As Supernatural’s fifteenth and final season sees redistribution in international markets, a discrepancy in actor Misha Collins’ (Supernatural, Girl, Interrupted) final scene on the show sparked some controversy among an outspoken faction of the fanbase. Collins took to Instagram to clarify that the English version of his character’s departure was what the Supernatural writers had intended and that the Spanish variation on the scene was that result of “a rogue translator.”
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When Castiel, the angel played by Collins, sacrificed himself to save humanity in the season 15 episode “Despair”, he likewise professed a love for Supernatural protagonist Dean Winchester. This declaration was met with opposing responses in the English and Spanish translations. In the version which aired on The CW on November 5, Jensen Ackles’ (Supernatural, My Bloody Valentine) Dean was left speechless by his angelic friend’s confession of love. However, the Spanish translation added a line after Castiel’s confession in which Dean reciprocates his feelings. This discrepancy lead many fans to reach to the conclusion that The CW censored this scene and that the Spanish translation derived from the original script.
“Dean was always too stunned in the moment to reply,” Collins stated on Instagram, in an attempt to quell censorship outcry. Collins instead said that the Spanish translation had been the result of “a rogue translator” (Instagram). In the video Collins posted to his Instagram on Wednesday, he defended Castiel’s ending and claimed to be “quite irked” that the action’s of this translator had distracted from the intent of his character’s sacrifice. He had previously spoken about how emotionally wracking that final day on set was for him in a video on Supernatural‘s Twitter page.
— Supernatural (@cw_spn) November 10, 2020
Unbeknownst to Collins, this ending had been a sore spot amongst fans long before the Spanish translation made it a talking point. Screen Rant notes that “the scene between Dean and Castiel was already controversial” among long-time viewers, as a vocal faction had routed for a romance between Dean and Castiel since Collins’ introduction in the show’s fourth season.
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One standing criticism of the scene when it originally aired was that it played into the “Bury Your Gays” trope, which was especially plausible considering that Supernatural has “an uneven track record when it comes to diversity and inclusion” (Screen Rant). “Bury Your Gays” is a storytelling pattern in which LGBTQ+ characters tend to die shortly after confessing or consummating their romantic desires, therefore enforcing a tragic consequence to being openly queer. Collins actively refuted claims of this trope in the episode “Despair” in his Instagram post by saying that Castiel did not die and that he instead “actually goes on to rebuild Heaven!”
Aside from the implication that a harmful trope was employed in Castiel’s sacrifice, Screen Rant mentioned a much tamer criticism common among the show’s viewers regarding the scene. “Castiel’s sacrifice also meant that the writers never have to deal with the ramifications of Castiel’s admission,” Screen Rant explains. According to Screen Rant, Castiel’s confession seemed to exist only to appease the fans who have routed for him and Dean as a romantic pairing. “Castiel’s sexuality didn’t have to be treated as a fun little finale moment, mentioned once and then ignored,” Screen Rant expounds on the issue some have, from a writing perspective.
However, Screen Rant defends the writers by saying that nearly any conclusion to Castiel and Dean’s relationship would have been slightly dissatisfying to fans. “The habit in fandom of looking at interactions through a romantic lens has its own problems,” Screen Rant explains that this subculture common in television fanbases can result in “writers [feeling] boxed in by the need to address a phenomenon they never intended.”
When Collins made his social media video defending the nature in which the Supernatural writers addressed their Castiel phenomena, he intended to clear the air from the controversy caused by the Spanish translation. While fans may stopped their calls boycott The CW after Collins clarification, they were quick to point out their existing criticisms about Castiel’s ending to the actor. After hearing from many fans, Collins’ walked back his quick-defense of his final scene in “Despair”, saying that he agrees with the fans who call it “tone deaf” after he listened more carefully to their criticisms, via Twitter.
I see lots of comments about how tone-deaf my video is. I agree and I feel sick. I want to delete it, but I think that will erase all of your important comments & I feel like I should own my ignorance. I’ve been wrestling with this all night & day. Don’t know what to do. Sorry.
— Misha Collins (@mishacollins) November 26, 2020
As many fans are still processing the events of Supernatural’s final season, Collins found himself at the center of an emotionally charged conversation about one of the show’s most central relationship dynamics, all thanks to a transformative Spanish translation. Though Collins became the unwitting epicenter of fan’s disappointment in a specific aspect of Supernatural’s final season, they extended an olive branch to demonstrate that their issues with the show were not personally directed towards the actor. On Thanksgiving, #ThankYouMisha became a trending topic on Twitter, and the hashtag was flooded with love and support for the actor, who played one of Supernatural’s most beloved characters for over a decade.