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Angered by his attack on the Winchesters, Castiel stormed in on Crowley, who told him he couldn't have friends any more. The demon taunted that Castiel was using the Winchesters' belief in him to cling to the big lie that he was still good and righteous, saying that a whore was a whore. Furious, Castiel slammed him into a wall, warning that if he harmed a hair on their heads, the angel would tear it all down – their arrangement, everything. He warned he was still an angel and would bury Crowley, and then disappeared.
In retrospect, Castiel said he would have asked himself what he was doing with such vermin, but he already knew the answer. Raphael was stronger than he was, and in a straight fight, he knew he would die. He said he went to an old friend for help, but as he watched Dean raking leaves in Lisa's yard, he thought about everything the man had already sacrificed and that he was going to ask him for more, and hesitated. That crossroads moment was when Crowley first appeared to him, saying he wanted to help and discuss a simple business transaction. When the angel scoffed that he didn't have a soul and couldn't make a deal, Crowley answered that it all came down to souls, saying he was talking about Raphael's head on a pike and happy endings for them all. Castiel said he had no interest in listening to the demon, but Crowley continued to wheedle, asking him to come away and listen for just five minutes, no obligations. Looking at Dean still obliviously doing yard work, Castiel recalled that of course he was no fool and knew what Crowley was, but figured he was smarter and wiser – and he turned away from Dean and went with the demon, while acknowledging later that he'd been prideful and in all likelihood was a fool.

Crowley took them to his re-imagined version of Hell, where in place of constant pain-dealing torment, souls now found themselves waiting in an interminable line, discovering when they reached the front that they were simply returned to the back to wait all over again. Crowley asked what Castiel was going to do about Raphael, and the angel asked rhetorically what he could do other than submit or die. Crowley asked why he didn't resist, and when Castiel responded that the demon knew he wasn't strong enough, Crowley agreed he wasn't on his own, but pointed out there were a lot of other angels ready to follow him because they saw him as chosen by God. Noting that angels needed leaders, Crowley told him to be one, assemble his army, and attack any angel supporting Raphael. Castiel objected that Crowley was asking him to be the next Lucifer, starting a civil war in Heaven, but Crowley dismissed Lucifer as a petulant child with Daddy issues while pointing out Castiel had been brought back by God and asking if His purpose might have been having Castiel lead in Heaven. Tempted, Castiel nonetheless dismissed the idea as ridiculous because of the amount of power it would take to mount a war, but Crowley explained his idea: going nuclear by finding a way to tap the power of all the monster souls in Purgatory. Castiel asked how Crowley would find it when no one ever had, and the demon conceded they would need expert help, slyly referring to the Winchesters as being available and out of work. Castiel instantly refused to involve Dean, saying he was retired, and Crowley said dismissively he knew a bald patriarch he could bring back off the bench, referring to Samuel. Crowley argued the hunters could get them to the monsters and the monsters could get them to Purgatory. When Castiel asked the price, Crowley said half the souls, noting his own position in Hell wasn't that stable and more souls would help him the same way they would help the angel. Wavering, Castiel concluded it was pointless because Crowley's plan would take months and he needed power now if he was to survive, and Crowley sprang the closer: he offered to float a loan to Castiel of fifty thousand souls out of Hell that he could take to Heaven and use. He told Castiel his only choices were going along with the plan, or seeing Raphael restart the apocalypse to destroy everything Castiel, Sam, and Dean had worked for. He said Castiel could save them, that God had chosen Castiel to save them, and deep down, he knew it.
Wishing he could say he was clean of pride at that moment and the next, Castiel recalled returning to Heaven, confronting Raphael, and blasting him away with the power of his purloined souls, announcing to the host that there would be no Apocalypse and that angels were either with Raphael or with him.

Back on Earth, Dean, Sam, and Bobby laid a trap in Ellsworth's house, and Dean prayed to Castiel to join them. When the angel appeared, Sam said they'd found a new strategy to get to Crowley, and Bobby lit the ring of holy oil they'd laid out on the floor, trapping him in a circle of holy fire. Dean said they needed to talk about Superman and kryptonite, and Bobby asked how Castiel had known what he'd said, while Sam asked how long he'd been watching them. The questions kept coming – how the demon lair they were in was so perfectly cleaned up, how Crowley had tricked him with the wrong bones. Dean ordered him to look him in the eye and tell him he wasn't working with Crowley, and when the angel had to turn his eyes away, the truth was apparent. When Dean asked if he'd been working with Crowley to get to Purgatory the whole time, Castiel objected he'd done it to protect them. Sam asked how opening a door into monster-land would help them, and Bobby noted just one drop had gotten through and it was Eve, asking what would happen if Castiel broke open the entire dam. Castiel argued passionately that he needed the souls to stop Raphael, saying they had to trust him, but Sam asked how they could possibly trust him now. Castiel maintained he was still himself, still their friend, and then told Sam he was the one who raised him from perdition. Sam observed he'd done a piss-poor job of it, and then, horror-struck, asked if Castiel had brought him back soulless on purpose. Taken aback, Castiel asked how he could think that, and Sam responded he was thinking a lot of things.

Castiel argued Raphael would kill them all and turn the world into a graveyard; he said he had no choice. Dean disagreed, saying he had a choice and made the wrong one. Castiel said he didn't understand, that it was complicated, but Dean countered that it wasn't and Castiel knew that, saying he wouldn't have kept it all a secret if he hadn't known it was wrong. He snapped that when crap like that came around, they dealt with it the way they always did, but what they didn't do was make another deal with the devil. Abashed, Castiel said it sounded so simple when Dean put it that way; then he asked where Dean had been when he'd needed to hear it. Rock steady, Dean said he'd been there, and Castiel remembered Dean working in the yard, unaware as Castiel turned away and followed Crowley. Dean said he should have come to them for help. Castiel halfway agreed, but said it was too late, that he couldn't turn back now. They all heard a storm of demon smoke suddenly converging on the house. Dean argued it wasn't too late, that they could still fix things, but Castiel maintained it wasn't broken, and as the demons closed in, he shouted that they had to run. Reluctantly, they fled, leaving Castiel in the fire circle.
Crowley arrived at the house and extinguished the fire, releasing Castiel. When Castiel repeated his warning about not hurting the Winchesters, Crowley assured he'd heard him the first time and wouldn't harm them. He added he thought they'd proved his point, rhetorically asking why it was always your friends who held you back when you tried to change and improve yourself. Crowley said he saw in them the new God and the new Devil working together, but Castiel ordered him to stop talking and get out of his sight. Departing, Crowley noted the difference between them was that he knew what he was. He asked Castiel what he was, and what exactly he was willing to do.

Dean, asleep on the sofa at Bobby's behind windows marked with sigils intended to keep angels out, woke to find Castiel in the room with him. Castiel said Bobby had gotten some of the angel-proofing wrong, and Dean bemoaned the need for them to have it in the first place. Dean asked why he had come and Castiel said he wanted Dean to understand. Dean cut him off, saying he got it: blah, blah, Raphael. Castiel argued he was doing it for Dean, because of Dean; that Dean was the one who taught him about freedom and free will. Dean cut him off, calling him a child and saying that just because you can do what you want doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. Castiel said he knew what he was doing, and Dean responded he wasn't going to logic him. Instead, he said he was asking Castiel not to do it just because he was asking. He told Castiel that next to Sam, he and Bobby were the closest things to family Dean had; he said Castiel was like a brother to him, so if he was asking him not to do something, Castiel had to trust him. Castiel asked what would happen if he didn't, and Dean said he would have to do what he had to do to stop him. Castiel said he couldn't, pointing out Dean was just a man while he was an angel, but Dean resolutely said he'd taken some pretty big fish. Castiel said he was sorry, and disappeared even as Dean said he was sorry too.
In the winter garden, Castiel said he guessed it was a tragedy from the human perspective, but wondered if the human perspective might be limited. He asked God, his Father, if he was doing the right thing, if he was on the right path. He pleaded with God to tell him, to give him a sign, because if He didn't, he would do – whatever he must. He sat in silence, looking up, and when nothing happened, hung his head.



# Ellie 2011-05-19 02:55
Ben Edlund set out to give Castiel a sympathetic pov and therefore the audience and he certainly achieved that .so job well done I suppose.
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 20:56
Glad you could appreciate the effect, even if you're not invested in Castiel! Edlund definitely succeeded in his intent ... :)
# KatieV 2011-05-19 06:15
Thank you Mary for another thoughtful and insightful review. I love reading your thoughts about this wonderful show. I also wonder how much of these underlying themes the writers intended to create when they put pen to paper or was it all there in the collective subconscious and they, like Chuck, are just a means to express them.
Or is that going Uber-Meta?
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 20:58
Thanks, Katie! I suspect a number of the underlying themes were in the writers' minds - but I also suspect we often read things into the subtext that they didn't intend, but which prove to be happy unconscious accidents in the long run!
# MB 2011-05-19 09:04
RE the sigils.

I'd like to posit that perhaps it isn't a forgotten plot point. We see Castiel heal Dean at the end of 5.22 and considering the victory they've scored and his mood at the time it'd be reasonable to assume that he removed the sigils then too. The fight was over after all.

Similarly hauling Sam out from Hell could have given Castiel the same opportunity to remove the sigils although this one involves a little more leeway.
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 21:00
Thanks for coming and commenting!

I wouldn't be surprised if Cass removed the sigils at some point, thinking them no longer necessary; my only little quibble is that we've never been told or been shown that. We've just seen Castiel turning up in the brothers' presence, when last season, they made a big thing of him not being able to do that. It's just a little quibble, in any case!
# Ginger 2011-05-19 09:08
"Dean's stubborn loyalty and utter devastation at realizing how deeply he'd been deceived, while Jared showed Sam's unfailing awareness of and consideration for his brother's feelings. After the half-season of watching soulless Sam being oblivious of his impact, I really appreciated how attuned to Dean Jared's Sam has been ever since recovering his soul, and how evident Jared has made Sam's desire to minimize Dean's pain."

I am glad you brought this point out. This is exactly what I have been noticing the last two or three episodes, and it is a welcome relief.

I thought the episode was brilliant; too, do I say this...

Your analysis was pretty much how I viewed the episode, but I guess it's just that I am not all that interested in an angel dealing with human emotions, dilemmas; all that stuff, and that story taking center stage in the season. I realize that the resolution to Cas's problems will set the stage for S7's story.

That said, whether I like the direction the show has taken, kudos to Edlund. The episode was amazing, beautifully done, answered questions without tainting Cas as an unredeemable character, and brought him full fledged into the series as a lead.

Thanks for a great review.
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 21:05
Thanks, Ginger!

I'm glad you could appreciate the episode even though you don't particularly care for the Heaven/Hell storyline.

I really do appreciate the way we've seen re-souled Sam appreciating his brother, even as we saw Dean appreciating having Sam fully back. I've been loving the renewed brother dynamic, especially given how long it's been missing. Love the Winchester brothers, and always will!
# Clare 2011-05-19 14:27
Really excellent meta, though I think you've left out a very important factor in Cas's choices: his love for Dean, which shone through every time he looked at Dean in this episode. He wasn't prepared to risk *Dean*. The real tragedy is that what he's planning *will* risk Dean.
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 21:11
Thanks, Clare! And great point on Castiel's caring for Dean. I don't think the angel fully understands this "feeling" thing even yet, but it's clear how much Dean has come to matter to him. And you're dead right; what he's doing is jeopardizing precisely the one man he most intended to protect.
# Bevie 2011-05-19 14:29
Anything I could say would pale in comparison to your thinky thoughts Mary, so I just want to remind you how very much I enjoy your reviews and metas. :-)

I may not comment on every one, but know that I thoroughly read and enjoy all of them.

Thank you
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 21:11
Thank you very much, Bevie! *Hugs*
Maria G
# Maria G 2011-05-19 17:23
How and why are archangels more intrinsically powerful than other angels – or are they? Will we ever know?

I believe they're following religious canon when it comes to Archangels. They're far more powerful than Angels because they're higher in rank. Angels deal with individuals (hence the term "guardian angel") and the delivery of messages, whereas Archangels deal with large groups, nations, etc. Logic would indicate you'd need more power to deal with more people.

Just my 2p.
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-19 21:17
Thanks, Maria! Nice points!

I grew up Catholic, so I know the doctrine; my question was aimed more at how the show's cosmology encompasses the relative powers of angels. If angels draw power from souls, I'm curious about how archangels get more than others - and whether it's possible Castiel may now have more access to power than he had before he was brought back in Swan Song. I more than halfway wonder, especially after Castiel's comment then that he was "new and improved," whether he might have gotten an upgrade to archangelic status without realizing it. Wouldn't that be a kick, if he was now actually a straight power match for Raphael, and just didn't realize it, limiting himself simply because he was accustomed to thinking himself intrinsically less powerful? Hmm ... more thinking is required, I think!
# MB 2011-05-20 08:30
How and why are archangels more intrinsically powerful than other angels – or are they? Will we ever know?

I believe they're following religious canon when it comes to Archangels. They're far more powerful than Angels because they're higher in rank. Angels deal with individuals (hence the term "guardian angel") and the delivery of messages, whereas Archangels deal with large groups, nations, etc. Logic would indicate you'd need more power to deal with more people.

Just my 2p.
I don't think this is necessarily true. I'd accept that the archangels are the top of the tree however Cupids are meant to be higher than angels but they've made it clear that the Cupid(s) on SPN are below Castiel's paygrade.
# CitizenKane2 2011-05-19 23:04
This is another great article. It was quite heart breaking in some parts, and I guess being confronted with hard truths can have that effect.

I especially liked the way you concluded the article - the effect of the last sentence and the accompanying picture was devastatingly sad.

I did wonder (and commented on another article) why didn't Castiel seek out Joshua to see if God had any views on the matter (c.f. Dark Side of the Moon).
# Bardicvoice 2011-05-20 18:22
Thank you; glad you liked! Thank Alice for the final photo - she's the one who supplies the pictures, and she ALWAYS nails it!

I suspect Castiel didn't seek out Joshua because he didn't want to get the same answer the boys did back in Dark Side of the Moon - that God didn't think it was his problem. Poor angel ...
# BagginsDVM 2011-05-19 23:51
Awesome episode, awesome review!
Gosh, not much that I can add to what you've presented for us to ponder! Castiel's story of the fish crawling onto shore definitely caught my attention, for that's always been my view of evolution, having learned in Catholic grade school that God set evolution in motion.
I like the idea that angels have always had free will too, but just never had the need or desire to explore it until they had more direct contact with humans.

Oh, Cas! I just wanted to smack him upside the head while giving him a big hug at the same time. I agree; he just hasn't realized that the sign he was asking for was the man standing in front of him, telling him to stop.

Misha, Mark, Jensen, Jared, Jim...TV just doesn't get any better than this!

# Bardicvoice 2011-05-20 18:23
Thanks, Dawn! I'm with you; I always wondered about people so literal-minded that they couldn't contemplate God having chosen evolution as his mechanism of creation.

And I definitely agree that TV doesn't get better than this!
# Carla 2011-05-21 11:17
"And it also goes to show that might have been are the three saddest words in the English language."

This is truly sad. It reminds me of a brazilian poet called Manuel Bandeira. In one of his poems, there's a verse that says "Uma vida inteira que podia ter sido e não foi", which is something like "A whole life that might have been and was not."
I think it fits really well Sam and Dean's lives.

Great review as always, Mary!