A hopefully one day conclusive study of these assholes, hopefully told as briefly as I can.
Written for the people in the fandom who care but sometimes need a pick me up on this, and not written to prove a point to anyone who doesn’t already care. <3
This scene is another one of the core Destiel scenes. Cas is supposedly fully brainwashed and acting on Heaven’s orders, but as in the scene with Anna where he outright says he wishes she hadn’t come, his actions may be dictated but his heart and feelings are *not*. When Dean pushes, an equal part angry and concerned about Cas, Cas says this incredible line.
“Dean, I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Dean wants the sympathetic old Cas who could be talked around, who would agree with him, help him with a sexy raised eyebrow and smirk and tell him the secret code to get the hell out of this mess.
And Cas… can’t. He’s not allowed to be what he once was to Dean. The very fact of the choice of phrase hits me. Not that he says anything to justify it or explain it. Just simply. I can’t. I can’t get into this, with concern, with personal talk. I can’t explain and I can’t *talk* to you. And he brushes off the personal conversation to try and get back to why he was sent.
This reads to me a lot like a metaphor of a high melodrama mind control version of the kid who’s banned by his conservative parents from seeing his boyfriend, (as Heaven often represents to Cas - 12x10 has a strong example of angels liking humans being treated with bigotry analogies). He has to break up with Dean, deny who and what he is in order to even have access to his friend. No giving in to the irresistible draw of Dean’s heart that has pulled Cas in.
And the only reason Heaven would still send Cas to Dean is because Dean would not hear out, wouldn’t fall for it from anyone else, wouldn’t trust a single other angel who came down here to twist Dean’s arm into this oath. And Cas knows this too, knows Dean’s attachment to him in turn is being exploited.
He turns and walks away, and when he speaks it’s entirely with purpose, directing the conversation back to Sam, just as in the previous scene in this series, Bobby pulled the conversation away from Dean’s feelings about Cas bubbling under the surface, and back to Sam.
One of my favourite bits of framing is when Dean and Cas stand in each other’s places in a scene. Cas moves here to shut off friendly conversation with Dean, and though his face continues to betray his resentment of doing this to Dean, he speaks entirely to purpose.
Dean then moves into the same spot with Cas looking over his shoulder - and because of the angel theme, *so* much of their interaction is told through shoulders, whether touches or “angel on the shoulder” imagery. In the first instance, Cas is denying Dean as his conscience. In the second, Dean is being influenced by Cas, signing “his” oath because if he does this, Sam doesn’t have to.
And, oh dear, that oath is coerced and a lie that is inflicted on both Dean and Cas - Dean to be tricked, and Cas to make the betrayal.
I know we joke a lot about this crane shot as The Longest Destiel Stare but it’s all part of the heartbreak here:
Cas has to be firm and unyielding in his application of pressure on Dean. Dean is desperate, feels he’s losing everything, and doesn’t trust the angels, barely trusts Cas or Heaven’s purpose - all that early optimism evaporated. And he breaks and looks down in defeat, a mini metaphor within the scene showing in their interactions how Cas was forced to break Dean, and how Dean was broken.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.