butterfly: (Avengers -- Tony)
[personal profile] butterfly
So, I did decide to go ahead and catch up on Supernatural. I blame tumblr, with their gifs of beautiful moments of angst and affection.

Castiel. Casti-fucking-el. I'm going to lapse into tumblr-speak and say that I can't even with him. I can't. Can't even. With his eyes that say so much and his sad voice and his fumbling attempts at figuring out wtf is up with this free will business and his desperate affection for Dean and his crushing pain and guilt over the damage that he caused in his effort to be the big hero and save everyone.

When I stopped watching the show, back in S4, I hated Dean Winchester. I hated him. Over the course of S3, my anger towards Dean just built and built -- every time he said 'bitch' or 'slut', the fires of my dislike would burn hotter and hotter. So much that, by the end of the season, I was vindictively glad that he was going to hell and suffering along the way. Which is a pretty ugly and angry place to be and it's a large part of why I stopped watching the show. I didn't like the way the show made me feel. And I didn't like the person that I was when I was watching the show. So, I quit it. Like I mentioned in my previous post about SPN, it was the right call to make at the time.

Coming back to the show years later was an entirely different experience. For starters, the worst I've felt toward Dean in my rewatching is a kind of exhausted pity. The first time watching the show, I didn't know (obviously) that the show was going to deconstruct Dean's macho image, that it was going to break down and examine all those things about him that were supremely screwed-up. "He doesn't have relationships," a monster that could read his mind said. "He has applications for sainthood." Indeed.

So, I'm thoroughly hooked again. And S8, so far, has been hitting a lot of my good buttons.

And I'll end with some things I wrote on tumblr that I'm going to c/p.

Thoughts on Dean/Lisa in S6:
Something that I noticed is where the show chose to place Dean and Lisa’s kisses and I think it definitely contributed to my feeling of narrative certainty that the relationship was not going to succeed.

To start things off — at the end of S5, when Dean seeks refuge at Lisa’s, she greets him with a hug.

6.01 — We get a kiss as Lisa leaves (to take Ben to the movies); Lisa also kisses Dean’s knuckles before she gets out of bed in the opening montage, again leaving. When Lisa and Dean greet each other later, it’s with a hug. Lisa and Dean aren’t unaffectionate, but there’s definitely a narrative choice to place all kisses here in context of goodbyes.

6.02 — Another goodbye kiss, with Dean leaving to go work with Sam for the rest of the episode. They also do not kiss at the end of the episode when they decide to give it ‘a shot’ (Dean having both the home life & the hunter life). This is where a kiss would have been placed if the narrative were telling us that the relationship would work out.

6.03 — We finally see a non-goodbye kiss...except that it’s in a dream. And this is the closest we get to a Dean/Lisa sex scene. When we see them in bed in reality, back in the opening episode, they’re clothed and snuggling. In his dream of Lisa, Dean is shirtless, unguarded, but in his actual relationship with her, he kept that last layer between them as a safeguard.

6.05 — Dean visits Lisa while he’s a vampire. He pushes her up against the wall and comes close to drinking her blood. What Dean does in this episode — almost hurt Lisa and Ben — I think it breaks all possibility of the relationship for him.

Even before this, the narrative was saying that it would be over soon, because of the association of kissing first only with goodbyes and then as nothing but a dream. And, here, he brings her and Ben pain, fear, and uncertainty. Though the effects of having lived with Lisa and Ben will continue to haunt Dean for the rest of the season, this episode ended it as a viable relationship for Dean. In the next episode (under the influence of Veritas), Dean will say that he’s just a killer and doesn’t fit into that life with Lisa, and Lisa will say that she knew things were over as soon as Sam walked back into Dean’s life.

On Castiel and choices:
“You’re the ones who taught me that you can make your own destiny. You don’t have to be ruled by fate. You can choose freedom. I still believe that that’s something worth fighting for. I just wanted you to understand that.”

Castiel; 6.17 — “My Heart Will Go On”

The lie that Dean tells himself over and over about Cas is that Cas doesn’t know what he’s doing. That Cas is being weak or a child or doesn’t understand what’s going on, rather than saying that Cas is making choices that Dean doesn’t want him to make. In a lot of ways, that’s how Dean was able to justify for himself forgiving Cas so quickly for what Cas did in S6 — Cas was a ‘child’, that angels trying to care ‘breaks’ them. He resists anything that Cas tells him that contradicts this narrative.

And that’s the lie he tells himself in 8.07, too — he knows that Cas let go but he doesn’t want to believe that Cas let go from a position of strength. He’d rather believe that Cas “didn’t try hard enough”, that Cas just couldn’t hold on, that Cas let go from a position of weakness. Cas’s actions were never in doubt. It was his motivation that Dean refused to believe.

And Cas is telling him, “No, Dean. I made choices. I understood what was going on and I used free will — that thing you taught me was worth everything — and I made decisions.” Because once upon a time, Cas did think that it was ‘fate’ that was in charge of everything — fate, God, things other than people making choices.

Dean is the person who taught him the power of choice. S6 was Cas putting into practice what he’d seen Dean do — and also making the same mistakes that we’ve seen Dean and Sam and everyone else on the show make.

Dean is viscerally, painfully aware that Cas rebelled for him. Cas has told him as much, time and time again. His mistake is in thinking that because he’s Castiel’s inspiration and motivation, that makes Cas’s mistakes Dean’s fault. And because the other angels don’t understand free will, they also blame Dean. Because they see Cas as having transferred his loyalty from God/the angels over to Dean but the truth is that it’s never been as simple as that. There’s a reason that Cas is still confessing to God in 6.20 rather than to Dean. He knows that Dean is ‘just’ a man. He has not made Dean his new God. He wants Dean to understand why Cas is making the choices that he’s making, but he does not ever consider himself bound by Dean’s opinions.

He admires Dean. He cares for Dean in a way that he doesn’t seem to have ever cared about anyone before (consider the contrast to Balthazar — when Cas realizes that Balthazar has betrayed him, Cas is sad about killing him, but does it readily, whereas with Dean, the worst that Cas — even hopped up on Purgatory souls — is willing to do is make empty threats (and harm Sam in a non-fatal way). “Love me or I’ll destroy you ... or maybe I’ll pout about it and then go away without hurting you. That’s the same thing, right?” It happens again in the confrontation with Death; he could kill Dean but he can’t quite pull the metaphorical trigger — instead, after he frees Death, he leaves). He acts to protect Dean.

But he doesn’t do anything simply because Dean tells him to do it. And that’s true every season — when he rebels for Dean in S4, it’s because Dean has convinced him that Castiel’s actual goals are not going to be met by the side of the angels. In S5, he and Dean share a common goal — stop the apocalypse — which they disagree on the best method of doing, but they’re each willing to help the other one out. In S6, he’s doing what he believes is best for the world (including Dean). And when that goes badly and Cas starts seeking penance in S7, he doesn’t do it “Dean’s way”. Now, one of Cas’s goals is ‘protect Dean Winchester’ (arguably, it may even be his highest goal; there are times when it seems like saving the world is something Cas considers to be a bonus side-effect of saving Dean — or, to put it another way, Dean’s safety is something Cas considers non-negotiable), so Dean matters deeply when Cas is making his choices, but he does not base his decision-making on Dean’s opinion of the situation.

Now, in S8, Cas is telling Dean that the choices Cas makes are not Dean’s fault or responsibility. It’s not Dean’s job to fix him. Just because Cas does something ‘for’ Dean or to protect Dean does not make those decisions Dean’s responsibility. And Cas believing that he belongs in Purgatory because of the choices that he made and the consequences of those choices is not the same thing as him saying that Dean isn’t good enough or strong enough or faithful enough for him. In fact, in this episode, he thanks Dean. What Dean has given to him and what Dean taught him means everything to Cas.

For people who watched Buffy and Angel, staying in Purgatory was Cas’s equivalent of Faith going to jail in S1 AtS. She voluntarily chose to restrict her freedom and to allow herself to be bound by the laws that she’d earlier claimed didn’t apply to her, because she believed that she needed to perform penance for her crimes. Forgiveness from others is all well and good, but if you don’t believe it yourself, then it’s not enough. It’s like Dean in “Defending Your Life” in S7 — it didn’t matter if he and Sam and Jo convinced Osiris that Dean didn’t deserve to be held accountable. It was Dean’s opinion of himself that mattered.

Which, of course, makes what Naomi is doing to Cas the worst possible crime anyone could commit against him. Free will and choice matter deeply to Cas. Owning his own mistakes matters deeply to him. And she’s taken that away. And she’s doing it in a way that potentially could harm Dean, so Cas will take this violation of his free will personally not just for his own sake but for Dean’s.

In conclusion:
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