At the end of season seven, at the moment when I saw Cas disappear and the credits began to roll, some strong emotion overtook me and I screamed, “GET BACK HERE AND TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU GODDAMN BASTARDS LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER.” The funny thing was, until that moment, I hadn’t consciously realized that I shipped Dean and Cas, especially having pointedly avoided the fandom until I had finished all seven seasons.
The reasons for this, I imagine, are wrapped up in the fact that, structurally, Dean and Cas have been portrayed as a romantic couple since at least season 6. And not, even, in just the overt ways, like through Balthazar’s or Meg’s comments—since those can easily be taken and dismissed as jokes—but in a definite, structural sense that requires an at least semi-romantic understanding of Dean’s and Cas’ relationship as a precondition for the interpretation of plot dynamics. This, on it’s own, of course, hardly guarantees future canonicity—not by a long shot. What it does mean, however, is that the romantic undertones in their relationship must be somehow dealt with if any future development of the relationship is to occur.
At the end of season 7, I had no real expectations either in the way of full canonicity or outright negation, simply deciding to weigh all the options, which we can break down into three major categories:
1) Destiel becomes a 100% canonical romantic relationship
2) The possibility of the relationship attaining recognized romantic status is entirely subverted
3) Dean’s and Cas’ relationship continues at the exact same pace as it always has
Firstly, I’m going to disregard the third option, since it would require prodigiously terrible character development from a show that has always excelled in just that, and, even then, it would only postpone the choice between #1 and #2 to a future season. (And since I’m talking about eventual canonicity, the time-frame isn’t crucially relevant.)
Option #2, on the other hand, is very similar to the sort of delaying of the issue we saw prior to season 8: the writers can turn Cas against Dean, kill him, give him amnesia, make him crazy, make him disappear, etc. (For obvious reasons, it’s always going to be Cas and not Dean on the receiving end of this type of narrative device.) Alternatively—and this is what I had been considering the most viable option—new romantic interests could be introduced for Dean and/or Cas.
Given that, by the end of season 7, every one of these devices has tried and failed to keep Dean and Cas from each other, Option #2 faces a similar problem as Option #3—namely, that to pull them again would be the last sign of writerly desperation, and hardly narratively wise.
So, here’s the problem: Dean’s and Cas’ relationship has more-than-skin-deep romantic undertones and seasons 6-7 essentially used up every reasonable attempt to subvert them without creating the kind of awkward narrative contortion that paradoxically testifies to the existence of what it tried to erase.
At the beginning of season 8, then, Dean’s and Cas’ relationship is at a tipping point where even the slightest bit of positive development would mean creating an incredible amount of momentum.
Add to this the fact that the writers know about Destiel and fan investment in the relationship, and it becomes clear that any interaction between the two is going to be modulated by the distinction between romantic and non-romantic, and the choice between the three options is going to be evidenced by the very first references to Dean and Cas.
The brilliance in how the first episode deals with the relationship is the contrast between Dean’s seeming dismissal of Cas’ fate (Option #2) when talking to Sam and his fervent pursuit of the angel (Option #1) in Purgatory. This sets up a nice, gradual narrative reveal in which what we learn over the course of the following episodes actively destroys the integrity of the initial nod to Option #2. Not only, then, does the show imply full canonicity for Dean and Cas, it also slowly rips apart its own potential to subvert eventual canonicity.
TL;DR: Destiel is already canon—the choice has been made—and we just haven’t yet seen the episode that confirms it.
Posted on novembre 5th, 2012
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