He had, if he thought about it - which he tried not to - suspected for years, but it wasn’t until he was backing Baby into her hiding place and saw the state of the back seat that he realized they had driven that blood-sodden gutshot angel fifty miles without Dean saying one word about the upholstery…and then he KNEW.
(By request, I’m making this a separate text post.)
I want to offer a positive spin on what the writers are doing with Dean and Cas this season with respects to a potential romantic relationship.
In a love story, every couple needs some kind of separation period. Dean and Cas have always been separated at some point each season, usually because of the happenings in heaven. But this season, it was a deliberate separation on Dean’s part because of what was happening with Zeke aka Gadreel. Key word: deliberate. This season just feels entirely more deliberate than other seasons in terms of endgame destiel.
They both need some personal character development before they develop together. They can’t use each other to grow right now because they’re too busy figuring themselves out. Dean is breaking down that codependent bond with Sam. His whole life, a huge part of Dean’s identity has been Sam. For the first time ever, he’s having to look inward at himself and his own actions rather than distract himself with Sam and Sam’s well-being. (Note that even his relationship with Lisa was prompted by Sam, who made Dean promise that he’d go to Lisa and Ben and be happy.) And Dean needs to do this alone, he really does. In all actuality, if Dean and Cas were together right now, Dean would be replacing Sam with Cas. Notice how in 9.10 he asks Cas how he’s doing, not out of genuine interest in Cas’ well-being, but as a distraction from what’s happening to Sam. He replaces Sam with Cas as the object of his need to take care of everyone. And by being alone right now (metaphorically, not literally, as he does have Sam by his side), he’s being forced to take care of himself for once.
Cas, likewise, is on a personal journey. His time as a human on the show only lasted a few episodes, but it was enough to shake this million, perhaps billion year old being to the very core and irrevocably change him. So now Cas needs to look inward as well and figure out what he really wants. He had his choices stripped from him in 8.23, and in a way he had his choices stripped from him in 9.03 as well, when forced to leave Dean’s side. Now he’s faced with choices, and for the first time, true free will. Cas has never really had a true choice or a real chance to use free will, as he’s always made the choices that he thought would fix heaven or save Dean. In 9.11, he makes his first true choice as an angel to save Sam’s life rather than get enough grace to track Gadreel. This is an important scene. (Honestly, nothing about their story in that episode did anything at all to move the plot forward - it was all purely very important character development and IMO, setting-up for something later in the season or next… we’ll see that needle again, I’m positive.)
The writers are also screaming at us that destiel is deliberate and being built up even in episodes where Cas doesn’t appear. In back-to-back-to-back episodes, we saw supernatural being/human romantic relationships. Cas only appeared in one of those episodes (9.11, which had heavy-freakin-handed destiel hints through the obvious parallels with Cain and Colette).
And let’s be honest, in every great love story, there’s a separation period. I’ll just use Pride & Prejudice as an example because everyone knows it. Elizabeth and Darcy actually spent very little time together on the pages, but their short experiences with each other were enough to change their stubborn opinions (Darcy’s pride, Elizabeth’s prejudice). Like them, Dean and Cas need time apart from one another to sort themselves out and mature a bit before they can come together and form a healthy relationship. Key word being healthy: we want Cas and Dean to have a mature and mutually-nurturing relationship, and as they stand personally right now, neither is in a place to provide that. (I for one would get no satisfaction through an angst-riddled, juvenile relationship between Dean and Cas for the sake of seeing them together on-screen.)
I honestly don’t think the writers are keeping them apart because they’re not ready or don’t know what to do with them or no homo, brah* or something else along those lines. They’re keeping them apart because Dean and Cas need to be apart right now in order to grow, and then realize that they want to be together. Because destiel is free will, not destiny. And they have to make the choice to be together because they want to be together, not because they feel that they need to whether out of codependency or duty.
It is a love story, and a classically-constructed one. And it’s absolutely, positively deliberate.
*I’ve seen criticism that the writers aren’t ready for a open homosexual relationship on the show. But fandom seems to be forgetting that time that Charlie made out with Gilda in “LARP and the Real Girl”. And her crush on Dorothy. And the two men that Cupid brought together in 8.22. These are not long-running homosexual relationships by any means, but they’re still open same-gender relationships on a show which is often criticized by fans and non-fans alike for being aggressively “no homo”.
I agree with everything, and the separation is a trope used really often for canon couples, so that they can figure out stuff about themselves and each other or so that they can complete a personal mission or because something happens to them. For example: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Peeta/Katniss, tons more if you just think about it. Hell, Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi is completely built on that trope, so really it’s nothing new.
Dean has clearly stated that he wants to be with Cas with that "No one wants him here more than I do" and while I agree that this isn’t exactly a declaration of love, it’s still a very explicit way for Dean to say that the separation hurts him (and his reaction all the times Cas kept disappearing on him in s8 was another great hint in this direction). So Dean’s happy ending is tied up with Cas, with Cas’s presence in his life. There’s no way out of that one, and I haven’t seen anything on the show, be it textual or subtextual, to negate that.
Dean/Cas is free will and not destiny. That’s the whole point. The question is: will they still want to be together after the codependency is broken, when Dean has found his true self and Cas has completed his personal journey? By this point, the answer can’t be anything but YES, THEY WILL. Everything screams that we’re heading to a happy ending, but like someone else said in another meta, TV is the exact opposite of instant gratification because it is built on drama and conflict, not on people being super happy all the time without a wish in the world.
And I know that by now we have totally figured this out, and we want the payback, and we’re impatient, and the doubt is still eating at us. But seriously there’s NOTHING on this show to make us think that at the end, when everything’s said and done, when everyone has grown up as they should, Dean Cas won’t figure it out and fix it and be together.
I find the attitude that a lot of people on my dash have right now….draining. I will call it draining. I’ve seen SO much wank about Misha and him not being used for as many episodes as we expected, and while I personally would like Cas to be in every single episode from now until the end of the series, I also realize that isn’t going to happen.
I will say I was a bit disappointed in learning that he was only contracted for 11 episodes instead of 14, but let’s look at how many episodes Cas has been in in previous seasons:
- Season 4: 12
- Season 5: 14
- Season 6: 12
- Season 7: 5
- Season 8: 9
If you average all these numbers together with this seasons 11, you get Cas in an average of 10.5 episodes per season, making his 11 right about where he’s always been. I see everyone going on about season 8 and how season 9 is so awful in comparison largely due to the “lack of Cas” but…he’s going to be in more episodes this season, and he’s not under mind control now, and last season he was pretty much away from Dean the entire time as well.
As far as the lack of Cas mentions from the boys go, see this post for my take on that. Half the episodes he was in in the first half revolved around Dean wanting to be with him more than anything, the first episode of the second half revolved around them working together and Cas being his supportive rock. Flashbacks not included, they’ve been together in more episodes so far this season than they were at this point in season 8.
Look, I get the frustration, I do, I want Cas with Dean and Sam just as much as anyone, but I also understand that this is a television drama, not fluffy fic where everyone bakes pies and fucks on the kitchen counter and then snuggles watching Star Trek until bedtime. Jeremy Carver has stated he has a three season arc in mind, making this a story broken down into 3 acts, and if you know about story structure then you know ACT TWO IS WHEN LITERALLY EVERYTHING THAT WAS BUILT UP IN ACT ONE GOES TO SHIT. Things look grim because that’s literally exactly where we need to be. Dean and Cas are too good for one another to be together right now…do you honestly think Dean could go darkside (which I think it looks like he is) if his rock that is Castiel were by his side? Yeah, no…
Also I don’t understand this attitude that is people making it seem like Misha is somehow getting screwed in the deal, he’s in as many episodes as he contracted for and I’m sure he’s pretty happy about that. He has a steady job and he’s making damn good money, while working half the time that Jensen and Jared do, therefore making it possible to spend quality time with his wife and his two young children. When he is working, he’s working with a cast and crew that gush about him every chance they get. He works with his second family, they love and respect him enough to give him a coveted job as a director on a very important episode this season. The episodes he has been in have been very Cas-centric, he has his own arc this season that revolves around his character, and he’s being fleshed out in a way Cas has never been before. What about this = Misha getting the short end of the stick?
So, complain about the story all you want — and many of those complaints ARE valid — but don’t upset people by making them think the end is nigh for Misha and Cas because things didn’t go exactly as you expected them to.