"You know the difference between you and me? I know what I am. What are you Castiel? What are you willing to do?"
Crowley really said it all right there. And it's a good question, one that I'm not sure Castiel is ready to answer. He leads us through his side of the story beautifully though; starting with some of his "childhood" memories, leading us to the moment he took possession of his vessel and recalling the time "two boys, an old drunk and a fallen angel" stopped Armageddon. All of these moments describe the Cas we know. The angel who sees the difference between right and wrong and chose free will when he saw wrong being done in the name of God. This is the Cas we've known and loved. It's when this new-found confidence turned to arrogance that Castiel began to lose his way.
It's not that I disagree with his decision to stop Raphael from re-starting the Apocalypse. In fact, it's right in line with the Cas we know. Raphael was calling the shots and planned to play it off as God's will knowing that the other angels would just follow his lead. It's clear that Cas couldn't stand idly by knowing what he knew. And this is where I begin to feel bad for him. Clearly he's wasn't strong enough to fight Raphael on his own, and the other angels didn't seem to grasp the concept of choice. I felt worse when he realized he couldn't ask Dean to sacrifice any more than he already had. And he clearly couldn't go to Sam for help. He was on his own.
Speaking of Sam, I have a few questions. How is it that Castiel raised Sam from perdition without his soul? I had been wondering before this episode whether Castiel purposely left Sam's soul behind. I don't think that is the case but then how did he overlook something like that? Probably that pesky arrogance again. But why would Castiel not go to Dean and let him know that Sam was alive? He had to know how heavily it was weighing on Dean's heart to think that his brother was still suffering in Hell. Sure, Cas knew that something was off about Sam but it didn't bother him enough to really investigate. He was more preoccupied with Raphael and the Apocalypse: Part 2. And maybe he had every right to be? That's the thing about this episode. It's easy to point out all the bad choices that Castiel made but it's hard to deny the seemingly good intentions behind those choices.
These good intentions are what paved the road to Crowley. Crowley obviously knew that Castiel was in a tight spot with no one to turn to. In other words, he was desperate. And a desperate man, or angel in this case, can be easily swayed with a bit of logic and heavy dose of swagger. And Crowley laid it on thick. Castiel really didn't stand a chance against Crowley's persuasion. Heck, I found myself thinking that he made a pretty good argument. I mean, who would you rather have running Hell? Lucifer? Or Crowley "the devil you know"? And offering Castiel a little advance on the souls was just the cherry on top. How could he refuse? Well, as it turns out making deals with devils is not a good idea. Imagine that...
But what's worse than the deal itself is the secrecy. Sam and Dean have already lost so much and secrecy has tested their relationship more than once. Castiel was there, he should know what it looks like. So how is he still so convinced that what he's doing is right? As usual, Dean said it best when he confronted Castiel:
Castiel: "You don't understand, it's complicated."
Dean: "No, actually it's not. And you know that. Why else would you keep this whole thing a secret unless you knew it was wrong? When crap like this comes around, we deal with it like we always do. What we don't do, is we don't go out an make another deal with the devil!"
Castiel: "It sounds so simple when you say it like that. Where were you when I needed to hear it?"
Dean: "I was there. Where were you?"
This whole conversation was hauntingly reminiscent of season four conversations between Sam and Dean. And the two of them are only now getting back to a good place. And now Dean is confronted with this same betrayal and secrecy from a man he defended against his better judgment. Sure, Sam and Bobby feel hurt and betrayed as well, but not on the same level that Dean felt it. Castiel even admitted that he and Dean "share a profound bond". It may have been a punchline at the time but that doesn't make it any less true. Castiel literally raised Dean from the dead and has saved him more times than I can count. But more than that, he was there when Dean thought he had lost Sam forever. And when Sam came back from Hell incomplete Castiel's presence was a comfort and a firm foundation for Dean. (Granted, he was also the cause of the problem in the first place.)
But this shattered trust didn't stop Dean from offering Castiel a second chance. This was probably the most heartbreaking moment of the episode. Dean finally sees the web of lies that Castiel has weaved throughout the past months and he's still willing to put it behind them. "Damn it Cas, we can fix this!" But Castiel can't see beyond his clouded judgment; "Dean it's not broken." How did Castiel convince himself that he was making these choices to protect Sam and Dean? If anything, leaving them in the dark is leaving them vulnerable. He has to know that Crowley isn't planning to hold up his end of the deal. At least, that's what I'd guess. And he also happens to hate the Winchesters so when the time comes for Crowley to turn the tables, who's going to die first?
When Castiel came to confront Dean there was a mix of emotions. It's obvious that Castiel has made poor choices but I found myself hoping that he could explain them to Dean the way he explained them to us. Maybe then Dean would understand Castiel's intentions. Maybe then he would understand that Castiel never set out to hurt him, but to protect him. And maybe then Dean would be able to reason with him and show him the way like he's done so many times before. But that is not what happened. Dean did open up to Cas in a very real way. He called him family; he called him a brother which is saying a lot because we know just how much he loves Sam. And then, Cas shut down. I'm not sure why it happened. He could have easily returned the sentiment. We know he feels the same way about Dean but for whatever reason he chose to challenge him instead.
"You're just a man. I'm an angel."
Talk about heart breaking. Just a man? As the words left his mouth I thought I saw a little regret in his eyes. Or maybe that was just wishful thinking. Either way Dean is anything but just a man to Castiel. He has taught Castiel about freedom and choice. He has taught him what it means to really believe in your decisions and to live with purpose. Castiel has sacrificed everything for these new found values and has sacrificed everything for Dean and Sam. They were harsh words and I hope Castiel finds a way to take them back.
I am very curious, as I'm sure you all are, about the season finale. For the first time Sam and Dean will be hunting a monster I don't want them to kill. And I sincerely hope they don't have to. I have been wondering for a while now if we might see God this season. I still think it's entirely possible. The entire episode was a prayer for guidance to a God that Castiel still very much believes in. So it doesn's seem out of the question that his prayer would be answered. I also wonder what will happen if Crowley is killed. I suppose a new king of Hell will be appointed. Is it strange to say that I would miss him if he was killed? If we have to have a king of Hell, I'd like it to be Crowley. There is something so charming about him. So what do you guys think about Cas going darkside? Any thought about the finale? I'd love to hear them!
I had a few other random observations and quotes that I wanted to mention...
*First of all, I wanted to send some serious kudos to Ben Edlund for this script. He is just amazing. It really goes without saying.
*I loved the decision for Castiel to break the fourth wall as if he wanted the chance to explain himself to us. I thought it was very effective and it was a much needed explanation.
*I really liked the still frames that were used throughout the episode. Castiel exploding was especially interesting. Not typical Supernatural fashion, but I think it worked.
*I was shocked to see that Castiel had the ability to spy on Sam, Dean and Bobby undetected. I wonder how often he's done that. Clearly he's not good at keeping his spying a secret. It took no time at all for Dean to realize where Castiel picked up the Superman reference.
*So Crowley was the one that decided to raise Samuel when Castiel refused to involve Dean. So does that mean that Samuel was in Hell when all this time we thought he was in Heaven?
*Ellsworth, Bobby's demon counterpart, was a much needed laugh. He had the hat, the flannel and even two Sam and Dean-esque partners. It's kind of a shame Castiel killed him. It would have been interesting to learn more about him.
There were a few other funny moments worth mentioning.
*Cas: You're joking.
Raphael: Do I look like I'm joking?
Castiel: You never look like you're joking.
*Castiel: "Freedom is a length of rope. God wants you to hang yourself with it." (This is more dark humor than ha ha funny, but still worth mentioning)
*Crowley: "I wanted to help you, help me, help ourselves."
Castiel: "Speak plain."
*Castiel: "I'm an angel, you ass."
*Crowley: "You've got what they call sex appeal."
Castiel: "Thank you. Get to the point."