Caution: Spoilers ahead for Supernatural season 15’s “Despair.”
Supernatural is hurtling towards its long-awaited series finale, and the major casualties have begun… maybe. Supernatural season 15 is finally bringing the story of Sam and Dean Winchester to an end after following the brothers since their fresh-faced debut in 2005. Since Supernatural‘s shocking season 14 finale, the board has been set for the Winchesters’ last stand – Sam and Dean vs. God, with the fate of the universe on the line. However, that ending took a turn when Sam and Castiel discovered the plan they were following (Billie’s idea to kill God using Jack as a bomb) was nothing more than a power grab, with Death’s sights set firmly on God’s crown.
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“Despair” picks up that story thread and lives up to its name, as Dean and Castiel forget about Chuck momentarily, turning their attention to Billie, whom they believe has started collecting souls en masse. Played by Misha Collins, Castiel swooped into Sam and Dean’s lives in Supernatural‘s season 4 premiere, resurrecting the eldest Winchester brother from the dead and joining their crusade against Lucifer. Cass quickly became a staple of Supernatural and has followed Sam and Dean ever since as the de facto “third brother,” turning the show’s leading duo into a power trio.
While Supernatural fans knew death was inevitably coming in season 15 (literally, as it turns out), they perhaps weren’t emotionally prepared for the big farewell at the end of “Despair.” With only 2 episodes left, Castiel appears to be dead, sacrificing himself after a heartfelt declaration of love. But is the angel gone for good, or might this wayward son return before the end?
Castiel’s Supernatural Death Explained
In the previous episode of Supernatural, the Empty revealed Billie’s true plan was to usurp God and set the world back to its natural state. No more resurrecting Winchesters, no more parallel universe counterparts, no more phantom girlfriend for Sam. So when folks begin disappearing in “Despair,” Team Free Will logically conclude that Billie is responsible, and in the ensuing clash for possession of Jack, Dean deals Death a devastating, fatal blow using her own blade – a mirror of how he killed the original Grim Reaper back in season 10. Already harboring a deep resentment for the Winchesters and Castiel, Billie decides her final act will be to kill Dean once and for all, and she relentlessly chases the eldest Winchester and Castiel through the halls of the Bunker.
With their backs against the wall, Castiel comes up with a final, last resort to shake Death – or, at least, for Dean to shake Death. In Supernatural season 14, the Empty took an interest in Jack – a nephilim who should be resting peacefully in the graveyard of angels. Having promised to keep the boy safe, however, Castiel bargained his own soul in return for Jack’s safety. Ever the sadist, the Shadow of the Empty promised to collect its prize when Castiel felt a moment of true happiness. Recalling this deal while he and Dean hide from Billie, Cass decides to make that moment happen there and then, knowing the Empty’s arrival would fend off Death and protect Dean. To create his definitive happy moment, Cass waxes lyrical about his love for Dean Winchester, unloading all of his feelings from a decade of misadventures together. The Empty comes, takes out Billie, and absorbs a smiling, contented Castiel.
How Castiel Could Return In Supernatural’s Finale
Even by Supernatural‘s infamously fluid standards, Castiel has a rich history of coming back from the dead. Across his Supernatural career, Cass has been killed by Raphael, Lucifer and his own hubris, and was returned to life by God on each occasion. After being killed by a reaper in Supernatural season 9, Gadreel revived him, and Jack’s power awoke Castiel from the Empty back in season 12’s finale. With such an extensive back catalog of faux-deaths, it’s only natural to assume that Castiel’s latest goodbye may not represent a conclusive ending, even with only 2 chapters remaining in the Supernatural tale.
“Despair” stripped the Supernatural board to its bare bones, but there are still a handful of characters who could potentially bring Castiel back to life. The obvious candidate would be Chuck, who already resurrected Castiel on multiple occasions as part of his Winchester brothers “story.” As Supernatural‘s final villain, Chuck has no reason to revive the Winchesters’ greatest ally, but if God experienced a change of heart in his final moments, he might be convinced to return Castiel one final time before dying himself. Alternatively, Amara could seize control, and bring Cass back herself. As things stand in Supernatural, seemingly everyone with the exception of the Winchesters and Jack has been killed by Chuck, but it’s safe to assume that Supernatural won’t end with Earth given the “Thanos x2” treatment. Assuming some kind of mass revival occurs in Supernatural‘s final episodes, what’s one more angel thrown into the mix?
Potentially, Castiel’s “death” episode writes itself a get-out clause for future use. In the opening moments of “Despair,” Billie transports an exploding Jack to the Empty where he can detonate safely. When the fuse runs out and Jack ignites, the Empty’s Shadow enters a frenzy, screaming that the cosmic explosion “made it loud.” Jack is teleported outta there before the meaning of these words can be elaborated upon, but this “loudness” will surely be explained in the coming episodes. One possible interpretation is that Jack’s explosion woke up the angelic inhabitants of the Empty. And if the Empty is no longer a place where angels sleep for eternity, then the absorbing of Castiel may not mean his death. Castiel the White could return to Supernatural in the final battle against Chuck, leading an army of deceased angels raised from the Empty by Jack’s explosion.
Why Castiel SHOULDN’T Be Brought Back
Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should. Solid advice in all walks of life, but especially applicable in the case of Supernatural and Castiel. Given the show’s history and the variety of different resurrection methods available, bringing Castiel back would be a simple enough task for Supernatural. Chuck, Amara, Jack, the Empty – all of them have the power to revive angels in established Supernatural mythology, and all of them are still around. But Castiel’s final scene in “Despair” was a note-perfect farewell to a beloved character – the consummate representation of Castiel’s character evolution and typically angelic candor, combined with the human traits he adopted after years of riding alongside Sam and Dean. The handprint on Dean’s shoulder referenced Castiel’s debut, and the moment of his death visually paralleled the angel’s very first wing-opening scene. There is simply no better way to bid farewell to Castiel in Supernatural.
The emotional impact of Castiel’s (latest) Supernatural death suggests his departure will stick this time, but Supernatural has previous for retconning major deaths, even after a heartfelt goodbye. The beginning of Supernatural season 15 saw Rowena sacrifice herself to close the gates of Hell, and while nowhere near as tear-jerking as Castiel’s big scene, there was an undeniable sense of finality to her death. The epic moment where Rowena bravely strides into Hell felt like a fitting climax for Supernatural‘s resident witch, but a handful of episodes later, she was back as the Queen of Hell. Should something similar occur with Castiel, the decision could prove controversial among Supernatural fans, especially following Castiel’s verbal love letter to Dean Winchester.
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