Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S07E21 – Reading is Fundamental

In the twenty-first episode of the seventh season of Supernatural, YES. KEVIN TRAN, YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.

Well, holy shit, that was so wonderful.

There’s just SO MUCH going on here, everyone! KEVIN TRAN and MEG BEING AMAZING and CASTIEL and LEVIATHANS and h e l p

Kevin Tran

I think Kevin’s character is rooted in a stereotype (of the overachieving Asian kid with an overbearing mother/schedule), and I also think there are clear signs that the is already moving away from that idea. One way that the writers do this is by giving Kevin the chance to constantly reflect on how his life has… well, I was going to say that it had become chaotic, but it kind of already was, no? And that’s what I found compelling about Kevin. Like him, I was so determined to be perfect in high school, convinced that my entire life hinged on my 4.30+ GPA and my AP classes and my extracurricular activities. While a lot of what I learned did end up being important to me, GUESS WHAT. NEVER FINISHED COLLEGE. So I found Kevin’s storyline so relatable because you know what? I couldn’t control the events in my life that led me to dropping out of college. But they also helped me learn that high school wasn’t the end of my life. It was important, but not everything.

What’s also interesting to me about Kevin is that he is almost a companion to the character of Charlie Bradbury in the last episode. It’s taken Supernatural a long time to get to these types of characters: people who do not become superheroes or courageous warriors under pressure. Kevin is, plainly speaking, mortified and stressed out by what he is experiencing. Like… we actually see him have an anxiety attack in this episode. It’s legitimized, Dean isn’t remotely cruel about it, and it’s not written off as a supernatural side effect. Kevin’s reaction to what’s happening to him is his own. And I think it’s important that the writers have given us two characters in a row who have this much emotional depth to them. Kevin is an unwilling prophet who is utterly terrified by the horrors he’s seen, AND THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE.



Castiel’s characterization within this episode is fascinating to me, and I’m still trying to get a grasp on it. Like Sam and Dean, I went into this initially believing that something was “wrong” with him. It had never occurred to me that he was exactly as he wanted to be. After taking Sam’s burden, he was changed, possibly irrevocably. And all of it was as a result of what he’d done in season six. As infuriating as it was for Dean to experience this version of Castiel, I think that it was clear that Cas was drowning in guilt. This was his way of overcompensating. He talks of the human world with wonder and amazement. Not that this is a display or that he doesn’t genuinely feel this way about humanity; I don’t think that’s the case.

But the show is deliberately ambiguous about this, and once the Garrison angels arrive, matters are complicated. Hester and Inias are shocked at the sight of Castiel, and then Hester is enraged by what she perceives as his foolishness. But I noticed that Castiel made no effort to assert authority over these angels whatsoever. No, he doesn’t seem interested in power at all, even if that power will help Dean and Sam. His disinterest is related to his desire to avoid conflict, so my theory? Cas is going to great lengths to prevent himself from ever grabbing for power again. Though I do wonder how long he’ll stay neutral. He still cares about Dean, so what happens if Dean is threatened during his pursuit of the Leviathans? Sure, Castiel offered up his blood so he could help kill Dick Roman, but is that it? Is he unwilling to do anything else?

I’d also be interested to see the angels make a return to the show’s mythology because… well, what are they doing now that Castiel has killed most of them? Who is running things? Anyone? Who chose Kevin Tran as the prophet? Why involve him in any of this? Would the angels have invoked this tradition if the Winchesters hadn’t intercepted the Word of God from Dick Roman? IMPORTANT QUESTIONS WITH MARK.


Gods, y’all, there’s SO MUCH fantastic character development within this single episode. Meg operates within a unique part of the Winchester’s life because she’s a demon – a rare sight these days – who demonstrates repeatedly in “Reading is Fundamental” that she’s telling the truth. For the moment, it really is in her best interest to keep the Winchesters alive and Castiel a secret. But by her very nature, we shouldn’t trust her. At any moment, she could turn against them. It’s what demons do.

Except Meg, historically, has done a lot for these two. I have no problem admitting to her storied past, but even in this season, she hasn’t backed out on her deals and she hasn’t contradicted any promises she’s made. That puts her in a fairly unique state: a demon that might actually be trustworthy. But for how long? At what point does her self-preservation put her at odds with the Winchesters? I don’t see any way that she’d turn against them in the recent future, especially since she wants them to take down Crowley. But let’s say they do; what then? What role does she play relative to the Winchesters? She’s a demon!!!

At the very least, Sam and Dean are making gestures that show that for the moment, they’re ready to trust her. Somewhat. It’s a precarious alliance, and it’s one that I don’t expect will last very long, you know?


So, my guess is that Dick Roman wanted to destroy that specific tablet so that no one would know his weakness, right? Regardless, they’ve figured out that Kevin Tran has it. HOW??? How did they figure that out? And what are they other two types of blood that they need? Fallen what? Oh lord, I’ll be finishing this season soon. I’M SCARED.

The video for “Reading is Fundamental” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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