So I had a thought.
From the moment Dean returns, he seems fixated on finding Kevin. Kevin is all that matters. And we as the audience don’t question this, because it’s consistent with what we know of Dean’s character. When Dean says that Kevin is their responsibility, we believe him — in part because we agree with the sentiment — and we even welcome his desire to find Kevin, because it gives Dean something concrete to focus on besides his memories of Purgatory.
Memories which, of course, focus on his search for Cas, in finding Cas, in needing Cas. But this desire strangely doesn’t appear to be mirrored topside. Dean tells Sam that in Purgatory, Cas “just let go”, and neither one says nothing more on the subject. Indeed, Dean exhibits no outward signs that he believes Cas could potentially be rescued.
But I wonder if there’s something else going on here, because there’s an exchange in 8x01 that I just can’t get out of my head.
When the Winchesters find Kevin, he starts to tell them about being kidnapped by Crowley:
Kevin: There was a tablet there, like the last one.
Dean: Wait – there’s another tablet? So another Word of God?
Dean looks surprised and confused by this revelation.
Dean: How many Words of God are there?
When he speaks, Dean blinks rapidly and rears his head back; his voice increases in volume. He’s obviously irritated by this information: Something about there being numerous Words of God has rankled him. But why? What does it matter to him how many Words of God there are?
Kevin can’t answer Dean about how many there are; he simply replies, “I just became a prophet, like, a year ago.” At this, Dean drops his hands and sucks in a breath. He frowns. Watching him, you get the sense even more clearly that there being multiple Words of God is a not news he wanted to hear.
Later in the scene, Dean asks Kevin:
Dean: Before you stashed it, were you able to read anything else off the tablet?
Watch Dean’s expression here. His eyes are wide, intense. He’s obviously hanging on Kevin’s answer.
Kevin: Only about closing the gates of Hell, forever.
Again, this is not the answer Dean appears to have expected. In fact, it takes him a second to process what he’s heard. His mouth hangs open, he closes his eyes and asks, “come again?”
Why is Dean so irritated that there could be more than one Word of God? And why does Dean appear to have expected Kevin to say something besides how to kill demons, when he was specifically asking about was on the demon-killing tablet?
Welp. Remember that the last Word of God they came across explained not how to kill Leviathan—but how to send them back to Purgatory. Big difference.
So what if the reason Dean wants to find Kevin so badly is because he expects Kevin still has this Word of God on him? What if Dean wants to re-read the tablet to figure out how to get back to Purgatory – and thus save Cas?
(Opening the door via the ritual that Cas & Crowley used is pretty much out of the question, since it at the very least requires a lunar eclipse, and I guess Dean doesn’t want to wait the six months or something. [Science fact - lunar eclipses happen far more regularly than solar eclipses, just sayin’]. Plus, to open the door, Dean would needs the blood of a Purgatory native — not just someone who, when they die, will eventually go to Purgatory – and all the Purgatory natives are back home after Cas belched them back in [and after Dean & Cas killed Dick, I guess all the other Leviathan died too?]. Besides, every time that door has opened up, something vile has crawled out too, and I guess Dean isn’t willing to put the world at risk again like that.)
If this is the case, if Dean is attempting to find a way back to Purgatory, then it explains why he is so bothered that there should be more than one Word of God – because how do you know which one has the instructions he needs? And it also explains why Dean wants to know if there was something else on the tablet – because, hope against hope, Kevin might’ve read something that could lead him back to Purgatory – and back to Cas.
Look, if there’s one thing I know for certain about Dean, beyond all shadow of a doubt, it’s that he would never just give up on a loved one, like it appears he’s given up on Cas in 8x01 and 8x02. He would spend the rest of his life searching for a way to rescue or save the one he’d lost, because Dean Winchester does not accept “no” or “leave without me” or “live without me” or even death itself as an answer. This is a man who sold his soul to bring back his brother, and he did so without a single regret. So no, I don’t care if he thinks Cas gave up first. He will never, ever give up on Cas. Not for a second.
Because Dean has too much heart, and that has always been his problem.