So, back when I first made this post, it was supposed to be a simple explanation of why I ship them, in response to an anon at fuckyeahcastielbalthazar asking that question, but it wound up being this huge analysis of every second of screentime, and I realized I’d like to continue that, analyzing and raving about their scenes every time we get new ones, so I decided to change it up a little and make this my continuously updated manifesto of sorts instead. Warning, it got extremely long by the end of season 6, and it’s very image/GIF heavy. Most of the GIFS and graphics used are not mine and are by the absolutely brilliant Kai, others credited accordingly.
When Sera described Balthazar’s character over the summer (“Remember when Cas was dragged back to Heaven as a prisoner? Balthazar was actually the only friend who stood up for him.”) I was very interested; a real friend who was there for Cas alone, someone who sacrificed and fought for him when it’s normally Cas doing so for the people and things that matter to him, someone who spoke out against Heaven even before Cas himself did on Castiel’s behalf, was something I was eager to see. And when Sebastian Roche, an actor and human being that I love to no end was cast, I was extremely excited. However, I didn’t go into The Third Man expecting to ship them- I actually anticipated liking them purely as brothers, wanting Cas to have a Sam to his Dean, particularly since this was when Dean/Castiel was my OTP. However, Cas/Balthazar in 6.03 was so much more amazing and had so much more depth than I was expecting, and I was shipping the holy fuck (heh, angels [/dork]) out of it the second the episode ended.
This is a ship that intrigues me right off the bat because they have such a rich history; they have most likely been at each other’s side for about 4 billion years. Can you even begin to imagine that, to picture taking your relationship with one of the closest people in your life and adding 4 billion years to it? I believe they were epic long before we got a glimpse of them in 6.03, and thinking about their past fascinates me- and how it effects them together now is amazing to watch. These are two brothers who clearly love each other and have done so quite possibly since the beginning of time, two brothers who fought at each other’s side for eons, two brothers who were so close and then completely fell apart and lost each other…and now we get to see them find each other again, see what that relationship becomes now that they’re such different people, but that love remains. They’re damaged, but far from broken, and the way it plays out is beautiful.
Misha and Sebastian have fantastic chemistry, and this is obviously nothing I can prove, just my opinion, but between his acting and several of his quotes about it, I genuinely feel like Sebastian has intentionally been playing it like Balthazar feels more for Cas than friendship/brotherhood since day 1, and it is absolutely beautiful and incredibly hard to ignore. Sebastian does more with his eyes than a lot of actors do with their entire body, just looking at them in certain points in 6.03 twists my heart up like I can’t even describe. And Misha more than brings it as well. The acting with these two plays a big part in how I read the characters, and it makes it that much easier for me to ship them, though make no mistake, it is the characters I’m shipping, not just actor chemistry.
I initially fell hard for them over the complete love and almost awe Balthazar gazes at Cas with at certain points, and I had my heart broken by a ship that had existed for ten minutes over the total betrayal and honestly, heartbreak, on Balthazar’s face when Cas sides with Sam and Dean. And to me, Misha plays 6.03 with so much hurt that it just portrays all that much clearer that Balthazar is someone who is very important and dear to Cas, someone he invested himself in, and knowing that person allowed Cas to think he was dead and ran away instead of helping him, and seems to be letting him down at every turn now, is crushing. Look at Cas’s face at the moment he reads Balthazar’s name on the kid’s soul, take in how truly devastated he is. They are very few things or people that affect Cas so greatly- in fact, I would say up until then, God and Dean were the only ones on that list. But in that moment, it becomes clear that Balthazar is one of them too. And the finale confirms this for me further, though in a terrible, horrific way, which I’ll get to later.
And then just everything about 6.03 itself! Castiel grieved Balthazar’s death. We’ve seen Cas have to kill angels with his own hands countless time, and while I believe it always kills him to do so, when does he actually allow himself to grieve? Never. But apparently, for Balthazar, that’s exactly what he did, and he’ll even admit it- Cas, who is so good at keeping things so close to his chest.
And then he’s so upset when he finds out the truth that he can’t even talk for a moment and seems to have to compose himself, his posture and voice both so heavy. He feels the need to clarify that Balthazar wasn’t just a friend, like he automatically, reflexively has to correct how inadequate that title is, when all he needed to say to Sam’s question is a simple ‘yes’. And while Sam and Dean immediately launch into assuming he’s become a villain and are all set to take care of it, what does Cas, who is supposed to be all about ignoring emotions and taking care of business right now, do? Ignore them, bow his head, and look distraught as he whispers “Balthazar, I wonder…” like he wants to believe he misunderstood, that Balthazar might have a good reason for what he’s doing, or, most painfully, like this is an opportunity- like if Balthazar is alive, then maybe Cas doesn’t have to fight alone anymore, maybe Balthazar might help him like he so desperately needs. Cas has no reason to be thinking about anything but getting the weapons back and using them to win the war, but once again, when it comes to Balthazar, emotion seems to win out, like Cas can’t help himself.
And then comes the scene where they actually meet. They have every reason to believe they’re on opposite sides of things now, but instead of even being tense or wary, they display complete trust in each other; Cas is tense and has his sword ready when he first walks in, but the second Balthazar shows himself, Cas’s posture is relaxed and at ease, and his sword doesn’t make another appearance in the scene. And then there’s the fact that Balthazar is there at all! He obviously had advance warning, plenty of time to take off and not deal with a confrontation over the weapons, but Balthazar, who is all about running away, chooses to stay. In fact, he seems to have been waiting downright eagerly for Cas, leading me to believe Balthazar couldn’t take the separation anymore, not with the idea of getting to be with Cas again dangling right in front of his face. And he’s incredibly pleased by Castiel’s presence. The second he sees him, he’s grinning and telling him with no hesitation how good it is to see him, and a beat after that, he just adoringly drinks him in in silence then honestly tells him how good it is to see him, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t even know what Castiel is there for- that makes my heart ache to think of how badly Balthazar must have been pining for Cas, really, to think nothing of his own self preservation- the thing that’s supposed to be Balthazar’s main concern right now.
And as you can see, at the end of his sentence, Castiel can’t stop himself, and you can see a tiny, happy little smirk on his face even as he’s trying to fight it, his eyes bright. For the first time in years, Balthazar is there with him, in front of his eyes, surrounding him with his grace. He believed Balthazar dead because Balthazar let him, and he should be furious, but at that moment, I really believe Cas’s emotions got the best of him for a split second and all he could think was that he doesn’t even know if he should care about Balthazar anymore, but he does so deeply and wants nothing more than to have them back.
These two haven’t seen each other in two years, may very well be on opposite sides of a war now now for all they know, but hurting each other is never even a question. Instead, there’s corny frog jokes, followed by Balthazar silently walking towards Cas with, like I said somewhere above, a downright awed expression, like he can’t believe Cas, this angel he loves so much, is finally with him again, and now he doesn’t know what to say. Balthazar knows this isn’t going to end well because he knows Castiel so damn well; he knows there’s no way Castiel will think about anything but the war and duty and that he’s going to be furious with Balthazar and he knows nothing he can say, however much he tries, is going to make him see differently, so he takes this second to just breathe Castiel’s presence in and let himself have this before he loses Castiel all over again. (Also in regards to this moment- how does Balthazar greet Cas? With porno music and flashy lights and by locking Cas inside his room- he’s not even subtle, how precious)
Cas could ask after or demand the weapons right away, but instead, the first thing he says to him after the frogs thing? ‘I grieved your death’, the way it’s phrased clearly posed as a question; to Cas, admitting to his hurt over Balthazar’s death and getting an answer from his friend about it is apparently more on his mind than the weapons, even though, as I said, this Cas is supposed to be all about the war first and personal relationships second.
And it’s at this point that Balthazar steels himself for being at odds with Cas and leaps into what I think is very clearly his defense mechanism just as much as the sarcastic attitude is Dean’s- acting like he doesn’t give a fuck and is just in it for a good time. I’m not saying I don’t think Balthazar wants to try everything and that the whole decadent lifestyle isn’t genuine on some level, but that’s also skin deep, the surface; thinking that’s the depth of his motivations and personality is like saying playing pranks on douchebags is all Gabriel was about it, like saying all future!Cas wanted was to smoke joints and fuck- it’s all just a way of masking something deeper and losing yourself in anything that’s not more pain. Look at how Balthazar even phrases it himself “Dad’s not coming back, so you might as well blow coke and jump on the bed.” He’s rebelling because he’s furious with his family and hurt by them and he wants to run away because he can’t stand being there, and once he’s gone, he starts lashing out and doing things they’d be ashamed of to remove himself from them as much as possible because Balthazar wants no part of being an angel- not if it means living in a world where they dedicate themselves to protecting the seals even at the cost of their lives, believing it God’s will only to discover Zachariah was using them, in a world where the angel he cares for above all others can be tortured and murdered for thinking for himself and the others will celebrate his death as that of a traitor’s. It runs so much deeper than “Balthazar likes parties and sex, lol”, and just look at how upset he gets when he goes off on the “The fighting will never stop” tangent if you need further proof. Balthazar is a solider who has been broken by war and IMO which I’ll explain further down, might even have PTSD when it comes to war among angels.
But back on track, like I said, Balthazar throws up his IDGAF walls, and from that moment on in the scene, Cas grows more and more upset. If he cared a little less, be might just give a sigh of exasperation and demand the weapons, he might accept that this can only end in more fighting as he does with every other angel, but this is Balthazar, the brother he was once closest to, someone he thought he could count on and expect better of, running away and doing awful, selfish things, and not even having the grace to act as though he’s embarrassed by it. Cas clearly expects better of Balthazar, and this being what he gets instead hurt enough to make him angry; because keep in mind, when are the only times outside of action scenes that Castiel truly gets upset? When Dean lets him down in 5.02. When God lets him down in 5.16. When Dean lets him down again in 5.18. Once again, Balthazar is proven to be one of three people Cas loves enough to be so affected by, someone who he has enough love and faith in that it kills him when he’s let down.
I love the bit where they’re talking about Balthazar’s stealing. The way he invades Cas’s space and so smugly delivers ”I stole a lot of things” and seems to just wait for Cas’s reaction to that reminds me of a comment I saw here once from the brilliant Jenn saying they feel like so much of what Balthazar does is about wanting a reaction and attention from Cas, and that’s really how that line plays out to me. And then comes another moment of glorious Seb acting, where, before he walks around Cas, where he just stares at Cas, all bright and adoring and just basking in the sight of him, once again failing at having any kind of poker face for his feelings- everything about him from his shining eyes, genuinely sweet smile, or the way he leans back as if to take in Castiel even better, is screaming ‘I love you and I’ve missed you so much that all I want to do is look at you and know you’re with me again’ so loudly that I can’t believe Castiel can’t hear it. Then as the scene grows more somber, Castiel reminding Balthazar that he’s a great and honorable solider and they’ve fought together countless times, Balthazar walks away from Castiel, and you can see his face fall into something much more reflective and serious the second Cas can’t see him.
Oh, and I should say that I think Castiel’s line is a powerful bit all on his own. It’s meaningful to me that Castiel expressed how highly he thinks of Balthazar, because that’s something he does rarely. I also kind of love that that’s what Cas says in his moment of desperation to draw out the true Balthazar- the fact that they fought together. To me, Castiel clinging to that as proof that he knows Balthazar, him so fiercely believing this isn’t him instead of just accepting that maybe he never really knew Balthazar at all, shows just how defining Castiel considers their time together. He’s so firm that he knows Balthazar because he and Balthazar became who they are with each other- how could he not know him, even now? And he clearly needs so badly for Balthazar to be that person again, to be a solider at his side and help him- he needs Balthazar to remember who he is. And when he insists that he ‘knows’ Balthazar and this isn’t him, I get chills thanks to Misha’s delivery. I think it makes it obvious this isn’t just because of the war. Cas is so depressingly, painfully lonely this season; I think just as much as he wants a partner in the war, he just wants his ‘good friend’ back too, for Balthazar to be the angel he cared for instead of acting like someone he doesn’t recognize.
But sadly, I also think this is the worst thing to say to Balthazar right now. He doesn’t want a reminder that he and Castiel gave everything for a pointless cause over and over again, and it only pushes him further behind his walls and makes him more desperate to never live that life again. The way he adds “Too many times to count” is more insight into his character for me, it shows how this isn’t about him wanting to party, or not caring about Cas enough- it’s about him just being weary and exhausted from an eternity of constant fighting that concluded with him discovering it was all for nothing and losing Castiel because of that.
Ugh, and now this next bit- prepare for all the feelings. First of all, I love that Castiel asks for help in the first place; up to this episode, 5.02 and 5.03 are the only times I can recall that he’s ever brought himself to ask for help before, and each time (including earlier in this ep), he had to chew Dean out or beg to get the help he needed, so it seems pretty clear it’s something he’s reluctant to do it, but even knowing Balthazar’s been lying to and hiding from him for two years, even as Balthazar seems unrecognizable, he still has enough faith to ask for help instead of demanding what he needs or fighting him for it. Balthazar, with no hesitation, very seriously and sincerely tells Castiel of course, delivers the gorgeous line about how they’re brothers and nothing’s changed, of course he wants to help him. Nobody has ever put Castiel first like that before on the show, nobody has ever been downright eager to give him whatever help he needs and acted like it should have been obvious that he would because it should be clear that Cas is that important to him. And here’s the part that kills me, that I didn’t even pick up on until the brilliant Jenn analyzed this moment. When Cas thanks him, Balthazar is gazing at him so tenderly, just waiting patiently for Cas to tell him what he needs of Balthazar, and Cas…asks for the weapons. The initial reading of the scene would have it seem that Balthazar was frustrated because that’s one thing he can’t or won’t give, but the deeper reading that makes a lot more sense to me is, Balthazar thought he and Cas were about to fix things. Balthazar believed Castiel was going to do what he didn’t throughout season 4 (another aspect of their history I find fascinating; how hurt Balthazar must have been that Castiel, his closest friend for eons, suddenly kept closed about his doubts and questions, and then just rebelled, all without ever confiding in Balthazar?) and be honest about his struggles, and ask for Balthazar’s help, make it clear he wanted him with him. But instead of Cas doing that, wanting Balthazar, he just asks for material things, for weapons that he can engage in more pointless fighting with, once again shuts Balthazar out as much as possible and just requests stuff from him instead. I think Balthazar was very much hurt by that, and just like that, the moment of honest caring he showed is gone and IDGAF walls go right back up.
I think in Balthazar’s ideal world, what he wants more than anything is for Cas to give up this urge to be such a do-gooder, this belief that he can and thus must fix everything, and for him to give it all up and run away with Balthazar somewhere they can be alone and at peace and where Balthazar can just take care of him and they can be free. And the fact that Cas doesn’t seem to even consider that a possibility because he’s so wrapped up in more duty, more of doing ‘the right thing’, more bloodshed, has him frustrated and bitter. He exhorts the value of freedom and how Cas gave them all the choice to do anything they want because he wants Cas to understand that; he tore up the script for everyone, and now ‘inequity is one of the perks’ afterall. But instead, Cas and Balthazar continue to be unable to communicate, continue having two different conversations, and Cas once again just grows more upset at what he thinks is Balthazar genuinely not giving a fuck. His words are angry, but look at his face when Balthazar gives the ‘I’m trying everything’ speech; he’s crushed. I honestly believe Cas had his heart set on Balthazar coming back to him, as an ally and as a friend, and feeling like he’s been with some unrecognizable playboy who no longer cares about their relationship is heartbreaking to him. And you don’t feel that kind of heartbreak over someone without loving them deeply, you just don’t.
However, Balthazar’s refusal in itself is another thing I love about them. I genuinely believe there’s nothing Balthazar wants more than to be with Castiel again, and if he gives him the weapons? He has that, and even more, he’s Castiel’s hero in his eyes. But Balthazar genuinely believes the weapons will only help Castiel fight a pointless war that will end in his death or destruction, and so he still says no. He could have everything he wants right then and there, but he decides he’d rather Castiel be alive to hate him than love him for a while only to die because of what Balthazar did.
This is where Balthazar seems to grow depressed and resigned in the scene, and gives up. ‘What difference does it make?’ That’s heartbreaking. Even when Gabriel left, he took up becoming a trickster, which in a way was keeping up the duties of an angel; he was smiting the wicked, getting justice for innocent victims- it shows he still cared, he was just delivering the end results it with a greater sense of nasty humor. But Balthazar has reached a point where he cares about nothing. This is where it’s clear to me more than ever how much the IDGAF attitude isn’t about wanting to party and booze it up and have a grand ol’ time, it’s about Balthazar being numb and depressed and tired and exactly like future!Cas figuring, ‘Why the hell not fuck around? Nothing makes a different, life will always end in misery and destruction, enjoy it while it lasts.’ In Balthazar’s experience, fighting for the greater good is pointless; all it got him was being lied to and helping to bring about the apocalypse, watching Castiel be tortured and killed, and realizing he was next if he didn’t fall in line. And now this scene teaches him caring about anyone is pointless; he still loves Castiel more than anything and he tries to express it, but he’s still losing it. It’s hard to blame him for feeling like nothing matters.
Cas loses it and reams Balthazar out; this could just turn Balthazar off further, but check out the gentle way he says ‘I know’ about the war. Balthazar, even when he doesn’t want to care about anything can’t not care about Castiel, not ever, and so even now he continues trying with him, even when it seems pointless.
I believe he still very much wants to help, but not in the way Cas is asking for it, and that’s why he gives the speech about the fighting never stopping. I think as far as Balthazar’s concerned, helping Cas fight is just helping him cause more choas and destruction, it just means helping Cas ruin his life even further, and most importantly, helping Cas get himself killed, something Balthazar won’t do. Once again, even directly giving the advice this time, Balthazar tries to convince Cas he should be running away from all of this, and to me, it’s not at all ‘Having no responsibility is fun, trololol’, it’s about Balthazar not wanting Cas to get himself killed in a pointless war that isn’t going to change anything.
The headcanon Kai and I were discussing the crap out of many moons ago, that Balthazar was forced to watch Castiel be tortured as his own punishment for speaking out in 4.20 when he defended him, also contributes to this view, though it’s not dependent on that. But I personally think the idea makes perfect sense, I can’t see Zachariah just letting Balthazar get away with speaking up and choosing Castiel over his orders. And from this perspective, I strongly believe Balthazar has intense PTSD related to the war and fighting among angels, and especially in regards to Castiel being in danger. I think being forced to watch helplessly as his dearest friend, whom I do believe he’s been in love with for millions of years, was tortured by their brothers, and then having to deal with that friend being murdered by their brothers soon after, completely broke him, and a large part of why he’s so reluctant to be involved and help is because he’s still suffering and unhealed from that trauma and he can’t, he can’t be a part of Cas getting hurt and killed in a war all over again. If Cas is going to insist on fighting, Balthazar wants no part of it. Side note, but this view is also why I think Balthazar left in the first place, and took the weapons with him in a moment of impulsiveness before he decided he’d rather fuck around and lose himself in decadency; I think he was so crushed by losing Castiel that he was very close to snapping and starting his own war against Heaven, destroying whatever he could.
Cas is despondent, and I believe he had his heart set on Balthazar returning with him so much, even subconsciously, that he’s genuinely crushed by how it’s turned out. The way he miserably snaps at Balthazar to just give him the weapons, like he’s giving up and it hurts, kills me for him. Or at the end of the scene, how sadly, disheartedly he remarks that Balthazar has gone insane, which once again shows to me how invested he is in the Balthazar he feels right now is the real one, the one he knows. He could feel that he never really knew Balthazar at all, he could just hate him, but instead, all he can assume is that Balthazar has genuinely lost it, which gives him an out; if Balthazar has gone insane, this isn’t really him, Cas doesn’t have to hate him, it doesn’t have to taint his memories of their friendship. Castiel gets to himself the real Balthazar who hasn’t lost it would help him and want to be with him because he can’t deal with the possibility that maybe Balthazar just really doesn’t care so strongly for him anymore.
Also, something that piques my interest- Cas bothers to snark at Balthazar that Raphael knows he’s alive. At that moment, when he must feel so betrayed by Balthazar since he doesn’t understand where he’s coming from, just thinks Balthazar won’t help him, it would be so easy to let Balthazar get ambushed, but he doesn’t, he gives him a heads up, and I personally think it’s because even now, at the worst moment of their relationship, Cas wants Balthazar to be okay- he thought he lost him once, and he doesn’t want to suffer that again, period. IMO, it’s the same reason why a minute later, he lets Balthazar just leave without any kind of fight or resistance. However, I also think the Raphael comment was one last desperate attempt to get Balthazar to join him; look at how hurt Cas seems, averting his gaze with heavy eyes, when Balthazar just says Raphael can try him.
And the moment before Balthazar leaves displays what I’m starting to see as a recurring theme with Calthazar that makes me love them- a refusal to just give up on each other, just become enemies or hate each other when it seems like the easy, logical thing to do with the way their situation is. Even after all the misunderstandings and bitterness and anger in this scene, Balthazar makes sure before he leaves to try to reach out to Castiel again, to let him know they’re okay and he still cares for him, Castiel still matters to him. Instead of flying off in anger, he still delivers the very affectionate message that all else aside (and that’s a hell of a lot to be putting aside right now), he’s really, really happy to see Castiel, and even tries to tease and be playful with him with the ‘stick up your ass’ comment, which can just make me picture how they must have been in the good ol’ days in Heaven, Balthazar constantly just lavishing Cas with affection, trying to make him laugh or smile and have fun, and ugh, my heart. Balthazar is the only one who has ever told Castiel that their presence makes them happy, the only one. And he did so even after they had a huge fight that ended so badly, but Balthazar does, because his love for Cas matters more to him than them being on opposite sides of things right now, because Balthazar’s love for Castiel is truly unconditional. But poor Castiel looks so miserable at this moment, and once again, their communication sucks, because I don’t think Castiel gets all of that. All he sees is Balthazar running away from him again, throwing out some nice pitying words before he goes as a consolation prize, which…kill me. And here’s where, to my own surprise, I went into full on dying, give me all the fics, make it canon I love them so much mode.
At that moment, Balthazar is free, he’s safe, and he has power. Raphael will want the weapons, but has no personal vendetta against him since he’s not helping Castiel either. He’s out from under Heaven’s control. The odds of anyone even being able to find him again seem very slim. He has no responsibility to anyone, isn’t in danger, and is free to fuck around forever. But what happens? He comes back. Even with all of that staring him in the face, he can’t stop thinking and worrying about Castiel, and when Balthazar has to make a decision? He chooses Castiel. Just like with Balthazar speaking out against Heaven to defend and protect Castiel, this is powerful, this is incredibly moving to me, because I sincerely doubt anyone else in Castiel’s existence has ever chosen him like this, has ever decided that Castiel is their priority, the thing that’s most important to them, but here Balthazar is doing it for the second time, even after the kind of fight they just had.
Also, this contributes to my view of Balthazar being incredibly protective of Cas. As Kai has pointed out, listen to the way he yells ‘Hey!’ at Raphael, which is another wonderful example of Seb’s subtle acting- just as he uses his eyes to express so much, here he uses his voice. Balthazar’s tone is normally so cool and collected; even when he gets upset with Cas just in the prior scene, or in the future in 6.21 his voice is very even. But he takes one look at Raphael looming over a helpless Castiel, and he sounds genuinely furious; then once Raphael takes his attention off of Cas to put it on him, he goes back to that coolness and the protective snark, making the ‘junk’ comment. Ooh, or, to backtrack a little in regards to the protectiveness issue, I think it’s very interesting that Balthazar claims Castiel tore up the script and led the way when Balthazar actually stood up to Heaven before him when he defended Cas in 4.20; the way I see it, Balthazar doesn’t realize what a big deal that was or see it that way because to him, protecting Castiel is so reflexive and necessary that it didn’t feel like a choice he made, just something he simply had to do without question.
So, Balthazar comes back to save Castiel’s life, and there’s that wonderful moment of
sexual tension when they just stare at each other afterwards, and Balthazar licks his lips as he looks at Cas because much like the population of tumblr, he thinks Cas all beaten and bloody is sexy as hell, and Cas remarks ‘You came back’, sounding kind of awed by that and I wait for Balthazar to pull a Tarzan and reply ‘I came home.’
(GIF by JERICAPNG)
Here’s where it gets really heartbreaking. Balthazar chose Castiel, came back to save him when he had no logical reason to, and Cas promptly repays him by stabbing Balthazar in the back by choosing the Winchesters. Now, I understand that Castiel really had no choice, they needed to restore the boy’s soul to him, and Sam and Dean were in the right here, and after the horrible miscommunication and misreadings of each other in the previous scene, I do think it was also, even just subconsciously, him lashing out at Balthazar and punishing him for not being what Castiel wanted and needed him to be. But from Balthazar’s POV, all he sees is that he risked himself for Cas, and then Cas turned around and immediately betrayed him, chose the human that from his point of view, has been manipulating Cas and dragging him down from the moment they met, who takes advantage of him, has gotten him killed twice, and caused his fall, was the reason Cas had to turn on his family, and most of all, the reason Balthazar lost him. To Balthazar, Dean essentially destroyed Castiel and stole him from Balthazar, and now, Castiel is choosing him after Balthazar, even after the huge move Balthazar just made.
What really kills me about this scene is that while Balthazar tries his best to keep up a cocky, angry front, he’s clearly heartbroken.
He loves Castiel, something he tried to get across before he left, he helped him, and now he feels like Castiel is sending the message that Balthazar doesn’t matter at all, that Dean and Sam can just kill him if they want to and Cas won’t do a thing to stop them. Can you imagine how crushing that must be? But even then, he still can’t turn on Castiel. When Cas doesn’t stand up for him when Balthazar tries to plead with him, despite how deeply hurt Balthazar also is…he also does it and releases the boy’s soul. He’s pretty obviously not moved or bothered by Sam and Dean’s threats, making Castiel the reason he does it AFAIC, even after all of this, and he holds no rage or desire for revenge towards Castiel. And IMO, Cas sees that, and it’s why he releases Balthazar; right after choosing Dean over Balthazar, he does choose Balthazar over Dean here since Dean has no intentions of letting Balthazar go and is pissed with Castiel for doing so. He claims it’s to clear his debt, but I’ve never bought that, because Castiel has not once ever expressed a belief in such debts before. He doesn’t think Dean or Sam owe him for the times he’s saved their lives, he doesn’t seem to believe post 4.10 that he owes Dean for saving him for Alistair, or that he owes Sam post 4.16 for the same thing. That’s his cover because he’s so unsure of who Balthazar is, what his intentions are or where he’s coming from, or where they stand with each other now, and he doesn’t know if it’s okay to care about him still. However, I sadly think Balthazar doesn’t read that, and is just upset even more by the idea that Cas thinks all they have with each other now are debts, that Balthazar standing up to Heaven for his best friend was about owing each other something. So Balthazar leaves, and both angels are left confused, bitter, and deeply hurt, but only able to feel that way because they care so fiercely and are so deeply invested in each other, because they want one another to come around to their side so together, they can do what they each see as the right thing.
6.11 comes along, Balthazar sees a way to get revenge on the Winchesters and lash out at Cas, blahblah. I’ve discussed my thoughts on where Balthazar was coming from in that episode before, please feel free to ask me to expand if you’re curious. He begins his habit of making sarcastic, jealous comments about Castiel’s relationship with literally every other male character Castiel spends time with, which…obvious much? But the big deal to me is what happens after that, because something definitely did, something that must have been big for them, something moving and drastically important, because after clinging so fiercely to giving up and running, Balthazar returns in a huge way, once again pretty much tells the rest of the world to fuck off because Castiel matters the most and comes first, and the fact that we don’t get to see what that was, what conversation they had that woke Balthazar up and brought them back together is traumatic to me.
I can’t rave enough about what a huge fucking deal Balthazar giving Cas the weapons in 6.15 is, and he really doesn’t get one tenth of the credit he deserves. Balthazar had the weapons, he could have very easily been safe with those at his disposal and just gone into further hiding and continued his party boy ways away from Cas and Raphael and the war and all of it; that was the safe choice, and after Cas chose the Winchesters and allowed a couple of humans to hold Balthazar prisoner and threaten his life, it would have been a very easy one to make out of bitterness and anger. But instead, he chose to give up his safety, his freedom, and his only leverage and power to Castiel, to help Castiel. He chose to make himself a target for the assassins, for Castiel. He came up with and executed the incredibly risky plan that was 6.15, for Castiel. Since I can’t see Castiel ever choosing to go into hiding and leave the dirty work to someone else, it seems a safe bet that Balthazar insisted Cas go into hiding and wait safely for the weapons exchange while he took on the more dangerous part of the plan, for Castiel. He chose to make himself Raphael’s second biggest target, for Castiel. If that’s not undeniable love, I honestly don’t know what is. Balthazar gave Castiel the most powerful arsenal in the world, gave up his freedom, made himself a huge target, and put himself on the front lines of a war for Cas, expecting nothing in return; the only request he makes is that Castiel not get himself killed in the process of fighting this war, further confirming for me that Balthazar’s motivations revolve around Castiel’s safety more than any other factor.
6.15 also gave me the vibe that Cas and Balthazar were in a very secure place with each other at that time. I mean, I know on one front that’s obvious, their plan required 100% trust in each other, especially with Cas risking Sam and Dean’s lives based on Balthazar’s word (hugely significant on it’s own), but Balthazar dropping the ‘Our dear Cassie’ remark (a rather pointed choice, IMO), or his casual snarkiness towards Dean instead of the bitter rage he was rocking in 6.11 towards the Winchesters, gave me a great air of possessiveness towards Cas, but also security, like he no longer questions his place with Castiel.
Also, a little somethin’somethin’ I loved about this episode? That the scene the boys are filming in the alt world is about Calthazar. Cas is trying to claim he knows Balthazar is no hero, it’s just logical for them be on the same side, and Dean is upset and doesn’t seem to buy it, the ‘But you’ve got no problem with it’ line making it clear he thinks Cas really is just genuinely close to Balthazar and he doesn’t like it. The fake scene, with lines that were going to be repeated several times, could have been about anything, but the Edlund made it about Calthazar. Interesting, it’s just interesting.
And then the end scene, here’s my flailing begins. As anyone who was following me the night 6.15 aired knows, this is when I really went into my completely crazy ‘OTP’ mode. When Balthazar shows up, he doesn’t give off the slightest hint of doubt or insecurity. He puts himself in danger by showing up first to get Raphael away from the boys (for Cas’s sake I’m sure since Balthazar doesn’t give a flying fuck about them), and he has to trust Castiel will show up in time to save him, but he does exactly that and he has no fear and just struts in, cocky as fuck, and downright proudly informs Raphael that he’s firmly sided himself with Castiel and given him the weapons. He’s making it very clear where his loyalties lie, there is no hint of questioning his choice, not one; when Raphael tells him what a mistake he’s making by choosing Castiel, Balthazar essentially responds that it’s a ‘mistake’ he intends to make over and over again, which, excuse me if this is cheesy, I think is downright romantic.
Then Cas shows up, and guys, there is not enough squee in the world. He doesn’t tell Raphael to get away from them, he specifically tells Raphael to step away from him, Balthazar- protective of his boyfraaaan. And then comes the wing moment that us Calthazar fans collectively lost our shit over- Cas brings his wings out, Balthazar lights up with pride and joy, and…he clearly gets a boner.
Nobody just casually rearranged their jacket in front of them like that, okay? Balthazar is obviously remembering all the sexy wing play that went on in Heaven
(and last week when they were making this plan) and got it up faster than he has in his entire life.
But seriously, look at how proud he seems, which only grows when Castiel starts threatening Raphael and Balthazar’s face just screams ‘That’s my boy’, it spells out how downright happy he is. This is the most joyous we ever see Balthazar look by far, and it comes in the middle of a confrontation with an angry archangel. Clearly, all Balthazar needs to be happy is Castiel at his side; for all his cracks about good alcohol and fine women, this moment reveals that the truth is, Balthazar doesn’t really need or want anything but to be with Castiel, that’s more than enough- it’s everything.
There’s another aspect of this moment that I really love. Imagine you’re Balthazar, and you’ve expressed very clearly several times that you don’t think this war will change anything or is really worth fighting, but you still give up your arsenal and only source of protection to Castiel so he can at least end it and be done with it and then…he doesn’t. After you gave everything for him when you don’t even truly believe in the cause, he continues to be blindly idealistic and just lets Raphael, who now wants your head on a platter too, walk away, most likely hoping that Raphael will still see the light and stop trying to end the world when you have been telling him since day one that things can only end in more destruction and death. You’d probably be pretty furious, and you’d have every right to. But is Balthazar? No, instead when he hears that Castiel is wasting this opportunity and Balthazar’s weapons and plan to let Raphael go, he’s just grinning adoringly at Castiel, the brightest we ever see of Balthazar, because that’s how much Balthazar trusts Castiel. He accepts Castiel letting a furious archangel who’s going to want them both dead now more than ever walk away because he has that much faith in him- much like the way he places complete trust in Castiel’s decisions throughout 6.17. Castiel’s call on the titanic and what to do with Fate could mean life or death for Balthazar, and Balthazar doesn’t question him for a second and accepts and helps him with everything he chooses, even though that also ends in Cas again making Balthazar’s efforts pointless when he aborts the plan for Sam and Dean. In days when everyone doubts Castiel, especially himself, can you imagine what that attitude from Balthazar did for him? And at this moment here, Castiel could very well be signing Balthazar’s death warrant along with his, but Balthazar is so trusting and also so happy to see Castiel so sure of himself and in control for once that he genuinely does not care. Balthazar proves for me once again that his love for Castiel is absolutely unconditional. Also, this comes up later, but let me just note that this is another reason why Balthazar’s claims in the finale that he turns on Cas out of self-preservation are complete bullshit; if Balthazar cared about his life more than Cas, he would’ve been furious here, not making sweet sweet love to Cas with his eyes.
Raphael runs away like a coward, and this brings up another issue I adore- what a brilliant team Cas and Balthazar make. The fact that they created and executed this plan so damn perfectly shows exactly why they fought with each other for eons.
And now, my favorite! I love that even though the Winchesters are there, freaking out and desperately wanting answers, all Cas and Balthazar have eyes for is each other.
They approach, and I think Balthazar is once again desperately wishing Castiel would run away from Heaven with him, instead of accepting this terrible burden and forcing Balthazar to join him; I fully believe at this point, Balthazar’s greatest fear is Castiel dying in this war while Balthazar has to know even getting involved didn’t change things, that he was useless to Castiel until the very end. He gives Cas that very weary and saddened, but extremely affectionate warning about not dying on his sword that I mentioned, his face screaming how worried he truly is- Castiel keeping himself alive is the only thing Balthazar wants in return for the weapons. His relationship with Dean and Sam so much of the time consists of them having to ask (or demand) he do so much for them, even when sometimes that means Cas’s life being in great danger, and then comes along Balthazar, and he gives up everything for Cas and the only thing he requests of him is specifically that Castiel not die.
And then…the look.
(GIF by PSYCHO—KILLER)
Some people read ‘stern’ from Cas, but focusing on his eyes, that’s not what I see at all- I see regret, silent apology, longing, and quite a bit of softness. To me, that’s Castiel apologizing as much as he can without words in front of the Winchesters for everything. For having to accept his duties instead of giving it all up, for dragging Balthazar back into war when he was free, for having to be so closed off because of the way this war has changed him, for the fact that instead of them coming back together just being a reunion between friends the way it would be if life was ideal, it’s going to be Castiel having to use Balthazar himself as a weapon at times, and most of all, it’s Castiel apologizing for the fact that he knows he’ll never be able to promise that he’ll make it out of this alive and okay. And I don’t think he means to impart this bit, but I do think there is definite wistfulness there, a silent wish that they could be together the way Balthazar wants, away from everything, and Castiel wishes so much that this war wasn’t a factor, or that this burden had fallen to somebody else. And Balthazar’s look in return is just screaming that it’s okay, he understands; he’s worried for Cas so much that he can’t stand it, and he’s hurt by this space between them, but he’s the one person Castiel will never need to apologize to, the one person who won’t demand justification, and he still loves him, no matter how this plays out. And that alone, the complete freedom for Cas to be who he needs to be and do what he needs to and not have to constantly apologize for it and just feel more attacked when what he needs is understanding and peace, is another big reason to ship it. Because Balthazar is the one who gives him that, understanding and support, and I very much believe Balthazar is the only person who makes Castiel feel he’s not alone and like someone has his back instead of demanding Castiel be there for them.
Now 6.17! I was really worried about what they were going to do with Calthazar post 6.15, I didn’t want them to backtrack and forget what a big deal Balthazar picking a side was, but I had no reason to worry, because I love what they did with them in this episode. When Cas needed to make a drastic, world altering move for the sake of the war, which also meant having to confide in someone about what he’s doing with the souls, who did he choose? Balthazar. Rachel’s his lieutenant, the Winchesters are his dear friends, but when Castiel needed to know someone would support him and have his back fully, no matter what, when he needed someone he could trust with the information, to get the job done, and perhaps most importantly, not look upon him differently, Cas chose Balthazar. And Balthazar came through in a huge way. He unsinks the titanic for Castiel, and leads an incredibly obvious trail to himself so the Winchesters will never suspect Castiel- and neither will anyone else. He deals with the Winchesters’ anger and takes the blame for Castiel. And even when they realize Fate is upset, they keep up the rouse; Balthazar is perfectly willing to have Fate upset with him in place of Castiel, once again painting a giant target on his back for Cas.
Also, another thing I love from this episode? It’s such a tiny little moment, but when Dean starts in on Balthazar, saying Cas needs new friends, Castiel turns and glares at Dean. It’s obviously open to interpretation, but I do think it’s just as much in defense of Balthazar as it is general frustration with Dean’s behavior. After-all, Bal is defying Fate to help Castiel and taking all the blame to keep him safe; how could Cas not feel defensive of him right now?
And the end scene of them together, which was so brief, but I loved so much. Once again, Castiel and Balthazar place full faith in each other against a deadly foe, and once again, Balthazar looks an incredibly powerful being in the face and makes a total enemy of them for Castiel. I adore how Balthazar glances at Castiel to get the nod before he acts, for reasons stated above with the Raphael moment- he places his full faith in Castiel, to the extent of sinking and unsinking the titanic and deciding whether an angry Fate lives or dies, all based fully on Castiel’s opinion. And I think Castiel on some level does truly appreciate the weight of having someone who has unshakable faith and trust when absolutely nobody else does, and it’s why Balthazar is the one who makes him feel so safe that he felt comfortable going to him with his plan when he lied to absolutely everybody else.
And now the finale, hoo boy. If you were following me (and I sincerely thank you for still being around after that), you saw the solid week of crying and raging I put in, and I will freely admit I’m still far from over it. I’ve actually come to enjoy 6.21, but I still find 6.22 unbearable. For the record, I think Cas and Balthazar and this relationship as a whole was extremely OOC in the last episode, and I think Kripke didn’t even try to understand Balthazar or his relationship with Castiel because he doesn’t give a shit. But I’m going to try to ignore all of this and justify everything in-world, something made it easier by Seb’s magnificent acting, which is the only thing that was salvaging Balthazar at moments.
So, let’s jump in with the scene where Balthazar is summoned. The second the boys tell him about Crowley (and let’s take a moment to appreciate that it took seeing them together all of two times for Sam and Dean to understand that Castiel is Balthazar’s weakness), his face absolutely drops; he knows that’s not the extent of it, he knows something is coming, and he’s already waiting in dread. But he tries to ignore that and have faith in Cas, believe he wouldn’t hide anything from him; from the humans, maybe, but Balthazar is his partner again, the one person Castiel confides in, right? So he tries to keep up the cocky facade, tell the boys Cas has already told him (and there’s his jealousy once again. “He may have kept you in the dark, but this is no surprise to me, Castiel told me all about it, so there”), only to have them drop the bombshell that Castiel is running around, working with Crowley in secret, and Balthazar is deeply hurt. He tries to protect himself from that pain, especially in front of these humans he hates so much in relation to Castiel, by pretending that of course he knew, pretending Castiel told him like he should have, but he’s so pained that Sam sees right through him, and it’s clear that Balthazar isn’t angry- he’s devestated. Look at his face throughout this scene.
He’s crushed because he loves Castiel so damn much and has given up everything to be by his side again, to be what he needs, and he thought that was enough, and now he finds out it’s not; Balthazar has already bitterly accepted that he’ll never matter as much as the humans, and now he finds out that Castiel has placed this abomination above him too? That this whole time while Balthazar thought he was Castiel’s partner, in this with him deeper and closer than anyone else and it was them against the world, his REAL partner has been a demon, and he very well may have just been using Balthazar? How could anybody not break in response to that?
But the remarkable thing to me is, Balthazar doesn’t. In the next (visually striking, which is why I felt it needed a cap) scene, he proceeds to give Castiel so many chances it hurts. Instead of, gee, I don’t know, summoning him under false pretenses and imprisoning him in holy fire, he just requests that Castiel come see him and he still trusts him enough even after this bombshell to just ask him (phrased in the bitchiest, most jealous way possible) and believe he’ll get an honest answer. Then Cas lies and there’s a moment I love; 6.17 made it clear that Dean and Sam can’t tell when Castiel is lying, even when he’s absolutely terrible at it and practically whistling innocently, but now, Balthazar sees through him in a heartbeat, and “You always were such a terrible liar” makes it seem like that’s always been a regular thing with them. It has to hurt like hell that Cas tries to lie to him at all, but also that Castiel really doesn’t understand that Balthazar knows him better than anyone and will see through it in a heartbeat. And still Balthazar tries not to jump to the worst conclusion, and he just tells to Castiel to explain.
And here’s where what I said about Seb’s voice acting comes into play again. Much like how the only time he gets truly angry in 6.03 is when Raphael threatens Cas, in this moment, the only time he sounds truly angry and raises his voice is when he points out Castiel is probably going to kill himself by consuming the souls. It’s now consistent that Castiel being in danger is the only thing that draws that kind of fire from Balthazar, even though in both episodes, he has every reason to feel betrayed by and furious with Castiel.
He’s clearly trying to bring him to reason when he starts pointing out the flaws in this plan, he starts to walk away and I think he was probably hoping against reason that Cas will care enough to say something to keep him there. He practically pleads with Cas to tell him it’s a risk free plan, because as we saw at the end of 6.15, the only real request Balthazar ever had of Castiel is to stay alive, and he’s futilely hoping Cas will snap out of this and agree to stop and work with Balthazar to figure out something better that won’t end in the death of him and half the planet. Had Castiel been emotionally honest in this scene, if he had broken down and opened up and confessed how scared and alone and helpless he feels, if he had told Balthazar how desperately he needed him to stay with him and not give up, I very much believe he would have continued to hold Balthazar’s loyalty and dedication and love in the palm of his hand. But Castiel does the worst thing he could have possibly done and he reacts like Raphael, harshly ignoring Balthazar’s questions and concerns and just coldly demanding that Balthazar choose whether he’s going to stay aligned with him or not. The scene in 6.03 where Balthazar gives Castiel the speech about how he thinks he can change things when the truth is that the fighting will never stop, for me, very much has an undertone of Balthazar knowing that trying to change anything in Heaven can only end in death, or becoming what you’re fighting. And Castiel confirms that fear right here when he shows no sign of still being Cas, but reacts like a typical, emotionless general of Heaven, essentially declaring that you’re either with him or against him.
But the tragic thing is, I don’t blame Castiel for that either. Anytime this season he’s tried to open up, he’s been smacked down immediately. Had 6.20 in particular not happened, I do think he would have been honest with Balthazar, but it did, and all Cas sees now is that the last time someone had reason to question him they were so quick to abandon him, and when he tried to bare his feelings and ask for someone’s continued loyalty, the only response he got was pretty much a giant ‘Fuck you, I started questioning you thirty minutes ago and I’m already assuming the absolute worst because our prior relationship and history together is meaningless, there’s no point in you trying to explain, because either you do what I say, or I’m going to threaten to kill you and we’re done here’. So with that on his mind, Balthazar starts asking questions and showing doubt, and all Cas sees is another person giving up on him and another person turning their back on him. Why bother? It’s not like it made any difference with Dean and Sam, and Cas is too tired to put himself through that again. So he accepts already that he’s lost Balthazar, and he begins to shut down inside and he doesn’t understand that reacting this way is why he loses Balthazar. And ugh, Balthazar, his reactions to all of this hurt so much. Look at the way he laughs when Cas makes his ultimatum- it’s the bitter laugh of someone who’s just had his heart broken and can’t believe he ever let himself think he’d mean to Cas what Cas means to him. He really believed they were in this together until the end, that Cas was letting him in further than anybody else ever gets to see, but instead he feels like Castiel has just been using him while he continues to lie and pull away and keep his secrets, and it has to feel like season 4 all over again to Balthazar, and he just wonders if Cas will always choose any ol’ human or demon that comes along over him no matter what Balthazar does. But even more painfully is the fact that even though I really believe he’s feeling all of this betrayal and hurt, not for one moment does he look like he loves Castiel any less; Sebastian still plays Balthazar as looking at Castiel with nothing but love and concern in his eyes. Balthazar is crushed because the only things he’s ever really wanted are for Castiel to be alive and well, and for Castiel to be at his side, and he knows at this moment that he’s lost both, but it doesn’t diminish his love in the slightest.
So at this point, I think Balthazar’s point of view has become that his choices are to either help Castiel go through with this plan and possibly kill himself in the process or continue losing himself and becoming even more of this emotionless general he’s pretending to be once he’s high on that power, or support the effort to stop him, and the first option truly isn’t an option at all. This is the exact reason Balthazar wouldn’t give Castiel the weapons in 6.03, afterall, because he won’t contribute to Castiel’s efforts to run himself into the ground.
So he makes the hard choice and as a beautiful submission to whyishipspn phrased it, decides he’d rather betray Castiel than let him destroy himself. So even though it means going to Sam and Dean, whom he hates, and admitting they were right and having to be on their side, he does it, for Castiel- ‘you bastards’ indeed. As we hear in 6.22, Balthazar is so furious that he has to do it that he’s strongly contemplating killing Dean and Sam, that’s how distraught he is and how much I think he’s fixated blame on them. But just like his act in 6.03 that he wouldn’t get involved because he liked ~having fun~ too much, Balthazar, in his brokenness, puts on an act that he only cares about any of this because Cas’s plan puts his own life at risk, but it’s obviously bullshit (ignoring my own interpretations, his own life never comes up as a factor when he’s talking to Castiel, and really, he wants to kill Sam and Dean for this when supposedly his only investment in this situation is his own safety? No.), and he feels the need to try to hide behind that mask because he’s in too much pain to deal with any of his real feelings. FTR, while we’re talking about it, I reallyreallyreally do not believe Balthazar thought Dean would try to kill Castiel, not for a second, I do not think he would have supported that. I believe Balthazar thought they would kill Crowley and trap Cas, stall, try again to talk to him and get through to him because Balthazar accepts that Castiel places Dean above him and thought he may be able to get through to him where Balthazar believes he stands no chance.
And finally, 6.22. From the moment Balthazar shows up, he looks painfully concerned about Castiel. Not afraid of him, afraid for him. This is one case where I honestly can’t try to defend the writing or come up with an explanation for it, Kripke wrote Balthazar as a bumbling idiot just as he did to Cas in 5.22, but Sebastian, bless his soul, plays it the absolute best he could and makes what he can of the scene, again focusing on worry for Castiel more than anything. Same goes for Misha, who chooses to play up Castiel’s heartbreak as he completely breaks down and finally turns all emotions off. Look at his face as he turns away from Balthazar; his hurt over Balthazar betraying him to this extent (like I said, I don’t believe Bal had any intentions of Cas being killed, but Dean did threaten to kill Cas and now Bal is helping Dean, ergo, Cas thinks Balthazar of all people is trying to kill him) is his breaking point.
And I think that’s a big deal. The person who incites the fiercest response, causes the most rage, is the reason you snap, is someone you have a great deal of love for if your strongest feelings when you’re at your lowest are so tied up in them, no? Dean and Sam have done so much wrong in regards to Castiel, but even when he’s fully lost it, Castiel is very calm with the way he handles them, and gives them the option of being loyal to him now, and thus, being spared their lives. But Balthazar? Castiel thinks Balthazar has turned on him and given up on him, and he gives a heartbroken speech, and then completely loses it and kills him, because Balthazar turning on him is unbearable. This clearly isn’t Castiel, he’s already broken and gone a little bit insane, and in this state of mind, he would rather kill Balthazar than have to watch him live as a traitor to Castiel because that’s the one thing he can’t handle.
And Balthazar dies with Castiel’s name on his lips, not spoken in anger or fear, but sorrow. As soon as Castiel began speaking about his friends turning on him, I think Balthazar understood his mistake, understood how badly he’d misread Castiel. He realized that he pushed Castiel away at the moment he should have held him close, and when Balthazar died at his hands, I believe his only thoughts were those of regreat, of heartbreak, a desire to do this all over again and make the right choice, and worry for what’s about to become of Castiel. His face isn’t screaming, ‘What have you done?’ but ‘What did I push you into becoming?’ Even as he dies at his hands, Castiel remains the only thing Balthazar cares about.
So, there you have it, everything I love about this ship and why it so quickly became my OTP. I want to believe Kripke wasn’t just being a dick and that there’s no wings shot because Balthazar isn’t really dead, and he’ll be back to help save Castiel and it’ll be beautiful, but my feelings for all angels in regards to next season are sadly not so optimistic. But no matter what does or doesn’t happen come season 7, it doesn’t change any of this, it doesn’t change what existed between Castiel and Balthazar, and I will never stop seeing it as absolutely beautiful and I will never stop shipping it.