08 May 2012

Review: Supernatural 7.21 Reading Is Fundamental

In season six, Ben Edlund wrote and directed The Man Who Would Be King, that was a game changer. Not only it changed everything for the rest of season, it totally had the 'just when you thought you knew everything..' kinda vibe. It also marked the beginning of the transformation of Cas, resulting in the downfall of his friendship with Dean, the Leviathans being set free…it set things in motion. The Man Who Would Be King put all the puzzles together just in time for the season finale, as well as setting the direction/ tone for season seven. 7.21 Reading Is Fundamental has a similar purpose. While the season seven finale and main storyarc of season eight are yet to be revealed, I believe Reading Is Fundamental is shaping the future in more ways than I can process right friggin now.

Reading Is Fundamental is enabling me to focus on a few talking points this week. This may or may not be my usual episode review. So here we go…

Demons and angels have always been part of the mytho of the show. They are always there in the end one way or another. The main event was about the Winchesters being the chosen bloodline to take part in the war of Heaven and Hell, which the angels and demons played an important role in the journey. While season six and seven seemed to be taken on a different path, but demons and angels were never far away from the story, they always pop up here and there. With the Leviathans in the picture, it still goes back to God's agenda.

When some fans say they are sick of anything that has to do with Heaven or even the angels, they even want Castiel to be off the show, because it takes away the main story about Dean and Sam. Really? Here is the thing. Yes, the show is about the brothers, their relationship and their dynamic is the DNA of the show. Evil creatures are programmed to create chaos, most people are smack in the middle of it without even knowing it, only a few are destined to save lives. And THAT is the Winchesters' job. The show is about the brothers dealing with bigger d-bags in different supernatural events and dealing with creatures and people/ friends. Through these situations and human interaction, we see their true colour and what they're made of.

Pull my finger. Touch it.
The Winchester Gospel began with John and Mary, but it didn't end with Lucifer going back to his cage, it kept going. I think the show is really about Dean and Sam dealing with bigger problems that no other hunters could. The ultimate problem to solve was never about the vampires, ghosts or whatever monster-of-the-week may be. The end game was never about the random monster A,B C. The end game always involved demons and angels one way or another -- YED, Devil's Gate, Dean's Demon Deal, Sam's Demon Blood situations, Lillith, Archangels, the apocalypse, the falling angel working with the King of Hell, Purgatory and Leviathans.

Dean and Sam are the best hunters in the business, killing regular monsters is like a walk in the park. They are not amateurs like the Ghostfacers! Of course I want the brothers to destroy Vader and the Death Star, not just Jaba or Bounty Hunters or the Sand People. Vader is the big cheese, Death Star is the big cheese, the Empire is the big cheese. The demons and angels are that big cheese in Supernatural and it's Dean's and Sam's job to deal with them. And all these problems are the real test to their relationship but it's also about showing their strength when it counts, and they are stronger as a family.

It's easy for fans to say the show is about the brothers and fans don't want anything else to take the dynamic away. But there are just so many factors involved. Without the big events, d-bags and friends, the brothers will never be challenged. It's like playing video games, you have the mini events and then you have the big monsters to fight and a village to save before you advance to the next level. This is what everything is all about! And Dean and Sam always prove that family (and friendship) is stronger than anything and can save lives. It's so much deeper than it appears because the show has so many layers. Supernatural contains layers and complexities, setting a whole new benchmark for genre shows. This is the reason I watch the show, it's out of love and appreciation rather than hate.

Castiel is one of my favourite characters on television and he is an integral part of the show. It's not like he is popping up every week, but I do like the recurring/ regular characters like Cas. I like the fact that Supernatural took a risk and showed us his transformation. It presents a new challenge for the brothers and I think they really took Cas in like a brother. Supernatural is at its best when we see the brothers' personalities, whether it's about them working together, fighting each other or the bromance, a lot of time they really shine when caring for Bobby and Cas.

Forgiveness is one of the major themes in Supernatural and I think ultimately this episode is about forgiveness. While a lot of fans think Dean is still struggling to forgive Cas, I actually think Dean has simply moved on. In Dean's mind, he is thinking "Cas is back and he is sorry. We've all been through a lot, but I got my friend back. The situation is still a mess, but there is still a fighting chance, we are all in this together, so deal with it!" Cas has been given a second chance to live and Dean is willing to give Cas the second chance to fix this mess and fight with them. If this isn't forgiveness, I don't know what it.

Dean could've just ignored Cas, punched him or killed him. But he didn't. He is talking to Cas because of their friendship and because Dean still cares, not because he hates Cas or talking to him as if he is his enemy. I have mentioned before that Dean has a big heart. I think it's very important to keep this in mind. Dean wanted Cas to get back to the fight mode and fight the Leviathans with them. Perhaps Dean is struggling with the fact that Cas has given up and not in fighting mode. Just like Cas struggled to understand why Dean was going to give up and be Michael's vessel in season five. With this new attitude, the sarcasm, the random talk about honey bees and flowers…it's not like Cas has gone completely insane or simply doesn't care. He just doesn't think he deserves redemption and there is nothing he can do to fix anything. Cas is feeling extremely guilty and he is struggling to forgive himself. He knows the Winchesters is always strong than he is, they can ALWAYS solve problems and kick ass. Cas is still ashamed for what he did, but he'd decided not to fight or get involved again, and he's decided not to like conflict and argument. The perfect example is when whats-her-name was beating up Cas, he is more than capable of fighting her and destroying her, but he chose not to fight. For this, Dean is upset. Because all Dean has to say is "I forget you." But for Cas, he just cannot forgive himself no matter what.

With Meg, you know, I never really pay attention to her in season one and two, but she has become more interesting. She is a survivor. I won't hold my breath about her being helpful or anything, but I just think it'll be kinda cool to see a demon searching for redemption. It's not in their nature but it's a good 'what if'. I have this really really strange soft spot for Meg and Cas acting like a old married couple in this episode. Ah shit!

I really want to get inside Ben Edlund's mind and see how it works. He is capable of writing profound things, and I really dig this episode. It's a rather philosophical episode and it's one of those episodes you have to watch many times to understand the layers.

We now know how to kill the Leviathans, all thanks to an emergency note from God. I like Kevin Tran, the new prophet. Although I do feel this would be a perfect episode to bring Chuck back, but Kevin will do for now! Kevin may have missed his exams, but he didn't get an Asian F from the Winchester! Kevin managed to translate Metatron's work into English. Dean and Sam will need the bone of a righteous mortal, washed in the three bloods of the fallen. They have already got Cas', and all will be revealed as we approached the seasons seven finale. What about the bone of a righteous mortal? Not the bones of Joffery's, that's for sure! No one is more righteous than Ned Stark! (A shout out to Kara's brilliant idea!) I am sure his bones are kept somewhere in Westeros.

A very personal note: Thank you for mentioning my hometown in the episode. 'Perth, Australia' never sound so sexy! Ah I love Dean! His geography is so good!

Don't miss next week's episode, 7.22 There Will Be Blood My hero Guy Bee directed this episode! Woot!!

SAM AND DEAN SEEK OUT AN ALPHA — In order to defeat Dick Roman (guest star James Patrick Stuart) and the Leviathans, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) must locate three key items. Castiel (Misha Collins) helps with one but for the last objects, the Winchesters must face two of their strongest opponents – an Alpha (guest star Rick Worthy) and Crowley (guest star Mark Sheppard). Meanwhile, Bobby (guest star Jim Beaver) tries out a new ghost trick that ends up being very dangerous. Guy Bee directed the episode written by Andrew Dabb & Daniel Loflin.


  1. AnonymousMay 08, 2012

    Deanie_24 -Great review, you covered a few interesting points! I like your perspective on the whole angels& heaven thing. Great going!!

  2. Great review....Ohhh hunny u are a hot Perthian::DDDD
    I think we are in for one hell of a ride...:D

  3. Nice review Tiny. I agree with you on the Angel front, they are part of lore and to never see them again would be ridiculous, my only problem becomes when the central story of the brothers takes a back seat and they are no longer the heroes of their journey. I think that mistake has been made in the past and that is not something I want to see repeated. Their supporting characters need to be there and need to be part of their story but I don't feel those stories should ever over shadow the story of the Winchesters. I personally love the Heaven/Hell mytharc, I love the biblical mythology, what show starts talking about the Word of God for Heaven's sake, what show is brave enough? These big concepts are challenging and just plain fun and I'd hate them to go back to simply hunting Windegos after all they've been through.

    On the Cass front, I don't believe Dean has forgiven him, but I don't see that as a negative. He has opened up the possibility of Castiel being reintegrated into his life and I think that is a major step forward. As you say, he's moving on. But a lot of that, right now, comes through need rather than want. Dean needs Cass to be onboard with what's going down with the Leviathan, he needed him to help heal Sam. I'm not saying he's being selfish, I'm saying he's putting aside any negative feelings he may have for Cass in order to focus on the bigger picture. The rest he can deal with later. I also think that Dean sees what became of Cass because of their relationship and I believe this will make him have second thoughts as to allow that closeness again, because that closeness, that tapping into emotion, which was not what Cass was built to do, was part of what made Cass fall. Dean feels guilt over that. I think he'll be wary of allowing Cass to make that mistake again. As you say though, Dean is all heart and a lot of this is coming directly from his heart. Out of concern and fear and sadness and history and love. I'm not sure their relationship will ever be the same and not because of mistrust but because of who they've both become.

    I believe Cass has got back in touch with his Angel and though it is manifesting differently, this Cass, with his understanding of his own power, of the connectivity of the Universe and all that Heaven created, that he is better than Humanity and doesn't need to be "fixed", is much closer to the Cass we first met than anything we've seen since.

    I really like this review Tiny, I like how you structured it. I was also supremely pissed off with the fan commentary about no more Angels and no more Cass. To have no more Angels at this stage would be the same as having no more Demons or no more ghosts. Simply ridiculous.

    Good stuff Tiny! - Amy

  4. AnonymousMay 08, 2012

    Great review Tiny, some really interesting points I hadn't considered. I knew Cas felt guilty but you really put it in perspective. Have to say I agree with Amy though, I also think the angels took too central a position over the past few seasons whenever they appeared. I also keep remembering Jensen said at the last con Dean definitely hasn't forgiven Cas yet, and won't this season. I think he really wants to, he wants his friend back and they need all the help they can get from people the trust, but he's not close to being able to yet. I for one, have totally enjoyed this season and its back to basic approach, with many fantastic guest stars and interesting characters for the brothers to play off.

    And Meg? She tried to split the brothers up, then tried to kill them, then later possessed Sam, made him kill another hunter, assault Jo and shoot and beat up Dean! Yet they again make the mistake of letting a demon in. I kinda understand though, I think she's fab!

    Tmateotb - Trish

  5. Thank you ladies....

    In terms of the brothers takes a back seat and overshadowed by others, I actually don't see it. I always see the brothers as the center of it, because like I said there are 3 areas on the show (not in any particular order) -- 1 being supernatural creatures are programmed to create chaos; 2 being most people are smack in the middle of it without even knowing it; 3 being only a few are destined to save lives. And Supernatural is about Dean's and Sam's destiny to save people.

    When supernatural creatures create chaos, whether it be the angels or demons, I really don't see them being the center of attention. I always see the story sticking to the brothers, and it's their story about saving people and hunting things. I never felt the core was separated from the brothers, not even when the Heaven story was told. That "OMG the show isn't about the brothers anymore" thing, I am in minority, I just don't ever feel that's the case.

    Again... LOTS to take in.. I feel so tired just to think about it!



  6. Woohoo Kara shout out!
    Awesome review Tiny. I bet the righteous man has to connection with the boys... I wonder if it could be Jimmy? That would be awesome twist.
    Anyway love your review.

  7. This is a really wonderful review Tiny and I agree with you about not seeing the brothers take a backseat to the angels or the demons. The angel story line was handcrafted for them as they were destined to become the vessels for the angel brothers Michael and Lucifer. It shows how their relationship as brothers could overcome all odds. Even the with the weight of the world of their shoulders.

    Like you, I really love the supporting characters. (Cas is also my favorite)and I also love Bobby. I think Castiel and Bobby flesh out other aspects of Sam and Dean that the brother relationship alone would not show. The father figure and the best friend. I have to agree with the other ladies about him not forgiving Cas yet. I think it would be out of character for Dean. It took him a really long time to come to grips with what happened with Sam when he choose to work with Ruby. I do however think Dean wants to forgive Castiel. It will take time though. Right now I think he is focused on the end game of Dick and his merry band of leviathans and he sees Cas as a means to an end. Dean definitely has a huge heart and he doesn't take his friendships lightly! I think he will get there in his own time. The guy has been through a lot between Sam, Cas and the death of Bobby.

    I also really enjoyed the exchange between Sam and Cas this episode. You can see that Sam has already forgiven him and I think that is due to the fact that Sam himself has been in the same position. The whole good intentions but taking the shady road route and having it blow up in his face as well. No one knows that better than Sam. I think Sam has really grown with his experiences.

    As for Castiel. I really liked what you said about his feeling massive amounts of guilt. That scene with Dean and Cas and the game of Sorry had so much meat behind it! I nearly cried when it cut back to him sitting on the floor, picking up the pieces, one by one, when you know he could have waved his hand and it would have been fixed. The easy way is not always right way. Lessons need to be learned. They have to go through the process.

    Again, I really liked what you said about Cas and Meg. Are they both in search of redemption? Can an angel and demon do this together? I think maybe Cas sees something in Meg that all of us and the Winchesters and even Meg herself don't. She's got some good in there. Deep down...way deep down...lol I am interested to see where this relationship goes. Meg says she's in it for self preservation but who knows? This show always surprises me and that one of the things I love about it so much.

    Anyway, sorry i blathered on and on so much. Your review is awesome and I look forward to reading more from you on future episodes.

  8. who was saying no more angels and no more Cas? I know I've said that I felt that Cas's storyline could have been done at the end of five, but it didn't. the problem I have is with some of the cas fans that yell about him not getting enough playing time, etc. then YES the story is about the Winchesters. I liked the way your phrased it and your take o the angels and demons thing...the only thing I would add is that last season the angels just made sam and dean seem impotent sometimes--they were so much more powerful and manipulated the game. Sam and Dean didn't seem like the heroes of their story but Ken dolls being posed and dressed up by the angels. I'd rather them not be a part if that is the way they're going to play. One of the the things I loved so much about this episode was that Cas in his own new way told us that the angels were sent to watch and that's all they should be doing, not playing with a game they don't totally understand...they are above, but not really understanding the subtle perfection of what is going on. I think Edlund wrote in a great way for the angels to exit stage left and go into the background...just popping up here and there. I also loved that the leviathans are more powerful than angels...that means the angels can't be the easy fix of the leviathan problem. Sam and Dean will use the knowledge they got from the word and their own amazing Yankee ingenuity (Not Yankee as in Northerner because they're not...but Yankee in the sense of American) Like The Man Who Would Be King, Edlund made me love Cas... as far as forgiving Cas is concerned, I love the pilot eppie of SG-1 when O'Neil tells Jackson (about he and his wife's split over the loss of their son) She forgave me, but she will never forget it. Me, I will never forgive myself, but sometimes I can forget. I kind of feel this may significant in the whole Dean and Cas forgiving and forgetting thing--I feel that Dean has forgiven Cas for what he did, but he will never forget what Cas did...and because of that, I don't think Dean will ever be able to trust Cas like he had before. But I'm tired tonight and may just be babbling. I think that this eppie made us all philosophers :D Can't wait to see where this is all heading!

  9. Thanks Nicole.. awesome comments as usual.

    I think I really struggle to understand when people said the angels made sam and dean so small and they take the backseat, not in control etc.. I think it's the heroes journey, they are supposed to struggle. I don't think the angels took away the focus at all. I just never see it like this. The Winchesters can't have an easy job and they've won the fight from the demons and angels before and they can do it again with the Leviathans... That's how I always see it.

    Awesome stuff :)



Leave a comment, you know you want to! It is the Winchester way.