Episode(s) Review(s) – “Reading is Fundamental” & “There will be Blood”

The season winds to a close here as I find myself falling behind on reviews.  Best do two at once to be ready for tonight’s finale.

Reading is Fundamental

And here we see the trend of SPN taking on very… punny names with episode titles.

Still, this was not a bad episode, and continues SPN’s long tradition of making prophets out of… less than brave people.  Which is pretty Judeo-Christian when you think about it.

I’ve been in favor of letting angels & demons rest as a story motif since the end of season 5, but this episode almost made me rethink that position.  Though I… I am somewhat bugged by the whole DBZ-esque feel the show has gotten lately.  Namely that each successively introduced being is more powerful than the last.  Or rather, I don’t mind say… leviathan beating angels, but I wish it was just a bit more of a fight than a smackdown.  Heck, the entire show is premised on humans – the weakest and “lowest” beings on the totem pole in the SPN world ultimately fighting back and winning against their “betters” through smarts, wits and cooperation.  While the big fights can be entertaining, at times I wish we could see monster vs monster fights (or monster vs angel in this case) show a bit more tactical and back & forth.

Man, sucks to be Kevin, though.  Two years ago, a prophet got his own archangel to protect himself.  Now?  Lucifer- Locked away.  Michael- Locked away.  Raphael- Dead.  Gabriel- Dead.

Now, as for the revelation…

On the one hand, I get tv & movies having the whole “kill the leader = win the war” set ups that a lot of stories have out of necessity of the mediums’ natures.  On the other, this hasn’t quite been done in SPN.  After all, Lucifer & Azazel both were defeated, but their soldiers continue on.  It is interesting how much the “death of Dick” explains about leviathan.  My earlier theory is confirmed, that their obedience to “higher up” leviathan is absolute.  Thus, leviathans’ strength is absolute cooperation, but it’s also their weakness.  It also might be why they hunger for humans so much.  It’s not just the meat, or the power of souls, but the free will which they lack which they desire.

There will be Blood

This episode… how to put it…

It was both great in the new directions it took things, but very cliche in the old SPN tropes it replayed.  Not that there’s anything wrong with reworking tropes & cliches.  A good example was Bobby possessing that poor housekeeper, a symbol of how far he’s going (and although part of me wishes he had gone on, it is interesting to watch a ghost fall before our eyes).

Bad example: “innocent” that the boys rescue turns out to have been a “plant” or “traitor” or “on the monsters’ side”.  We’ve seen it so much over the years, I kept waiting for the reveal since we first saw Emily (though Laci J. Mailey has very pretty eyes, so it wasn’t a bad thing having to watch her).

Then there was the lore…

I’ve said for awhile that the biggest fault of season 4 & 5 was the lack of even a REFERENCE to the larger goings on from creatures that maybe should know better (except for… twice, maybe).  Sometimes you have to wonder why the monsters don’t run into each other more often.  Speaking of monsters, we have confirmation that Eve is a leviathan (or very very close to them).  I did like that the show gave the leviathan a bit more reason to hate other monsters – they see them as corruptions of themselves (not unlike how Lucifer might see demons) and killing them off as a way of cleaning up after the rogue actions of one of their members (in addition to eliminating the competition).  Though, one wonders: could phoenix ash also kill other leviathan, or just Eve?

Now when it comes to the alphas…

I know some have complained about how “America-centric” the show is at times, but I haven’t always agreed with it.  Usually, the creators do a good job of giving hints that events are happening all over the world, we’re just looking at a microcosm of the wider picture.  Some things could be handwaved. (Why did Lucifer fall into ancient Massachusetts?  Because he [or someone] knew that one day he would need Sam Winchester, so he wanted to make it easier for Sam to get to him.  Or maybe Lucifer just happened to fall there, and Heaven & Hell have been orchestrating events to revolve in America for that reason.)  The only ones that are really hard to excuse are the horsemen.  (It made since for Pestilence to be here, but War?  Famine?  Death?)

Yet according to this episode, all the alphas are dead except for the vampire.  All of them.  Monsters from around the world were all crammed into that one building in America.  I mean… it should have been much larger!  Then, as if you needed further proof that season 6 was made up as it went along, they confirm that Castiel killed all those alphas.  You know Cas – the one who was working with Crowley at the time.  Another person who was using alphas to look for purgatory.  A place they hadn’t found yet?  What – The – Hell???  The angel could fake Crowley’s death but not that of the alphas that they needed and had spent so long looking for?  Heck he didn’t want to try and move them to a place further away from the Winchesters just to keep them in the dark while he kept working?  This is one of the most holey motivations I’ve ever seen in a work.  Just… ow!

I’d almost rank it higher for all the lore they added in, but some of the bad just kept it from rising higher.

.

So with the finale on the 18th, the big question is: where does 8 go?  Two episodes back we heard it said that there were so few angels left – so probably not much of them.  Surely by now demons have got to be a limited resource (I think more have been killed in the show than all people have ever lived).  Alphas are all gone, leviathan are committing germ warfare against any monsters that remain – so those will be worse than endangered before too long.  If leviathan are defeated this month, who’s left?

“See you next season.” -Vampire Alpha

Oh.  Not sure how much I’m looking forward to 8.

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