Where Anyone is Possible
Coming from a broken home, Jimmy was raised by his single father. His mother, Christina died when Jimmy was at the young age of 3. Since his mother’s death, the home and lifestyle for him would never be the same. Once Jimmy reached into the third grade, his father began to drink heavily and to the point where he may not have come home some nights. Jimmy’s grandmother would often have to take care of him, or at least do the small things like pick him up from school or even make sure he was fed. When Jimmy turned 10, his father had a fiancé who despised the child greatly. Often times when his dad was away (more than so at the bar) she would neglect him and leave him to fend for himself.
Jimmy was never raised in religious home, and was never actually exposed to it unless other kids at school or even other adults around him discussed it. He never had an interest or liking to it.
When he reached high school, his father was already in prison and he had chosen to live with his aunt and uncle for the rest of his high school term. During school for the first year, he was an honor roll student, and was even considered to be junior class president at one point in time.
The next few years brought his personal down fall. His second year brought his interest into sports. Jimmy joined the football team, as well as trying out for baseball. Once on the team, his grades and reputation in school began to slip down. Jimmy began to hang out with ‘wrong crowd’. Following unknowingly into his father’s footsteps, he began to drink as well as experiment with drugs.
After high school, Jimmy took on a low paying job and chooses to live with a few friends. He attended community college to seek his degree in business. During the college years, his drinking began to worsen, though his drug use had ended.
One evening after driving himself and a buddy from the local bar, Jimmy got behind the wheel drunk. Running past a red light on a four lane stop, he missed and slammed his car into a tree. His friend was killed instantly while Jimmy was able to walk away with just a few scratches. This brought about the ultimate change in his life. Jimmy sought out and found a church to seek help and guidance from.
He felt saved and rescued from his personal hell. Going back to school to finish, he earned his degree and once again made a step in right direction.
There at church he met Amelia, who in turn in a few short months became his wife. Five years later, they had their first and only daughter named Claire. As a husband and father, Jimmy enjoyed what he did. However as the years passed by him, he felt as if he was standing still while the world around him was moving quickly. Jimmy felt stuck in a mundane, boring job as well as he could feel his life at home loose excitement and take on boredom. It was as though he would wake up at the same time Monday through Friday and go through the daily motions. Get up, go to work, come home and have dinner, move out to living room to have a small drink and then go to bed. On the weekends it was family time and community time, as well as church on Sundays. He knew what he was doing was the right thing; he was being a good provider for his family. He felt that there was something out there, bigger than himself and calling for him.
Jimmy got his wish. He found out that he was to be the vessel for the angel Castiel. One evening, the angel told Jimmy to test and show his faith by sticking his arm in a boiling pot of water. This was to prove to Jimmy that the Angel was not lying and that in fact Jimmy was his vessel. Amelia, having walked on this was what started her brigade on Jimmy being crazy and that he needed to seek mental help. Jimmy was hurt and upset that his own wife refused to believe him. How could a woman who believed in faith so hard, deny that all of this was in fact plausible? Jimmy could not understand that. Amelia went as far as to threaten to take herself and his daughter away from him, that they would stay at her mother’s house until he got the ‘help’ he needed.
Finally having enough, he grabbed his coat one evening and left. Making it out the front of his home, Jimmy called out for the angel. He was ready to do what was needed of him, and that he would if the angel promised to keep his family safe. Once he agreed and said yes, (as no Angel could take a vessel without the permission of the vessel first) the angel Castiel, entered and took over the vessel.
Years have passed since Castiel has taken over. Since than no one is sure if Jimmy was still locked somewhere inside his own body for the time being or if Castiel had sent Jimmy to heaven to keep him safe.
Now the angel and the vessel have split into separate entities. No one is sure how this has happened, some say it is due to where the angel and himself are, or perhaps Castiel had found a way to grant Jimmy his own life again.
Jimmy means “supplanter” which has the usurping, taking one’s place on purpose by force or intrigue. This applies to the fact that Jimmy acts as Castiel’s vessel. Castiel takes Jimmy’s place on Earth by taking control of his body. But in the same vein, supplant is used as replacement, especially something much used, inferior, outmoded, or irrelevant. Angel’s haven’t walked the Earth in 2,000 years. Essentially, Jimmy acting as Castiel’s vessel contributes to the replacement of Castiel’s old point of view. He has new “glasses” by which he can see the world in a different light. Castiel’s gradual fall from grace can be marked by this point - he is already seeing the world in this new light. So in that manner, whilst Castiel takes Jimmy’s body, it is because he does so, because of Jimmy, that he eventually folds to humanity and free will. Castiel usurps Jimmy as much as Jimmy usurps Castiel.
Novak means “Newcomer” or “Stranger,” basically derivative of being new. Castiel is, essentially, a newcomer to Earth. He is a stranger. At the same time, Jimmy himself is a stranger to the viewers as well as the Winchesters and everybody who comes into contact with his body as Castiel’s vessel. Nobody knows Jimmy Novak, nobody even tries to. He remains a stranger to us because Castiel usurped possession of his body and actions.
This is a spin-off of his name, particularly “Novak,” so it can encompass the other Novak family members. As I mentioned, it essentially means “Stranger.” I’m not a particularly religious person, but I had an upbringing that makes me quick with religious connotations.
A very important Biblical reference is this: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
This has a dual meaning in Jimmy’s name and also the fact that he “entertains” angels/a stranger in Castiel by allowing his body to be used as a vessel. Jimmy certainly showed lots of hospitality in that respect.
However, beyond that there is a key emphasis in loving a stranger as one of your own. Mainly because God/Jesus is a stranger amongst his own creations - an alien being that there is little trust in and/or is considered dangerous. This is an important component because Jimmy is human. He’s a human being and yet, it is very clear that because of his experiences he is a stranger amongst men.
Beyond that - the “savior” AKA Jesus is a stranger; the stranger is a savior. Castiel was an important savior to stopping the Apocalypse, since without him there breaking the rules, etc - would the Apocalypse have occurred? Perhaps. Just in the same manner is Jimmy is a savior for answering Castiels’ calls and allowing him to take control of his body.
I, personally, connect (or perhaps, do not connect) with Jimmy because he had unwavering faith. As a Deist, I believe something, God, created this planet and now we’re alone to do as we please. Jimmy, however, had such a powerful faith that he heard voices in his head telling him to put his hand in boiling water… and he did. Instead of running to the doctor’s asking about Schizophrenia. All because the voice said it was an angel. Think about that: How many reports have you seen on TV of people acting out in crazed violence because they heard the Holy Spirit, God, angels talking to them? A few, huh? Jimmy probably saw such reports. He probably didn’t agree with the crazed murders. And yet he still believed enough to do it, and then to submit to it.
Now think about what he went through. I think he summed it just fine himself, “I’ve been shot, and stabbed, and healed, and my body has been dragged all over the Earth. By some miracle I’m out, and I am done. I’ve given enough, okay?” Jimmy is done. At this point - his faith is waning, if not already gone. And, really, who can blame him?
Nobody gives a shit about Jimmy Novak*. The angels certainly don’t. Not even God gives a damn. Nobody gives a shit about Earth, but less than that - nobody cares about Jimmy. He is a stranger to the world, an unimportant piece that can be replaced. (Name reference!) Would you still have faith in your God if all of his angels basically gave you a giant fuck-you and he obviously wasn’t interested in the Apocalypse? I wouldn’t. And Jimmy doesn’t.
Jimmy loses his faith. As Jimmy is shouting for Castiel, he blasphemes: “Castiel, you son of a bitch!” but, more important than that, is his “Typical” that comes immediately after a lack of response. That is the highlight of Jimmy’s loss of faith in God and the angel’s. The Heavenly Helpers are not helping him, and that’s typical. Jimmy knows about miracles, he put his hand in boiling water. So the fact that he calls it typical makes a pretty obvious point: Jimmy has been so severely let down by his past-experiences that he has lost whatever faith he had.
(*The singular exception I would make is Castiel - based on how Jimmy is dying. Castiel runs his hand through Jimmy’s hair, an act of comfort that is usually reserved for the Winchesters. And even then, he does not show that degree of comfort to them so quickly. Only Jimmy. And I think that shows how Castiel appreciated Jimmy, loved him, even, for providing him with… essentially, a vessel, but also a home. He tells Jimmy to rest now, Castiel actually sounds happy for Jimmy, proud. So, yes, I think Castiel cares.)
Prior to the whole possession business with Castiel - Jimmy lives a very happy life. He has a content marriage with a daughter and you can see their relationships are very strong in the few scenes that we have of them together. Jimmy puts himself on level with others. You see this in the fact that he’s the one doing the cooking. If he and Amelia share chores, that indicates that they share responsibilities and also that they are equals in their partnership. He puts himself on eye-level with Claire when he departs, offering her a level of comfort in his smile and his head-on look that he gives her. This is no mistake. Jimmy does these things because he loves and respects and would give anything (and he gives everything) to protect his family.
Another aspect that we see of Jimmy’s life is his friend, Roger. How many men hug, that single act of physical affection? I see a few, but it isn’t the whole-hearted embrace that they share. So, when he has to kill Roger and then another neighbor to protect his family? Yes, the Winchester’s are borderline serial killers but in that moment Jimmy shows that, he too, would go to those lengths to protect the people he loves.
In the end - Jimmy cared most about his family. He gave up everything to save his family. This is why, of all the characters, Jimmy’s story will remain the most tragic. All of the sibling’s depicted in the show have got their resolutions or they will. The families have all either come to terms with their losses or died side-by-side. Resolution. Which Jimmy will never have. Claire will go through her life fatherless. Amelia is essentially widowed. Jimmy gave up just as much, I’d dare to say more, as Castiel to not save the world as was the original intention. But to save his family. (And nobody gives a fuck about him.)
At first, Jimmy makes his sacrifices on the behalf of God, Castiel, a higher purpose. He, in effect, leaves his family in order to serve this purpose. By this means, Jimmy usurps the role of provider for Castiel. He provides Castiel a vessel which he can stay in - since Castiel doesn’t have a home, in effect, Jimmy is his home - and a means by which he can communicate to the Righteous Man, Dean. All of this for Castiel’s sake, on his behalf.
He probably didn’t even understand what it’d be like. That’s a huge step - imagine being possessed by something. You’re losing your sense of self in that one moment. Could Castiel have explained it to him? Clearly not to the point where Jimmy knew exactly what he was in for. It was Hellish for him. He was eager to get out of there after he experienced it. Yet he said yes, again, for family.
Ultimately, Jimmy gives everything up. That’s it: his sacrifice is greater than most of the other characters because he gives up everything. In the end, Jimmy loses his faith. He loses his family (the vessel itself does not even have the wedding ring by which to remember his family by). He loses his job. He loses his life (and time and time again he should’ve literally lost his life). He probably loses his sanity if he’s still in there. He also loses his name. That is Jimmy Novak’s body that we see in each episode with Castiel - but he is always called Castiel. In essence, Jimmy has sacrificed every bit of him that he could. After all that he’s been through, Jimmy has probably sacrificed his humanity on top of all of this. How could he even return to a remotely normal life after all of this?
Simple: He cannot. It is impossible. It is impossible not only because he’s, presumably, stuck there for years - Castiel said hundreds or thousands - but also because it isn’t realistically conceivable. Jimmy killed two men. Jimmy, not Castiel. That has probably spread around. Jimmy is possibly a wanted man for his crimes. (Maybe for Amelia and Claire as well!) So Jimmy is not a hero in our eyes - to the people he knew, he has effectively destroyed his life there. He is a criminal, who has done horrible things upon his neighbor (love thy neighbor, anyone?) and that is what he’ll be remembered by if anything. Once again, Jimmy, the true Jimmy who sacrificed everything to save his family and the world, becomes a stranger in the eyes of the people who knew him best.
Hell, one has to wonder how Jimmy got back to his family after he escaped the Winchesters. Buses cost money. Did he have the money on him or did he obtain the money by less-than-good means?
Comparison with Dean
All right, now I just need to make the side-by-side comparison with Dean. Think about Cas’s relationships with both Jimmy and Dean.
Jimmy: Had unwavering faith in Castiel’s word in the beginning. He submitted to him. He took Castiel into himself and became his vessel, his provider, his home. He chained himself to a comet once and then again. But, the important aspect is that Jimmy’s faith that I couldn’t comprehend in the beginning waned to nothing. He lost faith in Heavenly powers based on that one, bitter “Typical” that he utters. All of that gone until all he could consider was protecting his family.
Dean: Consider The Man Who Would Be King - Dean was so unwilling to believe that Cas would betray them. He had trusted that Cas that he wouldn’t betray him and Sam and Bobby. That is a sign of faith to me. If only in Cas, that’s a sign of faith, and it’s important because it’s made excruciatingly clear that Dean doesn’t have faith. He says that angel’s aren’t real. He is unwilling to believe Castiel even after his displays. He doesn’t believe he deserves to be saved. Yet, he extends his “family” to include Cas to the point where he doesn’t believe that Cas would work against him. (And you know that “Typical” comment that Jimmy makes? Very Dean-like, no? Jimmy usurps that character in relation to Castiel - he becomes the faithless assbutt of Heaven’s jokes.)
This? Makes Jimmy Novak an ironic, tragic character. The physical manifestation of what Dean has faith in is a stranger to him, because he doesn’t know Jimmy Novak. At the same time, Dean’s faith replaces the loss of faith that Jimmy experienced. It balances in this situation. All of this that Dean has faith in, respects, treats as friends, loves, whatever? Physically is not Castiel. It’s Jimmy. And, once again, nobody gives a fuck.
Sitting alone in the once joy filled bedroom, Jimmy sat quietly. A shaking hand ran through his hair as he let blue eyes wander around the space. Sighing softly, he could feel the tears prickle up in his eyes when memories of him and Claudia began to…Continue