The Importance of Being Sorry: Apocalyptic Fathers, Broken Angels, and Capricious Board Games
Let’s be honest. Supernatural tells a story about fathers. John, the father. God, the father. Bobby and Dean, the father figures. And most recently, Castiel, the father surrogate and Dick, the corporate father. A viewer can’t really move an inch in the storyline of this show without bumping into a bad father, whether he is human or celestial. I’m not saying anything new, I know. At this point you may think I sound like Sam in “Tall Tales,” with my “bad father, blah blah blah,” but I think returning to the theme of fatherhood is interesting after the season seven episode “Reading is Fundamental” and the controversial board game scene between Castiel and Dean. Actually, I’d argue that it’s a good theme to return to after the entirety of seasons six and seven. But in order to understand the implications of the board game scene, specifically, it is important to review the “road so far.”
Father, Why Have You Forsaken….?
After the aborted apocalypse of the season five finale “Swan Song,” we entered a whole new world on Supernatural, one that focused on a particular commentary about modern life. Or at least that’s how I read it. The sixth season told the story of heaven’s war, after the desertion not of the father, but of the mission. The seventh season continued this storyline, but as Gabriel said in “Changing Channels,” the seventh season told the story of how the Leviathans show “as it is in heaven, so shall it must be on earth.” In the absence of the father, new fathers emerge and take power. And both seasons are very much informed by what occurred in season five.
Remember that much of season five was spent searching for God, or God seemed to be who Castiel wanted to find. For the Winchesters, the search had taken the shape of the Colt, which was a left over symbol of the father, since it was John Winchester’s answer to the problem of demons. And when the Colt failed to kill the devil, when the Colt failed the mission, the search turned to the ultimate father (and weapon), God. Much can, has, and should be made about the comparison between God, the father, and John, the father, but for this article, the real issue comes with the aborted search for God.
The search for God ended in “Dark Side of the Moon” when God’s messenger, Joshua, warned the brothers to turn back from such a quest, to leave God alone. And while many argue that the figure of Chuck is the figure of God, for the boys and for Castiel, Chuck was simply a prophet. For these characters, the end of season five culminated in an experience of abandonment, an abandonment that was enacted by the fight between Michael and Lucifer, in the bodies of two brothers – Adam, the brother who was abandoned and Sam, the brother who abandons. The fight was about which brother would fulfill a vision of the father – Michael’s steadfast loyalty to God’s mission and Lucifer’s willful rebellion against such a mission. I find it a bit ironic that Adam would be the vessel for Michael, as his desire to fight was informed by a personal desire rather than one inspired by the father, unless revenge is inspiration enough. A side note to the article, but important nonetheless, when you think about how brothers, both in blood and in bond, keep trying to in some way memorialize the father in this show, and that includes Castiel.
At the end of season five we can see that all the fathers have left the building; even the father of the text, Chuck, disappears into a voice. And yet when season six begins, we are treated to a montage of Dean acting as father. This montage, accompanied by Seger’s “Beautiful Loser,” frames the season’s storylines to an extent. Dean’s home life and his role of step-in-father, which the show emphasizes more than his role as lover, give us a clue to the disorder of a personal post apocalypse. I would argue that while a global apocalypse did not occur, an apocalypse still took place, except on a smaller and more human scale. Every death is an apocalypse; every person carries a world as his life. When Sam jumped into Hell, he took Sam’s Dean with him, as well as Castiel’s father.
As the sixth season progresses, the story splits into several plots, but all of these plots seem to address anarchy, such as the storylines that follow heaven’s disordered hierarchy, Crowley’s search for purgatory, and even the redemption of Sam’s soul. Anarchy is the absence of an origin – anarchy exists in a world without god, without order. In fact, the word is a configuration of the Greek word, “arche,” which means the first power, among other things. And in the world of Supernatural, the first is often the father. It is no wonder then that in a full blown anarchy, the story would turn towards finding alphas, towards finding other firsts, other fathers, since its own first has abandoned the tale. (Here I could make a note about the absence of Kripke as a meta commentary on the absence of the original.)
In heaven, however, without a father and the father’s mission, the angels are left to figure out how to move forward and we get a somewhat redundant storyline. Castiel, the younger son, the lesser angel, sees hope in the aftermath while Raphael, the older child, the archangel, sees a chance to fulfill the father’s mission, to return the father to his rightful place. In many ways, Castiel is portrayed much like the role of Adam is portrayed, but he also experiences what Sam has gone through. He is a combination of abuses. He is a favored son, looked after, but he is still not among the first or the best sons. He falls quickly into questionable morality at the same time he justifies those choices with rational decisions that are anything but rational. The disintegration of Castiel’s moral character becomes apparent early on in season six; we do not need to see his deal with Crowley to understand how far Castiel has gone for his mission. The scene in “The Third Man” where he reaches into the young boy’s body and touches his soul shows us that Castiel has taken on the mantle of what he sees as a necessary amorality.
Castiel’s “fall from grace” plays out through season six, concluding with one key event that seals Castiel’s break. Now here there be monsters, so go back if you are squeamish. I would like to focus on the scene where Castiel makes the deal with Crowley from “The Man Who Would Be King.” Now, it’s easy to romanticize Castiel’s affection for Dean, and I can see that point of view, but for this reading I’d like to take a different tactic. I think this scene shows how much Castiel looks to Dean as another father figure. Throughout season five, especially, we are reminded again and again of how much Castiel gives up for Dean and how he adopts Dean’s “free will” worldview. He exchanges Dean for God; Dean becomes a type of God to the exiled angel. In “The Man Who Would Be King” when faced with the decision to defeat Raphael, Castiel chooses Crowley’s way and it is interesting that the decision is made as Castiel looks on as Dean performs a very domestic task, raking yard leaves. This scene reminds me of the Joshua scene in “Dark Side of the Moon” with its mundaneness of keeping a garden, of maintaining the earth and keeping out of the business of heaven. At this point, Castiel chooses to leave Dean/God alone, for to choose Crowley is to walk away from God, is it not? I think it also gives us insight into seventh season Castiel’s obsession with the natural world, which I will talk more about later.
As Castiel gives into his irrational need to impose free will on heaven and defeat Raphael, we see him assume the position of father, and in a sense, this repositioning happens when he abandons Dean. He replaces the father, and while a classic Freudian move, the consequences of his power grab gives birth to more problems. If we examine the scenes from the season finale of season six and the premiere of season seven, we see that while we were not shown Castiel absorbing the power of purgatory and his godhead, we do see the expulsion of that power, and that scene at the end of “Meet the New Boss” is much like a birth scene. He takes the power of the father and loses it in the birth of the Leviathans, who were themselves abandoned by God. He is a vessel for the Leviathans; his uber paternalness makes him blind to the power of his own womb. In fact, when he finally releases the inhabitants of purgatory, they are ejected in a blast of light that obscures his midsection. The midsection has a very special place in the Supernatural universe. The midsection tends to be the wound inflicted on many women, including Mary, Ruby, and Amy. And I’d take it a step further and note that the black goo that he bleeds could represent the oldness of the womb and the wound. So at the end of “Meet the New Boss” Castiel gives up the power of the father and becomes the broken Eve, giving birth to monsters. That final scene, both a baptism and a birth, shows Castiel sinking into the blackened blood of old wounds, wounds that God has never healed and he, as God, could never heal.
Sorry is the Hardest Word….And Intervention is the Deadliest Sin
When Castiel returns in “The Born Again Identity,” he returns as an amnesiac, a man unaware of his history, of his sins. The gift of amnesia, some might say, is the absence of regret. You cannot regret what you do not remember. Of course, this state does not last long when Dean re-enters the picture. By the end of the episode Castiel’s memory returns as does his regret. His taking on of Sam’s insanity in many ways is an act of redemption – one wall for another. However, this scene brings up a point that the show makes without making, I think.
The hubris of humanity is not that humanity is the favored creation of God. No, the hubris of humanity is its faith in reciprocity. Humans expect and expectation requires involvement. Let us return to the scene from “Dark Side of the Moon” with Joshua for a moment. Two things about Joshua’s warning become clear here. First, God is a gardener. Gardeners tend to the natural progression of growth; gardeners keep the earth; they don’t take the earth. And gardeners know that sometimes gardens die. Second, God does not intervene. The Supernatural god is much like the god of Deism – the clockmaker god, the one who builds the clock, winds it, and then leaves it be. Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. We know differently. Resurrection, as Castiel points out, can be punishment rather than redemption. So God does intervene, but it seems arbitrary and unexpected, one might argue. So when Castiel resurrects Sam by taking on his visions of Lucifer, he takes on his own insanity. He reintervenes in an attempt to undo at least one sin, but in that final act of intervention, I believe Castiel finally learns a lesson. And while he and Sam experience their dark nights of the soul, for Castiel that journey brings him out the other side closer to being like God than he ever could’ve been as Heaven’s leader. He comes out of his trance as a keeper, not a warrior.
And this turn brings us to the “Sorry” scene between Castiel and Dean. This scene explicates, in blatant philosophical terms, the affection of an indifferent god, or the absent father. Dean’s frustration with Castiel is very human. He wants action. He wants regret. Dean is human, probably the most human of them all. Yet Castiel, like Sam in “Defending Your Life,” is not pinned to his regret. In fact, I would argue that Castiel’s actions from Season 6 through the ending of “The Born Again Identity” were more human than angelic. His last act of humanity was curing Sam’s insanity (if he did). It was an act born of regret, not redemption. So this scene with the board game may seem callous. Castiel seems unaffected by Dean’s angst; Dean seems to be yelling at a brick wall. But I think this scene is much like Joshua’s scene. Castiel is telling Dean, through action, that regret is not a natural act. It’s not part of the natural order, as we see again and again through Dean’s deals, Sam’s intentions, and so forth. To regret is to either regret an intervention or a lack of an intervention. So it is appropriate that the board game, “Sorry,” would be present here. It is a parody to regret. The whole game rests on not being sorry, on not regretting. Sorry, like nature, is a game of probability, not certainty. And so it is both fitting and ironic that Castiel would use this game to send God’s message to Dean, a message that free will is the name of the game. Free will is the right to choose the probable or the improbable; destiny is the lack of probability since fate is certain.
This theme is further reinforced in “Survival of the Fittest” when Castiel plays Twister, another game of probability, but also a physical game that makes fun of the contortions humans were not given the power to make. In a way, then, the board game is a hyperlink to the message of the show – the triumph of free will over fate. And when Castiel agrees to help Dean, make note that he resists “aggressive action.” He presents himself as witness, not interloper. However, Castiel cannot quite give up his humanity now, as evidenced by his desire to be forgiven. He still has work to do, as do they all.
In the end, every apocalypse has an origin. Every angel can be humane. And every game is a lesson in free will. Season seven perhaps asks us to recognize that god and nature are never sorry. It is only humanity that twists itself into knots to be so. We are not bound to our fathers’ sins. We are not bound to their absence either. Just as it is the nature of bees to make honey sweet, so shall it be the nature of fathers to make sons regret. As it is in heaven, so shall it be in on earth.
"god and nature are never sorry. It is only humanity that twists itself into knots to be so."
sticks with me in particular. And yes I agree, I know it's an unpopular opinion but Cas taking on Sam's insanity was extraordinary - god as keeper has a lovely feel to it.
AMAZING piece, I'll look for your other writing.
I think you make an excellent point here. The process of transference, from what I understand about it, can be total and I do think that Cas's affection for Dean became total especially in S5 and S6. It's interesting now that I think about it, that Cas clings to Dean in S5 and then in S6, he almost transforms Dean's worldview into a God worldview and that's the problem he realizes in S7. The vengeful God of S6/S7 that Cas portrayed for a little while is almost regressive, almost too human. It seems like God has evolved with his creations? If that makes sense?
Thanks for your comment! It made me think about it in a slightly different way.
WOW I AM COMING OFF A KATRINA MELTDOWN SO I MAY NEED TO COME BACK W/ NOTES. 1st time ever if I do.
AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE THAT SORRY GAME MEANS SOMETHING NEW TO ME EVERYTIME I SEE IT. I HAVE SEEN IT UMHUNDRETHS TIMES (my word I hope)
WHAT WAS THE GAME HE WAS PLAYING WHEN DEAN NEEDED A HOP TO HIS BABY? NOT THE CHINESE CHECKERS I GREW UP WITH BUY HEY YO, I AM 49 SO THATS NOT SAYING MUCH
PROFETS ARE SUPPOSEDLY INSPIRED BY GOD, THATS WHY I THOUGHT GOD BEING IN CHUCK JUST AT THE END WAS SO PROFOUND.
THERE MAY BE A LITTLE SUMPTN, SUMPTN WITH JOSHUA ALSO. GOD MASQUERADING AS A SMIPLE GARDNER.
I NEVER ONCE THOUGHT OF DEAN AS A FATHER FIGURE FOR CASTIEL, BUT A WORLDWISE BROTHER YES.
I STILL THINK AT SOME POINT IN THE EPISODE GOD WAS SPEAKING INSTEAD OF CAS. THE PING~A SMALL BIG BANG~ CALLED GOD BACK BECAUSE I REALLY THINK HE WAS DONE, FINISHED WITH THIS PLANET, A 2ND ANGEL HAD DISOBEYED AFTER LUCIFER & HE WAS A GONE PECAN~THE TABLET BROUGHT HIM BACK & HE WAS ABLE TO SEE HIS BEAUTIFUL CREATION, THE YIN & YANG.
YES PEOPLE A FACT, THE BEES ARE DYING AND THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE 1 OF THE KEYS TO THE BALANCE OF NATURE. has not been reported on in say 18 months or so on MSM
THE DRAMA GODS WILL NOT I SAY NOT ABANDON
US AND THIS WILL ALL MAKE SENSE IN THE END.
GREAT ARTICLE MY FRIEND. GLAD WE ARE ACQUAINTANCES. PEACE & BLESSINGS SPN FAMILY
P.S. YOU CAN NOT BELIEVE IN COINCIDENCE & FATE. PICK A FINGER PEOPLE. YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. THE WORLD IS MADE OUT OF CONFLICT/CHAOS. WE HAVE GOT TO DEAL WITH THIS. I have no dog in this hunt. I have no children.
And the bees....yes, the bees are important I think. It was the show making a very political commentary on environmentalis m and corporate greed.
Thanks! And I am glad we are acquaintances as well!
For that reason, I think there is a God in the SPN-verse and his name is Mark Pedowitz.
Death told Dean there is a natural order to things. Are you saying that Cas' lesson to Dean about regret is that regret is not a part of the natural order -- that once a free will choice is made, one accepts whatever consequences come from that choice? In other words, Dean needs to give up the guilt, apathy, depression, pain, feelings of overbearing responsibility that he carries with him? (If so, I don't think Dean learned that lesson very well. Dean's smart, but perhaps the Sorry game was a little too Edlund aesthetic a message for Dean to catch onto. He's a little more black and white, more pragmatic, than that.)
However, if my understanding of your article is correct, then Sam's reaction to being in the cage; him being guilt free because he feels he paid for his mistakes, would make sense.
Also, if my understanding is correct, then Dean's response to Cas; that he doesn't get a free pass and needs to help fix what he caused (turning the Levi loose on the world), would also be an appropriate response: Once a choice is made, one has to be willing to deal with whatever consequences arise from that choice.
But that kind of blurs the assumption that regret is not a part of the natural order, because if humans didn't possess the ability to feel regret, or misgivings, for an outcome that wasn't anticipated, then how, or why, would there be an inclination to deal with the next problem? It seems to me you would end up with a world full of Cas's blithefully going about examining the bees and the flowers. Therein, that would put all humans in the position of assuming that if they didn't use their free will, things would just work out for the best; which Murphy prevents, of course, because God would take care of them. That would put them in the same position as the angels were/are in -- blind obedience to the best of their understanding, wouldn't it?
Okay, no doubt I'm over-analyzing this.
I do agree with you that once Cas gave up on God, he put Dean in that role and tried to learn free will, the gift God gave to humans and a gift that Cas and the angels were ill- equipped to fully understand and handle. I think the show was very clear in depicting that.
I wasn't too happy with Reading is Fundamental until I read Alice's recap and got a better understanding of the episode. Your article here even furthers the brilliance behind an Edlund episode. I'm glad Edlund is staying on as a writer for SPN.
Thank you for the response! With response your question: Quote:In one of my readings (and I have so many and they change arbitrarily), I think the God of S5 saw that nature moves forward. Emotions such as guilt, regret, etc., are retrospective feelings, almost like nostalgia. I don't think Cas or God are callous, but I do think one can see choice as a sort of mutation, in a way. You choose at the time because you need to best adapt to the situation at hand and hopefully the choice leads to survival, but every choice is going to cost someone. You can't have a cost-free decision, and I think that's the Sorry scene and of course the title "Survival of the Fittest." If you have a god that exists in a Darwinistic universe, which is what Supernatural has seemed to imply, then the natural order
Quote:I don't think you are over analyzing at all (of course that comes from someone who loves to analyze all the time ). You bring up an interesting conundrum. In my reading, regret is a nostalgic sentiment and that's the road to Dean's depression in a way. He realizes that all the choices he makes have a cost and he hasn't dealt well with that because he does believe in free will. And that I think is the beauty of Supernatural's concept of humanity and why the gods and angels are often more villainous than heroic. They lack that vital human component of regret because they either are angels (who have no choice) or a god (who has basically walked away from choosing). But for Cas, I think the acceptance of the way the world God made is important. It would be almost a redemption of his grace because he's not human and he can never be human, in my opinion. And as I think about it, the Sorry scene can be read as Cas explaining the natural order as angels understand it and that may not necessarily mean that is the way humans are to understand it.
Thanks again for your comments, Ginger! Sorry if it seemed that I digressed....
I believe that change is the one true universal and, as such, is a part of Darwinism and to adaptating to evolving situations. The show does seem to tinker with this; especially in Reading is Fundamental (despite getting their science incorrect in that episode -- humans evolved from a common ancestor of monkeys and apes, not from them, Ben).
The problem that I see with believing that regret and guilt are a nostalgic feeling is that it presents an individual historical particularism viewpoint which, in turn, becomes very much a part of the natural order of things on a mass scale. I have no problem with that, except that the show then heavily mixes this with such things as moral relativism (a deconstructioni st viewpoint) and tries to present it as Darwinism. What you end up with is confusing characteristics , such as we have seen with both Sam and Dean the last two years, and no character growth.
In the case of Sam, it has presented a great disservice to the character, because Sam never appears to have learned any lessons from his past experiences and then you get such lines as he doesn't feel guilt because he feels he is redeemed, as compared to Dean, who is buckling under the pressure his free will choices have cost him.
You see where this is leading, right? To the confusion the writers seem to be experiencing with our two leads, their characterizatio n, and who are the actual victors (heroes) in the story.
Under a Darwinian survival of the fittest viewpoint, Crowley became the winner. He adapted (and doesn't he always), and in the end, he is left the winner. It could be stretched to say that Sam was too, since he is left standing, but he is truly alone, and humans don't do well alone, and he has lost Dean with no idea of where he is. Dean and Cas went to Purgatory. They didn't win anything.
I'm not arguing a different viewpoint with you. It's more like I'm thinking in cyber-space, trying to figure out what the Hell the writers were trying to portray this season, and that is a tribute to your thought-provoki ng article.
What you call a conundrum lead to a mess of a season, IMO. I would much prefer it if the writers stuck with a Darwinian viewpoint, because then there would be clear winners and losers with, hopefully, the Winchesters being the clear winners. That would put some joy and hope back into the series, into the brothers...some thing sorely missing for a while now.
I also think you're on to something about Cas explaining the natural order as angels understand it (or as God intended it) during the Sorry game. That would make sense, since I feel Cas was trying to offer an apology to Dean, or at least an explanation of what he had learned from what he did, and Dean responded that Cas was playing at sorry, not being truly sorry, because Cas wasn't willing to help fix what he broke.
Quote:I really really agree with this sentiment and I think that's the underlying lesson of the show. You cannot do it alone. I don't think though that Darwinian pov automatically means a winner, just an efficient adaptation or better yet, the ability to adapt.
As far as Edlund scripts, I like to get a look at his mind through his scripts. That doesn't mean the view is always consistent. In the case of S7, though, I think it's a matter than none of the writers were on the same page; rather, they were just presenting individual scripts. There was no consistency in the storytelling or characterizatio n. In other words, if there was an overall plan other than the social engineering and commentary, I missed it.
Were you a fly on the writers' wall last season?
This makes season seven even better! Thanks.
I think that the God/Creator of the SPN-verse is depicted as his children perceive him, as an absent father. But it is their perception, and not necessarily God's "real" (in SPN reality) nature. The problem is that should he intervene more often, or more clearly, or more substantially, his children could never grow up, learning how to use that "free will" that he gave them. So he has to "work undercover", so to speak. To operate in his creation through little things, seldom and not too clearly. In a way resembling the work of "chance" ("as we say in Middle-earth" ).
The "free will" concept itself is not a darwinistic one. In a darwinistic universe, living beings (humans included) don't act, they are "acted" by several forces, natural and socio-cultural ones, external (environmental characteristics and changes, social and cultural drives) as much as internal (physiological needs, genes and their mutations and expression, psychological limitations and issues) against whom individuals can't go or hope to resist, particularly because such forces are largely not-conscious or not perceived as such.
Now, while there IS a "natural order" that can't be overthrown (primarily the fact that every living being has to die, sooner or later, and that's why Death was so concerned about such "natural order"), "free will" is exactly the power of making choices without any conditioning, not even from the forces that drive the living beings in a darwinistic universe. Free will so become the base for the moral behaviour, because moral behaviour implies responsibility, and responsibility implies that the idividual's choices can and must be judged, i.e. he has to answer for his behaviour to some authority. And one cannot answer for his behaviour if he's not free and master of himself. Without free will there is no moral choice and no responsibility, so there is no guilt.
NOw, unless the writers wanted to show us that the "free will" concept that drove all the first six seasons was an illusion, I don't think that the SPN-verse can be labeled as (just) "darwinistic". It's a universe where God is (seemingly) absent and indifferent, there wasn't any "incarnation" (at least one with real consequences on human's hope or spiritual strenght), but so is Tolkien's Middle-Earth in LOTR, and that doesn't seem a "darwinistic" one to me.
I think that a title like "The survival of the fittest" is more an indication of the way the Leviathans tried to make the SPN-verse, a universe modeled in their image (and SO, so similar to the Big Corporate Business, really a darwinistic universe). While what SPN showed at the endd of the first five seasons was that it is not "the fittest" or the strongest or the smartest the one who survives, that is not "power(s)" that overcomes the odds, but love. This is where Castiel fell too, feeling the need of increasingly more power, until it corrupted him.
My brain is fried from a day of gardening, prepping for a kid's birthday party tomorrow, and wrapping 500 hot dogs at a soccer tournament! But, oddly all of that has me musing on the discussion around Darwinism, evolution and the survival of the fittest.
What I find fascinating is how science is discovering the real significance of certains traits that were previously overlooked or considered of minimal importance.
Take Sickle Cell Anemia. It is a horrible, terrible, awful disease. It's often fatal. So why has evolution allowed it to persist? Well, it turns out you need to inherit the gene from BOTH parents in order to develop the disease. If you inherit just one gene, you become a carrier, but not a sufferer. Significantly, carrying a single gene means the person will still produce some of the characteristica lly odd-shaped red blood cells, But those cells are not affected by malaria, which is also fatal, usually in even greater numbers. So being a carrier offers some resistance to malaria (a huge killer in the tropical world), allowing people to reach childbearing age, and giving them the chance to pass on their genes, which include the gene for Sickle Cell Anemia.. And on it goes. Makes sense on the macro & evolutionary scale. It's still a very real tragedy at the individual level.
Scientists are also discovering how emotions and our thought processes might confer certain advantages, and perhaps play a role in evolution.
On that line of thought, to me, there are two types of regret. There is passive regret where you wish you had done something differently, but that's it. Nothing changes. You simply lament your choice and continue down life's unaltered path.
The alternative is active regret. You decide to learn from that experience and make different choices in the future. Perhaps a little regret goes a long way in making you more flexible & adaptable. And maybe there is an evolutionary advantage to those traits. (Can you say crows & raccoons!)
As well, like you, I suspect some purposeful thought was put into the choice of board games. But I"m intrigued at all the other options out there! I'm staring at my kids' games now. There is RISK (a huge factor in the Winchester world and in their decision-making ), Trivial Pursuit (in the end the hunt for the alphas, as the key to finding Purgatory, became something of a trivial pursuit), MasterMind (that would be a perfect game to suggest God... a hidden message that must be decoded with only the slightest of hints and encouragement), Boogle (a game in which everyone has a different perspective.. Hmmm.. has that ever happened in this show?)
Anyway, I don't know if I added anything to the conversation, but your article certainly got me thinking!
Thanks so much!
I may return with some more thinky thoughts on this article later, but right now alas, I'm reading at the end of a work day and my brain's a little frazzled.
What I do find interesting, though, is how you saw that Cass seemed to take Dean on as a sort of "God" figure. It's funny to me that you say that because if I recall correctly, in TMWWBK, Cass asked God for some sign that he shouldn't follow through with his plan, and then Dean tells him not to do it. I thought that was a pretty good sign myself, it's just a pity Cass didn't see it that way.
Anyway, great article.
Your notes on regret touch me in particular, because regret is something I struggle with daily.
I had before thought that Castiel turned to Dean as a leader in the latter part of Season 5, but it never occurred to me to see that as a father/son relationship. But it is the logical way in which Castiel would view his leader, and makes his search for forgiveness from Dean in the Season 7 finale that much more poignant.
I also agree that Castiel's real journey in through the end of Season 6 was becoming human. And becoming a real individual. Until he took on Sam's agony he was still trying to meet an outside ideal, either Dean's or his father's or that of the angels who looked up to him. Afterwards he stood independent, and truly made decisions on his own, either to help or to stand by.