Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: Supernatural episode 7.17 - "The Born-Again Identity"

Warning - contains spoilers

“We didn’t part friends Dean.” 
“So what.” 

I’m going to start off shallow and just get this out of the way. I found it very difficult to concentrate during Sam’s hospital scenes. There. I said it. Jared was really working that whole floppy hair, scruffy, unshaven, dishevelled, tight-white-t-shirt look. Crazy Sam was fiiiiiiiiinnnnnne. Is that bad of me? To be so totally pervy during such a heartbreaking and epic episode? Pffft! I know I’m not alone. Yes I’m looking at you out there. I know you!

But seriously folks, wow, just wow. “The Born-Again Identity” was a near perfect hour of television. I say near, though off the top of my head I can’t think to fault it. I’m sure there’s some out there who are pickity picking at it, but not me. It was a beautiful script, beautifully realised and beautifully performed. It’s up there in my top 3 for the season, jostling for first place with “Meet The New Boss” and “Death’s Door.” Sera Gamble did us proud. She did the Winchesters proud and she did Castiel proud. Cas’ return was glorious. She’s an absolutely beautiful writer. Regardless of what you may think of her in other capacities, surely that one fact can’t be denied. I applaud her. Sera and Ben Edlund are tag-teaming perfection this season. Now I’m completely busting to see his next episode! There was so much hype about this week’s outing, because of the return of that certain Angel, that rattling around in the back of one’s mind is always the niggling thought, what if it doesn’t deliver? Well it did. And how. “The Born-Again Identity” was magnificent.

Well we knew it was going to happen, Sam was eventually going to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Running the streets in a sleep deprived state he’s hit by a car and winds up in the psych ward of the local hospital, where he shares a room with his bunk buddy Lucifer. Now, I know that this might not be cool to say under these, torturously difficult to watch circumstances, but I simply adore Lucifer. Every time I say that I expect arms to reach up through my floorboards and drag me to Hell kicking and screaming! But I can’t help it. I do. Mark Pellegrino is like a kid in a candy store with that character. He plays him with such verve that I can’t help but titter with glee every time he does something totally bratty. He’s the one thing about Sam being cured I’m going to miss. No more smart-ass, annoying, yet strangely charming Luci. Not that I’d want Sam to remain in this fractured state just for my enjoyment. Of course not! I was wincing along with him with every megaphone screech and firework pop. It was horrible to watch and I’m damn glad it’s over for him. I hope this is the last time we see Sam tortured this way. Visions, demon blood, vessel issues, Hell-dive, no soul, crazy brain…..ok….is that enough? Probably not. But maybe he can have a little break. Here’s hoping that 10 is not on his horizon anytime soon. 

What I loved about Sam’s hospital sojourn (apart from the he looked amazing bit…sorry), is that he was able to solve a case at the same time. Proving that even under the most difficult, life threatening situation, he’s a hunter at heart. But beyond that, he still has that capacity to care, big time. Sure, it was something to distract his brain and while he was talking to Marin, Lucifer was somewhat subdued, but as soon as he put two and two together, he kicked into Winchester mode and went about solving her case. He put his own troubles on the backburner to help someone else. In doing so, he freed a young girl from the kind of torture he was experiencing. What a guy. Sam Winchester your fortitude never ceases to amaze me. As much as I’m besotted with your brother, my heart zings and zips for you too. Just had to let you know that (as I talk to a fictional character).

It goes without saying, Sam’s torture is also Dean’s torture (which means my torture) and ever bit of pain was written across Dean’s face. You know, I’m going to get to the performances later, but I’m always slightly stunned by how Jensen doesn’t really look like Dean. Sounds weird I know, but he doesn’t. I mean, obviously they look a like…same person and all, but he just doesn’t look like Dean. It’s a testament to his performance that I see them as two totally separate individuals and often times have to poke myself to remember that under Dean’s skin is Jensen (and yes, that Dean’s not real *sob*)! “The Born-Again Identity” was one of those moments. A total physical transformation. Dean looked fray, tired, worn, broken, desperate. Teetering on the edge. Just holding on. Again. Meep.

Of course, he’s not going to listen to his brother for one moment when Sam says he can’t be fixed. The Winchesters are nothing if not stubborn sons of bitches. Reminiscent of what is probably my favourite episode “Faith”, also written by Ms Gamble; Dean starts ringing around Bobby’s old friends (in “Faith” Sam rang around John’s old friends), to find a way to help Sam. Which leads him to Emmanuel and the moment so many fans had been waiting for. 

When Dean first set eyes on Emmanuel, A.K.A. Castiel, I think I stopped breathing. Of course, first he had to fight off a demon (yay demons!) and find out the brothers are back on Crowley’s hit list! But then…at the bottom of the stairs….looking up with those innocent eyes is Cas. Dean’s face. How he held it together under the circumstances is beyond me. But he did and he even managed to get his name out and offer his hand to be shaken. At this point, Cas has no idea he’s Cas and Dean caught on to that real quick and went with it. I was itching to see how this first meeting went down and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved it. Misha was perfect.

The car ride was wonderful. Even with Cas confused and suffering from amnesia, Dean opened up to him, telling him he had this friend who let him down, hurt his brother and he just can’t shake it off. Cas responded flatly, of course he can’t, he’s human. It all felt so familiar and as much as I haven’t been pining for Castiel as many of the fans have, I realised I’d missed this. This kind of dialogue. These moments. But I think mostly, this Cas. I like the socially awkward, monotone, Cas. Original Cas. Before he got infected by our humanity. Those flat, honest responses, before we corrupted him with so much emotion. Before he became comic relief, which is how I think he was used through out a lot of season five and even some of six and it did him no justice. He deserved better. This uncomfortable road trip brought back memories of those early scenes between Dean and Cas when they were just starting to build their alliance and friendship. Dean, in this moment, to what essentially is a stranger, opened up more on how he felt about Castiel than he has since the whole bad juju with the Leviathan went down. Man he must have been missing Cas. I’m in no way undermining his relationship with Sam. You know how I feel about that. Sam will always be Dean’s best friend and soul mate, but for some reason, Dean can speak to Cas. Maybe it’s because Cas isn’t family, in the traditional sense of the word and so is just that little bit removed. Maybe it’s because that emotional response Dean’d get from Sam isn’t really there with Cas. Lord knows Dean doesn’t like to openly feel his feelings and Sam does, so maybe that’s why Cas became so important to Dean. Sam knows Dean better than anyone else on the face of this planet and beyond, he can pretty much figure out what Dean’s thinking and is about to say and he’ll head him off at the pass and respond with his own emotionally charged logic. Sam’s wonderful at that and Dean needs it. But more often than not, though Dean has this capacity himself, those emotionally charged conversations squick Dean out! With Cas, he can open up and say his bit without that rush of feelings in return. I think he appreciates that Cas allows him this. Whatever. Dean needed to spill. I’m glad he finally got at least a little of it out. It made me happy. 

When they got to the hospital with the wonderful Meg in tow (please don’t kill her) and all of Cas’ memories came rushing back in that fantastic montage my hands were over my mouth. When faced with what he’d done, Cas looked like he was in such a state of shock, I thought he was about to bolt. Then Dean, God bless him, tells Cas he did the best he could at the time. Oh wow. But Cas wouldn’t hear it, so Dean does what he does best. He reached out with his heart. He reached out with love. He handed Cas the trench coat. 

I burst into tears. 

You know, wait, I know you do because I’m sure this thought instantaneously went through the collective fandom mind….Dean had been carrying that coat around, transferring it from car to car, ever since Cas disappeared into the river. He could have left it in the boot of the Impala safely tucked away, but no. Every new car the brothers stole, the coat came too. Folded neatly in the boot. Just. In. Case. That realisation seriously made me burst into tears. I know everyone was chanting “HUG HUG HUG” but that was way better than a hug. That was love and I think….forgiveness. Dean’s capacity to forgive those he loves is boundless. I find it overwhelming. I found that scene, that small moment between Dean and Castiel overwhelming. This is why I’m besotted with this man…character…whatever…Dean…because he has a beautiful, beautiful heart. And yes I know Dean needed Cas’ help, but everything else in their history together transcended that need and the moment took on a life of it’s own. Lovely. 

Of course, being Supernatural, nothing goes to plan and Cas isn’t able to repair the wall in Sam’s brain because it’s just a bunch of debris. So, he decides to take the pain from Sam and into himself. He transfers all that is broken in Sam’s mind into his own (at least that’s how I saw it, I know there was a lot of chatter about what he actually did) and in doing so, as far as I’m concerned, redeemed himself. When it came to Cas, I’d always said, his redemption will be fixing Sam because that, above everything else he was responsible or partly responsible for, was the most heinous act because it was an act against a friend, against two friends. Cas took on Sam’s pain/Hell memories/crazy/whatever willingly and without thought because he felt responsible and he needed to fix it. But also, because he’s an Angel and this is the kind of things Angels do. It’s so sad, but so awesome at the same time. Poor Cas. Cas you rock. 

And Dean was right by the way. Leaving Cas behind (for now) was their best option. They don’t know what the fallout of his action is going to be. How he’ll cope. When news gets out that he’s alive he’ll be hunted down. The brothers have not only the Leviathan, but now demons on their tails. Both would want Cas. The brothers couldn’t take care of him properly and they couldn’t take that risk. They need to focus on saving the world….again. For now, as much as the image is so very tragic, Cas is safer where he is, under the watchful (and disturbingly horny) eye of Nurse Masters. And boy am I interested to see how this Meg thing plays out! Of course they can’t trust her. I was wondering if to get back in with Crowley she’d offer up Cas. But then I think she knows Crowley would kill her anyway, so being in that hospital is probably the safest place for her too. But what’s that demon playing at? Twisty turns are twisty! I dig it. 

“The Born-Again Identity” soared from the minute it hit the screens to the minute it ended… with all of us going… OH.MY.GOD. I never saw that whole Cas taking in Sam’s crazy thing coming. I didn’t. I was stunned. I also thought it was a satisfactory conclusion to the Sam’s broken wall arc. I didn’t want Cas to simply heal Sam and for them to all to jump in the car and happily beetle off to their next case! That felt like a jip. But the way Cas healed Sam….I’m cool with it. The cast knocked it well and truly out of the park with their performances. Jensen’s Dean was heartbreaking to watch. He can convey so much emotion with that beautiful face of his. Jared’s Sam was devastating. I felt exhausted just watching him. Misha gave us another incarnation of Castiel. How many has that been now? Every one just slightly different. And Rachel’s version of Meg just lights up a room with her bitchy comments. I love her. I hope she doesn’t meet the normal demon fate. Ms Gamble’s script was amazing. The dialogue was beautiful. Peppered throughout the angst were little bits of humour. Nothing that’d make you laugh out loud, but simply chuckle and smile, which lifted the dark tone just enough. Spot on. Though I did laugh at, “Is that a flirtation?” HA! Man, I really love this show. 

Oh damn, I nearly forgot about ghost Bobby! Is it really ghost Bobby or is it just Dean’s grief manifesting itself in strange gusts of wind and moving objects! Heee! I’m excited to find out! And here’s a random thought….I wonder what Daphne is thinking now….or do you think maybe Daphne was not just Emmanuel’s wife but something else? Something looking after him or guarding him? I mean, what must she have thought about the whole not eating or sleeping thing!

Anyhoo….. Next week looks funny. We could do with a bit of a giggle. But after that I have a feeling, it’s all systems go for Dick! I wish they’d hurry and tell us we have a season eight, just so when the team finishes shooting up north (not my north) they know they’re coming back and the team down south (not my south) can work it all out accordingly….not that I have any doubt in my mind that “Supernatural” will be back for an eighth season, it will (I insist!) but please don’t make us wait for the May Upfronts…….

Thanks for reading! Sorry it’s a bit long….but really I could go on and on about this one and I think I only scratched the surface. Let me know what you thought, whether you enjoyed it, liked the outcome, what you think Meg’s up to?

See you next week for “Party On, Garth” – might have to watch “Wayne’s World” in preparation! 



  1. we hit a lot of the same things! I don't think all is forgiven between Dean and Cas though, but I do believe it is well on the way, and Dean would tread lightly around Cas to make sure he stayed to help Sam. And yay that he was there so that hopefully they could work things out. Dean has so few people that mean something in his life that when he decides you're one of them, he's willing to go to the wall for you! love that man :D .

    The Cas montage was amazing. I forgot to bring that up in my review. the Yardbirds song was perfect, and the flashes they gave were just awesome sauce. what is going on with our show???? I think this season has been my favorite for live viewing yet...I started watching live with season four...just loving where everything is going. CW needs to hurry up and confirm 8! :D

  2. Thanks Amy. I think Dean can forgive, but not forget. I think whatever happened between them, this relationship is mending. I really really really enjoyed the return of Misha/ Castiel. I miss him so much. While he isn't driving the story line like the brothers, his presence add great value to the story and I just love him.

    How will all this wrap up as the season comes to the end? I just cannot wait!!!

    PS-- I swear my review is coming!

    Thanks Amy :)