12x10: an Episode in “Friendship”
This episode … this freaking episode! All about angels’ relationships with humans, whether it be their vessels, their charges or their actual love interests, it all dealt with how they felt about one another. Yeah, yeah—it could be boiled down to the careful tread between the earthly and the divine; but there was more to it then that … a focus here that was just too specific to be accidental: the mirroring between Ishim and Castiel.
They were the traditional good vs. bad. Like most of these types of stories, the good guy and the bad guy are very similar in a lot of ways, almost exactly the same if given just a simple glance, but it’s usually one small event, one poor choice that turns one of them towards darkness. In this case, it was heartbreak that brought out the evil in Ishim. He fell in love with a human so deeply, that he shared everything with her. He told her all of heaven’s secrets, but when she didn’t necessarily return his affection, he grew enraged and retaliated.
Now, we could say this is its own story and nothing like Castiel’s time on earth nor his experience with humans, except—Ishim himself made this connection! He said, as Castiel was beaten and bloody on the floor: “So now, I am going to cure you of your human weakness … the same way that I cured my own” and then, he heads for Dean.
Ishim “cured” his human weakness by breaking the heart of his love, because she did the same to him … so if that’s the case, what is he implying about Dean Winchester? What is he saying the man is to Castiel? Whose heart is he planning to break next?
And one could say, “Dean is Castiel’s friend, so his death would be heartbreaking in and of itself” which, yes—of course that’s true; however, did we notice the use of the word “friend” in this episode? Specifically when they were talking about Benjamin and his vessel. Dean was surprised to find that Benjamin was in a female vessel—so Castiel explained that the angel and his vessel weren’t just “partners” in some divine deal, they were … [long pause] “friends”. Hell, Cas couldn’t even find the words himself, so Sam had to be the one to fill in the blanks, and even as he said it, there seemed to be a slanted emphasis to it all, as if “friends” had a deeper, more profound, and special meaning, apart from the norm. So for Ishim to take Castiel’s “friend” away, specifically Dean … seems a bit more significant, especially when mirrored with his own romantic heartbreak.
According to Ishim, human weakness is love.
To highlight this, everything in this episode was coated with a sense of
something more happening between friends than just friendship. The bickering
between Dean and Cas … the way Dean charged into that diner and scooted in
right next to his “buddy”, just so he could stare down the other angel and play
“whose got the bigger blade”. The way Dean kept saying things like “Well, Cas
knows who his true friends are “ and “Cas,
is different now.” He defended him, even
when he was mad at what he did to Billie– he stood by his side and ran
rescue and helped him to his feet, touched his shoulder, brought him a
is of course, a very touching Winchester-gesture. Yes, Sam did similar
things, but whereas Sam also defended Cas, he was more focused on
mending Dean and Cas’s relationship. He worried about how his brother
was reacting to their friend, and he even playfully mocked the way Dean
just couldn’t stay away from Cas in the end. Yes, Sam was defending
someone who has become part of his family, but Dean was defending
someone who has gotten under his skin and become part of him. There was a difference.
Overall, this episode felt like a lover’s quarrel, healed by risks of bigger problems … a common enemy, and the fear of losing each other. It was a reflection of what could happen if they allow themselves to become greedy with one another, and a lesson in how important it is to always love and respect each other … even when you feel like the other is wrong. This was more than just an episode about Castiel’s past … it was an episode about his “would be” future, if he hadn’t found the right way to love a human.
After all—Acabel had it right all those years ago when he said: Humans are good … how could one know them and not love them?