Before I say anything, I'd like to preface with this: I love Castiel. I can't imagine Supernatural without him. When Cas didn't escape Purgatory with Dean, I couldn't wait for him to return. But right when we got Cas back, Naomi took him away.
He's still Cas, of course - eccentricities and all - but he's also Heaven's pawn. Though Cas is no longer an unquestioning servant to Heaven, his free will doesn't seem to matter much when faced with Naomi. "Torn and Frayed" proved that.
For the first time since Naomi began using Cas, he fought back. While it was good to know Cas' free will still exists (and has some fight left in it), it still wasn't powerful enough to overcome Naomi. Castiel killed Samandriel nonetheless.
"There is still a shred of the voice of the real Castiel inside of him and he is resisting her Manchurian Candidate probe," Misha Collins, who plays Cas, told TVGuide.com. Though he added that Cas' free will alone won't be enough to defeat Naomi's control.
Since his introduction in Season 4, every time Cas gains autonomy or seems to become comfortable with himself, something - Purgatory's souls, other Angels, Sam's madness - takes control and before you know it, he thinks he's a god! While Cas' current personal battle is an interesting question - is Team Free Will strong enough to beat Naomi? - I feel as though it's dated. I want to see a Cas who has once and for all embraced his title of The Angel Who Empathizes and see what new challenges he will face.
That doesn't mean these challenges can't come from his old cohorts up in Heaven. In fact, some of my favorite Castiel interactions have been with other Angels. And if there's one thing Supernatural fans love, it's bickering brothers. Bring in more characters like Gabriel and Balthazar for Cas to spar with, but make it a fair fight! Naomi is just too powerful at the moment.
Or is the real issue that it's Cas who's too powerful?
"That's obviously a big issue that the writers have been struggling with since the introduction of the character," Collins said. "They don't want to have the boys have an ally that solves all their problems with the snap of his fingers. So they continuously impede Cas' powers in one way or another or put him at loggerheads with the boys so they're not actually trying to achieve the same thing."
While I understand the need for Cas to avoid becoming a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Winchesters, I hate when they're at odds. I love all three too much to see them fight! There has been a lot of speculation about Cas becoming a human, but Cas' strengths have always been playing the fish out of water when interacting with the human world (see: "Hunter Heroici"). How would he change without his powers?
We've seen a glimpse of human Cas before. He was an alcoholic, orgy-having, depressed mess. But Collins wishes if Cas ever does shed his wings, the character will taste at least a few of the benefits. "I always kind of hoped that we could take Cas down a human route where he just got to explore being a human a little bit without it necessarily being the dregs of humanity," Collins said. "I would love it if they did that. I don't know if they will, but I think it'd be cool because there's a lot to mine there."
But powers or no powers, sometimes Cas' biggest enemy is himself. His guilt over past indiscretions makes for interesting and emotionally engaging story lines. Give me more of that, please! Now that Cas was plucked from Purgatory, he seems to be on a road for redemption (at least when he's under his own control). I have to wonder, how will Cas' journey fit in with Benny's own desire for penance? That dynamic - the fallen angel and the redeemed vampire - is something I'd love to see.
There's just so much potential with Castiel. Hopefully, bumping him up to series regular will afford the writers the time to develop new and interesting ways to challenge the character. Or maybe he'll lose himself (again) and have to fight to maintain his free will (again).
What do you think of Cas' story line with Naomi?
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