Why one of the most beautiful moments of ‘Supernatural’ had to wait until Season 15

Cas and Dean share a moment.
Cas and Dean share a moment. (Image credit: The CW)

This post contains spoilers for Supernatural.
You can read our reviews for Season 15 here.

Is it weird that we’re marching into the finale and I can’t get “John and Mary, husband and wife…” out of my head? “Fanfiction” was always such a love letter to the fans, acknowledging all the things we’d all joked about for years. With those acknowledgements came the first series nod to Destiel (if you’re not a shipper, that means the romantic pairing of Dean Winchester and Castiel), and a pithy look from Dean when he found out about it.

On a personal level, I have never shipped the pairing (but find absolutely nothing wrong with those who do). A big part of it is because of that look Dean gave when he found out about it, but the majority of it is, well, every single thing about the character. We often create gay pairings in fanfiction and other fan-driven media because it’s so rarely given to us on screen, particularly in shows like Supernatural. While that’s a problem in and of itself, to me, as a bisexual woman, Dean Winchester has never once read as gay. There’s an entire conversation about how we read gay on screen to be had, but for the sake of this piece, in my eyes, Dean has always been written straight.

And here’s the thing: Dean Winchester being a straight man led to the most beautiful moments of the entire series. The final scene (that we know of) between he and Cas is so stunningly complex because Dean is straight, not in spite of it.

I know. I know how you see yourself, Dean. You see yourself the same way our enemies see you. You're destructive and you're angry and you're broken. You're -- You're "Daddy's Blunt Instrument." And you think that hate and anger that's -- that's what drives you. That's who you are. It's not. And everyone who knows you sees it. Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad you have done for love. You raised your little brother for love. You fought for this whole world for love. That is who you are. You're the most caring man on Earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know. You know, ever since we met, ever since I pulled you out of Hell, knowing you has changed me. Because you cared, I cared. I cared about you. I cared about Sam. I cared about Jack. I cared about the whole world because of you. You changed me, Dean.

Love is a complicated, messy, terrifying thing even when you think there’s a chance that the person you’re in love with could feel the same way about you. But that’s not the situation here. Castiel knows that Dean loves him, but that he’s incapable of reciprocating the same kind of love that Cas feels. All the same, this admission is his one true moment of happiness. As anyone who has ever been in love but afraid to say anything about it can attest, that feeling can crush you. The knowledge that you have to keep trudging on with these emotions that you can’t share while putting on a front in front of the person you care about most is agony. And for his final moment, Cas chooses to let go of all that.

Not only does he allow himself to have this moment, but he does so in the least selfish way possible. He reminds his idiot human of all the things that Dean can’t see for himself, shares his feelings, and still acknowledges that he kept all of this to himself for so long because he knew that the man he loved could never love him in return. His dying wish was simply that Dean see all the things that the people who love him see.

To be so honest and raw while acknowledging that there is nothing owed is the truest possible kind of love, and this moment wouldn’t have been as perfect as it was if it happened a second earlier in the series. “Despair” is aptly titled. We’ve been through a lot of trauma in Supernatural, but I can’t think of a scene more tragic. For a series to still be able to go that hard after fifteen seasons of torture is, well, it’s pretty impressive.

While I hope we get one last moment with our baby in a trench coat in tonight’s finale, if that was the end of Castiel, Angel of the Lord, it was an apt ending. Some fans are mad that it plays into the bury your gays trope but, while I won’t say that those frustrations are invalid, it simply didn’t read that way to me.

Because you cared, I cared.

Amelia Emberwing

Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.