It’s a reunion tour! After a season of flying (mainly) solo, Sam and Dean were joined by a whole slew of their old friends in this episode – Lucifer, ghost Bobby, Castiel (living as the amnesiac Emmanuel) and even Meg, who last appeared in the season 6 episode “Caged Heat” when she shared a smooch with Castiel. “The Born-Again Identity” was an oasis in the midst of a season that’s deserted its rich mythology in favor of isolating Sam and Dean against the Leviathans. With Frank getting kidnapped at the end of last week’s episode, this was the perfect time to bring some old favorites back into the fold. As the season finale draws near, we’re beginning to see the pieces being moved around the chess board and it’s encouraging to know that it won’t just be Dean and Sam versus Dick Roman and his minions.

Have you seen my trench coat?

Castiel!!! Yes, Misha Collins returning to Supernatural deserves three exclamation points. His presence has been sorely missed this season. Castiel always felt like a brother to Sam and Dean and his role in expanding the mythology of the show can’t be understated. He returned in this episode as Emmanuel, a healer that popped onto Dean’s radar thanks to one of Bobby’s friends. But Dean wasn’t the only one interested in Emmanuel as we found out when Dean went to pay him a visit. I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve seen badass Dean slay a few demons with Ruby’s trusted knife but we got plenty of that here, as the elder Winchester cut a few baddies down to size before being rescued by Meg.

I’ve always enjoyed Meg’s presence on the show, stretching all the way back to her time as a blonde. She’s a great reminder of Sam and Dean’s journey and their shaky truce reminds me of the alliance between Sam and Ruby that ended so badly. It seems Meg is more interested in offing the king of Hell –Crowley, in this case – than freeing him from his cage (like Ruby did in Season 4), but how many times have we heard a Winchester say that demons can’t be trusted? Fifty? A hundred? The fact that we see her getting hired as a nurse at the mental hospital where Castiel resides tells me one thing: she has a plan for using him as a weapon against Crowley that she’ll inevitably bring to fruition. She mentioned as much in this episode and it’ll be interesting to see how it ties into the Leviathan storyline.

Getting back to Castiel – I thoroughly enjoyed his turn as Emmanuel. It reminded me of how awkward Castiel used to be when interacting with humans, culminating in his “Hey ass butt!” comment in the season 5 finale that is still my all-time favorite Supernatural line. The scene we got with Dean, Meg and Emmanuel in the car was hilariously uncomfortable enough that Emmanuel couldn’t help but break the silence.

Once the trio arrived at the hospital we got a mixed bag of execution on the show’s part. Watching Castiel smite the demons was as badass as watching Dean carve them up but having him regain all his memories from killing four demons seemed a bit forced. It was a necessary evil for advancing the story but it was still sloppily handled. The misstep was slightly atoned for when Castiel’s healing touch didn’t fix Sam; I’m glad the writers didn’t make it that easy for Castiel to fix his mistakes.

It was a tremendous sacrifice for Castiel to absorb Sam’s hallucinations and one that shows the angel’s God-complex is a thing of the past. I don’t know how I feel about Sam and Dean’s decision to leave their friend at the mental hospital, especially if they knew Meg was going to watch over him. Perhaps Dean didn’t know Meg intended to stay behind, but if he did, I would have to imagine he wouldn’t be OK leaving Castiel with a demon who intends to use him as a weapon against Crowley. Hopefully the brothers thought leaving Castiel behind was the best option since, hey, the angel can’t cure himself!

Sam and Lucifer, sitting in a tree, T-O-R-T-U-R-I-N-G.

Even with all the Castiel/Meg drama, I’d be remised if I didn’t mention how effectively Lucifer was used in this episode. Mark Pellegrino was clearly having a blast as Sam’s eternal tormentor, whether it was throwing firecrackers at him, waking him up with loud music or yelling his name through a megaphone, the whole thing felt cruel and unusual. Despite his visible distress (the yellow fingernails and 5 o’clock shadow), Sam wouldn’t turn his back on a girl who was dealing with the ghost of her dead brother. This is an element of the show that’s been addressed numerous times but never gets old to me – Sam and Dean are natural-born hunters. It’s been proven that they will find their way back to hunting even with new identities and now it’s been proven Sam will hunt even when he hasn’t slept it a week. A fractured shell of himself or not, Sam (and Dean too) are heroes.

Line of the week

Dean: It’s in there. I’m sure it’s just like riding a bike.
Castiel: I don’t know how to do that either.

Next week on Supernatural

Garth + getting drunk + hunting = this season’s funniest episode? We shall see.

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