I remember once reading a post about how destiel pov is usually only on one character while the other looks disinterested and this is kind of the feeling I'm getting from s13 too Dean is all about Cas and mourning Cas and TFW and Cas is all "k. Bye". :/ im getting kinda uncomfortable since 12x19 with Dean crawling after Cas begging him to to choose them and Cas continuing to not do that (part of why I hoped Cas was brainwashed and not intentionally leaving Dean)
I hope that wasn’t my post because it was a little more complex than “one feels one way and the other looks disinterested”
I wrote this about how there’s a narrative POV about whose emotional arc is carrying Destiel. That doesn’t have to mean whoever has it is basically just shown to be unrequitedly pining. For example in season 4 you can comment a lot on how Cas seems to be falling for Dean before, you know, literally falling for him, but the POV of the season is entirely on Dean and the only Cas POV we get is stuff where he’s hanging out talking to other angels doing angel business and his personal arc stuff. There might be some incredible Destiel scenes like when he rebels in 4x22 but Dean’s the POV in the scenes even if Cas is the one reacting and doing stuff which is powering things along. Or 6x20 is entirely from Cas’s POV but we see Dean contribute plenty of angst to the drama and we still know how he feels, it’s not hard to guess when it’s written all over his face and how he struggles with what he’s discovering when we’ve been with him all season already, but every scene is given to us from Cas’s perspective because he’s narrating it.
I mean obviously there are times when one of them is emotionally unavailable such as the rest of season 6 being from Dean’s POV, or season 9 - 10 where Dean has the Mark and so the emotional arc is all on Cas’s shoulders… Again not because the other is completely void of feelings on the other side during these times, but because there’s a narrative device keeping them from expressing them or acting on them or whatever.
I’m pretty confused by the apparent reading a bunch of people have that Cas isn’t giving back feelings to Dean at the moment, which seems to have sprung out of lingering uncertainty about Cas’s state of being (which I just can’t see at the moment with any indications from the show that Cas is not himself in a fundamental way) or perhaps disappointment since the sneak peek for 13x06 that the reunion was understated.
I feel like I just watched one of the most ridiculous stretches of non-stop Destiel nonsense the show has ever delivered, starting 12x19 and relying on both characters to tell it.
Obviously we have Dean missing Cas in the build up to it, and Cas leaves as he does in the end of 12x19, and Dean continues angsting about it on the phone to Mary before shit hits the fan… Cas has the emotional POV in 12x19 but it relies on the theme of clarifying who you’re talking about and different levels of personal investment, which is only clarified in a bad way for Dean asking not to be included in Sam’s cheerful greeting of Cas, but then through the episode shows Cas and Dean still have a bigger personal investment in each other even when Cas only ever speaks about “sam and dean” as a unit. I don’t think that’s narrative POV on the Destiel arc because Dean’s still doing the heavy lifting, making it a weird episode where Cas has the POV but Dean has the Destiel POV, perhaps because of their epic misunderstandings about feelings which are a major major theme between them. But for all the generic concern thrown around, this episode had the mixtape exchange among all the other stuff between Cas and Dean when they were in the same room which made it clear they specifically focussed on each other.
And obviously while 12x23 was from Sam and Dean’s POV (even stuff like Cas going into the AU world was cut off so that we could react with Sam and Dean to AU Bobby, not with Cas), and there was very little interaction, Cas still did that bizarre thing where all the living Winchesters piled into his house and he said “Dean,” followed by, again singling Dean out in his attention and healing him, which had also happened in the end of 12x19. Even if Cas is not the POV there’s things thrown in to show that in amongst everything else and Cas losing control of the narrative after he was Jacked, he still blatantly cares about Dean and that he and Dean single each other out.
I suppose the Dean POV on how he feels about Cas has been utterly utterly in your face this season so far which might be another reason why it seems like Cas is giving less back. I do think, though, that it has not ALL been on Dean. In 13x03 Jack wakes up Cas after Dean manages to clarify some feelings about Cas at least in relation to how Sam is feeling. It darkly mirrors 12x19 where Dean clarified that he was mad at Cas when he came in the door, but this time positively for his FEELINGS about Cas, even if he’s now screaming in Sam’s face about it. The clarification that he cares that much about Cas is something that has been hovering unsaid for a long time despite their entire history of being singled out for each other, it’s become more blatant as the family has become more integrated, and pretty much since season 9 when Dean had to ask Cas to leave the Bunker, the weight has been on his say on whether Cas is part of the family or not. Thematically, obviously. In the wider narrative. Sam does a lot to make Cas feel at home, in 8x22 and the start of season 11 just off the top of my head as moments when Sam and Cas & the Bunker as home were a thing, but it’s Dean who has the big dramatic say. The main emotional arc impact. It pretty much goes without saying that Sam will welcome Cas and make home comfy in the Bunker. There’s no issue there at all :P
Anyway, Jack is overhearing Sam getting yelled at for not appreciating just how painful it is to look at him and only see Cas dying, and this creates the void of Cas in their lives in Jack’s heart powerful enough to nudge Cas in the Empty. I see it as Dean putting out this fact into the world for the first time, and that demanding an ANSWER. Cas waking up is a response to Dean making it clear how hurt he has been by Cas’s death. The theme of clarification, using your words, etc, has meant Dean has finally let words out that would have been awfully useful for Cas to know in life, and lo and behold he is awake. It’s a narrative question and answer to me. Dean feels this way about Cas - Cas is in the least possible state to ever find out, but now the story has changed, is this enough for Cas? And the answer is, yes, he wakes up now.
In the Empty Cas is challenged by the sleepy void about why he is awake, and it attempts to beat him and then his feelings into submission so that he will give up and go back to sleep. Dean off on the other side of the story is literally linked to Cas when he asks what linked all the victims - the answer is, their grief, and cut to Cas. Or when he says what is burned stays dead - and the answer is, no, look how Cas is doing over here, up and awake and wandering around and fighting to come back. Dean says he has no hope, and the obvious answer is, well you might not now but look who just woke up back on earth. I think it’s important to remember that narrative structure of Dean “interacting” with Cas in the Empty when talking about it because Dean is intrinsically linked to Cas over and over in 13x03 and 13x04 by his statements and the subsequent dramatic irony or narrative, like… eyebrow wiggling… they’re doing. (I’ll be honest, I have a headache so I can’t remember all my literature degree stuff :P) Because I think Jack just brought Cas back because of his OWN issues missing Cas and obviously what Kelly said about him being an angel to watch over him which he felt he was sorely lacking. But the way in which it all happens is tuned directly to Dean’s feelings.
And then we get, in the Empty, Cas’s little feelings. The Empty telling him he doesn’t want to go back, not in a dismissive way but in a I know how you feel and I know you don’t want to way. These scenes HAVE to be Cas’s emotional POV and if he won’t say it, the Empty will for him. It doesn’t matter if he’s not EXPRESSING these things for himself, the important thing is the scene is ABOUT Cas and it’s giving us an explanation of his emotions. That “Sam and Dean need me” is being put out there as Cas’s reason to go back despite the fact he doesn’t want to, that he’d shackle himself back to the same burden that got him killed, that in 12x19 we could see was destroying their relationship even BEFORE it got him killed. We’re getting a direct exploration of the things which last season kept Cas at an awful range of miscommunication to Dean. The stuff he never said to him or explained to Dean so badly Dean didn’t even get why he was saying it when it seemed too obvious to him that they all need to be together as a family and obviously Cas is family and obviously they should do everything side by side.
And so the Empty crouches down by Cas and says, “I know what you hate. I know who you love. I know what you fear,” with intonation that shows these concepts flow from the stuff they’ve already covered - Sam and Dean need me, nope that’s not it, I know this situation as it is inside your head and I am not scared to tell you what you’re thinking. That you hate being treated like this. You hate treating YOURSELF like this. I know who you love (and, incidentally, I’d know that you said already that you love all the Winchesters, because hi I’ve been inside your head so there’s nothing I don’t know). I know that there’s some secret that makes me drop my voice to a conspiratorial whisper to tell you that I know who you love, even though it’s just you and me awake in this whole wide Empty void of Nothing. Because to you it’s something deeper, something quieter, something less-spoken than anything you’ve voiced so far…
(Sidenote though - obviously it’s been voiced IN the narrative already and gets us no further than 4 years ago and “he’s in love…. with humanity!” etc because that entire build up was ENORMOUS and built up to the pay off… of what we got in 10x01-3, which obviously did not make Destiel canon or Cas’s feelings any clearer than a wistful comment about finding love on earth and wanting to stay, and then Cas left anyway and people were upset that Cas had left right when Dean seemed to be remotely operating his own feelings again and briefly had a moment of clarity to ask Cas to stay apparently in his room on his bed so look at how that has all carried on since season 10 and remember that I’m just analysing, not predicting, but also I have fandom deja vu about Cas’s feelings re: being so obvious they can be seen from space while he pines naked in bed for Dean, and then a big old kick back where everyone was furious he left with Hannah and Destiel is dead and Cas doesn’t love Dean any more >.>)
- and then the Empty says that he knows what Cas FEARS, why Cas keeps leaving, backing off, running away, taking on missions, doing things to protect Sam and Dean from afar because he can’t be with them, has to return Dean’s mixtape and go nobly fall on a sword. Because he’s SCARED about his feelings. Because he can’t be sure Dean WANTS him, only that Sam and Dean need him. He’s been literally given the Winchester Family Invitation on embossed paper with gold leaf, been through a couple of rounds of sacrificing for them - plural, Mary included - and them standing up for him and willing to die to protect him. He should not fear rejection from the family. He shouldn’t fear that his own feelings for them are not returned in full if it is about being a part of the family. At the end of season 11 Dean offered him being the 3rd Winchester brother (sorry Adam) on a plate as well, and Cas still looked unhappy and uncertain.
This all ties into ALL of Cas’s arc for years and years, ever since 7x17, when he re-started his continuous time on the show with a brief Destiel recap and his struggles have all been continuous and with good continuity. His guilt about killing all the angels and damaging Heaven (made worse/freshly relevant with the angel fall spell but was caused by his angst about Godstiel, that he brings up in 8x08), his sense of belonging or not which really starts getting hammered home after he becomes human and loses his wings, so he’s more dependant on a home, and also after he’s been more and more often exiled or treated like shit by Heaven to make it clearer that if he is ever going to have a good sense of home again, the one on Earth is the kinder option, even for all the trouble he goes through for Sam and Dean.
And his feelings for Dean, which are NOT a random subtext thing but seriously power much of his drama. 8x17 starting with him having to kill a thousand Deans. Or how he and Dean are linked by going through Purgatory together and the emotional revelations that came out there - that Dean wouldn’t leave without Cas but Cas didn’t think he deserved it, which ties up all his “general” arcs into the romantic one. That he deserves to be in Purgatory for what he did to Heaven, but that it will hurt Dean to do it. That he’s been self-punishing for Dean’s sake to keep him safe so that he can escape. Cas sacrifices for Dean again and again and in the end walks him to the portal and shoves him through it without attempting to follow because of how he feels; the romantic arc is intrinsic to his actions.
Season 9 builds up Cas trying to restore Heaven and take down Metatron, but Metatron sows discord among Cas’s followers for Cas’s loyalty to Dean. They test it. He loses his followers. Metatron mocks and delights in Cas’s choices and his weakness for Dean. He tells Cas that his weakness WAS Dean in 9x23, without the “love” comment. And that Dean is dead. Cas fights back anyway, even against hope of losing Dean.
In season 10, Cas’s arc is loosely that he’s adrift but will help those who need him - Hannah, Claire and of course Dean. Or Sam finding Dean. He pines and hangs on and gets compared to post-break up Crowley and in the main story his role is simply to be devoted to Dean, to want to save him, to be part of the family that would sacrifice and die for Dean. And an important link in the loose prophecy Cain gives Dean about his nearest and dearest of Crowley, Cas and Sam - each one a magnitude worse than the previous to hurt. 10x22 has Cas make that speech about how he’d be there with Dean at his side in horror as Dean murdered the world but he couldn’t kill him, he can only ask him to stop. Dean attacks and rejects him and for his troubles Cas gets turned into a mindless attack dog, a symbol of how he had been feeling all along, just doing these things for the Winchesters without being certain of his place in the family or his feelings being returned. In season 11 these last 2 points are the first of the PTSD flashbacks he gets about his recent treatment as he falls into deep depression and worthlessness, and the fact of his place in the family is a part of it - not that it can be cured by Dean finally telling him what he wants to hear, and for him to be all better as soon as he knows he’s loved. But it’s one of the factors causing it, and one of the reasons Cas got sucked along with the season 10 bad decisions and one of the reasons Cas has been isolating himself, and now begins the pattern of sacrificing himself too, in 11x10 where he says yes to Lucifer after being assured by everyone he meets that day that he’s just a useless tool. Except Dean, of course, but misunderstandings abound so there’s our read of Dean’s intention and our read of how Cas might have taken their parting. In any case, Cas manages to sacrifice twice in a row for the same possession in 11x14 too, now specifically for Dean. From there, the possession arc becomes laughably about Destiel in 11x18 and 11x21, and Dean’s focus on it in the in between episodes.
And in season 12, of course, now we get the repeated theme of Cas leaving because he doesn’t feel he belongs, and his sense of not belonging and duty power together his search for Lucifer, which turns into the search for Kelly which turns into what happens with Jack in 12x19, but all that of course is because he’s been the one feeling responsible for the Lucifer arc, and whichever point you pick to start that from it goes back to 11x10 and his decision there, made for the same reasons he does everything in season 12, but with more loops of talking about family and where he belongs and Dean trying to reach across the gap but not finding the right words. The fact that after 12x12 Cas still feels he has to be the Winchesters’ guardian shows that they have not been able to reach the part of him which will be able to comfortably call them home no matter how much they feel he belongs there.
For years and years and years this has been what Cas fears. When the Empty tells him he’s surrounded by all the thousands of dead angels, Cas looks around in utter horror, knowing that he’s responsible for them. Check one on his fears, openly expressed. The Empty mocks his attempt to say that Sam and Dean need him, as a bad reason to return, a hollow reason, and Cas’s fear is that they ONLY need him for what he can do, that they’d find a way to wake him up and get him back JUST because they NEEDED him for something. That he would claw his way back to life just to be used for some reason or another that is troubling them and that they can’t solve without calling in Cas to fix it and protect them. And then. His hates, loves and fears. Cas’s love for Dean in the most terrifying thing he has. He’s destroyed so much because of it. Rebelled because of it. Lost his faith because of it. Been dragged through things far worse than Hell and back because of it. And Dean won’t clarify his feelings for Cas, won’t speak in plain English and explain what he means, what Cas means.
And in 13x03 he clarifies to Sam that Cas in particular is why he is in so much turmoil, and Cas wakes up. And faces the Empty mocking his feelings and pointing out his fears. That there is “nothing for you back there” despite all the gestures of home and family that have ever been offered to him. (And this sounds so much like the line in The Two Towers where Elrond is telling Arwen there’s nothing for her here, trying to convince her to LEAVE Middle Earth rather than be with Aragorn and die as a mortal.)
But Cas takes this and all the reminders of his failures and the horrific things that have happened to him, and he stands up and confronts the Empty, which is essentially the bad voice in his head, the depression, and all his fears and doubts, and tells it to stuff it and send him back. He realises whatever happened to him, the reason he’s awake has already given him the chance to reject the Empty trying to make him give up and go to sleep, and that he has been given another chance to fight. Not to reject everything the Empty says and have hope, but to fight and fight and fight. And be given another chance.
And that the confrontation involved a reminder that Cas has this secret love, that it covered all the reasons Cas has been brought down to this lowest point, is mirrored in the much *less* Destiel scene in 13x05 where Billie and Dean talk and Dean only mentions in passing that he couldn’t save Cas as part of the reason he’s given up, although of course the weight of everything else around it that built it all up and explained why (and his clarification that woke Cas up in 13x03) obviously makes it mean more than it might sound on the surface. But Cas’s confrontation with the Empty contains *all* of that that I just rambled about because it’s a Castiel, this is your life, moment, and the power of it is picking all the right words to express *everything* Cas has been through and why, and that includes his entire romance with Dean, and, sadly, what it has done to him to pine and feel unrequited all this time. In 10x01 when he’s lying in bed missing Dean, we have an emotionally similar scene but to much less dramatic effect, much less clarity, and distilling down the reasons. It’s mired in a lot of random context, and it is only really symbolically what this scene was pretty much directly.
In the end of 13x05 Cas calls Dean and it’s silent but we know what it means to Dean. We have silence on Cas’s side of things - obviously the ball is in Dean’s court there on the emotional POV - but when we get Cas back, in 13x06, he is in *no way* “k, bye”
I think the scenes have been fairly balanced in POV, with Cas explaining what happened to him from his perspective when he gets back when talking about the Empty and his line about annoying the Empty is nonsense to out of context ears but means a lot to us and Cas. The hugs being used to contrast Sam and Dean’s reactions, with Sam not knowing what to do but Dean saying “i do” and swooping in on Cas.
Remember, we have been inside Cas’s head, we’ve seen all his little feelings. We know what has brought him back, and why, and to what dramatic narrative purpose this serves - Dean’s grief about Cas being a 5 episode arc which ended up going right into a lowest point of Dean’s much longer personal arcs about loving Cas and how he feels about the job and family, and Cas’s much much longer ongoing personal arc, currently now starting a new chapter after reaching the lowest point in a story about once again passing through an afterlife to rebirth. But he accepted he would still have these issues, that he was only coming back to fight, that he wasn’t coming back because “Sam and Dean need me”…
And for most of this reintroduction scene he doesn’t know that they didn’t do something to bring him back. Sam and Dean are stunned and Cas talks matter of fact about how they got back. Cas doesn’t know they’re reacting in complete and utter mystification. He doesn’t know how long he was gone, just that Dean thinks it’s too long. He has this conversation about where he was and what the Empty is like while clearly baffled about their intent and why Sam is asking these questions, until he says “I thought you had done something” and looks at Dean with realisation that they had genuinely thought he was dead and gone and not coming back and they had no clue - this is the first time he can look at them without wondering what they did, if there’s a price on their heads for doing it to him, etc. He no longer has to be concerned about them.
But it’s not just that. It’s that now he knows “Sam and Dean need me” is NOT the reason he was brought back. He called them up probably expecting to be thrown into their next big drama, something they’re overwhelmed with that only Cas can help them with, that he wasn’t just calling them because he’s getting back in touch with his family but that he’s going back into the battle. For them. To protect them or do something for them that they can’t do.
And instead he learns that Jack did it to him, and Sam and Dean aren’t responsible, and all they did was come to collect him and take him *home*. And the big drama he gets thrown into? Jack has found them a case in Dodge City and Dean is *delighted* to go play cowboys with Cas. Cas, freshly back from the dead, suddenly has Jack - a whole new set of issues, maybe, but at least the two of them on a personal level have a positive emotional connection that they both care about each other, though the levels of Jack needing a new guardian angel strike me as bad in the bigger picture, it’s good for Cas to have more people who care about him, and for Dean to proudly label their new family and for this sense of belonging to be automatically placed on them.
I mean Cas’s head is probably spinning, given the issues he confronted, and then going back AGAINST ALL HOPE. That there was nothing for him back on Earth, just this struggle where he was going to go back to the Winchesters for whatever they needed him for, because he loves them, because he loves Dean, but deep down he has fears and secrets that have been messing with how he interacts with them. Have been screwing up everything for him, over and over.
And then he gets dragged on a case where Dean’s a great fluffy ball of sunshine even when he’s an angry sleeper, somehow, and all he asks of Cas is to make some coffee, and wait for him to be alert enough to hang out with him, at which point he continues being utterly gleeful and playful, and Cas is beginning to relax, to wear the cowboy hat, to quote the movie at Dean, to feel comfortable at his side, playing along being a cowboy, saying all the ridiculous lines like howdy partner etc as they walk onto the crime scene. Cas has FUN with Dean. FUN. CASTIEL, ANGEL OF THE LORD, HAD FUN. He was acting PLAYFUL.
And even when he’s being asked what his fake agent name is, he panics because this is all seeming a bit dangerous to keep playing around, he looks to Dean, Dean nods like it will all be fine and Cas says he’s Val Kilmer, and it works. Being playful never hurt anyone. Dean is DELIGHTED. Cas passes the test. This is all GREAT. Look at how few enormous burdens are on them! Sure things suck out in the wider scheme of the world, but nothing is currently actively trying to destroy it…
This episode didn’t really have a directed POV on all the Destiel stuff because it was just the two of them existing in the same space. Most of the specific pointless (I say, to the main plot anyway) character beats were stuff between Cas and Dean. The hats. The coffee. The music. Even Jack asking Cas about how much Dean likes cowboys. Things that don’t really advance the story but we get silly things like Dean throwing Cas the gnawed hipbone or whatever. No one else is interacting like Dean and Cas interact. Sam and Jack have some interesting stuff going on, but they aren’t commanding a room when they’re in it.
Like… I don’t *just* ship Destiel because they have interaction I like. I ship it because when they’re in a room, the writing itself supports that the two of them become the most important thing in it to each other. Dean lurks in the background of the Cas and Jack hug, while Sam disappears. Dean stands by Cas in the confrontation with Jack at the end of the episode - they’re on the same side. They’re together. There’s a *link* between them.
I really feel like people seeing Cas as dismissive and strange this episode instead of immediately picking up on Dean’s Cowboy Thing as a callback to 6x18 (whether he can hear the music or not, but personal interpretation, yes), and the query by Jack, the car conversation about them watching Tombstone together, is more reminders, more links between Cas *specifically* and Dean’s interest in cowboys. Cas’s face and his teasing is the same mood as “is it customary to wear a blanket” or telling Dean he looks like a lumberjack. Cas does not tease people very often. And it’s pretty much been Crowley a couple of times dismissively and Dean 3 times lovingly. And about his clothes. And 2/3rds of the time about cowboys. It’s a Thing.
I am just full of stunned love this episode for the way Dean and Cas act around each other, the comfort, the teasing, the absolute knowledge of each other. The things they share off screen and on screen. Cas always expresses less than Dean does, but this episode Cas willingly impersonated a cowboy for an entire 10 seconds while in Dean’s presence, quoted a movie at him, and sucked it up and used his ridiculous alias Dean told him to, while wearing the hat Dean made him wear. Cas loves Dean like the sun comes up in the morning. Maybe someone will be upset Dean messes with Cas and makes him do all this stuff, but this is Castiel Fucking Winchester who scowled down the Empty. I think he could stand up for himself about a straw hat :P
Anyway… tl;dr if that was my post you were thinking about, PLEASE do not interpret it as saying one of them always has to be pining. Sometimes they are just in love. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a narrative reason for it, and we just kinda enjoy the nonsense while another story - Jack’s story - is building up elsewhere. Dean and Cas’s interaction is a character-based subplot on its own, and it’s delightful right now. They can have issues again later, but between Sam saying “Jack” in the opening and the horrible end to the shoot out, Dean n Cas weren’t really doing anything other than enjoying each other’s company. And all the stuff that might have made it bad got swept away with the reveal Jack resurrected Cas, not Dean. Cas is temporarily (permanently hopefully) off the hook for being the angel that watches over them.
I mean it’s so not over, we’re 6 episodes in and all their pre-existing angst is just waiting to kick off again and never entirely *gone*, but this episode was weirdly peaceful for Dean and Cas. And they needed it. And I just do not understand at ALL people reading Cas as being dismissive and distant when he played cowboys with Dean.