Quick Take: Supernatural, “The Born-Again Identity”
Review: Supernatural, “The Born-Again Identity”
(S0717) Well, it only took an entire weekend for my rage to mellow to the point that I can make sentences that aren’t typed entirely in caps. Supernatural tends to have that effect on me.
“The Born-Again Identity” was hyped to exhaustion as one of the highlight episodes of the season. Castiel made his highly anticipated return. Sam finally snapped. And Dean…well, I think we all needed a break from Dean Winchester: This is Your (Sad and Miserable) Life.
It was so close to perfection. In fact, if we just omit the last five minutes, I’d be willing to roll around with it in a pile of glitter and call it a day. But unfortunately, the last five minutes did happen, and I’m forced to keep the glitter in the cupboard where I lock up things like my soul, my free time, and my ability to care about what happens on this show any longer.
What happened in the last five minutes, you ask?
No one wins. No one. Those who were excited about Castiel’s comeback saw the Holy Tax Accountant overcome by hallucinations of Lucifer as those of us who flailed happily over Sam’s storyline this season, literally saw it transferred to Castiel. Despite promising “no-magical fix-its” for Sam’s little hell-ucination problem, a magic fix-it is just what we got…with a side order of Cas-pandering.
And it wasn’t even good pandering. Castiel spent the majority of “The Born-Again Identity” as a hapless amnesia-stricken healer, five minutes as a demon-smiting badass, and the remainder as the newest resident of Nurse Ratched’s, I mean, Nurse Meg’s, locked ward. Really? C’mon Supernatural. If you’re going to service your fans, make it worth their while.
As someone who was heavily invested in the Sam and Hallucifer Comedy Hour storyline, I was irritated by the magic insta-fix solution. The disappointment was curtailed, slightly, by the knowledge that Castiel was returning in the same episode, which to me, screamed “MAGIC INSTA-FIX” from the very beginning. But the insta-fix didn’t even make sense. Here is what the writers have told us:
The question, then, I suppose, is what did Castiel shift? At the conclusion of “The Born-Again Identity,” Castiel is locked up in Sam’s old digs, plagued with hallucinations of big bro, Luci and Sam is out and about, seemingly cured. What I fail to see is what good it did to take Sam’s hallucinations on as his own if Sam’s soul is still broken? Won’t Sam eventually just start hallucinating again? What does it even mean to have a broken soul?
And as much as I generally don’t care, what does this mean for Castiel? We did the angel-in-a-psych-ward thing in season 4, with Anna, but she was basically human at that point, right? Right. So…is Castiel human now? Is he going to blow every bulb on that floor with his angel mojo? And why are visions of Lucifer freaking him out that badly. I mean, I get why Sam hyperventilated every time Hallucifer broke into song. Those two have a history based on mind games, and Luci systematically peeling the skin from Sammich’s bones.
Cas and Lucifer? Yeah, they were enemies. They had a few unpleasant run-ins. But their relationship was never even close to the dynamic between Sam and Lucifer. I just don’t think it makes any sense for Castiel to be paralyzed with fear such as he is.
But mostly, I’m just annoyed that rather than give Castiel a storyline of his own, the writers chose to quite literally hand him Sam’s. But hey, I guess we needed Sam in top fighting shape so he can play reluctant sidekick on Dean’s Bogus Journey for Vengeance.