This post takes a little intro, so I’m just gonna come right out of the gate and say it’s all about Castiel. So relax, everyone.
My sister Faith has been playing with the idea of writing cross-over fanfics involving characters from Supernatural, one in particular involving Castiel, as the concept of an angel capable of possessing a human works out really well for her story concept. The problem is, she started watching SPN from the beginning and there’s about a million fucking hour-long episodes before Cas even shows up. She’s determined to see the show from beginning to end, but there’s only so much free-time in a day.
So, she’s been asking me questions to help her out, seeing as I’ve seen every Cas episode and know every tiresome detail of his existence. And because she knows that I tend to elaborate on all things beyond the point of reason, especially when it’s something I love, she’s been savvy enough to mostly only ask me “yes” or “no” questions. Like, does something specific have to happen for a human to become a vessel? Can an angel leave their vessel with the human still alive?
Still, I found it hard to not elaborate. At first, I just assumed it was a big fat fan thing, that I was gushing because I love Cas or because SPN is my new obsession. This is something I’ve not only done on occasion, it’s what I’m known for globally. But something still bothered me about this particular case. Was there another reason why any description I could give about who Cas is would run long? Why was it so hard to give someone a straight answer about this guy?
I decided to try coming up with a simple answer that would explain everything you need to know about Castiel, quickly and efficiently. That’s a tall order, seeing as though Cas is basically two characters in one: Cas before his possession of Jimmy Novak, and after.
Originally, Castiel was a servant of god who was older than amphibious life. Captain of his garrison, he was a determined dude, hell bent on whatever cause he was asked to serve. Cunning, highly skilled and kind of a dick, he followed his father’s orders without question and never missed an opportunity to pull rank on his siblings.
But all of that began to change when he took a human vessel. And why did it change? Because, for the first time in his life, Castiel began to doubt his holy orders. Dean talks about Cas like he’s some kind of infant, but it isn’t a fair comparison. He’s only innocent, naive and awkward from a human perspective and only ignorant of modern culture. But he still has a millennium of angelic knowledge and experience under his belt. At some point, I realized he was more analogous to a soldier experiencing his first foreign conflict. Imagine a military officer who managed to climb to the rank of captain without ever going to war, or even leaving his own country. He’s skilled, confident and not to be screwed with. But most importantly, he believes whole-heartedly in what he’s doing. His culture has prepared him for eventual contact through propaganda, so he knows right (his side) from wrong (the other guys).
Now imagine a war breaks out over-seas and our captain is drafted. On some level, he’s probably thrilled: it’s a chance to fight for his people and cause, and to prove his bravery and commitment. Love of king and country, and all that. At last, he’s sent “over there” and it’s time to serve on the front lines. But when he gets there, he’s made to see the enemies in his holy war are actually people. Thinking, feeling, fragile human beings. They also aren’t even close to prepared for a war like this. They’d do their best to fight for their lives, but the captain’s people are dropping bombs. How can this be right?
Worse than all that, he finds out the reason his people are at war is, by their own standards, very wrong.
At some point, the captain makes a dear friend among his enemies who convinces him to defect. Bring his strength and skill to fight for the other guys. He escapes into enemy territory and goes native, but he only knows the language and basic history of these people. He knows nothing of their culture — the way they live, their unique sense of humor, their references and figurative speech that even children understand. It overwhelms and alludes him, and the allies he’s made come to see him as a burden.
And at this point in the analogy, I realized: Castiel is John Smith. Well, not the real John Smith. That guy was… just terrible. Actually, a better comparison could be drawn from Jake Sully, the analogue of John Smith from the movie Avatar.
I could probably sit here and draw all kinds of parallels between Castiel and Sully. Just about everything I wrote above fits: the lofty, self-righteous soldier who goes to a foreign land and is turned against his own people when he forms a “profound bond” with one of the natives. I really hope this revelation doesn’t lead to a new Na’vi/Winchester perversion for anyone.