Episode 7.21

“Reading Is Fundamental” Review
By Bekah James

7.21: Reading Is Fundamental
Written & Directed by: Ben Edlund

We are getting down to the nuts and bolts of Season 7. Two more episodes to go (thanks to the extra episode the CW ordered) and then a long, hot summer without our boys. It is bittersweet, to be sure. We will finally get some answers and/or resolution to the Leviathan thing. But summer hiatus is my least favorite time of the year.

The ominous thundering when Dean started hacking away at the slab they swiped from Dick Roman gave me a serious case of the ‘rut-roh’s. When the lightening started, I knew poor, overachieving Kevin Tran was toast. I didn’t see the angel-y eye-flashing thing coming, but it made me sit up in my chair. You guys know how I love a good angel episode. I had been wondering when Metatron would crop up in the mythology, and lo, he did crop up. (Am I the only one who will always and forever see Alan Rickman when Metatron is mentioned? Thanks Kevin Smith.) The fact that Kevin got the light of God the same time Castiel popped up in bed like a well-done piece of toast did not go unnoticed. I can’t decide it was clever or heavy-handed storytelling by Ben Edlund.

Is anyone else tired of the dick/Dick jokes? I hope the boys ice him in the finale for no other reason than putting a fork in the obvious and irritating pun.

The new—and slightly askewed—Castiel made me both happy and incredibly sad. It seems fitting that Cas, who was like a malleable infant in Season 4, a rebellious middle schooler in Season 5, and an entitled teenager in Season 6, would end up on the wrong-end of a bad trip as a honey-bee-loving college kid. It is an interesting evolution. I will miss BAMF!Castiel who flashed his wings and stabbed demons with abandon; but I like this kinder, more vulnerable Cas. It is actually pretty sweet, the relationship between Cas and Meg. Until, of course, she offered up Castiel to Crowley’s goons. But then… man, my emotions are in upheaval! She killed the demons in order to protect Castiel. And then she killed Hester! Ack. Does she actually care about the angel? Oh Meg, how deep thou art.

But. There were moments that made my heart just break. The first being Cas explaining to the boys about the shaft of a cat’s penis. I mean… what? On my first viewing of the episode, I laughed. On my second viewing, I cried. This isCastiel, the nerdy little angel who never did any cloud seeding and scared prostitutes. What is he doing, talking about pings and cat anatomy? The Sorry moment, of course. And then there was the gut-puncher… Castiel saying: “You know me. Always willing to bleed for the Winchesters.” They are killing me with this stuff!

Anyway, Misha Collins played an excellent snapped-off angel. His epic comedic timing was put to use in an oddly poignant manner. The “pull my finger” jokes were delivered with such a flat affect… but he managed to infuse the slightest bit of rib-nudging. He nearly broke my heart when he pulled out the Sorry board game and invited Dean to go first. His ramblings, which seemed nonsensical at first, really struck me on rewatch. They made sense, if you focused on the words and situations. There’s only one writer capable of pulling off such a feat: Ben Edlund.

Ben wrote a powerful script that, in my opinion, was a much more fitting farewell for such a beloved character. I felt like I really had the chance to let my heart ache, and then hug Castiel close and remember him as he used to be. He gave us a few fun moments as well—such as Kevin Tran leading Sam into a serpentine chase; or the Megatron v. Metatron aside between the boys; Castiel shaking the Sorry game and it suddenly appearing on the table; or the beautiful Neanderthal poetry. Perhaps my favorite moment was Castiel telling Sam that ‘troubled’ is the primary aspect of his personality… which he sometimes ignores. Bwahaha! I tell you, Ben never fails to astound me.

I was glad to see the Mr. Smith-style angels from the much-fabled garrison. For one, we learned that Kevin was a prophet and/or the Keeper of the Word of God. For another, we got to see Castiel interact with the angels he once made subjugate themselves to him. It was tragic to see Cas happy to see his brethren and then lose his enthusiasm when Hester confronted him. The poor guy seemed to crumble even further under the pressure. Oh, and one last thing—Dean whipped out the angel-banishing sigil. I missed that.

With the God to English translation of the tablet firmly in hand, the boys are ready to roll. Just a little blood magic. No big whoop. Angels, Winchesters and Kevin are all pleased as punch; that is, until Leviathans squeeze the ever-loving black snot out of the angel bodyguards (heh, Red Shirt angels). Well. Saw that coming, but I still gasped. Wonder what they intend to do with Kevin?

As for the boys, they were fantastic. I always like seeing Dean take care of children in his gruff yet caring way. As for Sam, I knew that no matter how mad Sam gott, he would ultimately come through for an old friend. Taking the initiative to talk to Castiel about his struggle—and to forgive him for everything in their past—it reminded me of the Sam I love so dearly. I’m not sure where he’s been lately—I suppose he was grieving deeply for Bobby. Now that Bobby is sorta back, maybe we’ll get to see more of that guy again.

This episode was well-timed and a very strong mythology episode. I can see that I will grasp more and more hidden emotions and moments with each subsequent viewing. And Leviathans. We are moving closer to resolution at an ever-quickening clip. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that our boys, our ghost, and our angel all make it out alive… or something close to it.

Robbie Thompson moved us along nicely to this Season’s finale. I am looking forward to seeing how the red clay and curing diseases play out in the end. Color me interested.