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Performer of The Month - Readers’ Choice Most Outstanding Performer of November - Misha Collins

This article was written by Ellys Cartin. The article was edited by Donna Cromeans (DJRiter). Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.

Increasingly, the final seasons of long-running TV shows don’t really know what to do with themselves. They either veer wildly off course, burning it all down because viewer loyalty no longer carries the same weight or just fade away. Even the best shows can struggle with their final chapter. What viewers often look forward to more than final season stories is the last performances from the cast, and Supernatural was no exception to this. At first glance, there wouldn’t seem to really be an evolving character journey central to the show, as it was primarily structured around ways to keep Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester on the road hunting monsters and battling foes heavenly and hellish alike. However, an angelic arrival extended the life of the show by several seasons, as Misha Collins’s Castiel gave the show’s heartbeat a rhythm that created emotional stakes and rewards previously out of its reach. One could always sense that Collins was completely aware of Castiel’s identity, and the farewell he gave his character in Despair (15x18) was a fitting swan song that will only enrich repeat viewings of Castiel’s time on the show. For his work in this emotionally charged episode, SpoilerTV and Supernatural fans chose him as their Readers’ Choice Performer of the Month for November. 

Any discussion of Collins’s work would be remiss to leave out his thunderclap first appearance on the show. Castiel is immediately recognizable as a being of unearthly power even before he reveals himself; Collins exudes an energy of charismatic menace, only slightly restrained by some force of will. He’s a firework. The traces of curiosity, the boldness in his eyes, the desire to be challenged, only make him more mesmerizing. That introduction to the character is unforgettable, made even more so by the tiny cracks Collins places in Castiel’s facade. When Castiel says he’s an angel, Dean responds with a look of bitterness, perhaps even disgust, and for just a moment Castiel is wounded. There’s a flicker of hurt across his face, a bit of hesitation. He slides effortlessly back into form as the dominant party in the conversation, but we’re left with an impression of conflict between who Castiel says he is and who he could be. 

Over the many seasons that he spent on the show, Castiel endured a rollercoaster of transformation, loss, and redemption. Collins guided his character through countless torments, as Castiel went from powerful to powerless and back again, turned away from everything he believed and turned back to parts of it. He ultimately traded in his loyalty to an ideology for bonds with the people he grew to care about. Castiel’s relationship with Dean became the show’s riveting emotional backbone. Did the writers intend for that to be the case from the start, or was their chemistry just the inevitable result of the kind of character Collins had created? Regardless, the show knew it had something golden and built countless storylines on the emotional jeopardy the two were placed in. There could never be any doubt or suspense about the status of Sam and Dean’s brotherhood, as it was the very oxygen of the show. Time and time again, though, Castiel was placed in situations that tested his conflicted feelings, forcing him to choose between everything he had ever known and happiness alongside the Winchesters that could only be fleeting. Throughout the show, though, Collins never let go of that timeless quality he brought to the role. He could have played Castiel the same in any time, a quality that means his performance will never feel dated. 

No character grew as much as Castiel did, a trait that in a way made him the true protagonist of Supernatural. It was no surprise that he was the show’s endgame savior. Though Jack (Alexander Calvert) put the pieces of the universe back together, there would have likely been no Jack or been a worse version, had it not been for Castiel. Collins’s commitment to the authenticity of Castiel’s evolution, to remaining true to the core of who Castiel was, earned his character the exit that brought his character’s story full circle. And what a tour-de-force that last scene was. The specifics don’t really matter, because there are no rules in Supernatural; the weight of death or parting is determined only by the emotional impact on those temporarily left behind. The only thing anyone will remember here is the absolute serenity on Collins’s face as Castiel declares he knows true happiness because he loves Dean, and it’s unmissable that he has for almost always. It’s why he flinched way back when he saw Dean rejecting the idea of what he was. He may not have consciously known he wanted Dean’s acceptance, but he was aware on some level. The tone of the scene, taking its cues from Collins, is triumphant. At their first meeting, Castiel saw Dean as he was then, someone who didn’t feel he deserved rescue, and here he tells Dean again that he sees and loves him for who he is. “I cared about the whole world because of you,” Castiel tells Dean, and it’s safe to say the happy tears in Collins’s eyes as he got to put a bow on one of TV’s longest love stories were echoed by scores of fans. The final season of Supernatural was extraordinarily subdued, and, in large part, that was because there were no mysteries left to solve, no unknowns. The show established a universe with no metaphysical boundaries, so the only thing that ever truly mattered was what the characters meant to each other. Collins summed it up beautifully here, and there was nothing left to say. A couple more episodes followed this one, but they were only an epilogue. 

Love, at first sight, comes along rarely, and viewers fell head over heels for Supernatural’s Castiel when he made the first of many dramatic entrances, instantly iconic with his signature coat and inquisitive, steely blue eyes. There are characters to die for, and, thanks to impeccable work over the years from Misha Collins, Castiel is one of them. Exuding haughty energy, Collins was immediately believable as a celestial being brimming with power and confidence, in addition to being a lethal force with the potential to be friend or foe. While Castiel went through an ongoing transfusion of sorts, his focus on the grand scheme of the universe shifted to a more personal one. The connective tissue of the show was the bond between Sam and Dean Winchester, but Castiel was the living embodiment of the supernatural, the representation of everything that lies beyond what can be explained. He represented the seemingly impossible coming to pass, the pure strength of found family, the empowering resilience of love that transcends archaic definitions. For every chapter the writers added for Castiel’s development, Collins wrote another over the top of their words with his performance. In his final outing as Castiel, Collins delivered a love letter to everything Castiel represented, everyone Castiel loved, and everyone who loved Castiel. In Despair, Castiel also got to make an emotional declaration that was a defiance of despair, of cynicism, of endings themselves. All shows must die but love never does; love transcends. For his performance, our readers voted Misha Collins as SpoilerTV’s Readers’ Choice November Performer of the Month.

Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of Misha Collins’ performance in Despair.

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