Disclaimer first - I'm not negative or angry + very pleased will all the lovely TFW we are getting and one thing I'm disappointed in - Is it just me or is Dean/Cas independent! relationship kinda gone-ish, 80% of all the emotional talks are always on TFW as a whole, never just Dean/Cas, even if Sam isnt there. Dean isn't ever refering to Cas in any emotional way singularly anymore (your OUR best, best friend WE've ever had, glad he cares about US, WE dont leave family behind etcetc) and cas too
Yeah, the big declarations have been all like that but having seen the whole “I love all of you” thing, I feel like they’ve been building up to actually have a family first, which is something I guess is way more important as a long term investment.
Something I’m always coming back to is that horrible isolation of Carver era. Well, I’m currently watching season 7 and at that part where they’ve now finally lost everything and it’s just Sam and Dean and not even the car. Like, Hallucifer and hunting and the Leviathan problem are literally the only constants they have from their old lives. Wow. :P
Carver era sort of puts a bit more of a fragile shell around them by giving Cas back, making Crowley a frenemy, and at least has some outside people like Charlie and Kevin even if they get killed off, but then also the wayward daughters characters who survive it, so there are at least some people to hold them accountable… During that time Cas is their only main constant family and even then terrible stuff is always happening to him and he’s always leaving, so he’s not really around except for little hints of what might be, and Cas picks up so much trauma from that too…
I don’t know, looking at it from as outside a perspective as I can manage, I think with Mary back, and Cas MEANT to be a member of the family but needing serious integration into the family unit (12x03 with that little conversation showing Mary and Cas are struggling with the exact same thing) the show has to actually believably glue these people back together, and even Sam and Dean have huge splits that have barely been addressed (like Dean apologised for the ridiculous “sam hit a dog” grudge they started Carver era with in like, 11x11, I think? Which means they’d been actually on good terms for like maybe 12 episodes when Mary comes back :P) never mind Cas’s ocean of trauma and Mary being dropped among them out of the blue.
There’s been a real theme of teamwork this season in the big confrontation fights - 12x06, 12x07, 12x10 and 12x12 definitely all had teamwork fights taking down one big enemy together, and I may be forgetting some stuff but it’s more than enough for a pattern that they want to show the characters working together as a large and well-functioning unit - and within that, good dynamics, which they’re still working on especially for Mary, who (as we suspected she would) has only really SOLIDLY bonded with Cas because they’re both outsiders - Dean and Sam fight okay with her by their side but they need to work on interpersonal stuff (and I LOVED the shot this episode of Mary and Dean back to back with a wall between them).
To my eyes the TFW (and Mary) dynamic is clearly top priority and really important for the story they want to tell, and I’m loving the fragile way this family is being built and the exploration of the dynamics (now we’re getting later in the season I’ve seen people comment that Mary and Sam got a bad deal, but honestly for the first like 6 episodes of the season I was contemplating devoting my blog entirely to their drama and just forgetting Dean and Cas completely because I was so into what was going on there, and find it really weird people weren’t picking up on that because I thought all the subtext about Azazel coming between them was brilliant use of the characters and it just all suddenly paid off and I probably yelled louder about a Yellow Eyed demon showing up than I did about the whole “I love you” nonsense. :P There’s a part of my soul which is always going to be seasons 1-2 of Supernatural all on their own >.>)
But I think there’s still a ton of DeanCas this season, just underneath the main message they’re pushing, all the stuff like Dean and Cas just being prioritised when it comes to stuff like of course when the season starts Cas urgently gets back to Dean immediately and the story starts with them together. Of course Sam waits with Lily Sunder while Dean rushes off to help Cas. Of course Dean gets all weird and pissy about Cas working with Crowley and Sam like has nothing to do with this, at all. Of course when they get out of prison Dean is phoning Cas urgently to come get them, and sits in the back of the car with him. Of course he’s the one having the angry feud about caring too much vs being reckless after Cas invites his cosmic consequences. Of course when Cas is dying Dean is the one who rushes over to check on him and subtly all through that sequence is the one with the most focus on ALL the reaction shots, and the centre of the drama.
And the little things like of course Dean phones Cas here, asks him to stay for breakfast there, is the one to hand him a beer and pat his shoulder, holds on just that much longer when he and Sam haul Cas to his feet (which I think is the perfect 1 tiny moment to demonstrate the whole thing of Dean just caring that little bit more even though Sam and Cas easily and happily could consider each other family at this point)
It’s like… Even when they’re not strictly telling us a story ABOUT Dean and Cas alone there’s just a little bit extra something going on between them, constantly, like, they just drift next to each other, or end up paying way more attention to each other? Like Dean at the diner in 12x12, Cas’s presence and the Mandy thing ends up this itch he has to scratch, he can’t stop bringing it up - weirdness between Dean and Cas derails the conversation repeatedly, and from both Cas and Mary’s POV we see Dean almost, like, fixated on Cas’s presence, while he’s all brotherly and annoying to Sam vying for attention complaining about the wifi, Dean just snores at him and goes back to I think just trying to get a rise out of Cas.
I wouldn’t say any of this is really doing anything with them because the emotional arc right now is Family and creating a plausible version of Supernatural where it’s not two lonely angry brothers and sometimes people who help them and peripheral people they love but don’t, like… function in this way. Not in this whole promised dynamic of how that group exorcism went down in 12x06, or how Sam and Mary and Dean took on a Prince of Hell to save Cas (and even Crowley proved he has his own strange seat at this table there)… But they’re certainly keeping a sort of ongoing feeling there, that there’s just something extra about how Dean feels about Cas, and as usual, with 12x10 especially, the story about angels and romantic love is repeated and used between Dean and Cas, like, that’s all still there… I don’t know, every time something ridiculously small happens like Cas shows up and Dean rotates his entire body to face him on instinct, I’m like, yeah, we’re still existing in a story where Destiel is a presence.