Supernatural returned this week with an excellent episode written and directed by veteran writer Ben Edlund. Edlund is known for his excellent dialogue and intricate plots, spiced up with a side of whacky, and he’s in fine form with “Reading is Fundamental.”
I was disappointed with last week’s “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo.” While Felicia Day did a good job in her role as a geek computer hacker Charlie, the episode felt more like a showcase for the actress and geek chic than furthering Supernatural’s multiple storylines that need to pay off. This week the focus is squarely back on what matters and that pays off big time.
Like last week, we get introduced to a new character in this episode, but unlike Charlie, Kevin Tran is woven into the fabric of the story, immediately fitting into the Supernatural universe. Our first introduction to Kevin shows him playing lovely haunting music on the cello, which then plays over Sam and Dean’s scene as they examine Dick’s treasure in their hide out. Edlund cleverly links the stories before the characters meet.
Kevin is a sixteen year old high achieving student studying for his SAT who is soon to have his world turn upside down. His conversation with his girlfriend is loaded with foreshadowing that avoids anvil status because it works so well with the characters. As Kevin worries he is so screwed about his SAT essay, his girlfriend tells him one day college won’t matter anymore. The audience nods along sympathetically, knowing “one day” is most likely today.
Sure enough, as Dean whacks away the clay surrounding Dick’s ancient artifact, clouds gather, thunder booms and finally lightning strikes—and Kevin is the “lucky” recipient. It seems he has been chosen as a new prophet, the Keeper of the Word. The Word turns out to be the ancient tablet in Dean and Sam’s possession.
The Winchesters learn about The Word from Castiel, who wakes up at the same instant as The Word is freed, because it sent a peal audible only to angels. Meg sends for the boys’ help, because Castiel isn’t quite the same Castiel who slipped into a coma when he transferred Sam’s hell damage to himself. The new Castiel is more concerned with what he thinks of as the big picture, rather than specific Leviathan problems. He also wants to avoid conflict at all costs and is amusingly difficult to focus on the current problems.