Supernatural Spotlight – Episode 6.20 “The Man Who Would Be King”

Supernatural Spotlight – Episode 6.20 “The Man Who Would Be King”

The Archangel Castiel is confronted about his recent actions.
The Archangel Castiel is confronted about his recent actions.

This week begins with the Archangel Castiel praying in a cemetery, recounting to God some of the wonders he’s encountered over the ages: a fish crawling from the water, the Tower of Babel (there’s only so high you can pile dung), Cain/Abel, David/Goliath, Sodom/Gomorrha, and so on … up until the Apocalypse, which “was averted by two boys, an old drunk, and a fallen angel. The grand story and we ripped up the ending and the rules and destiny, leaving nothing but freedom and choice.” (A lot of good dialogue in this one, so it’ll be a quote-heavy review.)

Except now Castiel has doubts, that maybe he’s made the wrong choice, and he’s seeking guidance from God, so he begins to tell his story.

With the Winchesters, Castiel is still pretending that he doesn’t know whether or not the demon Crowley is alive. In reality, not only is Crowley alive, but he’s currently dissecting Eve’s corpse. “Eve’s brain, dead as a tin kipper, and yet, for some reason, she keeps laying eggs.” Creepy, fish-like eggs, which he pulls out of her guts. And when he electrocutes her brain, it causes seizures in a vampire they have tied up (just for these sorts of experiments, apparently).

Crowley’s concerned that Castiel is distracted, that his affection for the Winchesters is putting their plans to open Purgatory in danger. They’re bickering like an old married couple. “The stench of that Impala is all over your overcoat. I thought we’d agreed, no more nights out with the boys.”

Castiel’s prayer voice-over continues, recounting how Lucifer destroyed him and how, through means he doesn’t understand, he was made whole again. He brought Sam out of Hell, but was arrogant and somehow missed out on the soul. “Sometimes we’re lucky enough to be given a warning. This should have been mine.”

This scene gives some hints about what’s going on. Crowley wants the Winchesters dead, pointing out all of the high-level demons that they’ve decimated in their hunting career.

Crowley: Am I the only game piece on the board that doesn’t underestimate those denim-wrapped nightmares?

Castiel: Just find Purgatory. If you don’t, we’ll both die, again and again, until the end of time.

Bobby and the boys have captured a demon, who they’re interrogating for information on Crowley. Dean had previously lied to Castiel about how far they’ve gotten in their investigation, since neither Bobby nor Sam believe that he actually made a mistake when he incinerated Crowley’s bones. Castiel is watching, invisible (Angels can do that, after all), so knows that they’re onto him.

Dean’s loyalty is on full display, still defending Castiel despite seeing the reasoning behind Sam & Bobby’s doubts. “He’s the Balki Bartokomous of Heaven. He could make a mistake.”

They could be wrong, of course, but Bobby points out, “If we ain’t, if there’s a snowball of a snowball’s chance here, that means we’re dealing with a Superman who’s gone dark side. Which means we’ve got to be cautious, we’ve got to be smart, and maybe stock up on some Kryptonite.”

The “enhanced interrogation techniques” work on the demon, who sends them to another demon named Ellsworth, the demonic counter-part to Bobby Singer. He coordinates demons who are out hunting down monsters. Castiel’s voice-over, as he annihilates Ellsworth and his fellow demons: “These demons would lead the Winchesters to Crowley and Crowley would tear their hearts out.” So, Castiel intervenes by destroying the demons before the boys can get to them. “I had no choice. I did it to protect the boys. Or to protect myself. I don’t know anymore.”

Castiel recounts his return to Heaven after resurrecting Sam. Several Angels viewed him as chosen by God, since he was brought back from his destruction by Lucifer. He told the Angels that God wants them to be free.

But then he’s called to the mat by Raphael, who tells Castiel to swear allegiance to him. He refuses, thus getting his ass handed to him.

Back in the present, the boys find Ellsworth and the other demons dead. They pray for Castiel, but rather than showing up, he observes invisibly because he’s afraid of being faced with questions he can’t answer.

Unfortunately, Crowley has sent some of his top demons to capture the Winchesters. Castiel has to choose between rescuing them or remaining hidden. Really, what choice does he have? He saves them. “For a brief moment, I was me again.”

In this act, he regains their trust. They admit that they were hunting Crowley behind his back because of their distrust, and he plays it off as amusing, but gives himself away by quoting a conversation that he was angelically eavesdropping on earlier in the episode.

Castiel: It is a little absurd though. Superman going to the dark side. I’m still just Castiel.

Dean: I guess we can put away the Kryptonite, right?

Castiel: Exactly. (voice-over) Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was all over, right then, just like that.

After Castiel goes and makes it clear to Crowley that attacks on the Winchesters are not allowed, we’re treated to another flashback. Realizing that he didn’t have a chance against Raphael on his own, Castiel had sought out Dean, but couldn’t bear to ruin his contented life with Lisa and Ben.

Then Crowley showed up to offer him a deal. Crowley’s position as King of Hell was unstable and Castiel had no alternative but to bow down to Raphael.

Castiel: What can I do, but submit or die?

Crowley: Submit or die? What are you, French? How about resist?

Castiel: I’m not strong enough and you know it.

Crowley suggests that Castiel has enough support among other angels that he could start a civil war in Heaven … but even with the angels he could gather to his banner, he wouldn’t have the power to take on Raphael. Since souls equal power, an influx of souls could help both of their problems. So Crowley suggests that they split the monsterous souls in Purgatory. To seal the deal, and tie Castiel over long enough for him to start a civil war in Heaven, he’ll front the Angel 50,000 souls from Hell, which will give him enough mojo to take on Raphael.

It occurs to me that I haven’t really related what’s at stake here, so Castiel comes off as kind of self-serving. Raphael will open the gate to bust Lucifer and Michael out, setting the Apocalypse train back on track, so there is strong motivation to intervene … a motivation that Crowley is excellent at exploiting.

Thus began the civil war in Heaven.

The Winchesters accosting Castiel.
The Winchesters accosting Castiel.

Back in the present, though, the boys and Bobby capture Castiel in a (burning) ring of angel fire, from which he cannot escape. He confesses that he’s been working with Crowley, but tries to convince the boys how important it is to stop Raphael.

Dean doesn’t buy it, though. “When crap like this comes around, we deal with it. Like we always have. What we don’t do is make another deal with the devil.”

Castiel replies, “It sounds so simple when you say it like that.” Then a cloud of demons is swarming on the building.

“We can fix this,” Dean says.

“Dean, it’s not broken!” Castiel says, before telling the boys to run. (How they’re expected to outrun a cloud full of demons, I’m not sure.)

Crowley turns off the angel fire, thus releasing Castiel. “You know the difference between you and me?” Crowley says, “I know what I am. What are you, Castiel? What exactly are you willing to do?”

Castiel then goes to visit with dean, resulting in the last good exchange of the episode:

Dean: Next to Sam, you and Bobby are the closest things I have to family. You are like a brother to me. So if I’m asking you not to do something, you’ve got to trust me, man.

Castiel: Or what?

Dean: I’ll have to do what I have to do to stop you.

Castiel: You can’t, Dean. You’re just a man. I’m an angel.

Dean: I don’t know, I’ve taken some pretty big fish.

Now we’re back to Castiel praying in a graveyard, asking for a sign from God to confirm (or refute) that he’s on the right path. It’s very garden of Gethsemene, but without the sweating blood.

Overall, I was very pleased with this episode. It hit the right balance of making Castiel’s actions seem completely justified from his perspective, but also clearly wrong when viewed from … well, pretty much any other perspective. Castiel is clearly still a good guy, though at odds with the Winchesters, and I have no idea whether they’ll ever really be able to reconcile, or if Castiel will end going even more dark side.

Guess I’ll find out on May 20, when the 2-hour season finale hits.

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