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Recap / Supernatural S 07 E 17 The Born Again Identity

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Recap of Supernatural
Season 7, Episode 17

The Born-Again Identity

Written by Sera Gamble.

Directed by Robert Singer.

Air Date: March 23, 2012.

A hallucinating Sam wanders an industrial area and gets a knock-out drug from a dealer since he’s been up for five days. He does get some sleep, but he awakens to Lucifer singing and taunting him about his impending death by insomnia. An addled Sam gets hit by a car.

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Dean barges in to see a doctor who explains that Sam in the psych ward. The doctor tells a worried Dean that he has never seen anything like Sam’s inability to sleep. Sam is still seeing Lucifer when Dean comes in and says he’s looking at all options, including faith healers. Sam replies that Cas warned them this would happen when his soul was restored, but Dean is not deterred.

Dean makes phone calls searching for a cure while Lucifer taunts Sam by reading the DSM and also pretending to be Sam’s doctor. Sam tries to eat a sandwich and hallucinates maggots. Dean finally reaches a hunter who tells Dean about a faith healer named Emmanuel who is the real deal and that you can reach him through his wife Daphne.

At Daphne's house, a man answers the door but when Dean sees Daphne tied up he realizes the man is a demon. The demon says that Crowley will want Emmanuel. Dean kills the demon, who falls down the stairs at the feet of the real Emmanuel, who looks just like Castiel. Emmanuel!Cas asks "what was that?".

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Emmanuel!Cas unties a worried Daphne and thanks Dean while expressing shock that a demon walked the earth. Dean is surprised and tells him that “whack loads” of demons walk the earth. Daphne, who realizes her husband saw the demon’s true face, explains to Dean that he has very special gifts. Dean stares at Emmanuel!Cas and tells him that his brother needs help. In the car, Dean questions Emmanuel!Cas about Daphne. Emmanuel says that she cared for him after finding him unclothed and confused by the river with no memory. Dean asks if he wonders if he was a “bad guy” before, but Emmanuel!Cas says he doesn’t feel like one.

Meannwhile, Sam wakes up to be taunted by Lucifer some more. Sam asks an orderly about Marin, a bandaged girl who gave him a candy bar and the orderly says she didn’t get there by an accident. Marin brings another candy bar to Sam. They talk and Sam figures out that she’s being haunted by the angry spirit of her dead brother, who set the fire that burned her.

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Emmanuel!Cas questions Dean about Sam’s condition. Dean reveals he blames a friend named Cas who betrayed him for Sam’s condition and the situation couldn’t be messier. Emmanuel!Cas consoles him. Dean leaves him in the car and goes into a convenience store, where he is attacked by demons. He’s assisted by Meg, who is on the run from Crowley and wants to know why Castiel is alive and in Dean’s car. Meg offers an Enemy Mine situation, to which Dean reluctantly agrees. Emmanuel!Cas recognizes a flirty Meg is a demon, but Dean vouches for her.

Sam apologizes for upsetting Marin, and he says he believes her and can help her. Marin says she only hears her brother doesn’t see him. Sam questions her and figures out the brother’s ghost is bound by blond on her bracelet. They work together to burn the bracelet and set her brother’s spirit free. Sam collapses and his doctor talks to him about surgical solutions to help him sleep.

Meanwhile, Dean, Emmanuel!Cas and Meg arrive to find all the people in the parking lot of the mental hospital are demons. Meg wants to jog Emmanuel!Cas’s memory, but Dean is worried he’ll snap. Emmanuel!Cas overhears them and realizes they know him and assures them he will be fine. Meg bluntly tells him he’s an angel and that’s a species and he can smite all the demons. Emmanuel!Cas realizes that he’s the Cas that Dean mentioned but still has no memory. He walks to the demons and smites all of them, causing his memory to return. Cas remembers what he did to Sam and tries to leave, but Dean stops him.

Cas is horrified by the actions he can’t fix and says he deserved to die. He asks Dean why he walked out of the river, and Dean says to fix it. Dean retrieves Cas’s trenchcoat from the trunk of the car and gives it to him.

Meanwhile, a demon starts electro-shock therapy as torture on Sam. Cas arrives and smites the demon. He attempts to heal Sam’s wall, but it doesn’t work and Sam still sees Lucifer. Cas tells Dean that Sam’s wall is crushed. Cas then apologizes to Sam again and absorbs all his memories from hell. Sam becomes lucid, but a terrified Cas starts to see Lucifer.

The brothers leave, discussing the fact that they are leaving a catatonic Cas at the mental hospital and whether or not to trust Meg. Meg is hired as a nurse at the mental hospital.

Body Count:

For this episode = 8 humans, 8 demons, and 1 ghost.

For the series so far = At least 793 humans (of which 6 were witches), 97 demons, 55 angels, 37 ghosts, 36 Jefferson Starships, 26 vampires, 19 zombies, 15 gods, 9 hellhounds, 7 skinwalkers, 6 changelings, 5 shapeshifters, 4 ghouls, 3 djinn, 3 dogs, 2 Amazons, 2 arachnes, 2 kitsunes, 2 Leviathan, 2 vetalas, 2 werewolves, 1 crocotta, 1 dragon, 1 fairy, 1 Khan worm, 1 lamia, the Mother of All, 1 okami, 1 phoenix, 1 Purgatory creature, 1 rakshasa, 1 rawhead, 1 reaper, 1 rugaru, 1 shtriga, 1 siren, 1 wendigo, 1 whore of Babylon, and 1 wraith.

Tropes

  • The Atoner: Cass, after he gets his memory back. Dean suggests that may be why he's still alive, too.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: Discussed in reference to faith healers.
  • Amnesiacs are Innocent: Emmanuel has no memory of being Castiel and the dark actions of his past. In his tabula rasa state, he's kind, empathetic, and caring. When his memory is restored, he's overwhelmed with guilt.
  • Angel Unaware: Emmanuel obviously knows something is different about himself, but he has no idea he's an angel.
  • Back from the Dead: Castiel. Though he probably wasn't totally dead in the first place.
  • Bandage Babe: Marin.
  • Big "OMG!": Averted; Castiel says "Oh gracious", as befits someone who doesn't want to take the Lord's name in vain.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cas is back and cures Sam but at the cost of Castiel's own sanity.
  • Blood Magic: Marin's brother bled on the bracelet he made for her, binding his ghost to it. Sam burns the bracelet to banish the ghost.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Lucifer is doing this to Sam, and it is working.
    • Marin's brother is doing this to her.
    • Dean does this to Emmanuel, who is innocent and happy until Dean causes him to remember his true identity.
  • Call-Back:
    • The last faith healer the brothers saw had a Reaper on a leash.
    • Lucifer points out that Sam never had to sleep when he was soulless.
  • Chastity Couple: Given that Castiel doesn't have sex until Season 9, his marriage with Daphne is assumed to be this.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dean reminds the demon that Crowley has issued a "hands off" order on the Winchesters. The demon isn't impressed, as Crowley would regard getting his hands on a genuine faith healer as more important.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Even while being driven to insanity and death, Sam still does his job and helps another inmate with her angry ghost.
    • Likewise, Amnesiac!Castiel is compelled to walk the Earth healing people.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Cas, as usual.
    Meg: You're an angel.
    Castiel: I'm sorry, is that a flirtation?
  • The Confidant: Dean to Cas, regarding Cas!
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Dean is attacked by demons in a service station. One gets stabbed from behind and Dean assumes it's Emmanuel. It's Meg.
  • Death Seeker: Sam just wants his torment to end.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Rather than act For the Evulz, Meg has deliberately chosen either a master to serve (Lucifer), or an enemy to hate (Crowley). "You find a cause and you stick with it."
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm: Cas as usual, even when he thinks he's human.
  • The Dreaded: Castiel has a look of terror when he sees Hallucifer in his head.
  • Easy Amnesia: Well, the character got it by nearly dying, but the recovery is fairly simple.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted Dean admits he finds it hard to put Cas hurting Sam behind him like he normally would. Cas finds it hard to forgive himself, even when Dean is willing if he just cures Sam. On top of that, absorbing Sam's memories and going insane is just the first in a series of traumas Cas must endure to earn forgiveness from Dean and himself.
  • Electric Torture: Administered by a nurse-demon using electro-shock.
  • Enemy Mine: Dean and Meg. Meg is helping the Winchesters because she hates Crowley, but with him being King of Hell, she's running out of allies. The Winchester have to leave her to take care of Castiel because everyone else is chasing them.
    Sam: Look, Dean, this whole "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing feels kind of like a demon deal.
    Dean: It's not a deal. It's—
    Sam: It's what?
    Dean: Mutually assured destruction. Look, man, I get it. She's not our friend. We don't even have friends. All our friends are dead.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Meg lets her eyebrow do half the talking.
  • Feedback Rule: Loudhailer Lucifer
  • Feet-First Introduction:
    • The dead demon does a Staircase Tumble right up to the legs of...Cas?
    • Sam running in the opening sequence.
  • Foreshadowing: A personal item allows a ghost to exist even if their body was cremated. This becomes significant in the next episode.
  • Flashback: Of the mid-battle variety when Castiel takes out the demons guarding the hospital and regains his memory in the process.
  • Flash Step: A demon turns to flee from Castiel only to find he's somehow in front of him.
    Castiel: I don't think running will save you. (smites him)
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Emmanuel can't have known Daphne for more than a few months before getting married to her.
  • Ghostly Chill: What confirms Sam's suspicions that Marin isn't (totally) crazy, but instead is haunted by the ghost of her brother. She tells him that she feels cold when she hears her brother's voice.
  • Ghostly Goals: Marin's brother wants them to be Together in Death.
  • Glamour Failure: Castiel can see the Nightmare Face of a demon. Which freaks him out when he has to ride with Meg.
  • He's Back!: Castiel. Temporarily.
    Meg: That's my boy.
  • Hope Spot: Castiel will fix Sam, right? Turns out there's nothing to fix.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Sam has a hallucination of eating maggots.
  • Iconic Item: Dean returns Castiel's trenchcoat.
  • Identity Amnesia: Emmanuel/Castiel.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Not only Castiel's resurrection, but possibly him meeting his wife Daphne as well.
    "A few months back she was out hiking in the woods and I wandered into her path, drenched and confused and...unclothed. She said God wanted her to find me."
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Hallucifer at one point is flipping through the DSM-IV(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the guidebook used by the American Pyschiatric Association for categorizing mental illnesses).
    Lucifer: "Narcissistic personality disorder". Now this one, I could have. "Sets unrealistic goals"...check.
  • Literal-Minded: Emmanuel/Castiel.
    Emmanuel/Castiel: But I don't remember how to smite demons.
    Dean: It's in there. I'm sure it's just like riding a bike.
    Emmanuel/Castiel: I don't know how to do that, either.
  • Look Both Ways: Justified as Sam isn't watching where he's running.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Once again a convenient gust of wind exposes just the right page in Bobby's notes.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Emmanuel", which means "God is with us".
    • But not "Nurse Masters", the name Meg chooses when enrolling as Castiel's nurse. It's based on her name back in the first season, Meg Masters.
  • Messianic Archetype: Castiel was baptized in a rivernote , spent a year walking the Earthnote  under the name Emanuelnote , then sacrifices himself to save an innocent. Just so you don't miss it all, look at the title of the episode.
  • Must Make Amends: Cas begins to make amends by smiting the demons and taking on Sam's hell memories.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: The reason Dean says the brothers can trust demon Meg to watch over angel ally, Cas. Wanted by demonic forces, she can't reveal Cas's continued existence without revealing that she's been working with the Winchesters.
  • Naked on Revival: Daphne found Castiel by the river, sans his clothes.
  • Never Found the Body: Castiel didn't actually die.
  • Not Quite Dead
    Demon: I know you...you're dead!
    Castiel: So I've heard. (smites him)
  • One-Man Army: Cas smites his way through every demon staking out the hospital.
  • Put on a Bus: Cas, after having just gotten back.
  • Reveal Shot/Wham Shot: Emmanuel is revealed to be Cas.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: After Castiel takes Sam's hallucinations upon himself, the brothers have to leave him in the psychiatric hospital, and Meg joins the staff there.
  • Shout-Out: The episode title is a reference to The Bourne Identity.
  • The Insomniac: Due to his constant hallucinations, Sam hasn't slept in days. Hallucifer intends to keep this up until he simply drops dead.
    "Hey, Sam! What's the longest a normal human being has ever gone without sleep? 11 days. Hey, you always wanted to be normal, Sam! If you are, you'll be dead in a week!
  • Sarcasm Mode: Dean vs. Meg.
  • Spot the Imposter: A man claiming to be Emmanuel greets Dean at the door, but Dean looks in the window and sees a woman Bound and Gagged in the living room. Cue Black Eyes of Evil from the supposed faith healer.
  • Tainted Veins / Red Eyes, Take Warning: Castiel transferring Sam's madness to himself.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: One of the demons is pretending to be a wheelchair-bound patient. He gets to his feet with a determined look when Castiel starts smiting. Cas takes him out just as easily as the others.
  • Twisted Echo Cut: Hallucifer does this In-Universe.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Daphne, Castiel's 'wife'?
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