I’m the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition.
Castiel has a sense of self. All the angels do.
Funny, isn’t that?
If God wanted an army, He could have made mindless, loyal drones. Copies of copies, serving His cause with no hesitation, no thought. Maximum righteous efficiency.
Instead, His soldiers have names. They have personalities and thoughts and talents.
It’s no wonder some rebelled. It’s no wonder some continued to carry out His work. By giving them agency, He gave them choice. Angels aren’t as restricted as they think. They are agents of fate acting out of pure, unadulterated free will.
I suspect the whole ‘emotionless marble statue’ shtick was something that Michael and Raphael cooked up to brainwash the younger angels after Lucifer fell and Gabriel ran off, as a way to maintain order (read: control) in the Host. Michael may even have bought into the idea that that’s what angels should be, perfect unquestioning servants of God; it’s what he seemed to aspire to himself. I don’t think Raphael really bought into it, but he followed Michael’s lead until Michael was conveniently removed from play by others.
Following that tangent, it’s funny how Raphael started out saying ‘We must retrieve Michael and Lucifer from Hell and restart the Apocalypse!’ but when he found out Purgatory was about to be cracked, he changed his tune to ‘If anyone’s going to be the new God, it’s me.’
Wow okay let’s talk about Raphael because that little shit is so complex and interesting and no one ever talks about him.
I just get really emotional about Raphael because he was abandoned by his Father, his closest brothers were ripped away from him, and it fell on his shoulders to be the last good son. He’s only ever been obedient, only ever followed after the example of an older brother because his Father was out of the picture. Who else did Raphael have? He had soldiers. He had obedience. But did he have guidance? Did he have support? No. Every angel we’ve seen on this show has only fought for what they believed was right. Not all of them were capital-R right, but they were all righteous, and it was their duty to do the right thing, no matter how lonely that journey was, their very bones commanded it. How sad it must be to bear the burden of wings.
But, Raphael. Did he really want those souls? Or was he trying to stop a foolish little brother? Or was he trying to conquer the new devil? Perhaps his intentions were only ever pure.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s lonesome steering a flock of siblings. Perhaps it’s tiresome to look over a world that was only ever destined to end. Raphael couldn’t afford to display anything but power and righteousness. He couldn’t afford to allow any cracks in his foundation to show. He couldn’t afford to share an Apocalyptic burden with anyone lesser than him. So maybe power is a comfort. Maybe it was a crutch that helped his confidence. Maybe consuming thousands of souls would be worthwhile because they’re something, something that’s not a loyal little warrior, something that’s there when the family he loved most wasn’t.
I have a dislike of Raphael that borders on violent. XD
It can’t have been easy for him, I’m sure, being the middle child that scarcely anyone ever talks about (as you noted) and having to watch his brothers make war on each other. But the way he used and abused his vessel, the ‘new God’ bit, and particularly his conversation with Castiel in 6x20, demanding that Cas kneel and pledge allegiance to him—not God or Heaven, to Raphael personally (‘It’s God’s will.’ ‘How can you say that?’ ‘Because it’s what I want’) and the fact that he never expressed any warmth, affection, nostalgia or concern for anyone other than himself just made it impossible for me to sympathize with him.
The only thing Raphael ever said that didn’t come across as ridiculously arrogant and cold to me was ‘We’re tired. We just want it to end. We just want…Paradise.’ That’s an understandable sentiment, one I’m sure many of us could empathize with at some time in our lives. Unfortunately, it’s also been used repeatedly on the show as an excuse for all manner of asshattery, from Gabriel trying to herd the boys to their ‘destinies’ to Dean running off to say yes to Michael. ‘Tired’ in a Supernatural context has acquired the ring of the worst kind of cop-out.
I also think that part of my problem with Raphael—which actually is no fault of the character or the show—is the fact that in real-life theology, he was supposed to be a healer. Supernatural’s version couldn’t be much further from that, and it’s always caused me a certain cognitive dissonance, especially because the other three Archangels loosely conformed or at least hinted at their traditional roles. Michael was played almost completely straight as the devoted son, Captain of the Host. Gabriel’s affection for humans, and his propensity for punishing wrongdoers and teaching lessons, fit well with his role as messenger and dispenser of justice. And Lucifer was every inch the seductive, persuasive, perilously reasonable and sympathetic, walking incarnation of temptation.
But Raphael? He was just…kind of a jerk. I actually think he got robbed by the writers. We got to see that he was a badass, and all too willing to throw his weight around to get what he wanted, but not much in the way of background, what he thought of or how he was affected by his brothers’ infighting, or why he departed so much more radically from the classic Raphael than they did. He semed to me more a plot hammer than a properly fleshed-out character, and I wish they’d chosen to give us a closer look at the guy before they exploded him.
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