(From Alice: Enjoy this homage to our favorite angel from guest writer Courtney. Something fun for your Saturday!)
The answer to this question is kind of an enigma.
When Castiel the Angel of The Lord first appeared on our screens in 2008, we as a fan base where not entirely sure of him. We didn’t know whether we where supposed to like or dislike him, but immediately something happened and all agree it was instantaneous love. We all wanted so badly for him to stick around, and to learn more about him. It was like a drug that we couldn’t get off.
The character of Castiel is a more complex one than some would imagine.
At first it seemed he was just going to be another antagonist character. He seemed pretty stern in his ways, about being an "Angel of the Lord" and for a little while it seemed that nothing would change that. But little by little Dean Winchester seemed to crack away at his rough outer coating that was holding itself around his heart. And little by little we watched as Castiel the antagonist became Castiel the protagonist.
His story is akin to a lot of ours.
Starting with fighting for something you believe in, no matter the cost, there was time when we believed that Castiel would be willing to do whatever it took to follow the rule of Heaven. It was interesting to watch. When he was running with Uriel it seemed that he was no more than a soldier. Even though he told Dean he wasn't a ‘hammer,’ it was hard to see him as anything less. Am I wrong?
The more we see Castiel, the more we watch him slowly doubt what he’s doing. In "On The Head of a Pin" when Uriel tells him that he’s trying to raise Lucifer, we start to watch that armor he once had on crack. Was he losing hope in his fellow Angel? You could see him starting to doubt the orders of Heaven. But in "The Rapture" when the angel on angel violence happens and he is sent back to Heaven, when he returns he tells Dean that he is a servant of Heaven and that he doesn’t serve man. It's that battle again; Castiel wants so badly to believe that God is leading the angels.
We go through our lives; all of us, fighting so hard to be the best we can be, to do the best we can do. I think that’s part of why Castiel is so inspiring. Because he fights for a long time in something he believes in. No, I know that’s why.
His journey continues; and slowly we watch him wear down more and more. When Dean speaks to him in that ‘beautiful’ room in "Lucifer Rising," it being about the people, about it not being about duty or allegiance being real, we watch Castiel start to break down even more. He finally decides to help Dean, at a big cost of becoming a fallen angel. He still tries to hold onto his faith though. When Castiel decides to find God in "Good God Y'all," it becomes clear that he is not willing to give up his allegiance to Heaven. And he keeps fighting to find what he’s looking for. In "Dark Side of The Moon" though, the search for God comes up empty; and Castiel finally starts to doubt what he’s doing.
“You have to tell me, you have to give me a sign. Give me a sign! Because if you don't I'm going to do whatever I must.” That quote, I believe is the moment that Castiel the Angel of the Lord decided to give up on God, on his father. It wasn’t so much that God didn’t exist, it was that Castiel had just lost his father, the man in his life that was supposed to guide him and be a good role-model for him.
He didn’t give up, but he did do something crazy and tried to become his own God in "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Meet The New Boss." And I think sometimes we try to act out as well; when you’re abandoned. You do things you wouldn’t normally do. And that’s what Castiel did. He didn’t go to Dean for advice because he thought he knew what he was doing. We’ve all been there.
I’ve been there; abandoned by my father and wanting nothing more than to know what the right decision to make is. To give up, or do I keep fighting for my life. And at that moment I knew – I know exactly how Castiel felt; and I think that a lot of fans did.
In "Hello Cruel World" it literally destroyed him. As it usually does, there's a good lesson to be learned here as well. That we cannot escape the decisions we make, no matter how brazen or right we think we are. When Castiel started working as a guardian for the Winchesters we see a side of him that once more inspires. When Castiel returns as Emmanuel in "The Born Again Identity," he doesn’t remember being Castiel. And he’s helping people, and using his powers to heal people the best he can, because he believes that’s what he was put on the planet to do.
When Emmanuel finally remembers that he’s Castiel; the decisions, and choices he made when he was ‘God’ come back to bite him, very hard. It's interesting how one, single event can lead to so much destruction in someone’s life. Isnt it?
Because as we know; after Castiel remembers who he is – he takes all of the pain he caused Sam onto himself. And at that point he goes catatonic. When he recovers and wakes up in "Reading Is Fundamental," he’s gone crazy. He doesn’t want to fight the fight anymore, and wishes that he could have just stayed the way he was. Castiel ends up in Purgatory with Dean and feels like that is his punishment. That he can repent for what he’d done to all the angels and the world; Heaven, and Earth.
A year later when Castiel wakes up and returns and is under the control of Naomi. She tells him to kill Dean Winchester for the angel tablet in "Goodbye Stranger." He refuses to. Another lesson, inspiration can be learned here.
If we look deeper at the situation, life throws us into places that we don’t want to be, sometimes our actions are controlled by others. Sometimes we fall under the pressure of people we love, friends, boyfriends, family members.
Castiel was under the pressure of the weight of what he’d done to heaven and he still disregarded it. He still did not listen. He used the strength he had – in his mind, and part of his will to pull himself to the point of where he could control himself. And we all need to find that strength, the ability to break away from the things that happen to us, and serve ourselves.
Castiel’s story is about serving masters. Heaven, God, Naomi, Dean/humans. Through his long journey, Castiel takes it upon himself to serve himself. We can all learn from that.
The only master we should have is ourselves.
He takes off – away from Naomi - with the angel gablet in "Goodbye Stranger," protecting it himself from Dean and the humans and from Heaven. I think there's some significance there too. In him taking the angel tablet, not the leviathan one, not the demon one, I think part of him was protecting himself. Protecting what he believed in. Naomi and Dean had both taken those things from him at that point. Helping Dean had caused him to doubt the things he believed in, am I right?
And when he started to doubt them, he started to fall as an angel. And Naomi who was controlling him, distorted what he believed. So the significance of him taking the angel tablet was that he was protecting something he used to believe in.
Eventually, as we know Castiel loses his Grace, because Metatron steals it, and becomes human. At that point Castiel is at a crossroads and doesn’t know exactly what to do. He wants so badly to still repent for what he’d done to Heaven, at his own hands. I think when things go bad there are parts of us too that want to repent, and make it good.
And I believe that’s why Castiel is so inspiring. Because we all are searching for those points in our lives where we can make the good choices, where we can do the right things and sometimes, it takes a life like his to see that we need help. He inspires us to not make the choices he did; to not be so brazen and obsessed, and inspires us to not give up hope as well.
That’s the end game. Castiel has yet to give up hope. No matter how hard it has gotten. No matter what he’s been through. He refuses to give up hope. And we cant lose our hope, we cant give up on it. We have to keep fighting.
(Courtney Williams can be found on Twitter at @CourtyWilli)