Supernatural star Misha Collins has confirmed his character Castiel is gay, after the show divided fans with a major final-season twist.
The cult TV show has long been accused of queerbaiting fans with flirtations between angel Castiel and lead character Dean Winchester, played by Jensen Ackles.
After spending 12 years tiptoeing around the issue, Supernatural‘s third-to-last episode on 5 November stunned fans with a dramatic declaration of love.
As Dean and Castiel were besieged by forces of evil, Castiel confessed: “You’re the most caring man on earth, you are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know.
“Knowing you has changed me, because you cared. I cared. I cared about you… I cared about the whole world, because of you. Dean, I love you.”
Supernatural character was killed off within seconds of ‘homosexual declaration of love’.
Within seconds of his admission of love, Castiel sacrificed himself to save Dean, likely marking Collins’ permanent exit from the show ahead of the final two episodes.
It’s safe to say Supernatural fans were divided about the moment. While some ‘Destiel’ shippers celebrated a long-hoped for confirmation, others were unhappy about the way Castiel was killed off immediately after coming out, given Hollywood’s much-criticised propensity for killing off queer characters.
Destiel fans were also unimpressed by the one-sided nature of the moment. Jensen Ackles, whose character remained largely stoic and did not reciprocate the declaration of love, has previously suggested he is “uncomfortable” with the number of fans invested in the pairing, and has rejected questions about the show’s gay subtext.
Speaking on a virtual panel at the DarkLight Online Convention on 8 November, Misha Collins acknowledged that the death played into an unhelpful trope as he dispatched up any remaining ambiguity about the “homosexual declaration of love”.
HERE. Misha Collins explicitly says that “Destiel is canon after Castiel makes his homosexual declaration of love”
And then he and Richard Speight (the director of the episode) discuss how they went about the scene.
Everyone else can shut up now.https://t.co/fo3rKqQL6Q
— Cam ➐ (@soberdenatural) November 9, 2020
Filling in some of the other panellists who haven’t kept up to speed with the show, Collins explains: “Castiel tells Dean he loves him and basically makes Destiel canon, which is, woah! Fans are freaking out after that.
“To complicate matters, he dies after that. So Castiel makes this homosexual declaration of love, which is amazing that that happens, and then he dies right after, which plays into a timeless Hollywood trope of ‘kill the gays’, which pisses off [fans]. So, we give and then we take away.”
Mark Sheppard, who previously appeared on Supernatural as the demon Crowley, said: “You do know, Misha, we all knew! We all knew that Castiel was in love with Dean.”
Misha Collins says show ‘took the time’ to get moment right.
Collins praised the episode’s director Richard Speight for the moment, saying: “I do appreciate that Richard took the time and attention to give that scene its due. Rehearsal time, we talked about it quite a bit in advance of shooting it… I appreciate the thought and care and attention put into that scene.
“It was the very last scene we shot, which was not a scheduling necessity, but was done to give that scene its attention.”
Speight credited Collins and the Supernatural showrunners for making the moment special, adding: “I think it’s such a gift to the fans that gave this character this journey, that allows fans to live that process through a character they’ve become so connected to.
“That doesn’t happen in TV much, and certainly doesn’t happen in network TV, where risks are never taken. You did such a wonderful job, leaning into that. It was fantastic.”
Of course, fans might question how much of a “risk” it actually is to include a queer character three episodes before the end of an already-cancelled TV show, having been on the air for 15 years.