- I'm excited to watch this play out, but really, purgatory is right here; it's life on Earth; so Crowley doesn't have to look far! #SPNKing
- Crash course in the Bible, courtesy of Castiel. I don't even mind the voice-over this time. Must be @MishaCollins! #SPNKing
- "Satan Jr?" And this conversation started out as the most normal one in #Supernatural history! #SPNKing
- I always wonder how Sam gets around without Dean. They share a car! #SPNKing
- It's cute that Dean thinks he can get Cas out of trouble. He hasn't seen anything like the trouble of a heavenly war! #SPNKing
- No, Crowley, I don't think I want to watch that... #SPNKing
- It's not distraction, Crowley; it's emotion. He's developing some very human attachments. It's not good. Well, not for you. #SPNKing
- The use of past tense and flashbacks and of course that promo card The CW sent makes me very, very nervous for Cas right now. #SPNKing
- I don't think you can call that winning, Castiel. #SPNKing
- Human attachments and human mistakes. #SPNKing
- Hearing of all of the Winchesters conquests made me all warm and fuzzy inside. They really are good at what they do. #SPNKing
- Poor Dean; he's having the worst year with people he loves betraying him. #SPNKing
- Cas and Dean are bonded; Sam, your friendship is not the same! He has Cas' handprint branded on his arm. #SPNKing
- OMG I freakin' love Ellsworth already! #SPNKing
- Whoa Cas is badass! Makes me wonder if he really lost his mojo last week-- if he COULD lose his mojo-- or if he was just pretending #SPNKing
- "My motives used to be so pure." Sure, you were an angel. But being on Earth corrupts. Even angels. #SPNKing
- It's really sad that Castiel doesn't have his own vision of heaven. #SPNKing
- Ha! Love the dig at Ken Lay. #SPNKing
- God's angels are his soldiers, right? And soldiers must fall in line; giving them freedom is the worst thing possible. It's a new apocalypse
- "They were built to follow." Oh, thanks Raphael. That was exactly the point I was trying to make. #SPNKing
- Dude, Dean, that's kind of wimpy. You went three seasons without Castiel. You don't need to rely on him every time you get stuck! #SPNKing
- Did Dean just invite Cas in, ala vampires? #SPNKing
- I wonder how often Cas really spies on these guys. If I could follow them around unseen I'd do it All. The. Time. #SPNKing
- Uuunderstatement! #SPNKing
- Aw Dean, so hopeful. #SPNKing
- You can't just ask anyone on this show. Demons lie; apparently so do angels. #SPNKing
- Although I guess it's not really a lie because no one outright asked you anything and you didn't really answer. #SPNKing
- Did Castiel just call himself Superman? Castiel is BETTER than Superman (Sorry #Smallville fans)! #SPNKing
- And he makes a pretty whore, Crowley! #SPNKing
- Why the f*ck is he raking leaves? Good God, Dean really does want a normal life! #SPNKing
- Raphael's a dick. I'll take his (well, now her) head on a pike! #SPNKing
- Uh, Crowley, isn't God supposed to love ALL of his children? #SPNKing
- Aw, Cas is like a shifty addict right now, just trying to run because he can't think fast enough to get out of this one. #SPNKing
- But I bet you didn't grip him tight, Cas. I'd grip Dean tighter than Sam. #justsayin #DeanGirl #SPNKing
- Sam, lookatyou asking the smart questions; using your $100,000 education that you never finished! #SPNKing
- ...And look at Cas, evading the question again. Uh oh. #SPNKing
- Of course Castiel knew it was wrong, Dean; he's an angel. It's their jobs to know good vs bad, right vs wrong. #SPNKing
- Kind of too late to threaten Crowley not to hurt the Winchesters. They've already been hurt. #SPNKing
- This is a vicious "just trust me" cycle. Dean can't trust Castiel's master plan; Castiel can't trust Dean's advice. #SPNKing
- NOOOPE! (Said like Lana Kane). Dean is NOT just a man. We have known that for a LONG time. #SPNKing
- God's not listening. God has left the building. #SPNKing
Closing Remarks: I should probably hate "The Man Who Would Be King." Everything about my television habits and pet peeves points me in that direction. I roll my eyes at voice-over; I call exposition "storytelling for the lazy;" and I feel cheated, gypped, and often insulted by eleventh hour twists that chance the course of an arc. But I loved "The Man Who Would Be King." No, that's not strong enough; I LOVED "The Man Who Would Be King!" Everything that normally sends me running about an episode like this sucked me in from the get-go. Just like the fifth season finale of the show, I found the voice-over, the exposition, and the flashbacks as a beautiful device to wrap around the story and pull all of the loose ends in tight.
But it also made me think that this was going to be the end of Castiel (Misha Collins)'s chapter, and from the opening frames I was extremely nervous for him-- nerves which may not prove to be unwarranted but premature.
I don't know much about the Bible. I read it once, in seventh grade, and I don't think I understood enough of it to really apply it, let alone understand every subtle reference in the pop culture I much more hungrily gobbled up and studied. But somehow despite reading the stories of God's children who fell or sinned or erred in their own ways, I still assumed angels were still somehow above all that. But Castiel proved otherwise. Sure, I blamed all his time on Earth and his being surrounded by human corruption that allowed him to make very human mistakes. That's my own cynicism talking and the fact that I'm still confused when Crowley (Mark Sheppard) finally finds Purgatory whoever is at the gate is just going to laugh at him and ask what the hell took so long because Purgatory is really just life on Earth. But I digress.
Ben Edlund had a tall order in front of him, especially for a first-time director, but he took to the challenge like it was just any other day on the job, and he delivered one of the strongest episodes all season, of the past two seasons, actually. It's a damn good thing this show has had him on their team for so long; he knows what he is doing, and he does it with passion, which makes the results appear effortless.
Castiel succumbing to pride and a bad alliance is really no difference from the way any angel falls and goes rogue. There is no pure good or evil; look at Lucifer who started as an angel; look at Raphael who still technically is one. Did Castiel have ulterior motives for taking Sam (Jared Padalecki) out of hell? Of course. But if those motives included removing him as #SoullessSam on purpose because regular ole' softy Sam wouldn't get the job done...well, who's the real dick in the situation?
It's honorable that Castiel feels so deeply that he keeps Crowley at bay, threatening him to leave the Winchesters alone, but at this point it really is moot. Actions speak so much louder than words and unfortunately Castiel's actions have hurt them and the life that they know far more than death by Crowley could.
As much as this was Castiel's story and his time to shine, I couldn't help but notice all of the nuances that Dean (Jensen Ackles) got to add to his performance and his character, as well. Let's face it, I'm always pretty keenly tuned into Dean and Ackles in general, and maybe I read between the lines sometimes, but with such a gifted actor, I'm pretty positive everything was a conscious choice. After all, Dean was experiencing yet another betrayal and yet another loss. And ever the big brother, the at-time father figure, he just wanted to believe in the ones he loved and trust. He's come to rely on them in ways that they don't necessarily rely on him, and that's sad, but what's worse is that when they disappoint him, he keeps going back for more. He's more than loyal; he's a bit masochistic in that way. He knows nothing else, so like a battered wife, he still just took the crap Sam-- and now Castiel-- spewed.
So here's the thing: having Castiel narrate the story worked for me in a way I didn't expect it to, but when I step back and think about it, I kind of wonder why he had to at all if he was talking to God. Because theoretically God sees all and knows all and therefore is getting a recap he doesn't need, right? Well, no, not really. God isn't listening; God left the building. The show has made that abundantly clear. So when Castiel asks for a sign, or His help, or to be stopped, well it's the behavior of a petulant (and usually spoiled) child whose parents don't pay enough attention to him so he acts out with the hope of finally catching their eyes. In other words, they know what they are doing is wrong (and how could Castiel not-- he's a freakin' angel!?) and now they're testing us to see how far we'll let it go. In this case, if God has left the building, it has to be up to Dean.
Because Castiel has been making a lot of mistakes recently, but the greatest one may be underestimating Dean. He said he was "just a man" and therefore could not stop him, but let's look at Dean's track record, shall we? He takes down beings bigger and badder than any mortal killer, and he was the rightful vessel for Michael. So he's really anything but "just" a man! He is THE man!
Too far? I don't think so: not when we look at the facts of what's to come. With the wall crumbling in Sam's head, he's going to be a little too tied up to worry about Castiel. And sure, Dean has some more battles of his own with demons using his alternate family to get to him, but it is exactly that reason that he actually stands a chance. He comes out swinging when his loved ones are at stake; the emotions only fuel his fire!