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Recap / Supernatural S 11 E 14 The Vessel

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 11, Episode 14:

The Vessel

Writer: Robert Berens

Director: John Badham

Sam and Dean hatch a plan to retrieve a holy relic lost in WWII that contains some of God's power in order to use it against the Darkness. Meanwhile, Lucifer is looking for the artifacts of power too and uses his guise as Castiel to get in on the Winchesters' plan.


Body Count:

For this episode: at minimum 40 humans and 1 Thule.

For the series so far = At least 1254 humans (of which 15 were witches), 1124 angels, 182 demons, 71 vampires, 52 ghosts, 36 Jefferson Starships, 22 gods, 19 zombies, 12 werewolves, 10 hellhounds, 7 shapeshifters, 7 skinwalkers, 6 changelings, 5 djinn, 5 reapers, 4 dogs, 4 ghouls, 4 Leviathan, 3 Khan Worms, 3 Thule 2 Amazons, 2 arachnes, 2 kitsunes, 2 rugarus, 2 vetalas, 2 zannas, 1 banshee, 1 cat, 1 crocotta, Death, 1 deer, 1 dragon, 1 fairy, 1 familiar, 1 lamia, the Mother of All, 1 nachzehrer, 1 okami, 1 phoenix, 1 pishtaco, 1 Purgatory creature, 1 qarin, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 shojo, 1 shtriga, 1 siren, 1 Titan, 1 wendigo, 1 whore of Babylon, 1 wicked witch, and 1 wraith.



  • Artifact of Doom : A "Hand of God" is not literally a hand of God, but an artifact that is said to have been touched by God and thus contains some of His power. The object in this episode is a chunk of wood that is revealed to be a fragment of The Ark of the Covenant.
  • Bald of Evil: Befehlsleiter Gumprecht, the seemingly unkillable Nazi commander.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In keeping with his previous appearances, Lucifer is extremely powerful, which allows Lucifer to keep Castiel suppressed in his own vessel (makes sense, given that he's not only an archangel, but the first archangel). Midway through the episode, Lucifer!Cas mixes a potion that calls for the power of an archangel. Not knowing Lucifer is in Castiel's vessel and believing Castiel's lower tier angel powers to not be strong enough, Sam reminds Cas that the last time the latter needed a super charge, he touched Bobby's soul for a boost. The series has long established that those who are possessed are fully aware of what's going on around them, even when they aren't in control. Later on, Lucifer!Cas decides to get rid of Sam by touching Sam's soul (a procedure in which the vessel exploding is a well-known possible outcome). When Lucifer!Cas touches Sam's soul, Castiel emerges and briefly takes control of his vessel. It's likely touching Sam's soul was what gave Cas the turbo boost he needed to briefly surface and save Sam's life and it all stemmed from Sam reminding Cas of how to get a power boost.
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  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Sam discovers a way to banish the sigils on the submarine to allow Castiel (actually Lucifer) to help Dean. Unfortunately it's never been done because it needs the power of an archangel to work. Sam assumes it's a bust, but Lucifer of course is an archangel and suggests they try it anyway.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Delphine has to stop Dean from touching the Hand of God with his bare hands.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Delphine, on the good side. She seduces Gumpricht over a series of months in order to get access to the Hand of God.
  • Ghostapo: The Nazis have access to supernatural augmentations that allowed them to track down the submarine containing the Hand of God. The commander in charge of the German destroyer is the same man who the Men of Letters agent killed at the beginning of the episode, only his augmentations healed him.
  • God Help Us All: Famous last words muttered by the captain when the Hand of God relic is activated.
  • Gratuitous German: The Nazi officer speaks some German on the phone at the start of the episode. The grammar of the lines is almost correct and the actor doesn't mangle the pronunciation so badly as to be unintelligible, but it's still very obvious that the production team didn't bother to find someone who is actually fluent in German or at least has spent some time surrounded by native speakers (e.g. as a soldier or exchange student). Sam also mispronounces the word "Ahnenerbe" so badly that a native speaker wouldn't recognize what he means without trying to spell out what he says and then reverse-engineering the intended word taking common mistakes into account.note 
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sam trying to will Castiel to reclaim his vessel. It doesn't work, both because Castel believes Lucifer is the only one capable of killing Amara, and because he knows only Lucifer can save Dean.
  • It Only Works Once: The "Hand of God" relic will kill any mortal who wields its power. On top of that, it expends its power after a single use, making it little more than a paperweight after Dean retrieves it. To be fair, there was no indication of this being the case, since this was the first one they'd ever dealt with.
  • More Expendable Than You: Implied when Castiel says he said yes to Lucifer because he wanted to be of service to the fight. Considering that he was the only other option besides Sam, and another angel had pointed out that he was expendable shortly before he agreed, his decision seems like this trope.
  • Orcus on His Throne: And playing tablet games too. Lucifer could conceivably conquer heaven, being the only archangel left and second in power to Amara, but he's content to fool around until he's forced to consider the fact that he can't beat the Darkness alone.
  • Power Glows: After touching the Hand of God, Delphine glows so brightly, Dean and the submarine crew can barely look at her.
  • Shout-Out : When Dean is told the artifact is actually a piece of The Ark of the Covenant, he says the situation has gone "full-on Raiders".
  • The Spear of Destiny: Lucifer calls for the most potent weapons in Hell's armory, and he handles one which looks remarkably like the Spear of Destiny.
  • Victory Is Boring: It took no effort at all for Lucifer to take over hell, but once in the position he spends all his time playing tablet games and doesn't care about running things or being briefed on soul reports.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Dean's time on-board the submarine changes nothing, and in fact causes events to play out as history remembers them.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lucifer starts laughing uncontrollably at the absurdity of keeping up his facade as Castiel for Sam when he realizes he doesn't actually need Sam around to perform the ritual to retrieve Dean and the Hand of God artifact. This is the catalyst that leads him to drop the act.

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