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Buffy vs. SPN

So, I know there's a segment of fans who are disappointed by the season finale, but just like it made sense to me that Buffy slept with Spike in S6, it makes sense to me that Castiel would get so thoroughly derailed from his original purpose.

He started as the perfectly obedient soldier whose faith was seemingly unending, but then he started associating with Dean Winchester, whose own will is strong enough to shake even an angel's faith. Cas started falling the moment Dean started trying to get him to understand just how wrong-headed his orders were, because Cas, unlike most angels, was able to see Dean as the representative of humanity. In Dean, Cas found a focus for the love he was told to have for all humans. Without orders that made sense in the face of God's command to angels, Cas turned to the only other absolute he could find -- Dean's conviction that humans should be left alone. From Castiel's perspective, this was far more in keeping with God's plan than anything Zachariah or Michael could say, which is what led to his first death and resurrection.

The resurrection gave Cas the impetus to continue his fall, because it was self-evident that he was doing something right, despite how wrong it felt at the time. He knew perfectly well what his rebellion would cost him, but he continued on, steadfast and true, following Dean as his North Star and having faith that this is what God intended. This would have been fine, but then God said no, and Castiel's faith, which was already resting on a house of cards, plummeted. He lost himself for a while, and it was only Dean's act of defiance that gave Cas the courage to continue to the bitter end. Once again, he died, and once again, he was resurrected.

Cas had the right of it when he interpreted his return as God's approbation of Castiel's exercise of free will, but Dean also had the right of it when he called Castiel a child. Based on 6.20, it's a pretty good bet that Castiel is in the neighborhood of 400 million years old, which means 400 million years of unquestioning obedience and following whatever orders he was given. Compared to that, four years of free will is barely a blink of an eye. He had no idea what to do with it, and in the face of that uncertainty, he did what he'd done since losing faith in God -- he followed Dean's example. Granted, he did a piss-poor job of it, but he did what he thought Dean would have done, which was to fight to protect his family.

As for Dean, he screwed up, big time. No surprise there, because Dean can't really see shades of gray. He's a man of absolutes, much like John Winchester, and when faced with Castiel's apparent betrayal, Dean lashed out. In doing so, he also killed his last chance to turn Castiel aside -- or at least to minimize the damage if he wasn't able to turn Cas from the path he was on. Castiel's comment that he had no family makes sense in the face of God's rejection, Rachel's objections, Balthazar's betrayal, and Dean's rejection. Add to this several million souls, most of which belong to monsters, and you end up with a mentally unhinged creature who is, at the very least, a lesser god. But Castiel is a present god, one who feels it's time to administer justice and make things "right."

So, how does all of this play into Buffy's season 6? It doesn't, not really. Joss had the chance at the end of S6 to create S7's big bad from existing canon, but he turned away from doing that, possibly because he loved Willow so much. In my world, S6 shouldn't have concluded with the yellow crayon story. Instead, Willow should have continued on the path to monster-hood, with S7 being the fight to end all fights. Instead, Joss pulled back from that, and it was a mistake. Instead of watching a character we love being brought slowly back to redemption, we were given a ridiculous parody of a monster in the form of The First, and we were left to deal with all of the characterizations being in shambles instead of dealing with the emotional fallout of one character being in shambles.

Sera, thank god, didn't go that route. She didn't pull back, and she let Cas continue to his natural end -- a mad being whose moral compass is spinning wildly. Cas is next season's Big Bad, and all that remains to be seen is whether his redemption is possible, and if so, how.

From a fic writer's perspective, last night's finale was awesome. We've been given four characters who are in significant conflict with one another and with themselves. It's hella fertile ground for exploring Dean, Sam, Castiel, and Bobby, and I'm really, really looking forward to it.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
laurie_ky
May. 21st, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
I love your thinky mind. Poor Cas, I kept watching his little woobie face last night, and thinking, 'boy needs a hug.'

I suppose Cas thought he'd explained things so that it was clear he was fighting to stop a second apocalypse, but I don't think the other guys got that, until after he'd had his showdown.

Laurie
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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