It has taken me another 24 hours to figure out why I had such a strong emotional reaction to this episode – and to give the episode more props for where it intended to take me even if I didn’t enjoy the ride. The thing is, I loved the last major Cas-centric episode, as my reviews loudly proclaimed. I’ve empathized with Castiel’s painful sense of not belonging anywhere, because there’s nothing in the world more painful for humans and sometimes Cas is just as human as the rest of us (thanks to Misha’s ability to invest the character with emotional nuances). I was moved by Castiel’s near death and his need, in what he thought were his last seconds, to make his feelings clear to Sam and Dean; I was moved by their reaction too, that powerful moment when they each clasped a hand and pulled him up. I had to gush to Misha about his performance in that episode repeatedly (sorry, Misha) and to Richard about his directing (sorry, Richard) but that scene really worked. That scene was Team Free Will re-established.
And it wasn’t one way. Sam and Dean also took down their barriers and made themselves vulnerable in their relationship with Cas; not as explicitly perhaps, but Jared and Jensen are so good at what they do that we could clearly feel it and see it. Castiel was accepted as family. So that’s the lens with which I viewed ‘The Future’. That the bond between the three of them was close and tight and important. That made the things that happened in this episode very painful.
I’ve felt the same way when one of the Winchesters lies to the other(s). It’s such an extraordinarily painful thing when someone you love and trust is deceitful, so it hurts to see it. As much as Dean is repeatedly angry in this episode, it’s clear that underneath that anger is hurt. He allowed himself to love and trust Cas, so perceived betrayal hurts like hell. Hence my frequent use of OUCH in this review. It HURT.
That said, perhaps that’s exactly what Show wanted me to feel. That last episode did such a good job of setting up the emotional connection between Cas and the Winchesters, and sometimes that is exactly what this Show does when it’s getting ready to punch you right in the heart. It’s a bit of a Supernatural tradition dating back to Kripke, and it’s most definitely been the cause of entire lost days of my life railing and screaming and generally shaking my fist. That’s because I care – a lot. I care about Cas and Sam and Dean and I care about how they care about each other.