Castiel’s endgame in the Carver era
In meta I’ve written before, I’ve been saying that Cas’ endgame has been questioned at least since 9x06. However, the gif set I’m talking about shows clearly that Castiel’s endgame has been foreshadowed since season 8. It’s incredibly obvious that all the Carver era has done is put Cas in a position where it’s crystal clear for the audience what Cas’ choice will be in the end, no matter what.
It is totally true that Castiel has been choosing Dean since season 4. The first time he did it was in 4x18 (The Monster at the End of This Book). He finally rebelled against Heaven in 4x22 and spent all season 5 defying Heaven because of Dean. The problem is that when the Apocalypse was finally over, the obvious choice for Cas was to go back to Heaven. Nobody could question that endgame for him, so that’s exactly what he did.
In season 6, Cas did everything to stop Raphael from restarting the Apocalypse. He ended up being “god” and went back to Heaven to teach Raphael’s followers a lesson. When he tried to return the souls to Purgatory, the only thing we knew about him was that he wanted to redeem himself, but the Leviathan took control over him and we lost Cas for most of season 7. When he came back and remembered who he was, all he could do was take Sam’s pain to fix at least a little of what he had done. He became what we call “crazy!Cas”, whose motto was “I don’t fight anymore”, except for when he learned that Dean was going to risk his life to clean up Cas’ mess. He ended up in Purgatory with Dean, and from season 8 we learned that Cas wanted to stay in Purgatory to do penance. He felt guilty for everything he had done, and he didn’t think he deserved to be saved.
Castiel, angel of the Lord, went from being a character who belonged in Heaven and turned into a character who didn’t know where exactly he belonged anymore. If you’re a writer, how can you take this character and make him want to stay on Earth? In season 5, Cas’ obvious endgame was going back to Heaven. Is that what Carver wants for Castiel? The answer is NOT AT ALL.
When Carver became the showrunner in season 8, Castiel was unwillingly rescued from Purgatory and became Naomi’s puppet. He was mind-controlled most of the season, but when he had to follow orders and kill Dean, he was given a choice: “You have to choose, Castiel. Us or them?” That was the first time TPTB asked an important question for Cas’ endgame. Cas chose “THEM” (and by “them”, I mean Dean), but when Dean asked Cas “what broke the connection” between Cas and Naomi, Castiel said he didn’t know because, honestly, he had no freaking clue.
Cas fled because once he was himself, he didn’t know where he belonged. Dean was pissed because Cas didn’t stay, because Cas didn’t trust him and ran away with the angel tablet, but what Dean didn’t understand was that it was complicated for Cas. Metatron took advantage of Castiel’s confusion and manipulated him as well. In the season 8 finale, Cas was given another choice. He was going to “close the gates of Heaven” (or at least that’s what he thought), and Dean asked him if he was sure because if he did that, he was going to close the door behind himself and wouldn’t be able to return to Earth. What was Castiel’s answer? He seemed determined. He thought that was the right thing to do, so Dean said it was time for E.T. to go home since they still thought that Castiel’s home was Heaven. In other words, Castiel’s endgame was still to go back to Heaven, at least in Cas’ mind, but not in Jeremy Carver’s mind.
In season 9, Cas became human. In the season 8 finale, he was even told by Metatron to get a wife and have babies, so Cas was given a different option for an endgame. And guess what? The first thing we saw in season 9 was Cas telling his sister that there might be something even better than Heaven’s order and purpose, down here, on Earth. Castiel looked happy in 9x03 when he was in the Bunker even though he was human. He became miserable when he was left alone in a human life he didn’t understand. He was obviously affected by the fact that the people he considered his friends turned their backs on him. Dean kicked him out when Cas needed him the most. That’s why he was pissed at Dean in 9x06. However, in that episode, Cas was directly questioned for the first time in a more obvious way: “But as what, Castiel. As an angel or a man?” In season 8, Naomi told Cas to choose between “us” = heaven or “them” = humanity. In season 9, Cas was clearly given the options he had: ANGEL OR MAN? Did he answer the question? No, he didn’t because we’ll see the answer to that when Supernatural ends, but that doesn’t mean the Show cannot foreshadow the answer we’ll get.
The first foreshadowing was in 9x22 when Josiah told Cas, “You play at being noble. You play at being one of us. But I look into your eyes… And I don’t see an angel staring back at me.” Cas’ options are to be a man or to be an angel. What is Cas if his own brothers cannot see an angel in him? What is he if they tell him he plays at being one of them? So Castiel’s endgame has suddenly changed. He doesn’t belong in Heaven anymore, but WHY?
The same episode (9x22) gave us the answer in Metatron’s voice: “His true weakness is revealed. He’s in love… with humanity.” That was the episode where Hannah told Cas that the angels gave him their trust. Her words were simple: “Don’t lose it over one man.” ONE MAN. Not Humanity. She was talking about Dean. She wanted Castiel to punish Dean, to kill Dean. But Cas couldn’t. Castiel’s endgame has totally changed because he’s in love. Dean himself told Cas, in the same episode: “You just gave up an entire army for one guy.” The writers didn’t give a clear “he’s in love with Dean” because it was not the right time for the audience yet (there were more seasons to come and we’re talking about the endgame here), but the subtext was there and it was painfully obvious for everybody who has already taken their heteronormative goggles off.
Besides, in 9x23 we got some more confirmation thanks to Metatron’s words:“And the Angel tablet – arguably the most powerful instrument in the history of the universe – is in pieces, and for what again? Oh, that’s right – to save Dean Winchester. That was your goal, right? I mean, you draped yourself in the flag of heaven, but ultimately, it was all about saving one human, right?” Perhaps Metatron didn’t literally say that Cas was in love with Dean, but he said that Cas’ only goal was to save Dean no matter how much he pretended to be Team Heaven. Metatron knew that Cas’ choices were not because of humanity or because of Dean and Sam. IT WAS ALL ABOUT SAVING ONE HUMAN. So, please let those words sink in for a moment.
In the first episode of season 10, we got a Cas who understood that even though being human was painful and could lead to chaos, “not all bad comes from it.” He mentioned art, love, hope, dreams. All of those “human things” as Hannah herself told him. However, when it was Hannah showing him those kind of human things in 10x03, Cas said that emotions and feelings were dangerous temptations. At that point, the mission was everything to Cas and he saw these “dangerous temptations” like distractions that could easily occur. He wanted Hannah to understand that, but how would he know that feelings are dangerous temptations? Maybe because he has experienced those feelings? We just don’t know!
In 10x03, Cas stated two things as his “mission”: getting to Dean (turning him human again) and hunting the rogues. However, in 10x18, Metatron questioned Cas’ mission literally, just in case the audience had not been paying attention. Metatron’s words to Cas: “How many more rogue angels are there out there? And, what are you gonna do once you’re done with all that? Go back to Heaven? Please.” We, as the audience know that early in the season Cas mentioned the rogues as half of his mission. The other half was Dean, but Metatron didn’t know it. The question was valid, though. What is Cas gonna do once he’s done? Go back to Heaven? PLEAAAAASE!! It’s obvious Cas’ engame is not Heaven anymore. “So tell me, Castiel, truly, what is your mission now?”
Cas gave us his mission in 10x22 when he told Dean: “Maybe you could fight the Mark for years, maybe centuries, like Cain did, but you cannot fight it forever. And when you finally turn – and you will turn – Sam… And everyone you know, everyone you love – they could be long dead. Everyone except me.” Staying by Dean’s side is Cas’ mission. So let me ask again, what is Castiel’s endgame?
Has season 11 changed the song that’s been playing during all the Carver era? Not in the slightest! As early as episode 2 we got an angel asking Cas what he is. When Cas dared call himself an “angel of the Lord”, this is the answer he got: “That so? ‘Cause, near as I can tell, when you have to choose between heaven and the Winchesters… You choose them. Every time. So, see, you’re not my brother.” Cas is like “a dog that thinks it’s people” (a reference that has been used twice around Cas so far). He’s not a human, but he tries to be like one. The problem is that Heaven is definitely not where Cas belongs anymore. That’s clear as water. Therefore, the “as an angel or a man” question should have an obvious answer. At least for us, the audience. If people still have doubts, I really don’t know what show they’ve been watching. Cas, on the other hand, still needs to find his answer because he still calls himself an angel and he still thinks he’s “a lot like people”, but that’s not good enough. It’s his ENDGAME, though. So it’s obvious he still needs more time to figure it out. Besides, how can he be certain he belongs on Earth when he’s still not sure his human family will want him?
In 11x06, Metatron made Cas realize that he was sick of being everyone’s tool, manipulated and used by even his friends. Cas’ flashbacks in the same episode showed that Cas is aware of everything he’s done for and because of Dean. He lost Hannah, probably the last angel who didn’t hate Castiel. He has lost all his family in Heaven because of Dean (since the flashbacks didn’t show Sam or Metatron or Crowley or Rowena or anybody else). Now the million dollar question for Cas is: Has it all been worth it? Can you believe the thing separating Dean and Cas this season is the uncertainty they feel toward each other? No more Gadreel, no more fading grace or Mark of Cain. Huh!
Anywho, I’m sure one of Carver’s objectives since he took the reins of the show was to change Castiel’s endgame. To me, the journey has been pretty evident. Cas will choose to live as a man and will stay with Dean. What sort of relationship will they have? That’s the other million dollar question! But we can remember something regarding Castiel: he’s in love! Also, it wouldn’t hurt to remember that Dean has been set for a romantic interest since season 9 (as confirmed by Sam in 11x04). So… make of that what you will. ;)