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Destiel Canon on Supernatural, Maybe: Schrödinger’s Ship Confirmed

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BY November 17, 2020
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On this week’s Supernatural, the last before the two-hour finale, the show appeared to confirm a fan theory. Or did they? Let’s investigate as to whether Destiel is canon or not.

Wait, I’m Blissfully Unaware of What a Destiel Even Is

Me, looking up from my Tumblr dashboard: What’s it like not being irony-poisoned?

Anyway, in case you’re unfamiliar with Destiel or even Supernatural, then here’s what you need to know. (There will be mild spoilers here, because it’s impossible to tell this story without them.) For 15 years now, the show Supernatural has followed the adventures of brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) Winchester. As the saying goes, they are responsible for “saving people, hunting things–the family business.” Since its beginnings on The WB and now on The CW, the Winchesters have killed a lot of monsters and demons. And werewolves, too, because the Winchesters are not perfect. In the latter part of the series, though, their adventures have gotten a lot more celestial. They’ve faced off with angels and now even God. But the first angel we ever met was Castiel (Misha Collins).

destiel canon image via The CW

In the the third season finale, Dean is consigned to hell. However, in the fourth season premiere, he somehow escapes. The episode later reveals that it was the angel Castiel who rescued Dean “from perdition.” They got off to a rocky start upon their first meeting, but over the last–good Lord (no pun intended)–decade, Castiel has become part of the gang. He also has become a focus for fan fantasies.

“Shipping,” or the practice of rooting for two people to start a relationship, has been a part of Supernatural‘s fandom from the start. (And a note on them–their fandom is…let’s just say “wildly devoted.”) Were you to browse any repository of fan fiction, for instance, you’d find a wealth of stories devoted to various ships. Few pairings, though, are as popular as Destiel, or the relationship between Dean and Castiel. An Archive of Our Own hosts almost 90k stories about them, for instance. (And honestly? Thank goodness, because the other main options are shipping the Winchester BROTHERS or the actors who play them. I’m good, luv, enjoy.) Despite their devoted acolytes, however, the Destiel ship has largely been an imagined one. Until now?

“Despair” Makes Destiel Canon. Or Does It?

(Now comes the massive spoilers. Yes, beyond saying that Destiel might be canon. If you haven’t seen this week’s episode, “Despair,” then run away and watch it. Or don’t. I’m a sign, not a cop.)

Destiel Canon image via The CW

As this season finds Dean and Sam trying to stop Chuck, aka God, before he destroys his creation, we Supernatural viewers could expect some upsetting moments. This show has never been hesitant, after all, about killing off characters, especially if they’re ladies, I say under my breath. And although the two-hour finale isn’t until November 19th, the show started the heartbreak early.

Without rehashing the whole episode, I’ll just say that it basically ends with Castiel sacrificing himself for the greater good. (Okay, the truth is, once he did that, my poor brain forgot everything that happened before that.) Before he lets the Empty take him, though, he gives an impassioned speech to Dean about how knowing him has made Castiel’s existence better. He ends by telling Dean “I love you.” And fandom was like, “Okay?”

Supernatural has never hesitated to dip into fanservice before, including “queerbaiting“–just look at the many times characters have referred to Dean or Castiel as the other’s “boyfriend.” Its actors, though, have been more squeamish when it comes to discussions of character sexuality. With this week’s episode, though, they can have it both ways.

Destiel is canon! But is it, really? I mean, Castiel said he loved Dean, not that he was in love with him. But even if that’s what he meant, it was still left one-sided. Dean just goggled at him in response. Further, if the show put the kibosh on one trope, it dove headfirst into another: “bury your gays.” Because, of course, Castiel died right after he confessed his love. If he even did. Confess his love, I mean. But I also mean die, because this is Supernatural, and the one thing they love more than killing off beloved characters is bringing them back. Thank goodness nothing else is going on in the world this week, though, so we can all focus our attention only on this.

So is Destiel canon now? Tell us what you think on our social media or in the comments below.

featured image via The CW

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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