Last Week on Supernatural: Sam should really lay off the plaid, adultery can lead to grisly murder sprees, and Dean comes to the painful realization that he can’t be center stage in the Take Down The Darkness Show.
I’ll be the first to admit, when I watched the preview for this episode, I was not impressed. I know this show; I love it, but it has its faults. Time traveling and Nazis? Sounded like one of their sillier episodes, heavy in punny melodrama and light in meaningful plot.
I’ve never been happier to be so wrong. John Badham, Bob Berens, tipping my hat to you both.
Axis-occupied France, 1941. Less attractive, Nazi Corey Stoll is in a lush hotel suite with French bombshell Delphine, who is intrigued by whatever he’s hiding in a small wooden box. He demurs when she asks what’s inside, but it doesn’t take much coaxing on her part for him to reveal its contents. “So it’s true,” she breathes, and unsheathes her hair from its long, pointed pin. Yeah, I knew I didn’t buy all of those romantic overtones. Herr Stoll, an oblivious asshole, does not see his death approaching when she jams the pin into his neck. “The Men of Letters send their regards,” she spits, before taking the box and peacing out.
Following their little run-in with fake Amara and Sam’s subsequent promotion to first string, the pressure is on – and baby Winchester is feeling it. To Dean’s dismay, he depletes their store of caffeine to fuel a marathon search for something, anything, that they might be able to wield against her. He comes across some information on the Hand of God, an ancient object possessing incredible supernatural power – touched by the Big Man himself. Turns out, the evil undead Nazi Thule society had it in their clutches for some time, before it was stolen by Delphine Seydoux, who was rumored to be a French traitor. So that’s what was in the box. God’s…hand?
Back in Hell, AKA the wackest set on Supernatural. Seriously, it looks like the basement of a Subway. The demons are standing around awkwardly, watching Casifer play games on a tablet and waiting for orders. One of the demons this week is a gorgeous black woman with a great afro, and as soon as she started speaking I feared she would die by the end of the episode. (She didn’t.) She expresses her total faith in Lucifer, the true ruler of hell, unlike that other guy. Crowley takes offense to her proclamation, but attempts to spin it into more flattery for the devil, seeing as he’s got him chained and locked up like an animal. “Doggie wants to speak?” Casifer mocks, and even though I’ve been over Crowley for the past season or so, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him.
The Brothers W are still digging into this Hand of God business. Dean is pleasantly surprised to learn that Delphine is a man of letters, considering the era – and the title. “Didn’t think they were into gender equality back then,” he quips, which, plot twist! Talking openly about gender discrimination on Supernatural, what’s next? Keeping female characters alive?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Sam finds a document detailing what happened to the Hand of God, but merde, it’s in French. Good thing they have this super handy translation tool that’s just been gathering dust. Turns out, Delphine got on a submarine with the Hand of God in order to deliver it to the US, but before they could arrive, they were attacked by a German ship. It sank, and hasn’t been recovered since, despite many efforts to find it. Sam is ready to throw in the towel on that idea, but Dean is like, “Hello, we’ve got an angel in our pocket. Why not use him to go back in time?” despite not having spoken to him for weeks. Nice, Dean.
Casifer gets a phone call from Dean, once again demonstrating Hell’s top-rate cellular service. “No barking – it’s showtime,” he warns Crowley, before effecting Cas’ standard sub-human growl of “Hello, Dean”. It’s masterfully done; Dean is, of course, none the wiser. When Casifer arrives and the boys lay out the plan, Casifer eagerly agrees, recognizing that with the Hand of God in his possession, his path to defeating The Darkness will be clear. Sam is worried that Cas won’t be strong enough for the journey, and says as much. “I mean, you can’t even teleport,” he reasons. Casifer brushes off his safety concerns, which should be Sam’s first clue. Cas is always preoccupied with their safety, particularly on risky missions like this one. Dean is fired up and ready to go, happy that Cas has dispensed with the grim warnings and his typical hemming and hawing. A hand to the shoulder, and he’s gone.
Aaaand Cas is back. Soaking wet.
Apparently, there is warding on the ship that keeps supernatural creatures away. Sam is rightfully freaked out, and sets to work trying to find a way past the angelic firewall so Dean can hitch a ride out of the past with the Hand of God before the submarine goes down. Casifer is upset at losing his shot at getting his own hands on the relic, not for losing Dean, as Sam mistakenly interprets.
Back in 1941, Dean realizes why Cas couldn’t make it, but presses forward with the plan, now also determined to disable the wards. He jumps a crew member for his outfit to blend in, and sets off to find Delphine. Another member of the crew points him in her direction, complimenting her “gams” to which Dean anachronistically replies, “Yeah, she’s a hottie.” Don’t worry, Dean, I still don’t know what ‘gams’ are either. He finds her, and after being smacked around a little bit, tells her that he is a fellow man of letters, come to retrieve the Hand of God to save the world from a dastardly future threat. Or, he would have, had they not been interrupted by the captain, who has finally discovered the sneaky stowaway on his submarine. Ruh-roh.
Time to think fast. Dean reveals himself as a man from the future, on a very important mission. And he kindly informs them that in about an hour, they’re all gonna die. Needless to say, the news isn’t taken well. Despite his proof – the cell phone in his pocket that makes little sense to the crew – the captain is convinced he’s either a soldier who’s gone AWOL or a spy. He resolves to put Dean in front a court martial first chance he gets. But that means they need to make it to land safely, which, according to Dean, isn’t gonna happen. And according to a report from a crew mate mere seconds later, definitely isn’t going to happen. A German destroyer has been spotted, and it’s closing in. The captain assigns Dean a babysitter and finally leaves so that he and Delphine can get back to saving-the-world business. Skeptical about Dean’s claims, Mrs. Doubtfire (because, get it? Doubtfire) repeatedly interrupts Dean and Delphine’s conversation to question Dean about the future – annoying, but understandable. Ultimately, he gets at the root of his curiosity, and confirms that he and everybody on the ship are going to die. Soon. And Dean, once again, must be the bearer of terrible news.
In 2016, Sam finds a spell that would allow Cas through the warding on the sub. Pump the brakes, though – they need the power of an archangel. “Oh well!” Sam sighs, tossing the book aside. And Casifer is like, “Well, let’s maybe think about this.”
It turns out the Hand of God is not actually God’s severed hand, but a piece of the Ark of Covenant that resembles shriveled meat. Dean Potter makes to grab it, because touching an ancient, powerful relic bare-handed seems like a totally reasonable thing to do. Delphine stops him, because “no mortal can survive long with direct contact” and like, “isn’t this your show? You should chill,” so he does. Meanwhile things are heating up with the German warship getting ready to blast them into pieces, and the crew is gearing up to fight back, armed with the knowledge Dean gave them about their imminent demise. Just saying, Dean, the Ministry of Magic would NEVER entrust you with a Time-Turner, at the rate you’re going. Have we learned nothing from Balthazar’s Celine Dion-inspired timeline meddling?
Delphine’s done Dean a solid and broken the sigil, but presents him with a knife and her bared chest in order to break the last one. You have to kill me, she explains. The warding spell is bound to her blood and heart, and so the power lives and dies with her. Dean is like, oh shit, you really committed. Before he can bring himself to do it, the Germans launch their attack.
Cas is almost finished mixing ingredients for the Sigil-B-Gone when Sam finds him and tugs at his hair in consternation. Why, he wonders, would Cas attempt such a spell with his powers so diminished? Then he remembers the way Cas siphoned power from Bobby’s spell to send the boys back in time to Frontierland, and bravely propositions his soul for Cas’ use. It’s a beautifully pathetic moment, considering Sam’s plaintive desire to prove himself worthy of his new role of Sacrificial Bro #1 and Casifer’s total self-reliance for this spell, being, of course, an archangel himself. Unable to keep up the charade a moment longer, Casifer bursts into derisive laughter, and questions aloud why he should continue to spare Sam, who he likens to “the girl who kept turning me down at the prom”. He promises to violate Sam’s soul (since “you asked so nicely”) and delivers another devastating impression of Cas’ gravelly “Dean”, painting a sobering picture of the aftermath of Sam’s death and Dean’s discovery of it. And then, picking up right where we left off in their ultra creepy and non-conny abusive relationship (an interesting counterpoint of Dean and Amara’s power-play), Casifer reaches in and touches Sam’s soul, causing him untold levels of anguish and pain.
And here, my live-notes simply read, “MISHA IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!” because there is precious little else that can be said. That scene: incredible.
Cas isn’t as impressed by Lucifer’s little reveal, however, and bursts through to speak to Sam. Sam is like, WHAT WERE THINKING LETTING LUCIFER POSSESS YOU and Cas is like, Hello, we don’t have time for this. We need to save Dean. And unfortunately, Lucifer is only one who can do it.
It’s desperate times back on the submarine, and we all know what those call for. Delphine grabs the Hand of God and commences the ultimate glo up. The German warship is still bearing down on them, and it’s unclear what will occur first: blown to bits by the Germans or blown nuclear by a supercharged Delphine. Before we can find out, Casifer shows up and whisks Dean back to the bunker, Hand of God in tow.
All’s well does not end well, Dean quickly learns. “That’s NOT Cas,” Sam shouts, pointing at Casifer, still clutching Dean’s shoulder. Dean can barely get out the words “Bish, WHET” before Casifer blasts him across the room, opining how difficult it was to maintain his mask of “angelic constipation” (A+, Bob Berens, truly). He attempts to use the Hand of God but ends up looking like a damn fool, since the relic is, according to Dean, a “one hitter”. Delphine’s already used the power up, rendering it a useless hunk of wood. Lucy’s pissed, but Sam does some quick and bloody sigil work and blasts him outta dodge.
Realizing there are only a few minutes in the episode, the boys sit down to have a Talk. Dean straight up refuses to believe that Cas chose to let Lucifer in, and resolves to save him – no questions asked. And like, I just really want Supernatural to decide whether Cas and Dean are actually ride or die or just casual friends who talk occasionally, because the whiplash is exhausting. Anyway. Sam asks Dean about his trip to the past, and Dean isn’t ready to discuss it beyond saying, “I was just a witness.” Probably because he got his first glimpse into life on the sidelines while someone else did all the dying. Speaking of, Delphine’s Hand of God trick blasted a hole right through the submarine and the German destroyer all those years ago. So was the whole thing worth it? Dean’s OPT makes a triumphant comeback as Edith Piaf ironically croons, “Non…je ne regrette rien…” Was it worth it, indeed?
Next Week: Pro wrestling shenanigans, Casifer’s getting meaner…and this moment, which has a certain subset of the fandom in an uproar.
Carla is a writer, teacher, and proud Slytherclaw. Her work has been published in The Toast, McSweeney’s, Potluck Mag, and Luna Luna Mag. Follow her @carlawaslike for more Supernatural rants and desperate dispatches from the middle school trenches.