Over the last decade, Sam and Dean Winchester’s family has expanded to include a number of people, and we’ve watched many characters come along who have made it clear what the show is all about: family.
One of these characters is the angel Castiel, who has undoubtedly carved his way into the Winchester family and into our hearts.
Castiel, played by Misha Collins, made his entrance in Season 4 of Supernatural, all the way back on September 18, 2008. Since then, he has become not only an integral part of Sam and Dean’s family, but of Supernatural itself. We’ve watched him try to figure out humanity as an angel, we’ve seen him struggle as one of us when he fell, we’ve reacted when his good intentions turned all kinds of bad when he became a God and when he let the Devil in, and we’ve all collectively shed tears when he was killed off (again, and again, and again, and again…) only to be brought back to fight beside Sam and Dean where he belongs.
To celebrate ten years of our favorite angel, we are going to be posting an article a day leading up to Castiel’s ten-year anniversary on Supernatural on September 18, 2018. Each article will focus on five big moments Castiel had in each of the ten seasons he has been a part of the show, and we’ll end on the anniversary itself with an ode to Castiel.
Today’s post will focus on Season 4, so strap in and get ready for a trip down memory lane as we look back to the very first moments Castiel stole our hearts.
Season 4, Episode 1 – “Lazarus Rising”
Season 4 begins with Dean Winchester waking up buried in the ground, oddly no longer in Hell where we saw him at the end of Season 3. Dean has no idea how he got out, and the only clue he has is a red handprint burned directly onto his shoulder. As the episode progresses, something tries and fails to communicate with Dean, only ever managing to shatter glass and Dean’s eardrums. After visiting with their psychic friend Pamela, Sam and Dean discover the creature that rescued Dean from hell is extremely powerful, and most importantly, that his name is Castiel. Needing more information, Dean and Bobby decide to try a summoning spell to come face-to-face with him.
Cue (in my opinion) the single best entrance of any character in the entirety of Supernatural.
Castiel wandered into that barn wearing his signature trench coat and blue tie and had sparks literally flying while he took a dozen bullets to the chest without even flinching. That spurred Dean to ask who the hell he was, and Castiel to reply with one of his most famous lines to date, “I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.” The very first thing Dean did was stab Castiel through the chest with Ruby’s knife, which also had no effect on him. Castiel puts Bobby to sleep with a touch of two fingers to his forehead and tells Dean they need to talk. Not surprisingly, Dean has some questions, and doesn’t exactly buy it when Castiel tells him he’s an angel. Castiel uses a flash of lightening to show off the shadow of his wings on the barn wall behind him, proving that he’s an angel. The episode ends after Castiel tells Dean that God has work for him, and that sets the entire fourth season rolling.
Castiel’s entrance was not our first glimpse of an angel, but he was the first angel we knew was an angel. (The Trickster debuted in Season 2, but wasn’t revealed as the archangel Gabriel until Season 5.) His entrance here only gave a clue to the powers angels might possess: immunity to bullets and knives, the ability to put people to sleep with a touch of his fingers, raising people from hell, flying, and possessing people. Angels have played a critical part in the series ever since, and it all began with this episode and the introduction of Castiel.
Season 4, Episode 7 – “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”
Several things happen in this episode to make it significant in our look back at Castiel. For one, this episode marks the first time Sam comes face-to-face with the angel. Although considerably better than Dean and Castiel’s initial meeting, Castiel makes things a little awkward when he first refers to Sam as “the boy with the demon blood.” He shows up in Sam and Dean’s hotel room to tell them about a witch who’s going to attempt to break another one of the 66 seals required to free Lucifer. He advises Sam and Dean to leave the town entirely because he and Uriel plan to destroy it in order to take out the witches.
Both Dean and Sam are horrified at the thought, and when Castiel says they don’t have a choice, Dean argues, saying, “Of course you have a choice. Come on, what, you’ve never questioned a crap order? What are you, both just a couple of hammers?” Dean makes a case for him and Sam to hunt and kill the witch so Castiel and Uriel don’t have to kill an entire town’s worth of people, and Castiel ultimately decides to give them a chance.
After Sam uses his powers to kill the witches, Castiel appears next to Dean on a park bench. He reveals that their actual orders were not to stop the witch, but to do whatever Dean told them to do. It was a test to see how Dean would perform under “battlefield conditions.” Dean thinks he failed the test and begins to defend himself, telling Castiel he would do the exact same thing over again if he had the chance.
In this scene, Castiel shares that he isn’t what Dean thinks he is. He hoped Dean would choose to save the people in the town because he believes his father’s creations are works of art. He also makes a confession to Dean for the first time. “I’m not ‘a hammer,’ as you say. I have questions. I have doubts. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong anymore.” In the episodes leading up to this, Castiel has seemed so sure of his orders, so sure of his purpose, and admitting his doubt is a pivotal moment for the season and his character. Not only did he admit something personal to Dean in this exchange, he also showed compassion for the first time when he told him, “In the coming months you will have more decisions to make. I don’t envy the weight that is on your shoulders, Dean. I truly don’t.”
Season 4, Episode 16 – “On the Head of a Pin”
This episode starts off with Castiel finding a fellow angel dead. He and Uriel then appear in the Winchesters’ hotel, explaining that the torturing skills Dean learned in Hell are required in order to persuade Alastair to divulge which demon is killing the angels. Dean adamantly refuses, but Castiel and Uriel take him to where Alastair is being held anyway. Dean tries to reason with Castiel, but once the two of them are alone, Castiel confides that he has been put under Uriel’s authority because his superiors believe he has become too close to the humans in his charge. He explains he doesn’t want Dean to do this, but he needs to.
Dean reluctantly tortures Alastair to try to get information out of him, but in a surprise twist, Alastair shares something Dean wasn’t asking for. He says Dean agreeing to torture souls in Hell was how the very first of the 66 seals was broken. Dean says he doesn’t buy it and continues with the torturing, but ultimately the devil’s trap keeping Alastair in place fails, and Dean is gravely injured by him. Thanks to the powers he has from drinking demon blood, Sam’s able to overpower and then kill Alastair after he insists it’s not a demon killing the angels. Dean’s brought to the hospital, and we see Castiel return to the scene of Alastair’s death, eventually figuring out that it was Uriel who broke the devil’s trap and who is also responsible for the angels’ deaths. Uriel is killed and Castiel visits Dean in the hospital.
This scene is one of the few times we see Dean completely let down his guard and allow himself to be vulnerable with Castiel. He asks if what Alastair said about him breaking the very first seal is true, and Castiel confirms that it is, explaining that once the angels realized Alastair had him, they laid siege to Hell and tried to get to him, but failed to make it in time.
Of course, Dean blames himself for giving in, but Castiel tells Dean, “It’s not blame that falls on you, Dean, it’s fate. The righteous man who begins it is the only one who can finish it. You have to stop it.” And with that, we finally learn the true reason why Castiel has been sent to earth to watch over Dean. Dean is the righteous man, the only one who has it in him to stop the apocalypse, and it’s Castiel’s job to make sure he succeeds.
Season 4, Episode 18 – “The Monster At The End Of This Book”
Sam and Dean have discovered Chuck Shurley, an author who has written detailed books about the Winchesters’ lives. Everything Chuck has written so far has come true, so when Chuck says Sam will have an encounter with Lilith, Dean is scared for Sam and threatens Chuck with bodily harm, pinning him against a wall. Castiel appears, telling them all that Chuck is actually a prophet, and he’s writing the word of God, earning himself the protection of angels if he’s put in danger. Castiel confirms that what Chuck has written about Lilith and Sam will happen.
Later that night, still frightened for Sam’s well-being, Dean prays to Castiel for the first time. Castiel is pleased, telling him that prayer is a sign of faith. Dean asks for Castiel’s help to get Sam away from Lilith, but Castiel refuses, saying that it’s a prophecy and he can’t interfere. Dean’s anger intensifies, and he tells Castiel if he won’t help him with Sam, then Castiel had better not bother coming to him the next time he needs help.
Visibly distressed by Dean speaking to him so harshly, Castiel subtly reminds Dean why he can’t help.
If anything threatens a prophet, anything at all, an archangel will appear to destroy that threat. Archangels are fierce. They’re absolute. They’re heaven’s most terrifying weapon.
And these archangels, they’re tied to prophets?
So if a prophet was in the same room as a demon –
Then the most fearsome wrath of heaven would rain down on that demon.
This is immensely significant, because this is the first time onscreen that Castiel goes against direct orders to help the Winchesters. He has talked about having doubts, how he doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong anymore, but in this moment, he comes to the decision that Sam and Dean’s well-being is more important than a prophecy coming to be, and that’s huge.
Season 4, Episode 22 – “Lucifer Rising”
After Dean swears allegiance to God and the angels, Castiel and Zachariah have Dean held captive in Heaven’s “Green Room” waiting for the apocalypse to approach. Dean asks to see Sam, but all of the exits in the room are sealed to keep Dean and Sam away from one another. Once Zachariah reveals the angels’ true plan – to allow the apocalypse to happen in order to purge the world of humans – Castiel appears and apologizes to Dean for deceiving him.
Dean’s understandably upset, and he lashes out violently at Castiel, punching him and yelling at him, demanding to know if he’s really going to just let everybody burn. Castiel replies, “What is so worth saving? I see nothing but pain here. I see inside you. I see your guilt, your anger, confusion. In paradise, all is forgiven. You’ll be at peace. Even with Sam.” Dean tells him he can take his peace and shove it, that he would rather be alive and take all of the pain and guilt over being in “paradise.” He tells Castiel that he knows he was going to help him before and begs him to do it again. Castiel asks what Dean would have him do, and Dean tells him he just needs to get to Sam. Castiel is, once again, visibly pained, but tells Dean he can’t do that because all of them will be hunted and killed anyway. Dean tells him he won’t help then he’s done with this conversation and done with him, and Castiel flies away.
Time passes while Dean paces, trying to figure out how to escape and save the world, when Castiel suddenly reappears. He covers Dean’s mouth, pulls a knife, and silently urges Dean to be quiet. Dean agrees with a nod of his head, and Castiel draws the blade across his own forearm and begins to paint a symbol with his blood on the wall behind them. Zachariah appears to stop him, but Castiel bangs his hand to the wall and banishes Zachariah with the sigil he drew.
Once Dean and Castiel are alone, the real truth finally comes out: Lilith isn’t going to break the final seal, Lilith is the final seal. If Sam kills her, Lucifer will be released and the apocalypse begins. Knowing that Sam is out there trying to kill her but not sure where they are exactly, Castiel flies Dean to Chuck’s house to get the location from him. Castiel threatens him to get the information, and once Chuck tells them where Sam and Lilith are, an archangel descends to protect Chuck. Castiel says he’ll hold them all off, and sacrifices himself after he sends Dean to the church to stop Sam.
This is a paramount moment for Castiel, because he actively went against Zachariah to help thwart God’s plan to begin the apocalypse. He has worked behind their backs before, but this was the incipient moment where Castiel stood up to them and took his place on the Winchesters’ side, even knowing there would be no going back from this for him. He already knew if he sided with the Winchesters and tried to help them that they would be hunted and killed, but he did it anyway. This was the inaugural moment Castiel made the choice to serve Dean and Sam Winchester before his superiors, and we all know by now it was the first of many times he’s made that choice.
Looking back at these five massive moments for Castiel in his very first season on Supernatural, it’s easy to see why the character who was originally only written into three episodes has made it past his hundredth. Castiel brought a new, exciting dynamic to Supernatural in Season 4, and still continues to do so ten seasons later.
Check back tomorrow for our second post in our series celebrating ten years of Castiel on Supernatural where we look back at five of Castiel’s biggest moments in Season 5.
If we missed any of what you think were Castiel’s most significant moments in Season 4, sound off in the comments!