6.20 The Man Who Would Be King

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Title The Man Who Would Be King
Episode # Season 6, Episode 20
First aired May 6, 2011
Directed by Ben Edlund
Written by Ben Edlund
On IMDB The Man Who Would Be King
Outline Castiel tells his story.
Monster Crowley
Location(s) Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Promotional poster for "The Man Who Would Be King."

Castiel prays to God for direction. He recalls many things – the beginning of man's evolution, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah – but the thing that stands out the most in his mind is how he, Dean, Sam and Bobby averted the Apocalypse. They ripped up destiny, leaving freedom and choice, but after everything he's done since then, Castiel doesn't know if it was the right thing after all. He resolves to tell his story.

Dean is driving the Impala when Castiel appears next to him. He tells Dean that he's looking for Crowley and isn't sure how he's still alive. Dean makes it clear that killing Crowley is their first priority, but tells Castiel that they haven't found anything yet, either. Sam is tracking a djinn in Omaha, and so Dean is going there to meet him. Before Castiel leaves, Dean asks him to call if he gets into real trouble.

After Castiel leaves Dean, he meets with Crowley, who is busy experimenting on Eve's body. Castiel reminds Crowley of their ultimate goal – opening the door to Purgatory – and Crowley gets angry. Eve could have opened the door to Purgatory, but Castiel let Dean and Sam kill her, and now he has to find another way in. He also accuses Castiel of being distracted because of the Winchesters – he can smell "the stench of the Impala" on him. Castiel tells Crowley that he had to check and see what they knew, and Crowley says that he knows they're after him and he's worried about Castiel's conflict of interest.

Castiel admits to himself that he does have a conflict of interest. He still considers himself the Winchesters' guardian because of everything they taught him and everything they accomplished together. After the Apocalypse was averted and Castiel resurrected, he healed Dean, resurrected Bobby, and then went to Hell to resurrect Sam. He thought he'd managed to bring back all of Sam, but he realizes now that he was being arrogant, and that he should have known something was wrong with Sam. So, when Crowley tells Castiel to kill the Winchesters, he refuses. Crowley says that he'll kill them himself, but Castiel says he'll just bring them back and that Crowley shouldn't worry about them. Instead, Crowley needs to focus on finding Purgatory, or they will both "die again and again until the end of time."

Meanwhile, Sam and Bobby are interrogating a demon named Redd about Crowley. Dean appears – he was lying when he told Castiel that Sam was in Omaha – and tells Sam that he wants to bring Castiel in the loop. Dean doesn't believe that Castiel is working with Crowley, but Bobby and Sam aren't so sure. As they discuss the possibility of a "Superman who's gone dark side" and the need for kryptonite, Castiel watches them, unseen. He's there when they torture the demon into revealing that he works for Crowley through a dispatcher named Ellsworth. Castiel is aware of Ellsworth, who he describes as the demon counterpart to Bobby, and because Castiel knows that they're getting close, he preemptively kills Ellsworth and the other demons at his headquarters.

While Dean, Sam, and Bobby burst into Ellsworth's headquarters and find nothing, Castiel watches, and remembers Heaven after stopping the Apocalypse. The other angels, including Rachel, believed that God resurrected Castiel so that he could lead them, but Castiel told them that they had free will and didn't need a leader. They were lost without direction, however, and Raphael stepped in. He wanted Castiel to give him his allegiance and then help him to free Lucifer and Michael so they could restart the Apocalypse. When Castiel refused to join him, Raphael easily overpowered him.

Back in the present, Dean convinces Sam and Bobby to call Castiel, but Castiel doesn't appear when Sam prays, too afraid of the questions they'll have for him. Just as they turn to leave Ellsworth's headquarters, though, more demons appear. They are assassins sent by Crowley, and Castiel appears and quickly dispatches them. Dean, Sam, and Bobby take this to mean that Castiel is on their side, and they apologize to Castiel for doubting him. He forgives them for thinking he was "Superman going to the dark side" and agrees with Dean when Dean says they can "put away the kryptonite." He doesn't realize it at the time, but because of what he says, Dean realizes that Castiel has been spying on them.

Castiel goes to confront Crowley, who he tells not to touch a hair on the heads of his friends. He then reveals the reason he partnered with Crowley: after Raphael beat him so easily, he considered going to Dean for help, but Crowley waylaid him and offered him a deal. Together, they would open Purgatory, and then they both would use the monster souls inside to grow more powerful. Castiel needed to be more powerful right away, however, so Crowley advanced him 50,000 souls, which Castiel used to overpower Raphael and then start his civil war in Heaven.

After threatening Crowley, Castiel answers another call from Dean, who is still at Ellsworth's headquarters with Sam and Bobby. Sam tells Castiel that they've figured out a way to track Crowley, and Castiel walks straight into their trap. He is surrounded by a ring of burning holy oil, and they start questioning him about Crowley. He tells them that he is working with Crowley only because he needs to defeat Raphael, and that they need to trust him. He then reveals that he is the one who resurrected Sam, and Sam asks Castiel if he purposefully raised him without his soul. Castiel denies it, but it's clear that Dean, Sam, and Bobby no longer trust him. They tell Castiel that working with Crowley is wrong, and he knows it, which is why he kept his actions a secret from them. Castiel seems repentant, but when a cloud of demons appears outside, he tells them that it's too late to go back now. Dean, Sam, and Bobby flee the approaching demons, and Crowley soon appears to free Castiel from the burning holy oil.

Castiel goes to visit Dean at Bobby's house. He tells Dean that he wants him to understand what he's doing and to know that he's doing it all because of what Dean taught him about free will. Dean tells Castiel that he's like a brother to him and that he needs to trust him when he tells him not to work with Crowley. If he keeps trying to open Purgatory, Dean will stop him. Castiel tells him that he can't stop him, apologizes, and then leaves.

Castiel is alone, praying to God. After having told his story, he asks again if he's doing the right thing. He begs for a sign and says that, if he doesn't get one, he's going to do whatever he must. There is no sign.




  • "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul
(plays while Crowley examines Eve's body and tortures a vampire)
  • An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 by Johann Strauss II
(plays when Crowley and Cas are in Hell)


Castiel: I remember being at a shoreline, watching a little grey fish heave itself up on the beach. And an older brother saying, "Don't step on that fish, Castiel, big plans for that fish. I remember the Tower of Babel – all 37 feet of it, which I suppose was impressive at the time. And when it fell they howled, "Divine Wrath!" But come on, dried dung can only be stacked so high.
Castiel: And of course, I remember the most remarkable event. Remarkable because it never came to pass. It was averted by two boys, an old drunk, and a fallen angel. The grand story, and we ripped up the ending, and the rules, and destiny, leaving nothing but freedom and choice. Which is all well and good, except... but what if I've made the wrong choice?
Crowley: Don't worry about -- what, like Lucifer didn't worry? Or Michael? Or Lilith or Alastair or Azazel didn't worry?! Am I the only game piece on the board who doesn't underestimate those denim-wrapped nightmares?!
Bobby: If there's a snowball of a snowball's chance here, that means we're dealing with a Superman who's gone dark side, which means we've got to be cautious, we've got to be smart, and maybe stock up on some kryptonite.
Dean: (to Sam) This makes you Lois Lane.
Castiel: I did it to protect the boys, or to protect myself. I don’t know anymore.
Castiel: Freedom is a length of rope. God wants you to hang yourself with it.
Castiel: Explaining freedom to angels is a bit like teaching poetry to fish.
Castiel: Are you joking?

Raphael: Do I look like I'm joking?

Castiel: ...You never look like you're joking.
Crowley: See, problem with the old place was most of the inmates were masochists already. A lot of "thank you, sir, can I have another hot spike up the jacksy?" But just look at them. No one likes waiting in line.

Castiel: What happens when they reach the front?

Crowley: Nothing. They go right back to the end again. That's efficiency.
Crowley: What are you planning to do about Raphael?

Castiel: What can I do besides submit or die?

Crowley: Submit or die? What are you, French? How about resist!
Castiel: Sam, I am the one who raised you from perdition.
Sam: What? ... Well, no offence, but you did a pretty piss poor job of it.
Castiel: You don't understand. It's complicated.

Dean: No, actually, it's not, and you know that. Why else would you keep this whole thing a secret, huh, unless you knew that it was wrong? When crap like this comes around, we deal with it... Like we always have. What we don't do is we don't go out and make another deal with the Devil!
Castiel: It sounds so simple when you say it like that. Where were you when I needed to hear it?

Dean: I was there. Where were you?

Trivia & References

The Man Who Would Be King is a short story by Rudyard Kipling, made into a 1975 film by John Houston starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine. It tells the story of two ex-officers of the British Raj who become adventurers and become hailed as deities in a remote village in the Hindu Kush. They lead successful battles against the villages enemies, but become wrapped up in their own delusions of grandeur. Eventually the villages turn against them. In the movie, the story unfolds as the surviving character relates his story to a journalist.
Some of the film clips used in Castiel's flashback montage at the beginning where he remembers the fall of the Tower of Babel, appear to be from the the fall of Babylon section of the 1916 movie by D.W. Griffith Intolerance. This movie also features a non-linear narrative and spans 2,500 years of history. It is considered one of the masterpieces of the silent era of movies. You can watch the entire movie on YouTube here.
Crowley refers to the vampire he's torturing as Chocula, which is a reference to the breakfast cereal Count Chocula, which has a vampire for a mascot.
Crowley: Single best chance to get over the rainbow, and the Winchesters killed her!
"Over the Rainbow" is a song that was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz. It refers to another world that one can reach only by going over the rainbow. Here, Crowley uses it to refer to Purgatory.
Dean: He's the Balki Bartokomus of Heaven – he can make a mistake.
Dean is comparing Castiel to Balki Batokumus who was a character in the 1980s' 'fish-out-of-water/buddy' genre sitcom Perfect Strangers. Balki was a naïve shepherd from the fictional country Mypos, who immigrates to U.S. and moves in with a distant cousin.
Bobby: You sure about that? Cause we can twist again all the way to next summer.
Bobby is quoting the song "Let's Twist Again" recorded by Chubby Checker.
Bobby: Well, who do you deal with?

Redd: The Dispatcher – a demon named Ellsworth
Castiel: (voiceover) If there was a demon counterpart to Bobby Singer, Ellsworth would be it.

Jim Beaver played a character called Ellsworth in the TV show Deadwood. Ellsworth the demon is shown to resemble Bobby, and rather than having a number of phones has a collection of blood goblets. He also impersonates an FBI officer as Bobby does.
Castiel: (about visiting Heaven) I favor the eternal Tuesday afternoon of an autistic man who drowned in a bathtub in 1953.
This may be a reference to the hit song by The Moody Blues from 1968 titled "Tuesday Afternoon" (sometimes known as "Forever Afternoon"). Listen to the song here
Castiel: Whose Heaven is this?

Raphael: Ken Lay's. I'm borrowing it.
Castiel: I still question his admittance here.
Raphael: He's devout. Trumps everything.

Ken Lay was the corrupt CEO whose fraud led to the bankruptcy of the Enron corporation. He was convicted on a number of charges, but died in 2006 before he was sentenced. Former U.S. president George H.W. Bush attended the memorial service.
Bobby: Yeah, but it's like Mr. Clean clean, you know?
Mr. Clean is a brand name known as Flash in the UK. Its mascot is a muscular, tanned, bald man who cleans things very well.
Dean: Yeah, you think, Kojak?
Kojak was a 1970s TV detective.
Crowley: Well I've got news for you, kitten: a whore is a whore is a whore.
This may be a parody of Hemingway's line in For Who The Bell Tolls "a bitch is a bitch is a bitch is a bitch," which in itself is a reference to the famous line by Gertrude Stein a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. In which Stein is basically saying things are the way they are.
Crowley: Ah, Castiel, Angel of Thursday. Just not your day, is it?
According to A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels, Castiel is an Angel of Thursday in occult lore. This may also be a reference to the fact that Supernatural aired on Thursday nights on The CW when the character was introduced in season four. Beginning with season six, the show began to aired on Fridays instead, which may be why Crowley says it's "not [Castiel's] day."
Castiel: Where are we?

Crowley: You don't recognize it, do you? It's Hades, new and improved. I did it myself.

Hades is the name of the underworld in Greek mythology where souls went after death. The name has become synonymous with Hell.
Crowley: What are you planning to do about Raphael?

Castiel: What can I do besides submit or die?
Crowley: 'Submit or die'? What are you, French? How about resist?

Crowley is referring to the stereotype of cowardice given to the French after their surrender to the Nazis during World War II.
Crowley: Ding ding ding, tell him what he's won, Vanna.
Vanna White is the long-time hostess on the TV game show Wheel of Fortune.
Crowley: I know two eerily-suited Teen Beat models with time on their hands.
Teen Beat was an American magazine geared towards teenage girls which was published from 1967 - 2007 and featured many famous teen heartthrobs on its cover.


Among the list of demons and angels that Crowley claims underestimated Sam and Dean, he mentions Lilith, though she fully intended for the brothers to kill her. It is likely, though, that no demons knew that her death was the final seal.
The devil's trap on the ceiling above Redd is the same one that was used on Meg in 1.22 Devil's Trap and again in 2.14 Born Under a Bad Sign. It was also used in the season 3 title card.
Ellsworth: I want you to get down to New Mexico and bag me that wendigo!
A wendigo is what Dean and Sam hunted in 1.02 Wendigo.
One of the demons that brings Ellsworth a monster – before being killed by Castiel – also played a demon in 1.22 Devil's Trap. In 1.22 Devil's Trap, he is wearing an auto mechanic uniform with the name "Kim."
There was a rumor amongst fans that Ben Edlund appears in the episode as one of the people queuing in line in Hell. This hasn't been confirmed. The guy who is taking a ticket as Crowley and Castiel arrive is played by Michael Bardach, and is credited on IMDB as "Ticket Guy."
All of the souls waiting in line in Hell are barefoot and either wearing coats or hoodies.
Above the line in Hell is a sign that says:
The number changes to 6,611,527,125 while Crowley and Castiel stand under it.
There is a sign on the wall in Hell which reads:
When Castiel sees the portrait of Crowley on the wall in Hell in a very Nazi-esque uniform - the patch bears the Devil's Trident as opposed to a swastika - you can see Misha almost break character as it was the first time he had seen the portrait.

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