Vivisecting Supernatural- The Evolution Of Castiel, or What The F*ck Happened There?

The angel Castiel has been through many stages over the seasons. Most of them have been reductive to his powers somehow, and it isn’t hard to see why- as one of the writers said, it becomes very difficult to show Sam and Dean struggling when they have an angel on hand who can fix everything with a finger-snap. And in fact, when Cas has been at his most powerful it often just makes things worse for the Winchesters.
We first met Castiel at the end of episode 4×1, Lazarus Rising, when he made what may be Supernatural’s most ludicrously badass entrance ever.


In Season Four, Cas was a brainwashed soldier- though we don’t find out the details of the brainwashing until Season Eight. At first Castiel’s very existence provided a symbol of faith to Sam and Dean- Dean the sceptic is forced to acknowledge that a higher power exist, and Sam the believer finally has some confirmation that his prayers have been heard.
At least, that’s how it seems at first.
But over Season Four, as angels are shown to be corrupted and selfish, as Castiel himself loses faith, Dean discovers that his distrust was justified, as angels hurry the apocalypse along, and Sam, who prays every night, who practically glowed at meeting angels, discovers that, far from being there to help him, they consider him an abomination.


And while Sam was technically correct to believe that angels existed, it turned out that Dean’s principles were the correct ones- many of the angels are as malicious towards them as demons, if not more so.
Over the course of Season Four, Cas gradually becomes the exception to this. In a way, Cas is the kind of angel that Sam once believed existed- the kind that wanted only to save them- and the kind of angel that Mary told Dean was watching over him.
Cas tries to be the angel that Sam and Dean need, in short. And yes, he often fails, but I still think he gets credit for trying.
Castiel has become a kind of emblem of faith in SPN. He has left, but never for good; he has been broken and destroyed, but always put back together again. And he has caused a lot of damage, but perhaps even more good.
In Season Five, Cas’s faith evaporates. He learns- struggles, but learns- about humans, and comes to believe that more people than just Dean Winchester are worth saving. He believes Sam an abomination and yet also calls him his friend. He is disillusioned, but gains faith in the Winchesters. And his faith helps them stop the apocalypse.


In Season Six, Cas’s need to protect Sam and Dean is prevalent. It leads him to make a deal with Crowley, and it leads him to eventually betray them- and yet we ache for him as he does so.


In The Man Who Would Be King, Cas once again appeals to God, is unanswered, and instead asks Dean to have faith in him. Dean refuses.


We don’t know what would have happened had Dean trusted Cas, but we see the effects of his mistrust. Dean’s loss of faith in Cas leads Cas to target Sam, as the best way to get both Winchesters out of the way.
Now this I find interesting. Logical too, obviously- the easiest way to put Dean out of action is to do something to Sam- but it’s interesting that Cas, who is reduced to asking Sam and Dean to simply have faith in him, should target Sam- who has always had faith enough for both Winchesters.


It’s also very, very sad. It’s clear that Cas’s original motive was to save the Winchesters anyway, and yet he ends up damning Sam, and along with him the Winchesters’ faith in Cas. It’s clear that Cas’s devotion for them has become abstract. At the beginning of Season Seven Cas is God, and he has never deserved the Winchesters’ faith less.
Oh, they found God alright. They found him, and he flooded Sam’s mind with centuries of Hell before threatening to send him back there. He then asked the family he had just torn apart to kneel before him and express their devotion.


When the Godstiel incident is over, Dean is devastated and Sam is certifiably insane. Their lives are levelled, especially after Bobby dies- and yet it’s never too late to be forgiven. Because when Sam is dying in the mental hospital in The Born-Again Identity (which I will never shut up about), Dean finds Cas- and Cas takes responsibility for what he’s done. He takes Sam’s madness into himself and relieves Sam of it.


Sam’s faith is finally justified.
Dean’s scepticism is once again in question.
And for Cas, madness is almost a relief. ‘I see everything’, he says, and he seems to have the bigger picture in mind. He seems somewhat free, having taken responsibility for what he’s done.
But Purgatory rids him of his madness. Interestingly, unlike Dean, who described Purgatory as ‘pure’, one of the first things Cas says when he gets out is ‘I’m dirty’. He is. The trench coat is filthy and he has a dodgy little woolly beard. But there’s something else he gained in Purgatory- his sanity. He feels dirty with his sanity back. He does not see ‘everything’ and pacifism is no longer on the cards. He must choose a side.


And when Naomi gets her hooks into him, brainwashing him, he wavers. Yet he still chooses Dean over her, because Dean, not Naomi, is his family. And yet Cas, over Season Eight, stops being able to define himself as an angel- he is family to humans, came off the line ‘with a crack in [his] chassis’, and at the end of the season he becomes an actual human


In Season Nine, Cas is immediately disillusioned with regards to angels- again. They betray him, hunt him, and take advantage of his newfound humanity. But at the same time Cas learns to have faith in humans, instead- and when his faith has gone absolutely dry, in I’m No Angel, he has this conversation:

CASTIEL: What if you were to find out that no one is listening? That God had pretty much left, that Heaven had gone out of business? What would you do?

WOMAN: But that’s not possible.

CASTIEL: I think it’s completely possible.

WOMAN: You’re missing the point. It’s not possible because I have my faith.

CASTIEL: But when I tell you the truth-

WOMAN: Your truth, not mine. Your lack of faith doesn’t cancel what I believe. That’s not how it works. You know… I think you might feel better if you tried it my way. Someone is listening.

The thing is that Cas is, obviously, right. Yet in the middle of an episode that he spends being hunted by angels, he is told to have faith. In the face of everything that has happened.


It calls to mind Layla’s line from Faith: You can’t just have faith when the miracles happen. You’ve got to have it when they don’t.
Perhaps SPN is suggesting that it’s the faith itself that is of value here. Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming, I knew they kept you around for a reason.
And indeed, while Cas is killed by an angel later in this episode, he is brought back by one too- Gadreel, who is fallen in his own right, but still manages to somewhat redeem himself by the end of the season.
Faith and redemption are key here.
And of course, by the end of the season, people are losing faith all over the show. Everyone has lost faith in Dean. Dean has lost faith in Gadreel. Gadreel has lost faith in Metatron. Cas’s army have lost faith in him.
Once again, it is only Sam who never wavers in his faith of Cas during Stairway To Heaven. Somehow, despite his total disillusionment with regard to angels, Sam has still retained his ability for faith. And, in First Born, Cas essentially pulls Sam back from suicide. Finally, at long last, Cas saves him.
Okay, saves him from a massive needle that Cas was sticking in Sam’s neck, but that’s a technicality.


In Season Ten, Cas eventually becomes an angel again- yet he is an angel with the sensibilities of a human. One of the only scenes I genuinely cannot stand occurred within the otherwise fantastic episode Reichenbach, where Cas had a conversation with a small girl about snot rockets. I found it far too cutesy. Overt pandering. But his sudden need to make things right with Claire- his sudden focus on individuals rather than the bigger picture- that was very human, and felt very real.
And then, when Dean was beating Cas up in The Prisoner, Cas barely fought back. We all know he could have done more, and yet he did not choose to. He tried to get through to Dean-


It was something that would have only applied to an angel, but a very human thing to care about.
Cas walks a tightrope between angel and human, between scepticism and blindness. He comes inbetween the Winchesters in this respect- possibly why I think he works best as their sidekick. He shares traits with them both, and so brings out different things in them.
It’s been a long journey from ‘I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition’ to ‘I’m the one who will have to watch you murder the world’, and it looks like it isn’t over yet.



36 thoughts on “Vivisecting Supernatural- The Evolution Of Castiel, or What The F*ck Happened There?

  1. There is so much you can discuss about Cas and I feel like I could do so in many posts, so I don’t really know what I can constructively say to this post, other than: Don’t stop writing about him! There is so much more to be explored about this character.

    In fact, Castiel was one of the reasons I re-started watching Supernatural. I read a lot of things on Tumblr about him and his relationship to the Winchesters and when I wrote some thoughts for this meme-thing, I barely knew him and only worked from what I had read. Now that I know him, I believe I could do him more justice in a re-write and I also see that all the posts out there paint a completely different picture. If you judge from his Fanbase on Tumblr he sounds like a dorky wimp, but if you look at the actual character he is way more powerful and badass and complicated and simply different than any of the others. I can totally see, why he grew on the writers and I really hope that they do not turn him into a total wuss or even kill him off. They’ve done that aplenty to their best characters…

    And as I wrote in my comment on the last few episodes:
    What I find most incredible about [his scene with Dean in Season 10] is that Cas, a powerful angel that could have easily subdued a mark-controlled/afflicted Dean, did not go back on his words to not hurt him and did not fight back and let Dean pummel and threaten to kill him.
    It makes you want to have a friend as loyal and supportive as him…


    • He is such a complex and intriguing character- all the different stages he’s been through. I liked his role less at the end of s9/beginning of s10 but I feel like it’s back on track now, with the Claire arc and him teaming up with Sam (which, wow).
      And yes, that scene was shocking. When they began playing the Winchester family theme over the fight I absolutely lost it. He didn’t even try to defend himself, did he?


      • No, he didn’t. He just let Dean exhaust himself/let out his anger through his punches.

        Part of me believes, Castiel hoped that through this Dean would understand the uselessness of his actions and would just stop, but was shocked, when Dean nearly went in for the kill, as he had seemingly underestimated the influence of the Mark.

        It wasn’t like didn’t like the role any more, I was more disappointed of what they turned him into, though that as well is a common occurrence in the show…

        Liked by 1 person

        • I actually thought Cas was dead for about three seconds there. Obviously if I’d been thinking clearly I’d’ve realised, obviously, there was no light coming from Cas’s eyes when Dean stabbed the blade down- but who the hell was thinking clearly right then?
          Yeah, I felt the same about Cas at the start of s10, though I like him again now. It was that one scene in Reichenbach that got up my nose. Snot rockets? Like, on the other plot thread Sam is tearing the world apart to save Dean and you want us to talk about snot rockets?
          But now Cas is badass again. So I am content.
          Wait- which other characters got turned into more disappointing versions?


          • I can’t even remember the snot rockets scene…I think…I’m not sure…maybe somewhere at the back of my memory…
            But I think I waited for the light or some kind of signal of actual killing to be shown and was relieved when they showed the blade in the book…

            He just felt kind of useless when he was just driving around doing, well, god knows what, though he probably felt useless himself without his own Grace and no actual orders to follow and the Winchesters not needing/wanting him around. I’m not entirely sure if he has recovered, but I guess we’ll see if Rowena’s spell has the same impact on him as it did on its other victims… I sure hope not, as this would just be another waste of character.

            Pretty much every other major side character, kind of.
            Crowley got weird and a bit boring after they put human blood in him and the whole Mummy in Hell plot was strange, as he felt more like a lost puppy than the King of Crossroads we met some Seasons ago.
            The Harwell’s turned from kickass sidekicks to bomb-fodder.
            Lucifer became a joke of a hallucination.
            Bobbie became a desperate Ghost.
            Calm and collected Cain turned into a mass murdering lunatic, thought that was partly expected due to the influence of the mark, but he was quite whiny about it…
            And don’t get me started on Charlie, I’m still not over that…(not over the Harwell’s and Bobbie either, but I guess you get the point).
            The occasional backwards development for the boys themselves is also quite annoying, I mean: Ten Seasons in and they still think it’s a good idea to do stuff behind each others back? o.O

            The only ones that currently are quite constant in their characterization are Rowena and Metatron and that’s just because they’re major jerks.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I too got rather exasperated at Crowley lounging round in that dungeon all season, though I love Rowena- and that scene in The Prisoner where Crowley showed his red eyes was electric.
              It’s a shame they killed the Harvelles- they could have done a lot more with them as characters, I think, and they seem to have realised that, judging by Ellen and Jo returning in My Heart Will Go On and Defending Your Life.
              The Bobby-ghost plotline felt somewhat superfluous to me- Of Grave Importance was, I think, one of s7’s biggest clunkers- but I do like Bobby’s more recent appearances in Taxi Driver and Inside Man.
              Honestly, I love the Hallucifer plotline- it makes more sense if you go with the idea that Hallucifer is Sam’s subconscious.
              Got to say, I adored The Executioner’s Song where Cain became a mass-murderer. Osmundson was fantastic in that role as well.
              Charlie. Oh, my poor darling. (Who happens to be about fifteen years older than me, but still.) I understand that we needed a really, really big trigger to get Dean to go over the edge- but why Charlie? Never getting over that.
              The one step forward, two steps back character development for the boys can be infuriating, but I think it’s also very human. I feel like at this stage they realise how much damage lying to each other can do, and yet they feel backed into corners- this time, it was Sam who was in that position. I think they’re more aware of how damaging their actions can be, but they still would rather risk that than lose each other.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Yeah, the red eyes scene was a kind of redemption on his part, back to the old glory so to speak. Though it makes you wonder, if he became so much more stronger simply through being King of Hell, if I remember correctly did he use to have only black eyes.

                They could have done way more with a lot of characters…
                Season 7 was weird either way, but I agree with the newer appearances. Inside Man was fun. ๐Ÿ˜€

                I agree. If you see Hallucifer only as something Sam’s subconscious thought up it is an entirely different character and therefore is free to be an annoying, yet funny and childish thing. I liked him as well, but as a character-development for the actual Lucifer it’s kind of pathetic…

                So far I haven’t seen Omundson not do a great job (heck, that guy even makes a great Leprechaun >_<) and I liked to see what can happen if the mark takes control, but I found his reasoning a bit dull… I'm evil, so my formerly not mentioned descendants have evil within them as well and must be eliminated, before they may or may not do any more bad deeds, right now, because I'm bored otherwise. o.O That is probably the part that bugs me most about it…

                How old did they make Charlie? If I read/heard it, I've forgotten. I always pictured her to be in her late twenties/early thirties, though that makes Deans "kiddo" a pretty weird statement…
                I honestly believe it would have been enough to find her badly injured in a last minute rescue to make him go berserk at the Frankenstein's (I'm still not over that inclusion either…). He would have been furious at Sam for letting that happen and would have at least killed the dude that killed (in this case hurt) her. Though I doubt that would have satisfied him and he would have gone after the family anyway to make sure that none of them would hurt Charlie again. [But no, it was definitely necessary to kill off Charlie, as there would have been absolutely no other way for Dean to snap…[/sarcasm, sorry]

                They risked the destruction/end of the world more than once for each others sake. Making human decisions is one thing, but choosing the absolutely worst option possible is a completely different matter.
                I think it would be a fun episode to see the world end and them ending up in some white space and god or some other mighty entity appearing to them and sarcastically congratulating them on finally destroying everything and showing them the choices they could have made to prevent that, only for them to wake up from some kind of dream, knowing that they should start making better choices. ๐Ÿ˜€

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                • Crowley had never previously shown his demony eyes, except when he possessed Linda Tran in What’s Up, Tiger Mommy. His demon smoke was also red, as seen in Road Trip and King Of The Damned.
                  I’m pretty certain Hallucifer was Sam’s subconscious, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone away when Sam pressed the hand scar.
                  Was Osmundson a leprechaun? Was he the dude in Clap Your Hands If You Believe? *goes to google*
                  I have no idea how old Charlie is- I said she’s probably fifteen or so years older than me because I myself am fifteen. Perhaps it’s on the SuperWiki.
                  And yes, they’ve basically destroyed the world right now to save each other- but I found it weirdly satisfying. What do you think will happen to them with the Darkness swallowing the Impala? My pet theory is that it’ll turn them evil or something. Or into robotic drones.
                  And I am now adding that episode to my ‘make it happen, Kripke’ list, right up there with the episode where Soulless Sam and Demon Dean get locked in a panic room together, and the one where every single character is played by Osric Chau.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • All right than I remembered that wrong. Though it’s been a while since I saw those episodes.
                    Omundson played a Leprechaun in “The Luck of the Irish”, a rather ridiculous, but still funny Fanatasy-creatures in modern days fling.

                    Ok, I thought you were older. You have a good eye and interesting thoughts for your age. ๐Ÿ™‚

                    I was quite disappointed of the finale, especially as none of the smoke-things destroyed Baby… I kind of anticipated that one…
                    I’m not sure. It might be that the car protected them from being afflicted, but that would be a movie trope (heroes stay somewhere and are saved from the disaster and get out to see everyone else changed) and cars always let gases enter somehow. If The Darkness brings out the dark in people, even more so than the Mark does, than maybe you will have the Demon!Dean and Soulless!Sam meet-up, as the brothers were their darkest in those forms. It would at least make some sense and be an interesting turn of events. Though who would save the day, if both the savers turn dark? Cas and Crowley, if they survive? =/ It would be interesting…

                    Ah, thank you, I feel honoured. ๐Ÿ˜€ I read about the Osric one, but what is the Panic Room one about?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks- I’m just opinionated ๐Ÿ™‚
                      From a pacing point of view I considered the finale wonky- I think it would have been better to have the whole vampire case thing in a previous episode, it just felt like a last-minute attempt at showing us the MoC’s dominance. I found it unnecessary, as I’d been creeped out by Dean for several episodes by that stage. But I’m here for the characters, not the plot, and I adored the Sam/Dean/Death scene. Can’t say I was overjoyed by Crowley’s mummy issues speech, though.
                      I think it’d be a major cop-out for Sam and Dean to be unaffected by the darkness- it’d make the cliffhanger feel contrived and manipulative if it turned out to be nothing, just a way of getting us worked up. I predict that the season 11 premiere will deal with the Darkness’s effects on Sam and Dean.
                      I doubt they’ll bring back Demon Dean now, though I like the idea of them reverting to their darkest forms. Also, I wouldn’t say Soulless was the darkest Sam’s ever been, as I think he was technically amoral rather than immoral- though that does throw up some interesting questions as to what identifies as ‘darkness’ within a person.
                      And the Panic Room soulless/demon meetup is just my pet fanfic idea. One day I will write that fic.

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been thinking about the “Darkness” and whether “Dark Charlie” could have been the episode that explains this phenom. The season 10 cliffhanger(S) certainly are quite ominous. There are NOT many people left on the living side you could consider friends of the Winchesters. Dean killed Death and Tessa Martyred herself, and if I remember correctly when Cas was trying to help Dean with the 66 seals he had to rescue Death and Tessa because people stopped Dying. SO unless the rules have changed I think that’s going to be an issue. There was a reoccuring phrase said in 9 and 10 that Death wasn’t always goodbye in their line of work and in facing the “Darkness” the powers that be may have to bring back some of the major players.
    After John helps them kill Azazel it’s never quite said where he goes to, or where Mary is. The fact that Ash didn’t know that Ellen and Jo were Dead when they were in Heaven was curious. I do think that if Season 11 is the final season of Supernatural (and if in the next few months there isn’t news of contracts being signed it most certainly will be) Then maybe this will be their mightiest fight and they will bring back those that they have lost. I have heard of a possible Spin off involving Cas but I am not sure. There is a lot of talk of John coming back for this season so it seems that there may not be any rules. I really want Charlie back though!

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    • That’s an interesting idea about Dark Charlie foreshadowing the Darkness. I think another piece of foreshadowing was the episode title for 10×1, Black- after watching the finale it makes so much more sense. Cyclical storytelling, yay!
      In that Season 4 episode- it was called Death Takes A Holiday- it was Tessa and another reaper who were kidnapped, and the town that they were meant to have been reaping stopped dying. Death himself wasn’t captured. But all the same, it’ll cause some really cosmic crap…
      If Gabriel is ever going to return, it’ll be in s11.
      Confession: I hope John doesn’t return. He made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t like what he brought out in Sam and Dean. But he was certainly a fascinating, complex character.
      Honestly I doubt 11 will be the last season. It’s a really weird number to end at, and they have so many storylines- the Darkness, Death dying, Rowena, Metatron, newly bad Crowley- still floating around that I don’t think they’ll all get resolved within one season.
      I heard of a spinoff involving Jody Mills and Donna Hanscum. In which case, I AM SO IN.
      I suspect we’ll see Charlie again, if not alive.


      • What I do know is they have a new character named Amara in 1101 episode ackles is directing called “the bad seed” I know they have first 8 episodes written and done and they go into production in July so shooting those should take them to around the premiere… But there is one thing for sure, the entire story line isn’t going to be solid until contracts for season 12 are signed and thus far they haven’t been.. But I’m hoping they will sign and at least then everyone will know whether it will coming to a conclusion…

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              • there has to be a prophet? Right? and since Metatron is human.. Although, one reason why I do like to do the biblical research via books and not internet is well.. yes, most of their lore comes out of their ass.. but Metatron was once a human he was one of two humans that god made Angels.. He was Enoch (there are books of Enoch which has a lot about all of the fallen angels etc) aka Enochian is the language of Metatron. Lilith is truly the first demon, she was actually made for Adam but God made her out of the same stuff he made adam out of and thus she wouldn’t bow to his orders .. she was his equal .. and she wouldn’t bow to Gods orders either.. so he turned her into a demon, a succubus.. and made eve out of Adam’s rib… I have a book that was written 600 years ago about western occult philosophy that’s about 900 pages that has full on Enochian sigils pages on them… also the Dead sea Scrolls have the books of Encoh, The book of Giants, Book of Jasher and Jubilees that are all about angels… every religion has its own belief system.. I mean up until I think the 80’s the mormon church believed that Black people carried the Mark of Cain.. I don’t trust the internet in that respect… lol
                I actually have a Archangel Gabriel Amulet lol not from the show but Gabriel is the Archangel that was tasked at keeping his eye on earth and humans….

                Liked by 1 person

                • Metatron changed the rules though so that after Kevin’s death there would be no more prophets.
                  Wow, you’ve really done your research! I’m taking the lore with a pinch of salt with SPN though, as it likes messing with mythology to get good storylines.


                  • Well have you ever seen Kevin Smith’s movie Dogma? the bible is just basic stories.. I adore film makers who can make something funny and clever out of it.. and Dogma is SOOO on the money (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Selma Hayeck, Alan Rickman, George Carlin) I take everything with a pinch of salt because mythology is just that..story telling…

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • I haven’t seen that, I’ll look it up. And yeah- before books, films etc were big obviously stories were just mouth-to-mouth, so they grew and were twisted organically. I think that still happens with long-running things like SPN, and that’s okay.


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