7.17 The Born-Again Identity

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Title The Born-Again Identity
Episode # Season 7, Episode 17
First aired March 23, 2012
Directed by Robert Singer
Written by Sera Gamble
On IMDB The Born-Again Identity
Outline Sam reaches his breaking point and Dean, desperate to save his brother, finds a healer with a very familiar face.
Monster Hallucifer
Demons
Ghost
Timeline
Location(s) Colorado
Northern Indiana
Whitefish, Montana
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Synopsis

Sam has been awake for five days, tormented by Hallucifer, who tells Sam he'll only survive another week without sleep. He tries in vain to use drugs to pass out and in his sleep-deprived state, is hit by a car. He winds up in the locked psychiatric ward at Northern Indiana State Hospital, being treated for a broken rib, lacerations, and what Dr. Kadinsky tells Dean is a "full-blown psychotic episode." The doctors have administered several sedatives, but Sam remains conscious. Dean goes to see Sam in his room, where Hallucifer sits playing cat's cradle, and tells Sam he'll find him help. Sam is skeptical, saying they always knew putting his soul back would end badly.

Dean leaves and heads to Rufus's cabin, where he calls some of Bobby's contacts. He's getting nowhere, though, and he leaves Bobby's journal on the table and goes to the fridge for a beer. He's across the room when the journal topples to the ground and a card for Mackey's Taxidermy falls out. Dean calls the number and leaves a message.

Meanwhile, Sam is still awake because of Hallucifer, who comments that he and Sam being in a locked ward together is just like the Cage. Sam ignores him and later tries to eat a sandwich, but when he looks at it it's full of maggots. He drops it on the ground and backs away, then notices another patient watching from his door. She leaves without saying anything.

At the cabin, Dean is looking for information online when he receives a call from a hunter named Mackey. Mackey tells him of a healer named Emanuel in Colorado. He claims that Emanuel passed all of his monster tests and then healed his damaged eye with one touch. Encouraged, Dean goes to Emanuel's house in Colorado. He meets a man who claims to be Emanuel at the front door, but sees a woman tied up in the house. When he looks back, the man's eyes are black as he throws Dean into the front door. Dean reminds the demon about Crowley's "hands-off memo," but the demon laughs and says that because Dean hasn't managed to kill Dick Roman, Crowley will want Emanuel more than he wants Dean. Dean quickly kills the demon with the demon-killing knife, and then looks down to find Emanuel, who bears remarkable resemblance to Castiel, watching him.

Emanuel doesn't recognize Dean, has no knowledge of demons, and no memory of being an angel. He thanks Dean for saving his wife, Daphne, and then says that he saw the real face of the man Dean killed. Dean tells him that it was a demon and that he's there because he needs help for his brother.

Meanwhile in the locked ward, the patient who saw Sam's reaction to his sandwich brings him a stolen chocolate bar. Sam thanks her and learns her name is Marin, but can't get further than introductions because Hallucifer is tormenting him with a loudspeaker. Later, Hallucifer continues to torture Sam, lighting firecrackers in the ward. An orderly, Marcus, brings Sam his meal, and Sam asks Marcus about Marin. Marcus doesn't tell him much, only that unlike him, she wasn't brought to the psychiatric ward because of an accident.

Dean and Emanuel talk in the car on the way to Indiana. Emanuel tells him that a few months ago, Daphne found him by a river, "drenched, confused, and unclothed." He had no memory, and Daphne claimed God wanted her to find him. Dean mentions the possibility that Emanuel was a bad guy, but Emanuel says he doesn't feel like a bad person. Emanuel tells Dean he can cure illnesses of a spiritual origin and should be able to help Sam. Dean goes on to tell him that he is unable to forgive his friend Cas, who betrayed him and caused Sam's illness. Emanuel, who still has no memory, comments that Cas is an odd name.

That same night, Marin brings Sam another chocolate bar. She tells Sam that she's been in the ward for 5 weeks and that the doctors think she's suicidal. He asks her for the truth, and she tells him that she hears her dead brother's voice. He wants her to kill herself to be with him, and if she doesn't, he'll do it for her. He's already started a fire to try to kill her. After confessing, she leaves, upset.

The next morning, Dean goes into a convenience store and is confronted by three demons. He kills one and then is knocked back, losing the demon-killing knife. Thankfully, Meg shows up and kills one demon while the other flees. Dean is surprised to see her, and she tells him that she's there because of rumors about a wandering healer, who she's shocked to learn is "poor dead Castiel." She has an ongoing feud with Crowley and, like Dean, doesn't want him to know about Cas. Although they don't trust each other, they both need friends, so Dean agrees to let her come with them to Indiana as long as she doesn't remind Castiel of his true identity yet. The three of them leave together.

Back in the locked ward, Sam apologizes to Marin for upsetting her. Then he tells her that he believes her about her brother and wants to help. From his questions, Sam learns that Marin feels cold before her brother talks to her, and that she's heard him in more than one place despite the fact that he's cremated. Sure that he's a ghost, Sam tells her that he can put her brother to rest, and then asks her if she has anything of his. She wears a bracelet he made for her with an injured hand — it's likely he bled on it. Sam tells her what they need, and she brings back salt and a lighter she stole from Marcus. They make a ring of salt and stand inside it, and when Sam asks her for her bracelet, the ghost of Marin's brother appears. He breaks the lights in the room and pleads with Marin not to do it. She gives Sam the bracelet and he burns it, causing her brother to go up in flames. Marin thanks Sam, and he tells her to go. She leaves quickly just before orderlies enter the ward to restrain Sam. Dizzy, Sam looks up to see Hallucifer standing over Dr. Kadinsky's shoulder as the doc explains to Sam that they cannot give him any more medication and should try surgery instead.

Dean, Meg, and Emanuel finally arrive at Northern Indiana State Hospital that night. They can't get inside, though, because it's surrounded by demons. Meg and Dean retreat to talk in private, and Meg insists that they remind Cas who he is so he can destroy the demons. Dean warns her that after what Cas did, he could snap and disappear. Emanuel overhears Dean and tells him that he wants to know who he is. Dean is hesitant, but Meg tells him he's an angel and that he and Dean were best friends who used to fight together. Emanuel realizes that he must be the "Cas" that Dean told him about, and he apologizes. Then he resolves to fight the demons in front of the hospital, even though he doesn't remember how.

He approaches the demons, who are shocked to see him alive. Before they can do anything, Castiel smites them all. His memories come back to him in the process, assaulting him with images of his partnership with Crowley and his betrayal of Dean. Once the demons are taken care of, Meg and Dean approach him. He tells them that he remembers them—he remembers everything. He's disgusted with himself and starts to leave, but Dean chases after him. When it seems like he is trying to defend Castiel's past acts, Castiel tells him he deserved to die for the things he did. He doesn't think he can fix anything, but Dean believes he can. He reaches into the trunk of his car and pulls out Castiel's trench coat.

Meanwhile, Sam is strapped down and wheeled into electroshock therapy. He starts to panic and asks for his brother, but the orderly ignores him and places a rubber mouth guard between his teeth. He says that he's going to start Sam off on a high setting, just as his eyes flash black. Sam struggles, but can't escape, and the demon shocks him. He's about to increase the electrical setting again when Castiel appears behind him with his old trench coat on before smiting him. Castiel releases Sam from the electroshock machine and reaches out to heal him, but it doesn't work and Sam still sees Hallucifer.

Back in Sam's room, Castiel tells Dean that he can't rebuild the wall in Sam's mind because it is completely crumbled. Dean is upset, and Castiel tells him that he can't make the problem disappear, but he might be able to shift it. Dean watches in confusion as Castiel approaches Sam's bedside, telling him that it's better this way. He apologizes to Sam and then puts his hand on his head. Red light emanates from around Sam's eyes and then runs up Castiel's arm and into his eyes, effectively transferring Sam's hallucinations to his own mind.

When Castiel lets go of Sam, Sam becomes lucid. He sees Dean and then notices that Castiel is next to him. He says his name, but Castiel doesn't answer him because, instead of Sam, he sees Hallucifer laying on Sam's bed. He retreats in fear.

When Sam and Dean leave the hospital, they leave without Castiel, who is now a member of the locked psychiatric ward himself. The only demon who knows where he's being kept is Meg, who's insinuated herself onto the ward's staff as a nurse. Sam is reluctant to leave Castiel in her hands, but Dean tells him that it's the only option they have.

Characters

Definitions

Music

  • "Good Morning"
(sung after the sleeping pills Sam takes fail to get rid of Hallucifer)
  • "Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers
(plays when Hallucifer lights firecrackers in the ward)
  • "Turn into Earth" by The Yardbirds
(plays when Cas smites the demons and regains his memory)

Quotes

Hallucifer: Tell the nice tweaker you’d be sleeping right now if the devil would leave you alone.
Dean: If I don't find something...

Sam: Then I'll die.

Hallucifer: Oh - you're upsetting me!
Emanuel/Castiel: Your friend's name was Cas? That's an odd name.
Marin: I saw you yesterday, you didn’t look too happy with your in-flight meal.
Meg: You're an angel.
Castiel: I'm sorry - is that a flirtation?
Dean: This ain’t gonna go well.
Meg: I dunno, I believe in the little tree topper.

Trivia & References

The episode title "The Born-Again Identity" is a play on the 2002 spy thriller movie The Bourne Identity (which was based on a novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum). In the film, the main character Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon, finds himself suffering from amnesia, and attempts to discover who he is. Along the way, he finds he has a number of skills – speaking multiple languages, proficiency in hand-to-hand combat – that give him clues to his identity. The film was previously referenced in 6.22 The Man Who Knew Too Much. The title is also a play on the Christian term "born again Christian".
Hallucifer: Tell the nice tweaker you’d be sleeping right now if the devil would just leave you alone for five seconds.
Tweaker is a slang term for someone who is addicted to crystal meth.
It is not possible to die from lack of sleep (unless you have a rare neurodegenerative prion disease known as fatal insomnia). However, severe mental and physical disturbances do occur. The record for the longest a person has gone without sleep without stimulants is Randy Gardner. His record is 264.4 hours (11 days 24 minutes).
Dean: It's not like the guy's freaking Norman Bates.
Norman Bates was the serial killer in the Hitchcock movie Psycho, who killed his mother, kept her corpse in his house and assumed her identity. Previously mentioned in 5.19 Hammer of the Gods.
Dean: How're you feeling?

Sam: Maybe you should cancel my UFC fight.

UFC (or Ultimate Fighting Championship) is a mixed martial arts entertainment company.
Sam: It's all snake oil.
Snake oil is a derogatory term used to describe fraudulent medical practices.
Dean: Quit being Dalai-friggin-Yoda about this, okay? Get pissed!
Dean has mashed up the names of two individuals known for their equanimity in the face of challenges — the spiritual leader of Tibet Dalai Lama (whose name he mispronounces) and Jedi Master Yoda.
Hallucifer: Narcissistic personality disorder. Okay, now this one I could have.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition characterized by egocentrism, arrogance, entitlement, a desire for control, and a lack of empathy. It is thought to be a way of compensating for a severe sense of personal imperfection and unworthiness. In 5.11 Sam, Interrupted, which took place in a mental hospital, Dean's hallucinated doctor tells him he is a "paranoid schizophrenic with a narcissistic personality disorder and religious psychosis".
Hallucifer is reading from the DSM-IV-TR — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is used by psychiatrists and psychologists as a handbook to diagnosing and treating mental illnesses and disorders.
Castiel's journey between 7.02 Hello, Cruel World and this episode has a few similarities with the life of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Castiel walking out of the river could be seen as a baptism of sorts — much like Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan.source Mackey mentions that "Emanuel" roamed around a lot healing the sick — as did Jesus. Lastly, Castiel was given the name "Emanuel" — Jesus is given the symbolic name "Immanuel" (meaning 'God with us') when his birth is prophesized.source
Emanuel's wife Daphne may be a reference to Daphne, a nymph in Greek mythology who was unwillingly pursued by Apollo. Out of desperation, Daphne prayed to be turned into a laurel tree so as to escape his advances. As her "marriage" to Emanuel is not referred to again after this episode, this could allude to it being entirely a ruse to ward off strangers and not draw attention.
Marin: Who is it? Like Charlie Manson, or the Devil?
Charles Manson was a cult leader and musician.
Meg: Dean, Dean, Dean. You got some 'splaining to do!
"Lucy, you've got some 'splainin to do!" was a catchphrase of Lucy's husband Ricky Ricardo in the '50/'60s sitcom I Love Lucy starring Lucille Ball.
Luci is also a fandom nickname for Lucifer, first used by Gabriel in 5.19 Hammer of the Gods.
Meg: You sure we wouldn't be safer travelling with a full-throttle angel?
A reference to the 2003 movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, which was directed by Supernatural executive producer McG.
Meg: (to Cas) That was beautiful, Clarence.
A reference to angel Clarence from It's A Wonderful Life. The name was previously used by Meg in 5.10 Abandon All Hope....
Hallucifer: [about The Three Little Pigs] I see that third little pig was smart. Went out and got some bricks.
In 3.05 Bedtime Stories, a man survived an attack that killed his two brothers by hiding next to some concrete blocks in a violent recreation of the Three Little Pigs fable.
Sam: This whole "enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend" thing feels kinda like a demon deal.

Dean: It's not a deal, it's... mutually assured destruction.

Mutual assured destruction is a principal deterrence that theoretically prevents the use of nuclear weapons between countries of equal power. If both countries have nuclear weapons, the other is less likely to attack given the threat of destruction to them via counterattack.

Minutiae

#WelcomehomeMisha trended on Twitter before the episode.
In the beginning of the episode, Hallucifer says that Sam has been awake for five days.
The bar through the windscreen is reminiscent of the death scene in 2.13 Houses of the Holy where a pole bounces through a windscreen and impales a man.
Dr. Kadinsky: You're Sam Smith's brother?
Dean and Sam are using the aliases given to them by Frank Devereaux in 7.06 Slash Fiction. Coincidentally, Sam Smith is the name of the actress who played Mary Winchester, their mother. In the episode 4.17 It's a Terrible Life, Dean Smith is the name Dean was given by Zachariah. Both that episode and this one were written by Sera Gamble.
Sam: Last faith healer we hooked up with had a reaper on a leash.
Sam is referring to the events of 1.12 Faith, in which he tried to find a faith healer for Dean who'd been told he was dying.
Dean's phone number is 785-555-0128. 785 is the Area Code for the northern half of Kansas, including Lawrence (the boys' birthplace).
Some of the names Dean has written down to contact include Supernatural crewmembers' names:
While Dean is trying to find help for Sam, Bobby's journal inexplicably falls on the floor, and a card for "Mackey's Taxidermy" falls out. Mackey in turn leads Dean to Castiel. This is the third time such an event has occurred — a possible hint that Bobby's ghost is around. The other two events were Dean's beer disappearing in 7.11 Adventures in Babysitting and a helpful paper moving to the top of a pile in 7.13 The Slice Girls.
When Bobby's journal drops onto the floor, it opens on an address page and listed on the pages are the names of a few Supernatural writers and directors including:
One of Sam's hallucinations is that his sandwich is full of maggots. In 3.09 Malleus Maleficarum, a witch's target nearly chokes to death after discovering that his burger is full of maggots.
Marin, the patient who is being haunted by her brother, is played by Kacey Rohl, the daughter of Mike Rohl who had directed ten episodes of Supernatural at the time of airing.
Emanuel lived in Colorado.
Emanuel: [about the demon] I saw his face. His real face.
In 3.16 No Rest for the Wicked, Dean, in the last 24 hours of the year he was given after his crossroads deal, could see demons' real faces:
Dean: I could see its face, its real face, under that one.
Despite the actual name for the website Emanuel got his name from being "bouncybabynames.com" in the script, it is frequently misheard as bouncingbabynames.com. If you visited bouncingbabynames.com in 2012, you would be met with a game titled 'How many times can you make Baby Emanuel Bounce?'. The game involved making a picture of Misha Collins bounce. Attempting to access the website a while later would give you a 403 error from the Web Server at GISHWHES, suggesting that Misha had bought the domain name. Sometime before 2014, the domain name expired and — as of October 2023 — an unknown fan has clearly bought it and it now redirects you to a Supernatural Review and Commentary thread in InterstellarMessages messageboards by user 'Chatwoman' for some reason. The domain was registered in July 2023 despite the thread not having been updated since 2022.
At Jus In Bello Italy 2012, Jensen talked about the trench coat scene, describing it as "awkward," pointing out that the jacket was in a stolen car, that Dean wouldn't have folded it that nicely, describing the written dialogue as, "It was so bad," and saying that he and Misha ended up changing the dialogue.

One fan who won a copy of the script from Misha posted the relevant pages on Tumblr. The removed lines have Dean saying, of the trench coat he's holding, "Dumb to keep. I know. I saw you-- dissolve or whatever. But, just in case. 'Cause I never stopped wanting to fix it either. So we got something in common. Just-- take it. Please."

Though, there may have been an earlier version of the script that Jensen was referring to, as he talked with Misha at Jus In Bello 2012, and they mentioned Castiel having a line that they changed, and Dean having a line that referenced something like the smell of the coat or Dean cuddling up to it. Jensen said Misha had called the scene "gay" in a previous panel, and Jensen referred to it as "unmanly" saying, 'Which would make sense because (Sera Gamble, the writer) is a girl. (...) She writes amazing, but sometimes there are some effeminate lines (like) "I guess I really hoped you'd come back someday."' This last line — "part of me always believed that you'd come back." — was actually filmed and can be heard in the promo for the episode.
Doctor: Welcome to the team, Nurse Masters.
Meg is using the name of her season 1 meatsuit, Meg Masters.

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts

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Episode Info

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  • Misha on returning to Supernatural: "It's true. I'm going to be back on the reality show about the two brothers who drive around testing out seedy motels. Any questions?"

Promo Clips and Photos

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