SUPERNATURAL 7.21 ‘Reading Is Fundamental’

The rise of a new prophet awakens Castiel, but he isn't the angel that the Winchesters remember...

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Reading Is Fundamental"

Writer: Ben Edlund

Director: Ben Edlund

Previously on "Supernatural":

Episode 7.20: "The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo"

Story:

In Michigan, Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) skype chats with his girlfriend, Channing (Khaira Ledeyo) while worrying about what to put in his college admittance essay. Meanwhile, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) unsuccessfully try to make contact with the ghost of Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) before attempting to break open the clay tablet that they stole from the Leviathan leader, Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart). Undeterred by the wild thunder and lightning that accompanies Dean's hammer hits against the tablet, the Winchesters break it open and find a stone tablet inside.

At the same time, Kevin is struck by lightning through the ceiling which levitates him and causes his eyes to glow before he passes out. And at a mental hospital, the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) suddenly awakens. In Wisconsin, the Leviathan known as Edgar (Benito Martinez) fields a phone call from a very angry Dick Roman who demands that he find the stolen tablet. In the morning, Kevin awakens in a panic after missing his test. But he is driven by the knowledge within his mind to steal his mother's car and begin driving away. As Sam and Dean try to make sense of the tablet and the freak storm, Meg (Rachel Miner) calls and tells them that Castiel is awake.

After arriving at the hospital, the Winchesters are greeted by Meg who then brings them before a seemingly restored Castiel. But Castiel startles the Winchesters with his new (and bizarre) sense of humor and his fondness for Meg despite being well aware that she's a demon. Castiel examines the tablet and determines it to be the word of God as transcribed by the angel Metatron. When Castiel admits that he can't read the tablet, the brothers object when Meg tries to handle it. As they argue, Castiel tells them that he doesn't like conflict and he teleports away, leaving the tablet to shatter into three pieces.

Dean goes after Castiel while Sam and Meg walk out of the room and argue over who Castiel trusts more. But they both become aware that someone has stolen the tablet and they chase down the thief… who is revealed to be Kevin. He begs Sam and Meg not to kill him while explaining that he can't let go of the tablet. Dean finds Castiel in the hospital rec room and ends up playing a game of Sorry with him. Back in Castiel's hospital room, Meg and Sam witness Kevin's newfound ability to reassemble the tablet and read it. According to Kevin, it contains instructions for killing Leviathans, but it hurts him to read it.

Suddenly, two angels named Hester (Emily Holmes) and Inias (Adrian McMorran) arrive and prepare to kill Meg and Sam for threatening their new prophet, Kevin. Dean and Castiel soon enter, and the angels recognize Castiel as their former leader. Inias is overjoyed to see Castiel but Hester accuses him of abandoning them and she quickly realizes that Castiel is insane. Before the angels can act, Dean uses a symbol to temporarily banish all three angels before Meg suggests that they leave before the angels come back for them. On the road, Sam is stunned to see a newscast attributing Kevin's disappearance to a kidnapping by a cult.

Outside the gas station, Meg encounters two demons before rejoining the Winchesters and Kevin… but she insists that nothing is wrong. Sometime later, Castiel calls Meg from Sydney and she gives him the info he needs to teleport into the car. Castiel then explains to the startled Kevin that a keeper is always chosen when the word of God is discovered and that the angels plan to take him to the desert so he can study the word. After arriving at Rufus' cabin, the Winchesters paint symbols to make themselves invisible to the angels while they stay there. Kevin starts to have a seizure and then a panic attack while reading the word, but Dean essentially tells him to be a man and do his homework.

Meg slips outside and secretly meets with the two demons that she saw at the gas station. Meg tells them that she found Castiel in order to give him to Crowley (Mark Sheppard), but she kills both demons once they say that they didn't tell anyone that they saw her. But when Meg returns to the cabin, she finds herself in a devil's trap created by Sam and Dean. An impassioned Meg then insists that she doesn't care about hurting the Winchesters, she just wants to bring down Crowley and she says that he is more dangerous than the Leviathans. Sam believes her enough to release her from the trap, but Castiel tells them that when Meg killed the demons it alerted the angels to their presence.

Sure enough, Hester and her angels show up moments later. Hester accuses Castiel of being damaged and fallen by his time with the Winchesters and he doesn't fight back when she prepares to kill him. So, Meg kills Hester with her dagger and shrugs off the surprised expressions of everyone in the room. Inias proves to be more reasonable than Hester and he allows Kevin to finish writing the necessary steps for killing Leviathans before sending two of his angels to escort Kevin home to his mother, Mrs. Tran (Lissa Neptuno). Upon learning that one of the needed items to kill a Leviathan is the blood of a fallen angel, Castiel happily offers his own blood before departing.

Somewhere in the confusion, Meg slips away as well, leaving the Winchesters alone to gather the remaining ingredients. At Kevin's home, Mrs. Tran speaks with the seemingly sympathetic Detective Collins (Eric Floyd) about Kevin's disappearance. But when Kevin materializes with two angels by his side, Collins murders both of them and reveals himself to have been Edgar in disguise.

Breakdown:

As "Supernatural" winds down the Leviathan storyline, I'm enjoying the makeshift team of Sam, Dean and Ghost Bobby along with Meg and Castiel. Kevin's got some promise too, provided he survives the cliffhanger in this episode.

The new, slightly crazy version of Castiel was a lot of fun and it reminded me of the way that Misha Collins played himself in last year's meta-comedy episode, "The French Mistake." I still prefer original model Cas, but this will do for now. After his turn as a corrupt, would-be God, Castiel needed some rehabilitation within the series itself and this is how it's going to be achieved. There is still the matter of Cas taking a human wife, Daphne back when he believed that he was the healer, Emanuel. I'm surprised it hasn't come up yet, but there's still two episodes left this season to see if thatthread is addressed or ignored.

Castiel's game of "Sorry" with Dean was one of the comedic highlights of the episode that got away with making the subtext completely overt. Despite his seemingly diminished mental capacity, Castiel appears to be sincere about gaining his redemption and he is oddly fond of Meg… a lot more than he should be. It's an open question as to whether Meg reciprocates that sentiment or if she is sincere about her desire to kill Crowley above anyone else. Meg's warning about Crowley being the real threat could be a setup for next season. After all, we don't really know what Crowley has been doing for the majority of this season. And if Crowley has big plans there is no better time to execute them than with most of his enemies distracted by a common foe.

So far, Kevin appears to be a good addition to the mix and his extreme reluctance to be a prophet was easily understandable. Nobody wants that job, but historically when it comes to the being one of God's chosen, you don't get a vote in that discussion. But I am getting tired of the Leviathans so easily killing angels and demons. If Borax is your kryptonite, then heavenly creatures and demons from Hell should be able to put up more of a fight. I'm sure that the intent of this is to build the Leviathans up into worthy adversaries for the series, but that ship sailed a long time ago. The one moment in this episode that seemed to capture even the slightest sense of menace from the Leviathans was Edgar's attempt to plan the layout of the human slaughterhouse so that their victims wouldn't realize what it was until too late.

Overall, this was a pretty good episode. If "Supernatural" can give the Leviathans storyline a strong conclusion, a lot of the earlier creative missteps with them can easily be overlooked.