I apologize for the lateness of this ramble. Sometimes Real Life makes demands that are unavoidable. The drawback of posting nearly a day after the episode has aired is that everyone but me has had time to process and opine. I don’t usually read any other reviews/reactions before writing this ramble (as it’s normally done directly after viewing) and I considered taking advantage of the Internet this morning to see reactions, but I thought it best to just ramble as per usual and get this out to you.
If I cover old territory for you, or repeat anything you might have already said and/or thought, I apologize up front. That said, I am really looking forward to your thoughts on this one.
This has been quite a journey, folks. Unlike previous seasons, I don’t feel as if it’s so much a ride as a trip. We’ve traveled some long and winding roads together and I believe that we’re glimpsing an end to some of the mystery (I dare not say all because, well, it’s our Show…lives to keep us guessing), but the resulting truth is hurting a bit.
Not having a really true picture of what ‘noir’ might mean to all parties, I decline to have an opinion on if this season has been true to the ‘noir’ style. I think that there have been a lot of clues, many of which were false, and I feel like when I look at the big picture, a lot of relevant facts are rushing to the reveal here at the end of the run.
True to the styling of John Winchester himself, this has been a season of “need to know,” and the powers that be elected early on that we didn’t. For a bit in these last few episodes, that frustrated me. My mind and heart were ranting you’re telling us this now?! But the advantage of watching the morning after (and having to be Mama for a bit before sitting down to ramble) is that I gained a bit of perspective that I don’t normally allow myself.
The season began from Dean’s point of view, for the most part. With some various, necessary exceptions, when we watched what was happening, we were as clueless about all the underlying meaning and back-story as Dean was. We saw what he saw, learned it as he learned it. And it’s been a painful journey, I have to admit. Especially after The Man Who Would Be King.
Watching this journey—from Swan Song until now—through Castiel’s eyes, with Castiel’s voice explaining why he did what he did, was heartbreaking and frustrating and enlightening. I found myself struggling a tad with the manner of storytelling—the Voice Over guiding us through so many things that I’d hungered to know for months. But then I realized…this was the only way they could do it.
However the choices were made in the writer’s room—whether this was planned from the very start, or if plans were shifted (as I’ve heard and suspected) when they realized that Sam’s soul needed to be returned pronto to appease the unrest of fans (myself included)—when they decided to make it about the souls, it would have been extremely difficult to have known everything we found out in this episode all along the way and still kept our faith in the journey of our heroes.
So, while I wouldn’t have told it this way, and while I spent the majority of this episode rubbing my heart, and while the SPN-soul inside of me is coiled up tense with the questions they still haven’t answered the possibilities for where this season will end, I can appreciate this choice, this style of storytelling.
I found it interesting that they transitioned from Smallville to Supernatural by showing us the same previews they’d tagged to last week’s episode. I don’t think they’ve done that before (this Season). It was a good ploy for this story, though – getting us revved up. I’ll skip the THEN and go right to the start—an episode told through a series of memories and flashbacks, working to give meaning to the stuff we didn’t see.
Cas is sitting on a stone bench in a snow-covered woods with what looked like flowers around him. He’s looking at his hands and speaking aloud as he thinks back to some of his first memories. It’s unclear who he’s speaking to—and for the longest time (the whole episode, in fact) I had it in my head that he was sitting in a cemetery, talking to a headstone of someone’s grave. Part of my brain spent a good amount of time trying to figure out who Castiel would bare himself to in such a manner.
He recalls a ‘fish’ heaving itself onto shore and being told not to step on it (why anyone would want to step on a fish, I’m not sure) because there were big plans for it. He recalls the Tower of Babel (all 37 feet of it) falling and the ensuing wrath, but then…dry dung can only be stacked so high. Heh.
He remembers Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, Sodom and Gomorrah. And he recalls the most remarkable event that never came to pass—averted by two boys, an old drunk, and a fallen angel. Team Free Will FTW!
As we watch the emotionally wrenching end of Swan Song again—with Sam taking hold of Lucifer, Dean beat to a bloody pulp, the rings, the hole in the world, and Sam and Adam falling inside—Cas’ Voice Over says that they ripped up the story and rules and destiny—leaving nothing but freedom and choice. Returning to Cas’ face, he looks up slightly, wondering if he’s made the wrong choice. But then pauses and says he’s getting ahead of himself.
Still glancing down he implores, “Let me tell you my story.”
And then, in a directional choice that I found incredibly impactful, he looks directly at us. Directly at me. And he says, “Let me tell you everything.”
That was a powerful plea—not just for this character to whomever he was confessing to, but from the writers to us. Don’t stop believing in us…don’t give up on us…there’s a plan here now…there’s a path we’re all headed down…let us show you what we’ve been hiding from you.
I decided to listen. But then…I never really had a choice. My hero’s journey is far from over. And I can’t—I won’t—break from him before the end.
It’s night and Dean’s driving alone in the Impala—sans music, which was unfortunate. Cas suddenly appears, startling Dean. I don’t think I could ever get used to that sudden appearance next to me either. Cas asks him if he’s okay, says he just wants to check in. Dean wants to know if there was any word on Satan Jr. being alive, to which Cas evasively answers that he’s still looking and adds to the lie with a, “I don’t understand how Crowley could have tricked me.”
I’ve never been a good liar. My eyes give me away. Not that I’ve tried very often—mostly it’s when I fear that the truth would hurt the person more than finding out that I lied. I can tell a good story, though. The thing I realized early on in life was that the difference between a lie and a story is that one blends truth in with the falsehood and makes it hard to keep track of what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Dean gives Cas the benefit of the doubt saying, “He’s a tricky sonuvabitch. What matters now is finding him, ripping his head off and shoving it up his ass.”
Cas asks if he’s found anything and wants to know where Sam is. Dean says that Sam is tracking a djinn in Omaha and he’s on his way to meet up with him. My head quirked at that—it wasn’t that I didn’t buy Sam hunting on his own (because actually, that sounds like a totally plausible way to keep doing their jobs and have any hope of having actual lives), but I didn’t buy it right now, with the threat of Crowley and the constant, gnawing fear of Sam’s wall falling.
Regret heavy in his voice, Cas tells Dean he’d come if he could. Dean nods quickly, saying he gets it. No worries.
Dean: But…you’ll call, right? If you get into real trouble?
The look he gives the angel is at once cautious and caring. Cas doesn’t answer, he just leaves. Dean looks back at the road and exhales wearily.
We follow Cas to what looks like Monster Autopsy 101. A Starship is chained and gagged in a metal cage and Eve is laying gutted, ribs spread on a table. Standing over her, blood to his elbows, wearing what could pass for a butcher’s apron, is Crowley. Jazzy elevator music is playing in the background. Cas approaches him and asks Crowley what he’s found.
Apparently Eve is brain dead, but keeps laying eggs—which he gathers and shows us mixed in with a bunch of gunky…glop. Gross. He uses some kind of prod thingy and says that when he pokes Eve’s brain—which he demonstrates—the Starship writhes in agony, as if the monsters are still connected to their mother. Nasty.
Cas wants to know what that’s good for.
Crowley: Apart from the obvious erotic value, you’ve got me.
Yeah, but I’m sure they’re going to find something to use that for…at this stage of the game, Red Herrings seem rather pointless. Why show us that disturbingly bizarre connection if they’re not going to find a way to play with it later? *ponders*
Cas: You said Eve could open the door to Purgatory.
Crowley: And I’m confident that she could have is she was STILL ALIVE. Your best chance to get over the rainbow and the Winchesters killed her.
Crowley yells a lot of his lines in this episode. I think he’s close to losing his temper. That’s probably not good.
Cas: That was unavoidable.
Crowley: You screwed up, Cas. You let the hounds mangle the pheasant and now I’m up to my elbows in it. You’re distracted.
Cas: I’m holding up my end.
Crowley: Is that all you’re holding up? The stench of that Impala is all over your overcoat, Angel.
And I know it’s inappropriate and a random, full-on fangirl thing, but I immediately thought, I wouldn’t mind the stench of the Impala on me. Just saying.
Crowley: I thought we agreed no more nights out with the boys.
Cas: I needed to know what they know.
Crowley: About what? About ME? Because I have it on good authority that your two little pets are currently trying to HUNT ME DOWN. I think we have a little conflict of interest here.
He shoves the prod thingie into Eve’s brain and the Starship goes crazy with pain.
Cas’ Voice Over tells us: I was conflicted. I still considered myself the Winchester’s guardian.
We flash once more to Swan Song and Castiel throwing the Molotov at Michael/Adam.
C.V.O.: After all, they taught me how to stand up. What to stand for. And what, generally, happens to you when you do.
Lucifer/Sam snaps his fingers and Cas is blown to bloody bits.
C.V.O.: I was done. Over. And then…an extraordinary thing happened. I was put back. We had won—stopped Armageddon, but at a terrible loss.
We see the moment at the end of Swan Song where Sam is standing under the light, staring up at Dean inside the Braeden’s home. Cas is there, watching Sam and at first I was confused—why didn’t Sam react like he’d seen him? But later, we find out that Cas can and does watch them without being seen. Which…was a smidge creepy, ya’ll. Just…saying.
C.V.O.: Once again, I went to Hell to free Sam from Lucifer’s cage. It was really impossible, but I was so full of confidence…I see now that was arrogance because I hadn’t truly raised Sam. Not all of him.
We flashback to Soulless Sam killing the cop, watching Dean be attacked and turned by a vamp, trying to kill Bobby. Then we flash again to the lamp post scene and Sam walks away, passing Cas.
C.V.O.: Sometimes we’re given a warning. This should have been mine.
Okay, so I need to pause here. When Soulless Sam recounted his return to Dean, he said he woke up in the empty Stull Cemetery field, that he called for Cas, but Cas didn’t answer. Now we find out that Sam was returned by Cas to that moment we saw in Swan Song. Also, Cas said he’d spent the year Sam was soulless as a…wait, what was it? A multi-dimensional celestial wave of intent.
Looks like a lot of people might’ve been covering tracks and telling stories during the soulless time.
Back with Crowely and Cas, Crowley is begging Cas to just kill the Winchesters already. Cas says no. So, Crowley says he’ll do it himself. Cas says he’ll just bring them back.
Crowley: No you won’t. Not where I’ll put them.
Oooh, interesting. Cas can storm Hell and retrieve both of them—one from Lucifer’s friggin’ cage—and yet there’s some place Crowley thinks he can send them that Cas won’t be able to follow? I need to know more about this.
Cas says that Crowley shouldn’t worry about them.
Crowley: Don’t WORRY about them? Like Lucifer didn’t worry? Or Michael? Or Lilith? Or Azaezal didn’t worry? Am I the only game piece on the board who DOESN’T underestimate those DIRTY RAT NIGHTMARES.
(At least that’s what it sounded like—he was screaming. It was hard to tell.)
Yeah, that’s right, Crowley. Our boys are BAD ASS. And every single creature and/or being who has underestimated them—together or separate—has met their end. And the boys are still kicking. Sure, they’ve died and been brought back. But they have never quit.
Cas: Just find Purgatory. If you don’t we will both die again and again until the end of time.
Huh? Okay, I definitely need to know more about that. The “need to know” edict about this Season is pervasive until the end. I mean, even after seeing the whole thing and knowing about the deal and the reason they’re looking and all of that…what’s with this ‘dying again and again’ business? It sounds ominous and also potentially like motive and I hope they go somewhere with that in the last two episodes.
Cas: The Winchesters won’t get to you.
Crowley: Let ‘em get to me. I’LL TEAR THEIR FRIGGIN’ HEARTS OUT.
See? It was his episode to yell.
It’s nighttime at Singer Auto. Bobby and Sam have a red-headed man in a stained wife-beater chained to a chair directly beneath the Devil’s Trap on his ceiling. Bobby’s complimenting “Red”’s hunter skills, even though it’s obvious the man is a demon. As Sam watches, stone-faced, Bobby throws Holy Water on the demon, waiting as it screams in pain, then asks where Crowley is because he knows that the demon/hunter has been rounding up monsters for the King of Hell.
Red plays dumb and Sam hands Bobby a wicked looking knife. I’m guessing it’s The Demon Killing Knife, though it doesn’t kill Red right away. Dean walks in and dumps a bag in the kitchen, giving Sam the “need to talk to you” head nod. Sam leaves Bobby with the demon and Bobby stabs Red in the leg. The boys talk in the kitchen while the demon screams in the background.
Bobby joins them and Dean tells them both that Cas dropped in, but that he “didn’t tell him anything.” He gave them the story he fed Cas about being on a bogus monster hunt (which, good, because I knew Sam wouldn’t have been on his own after a djinn with all of this going on). He said Cas doesn’t know they’re getting close to Crowley.
Dean (biting the inside of his bottom lip in that way he has that does funny things to my belly): He’s our friend and we’re lying to him through our teeth.
That’s always been the kicker for Dean. He’s been able to forgive and work through so much—almost anything—but when he finds out he’s been lied to by someone he trusts, by someone he loves, the claws dig deep into his heart and he lashes back in pain. Sam being addicted to demon blood was a problem they had to deal with. Sam lying to him about it was a betrayal he had to work really hard to overcome. Same thing here.
Dean: So he burned the wrong bones, so Crowley tricked him.
Bobby: He’s an Angel.
Dean: He’s the Balky Bartakamous of Heaven. He can make a mistake.
Ha! I used to love watching Perfect Strangers. I really don’t know why, either. It was…ridiculous. *laugh*
Bobby: Nobody’s saying nothing yet.
Dean: You think Cas is in with Crowley?
He says it with this complete and utter disbelief as if Bobby and Sam were claiming clouds were made of cotton candy. His expression pained, his body language is closed off—arms crossed over his chest, jaw tight.
Bobby: I’m just saying, I don’t know. I hate myself for even thinking it. But…I don’t know.
Sam has his hands at his sides, his eyes soft. It’s obvious that it’s more than just that their friend might have betrayed them; Sam’s whole demeanor shows he knows how much this idea is hurting his brother.
They haven’t had many friends in their lives, and Dean doesn’t trust easily. He is gruff and closed off even with the people he openly cares about. And Sam, while he doesn’t actually remember what the last year was like, knows that the time since Stull has been especially hard on Dean and this is yet another harsh blow.
Sam: He’s our friend, too. I would die for him. I would. I’m praying we’re wrong here.
Cas, meanwhile, is standing in the shadows behind Sam, listening to this whole thing. At first I was confused—just like with the scene at the light. How are they not aware he’s there? And then I realized that he had on his Angel Invisibility Cloak. Handy trick, that…though it does get him hung in the end.
Bobby: But if there’s a snowballs chance we ain’t…that means we’re dealing with a Superman who’s gone darkside. We’ve gotta be cautious, smart, and maybe stock up on some Kryptonite.
Dean, arms folded, face serious, eyes sad, looks at Sam.
Dean: This makes you Lois Lane.
While I was busy wondering if Sam is Lois, then who is Dean? Bobby’s all one problem at a time. They have to find Crowley before the idiot cracks open Purgatory. So, he goes back in to keep torturing Red. Sam follows and Dean stands in the doorway between the kitchen and the study, watching. Unknown to him, Cas is watching Dean, taking in the sadness and fear that hangs around the other man like a heavy net.
C.V.O.: They already suspected. And the worst part was Dean—trying so hard to be loyal, with every instinct telling him otherwise.
Red eventually coughs up that he’s never met Crowley—he always deals with the dispatcher, a demon named Ellsworth. Which…just so happens to have been Jim Beaver’s character's name on Deadwood. Heh.
This is extremely nit-picky of me and possibly has no place in a ramble where I claim to spin the positive, but…there’s humor and homage, and then there’s just lazy writing. And this is totally just my opinion—I don’t expect anyone else to agree with me, but the play on this dispatcher being the demon version of Bobby Singer was, to me, less clever shout-out and more lazy writing. There were all kinds of ways they could have made this dispatcher appear—from Merovingian-like to Max Mad-like.
I know making him a good ole’ boy hunter-type is more in line with our boys’ style, and I’m not saying it was a poor choice, but…. Perhaps it was just that this whole episode had my heart hurting so much I was unable to find the humor in this likeness. But, what I think of one little hunter-shout-out hardly matters. So, let’s move on.
Ellsworth—beard, flannel shirt, hunting vest, trucker hat and all—is talking on multiple blood phones (yes, blood phones) to multiple demons and then answers a real phone posing as an FBI agent who did, indeed, send some people to some location to do some thing. Meanwhile, two big demon thugs (one who totally reminded me of the Vin Diesel look-alike from Season 1’s Salvation) drag a body in and dump it at his desk.
Ellsworth: Not here, you freakin’ Yeti! Out back!
C.V.O.: These demons would lead the boys to Crowley and Crowley would tear their hearts out.
So, Cas kills the Yeti, then Ellsworth.
C.V.O.: I did it to protect the boys. Or myself. I don’t know anymore….
Y’know what I find interesting? Cas approaches so much of his motivation in this as a need to protect the boys—protect Dean, specifically. And he—they—don’t really need it. Not in the way Cas seems to be seeing it, anyway.
I see why he does it; I understand why. I sympathize why. Cas had to watch them give up everything—even their lives—for the sake of the world and live through so much pain and loneliness and get nothing in return. Nothing.
Even after stopping the apocalypse, Dean ended up with his brother in a hole and Sam’s soul spent a year in the Cage. So I totally get it.
But the thing I find interesting is that a demon is the only being that doesn’t appear to underestimate them. Underestimate Dean. Back in Season 4, Sam teamed up with Ruby and traveled the path of addiction in what he claimed was an effort to protect Dean because he saw his brother as weak after being brought back from Hell. He saw himself as stronger—mainly because of the demon blood—and better able to do this thing. And the whole time, he was taking the wrong path. And if Dean had known earlier, if they’d attacked it together instead of Sam keeping it secret, they could have defeated Lilith instead of killing her—the outcome could have been different.
Bobby thought he was protecting Dean by not telling him that Sam was back—thinking (like Cas) that he needed to stay retired because the life of a hunter damn near destroyed him. But had Dean known that Sam was back earlier, he’d have recognized that there was something wrong with his brother and they’d have gotten Sam’s soul back much sooner.
And now Cas is traveling a road from which there may be no alternative route, no U-turn, no exit. And he’s doing it because he wanted to protect Dean, initially, and continued on it to protect both boys. But as Crowley ironically pointed out—they don’t need that kind of protection. Being kept in the dark, being kept out of it, that doesn’t protect them. They’ve always survived by being prepared, fighting it together.
I still think that Sam’s soul is going to be key to all of the struggle about the souls, but in addition to that, I see the writers as doing one thing really consistently this Season that was started long ago: Dean being the heartbeat of their story. His constant focus on doing what is right. Maybe not what the world deems right. Maybe not what is right for the greater good. Maybe right without any room for shades of gray. But right as he’s always defined it.
And when people aren’t protecting him and keeping him in the dark, he’s a force to be reckoned with and, man, he gets things done. He found and grabbed Sam before Lucifer rose. He returned Sam’s soul. And I still think he’s going to be able to save Cas somehow. Eventually. Maybe not in this Season, but I believe it.
Anyway. The boys and Bobby burst into Ellsworth’s cabin and find it empty. Not just empty, but…full-on, white-glove clean. And as they’re sweeping the place, shotguns at the ready, there’s some cool soldier-like hand motions for action. I dug it.
C.V.O.: Hiding, lying, sweeping away evidence. My motives used to be so pure. After supposedly saving Sam (flash to Sam at the light post), I finally returned to Heaven. There isn’t one Heaven. Each soul generates its own paradise. I prefer the eternal Tuesday of an autistic man who drowned in a bathtub in 1953.
We follow Cas to a flashback of a beautiful garden, flowers all around, and in the background we can see a man in a red sweater flying a kite. Cas looks happy, peaceful, at home once more. I spent a lot of energy in Season 5 talking about my reaction to the SPN-version of Heaven, so I’ll just let this go because it’s not really about Heaven, anyway. It’s a story about a Being created to be a perfect soldier: powerful, obedient, of clear purpose and grounded as to who he was and where he fit on the totem pole of importance.
It’s a story about this Being sharing time and circumstance with two brothers and their lives and how that affected and changed him. It’s a story about human qualities bleeding into the essence of an Angel, changing him without him even truly being aware of it, and how that change wasn’t in all ways for the better. It’s about there being a reason that humans don’t have angelic powers and Angels don’t have human emotions.
It’s a heart-breaking story.
As Cas is in the Heaven, a bunch of suited-up Angels arrive. Rachel is there and is so happy he’s alive; they’d seen him destroyed by Lucifer. She’s convinced that God brought him back. In fact, she’s so convinced that even before Crowley started to play on Cas’ weakness, I started to doubt. We don’t have any evidence to the contrary, but I can’t help but wonder…what if God didn’t bring Cas back?
Rachel is convinced that God brought Cas back to lead them because he defeated the Arch Angels. Cas says that no one has to lead them—they’re free to make their own choices, choose their own fates. Rachel wants to know what God wants.
Cas: He wants you to have freedom.
Rachel: What does he want us to do with it?
The exchange reminded me a bit of the movie The Invention of Lying – they were so desperate to have someone to tell them what to do, these angels. Dean nails it later, though he says it with frustrated accusation rather than realization—they are like children. Telling these uber-powerful beings that they can now have the freedom to do whatever they want when they’ve lived millennia following orders is like standing in a pool of gasoline and lighting a match.
There is a reason angels were not given free will and humans were. And there’s a reason human do not have powers and are fragile beings. Free will is power enough, and it requires consequences and parameters.
C.V.O.: If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve said freedom is a length of rope; God wants you to hang yourself with it.
*rubs heart* Oh, Cas.
C.V.O.: Explaining freedom to angels is a bit like teaching poetry to fish.
Exactly—they didn’t have the benefit of two years riding with, fighting next to, surviving because of the Winchesters. They hadn’t seen with their own eyes, experienced for themselves what the “human spirit” really meant—and why having free will is so vital to humanity’s existence. Cas hadn’t realized how much he’d changed during his time with the boys. He hadn’t realized how human he’d become.
And then there’s Raphael. Aside—I like Raphael’s old body. Nothing against the woman, but this guy just exudes power and arrogance and makes you want Cas to resist.
Cas meets Raph in Ken Lays’ (of Enron fame) Heaven—Cas being the one to throw the standard SPN ‘current event’ crack that he still questions that man’s admittance into Heaven. There’s a bit of posturing from Raphael and the end result is that Raph wants Cas to pledge his allegiance to Raph the next day in front of the Heavenly Hosts. He wants to, as we know, “get the show back on the road.” Cas is like, uh, I don’t think so.
Raph lifts a hand and white-lights him. Next thing we know Cas is lying on the ground in his Tuesday’s With Morrie Heaven, coughing up blood.
C.V.O.: I’m not ashamed to say that my big brother knocked me into next week.
Raph gives him the “kneel or die” ultimatum. And with that, we go back to the now and Ellsworth’s cabin where Bobby and the boys are finding things a bit too clean and are wondering what to do next.
Dean: This is usually the point where we would call Cas for help.
It didn’t used to be that way—before Season 5, I mean. Used to be when they got stuck, really stuck, they fought their way out of it. But, that was before they flagged down the dangerous attention of Heaven and Hell, I guess. Still, I do have one wish for Season 7.
Less dependence on Angelic Intervention.
I love Cas’ character and his dynamic with the boys, Bobby—and his (currently tenuous) position as their friend. I don’t want that to go away. I just want them to find a storyline that makes it so that when they go up against whatever the Big Bad is next season, it harkens back to Seasons 1-3 and most of 4 where they had to figure it out for themselves. When they bled, they bled and they patched it up. And death was actually something to fear and avoid, not something they figured an Angel would just bring them back from.
Bobby: We talked about this.
Dean: No, you talked. I listened. This is Cas, guys. When there was no one and we were stuck, I mean really stuck, he broke ranks. He has gone to the mat cut and bleeding for us. So many friggin’ times. Don’t we owe him the benefit of the doubt? At least?
He’s pleading with them. He’s standing perfectly still, but his whole being is pleading that they go with him on this. The more he talked, the more my heart hurt—because we all knew that Sam and Bobby were right and at the same time so did not want them to be. Sam’s watching him with those soft eyes and I could feel his tension as he bows his head and prays for Cas to come down—half-squinting to look around and see if it worked.
Dean sags a bit with gratitude and then when Cas doesn’t come for Sam, he tries to call him. Of course Cas is in the background watching this whole time. And he doesn’t come, his V.O. says, because he knew they would have questions he couldn’t answer.
Dean looks disappointed and little afraid, saying in a choked voice that he must be busy. Sam claps a reassuring hand on Dean’s shoulder and turns him slightly saying that was okay, they were, too.
I love how Sam is with Dean throughout this whole episode—how he is, period, now that he’s been re-souled and has that drywall in his mind. As I said earlier, Sam moves as if he knows there’s a truckload of crap that happened—that he did, he caused—to his brother and it’s killing him that he can’t fix it, can’t erase it. But he’s not unaware of it. He apologized, not knowing what he apologized for, just that his brother was in pain. And he reluctantly accepted Dean’s “blanket apology/forgiveness” speech at Rufus’ grave, though I highly doubt he’ll let it end there.
He’s not lost his hunter edge—he’s been in the mix and in the fight every episode. But he’s also been a bit quieter, more observant, and as supportive as he can be of something he can’t know all the details about. He’s been a good brother to Dean in the wake of finding out that his soulless self nearly killed Dean physically and emotionally. I’ve loved it…and at the same time, it makes me afraid for what is coming up for both of them when they tear down that wall.
And this is a spoiler-free zone, so pure speculation here. But there’s no way they’re going into next season with that wall up. Too much angst potential to lose there.
ANYWAY. Sorry. Tangent-central today.
Sam pats Dean on the shoulder and moves toward the door. Bobby follows, saying they’re back to square one—but they caught one hunter/demon, they can do it again. Something makes Sam glance back and just as he does, he sees something moving out of the corner of his eye. He jerks in alarm and yells, “DEAN!” just before a BIG-ass demon slams into Dean, driving him to the floor, crashing its fist across Dean’s face.
Another grabs Sam and slams him into a table. A third throws Bobby through a glass door. Dean’s demon spits, “Crowley says hi,” before he punches him in the mouth again, turning his teeth red with blood.
C.V.O.: Crowley sent his very best. I was caught as much by surprise as the rest of them and it left me with another choice. I could reveal myself and smite the demons…Crowley wouldn’t like it, but they were my friends.
So, that’s what he does. Done and done.
C.V.O.: For a brief moment, I was myself again.
Bobby and the boys pick themselves up, groaning. There’s no blood, though—not even on Dean’s mouth. So, I’m guessing a free healing came with the smiting. That’s what I miss, though, the consequences. Even if it’s just a bloody lip.
Dean: Good to see you.
Cas: You all right?
Sam: Perfect timing, Cas.
Cas: I come with news. I firmly believe Crowley is alive.
Dean (with half a laugh): You think, Kojak? (turns to Bobby) Well, Bobby? What do you think about Cas saving our asses again?
Bobby (with a grateful smile): I think we owe you an apology.
Oh, he’s good. He’s really good. Right up until he’s not. It takes a lot of energy to keep a lie alive. Too much.
Sam: We’ve been hunting Crowley and keeping it from you.
Bobby: We thought you were working with him.
Cas (feigning shock): You thought…what?
Dean (smiling, relieved): Crazy, right?
Bobby: It’s just that you torched the wrong bones…it doesn’t matter. We were wrong.
Cas (approaching Bobby): You could’ve asked me.
Dean: We should have. We never should have doubted you. Just hope you can forgive us.
GAH! It just…hurts. I don’t know how Cas could stand it, knowingly lying to them and having them ask him to forgive them. His heart had to have been on fire.
C.V.O.: Wonders never cease. They trusted me again. But it was just another lie.
Cas (smiling): It’s forgotten.
Dean and Sam thank him and Sam’s smile…guh, it was a little boy and an old man and a veteran and a child all rolled into one. He killed me in this. They all did.
Cas: It’s a little absurd, though. Superman going to the darkside. I’m still just Castiel.
Oh, God. I went cold. And Dean’s face. His eyes. He barely flinches, but his eyes lose all trust, all hope, all belief for one breath-stealing moment. He knew. He knew and it killed him to see it.
In that instant, I thought about all of the fights between he and Sam—the one person in the world he truly loves. I thought about the fight under the influence of the Siren in Sex and Violence and the harsh words that were spoke, I thought about the fight in When the Levee Breaks and Sam trying to strangle him to death. I thought about him finding out that Sam picked a demon over him. I thought about him seeing soulless Sam watch him be turned to a vamp. I thought about the stoic flinch when soulless Sam told him he didn’t even care about Dean anymore. And through every moment, every betrayal (real or perceived) he found his faith in Sam. Because even when he didn’t believe in himself, he believed in Sam.
But this…it was worse. It was worse because Dean had had to find a way to believe in Cas—despite his disbelief that Angels even existed. He’d had to overcome a lifetime of doubt to trust and build a friendship…and with that slip-up, the curtain lifted and he saw that his friend was lying to him. Had been lying to him. Oh, that hurt.
Dean (with a fake, tight smile): I guess we can put away the Kryptonite, right?
C.V.O.: ‘Course I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was all over. Right then. Just like that.
Off of Dean’s pain-laced eyes, we move to Cas blasting into Crowley’s Monster House of Pain and confronts him about sending the demons. Crowley’s like, this is all about you not being “good Cas” with them, because then you can’t be “good Cas” with you. A whore is a whore is a whore, no matter the color of her heart.
Cas: If you touch a hair on their heads, I will tear it all down. Our arrangement. Everything. I’m still an Angel. And I will bury you.
And with that, we see where it all began, this ‘arrangement’ Cas is referring to.
Knowing Raphael is stronger than him, Cas goes to Dean for help, but standing in the Braeden’s yard, watching Dean rake leaves, Cas can’t bring himself to do it. Dean’s alone—Sam, though back, walked away from him. In this moment, Dean doesn’t know anything more than they sacrificed everything for nothing and Cas is uber aware of how much pain his friend is in. He couldn’t bring himself to ask Dean to sacrifice more. And though it ended up not being the best choice in the end, I loved Cas for making that choice. For treating Dean as a friend and a person and someone who needs to be cared for and…well, protected. Though he may not need it, ultimately, it’s still nice to know that someone wanted to try. That someone felt he was worthy of being shielded.
Worthy of it. That’s entirely different from protection being necessary because one is too weak. It was a gesture of love that I don’t think anyone in Dean’s life has ever made for him before. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to hug Cas, or kick his ass for being short sighted.
While Cas is watching Dean, though, Crowley shows up, wants to make a deal. I suspected that this was how it went down, but I wanted to be wrong. Cas is hardly the first of our group to make a deal with a demon—but I wanted his situation to have been different. I wanted Cas to have learned from the human mistakes he was not only witness to, but forced to clean up. I didn’t know how I wanted it to happen, really, just not that Cas had been seduced by a demon playing on the very real human weakness of Pride—a sin he and Sam share, apparently.
But, despite my ‘druthers, that’s how it happened. Crowley took Cas down to Hades to show him some of the changes he’d made. And I did find that ironically funny. Hell was waiting in line. I couldn’t agree more.
Crowley plays the role of the seducer, the snake, admirably well, holding out the forbidden fruit of power—enough power to run a war, defeat Raphael—and playing to Cas human-like need to be someone special.
To have been chosen—by God—to be the new sheriff in town, so to speak. Crowley says that all they have to do is get the souls in Purgatory. Which squashes my musing from last week that the souls in Purgatory wouldn’t do them any good because they were monsters. So, I guess Eve’s big plan wasn’t that she was going to tarnish the souls by turning them into monsters (which is what I had been thinking), but that she’d turn humans to monsters meaning they’d end up in Purgatory and no one knows where Purgatory is, so she would beat Crowley that way. It wasn’t that they’d be monster-souls, it was that they’d be hidden from him.
Crowley wants to use the boys, but Cas says no. Not Dean. He’s retired and needs to stay that way. I think if anyone had bothered to ask him, though, he’d have much rather helped Cas. But that’s just me.
Crowley: Fine. Then I know of a certain big, bald patriarch I can take off the bench. They get us the monsters, the monsters get us Purgatory.
Okay, so…maybe that’s really it for Gramps’ story? Crowley just used Mary as the carrot to get Gramps to work for him, then? I still kind of expected more, but maybe that’s just me not liking a perceived loose end.
Crowley’s price is half of the souls. Cas says that it’s pointless—his plan will take months, and he needs help now. So, Crowley floats him a lone of 50,000 souls to take to Heaven. Which, I’m guessing the Titanic deal was to repay Crowley for that loan. Which didn’t work because Cas chose to save the boys, so…I guess Cas is still in debt to Crowley of 50,000 souls beamed up from Hell.
Crowley (with a quiet, soothing, seduction to his voice): You can save us, Castiel. God chose you to save us.
C.V.O.: I wish I could say I was clear of pride in that moment. Or the next.
Cas shows up in Heaven; Raphael has a smug smile on his face. And Cas uses the power from the 50,000 souls to white-light Raph out of there, saying, basically, it’s him or me.
C.V.O.: And so went the long road of good intentions.
It’s night back at Ellsworth’s cabin, Bobby and the boys are tense. Bobby pours a drink, Sam’s pacing, a book in his grip, and Dean prays for Cas, his voice rough. Sam tells Cas, when he arrives, that they’re still there because they had to bury the bodies and tells him that they finally figured out a way to track down Crowley.
Cas advances to peer at the book Sam’s holding and walks right into a ring of special oil that Dean lights, trapping him. Either they found a supplier, or Cas got a whole bunch of that special oil that first, rough trip he took. Cas looks at each of them in surprise.
The questions come at him rapid-fire. Dean wants to know how long he’s been spying on them; Sam wants to know why it’s so clean in that cabin; Bobby wants to know how Crowley tricked him.
Cas (unable to face any one person, unable to find his mental footing): It’s hard to explain. Let me out and I can—
Dean: Look at me, man. Level with me and tell me what’s going on. Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not working with Crowley.
Cas looks at him, then looks away. He can’t say anything.
Dean looks gutted. He drops his eyes and mutters a broken, breathless, son of a bitch. His voice is hollow and as he looks up again, his face tight, aged in the light of the Special Fire. Sam and Bobby are staring at Cas with broken expressions.
Dean: You’re in it with him? Going after Purgatory? This whole time?
The ramifications are dancing across Dean’s eyes. The months of fighting and discovering and trusting—how far back did the betrayal go, how duped had he been, how long where they being played?
Cas: I did it to protect all of you.
Sam (incredulous, hurt): How? By opening a hole in Monsterland?
Cas (frustrated, helpless): To get the souls. I can STOP Raphael. You have to TRUST me.
Sam: Trust you? How are we supposed to trust you now?
*rubbing heart* Man, this is so tough and well done. They way they rolled it out, you can potentially see all sides, understand all reasons. It’s not hard to find the place I would stand, but it doesn’t make it easy to point fingers.
Cas (turning to Sam, needing to find someone to anchor to): I’m still me. I’m still your friend. Sam, I’m the one who raised you from perdition.
It was like the air was sucked from the room. Sam flinched, his eyes going young. Dean stiffened and went pale.
Sam (choking up): What? No offense, but…you did a pretty piss-poor job of it.
Then he pauses and his face gets this horrified look on it. Dean looks at his brother, the same question I’ve been wanting a clear answer to echoing in his eyes.
Sam: Wait. Did you bring me back soulless on purpose?
Cas: How could you think that?
Sam: I’m thinking a lot of things right now, Cas.
Cas hesitates, then turns from Sam. He doesn’t actually answer the question, though. I think I’ve decided to believe that he did NOT do it on purpose. When he’s recounting returning Sam in his confession earlier, he says nothing about an ulterior motive. Crowley doesn’t bring it up when they make their Power Deal. So, I’m thinking that his arrogance that he could do it had him blind to the fact that he screwed up and didn’t realize Sam was soulless until he did the soulonoscopy. At least…that’s what I want to believe today. I hope they don’t change my mind.
Because I think that would be the only thing they couldn’t come back from. It would be the only thing they—Dean—really couldn’t forgive.
Cas: Listen. Raphael will kill us. He’ll turn the world into a graveyard. I had no choice.
Dean: No, you had a choice. You just made the wrong one.
And as one who has been burned time and again by deals with demons—his own and others’—Dean would know.
Cas: You don’t understand. It’s complicated.
Dean: No, it’s not. And you know that. You kept it a secret because it was wrong. When crap like this comes around we deal with it. Like we always have. What we don’t do is make another deal with the Devil.
Cas: It sounds so simple when you say it like that. Where were you when I needed to hear it?
Oh, Cas. *tears up* You’re breaking my heart.
Dean: I was there. Where were you? You should have asked for help.
Outside there’s a BIG NOISE and a bunch of black smoke tears across the moon-filled sky.
Cas: It’s too late now. I can’t turn back.
Dean: It’s not too late. Dammit, Cas, we can fix this!
Dean’s had to say that so many times before. To Sam, mainly. He’s always wanting to make it better. To fix this…whether ‘this’ is a situation, a relationship, a broken heart or a broken body. He’s always so convinced that they can make it better. *sniff*
Cas: Dean. It’s. Not. Broken.
Ouch. That was basically Cas saying I know you think it’s wrong—and you may be right—but I don’t care; I’m doing it anyway.
The black smoke comes closer and Cas tells them to run. Now. Dean hustles Sam and Bobby out through the door, pauses to look back, then leaves Cas standing in the circle of Special Fire. I was a little bothered by that, but then…they all had been dealt a pretty harsh blow by a person they considered a friend and Cas is, after all, an angel who made a deal with a demon, so maybe they figured that would protect him. I’m not sure.
Crowley comes in, puts out the fire. Cas does his “if you dare touch them” threat again and Crowley’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah, not a hair on their artfully tussled heads. ‘Course…he didn’t promise to not hurt anyone they love—just not the Winchesters. So…now I’m worried about Bobby all over again. Crowley yammers a bit about friends holding you back and that he and Cas are the new God and the new Devil working together.
Cas is like ENOUGH. Stop. Talking. And go away.
Atta boy, Cas.
Crowley: You’re welcome, by the way. You know what the difference is between you and me? I know what I am. What are you, Cas? What are you willing to do?
His line was shades of Dean, circa Season 1—For you and Dad, the things I’m willing to do and kill…scares me sometimes. And Malone from The Untouchables—What are you prepared to do?
And his words struck a chord with me as well. It’s always been a question I’ve struggled with – on a number of topics, faith just being one.
Back at Bobby’s, Dean is asleep on the window sofa and there are anti-angel protection charms painted on the windows (in blood, I wonder?). They weren’t done correctly, though, because Cas can get in. Dean senses him and wakes up. Cas tells him that he wants him to understand that he did this all for Dean. He’s doing it because of Dean.
Dean: You gotta be kidding me.
Cas: You taught me that freedom and free will—
Dean: You’re a friggin’ child, you know that? Just because you can do what you want doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.
Yes, Dean. He is. And I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault that this truth was never recognized before. How are humans to truly understand the limitations of an ANGEL? How are angels to understand that they have limitations? That there are limits and rules and invisible fences around right and wrong that humans (some of them anyway) learn from the word go – just by being in and of the world. Limits and lessons and rules that angels wouldn’t be privy to when they aren’t saddled with emotions and regret and repercussions and souls and consciences.
So yeah, he was a child, and it’s because of that (I think) his choices and actions are forgivable. It’s because of that that Dean (and Sam and Bobby) might still be able to save him.
Cas: I know what I’m doing.
Dean: I’m not going to logic you. I’m saying don’t. Just ‘cause. I’m ASKING you not to.
Cas: I don’t understand.
Dean: Next to Sam, you and Bobby are the closest thing I have to family. You’re like a brother to me. So, if I’m asking you not to do something, you have to trust me, man.
*rubs heart* Guh. This. Just. *sighs* He asked the same of Sam. And I can totally understand—after all they’ve been through together—that he’d see Cas as family. It’s the only way he’s been able to set him outside of the label of “dick” that he puts on all other angels. And it’s why he’s always poking at him.
Cas: Or what?
Dean (looking hollow, but resolved, his face setting into stone): Or I’ll have to do what I have to do to stop you.
Cas: You can’t, Dean. You’re just a man. I’m an angel.
I got a really bad feeling when he said that. He’s actually labeled himself an angel a lot in this episode. I mean, he IS one—he just said it a lot and when he said it this time, in comparison to Dean being “just” a man…I just…got a bad feeling that things might change.
Dean: I don’t know. I’ve taken some pretty big fish.
Cas: Sorry, Dean.
Dean: I’m sorry, too.
And Cas is gone. Dean drops his head, alone. Guh. I just…he really looked and felt alone in that scene. I wanted Sam to walk in, just to give him another heartbeat in the same space.
Back in the snow-covered clearing, Cas is sitting on the bench, still talking to…?
C.V.O.: That’s everything. I believe that’s what you would call a tragedy in the human perspective. But, maybe the human perspective is limited.
He raises his eyes, beseeching the sky and my heart breaks a bit more as he reveals who he was talking to by saying, “That’s why I’m asking you, Father, one last time. Am I doing the right thing? Am I on the right path? Give me a sign. Because if you don’t…I’m going to do whatever I must.”
His eyes fill with tears. The world is quiet. Still. He bows his head. And the screen goes dark.
In the previews, he yells “Stop me!” to someone, but they didn’t show that, so I’m guessing that was an angle they decided not to go with.
I think God may have already given him the sign—just like the warning he saw too late with Soulless Sam. I think Dean saying, don’t was his sign. He just hasn’t realized it. I could be off, though. I’m gutting my way through this, and I’ve been off before—thankfully about Cas using Sam’s soul as fuel.
Because I promised not to spoil based on episode-ending previews, I didn’t watch them. I’ll be as surprised as the rest of you non-spoiled peeps when the 20th comes around. And that ramble will be posted late as well since we have two lovely hours back-to-back to enjoy.
Thanks for reading and for your patience.