‘Supernatural’s’ Misha Collins on Castiel’s Deal With the Empty and ‘Poignant’ Final Words in the Series

Danielle Turchiano
·4 min read

With only four episodes to go for the CW’s “Supernatural,” things are looking dire for Team Free Will.

While Dean (Jensen Ackles) is ready and willing to let Jack (Alexander Calvert) sacrifice himself to take down Chuck aka God (Rob Benedict), Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Castiel (Misha Collins) are hoping there’s another way. Part of Castiel’s reasoning, Collins tells Variety, is because he is “definitely clouded” by his paternal feelings for Jack “and he’s trying to do his best to both save the world and save his family.”

That quest, which has been at the center of the show since its earliest days, often sees the pieces at odds with each other, and Collins shares that such is certainly the case in the final few episodes of the long-running series.

“It’s always been about this dynamic interplay between fighting the forces of the universe and fighting for the last remaining threads of a tattered family,” he explains. “Ultimately as we get closer to the end of the season it’s not about compromise, it’s about sacrifice — it’s about characters making huge sacrifices for one another.”

Castiel specifically, Collins notes, “doesn’t give up on looking for a solution and he does find something that is really helpful.” But there is still the deal he made with the Empty (Rachel Miner) hanging over his head. In the penultimate season, in order to save Jack from the Empty, Castiel promised he would take Jack’s place there. He was allowed to stay on Earth for the time being, to maximize the pain it will cause when he is inevitably sucked back to the place that is deemed “worse than hell,” and Collins says that that deal “ends up being very significant” for Castiel at the end of the show.

For Collins, who was first introduced to the world of “Supernatural” in the fourth season premiere, wrapping a dozen-season run was always going to be emotional. But he had an unexpected one-two punch because “the way the schedule worked out [was] my last moment on set was also Castiel’s last moment in the narrative of the show. So it was like this interesting double goodbye where I was saying goodbye to the cast and crew and they were also saying goodbye to Castiel at the same time,” he says.

Collins acknowledges that through the years, everyone spent “a lot of our time there laughing and making jokes and trying to undermine one another while we’re shooting,” and shares that some such levity crept on set after his series wrap was called. “The crew put together a little party and a cake and a little retrospective video,” he says. “It felt like a retirement party.” But actually shooting his final moments as Castiel was anything but light.

“This was a very, all-around, super somber night. Everyone [was] being honestly strangely respectful of the process of acting but also really connected and emotional, and it felt like a night of grieving. It was really intense,” he says. “Cass’ final moments are really him taking the reins and making really hard choices, but definitely of his own free will.”

Watching the storyline of God planning to end the world unfold during such a tumultuous time in history is not taken lightly either. (Collins and a few of the other “Supernatural” family members, including Ackles and Padalecki, have been more vocal on social media about the importance of voting in general, and in some cases speaking out directly on who they are voting for and why. They have done interviews with Sen. Cory Booker, who is a longtime fan of the show, and also hosted a virtual watch party for the series’ fall return that acted as a “get out the vote” event for candidates such as MJ Hegar. Collins has also participated in phone banks for former vice president Joe Biden.)

“Of course there’s an escapism to this kind of entertainment,” Collins says. But the “mythology is a source of inspiration. So not just escapism but a little bit of social-emotional inspiration that people take from the show. Even when the odds seem impossible, even when you’re up against supernatural beings who are far more powerful foes, you keep fighting and if your heart is in it, you can prevail. And that kind of messaging isn’t escapism; it’s constructive — it’s how civilizations pass the torch from one generation to the next.”

“I’m happy about how the show lands in that respect,” he continues, “and I’m happy about how Cass lands in that respect. I’m really happy about the socio-political message that Castiel sends with his final words in the show. I think it’s really poignant and important and super relevant to our current social moment.”

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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