Thursday’s Supernatural episode took us deeper into Castiel’s past than we have ever gone, and gave us some more insight to who Cas is and how far he’s come.
The episode starts with a woman playing an arcade game in a bar as closing time comes around. While she is playing, an eyepatch-wearing redhead comes and picks a fight with her. But Arcade Girl is not just anyone, she is an angel, Benjamin. Eyepatch Red busts out not one, but two angel blades, and is really excited that Benjamin’s angel mojo doesn’t work. The fight escalates, and eventually Benjamin is pinned to the wall, sending out an SOS in Enochian to three other angels (Castiel included) before Eye Patch Red stabs her. Clearly, Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets.
Back at the bunker it’s just Team Free Will, or Team Sulky Avoidance, since Mary is off hunting and Dean and Cas are giving each other the silent treatment. Sam, ever the peacemaker, tries to smooth things over with Dean, who insists that he’s grateful that Cas cares enough to have saved the Winchesters from Billie, but he’s pissed because “cosmic consequences” isn’t really something you fuck around with. Cas comes in, and rather than silently lurking, declares that killing Billie was the right thing, and if there are any consequences, Cas will deal with them. I fucking love my sassy defiant Cas. He tells them that his old friend Benjamin was calling and begging for help on angel radio and he has to go see what happened and if he can help. Sam offers to go along and lend a hand, to which Cas pointedly asks if both of them are going, glaring at Dean.
Once all three are in the car, the good times just roll. Or, it’s really quiet and tense and awkward and Sam just wants to play music but the married couple is fighting so no one can be happy. It’s a great awkward scene and Jared Padalecki is fantastic playing the super uncomfortable third wheel in a fight. Sam suggests they come up with a plan to help one of the few remaining angels from Cas’s old squadron, and Dean and Cas mostly snipe at each other about “half-cocked schemes” and how, even though Benjamin is sarcastic, he’s also thoughtful and appreciative (unlike some hunters Cas knows). I’m not saying Dean and Cas are married, per se, I’m just saying that I don’t fight or bicker like this with anyone other than my husband. Cas tells them that Benjamin isn’t just someone who fought by his side, but that he’s also a friend. It’s interesting that the show chose to have Benjamin, who throughout the episode is referred to as “he”, in a female vessel. They haven’t really done this since Raphael in season 5. In this scene, the writers even take the time to have Cas point out that Benjamin’s vessel is a female human, but that Benjamin is an angel.
When they get to the arcade, the impatient bartender proves to be a less-than-impressive witness. Apparently he thinks the new cool shit for cults to do is kill someone without blood spilling and to draw wings in chalk. Okay. Cas doesn’t have time for this shit either, and kicks bartender out, finding an angel blade lost in the fight and noting that it’s not Benjamin’s. While Cas is explaining to Dean and Sam about Benjamin’s gifts as a soldier, Eye Patch Red manages to psychically link to him. She recognizes him, kisses an old timey picture of a little girl, and is on her merry way.
Meanwhile, Cas and the boys head to a diner to meet Ishim, Cas’s former commander and “friend.” Cas tells the boys to wait outside, since Ishim doesn’t like humans, but he makes sure to sarcastically assure Dean, “If I plan to do anything else stupid, I’ll let you know.” Cas is taking no shit tonight. It seems that his time alone while Dean and Sam were in jail dropped Cas’s bullshit tolerance level to nothing. And I love it. Cas heads in and meets with Ishim, whose plus one is Mirabel, another fellow soldier. Both are still pretty salty about the whole “cast from Heaven with no wings” thing and are kinda being dicks to Cas. I love the shoutout to Balthazar and Uriel that Ishim makes while talking about how everyone else seems to sacrifice for Cas’s “good deeds.” Outside, Dean is pacing like a caged animal and Sam can count down to when he’s going to storm in. And he does. Of course. Sam follows and they both try to squeeze into Cas’s booth. It’s so cute and I love the tension breaker. Once Ishim is done rolling his eyes at the idea of humans and angels being friends, he sends Mirabel out to check that they weren’t followed. This ends well when, predictably, Mirabel is killed by Eye Patch.
Back in the diner, a sugar-addicted Ishim continues being a giant douche canoe and manages to tell Cas about a safehouse while simultaneously giving his vessel diabetes. When he leaves, Dean asks Cas why he lets Ishim treat him like shit (wow Dean, really?) and Cas tells him that it doesn’t matter. He’ll (and they’ll) put up with it if it means stopping the killing of his squadron.
After he leaves, Ishim finds Mirabel’s dead vessel and Eye Patch finds Ishim. The two get into a scuffle, Ishim gets cut, Eye Patch can’t be smote, but Cas comes to Ishim’s rescue, recognizing Patches (thanks, Dean) before she gets away. When they get to the safehouse, Cas has questions. How is Patches still alive? Flashback to 1901 and Cas in a female vessel (played by the lovely
Jessa Danielson). He and his fellow angels go to the home of an angel, his human wife, and their nephilim child. Nephilim are world destroyers and are forbidden by the oldest laws in Heaven.
I love this scene if for no other reason than to show us how far Cas has come. We hear about how he was once a “good soldier” but we’ve always only seen him as questioning God’s will and defying his heavenly role. The squadron kills the husband angel, Akobel, and Ishim goes on his own to kill the child and the wife. “Following orders” has never been a good excuse, Cas, and Lily Sunder is justifiably pissed at the murder of her family. Ishim says he “took mercy” on her by allowing her to live, but frankly, killing someone’s child in front of them and letting them live is more torture than mercy. It’s decided that, since she was a professor of supernatural doodads and whatnots, she must have made a demonic pact to keep her meatsuit fresh all these years. Dean and Sam say they will find Lily and reason with her, which shows how far THEY’VE come from the days of “gank now, as questions never”. Lily’s whole family was slaughtered, after all. Cas doesn’t think she is “reasonable” and gets a burr up his ass asking Sam if he thinks Cas and the other angels deserve to die for following orders. MAYBE…. MAYBE CAS… you could tell her you’ve changed. You can grow, too.
The boys head off to find Lily while Cas heals Ishim of his scratch, weakening himself in the process, all the while listening to Ishim rant on about how humans are more dangerous to angels than vice versa. Once Dean and Sam find her, they ask Lily “nicely” to not kill any more angels. They find common ground in that none of them want to kill each other, and Lily gives them her side. Apparently Ishim is a dick (duh) and became obsessed with Lily after she summoned him so that she could learn about angels. She later summoned Akobel to protect her from Ishim, and she and Akobel fell in love, leaving Ishim a bitter and murderous third wheel. When Ishim led the squadron to her house, rather than kill the nephilim and “mercifully” let Lily live, Ishim told Lily that he’d break her heart like she broke his and killed her daughter. Who, as it turns out, was human, fathered by someone long before either Ishim or Akobel came along. Dean and Sam have a little sidebar to discuss her story. Sam stays with Lily while Dean goes to verify her story with Cas.
While they sit around, Sam and Lily discuss the virtue of patience and why Lily is a pirate. She has spent her whole life studying angels and uses Enochian magic to keep herself alive and is able to hear and fight them. This mojo has a price though: A piece of her soul burns away every time she uses it. Oh and her eye is all fucked up, too.
Meanwhile, Cas is weakened and Ishim is doing one handed pushups because he’s an asshole. How could he have not healed himself, but the little bit from Cas made him a fucking superstar? Ugh, Ishim is the worst. Dean shows up and tells Cas Lily’s story, Cas confronts Ishim, who denies it and asks Cas who he’s going to believe, his brother or some monkey? Clearly Ishim and Mirabel were full of shit earlier when they told Dean and Sam they knew who they were because, if they did, Ishim would never be so fucking dumb. Cas has been given the ultimatum of Dean vs literally everything in Heaven and Earth, and he has always chosen Dean. Always.
They start to fight and Ishim kicks Cas’s ass. With his own strength. Taken from Cas. He tells Cas that he will “Cure his human weakness by cutting it out”, and turns to kill Dean While they’re fighting, Dean makes an angel banishing sigil on the wall. He can’t use it, though, because with Cas weakened, he won’t survive the banishing. Goddammit Ishim, you suck. Thankfully, Lily shows up and starts kicking angel ass. Sam changed his mind and decided to bring her along. Lily and the boys tag team Ishim and Lily uses her mojo to hold him. It’s not quite enough, and Ishim moves in to kill her. Before he can, Cas stabs him in the back, telling Lily she held him long enough. Afterwards, Dean, protective completely platonic friend that he is, nicely asks (demands to know) Lily if she’s done killing angels now. Cas assures her that if she can’t forgive him, she can come back and kill him later, it’s all good.
Back in the bunker, Dean gives Cas a beer which means that “they are all okay and lovely and even though he’s upset about Billie he understands Cas did it for the right reasons and they’re still boy-besties.” Beer says a lot. They have a good talk, and Sam and Dean tell Cas that he’s not weak, and though he has changed, it’s been for the better and Team Free Will is intact once more.
But there is still the Cosmic Consequences and the Devil’s spawn to worry about.
Fuck, this was a great ep. Eight years into his run on the show, and we finally get to see more of Castiel’s past and be reminded of how far he’s come since meeting the Winchesters (and how far the boys have come since Dad went on a hunting trip). We have heard so much about it, but this is the first time they’ve shown it. Bless you, Andrew Dabb, and writers Steve Yockey and Dave Perez. I love that there wasn’t really a B-story in this episode, too. Having just one main storyline helped us really focus on the characters and allowed the story to breathe. Oh, also there were some great scenes with the boys and their angel, which frankly, I could always use more of.
BAMF: Castiel. The amount of saltiness Cas shows is reason enough for this, but the growth and backstory of the character is just icing on the cake.