Okay, Supernatural, are you going to finish this Leviathan plot or what? Push and pull, push and pull! I no longer know what to prepare for anymore when watching this show, and after last week's standalone-turned-Leviathan episode, I fully expected more of that this week. So when Friday's "Born-Again Identity" managed to go an entire commercial break without any mention of Team Black Goo, I did a fist pump, settled in, and crossed my fingers that some sarcastic real estate agent wasn't going to show up and try to eat someone. I'm really hoping the writers delay this Leviathan thing for as long as possible. Like until sometime after I die.
Instead, "The Born-Again Identity" marked the exciting and nerve-racking return of the departed Misha Collins, professional actor who play(ed) fan-favorite angel Castiel. We'd been teased and teased about him coming back, but it always came with a hitch as all mentions of Collins returning included a "he's back, but..." (At least in what little news I read to remain as spoiler-free as possible.)
When we first saw Collins sans bitchin' trench coat, it appeared that he was just your ordinary man with magical powers named Emanuel. Dean wasn't buying it, but given the amount of body-swapping that happens and vessels that exist on this show, I wasn't so sure the angel would make an appearance at all. It wasn't until "Emanuel" smited half-a-dozen demons outside a mental hospital that I became a believer and once again bowed down to the Church of Castiel.
That scene was so awesome, and pretty much made the episode worth watching on its own! But in the end, it made me pine for the Castiel of old and wonder why the show decided to go the route with him that he did. So, Supernatural, if this was your way of bringing Castiel back to the show and making amends for turning him into a ludicrous, power-hungry God, I'm not sure it worked. More on this in a bit.
Cas and Dean (and oh, Hi Meg!) were at the hospital to get Sam, whose annoying, Satan-fueled insomnia (note to self: Pitch Annoying Satan character to Saturday Night Live) led him to teetering around the wrong part of town and getting hit by a car. Hmm... okay. Sam's instability had reached its tipping point, as the wall that Death put up in his brain to keep the crazies out was completely destroyed. So it was another hour of television with Mark Pellegrino playing an irritating imaginary character (Lucifer, in this case), and at this point I'm beginning to wonder if Pellegrino is actually a real person. Get a new agent, Mark!
To give Sam something to do in the joint while he waited for Dean to arrive with Cas, he met a totally random patient who just so happened to be a cute chick who was getting visits from her ghost brother telling her to kill herself. The situation featured exactly zero relevance to the episode and was straight out of a summer-school course on Ghost Hunting. You feel cold when he's around? Cool. Are his bones anywhere nearby? No? Do you have a personal item? Burn it! Voila, case closed. But it did help the episode reach its network-mandated 42-minute running time.
After Sam burned the girl's ghost bro, Cas sought to help Sam out and cure his insanity. But his first attempt failed, as Sam's wall was nothing but dust. So Cas, now of clear mind and guilty for killing a ton of people during his madness, paid it forward by pulling a reverse Scanners and absorbing Sam's insanity. So then Castiel was seeing Lucifer in his head, and given that he's supposedly an all-powerful angel, it seemed a bit ridiculous and an incredibly convenient way to fix Sam. I imagine things went something like this:
Supernatural Writer #1: "How can we make Sam better again? Shouldn't we have figured this thing out a long time ago?"
Supernatural Writer #2: "Let's just give that crap to someone else. How about Castiel?"
Supernatural Writer #1: "Two birds, one stone! Let's do it!"
So with that problem solved, Sam and Dean heartlessly opted to get out as fast as they could and leave Castiel behind in the hospital to deal with fake-Lucifer throwing firecrackers at him all day and all night. But at least Meg decided to stick around and be a nurse!
I get that Sam and Dean felt they needed to leave Cas behind, but man was it cold. And strictly speaking, in a good-vs.-evil-battle-for-the-world sense, wouldn't the good side be better served with a clear-headed Castiel than with a clear-headed Sam? I'm still pretty peeved at how the Winchesters have treated Cas, but then again, it isn't Cas's show. "Born-Again Identity" did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong, something that's been the case a lot this season.
– This episode touched on some of the accidental humor that made Cas so great. Dean: "It's in there. I'm sure it's just like riding a bike." Cas: "I don't know how to do that either." Awww, Cas.
– Not a mention of poor Frank Deveraux, whose insides we last saw splattered around his trailer at the end of last week's episode.
– Did Sam take drugs in a stranger's car at the beginning of that episode? I just hope he didn't do more. Two young strapping lads sitting in a car in a dark alley usually means some other type of transaction is going on. And what was up with that area Sam was walking around in anyway? It was like the least-scary "scary" place ever on television with its underwear-model drug dealers and "tough" guys and day-glo graffiti. Come on Vancouver, represent.
– Future request: Never have an episode of Supernatural where Sam or Dean gets put into a mental hospital. Also, please no more "crazy things" living inside of anyone's heads. Thanks!
Supernatural Season 7 Power Rankings
"Born-Again Identity" had a lot of things going for it: Castiel! No Leviathans! Demons AND ghosts! But some parts of the episode appeared to have been added because there wasn't enough story to go around. Did anyone care about that girl and her ghost brother? And what was the real story behind "Emanuel" and his wife—how did that really fit in with everything else that was going on, and what will happen to her now that her husband is locked up in a mental institution? Kind of sloppy. But you know what? CAS SMITED AND IT RULED!
1. "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie" (Episode 14)
Sam and Dean investigated mysterious deaths around a kid's pizza-and-games party house. Unicorns farting rainbows, ball pit sharks spraying blood, and octo-vamps giving fatal hickeys made this a fun episode.
3. "Death's Door" (Episode 10)
Bobby fought for his life and delved into his past as he tried to deliver a message to Sam and Dean from beyond the plane of the living.
4. "The Mentalists" (Episode 7)
More standalone fun as the brothers investigated murders in a town full of psychics.
5. "Meet the New Boss" (Episode 1)
Castiel got all righteous on those who didn't respect The Good Word, and it was great.
6. "Repo Man" (Episode 15)
The brothers visit a man they saved from a murderous demon four years ago, and Lucifer blabs Sam's ear off.
7. "Born-Again Identity" (Episode 17)
Sam ended up in a mental hospital after too many chats with mind-Satan, and Castiel returned to smite and then get left behind.
8. "Adventures in Babysitting" (Episode 11)
Sam and Dean coped with Bobby's death and met a fellow hunter's young daughter.
9. "Out With the Old" (Episode 16)
A tale of cursed ballerina slippers became a story about a Leviathan real estate agent.
10. "Slash Fiction" (Episode 6)
Two Leviathans disguised themselves as Sam and Dean and took off on a cross-country shootin' spree!
11. "The Slice Girls" (Episode 13)
Dean had a one-night stand with an Amazonian lady, and Sam took Dean's Daddy card away.
12. "Hello, Cruel World" (Episode 2)
The Leviathans set up a buffet at a hospital after spreading into the water supply.
13. "Time After Time" (Episode 12)
Dean traveled back to 1944 and battled the God of Time with Eliot Ness.
14. "How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters" (Episode 9)
Hyperadrenalized cannibals and stoner sandwiches! Dick Roman's plan was sort of unveiled! And Bobby got shot!
15. "The Girl Next Door" (Episode 3)
Via flashback, we saw Sam's first kiss... with a monster! Then Dean killed her.
16. "Defending Your Life" (Episode 4)
Dean went on trial before Osiris because of the guilt he carries. Jo came back to blow him up!
17. "Season 7, Time for a Wedding" (Episode 8)
Too. Much. Becky. Larson.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom