I wanted to talk more about all the Dean and Cas moments in 13x06. I was so busy flailing like a lunatic last night, and while I mentioned it briefly in my watch notes, I do think these moments of intimacy between them are telling of a bigger picture and worth examining more closely.
Look at just how much insight Cas has into how Dean works…
When Jack mentions Dodge City, Dean gets that dopey, bashful look on his face whenever he wants something badly. And it’s Cas that gives him a pointed and knowing look in return.
It’s intentional, and our gaze is deliberately draw first to Dean, and then Cas’s reaction. Not Sam’s, who by all accounts in canon, has precisely the same amount of exposure to Dean and cowboys in 6x18. All flailing about the unwritten implications aside (okay not completely aside, because just think for a minute about how Cas has come to know this as intimately as he does), Cas knows inherently that this is something that gets Dean excited. And later, when Jack looks on in incredulity at Dean’s unabashed fanboying over the motel room and the old cowboys…
Jack: He really likes cowboys.
Cas: Yes, yes he does.
I have trouble reading Cas’s line here as anything other than long-suffering. In my eyes, he’s framed as a long-suffering spouse who’s put up with this reluctantly, but lovingly, for what feels like forever. But whether you read their exchange as something more intimate, or just as a long-suffering friend, it’s still long-suffering. As in, Cas has had to bear witness to Dean’s cowboy obsession time and time and time again. We only know of one other instance in canon where Dean has had this particular kink on display: 6x18′s Frontierland. I’ll grant you Cas is a drama queen, but Frontierland on its own is just not enough to warrant this level of exasperation in Cas, because it was Sam who went back in time with Dean then and bore the brunt of Dean’s enthusiasm for the Wild West.
Next, Cas knows that Dean is an angry sleeper. And okay, I’m not setting the flailing aside on this one, because JUST HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT, CAS? HMMM? We know canonically that Cas has a history of watching Dean sleep. We now know that he has a history of waking him up as well, and Cas knows how to do that in a way that is gentle and soft enough not to wake the sleeping bear as well. I would very much like to see precisely how Cas wakes Dean up.
And the coffee? That whole scene was so delightfully domestic. You get the sense that this is a ritual– a daily routine that they go through. I adore the silent, wordless exchange between them and Cas just plunking himself down in resignation. Communication without words requires intimacy and familiarity with someone else, and we’re seeing that in spades here.
When they split up to tackle the case, I love that it’s Sam who splits them the way that he does: Jack will stay with Sam, and Cas will go with Dean. It’s not necessarily the most logical choice, and it would have made arguably more sense for Cas to go with Jack. I like to think that Sam is acknowledging that his brother and Cas need some space alone.
Which leads me to my final point. Just as moments within an episode can’t stand alone and must be taken in context, so too should we look at the overall season arc and the choices that are made to put episodes where they are in chronology. 13x06 falls right after the episode in which Sam is trying is absolute, adorable best to cheer Dean up, but he’s doing it in all the wrong ways. I’m not saying that Sam doesn’t understand Dean, because he’s absolutely close with Dean and has to know things about him that others don’t because of their close proximity all their lives. But I feel like they’re making it glaringly obvious over the course of the past few episodes that Sam doesn’t relate to Dean in the way that Cas does, and contrary to whatever bullshit Dean might spew, Cas is not his brother.
Sam’s insight into Dean (at least in the previous few episodes, and he certainly has a history of this in the past too) is well-intentioned and loving, but misguided. Frankly, I blame Dean for that because of how carefully he’s kept Sam from truly seeing him. The contrast between Cas and Sam and how they both relate to Dean is fascinating. Sam seeing the sanitized, performing Dean facade, whereas Cas sees beneath it.
I’ve wavered in the past between “Sam knows” and “Sam is an oblivious moose.” I’m beginning to lean more in the direction of oblivious moose, not necessarily because that’s where I think Sam’s at, but because that seems to be the direction the writers are taking him in– as a stand-in for casual viewers and the lens through which we see the dynamic between Cas and Dean.