Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles in SUPERNATURAL - Season 7 - "The Born-Again Identity" | ©2012 The CW/Ed Araquel

Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles in SUPERNATURAL - Season 7 - "The Born-Again Identity" | ©2012 The CW/Ed Araquel

Stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark Pellegrino, Rachel Miner, Bill Dorr, Kacey Rohl
Writer:
Sera Gamble, series created by Eric Kripke
Director:
Robert Singer
Network:
The CW, Fridays @ 9 PM
Original Airdate:
March 23, 2012

It’s hard to keep a (mostly) good angel down and, while we don’t get an explanation in this episode of SUPERNATURAL as to how and why it occurs, Castiel (Misha Collins) is back with us, and the boys, in “The Born-Again Identity.” Adding to the fun, Mark Pellegrino is back as the ever-cheery Lucifer and Rachel Miner returns as rogue demon Meg.

Sam (Jared Padalecki) is being literally driven crazy by Lucifer. The Devil is making Sam’s nightmares so awful that Sam is doing all he can to avoid sleep. This lands Sam in a psych ward. Dean (Jensen Ackles), desperate to help his brother, seeks out a healer who has been recommended by another Hunter. The hunter calls himself Emanuel, but Dean is considerably shocked to find that it’s really Castiel. “Emanuel” has no memory of anything that happened prior to a few months back, when his now-wife rescued him soaking wet from a river bank.

Meg the demon approaches Dean. She wants aid from Castiel, as she’s still on the outs with Hell’s current lord Crowley. Since Crowley no longer seems to be protecting Dean from random demons and since Meg may be able to help with the immediate rescue of Sam, Dean allows her to come along. During the road trip back to the hospital, Emanuel is clued in to his former identity. When he kills his first demon, Castiel’s memory comes back. He is appalled by all the death he wrought and doesn’t believe he can help. Dean gives Castiel back his trench coat, which has been in the trunk of Dean’s car all this time.

Inside the mental institution, Sam manages to help fellow inmate Maren (Kacey Rohl) by banishing the ghost of her pyrokinetic brother. However, Sam’s actions (and lack of sleep) get him sent to shock therapy – and the male nurse in charge of administering the treatment is possessed by a demon. Before Sam’s brains get too scrambled, Dean and Castiel come to the rescue. Castiel says he cannot heal Sam – but he can transfer the problem. Castiel draws Lucifer (his brother in angel-hood, even if Lucifer fell) into himself, which sets Sam free. Unable to do anything for Castiel at this point, Dean and Sam must leave him behind as a patient at the mental hospital. Shortly thereafter, Meg applies and gets a job as a nurse at the facility.

There seems to be a little bit of ret-con at work here, as initially the block in Sam’s brain was not to keep Lucifer out in the present, but rather to prevent Sam from remembering his time in the cage in Hell. However, since Pellegrino’s sunny, snarky Lucifer is much more fun to watch than abstract shots of flames and sounds of screaming, it’s not a bad thing.

Having Castiel be himself – literal-minded, inquisitive – even before he recalls his identity gives an uncommon sweetness to the episode. Before, Castiel has always been burdened by his mission. Here, he is at first guided solely by a desire to be helpful, and then by the impulse to make amends. He’s warmer in this incarnation, which not only allows Collins to play some new notes, but also gives Ackles a different wavelength to work on as Dean reacts to this changed version of his friend.

Padalecki does a good job depicting Sam’s rundown, exhausted state. Again, there’s something touching in seeing Sam finally succeed in this episode, even if it’s in doing a standard exorcism.

As for Pellegrino, he has a splendidly light touch here. There’s no reason for Lucifer to ever get heavy, angry or menacing – this is his game and he’s winning, so he’s all playfulness. Miner as the cranky, crafty Meg makes a fine, insinuating sparring partner for Dean.

“The Born-Again Identity” is fun, touching and has some truly enjoyable guest performances. It contains a lot of what is best about SUPERNATURAL.

Related Link: Exclusive Interview with SUPERNATURAL star Jared Padalecki on Season 7

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: TV Review: SUPERNATURAL – Season 7 – “The Born-Again Identity”

 

 

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