by Bob Teoh
In “The Born-Again Identity,” the “Supernatural” writers answered the prayers of fans everywhere by resurrecting Castiel, played by the talented Misha Collins. In the season premiere, Castiel betrayed the Winchester Brothers and died as a result, which sparked outrage among most fans. When the writers announced that they were resurrecting him, I feared that they would do so in a tacky way that would disappoint the fans. Fortunately, we have been rewarded with an outstanding episode that deals with the redemption of Castiel.
The episode first follows Sam Winchester, who has been suffering from insomnia as a result of hallucinations and his deteriorating mental state, as he is admitted into an asylum. In the previous episodes, Sam’s condition is only referenced. This particular episode, however, really takes us into Sam’s mind by bringing back the sinister Lucifer, who continues to torment him. Dean desperately tries to find Sam help to no avail, until a fellow hunter gives him the name of a healer named Emmanuel.
When Dean finds Emmanuel, he is shocked to learn that the healer is actually Castiel. With no recollection of his past, Castiel agrees to help him. As the two travel together, they realize that demons have heard of the healer and are trying to acquire his powers as well. To survive, Dean makes a temporary alliance with an old enemy, Meg the demon. When the trio finally arrives, they find Sam’s asylum heavily guarded by demons.
With no other choice but to rely on Castiel’s powers, Dean reveals to Castiel who he really is and urges him to remember how to use his power. As Cas exorcises the demons, he remembers everything and is disgusted at his previous deeds. Dean begs Cas to redeem himself by saving Sam, but the angel realizes Sam’s mind has been rendered unsalvageable. In an ultimate gesture of self-sacrifice, Cas decides to shift Sam’s insanity on to himself and is locked up, while Sam is freed.
Though I was slightly disappointed that the writers brought Cas back only to lock him up in an asylum, I cannot deny that this was a fantastic episode. We could tell that Dean wanted to forgive Cas since the moment he saw him, but through Jensen Ackles’ superb acting, we see Dean face a major internal struggle. The struggle ends when Dean hands Cas his old trench coat back, as if to say, “Forget the past. Let us be brothers-in-arms again.” The storyline itself, which divides time between Dean’s quest and Sam’s experiences in the asylum, is fast-paced and extremely thrilling.
Reprising the role of Cas, Misha Collins did not disappoint. The actor retains much of the silent authority that first made fans everywhere fell in love with the character. When Cas remembers who he is, Collins truly brings out the angel’s shame at his betrayal, which makes his sacrifice even more moving. I hope the series will keep up the momentum and continue to give out fantastic episodes like this one.
Bob Teoh is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.