We’re almost at the end of our celebration of 10 years of our favorite angel, Castiel. Sam and Dean don’t know what they would do without him, and neither do we. If you’ve missed any of our other parts to the series, we posted an article a day featuring one season Castiel was a part of, so make sure to check them out!
Season 12 starts off with a bang, Dean is back from the supposed dead, and Mary is back from the actual dead, but for Castiel, it starts off with many regrets. He made the call near the end of last season to allow himself to be possessed by Lucifer, and at the beginning of this season, we see the continuation of Castiel trying to deal with the guilt associated with making the worst choice for the best reasons. Though that situation has been one he’s found himself in often, this season starts the trend of Castiel beginning to feel less shame, and more pride in the choices that he makes to save the family that he loves.
Season 12, Episode 9 – “First Blood”
Castiel had taken a quite an emotional beating this episode. Sam and Dean were arrested in the wake of their attempt to trap Lucifer (in the body of the current US President) and had been gone for months, with no leads as to where they were being held. Mary wasn’t exactly kind in her criticism of the way Castiel had handled the situation, automatically blaming him for her sons’ disappearance. (Though she eventually recends.) We see Castiel pushed to his limits, even stooping to ask Crowley for help. In their absence, he tries to work a case, but fails pretty spectacularly. Sitting at a bar with Mary, he quietly admits to her that he simply cannot do what the brothers do. When he finally gets them back, he stops at nothing to ensure that the world will not have to live without its protectors any longer. When Billie comes back to collect on the Winchesters (albeit totally bogus) deal that one of them needs to die, it’s Castiel that takes the lead and does what he does best – protect the protectors – by stabbing Billie in the back. The terrible consequences of his actions won’t be seen until the end of the season.
For all of his self-sacrificing nature, this episode is first in many this season where we finally start to see Castiel realize his worth in this great big cosmic fight. Self deprecation is a hallmark of Castiel’s character, and quite frankly his self esteem has been in the toilet since he let himself get possessed by Lucifer in Season 11. While much of this episode sees Castiel admitting plainly what he cannot do (like solve a case where dozens were murdered that was ultimately fixed by Mary, or use any of his contacts to track down the location of Sam and Dean), he’s also really clear about what he can do – use his agency to protect the Winchesters. Season after season, Castiel has consecutively been the ace in the Winchesters’ pocket, so to speak. While they save the world, Castiel saves them. Often times, and especially this time, to his own detriment. The decision to kill Billie to get Sam and Dean out of their deadly bargain was one Castiel makes as much for his brothers as he does for the good of humanity.
Season 12, Episode 10 – “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets”
Coming off of the events of the last episode, tensions are still running high with Team Free Will. Castiel and Dean aren’t speaking much at all, until a friend of Castiel’s, Benjamin, sends out a distress signal over angel radio. Sam and Dean come along with Castiel to meet with Ishim and Marabel, who are pretty hostile to him about losing one of their own. Turns out they’re being hunted by a woman named Lily Sunder, who is hell bent on revenge. Castiel, along with Marabel, Ishim and Benjamin had been sent many years earlier to kill the child of Lily, who Ishim tells them is a nephilim (half human, half angel). Castiel, envessled in a woman, reads the angel who is supposedly the father his rights, and then doesn’t even flinch as he is killed. She does cringe, however, when she hears the screams of Lily and her child.
We haven’t seen much of Castiel’s past. For an angel who was around at the beginning of everything, we know precious little about what Castiel’s life was like pre-Winchester. This episode showed us a side of Castiel we hadn’t seen before; namely, his feminine side. Castiel explained to Dean and Sam that angels are basically sexless, the vessel can be male or female, but angels are angels. But more than that little mythology tidbit, this episode reminds us of how far Castiel has come. Before the Winchesters, Castiel was a soldier’s soldier. Ishim reminds him of this as he runs through his laundry list of military accomplishments. But Castiel is quick to clarify that while some angels may have considered him a prime example, he feels, “My friendship with Sam and Dean has made me stronger.”
He’s fallen in love with humanity, and although his old angel friends see that to his detriment, Castiel views this as an evolution of his character. He later goes on to give Lily the option of finding him later, should she find that she cannot forgive him. His humility to humans is a complete change from the angel he used to be, and it’s nice to seem him embracing it.
Season 12, Episode 12 – “Stuck in the Middle (With You)”
Unbeknownst to Sam, Dean, and Cas, Mary leads Team Free Will unknowingly into a trap to steal the Colt from Ramiel, a Prince of Hell. In the process, Castiel is stabbed by the Lance of Michael, which basically makes an angel rot slowly from the inside out. Dragged to a barn by Mary, Castiel lies dying, black veins spreading through his skin and blood gushing onto the old couch. Even in his last moments, Castiel begs the Winchesters to leave him there and save themselves.
Sam, Dean and Mary will not be moved, however, as they look on at Castiel with sorrow.
“You’re family,” Dean says simply. “And we don’t leave family behind.”
No one, and I mean no one, says “I love you” on this show. Is it implied? Sure. Sam, Dean, and Cas fall over one another season after season to sacrifice themselves for the safety of the other two. But an actual confession of love in Supernatural? That’s more rare than any of the three of them dying.
Castiel has had a full arc of humility, culminating in this confession. The concept of love is not one that an angel should experience, at least not for any part of humanity. The Castiel that we met at the beginning of Season 4 certainly didn’t feel love for any one. But now here he is, having spent the last eight years fighting alongside the Winchesters, and he’s learned what it is to love and have true family. Castiel is not emotionally stunted in what he thinks are his last moments; he’s making sure that the family who taught him how to love knows exactly how he feels about them. That my friends, is some serious character development.
Season 12, Episode 19 – “The Future”
In their pursuit of tracking down Kelly to get rid of their little nephilim problem, Castiel returns to the bunker with one goal in mind: to take the only thing that could solve their issue. Castiel decides to steal the Colt from the Winchesters. Elsewhere, under the imprisonment of Dagon, Kelly makes an attempt at her own life… but miraculously lives. She’s then convinced that her unborn baby has saved her. When Castiel does finally find her, he finds that he can’t kill her as he’d planned, and instead takes Kelly as far from Dagon as possible. Their truck breaks down, they talk about God’s grand plan (or not so grand), and Kelly lets Castiel feel her baby kick. And suddenly to her, it all makes sense. Castiel is the one meant to take care of her baby. Though Sam and Dean try to stop them, Kelly steals the Impala with Castiel in the back seat and drives them to the gates of Heaven where they’re met by Dagon. But before Dagon can kill them, Kelly reaches out for Castiel, and his eyes light up – not blue this time, but yellow. Unseen to the viewers, Castiel has a vision of the future, and it changes everything. Suddenly, he has total faith that this child must be born.
Continuing with this season’s theme of Castiel “protecting the protectors”, in this episode he stole the Colt not to betray his brothers – but to save them the atrocity of having to kill Kelly, an innocent, themselves. Early in the episode he’d insisted that he wanted to bring back a “win” for Dean after all of his self-described “failures”, and this is just the latest in that pursuit. As much as we, as viewers, may see this is as the wrong call to make, in terms of character development, this is a big step for what I like to call “Decisive Castiel”. For better or worse, he’s making decisions and not backing down.
This only continues as the episode progresses once he receives the vision of the future. Though we’re left to ponder what it is that he could possibly have seen (and we’ve all got our theories) what Castiel comes away with is an intense sense of faith. It creates in him a sense of purpose we’ve seldom seen on Castiel and it looks incredible. Gone are the worry lines from his face, replaced with a calm certainty.
Season 12, Episode 23 – “All Along the Watchtower”
Hiding from the Winchesters, Castiel has taken Kelly deep into the woods to help her have her baby. Kelly is shown praying to God for guidance before it’s revealed that she’s actually just trying to put together a crib. She’s upset over all of the moments of her baby’s life she will miss. Castiel tries to tell her he understands at first, but then clarifies he really doesn’t have any idea how she feels. But he can promise that with every ounce of his being, he will raise her son to be the kind of person she would be proud of.
Later in the episode, we see Castiel returning from the store with more diapers than a baby can possibly need.
He also took an online doula class to make sure he was prepared to help Kelly through the birth, advising her on how far apart her “shock waves” should be.
Could there be anything cuter than Dadstiel? Though we briefly saw his more paternal side in Season 9, Castiel hasn’t really had the opportunity to nurture anything. He protects Sam and Dean, but they don’t need him in the way this child will. With the prospect of being charged with raising a being from birth, Castiel flourishes. It’s almost as if he’s had no higher calling. He’s as giddy as we’ve ever seen him, filled to the brim with faith that Jack, this child he will be able to influence and raise, will bring about a better world. This moment is so significant for Castiel because it’s been many years since we’ve seen him so faithful. Before, he was filled with the faith instilled in him from Heaven, that there was a plan in place for the world, all according to Heaven’s laws. Now he has a different sort of faith, one that will include an end to suffering for all of humanity. And while that has incredible significance for him, in the end, it’s just heartening to see Castiel get to explore his nurturing side. He’s the sort of person who wants to take care of others, and now he gets that chance.
This season saw significant change in Castiel. He started broken down, beaten, and desperate for a win. By the end, he’s charged with a higher purpose, not from Heaven, but for the sake of humanity. He’s also begun to trust himself a lot more, a trend that continues into the next season. Stay tuned for tomorrow, where we’ll explore a newly resurrected Castiel, and how a little death gave him the greatest season yet!