So, that was one hell of a trip. Must say, I’ve missed our excursions through time, so it was lovely to return to the past on Dean’s- Jesus, Dean’s fifth time-travel experience, if I just counted that right.
It’s already become an item of note that this episode was particularly cinematic, for which I expect we can thank John Badham, who has directed several really nice-looking episodes for us now. The submarine sequences looked authentic- that slightly strained quality of light lending a subterranean quality- and the sets were exquisite (seriously, though, how much of their budget have they blown on this boat? Because it was super convincing.)
I shouldn’t be surprised, of course. This show may be little, but they’re great at creating worlds. Remember Frontierland? The mud, the sepia look, the rotten teeth? Or closer to home, the Roadhouse? The Bunker?
Over to the recap, anyway.
The opening made me really fond. It was remincisent of the historical scenes in First Born and Everybody Hates Hitler- the and The Vessel was kind of the counterpart of the latter, in the same way as Baby was the counterpart to Swan Song, or Fan Fiction to A Very Supernatural Christmas. This is how the show gets away with being old as heck; it establishes these little threads that have nothing to do with whatever the plot is at the time, but crop up two years or six years or a decade later (like the Cage trauma arc. Damn, I love that they went back to that). Delphine was fabulous, of course, and she and Josie Sands (can’t even express how much I love that chick) were two of a kind. And that was a gorgeous dress. Plus, the music was so… stirring? And so comical at the same time? Am I saying this right?
Over in the Bunker, Sam and Dean are failing, painfully, at domestic life. We’ve seen so much of how they operate this season and that is wonderful; we know that Sam’s the early bird (or the never-went-to-sleep-in-the-first-place bird, what a shock) and that Dean is a grumpy old man in the morning, staggering around sniffing for food. We even know the positions in which they sleep these days (thank you, Baby and Into The Mystic).
We also know that Dean’s self-esteem is, despite Sam’s (completely delightful) acceptance (seriously, the Love Hurts broment was a thing of beauty), in the trash. Hence the somewhat heart-crushing statement that he’s the least of Team Free Will, and therefore has to be the one to go into the past.
Enter Casifer (Lustiel?). Misha Collins is so great here, sleazy and funny with the merest hint of terrible power. Not the terrifying Lucifer of O Brother Where Art Thou, and not quite the over-friendly creep of Repo Man, but somewhere inbetween. His Castiel-speaking-to-Dean impression was so sickly funny- and what a great piece of acting.
His behaviour towards Sam is certainly consistant. This week it’s ‘You’re like the girl who keeps turning me down for the prom’, which is fairly horrid. Also, soul fisting, which- yeah, I’ll leave that whole subject for a meta. But, like- I really felt for Sam. They sure aren’t pulling punches this year.
On the other hand, Cas overcoming Lucifer, however briefly, was awesome. Feelin’ the Sastiel right now, people. And I know I complain about Cas, but it felt great to see him at last. I guess I’m more attached to him than I realised.
Same goes for the submarine narrative. At first the sailor asking Dean questions was comic relief; over the episode it grew into something tragic. My concern for that submarine grew and grew over the episode- I seriously thought they’d save it- but all Dean managed to do was give the crew a false sense of purpose.
The golden light was pretty, too.
I’m just realising- this was a really classy episode, guys.
The end scene gets more beautiful the longer I stare at it. Dean’s eyes are, like, meltingly green, and the trees! The skeletal trees! Just- damn.
I have one quibble. What’s with this whole vessels malarkey? At first I didn’t get how Lucifer no longer needed Sam, and how Cas was supposedly strong enough to contain Lucifer- I found a theory suggesting that as Cas’s vessel was brought back ‘new and improved’ (and also Jimmyless) at the end of Season Five, that would allow him to contain Lucifer sufficiently. But a line of explanation wouldn’t hurt, or for Cas’s face to start melting off like with Nick’s. It isn’t a problem yet, and won’t really be for a while- Nick’s body took half a season to start decaying, and we don’t know how far apart the episodes are spaced in SPN-time- but still. A little explaining, perhaps?
Anyway- we haven’t had any real duds this whole season so far. Sure, The Bad Seed was meh, and Love Hurts was good but nothing to shout about, but the rest have knocked it out of the park- and Baby is hands-down the best episode they’ve ever made.
The Vessel did not break their streak.