Amara on his own, so he’s willing to sacrifice himself by time traveling to retrieve the Hand Of God for the greater good. I loved his scenes with Delphine and I wished there was just some way he could have saved her. I found her very interesting and I hope we hear more about her and the Ark in a future episode.

Debbi: The fact that Dean believes that he is extraneous and quite possibly a liability in this battle against Amara is heartbreaking. Both for us to watch and for he himself to deal with. Dean isn’t used to not taking action, he has always been in the vanguard of the charge shielding Sam and any others. Ackles, with his oh so expressive face, portrays this beautifully. You can see how much it hurts Dean to have to stand aside and let Sam take point. That said, he is still ready to sacrifice himself for his brother if that’s what it’s going to take to defeat their latest nemesis.

I absolutely loved Dean’s interaction with the sailor who was left to guard him and Delphine. You could see the pain in Ackles’ eyes as he told the young man that he (the entire crew) were doomed and then again when he told him how many more years WWII would continue to take lives. Dean, who doesn’t think twice about throwing himself into battle and doesn’t think that he’ll live to old age, cares very deeply about others and their lives; this is a huge part of what makes Dean a hero. Dean has come a long, long way from the pilot where while he cared about the people he was saving didn’t give much thought to how they’d live after encountering the Supernatural.

Talya: I honestly feel that losing the woman has broken a part of Dean. It’s just another in the long list of people who have sacrificed them self for the cause. I think it’s really starting to get to Dean. Especially knowing there isn’t anything he can do to help fight Amara.

Hand of God:

Amna: Thought the concept was very intriguing and interesting. I was kinda disappointed at how anticlimactic the end was. After spending the whole episode chasing after this thing, we just lost it. I didn’t understand the point of Delphine using it in the sub when no one knew how it actually operated and whether it could be used twice. I mean they died anyway. Was the risk worth taking to just take down one German ship? I thought that bit of the plot felt a little contrived, honestly. She could have just as easily gotten herself shot to clear the passage and sent Dean off with the untouched Hand of God. I was very disappointed in it.

Jackie: So, the Hand of God is a one-hit wonder, eh? I admit that I was a little frustrated that Sam and Dean’s most promising weapon against Amara was basically wasted in this episode, but since the Hand was said to only be a piece of the Ark of the Covenant, I’m sure that they will divert their attention to teaching the rest down. Since they now know that Cass let one of their worst enemies out of his prison to roam free, they are going to need every weapon at their disposal.

Stacy: Glad to see the use of the Men of Letters history. Liked that we saw the first Woman of Letters. I bet we will discover more. The Hand of God was a nice time in. I hope that there are other artifacts out there to assist in the Winchesters efforts to fight The Darkness.

Michele: I was bummed that you could only use it once. However, I’m wondering if it was due to those markings that Delphine had? Maybe we don’t have all the pieces to make the weapon work. I really enjoyed the introduction of this and since this was only one piece, maybe there is more that the brothers could find that could help them defeat Amara.

Debbi: This was sort of a cheat IMHO. A super God charged weapon that’s a one hit wonder? Hardly worth the risk Dean took in going back in time to retrieve it, of course, there was never a question of going after it – if it could help them put Amara away, they would retrieve it, no question about it. Plus, it was pretty wonderful to see Casifer’s reaction to the discharged weapon. You have to wonder if he had other plans for that piece of the Ark beyond putting Amara away?

I loved that the representative from the MOL was a woman and that she was used to infiltrate the Nazi hierarchy. This is so very, very accurate in terms of how this war was fought and I loved that the MOL were involved on any level with the conflict. It was a little disappointing that Delphine didn’t have all her facts straight regarding her target. That feels a little like lazy researching on the part of the MOL. The action on the U-boat was well done and conveyed the sense of urgency and doom that anyone faced with those circumstances would have felt. I give props to Bob Behrens, Jerry Wanek, the crew and the cast for giving such a riveting performance.

Talya: I don’t have a problem with a God infused object to be used as a weapon. What gets me is that this particular object was supposed to be the Arc of the Covenant. The theory is that the Arc is still intact. So why did they choose to just have a small part of it? There are so many things that had the possibility of God touching them in lore that are smaller objects. So I just don’t get why they felt they had to use just a small piece of the Arc.I can also understand why it was only a one shot item. As with Grace things can be diminished with use. That makes sense to me.

Predictions:

Amna: Aah…I don’t know if I have any predictions. Supernatural is a hard show for me to predict sometimes, especially this early in the season because the writer’s don’t always follow through in the things that they lay out. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but a lot of times it’s bad. I’m still trying to kind of wait and see the show before I can make any predictions.

Jackie: I think that we’re going to see a confrontation between Casifer and Amara in future episodes, and I’m also predicting that Amara might be the one to pull Lucifer out of Cass, although I wish that the story wouldn’t go in that direction. I also predict that the brothers will search for more pieces of the Ark to use against Amara.

Stacy: I would like to see further use of the Men of Letters rich history to assist the Winchesters in their for fight against The Darkness. It will be interesting to see if Lucifer can be defeated and Castiel saved.

Michele: I have a feeling that we’ll see the brothers use more of the lore to find the remaining pieces of the Ark to use against Amara. I really was intrigued by this storyline. I hope there is more to it.

Debbi: I can see the story ending this season with Amara getting locked back into whatever cage she came from with the combined talents of Lucifer, Castiel, Sam, Dean, Crowley, maybe Metatron and yes Rowena (who I think will make a reappearance). Once Amara is dealt with I think we will go into the next season with Lucifer still possessing Castiel and with our boys having to figure out how to expel the archangel from his vessel and lock him back up in hell. Lucifer isn’t going to go quietly into the night.

Talya: Sam & Dean are going to try to find other “Hand of God” objects. They will also do their best to expel Lucifer from Cass’ body. I have a feeling Amara is not going to go anywhere any time soon. They are going to have to deal with the Cassifer situation before they can move forward with Amara.

Overall Score:

Amna: B

Jackie: I would give this episode a B+

Stacy: B

Michele: B

Debbi: With strong performances by the actors, a great script, beautifully rendered sets and phenomenal support from the rest of the crew this episode rates an A-.

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