“Supernatural” fans began shipping Castiel (Misha Collins) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) almost immediately after Collins’ season 4 introduction to the series. It’s difficult to ignore the ship’s validity when Castiel and Dean frequently send each other longing stares that linger far too long to be platonic and exchange deep emotional confessions.
Fans shouldn’t discount Dean’s unaddressed yet seemingly ever-present battle with his sexuality, either. How can fans not wonder what could have developed between the characters if they both had a little less baggage — and Dean’s father wasn’t so obsessed with maintaining his toxic masculinity?
Despite hundreds of thousands of Destiel fan works dedicated to the ship, most fans gave up on the canonization of the pairing before it began. For 12 years, it seemed like longing glances and almost-love confessions would be the extent of the onscreen pairing — until the Season 15 episode, “Despair.” In a move that shocked the fan base to its core, Castiel sacrifices himself for Dean (and the world) by confessing his love for the eldest Winchester brother and sealing his fate with the Empty.
Plenty of “Supernatural” fans have tried to straightwash the historical moment, but Castiel’s deal with the Empty hinged on taking the angel in his moment of pure happiness. As it turns out, most people’s happiest life moment doesn’t include telling their bestie they platonically love them — something that Castiel had done earlier in the series. Bottom line — if the scene didn’t concern two men, no one would question that the moment is a romantic love confession, regardless of fan support.
During an exclusive interview with Looper’s sister site Mashed, “Roadfood” actor Misha Collins revealed how Castiel’s love confession came about and how it’s altered how Collins views his time on “Supernatural.”
‘You changed me, Dean’
Whether or not some of the cast supports it or fans believe its validity is irrelevant. It’s right there in the script to live forever in the show. Is Castiel’s immediate death after his confession what fans wanted? Of course not. But the scene is more than anyone ever expected, so we can chalk that up in the win column — though we have a long way to go.
At the mention of Castiel’s love confession in “Despair,” Collins revealed that he was just as surprised as fans that this was even a possibility for his “Supernatural” character. “Like much of the audience, somehow, I didn’t think that such a, frankly, butch, heteronormative show on a broadcast network would have a character’s ending be what my character’s ending was,” he explained. “When Bob Berens, who was a producer on the show and the writer of the episode in which my character dies, proposed this ending where my character confesses his love for Dean, who’s one of the two main characters, I was like, ‘Oh, we can do that? That’s amazing.'”
The fight’s not over
While the moment deeply impacted the show’s largely LGBTQ+ fan base, Collins himself was equally touched by the character growth and self acceptance Castiel gained at the end of “Supernatural.” He added, “The representation and openness that my character expressed at the end was symbolically meaningful to me. It made my time on the show feel more meaningful and valuable, so I’m very grateful for it.”
Collins noted that the battle certainly isn’t over when it comes to fighting for onscreen representation — because it shouldn’t be a fight at all. He mused, “I’m glad that everyone let us do something that was … It shouldn’t be brave. It should be normal. [Laughs] The fact that we’re having a conversation about it is indicative of the fact that we have a long way to go.”
Fans can watch new “Roadfood” episodes streaming Saturdays on PBS Passport and the PBS Living Channel on Prime Video. “Roadfood” also airs on PBS, so check your local listings for air times.