Supernatural: In Case of Emergency, Break Cas

Supernatural S07E21: "Reading Is Fundamental"

All season long we've been waiting for Supernatural's Leviathan storyline to kick into high gear, and with last week's "The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo" we finally got out of neutral as things began to pick up. After Friday's "Reading Is Fundamental," we're practically going the speed limit, and a lot of that is because Supernatural superstar Ben Edlund, who wrote and directed the episode, was in the driver's seat.

"Reading Is Fundamental" was a peculiar episode because when you really think about it, not a lot happened except the discovery of a legitimate way to kill a Leviathan. Yes, that's astronomically huge for the storyline, but the episode was really just an hour of getting the "in case of emergency" tablet into the hands of the right person and letting them translate it. But Edlund has a knack for making things more interesting when the show needs it.

And making things interesting meant adding a healthy dose of Castiel, freshly awakened from his Lucifer-nightmare slumber. This was Cas back to abnormal angel, one of the many personae that actor Misha Collins deftly hops in and out of, and one of my favorites. I think the order for me goes 1) Unfamiliar with human ways and cell phones normal Castiel; 2) Oblivious, wigged-out, bee-chasing angel Castiel; 3) Orgy-loving stoner human Castiel; 9,4325) Angry God Castiel. I'm not sure how you've all felt about Castiel's arc, but I think there've been a fair amount of regrettable decisions made with regard to the character, and waking Castiel up as something we recognize was a way of the show saying, "We messed up, it's time to fix it." And it's about time, because I missed me some Castiel! It was also a convenient way of getting rid of that whole "mental wall" thing that Sam passed onto Castiel. Another case of, "This didn't work, let's just ditch it and pretend it never happened." We (the fans) were already a step ahead of you, Supernatural writers, but it's nice to see you recognize it too.

Castiel's rise from sawing logs with Lucifer was triggered by Sam and Dean breaking open Dick Roman's sacred mud-encased package, a tablet more sought after than anything Apple will put out until the iPad 7 with the power of God is released. The tablet was a bunch of chicken scratch that could only be read by a prophet, because God always has to make things so unnecessarily complicated, like he's a writer for Alcatraz or something. In fact, getting the tablet out of its case triggered a lot of things, including turning an Asian-American stereotype (Study study study! Must get into Princeton! Super organized! Plays the cello!) named Kevin into the only thing that could translate the words.

Eventually those words were read, and apparently the only worthwhile passage was something along the lines of, "Leviathans can only be killed by the bone of a righteous man soaked in the blood of the three fallen." One of the fallen is a fallen angel, and Castiel readily supplied his juice for the cause. The other two, if you paused the television to read Kevin's translation, said the blood of the ruler of fallen humanity and the father of fallen beasts. I'm guessing the latter is an Alpha monster, but I'm stumped on the former. Perhaps we haven't met him yet? Are there any really bad humans out there who can fill that role? At least now we know what will happen next episode: a fetch quest! Get the bone, get the blood, get the other blood, and get ready to stab Dick Roman in the finale!

One other interesting that was set up for the finale is the rag-tag group of world savers that's been assembled. Supernatural is a long way away from being the Sam and Dean show, and this season's gang of saviors looks like it will be Meg, Kevin, Castiel, and Ghost Bobby joining Sam and Dean to ride out the final credits of Season 4. (This would never happen if the old four-seater Impala was around.) Normally I'd be wary of bringing in such a large group and taking the spotlight off of Sam and Dean, but so far, Meg has shown her worth by killing those demons, neurotic Kevin is a welcome addition, and Castiel is no longer a total jerk. I'm crossing my fingers and thinking this can work, guys.

Another good step made in "Reading Is Fundamental" was making the Leviathans a bit darker. For most of the season they've been obvious winking pokes at corporate greed, but by keeping the caricature of Dick Roman out of this episode and using only Edgar, the Leviathans got a lot of their bite back. We needed to see Edgar gut a few angels to remind us that these are more than one-percenters with big teeth. It's a little late, but it's better than nothing.

As problematic as the first half of Season 7 was, Supernatural has made big strides in rectifying things and salvaging the season. It's still not great, but it's a long way away from its original trajectory of circling the bowl.



Super-note-urals

– Boy am I glad they killed off new angel Hester so quickly. She was annoying right from the get-go!

– I loved a lot of the new-age gobbledygook that Castiel was spittin', including how he backed the Neanderthals over Homo Sapiens because "their poetry was totally in tune with the spheres."

– Anyone get the feeling that Meg's along for the ride just so the writers will have someone to kill off in the finale?

– How is Crowley really going to fit in all this? He's always got some scheme schemin'.



Supernatural Season 7 Power Rankings

"Reading Is Fundamental" continued to point things in the right direction, and the addition of Kevin was a pleasant surprise. This episode benefited from its placement in the season, because it gave us great direction heading into the final two episodes. Had this been a middle-of-the-season episode, it would've landed somewhere in the middle. But now it's going to place higher than that.

1. "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie" (Episode 14)
Sam and Dean investigated mysterious deaths around a kid's pizza-and-games party house. Unicorns farting rainbows, ball pit sharks spraying blood, and octo-vamps giving fatal hickeys made this a fun episode.

2. "Party On, Garth" (Episode 18)
A Japanese ghost can only be seen by drunks, Garth returns, and Mr. Fizzles the sock puppet! But we finally learn the truth about what Bobby is up to in the afterlife.

3. "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" (Episode 5)
A pair of witches needed some couples counseling in a gory fun-fest that guest-starred Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters.

4. "Death's Door" (Episode 10)
Bobby fought for his life and delved into his past as he tried to deliver a message to Sam and Dean from beyond the plane of the living.

5. "The Mentalists" (Episode 7)
More standalone fun as the brothers investigated murders in a town full of psychics.

6. "Reading Is Fundamental" (Episode 21)
Academic Asian stereotype Kevin became the prophet as Sam and Dean got instructions on how to kill a Leviathan. Plus, Cas came back!

7. "Meet the New Boss" (Episode 1)
Castiel got all righteous on those who didn't respect The Good Word, and it was great.

8. "Repo Man" (Episode 15)
The brothers visited a man they saved from a murderous demon four years ago, and Lucifer blabbed Sam's ear off.

9. "The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo" (Episode 20)
Sam and Dean got a lesbian hacker to sift through Dick Roman's emails and Bobby ghost-pushed a lot of people.

10. "Born-Again Identity" (Episode 17)
Sam ended up in a mental hospital after too many chats with mind-Satan, and Castiel returned to smite and then get left behind.

11. "Adventures in Babysitting" (Episode 11)
Sam and Dean coped with Bobby's death and met a fellow hunter's young daughter.

12. "Out With the Old" (Episode 16)
A tale of cursed ballerina slippers became a story about a Leviathan real estate agent.

13. "Of Grave Importance" (Episode 19)
Sam and Dean headed to a haunted house, where Bobby learned a thing or two about ghosts and finally became visible to Sam and Dean.

14. "Slash Fiction" (Episode 6)
Two Leviathans disguised themselves as Sam and Dean and took off on a cross-country shootin' spree!

15. "The Slice Girls" (Episode 13)
Dean had a one-night stand with an Amazonian lady, and Sam took Dean's Daddy card away.

16. "Hello, Cruel World" (Episode 2)
The Leviathans set up a buffet at a hospital after spreading into the water supply.

17. "Time After Time" (Episode 12)
Dean traveled back to 1944 and battled the God of Time with Eliot Ness.

18. "How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters" (Episode 9)
Hyperadrenalized cannibals and stoner sandwiches! Dick Roman's plan was sort of unveiled! And Bobby got shot!

19. "The Girl Next Door" (Episode 3)
Via flashback, we saw Sam's first kiss... with a monster! Then Dean killed her.

20. "Defending Your Life" (Episode 4)
Dean went on trial before Osiris because of the guilt he carries. Jo came back to blow him up!

21. "Season 7, Time for a Wedding" (Episode 8)
Too. Much. Becky. Larson.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (32)
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Jo_Harvelle -Idon't think that Meg is there just because they want to kill her off. She always had a thing for Castiel and obviously he had a thing for her too. So she was a really big help when she stayed with him in the hospital and i liked her.

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I like Meg too, but I don't think she returned just because she likes Clarence (Castiel) She's always been a Lucifer loyalist (thats why Crowley hates her) and I think Lucifer managed someway/somehow to hitch a ride out of the Cage when Sam's soul was brought out.
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nhcool_007-I am not denying Castiel betrayed Dean and Sam. But as you pointed out so did Sam with Lucifer.

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Good point. And lets not forget that after Castiel put everything on the line for Sam and Dean and was cast out of Heaven for it, Dean was ready to sell him out by agreeing to be Michaels vessel.
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Left4Ed-Dean doesn't owe Cas shit.

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Wrong. Cas doesn't owe Dean shit. Dean has spit on Cas ever since Cas pulled him out of the pit.
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Tim are you ok? I look forward to your reviews on my favorite shows, esp this one... I keep checking back for a review for ep 22 but to no avail. I miss you!
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I was way too distracted by the horrible acting of Rachel Miner to enjoy the episode throughout. There were some great lines though and I'm really happy, Cas is back.
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I think theres something up with the particular scene they chose to flashback to at the very begining of this episode in the "previously" section. It was a scene of "In Sam's Head Lucifer" saying to Sam "No you don't get it I'm INSIDE YOU" this is something my bf and I have been talking about for a couple weeks now. I think the big "double cross" from the Alpha Vamp shown in the promo for the next episode it a bit of a red herring. I believe that its going to turn out that Lucifer piggybacked on Sams soul to get out the cage and he was ACTUALLY INSIDE SAM. Now he's in Castiel. And this new weird behavior of Cas's?? Think about it, why is Meg there...shes a Lucifer loyalist remember peeps? Perhaps Luci's already taken over...... hehehe I think thats awesome, and I bet the hell I'm right...or at least close.
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The friction in Dean and Cass's relation really makes me sad. Its kind of frustrating watching Dean be so mad at castiel all the time. They really need to set it right.

Is it just me that feels even Dean owes him an apology. And plus they need to get the old Castiel back - badass and quirky. Although having him back is awesome but he's just so meek and compensating.

Here's hoping Jeremy Carver sets things straight.
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... Have you SEEN season six? Cas (by the way, it's spelled Cas. Grammer Nazi at your service.) is lucky Dean didn't stab him with his own angel sword! Cas BETRAYED Dean and Sam and ripped Sam's brain in twain! Yes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and yes, Sam did go to the dark side in season four and they tried to make the allegory of Cas releasing the Leviathans to Sam freeing Lucifer (rehashing old plots, writers?) but in the end, Dean told him how it was. He should have known better, as an angel, he should have known better and could have asked for help at ANY time. Dean doesn't owe Cas shit. It's actually reversed and the pathetic apology Cas gave Dean in this episode was paltry and inexcusable. Gamble made the wise choice to kill Cas off -because no one else had the balls in season's four, five or six- and it was a mistake to bring him back to capitulate to the fangirls. Even Misha and Jensen said at the Rome convention that his return episode (ep. 17) and the writing was contrived and ridiculous. And the ratings speak for themselves. They have not peaked since bringing Cas back. GARTH'S episode had higher ratings! The only way Carver could set things right is to stick to his guns and kill Cas off for good.
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Grammar nazi, police thyself! It's not spelled grammer.



I gave you the benefit of the doubt with your first post. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it seemed fairly rational even if I didn't necessarily agree with it. But....now you are exposed as a hate-monger misrepresenting the actors and I'm going to respond.



First, your interpretation on the ratings is only that...an interpretation. It's not a fact just because you wish it to be. I've reviewed fact vs opinion with my 10 year old this year and you might consider a refresher lesson.



Second, don't mix up whatever your personal ideal of an angel is with what the series has given us in regards to them. SPN is a fictional series and they follow their own incoherent canon. Cas eventually sided with Dean and Sam vs the other angels. Did you not watch the prior seasons?



Finally, you are misrepresenting what Jensen and Misha said at the con. I hope this was an honest misunderstanding rather than something with malicious intent. They had issue with dialogue in one scene which they then worked together to correct. By the way, your wise Gamble wrote what you called ridiculous and contrived. I do have to admit, though, that I found the last two seasons of the Gamble-led show to be ridiculous and contrived so you may have a point.



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I am not denying Castiel betrayed Dean and Sam. But as you pointed out so did Sam with Lucifer. It took Sam and Dean time to figure out their stuff and I had hoped Dean and Castiel would be well on their way to fixing their relation. You say as an angel, he should have known better but you are forgetting Castiel has been reflecting human qualities since the time he and Dean started interacting. And honestly when exactly have angels ever known better, they've been a shitty example all through out. Castiel is the only one amongst them who was worth being called Angel until season 6 of course. But the thing is he has shown remorse and its time Dean accept that.

And as for your claim of killing Castiel would do good to the show. I'm sorry but you couldn't be more wrong. I'm neither a fan girl nor a crazy fan of Castiel but he's an important part of the show who adds another much needed dimension and relation beyond Bobby, Dean and Sam. Killing him off would bring the show to rock bottom in terms of ratings. I have to concede that his return wasn't great but the ratings reflect the quality of the episode and not the character. Tim is spot on when he says: I think there've been a fair amount of regrettable decisions made with regard to the character, and waking Castiel up as something we recognize was a way of the show saying, "We messed up, it's time to fix it"
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Good episode, but could have been better in some ways. It was hilarious when Cas pulled out the board game Sorry! It was great to learn more about the Leviathans and how to kill them. The action was awesome, and I can hardly wait to see how things play out!
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"I'm not sure how you've all felt about Castiel's arc, but I think there've been a fair amount of regrettable decisions made with regard to the character, and waking Castiel up as something we recognize was a way of the show saying, "We messed up, it's time to fix it"



From your mouth to the show god's ear because I have hated the direction they have taken the character as well as not understanding the reason for them doing so. As much as I didn't like or want the arc? (seems there were lots of plots that went nowhere) of season 6, how much better could it have been if Castiel had managed to take out Raphael (remember the IMPETUS for what happened) and Crowley both while sacrificing himself.



If Cas had trapped both he and Crowley in purgatory, this season the Winchesters could have been on their own while trying to figure a way to free him. Although...maybe not...since even without Cas the show keeps bringing in either Bobby, ghost Bobby, or sundry other never-mentioned-before old friends or helpful geeks to hold their hands.



While Gamble may have wanted to get rid of Castiel, she obviously needed him to help her find her way out of impossible, ridiculous, and/or just plain boring story lines. Sam is in the cage in Hell.....Castiel springs him. Um...yeah...just how did he manage to do this, especially without letting either Lucifer or Michael out? Sam's soul is irreparably damaged....Death build's his mind a wall...what? Have Cas inexplicably tear down the wall.....then have Cas take on Sam's damage. Sorry. I still don't quite get how he managed that either.



Boy would I like a reboot.

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On paper (or website) this episode of Supernatural seemed okay, but while watching it, I found it to be arguably the most boring episode I remember viewing. Aside from having a few scenes involving Kevin or Castiel that made me smirk, there was something about the pacing (and maybe the writing) of the episode that really made me want to throw stuff at my TV for being so boring.



Despite the advancement it made for the overall plot, this episode definitely falls into my list of bottom or worst three episodes of the season.
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There isn't much that can be done at this point except to tie up the loose ends of this season and lurch into season 8, and start afresh. They're going through the motions of the Leviathan non-story, and they could've wrapped it up in one ep (made it ONE item to kill the Levis, for example) but we have to do the quota of eps, hence the stuffing. ATM, Sam & Dean have been reduced to doing odd jobs, and then when they actually do something, like get the clay tablet form the airport it's reduced to 2 minutes, so extra people have to pad up the story. Which, like in Kevin's or Garth's cases, are funny-ish due to the charisma of the actors rather than good writing, or in the case of that hunter-ghost-lady or the D&D girl, annoying and/or boring. So this is how it's going to be this season, we just have to wait it out.



OT: Sam used to much cleverer earlier, why does he act dumb nowadays? Compare to S1/S2 Sam, sharp and well-informed. And now they act clueless about everything since Bobby' gone, but earlier Sam used to do the research himself, right? So making Sam dumb - given that Dean's never been a scholarly type - really weakens the complementary strengths of the duo. I'm not the biggest fan of Sam, but he was very smart, and wall in skull or not, there's no reason to make him dumb.
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"the blood of the ruler of fallen humanity " has got to be Crowley.
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Exactly...King of Hell
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how about Lucifer? THAT would be great!
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I was sure it was Crowley until I started thinking about Lucifer. I mean, if we all assume it's Crowley until the episode, it would be a lot better plot twist when Crowley's purpose is actually to help them get Lucifer's blood... and they have to go back to the beginning, as Castiel said, i.e., they accidentally let Lucifer and Michael out of the cage or something along those lines. I mean, could they REALLY avert the apocalypse forever?
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Crowley would be simpler to access given only 1.5 eps to go before the blood is needed :P
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You missed Jimmy, Misha Collins also played Jimmy, Castiel's vessel in an episode. And Elisha, the healer human (who was really just Castiel with memory loss) from the episode where he returned.
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Emanuel, I think?
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The entire conversation between Castiel and Dean over the Sorry! game was the highlight of the episode, and Ben Edlund's dialogue. Everything Castiel was saying about the game was a metaphor for what the Winchesters were going through, what they have yet to face, and potentially the next season ("Go back to the beginning.")
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Wasn't 'go back to the beginning' a theme in season 6? We all know how that worked out....
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I thought Season 6 was about the Aftermath of the averted Apocalypse. I thought "Go Back to The Beginning" was the theme of Season 7, where's it's only the boys' on the road, they're resources being taken away..etc. Point still stands I guess... depending on your outlook for Season 7. I enjoyed it mostly...at least more than Season 6.
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So I'm not completely upset about the episode... It was quite good, plot and pacing wise, but... The reason I grew to hate Castiel was because the writers turned him into a mouthpiece for exposition and comic relief. And that's pretty much all he was in this episode. The only scene I really enjoyed with him in it was when he and Dean were playing Sorry. It had nothing to do with anything and it was just Dean getting shit off his chest about how badly Cas effed up. It was real and relevant. Then they had to ruin it by turning Cas into a retard. I did like the line about the racing dogs though. The "thinking in ovals" thing totally got a belly laugh out of me. Honestly, I'm just waiting for the moment they kill Castiel off and it sticks. It's a tired story and rehashing it again and again is just getting tedious to watch. Meg however was just fucking perfect. Seriously. I'm shocked, since normally I'm neutral on her presence. All in all, it was definitely a good episode, but if it's taken them pretty much to the season finale to actually get shit done with the Leviathans, it's too little too late. They had the same problem in season five, with the decision to only have Lucifer in six episodes out of twenty-two. Yes, it IS in fact the Sam and Dean show, but when the Big Bad is ready to crack the earth in half, it helps to actually, I dunno, FOCUS on that for more than just a few episodes, instead of choosing to play up the drama between the brothers.
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I seriously loved Kevin (probably because I can identify with the Princeton-2400 SAT-Cellist stereotype). Other than that, I'm actually surprised that I generally found this to be an OK episode. I loved seeing Cas, but I was really annoyed that they ditched the Cage Insanity plot so eagerly. Helloooo we've been riding this plotline for 2 seasons; to see it just be forgotten to easily was like putting salt in the wound (since I really didn't like Hallucifer too much). I prefer the serious, non-hippie Cas with the deadpan humor. BRING HIM BACK.
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The blood of the ruler of fallen humanity is obviously Crowley. When humans do bad things they become demons when they die.



I'm not sure I liked Castiel being broken. Maybe I'm just too sentimental and want him back to his old self. There was something about this episode that really bothered me and I can't place my finger on what it was.
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"blood of the ruler of fallen humanity" = Crowley. Not really a spoiler, because it's both in the press release and the previews. The ruler doesn't have to be human, he just has to have a few billion bad/fallen humans under his command.
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Yes, and considering Ruby already told us that every demon was once a human, it's kind of a slam dunk. I'm going to take a chance and say Crawley was not mentioned without intent this episode ;)
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No, that makes the most sense as demons have been considered fallen humans.
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I'm glad Leviathans are stronger than Angels. BTW anyone questioning why the other Angel didn't do anything he tried, he put his hand up toward the Leviathan and nothing happened. They did teleport in, but he wanted them to.
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The Transformers reference was so great :D I totally thought that Cas said Megatron :D

Stoned Cas was more than weird. He was psychotic, but his "Pull my finger" was great :D Best line ever!

Idon't think that Meg is there just because they want to kill her off. She always had a thing for Castiel and obviously he had a thing for her too. So she was a really big help when she stayed with him in the hospital and i liked her.
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