I wanted to write a reaction post for this episode yesterday, but I was genuinely at a loss after my first viewing. I have re-watched it three times since Friday night. I haven’t re-watched an episode of Supernatural like this in a very long time.
But I think rewatching is necessary to fully understand all the subtle nuances of this episode. The title itself tells us this: Reading is fundamental. Edlund doesn’t want us to take this episode at face value. He wants us to really question the characters and their motivations. This episode requires actual critical analysis because it has so many layers to be uncovered. This is one of the smartest, most well observed episodes of a television series I have ever watched.
This turned out a lot longer than I thought it would, so I will be kind to your dashes and put it under a cut.
I’ve also felt that Castiel is really crazy like a fox at the end of S7. This is a really interesting analysis. I will say though that I never got the feeling that Dean was asking for an apology in the Sorry game scene. My interpretation was that he wanted Cas to quit hiding in his ‘craziness’ and get back in the game. Cas made the mess that was the leviathan and Dean expected him to help clean it up. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Dean is after all not asking Cas to do something that he and Sam have both done in the past. No matter how injured or broken they are, they keep on fighting. That’s what he’s asking of Cas that Cas is avoiding. Dean becomes enraged, I think, because he knows that Cas is fucking with him, but really this is not a situation where an apology will cut it. He needs to try to right the wrong as he did with Sam.
You mention Dean’s betrayal of Cas, but I’m not sure what that is. Yes, Dean refused to go along with his plan, but that isn’t a betrayal. That’s just an outright refusal to trust him after he had proved so untrustworthy. And I don’t think comparing what Sam did, with what Cas did weighs evenly on Dean’s scale despite the similarities. Yes, Sam is Dean’s brother which has a lot to do with why Dean forgave him more easily, but I think too you have to factor in the fact that Cas injured Sam intentionally to get at Dean. Cas makes Dean indirectly responsible for his brother’s damage. In fact, Cas nearly kills Sam. Taking on Sam’s pain really is the least he could do. But when it comes to the leviathan, Cas cops out. He refuses to get in the fight. Dean sees that as irresponsible and weak — two things he has no patience with. That’s the John Winchester training coming into play. Dean is no harder on Cas than he is on himself or Sam in that regard.