Page 5 of 5Because I Want It To Be
There was something uniquely appropriate in Raphael borrowing Ken Lay's Heaven. As the chief executive of Enron, Lay was the architect of perhaps the biggest corporate fraud in America â€“ and Raphael is continuing the fraud on both Heaven and Earth perpetrated earlier by Zachariah, who pretended the then-current apocalypse was the will of God. The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that Castiel went on to perpetrate his own fraud, lying to his follower angels as well as to the Winchesters while he secretly cut a deal with Crowley and nearly sold humanity to Purgatory in his attempt to secure enough power to confront Raphael on his own corrupt terms.
When Raphael claimed he had to reinstate the apocalypse because it was God's will, Castiel, appalled at the prospect of such utter destruction and devastation, asked him how he could say that, and Raphael responded simply, Because I want it to be. With that single, chilling line, Raphael revealed himself â€“ and Zachariah before him â€“ to be the ultimate hypocrites, professing divine will as the excuse for gratifying their own personal desires for power and paradise when they believed God was no longer watching them. They had lied deliberately to the angelic host to keep the other rank-and-file angels â€“ like Castiel, once upon a time â€“ in line; just remember Zachariah in Lucifer Rising, when admitting he'd always intended to break the seals, saying, Grunts on the ground, we couldn't just tell 'em the whole truth. We'd have a full-scale rebellion on our hands.
And I would submit that is the power Castiel overlooked and ignored, the real power he could have used to oppose Raphael and his faction. Dean laid Zachariah's hypocrisy bare for Castiel, giving him grounds to choose against Zachariah while still preserving his belief in and dedication to God and to doing the right thing in God's eyes. I believe Castiel should have done the same for his brother and sister angels. There is great power in social justice: just look at the American civil rights movement, when peaceful protest and civil disobedience â€“ even when met with force and violence â€“ ultimately prevailed in changing opinions and forcing legal, moral, and ethical change throughout a society. There is great power in truth and understanding, and great strength in numbers fueled by moral imperatives. Zachariah, Raphael, and their faction had kept the majority of angels in the dark about their intent because they feared what would have happened had the bulk of the heavenly host, who believed they were serving God, learned they were being deceived and used by rogues instead. Castiel was armed with the truth â€“ but we never saw him share it, explain to the other angels why he had rebelled, and that he hadnâ€™t rebelled against God, but against corrupt bureaucrats misusing their power in Heavenâ€™s government.
You can fight city hall, but you canâ€™t do it alone. When youâ€™re up against serious, organized power, you build a coalition of your own; you get help. But you donâ€™t accept it from an equally corrupt contractor seeking to line his own pockets and to get you, as a future leader, in his debt and under his thumb. No: you broadcast the truth and publish your proof, and you recruit the support of others like you. Individually, you might not have the power or the resources or the strength, but together, you can make a righteous army. And you can win.
Doing that, though, would have required Castiel to be a leader, to share his knowledge and his vision and his determination, and from what we saw, that wasnâ€™t what he did. He let his fear of Raphaelâ€™s strength and of the utter destruction promised by the apocalypse overpower calm, strategic thinking, and then Crowley played on his pride, his hidden vanity, and his fear as if they were strings on his harp.
I don't think it's entirely too late for Castiel to redeem himself, find the right power, and shut down both Crowley and Raphael â€“ but to do it, he needs to recognize that God already gave him the sign he was begging for at the end of the episode, a sign he just didn't want to see or hear because it meant he had done so much wrong. The sign was Dean telling him to stop. The sign was the still, small voice of Castiel's own conscience telling him he was wrong. The sign was the very shame inside him that made him lie and hide the truth.
I think in The Man Who Would Be King, Ben Edlund wrote a nearly perfect episode of Supernatural, and in only his second stint as a director â€“ his first having been the episode Smile Time on Angel back in 2004 â€“ I think he did himself proud. I particularly enjoyed the way he employed camera or actor moves to reveal Castiel as having been watching what went on in a scene, unseen, until another character (usually Dean) moved to uncover the angel having been hidden behind him. It's hard to make clear that a character we can see is invisible to the other characters in the scene, but Edlund pulled it off here. (And I can only imagine the hilarity on set as Jensen, Jared, and Jim pretended to be unaware of Misha during the shooting â€¦ here's hoping we get outtakes on the season six DVDs!) The actors commented at the Paley Festival about the fun of having as their director the same man who wrote the episode, who could give them specific direction on what their characters were thinking or feeling, and the passion among all involved really showed on screen.
This was a talky episode with a lot of exposition to deliver, but the beauty of it was, you didn't notice it. Having Castiel speak directly to the audience, with the audience occupying the position of God, worked wonderfully to suck us in as we perceived the things we'd seen and thought we'd known from an entirely different perspective that dramatically changed our understanding. And seeing the Winchesters, Bobby, Crowley, and his own decisions through Castiel's rueful, sad, and now wiser eyes made all of them different.
I think my only real quibble with the script was its total disregard for the Enochian sigils Castiel had burned into the brothers' ribs back during Sympathy For The Devil to hide them from angels. That was a crucial plot point throughout season five â€“ one that even required the brothers to use cell phones to let Castiel know where they physically were, for example, in Good God, Y'All, The End, and My Bloody Valentine â€“ but it totally vanished during season six. I've grumbled about it gently throughout this season so far, hand-waving Castiel's ability to show up whenever required as indicating that direct prayer could trump the concealing power of the sigils, but Castiel showing up in the Impala in the beginning and spying on the brothers unseen pretty much throughout sidestepped that entirely. Perhaps Castiel, being so much more sensitive to human things than other angels, homed in on the Impala in the beginning, knowing Dean would be close, and targeted Bobby as a beacon when he was in the brothers' company, but it's pretty clear the writers are now simply blocking out awareness of the currently inconvenient angel-proofing on the brothers' bodies. Did Castiel wipe out the sigils when he healed Dean and brought Sam back from Hell? Would be nice to know.
Given that's my only quibble, though, it's a very minor one! And it's trumped by everything I loved about the story, starting with learning a lot of the truth that's been hidden from us this season, and continuing through Edlund's deft touch in using absurdity to lighten up otherwise potentially unbearable darkness. Castiel's more-than-half-bitter irreverence in recounting the past served not only to add a little levity to the narrative, but to convey just how deeply disaffected the angel had become. In the same moment, Edlund made us both laugh at human pretensions â€“ interpreting the fall of the 37-foot Tower of Babel as a sign of divine wrath â€“ and realize how very hurt and disgruntled Castiel himself was; that was superb. And who else could capture in two sentences the concept of God employing evolution to accomplish His creation (I remember being at a shoreline watching a little gray fish heave itself up on a beach, and an older brother saying, â€œDon't step on that fish, Castiel. Big plans for that fish.â€), and who else would have created a demon twin to Bobby named Ellsworth, in honor of Jim Beaver's role on Deadwood, manning a bank of phones that included bubbling goblets of blood as hotlines to hunter demons? This episode had way too many quotable and memorable lines to count, and truly defined why I love Ben Edlund.
Donald L. Koch, who (as Don Koch) has served as an assistant editor on various episodes of the show since the beginning of season four, earned his first primary editor credit on Supernatural with this episode. Talk about starting with a bang! This was emphatically not an easy or straightforward episode to assemble, but I thought he did a great job. I really enjoyed the intercutting of the scenes from D.W. Griffith's 1916 film Intolerance (thanks to Jim Beaver â€“ on Twitter as @jumblejim â€“ for having identified the source material!) to illustrate part of Castiel's narration of history. And whoever picked the music for this episode was inspired! Running Billy Paul's â€œMe and Mrs. Jonesâ€ under the scene of Castiel and Crowley in the torture/autopsy chamber had me in almost hiccuping hysterics (We've got a thing going on / We both know that it's wrong / But it's much too strong / To let it go now â€¦), and playing Strauss's â€œThe Blue Danubeâ€ as elevator background music in Hell was too deliciously torturous for words!
Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard owned this episode. All the way through, Misha delivered on Castiel's inner conflict and confusion, his wonder and dismay at how all his well-intentioned actions could have gone so wrong. Sheppard's Crowley not only chewed the scenery and spat it out â€“ his delivery of those denim-wrapped nightmares just sticks in my mind! â€“ but his deliberate, meticulously plotted seduction of Castiel was brilliantly executed.
While the focus of the episode was on Castiel, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki shone as the Winchesters. Jensen laid bare all of 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 love watching these two actors create the brother bond between Sam and Dean! I also love watching Jim Beaver as Bobby balancing the burdens of knowledge, wisdom, and compassionate affection.
I'm very curious to know more about the nature of souls. Crowley â€œloanedâ€ Castiel fifty thousand souls to supercharge him against Raphael; did Castiel's use of them burn them out, or are there fifty thousand new â€“ and spiritually undeserved â€“ niches in Heaven? And were the fifty thousand souls reportedly created during My Heart Will Go On intended to repay Crowley, perhaps to try getting Castiel out of his deal, or was that seeming correspondence in numbers a coincidence? Why did Sam emerge soulless out of Hell when Castiel tried to rescue him â€“ did Death or God perhaps intentionally block his soul's escape, in order to highlight and underline the vital importance of souls? How and why are archangels more intrinsically powerful than other angels â€“ or are they? Will we ever know?
My two biggest take-aways from this episode were the need we all have to ask for and accept help from others, and the absolute importance of telling the truth to the people we care about. No matter who you are, as the U2 song put it, sometimes you can't make it on your own, and there's no shame in admitting that and asking for help. This season would have been totally different if Castiel had just revealed himself to Dean when he first realized how lost he was, admitted his mistakes, and asked for help, and if he'd told the complete and unvarnished truth of all he'd learned about their corrupt government to all his brother and sister angels in Heaven.
And it also goes to show that might have been are the three saddest words in the English language.