After what felt like an eternity, Castiel (Misha Collins) has finally gone rogue.

When “Supernatural” returned last week (Jan. 26), the action-packed episode found Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) held captive in a secret government facility — for attempting to assassinate the President. We all know that’s not true, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run, as they regain their freedom by episode’s end.

But while the Winchesters were missing, the show took a turn we weren’t expecting — and explored the grief both Mary (Samantha Smith) and Castiel experienced as they tried to move on with their lives.

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It was heartbreaking on all accounts to watch Momma Winchester try to find any sort of normalcy in her life — which, now more than ever, is anything but. Castiel’s reaction to these unanswered questions, however, was pretty unhinged… And when everyone’s favorite angel isn’t able to balance his own mental fortitude on “Supernatural,” it’s only a matter of time before things get volatile.

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Cas has taken a backseat recently — employed in the role of part safety net, part comedic foil — but boy, what a difference a few weeks makes!

All it took was the ejection of Lucifer from the President’s body to put Castiel and Crowley (Mark Sheppard) on opposite sides again. Gone, it seems, is the buddy-cop dynamic of that team-up. And while it feels like the pieces are falling back into place for the tried and true monster-of-the-week procedural to continue forward, our attention will mostly continue to be on Cas.

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We generally know how Sam and Dean will interact in, and react to, any given situation; Crowley will always be out for himself — and Mary’s goal seems to be finding her place in this future world, while continuing to mend fences with her boys.

But Cas? Cas is in a category all his own.

Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) is dead, God (Rob Benedict) is once again missing, and Lucifer is on the run. Don’t forget about Lucifer’s unborn child, though! There’s something about the unhinged nature of that storyline that has Castiel steadily in loose cannon mode. And if it’s one thing we’ve learned over the past 12 seasons, loose-cannon Castiel is a gift that keeps on giving within the “Supernatural” world.

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Moving forward, we are now presented with an added conflict pitting the Winchesters and Castiel against a new threat. No, not the Lucifer baby issue or that British Men of Letters kerfuffle: It seems the time is nigh for those elusive bringers of death, known simply as Reapers, to come forward once again and pose a challenge to our team of heroes.

Castiel putting his angel blade to the heart of Billie (Lisa Berry) may have been the right decision at the time, but that moment will most definitely dictate the direction the show takes through the remainder of the season. And if that stabbing is any indication, the potential loss of Sam and Dean has put Castiel on an emotional path — both unpredictable and dangerous.

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Combined with his heavenly powers and undeterred loyalty, Castiel may once again become the engaging outlier that always puts us in the most exciting territory.

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.

Posted by:Aaron Pruner

When he was a child, Aaron memorized the entire television lineup, just for fun. He once played Charlize Theron’s boyfriend in a Japanese car commercial. Aaron’s a lover of burritos and a hater of clowns. TV words to live by: "Strippers do nothing for me, but I will take a free breakfast buffet any time, any place."