Dramatic Irony and Castiel in 14x02 Gods and Monsters
Cas’ conversations in 14x02 with both Nick and Jack, whilst he is “babysitting” them, are really well done (credit to Bucklemming where credit is due) because they are excellent examples of dramatic irony.
Meaning, that we the audience, because of having lived through the actual events Cas is talking about alongside him, know much more about them than either Nick or Jack are told by Cas.
Which means they have powerful emotional resonances for us (as they do for Cas) particularly in relation to our understanding of Cas’ internal world, because of our “insider” knowledge; depths which are lost on Jack and Nick.
Dramatic Irony 1 - Cas and Nick part 1
Nick: “I don’t get how I would let Lucifer possess me.”
Cas: “You were in a lot of pain, and Lucifer saw a vulnerability and he.. he exploited it.”
Nick: “Is that what you tell yourself so you can be near me?”
Cas: <long pause> “I guess so.”
Nick: “I just don’t know what kind of pain would make me allow Lucifer to possess me.”
Cas: “It was your family….”
Dramatic irony claxon!
WE know (but Nick does not) that Cas is thinking about his OWN reasons for saying “Yes” to possession by Lucifer in 11.10 The Devil is in the Detail, as Lucifer persuaded Cas he could defeat Amara/ The Darkness, and save the world.
What made Cas “in a lot of pain” and “vulnerable” at the time, was “his family” i.e. seeing Dean enthralled to Amara through the Mark of Cain.
Nick is unaware of all of this, but WE are not.
Dramatic Irony 2 - Cas and Jack
Cas: “At the time of the Great Fall, when the angels were banished from Heaven, I lost what I thought was everything. I had no grace, I had no wings, I felt hopeless and useless.”
Jack: “What did you have left?”
Cas: “Well, I had Sam and Dean, but I also had something else that was extremely helpful; I had myself, just the basic me, as Dean would say, without all the bells and whistles.”
Dramatic irony claxon!
Because WE know that Cas DID NOT have Sam and Dean at that time. He made his way to the Bunker, desperately looking for solace and refuge, only to be told by Dean, “You can’t stay here, Cas!” Which led to Cas’ ending up, all on his own and broken-hearted, working in a Gas ‘n’ Sip in Rexford, Idaho and sleeping in the store-room there.
This was a time (we the audience know, but Jack doesn’t) when Dean really let Cas down (and, yes, he has apologized for it, and Cas has accepted the apology, nevertheless, the loneliness of the experience remains with Cas). Dean, of course, was hiding from Cas the fact that he had tricked Sam into accepting possession from the angel Ezekiel (later revealed as Gadreel) to save Sam’s life, and that Ezekiel/Gadreel was blackmailing Dean to get Cas out of the picture.
This mistake in communication led Cas very much towards the thinking that he was useless to, and therefore unwanted by, the Winchesters without his angelic powers. We saw his heartbreak in 9x06 Heaven Can’t Wait when Dean visited him in Rexford and then left him again, then once more in 9x09 Holy Terror, when Cas tried to work with the Winchesters as an ordinary hunter/investigator and once again (unknow to Cas at the time) Ezekiel/ Gadreel insisted Dean get rid of Cas. This lead Cas to reject the “basic me” version of himself at that time, and he stole another angel’s grace in the same episode (9x09) in order to “power up” and, as he saw it then, have value again.
Clearly, Cas has now had time to process all of that, the loss of his power, his complicated relationship with regaining it, in deep and fundamental ways. And he is able to understand now, and therefore impart to Jack that, he WAS still a valuable being, without his powers, that the “basic me” was worth something.
Jack is lucky (and we the audience know just how lucky, by contrasting this with what we know happened to Cas) that Cas, Sam, Dean, Mary etc. ARE able to be there from him as he struggles with the loss of his Nephilim powers.
Dramatic Irony 3 - Cas and Nick part 2
Nick: “You don’t understand.”
Cas: “No, but I do.”
Nick: “Oh, why, because your body was stolen?”
Cas: “No, because I am occupying somebody else’s. All angels have to, in order to walk the earth. This… this was Jimmy Novak.”
Nick: “Occupy… sounds like a cleaned up way of saying steal. And, uh, Jimmy, is that his name? He alright with that?”
Cas: “Yes he was.”
Dramatic irony claxon!
We know, from 4x20 The Rapture, that Cas is not telling the whole truth here. And Cas knows that he’s not telling the whole truth here. But Nick does not.
Because yes, Jimmy was devout, and in the first instance he said, “Yes” to Castiel willingly (the prerequisite for all angelic possession). But, in fact, as we saw in The Rapture, Jimmy suffered greatly as Castiel’s vessel, describing it to Sam and Dean as like “being chained to a comet”. Moreover, when Castiel possessed his daughter, the young Claire Novak, Jimmy, knowing how much she would suffer, begged Cas, in a state of extreme agony, to take him once more instead to spare his family.
This is why Nick’s words (we know) about Cas being, “A stone-cold body snatcher, no different from Lucifer,” sting Cas so much, and why Cas part-confesses his guilt to Nick at the end of the same conversation:
Cas: “You know, in all my thousands of years, what happened to Jimmy Novak and his family… is my greatest regret.”
Dramatic irony can be an excellent device, which requires the audience to use their previous knowledge to add a resonance and depth to scenes in which they possess more of the “big picture” than some or all of the characters.