5x14 “My Bloody Valentine” “Yes, absolutely. But not just food. I mean, everyone seems to be starving for something.”
Castiel’s story in this episode is possibly one of my absolute favourite things, because it set up the arc of Castiel’s growing humanity that we witness on the show to this day and in my opinion it was Ben Edlund and this episode that shaped the Deancas interactions from here on out too. He was also the one after all, who wrote 4x16 “On the Head of a Pin”, which was not only the turning point in Castiel’s arc in S4 where he openly expressed his doubts concerning Heaven and sided with humanity, but was also the episode that had the infamous line
“I was getting too close to the humans in my charge: You.”
If you want to talk about Deancas romantic subtext, Ben Edlund surely was one of the writers, who explored this most. Hell, he was the one who penned 5x04 “The End”, which showed that Castiel, absolutely loyal, stayed with Dean even when the Dean he once fell for was barely recognizable anymore in 2014. Even more so, for the mission of killing Lucifer, he followed Dean into batlle and certain death. Now of course there lies the question why would he do it. The answer is simple: Love.
Compare Endverse with where we are now in 2016 - the similarities are striking, but this is no meta setting out to say it wil come to pass. No, this is solely an exploration of Castiel’s becoming human and falling (in love) arc.
2014 saw Cas powerless, living as a human, because the angels left. He lacked self worth, drank, did drugs, but was loyal and willingly - out of love - went with Dean, sacrificed himself in the mission to kill the devil. Now in 2016 Castiel did something very similar, lacking any kind of self worth, he said yes to the devil out of the desire to protect the people he loves.
And imo a lot of this characterization of Castiel’s growing humanity was established by Ben Edlund in 5x14 “My Bloody Valentine” - and this is absolutely an analysis wearing Deancas goggles - because Castiel’s hunger was not a sign of his vessel, it was a sign of how human Castiel had become at that point already that Famine could have such an effect on him as an angel. This gets emphasized when Dean asks Cas “if he even tried to stop” and Castiel just replies “I’m an angel, I can stop anytime I want.” Which of course is proved wrong spectacularly.
To me Castiel’s hunger for burgers never had anything to do with Jimmy novaks appetite. It was a sign for what he craved. Castiel was craving to feel human - and this season and last it was emphasized more than once that Castiel is more human than angel, it’s his identity quest. I mean, given how much he despised to eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches after he had angeled up again in S9, because it tasted like “molecules”, but in this episode he devours hundreds of burgers announcing that “these make him very happy” (You know someone else, who chooses certain types of comfort food to re-create certain feelings and emotions? Someone who may have proven an appetite for “The Elvis”…) I guess he must have tasted all of it and not just all the parts.
But more than “just” craving to be human imo by particularly developing an appetite for burgers - after Dean rejects his in the bar, where Cupid is targetting his “victims” (very interesting setting) - to me had eveything to do with Dean in particular due to that direction connection. Plus: It is really interesting how Cas turns away and cannot meet the Winchesters’ eyes when he is asked how it comes he is hungry. He turns away, mumbles it’s due to Jimmy and really it’s such a tell that no one would believe anyone in RL who behaved this way.
5x14 reveals quite a bit about the characters and their possible struggles or motivations by framing and shooting order. And with that I am finally, after one hellish long pre-face at the point to explain why I picked these two moments. Not only does it imo connect to what Castiel tells Hannah in 10x01 “Black” about “Art, love, hope and dreams”, it does also add a rather nice subtext/text and silent storytelling moment here, because when Castiel says “drugs” the camera gives us Sam’s expressions which makes sense because we have seen Sam’s struggle to wipe the blood off the knife just minutes prior and his demon blood addiction counts as drugs (like Sam himself realizes too given the look in his eyes). But of course that’s not the only reaction shot we get, it’s the second one that holds massive amount of subtext/text, because when Castiel says “love” the camera moves to Dean. That is a direct connection that can not just be read in “Dean craves love” - which is inherently true and a HUGE aspect of the current season - but also as Cas does too, he is just substituting or showing it in a way a certain other character for example associates pie and sandwiches with “home” and “love”.
And “love” and “identity” has been set up to play a key role in this season for all characters involved and with a lot of different notions. From brotherly to romantic. In the end it all just comes down to your point of view…
Summary: The circus has been Dean’s life for nearly ten years, working behind the scenes to keep the closest thing he’s had to a home running. When a new performer is hired, he threatens to turn Dean’s world upside down. Castiel, international aerialist extraordinaire, wants Dean to let go of the rigging, step out of the shadows, and perform with him. Can Cas convince Dean that taking the chance to believe in yourself is worth the cost of falling?
Artist Notes: I have always loved circus aus, but I never thought I would be a part of creating one so epically beautiful as this. Like, this is what I’m about, this is everything that I love and want others to enjoy, and I cannot thank Liz enough for making it a reality. I was actually secretly hoping when I entered the reversebang again that I would get to work with her again, and lo, she picked me! I have loved, loved, loved every minute of working on this with her. She’s worked so hard, and I literally could not be more happy and proud of what we present to you! This will be something I’ll come back to again and again, so roll up! roll up, folks! and enjoy!
Sam has always told you that his door is open if you ever needed to talk. He has promised you that he would be there for you whenever you needed him, and you figured a nightmare would be an adequate reason. When you wake up, sweat covering your body, and the flashbacks from you nightmare still fresh; your first thought is to go to Sam’s room. Your movements are quick and quiet as you make your way down the hall to his room. When you open the door, he is sound asleep. You second guess, thinking that maybe it was a bad idea and you could deal with it yourself. He almost instantly senses your presence and wakes up, gun in hand before realizing its you. He softly tells you to climb into bed with him, his arms wrap you up. He begins to tell you a funny story about something that had happened to him in college, hoping to take your mind off of things before you fall asleep again, and when you finally do; he sighs in relief. He’s glad you came to him, because now he can keep your nightmares away and you can do the same for him.
Dean is always the first one to come to you when you have a nightmare. He could hear your screams echo throughout the bunker, and he is out of bed the second he hears them. He doesn’t like knowing that you are suffering, especially since he frequently has nightmares himself. When he finds you, a mess of sweat and tears in your tangled sheets, his heart sinks. He’s beside you in a second, his arms around you, pulling you into him. He doesn’t ask you if you want to talk about it, he just settles in your bed, knowing that the last thing you want is to be alone. He draw circles on your back, trying to calm you down the best way he could. He can’t help but smile as you sign contently. He wishes he could sleep next to you every night, that way he’s there to protect you from your nightmares. He places a kiss to your forehead the moment he knows you’re asleep. He rests his head on top of yours as sleep quickly consumes him.
Cas never really understood nightmares, or dreams for that matter. One night when he hears you praying to him, your voice sounding extremely distraught almost like you are in danger, he responds right away only to find you in your bed with tears falling down your cheeks. You tell him every single detail of your nightmare, trying to help him understand what had you so worked up. He places his fingers to your forehead and the thoughts about the nightmare completely disappear. You aren’t scared of it anymore, not really at least. He then offers to stay with you for the rest of the night, just in case that nightmare or any other danger to you comes back. You nod your head, taking comfort in the thought of not sleeping alone for one night. Even though Cas doesn’t sleep, he still closes his eyes and listens to you. Your breathing evens out, he knows you’re fast asleep and this time he knows you’re going to have a good dream.