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From a critical standpoint, an episode like “The Born-Again Identity” is a field day.  It was loved, it was hated, there were flaws for sure, but considering most of the critics/reviewers in this review roundup are long time fans as well, the mixed reactions make for some truly great reading.

The first review I read was the one from John Kubicek of BuddyTV, up Friday evening after the episode.  He thinks the resolution to Sam's condition is confusing and a cheap way out.  After a year and a half of Sam's soul issues, he just didn't like the quick solution.  He offers some great reasoning, and yes it ruffles some feathers.     

http://www.buddytv.com/articles/supernatural/supernatural-recap-can-castiel-44660.aspx

On another side is Laura Prudom of The Huffington Post.  She thought the entire episode was brilliant, but like me, thought the ending was too rushed.  

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-prudom/supernatural-recap-castiel-returns_b_1378291.html

This is my favorite review, my pick of the week.  It comes from Annalee Newitz at i09.  I've met her a few times and I know she really is a big fan, but her frustration here is so well put.  She gives a very fair analysis, and I love the title, "Supernatural, I honestly don't know what to think of you anymore."

By the end of the review she brings up some excellent points that I haven't explored before.  She has problems with how poorly defined Sam's soul issues have been.   His condition has never been clearly defined, and the solution provided in this ep is just as baffling.  She also thinks that they're running out of time for properly exploring the season arcs they've setup, like with the Leviathan.  This is my favorite line of her review, the closing line: 

So my reaction to this episode, in a nutshell, is that it was fun to watch while it was happening because I was given all my favorite candies in rapid succession. But as soon as it was over, I had a stomach full of regrets.

I do ask that anyone reading this review approach from a critical thinking perspective and not a fangirl perspective.  It'll help reading go much easier:

http://io9.com/5896184/supernatural-i-honestly-dont-know-what-to-think-of-you-anymore


Here's a few of my favorite writers that I make sure never to miss:

Gerry Weaver at Blogcritics has a very balanced way of looking at things.  Another great review here. 

http://blogcritics.org/video/article/tv-review-supernatural-the-born-again/

Nicole at Salted and Burned (aka @newenglishwoman) is one very happy fan.  She's always so much fun to read. 

http://saltedandburned.com/2012/03/ramblings-on-episode-7x17-the-born-again-identity-spoilers/

I'm giving special kudos to Clarissa at TV Overmind for this review just because she managed to reference my favorite line from "Galaxy Quest" in a subheader.  Bonus points to those that identify the line in the comments! 

http://www.tvovermind.com/supernatural/supernatural-season-7-episode-17-review-recap-the-born-again-identity

Let's not forget Tina Charles at TV Guide.  Another great recap/review:

http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/supernatural-2012/episode-17-season-7/the-born-again-identity/192272

These are some recommendations sent to me on Twitter too.  They are fan based, and the opinions vary quite a bit.  They are still very good though. 

Innsmouth Free Press:  http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/?p=17073

My Supernatural Addiction:  http://mysupernaturaladdiction.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/supernatural-the-born-again-identity-review/

Got a review to share?  Please do share the link in the comments below.

Comments  

digyd
# digyd 2012-03-29 15:42
I read Gerry's review because I like how you said he had a balanced way of looking at things. And yeah. Great job. Reminded me of a fleeting thought I had about the necessity of Marin's story - to remind us about the power of those sibling relationships. How do you not imagine - just a little - the guys in that same situation?

But anyway, I pondered reading more and decided no. I'm done. No more Winchester vivisection. It's killing my buzz. :-)
Mieke
# Mieke 2012-03-29 16:12
Never give up, never surrender! Such a great line from GQ and certainly a motto that the Winchester boys live by, especially when it relates to saving each other. I read your "pick of the week" review and although I recognize some of the creeping doubts, since I have felt them myself, I really have found myself closer to the ideas expressed in the first comment to that review, by Serenada. It took repeated watching of the episode and lots of processing, but that is where I am. As Season 7 progresses, I may find myself thinking that I have an issue with the arc, or lack thereof, but then after re-watching and processing, find that it is actually quite clear and beautifully, although very subtly, told. It still depends on how this season ends mind you, cliff-hanger or not. But even though it may be hard to define, it does feel like I "get it" so to speak. I do have to confess that what sometimes gives me a stomach full of regrets and ache, is the endless analyzing angst and some of the downright fandom wank (esp. before an episode even airs!) I find that I enjoy the show much more when I stay away from all the hand wringing. But here I am doing just that, ha! Welcome to the SPN fandom I guess! :)
digyd
# digyd 2012-03-29 16:35
Quote:
I do have to confess that what sometimes gives me a stomach full of regrets and ache, is the endless analyzing angst and some of the downright fandom wank (esp. before an episode even airs!) I find that I enjoy the show much more when I stay away from all the hand wringing. But here I am doing just that, ha! Welcome to the SPN fandom I guess! :)
Here, here, Mieke! And that would be the buzzkill I was talking about. You want to join in, but you kinda feel like the kid in Dead in the Water - put in a finger, get yanked in. :-)
Ginger
# Ginger 2012-03-29 18:01
I've read some of the reviews and, actually, was quite surprised about how positive they were. While I did not dislike this episode, I was left with too many WTF moments to think it was excellent to the point of , 'Oh, SPN, you've done it again.'

I read the Annalee Newitz at i09 review just now and, man, I think she is right on. Mostly, my WTF moments are those she mentions, plus a couple of others. I do share her main concern -- the worry that the show will not satisfy the ton of arcs and sub-text it has introduced and never given answers to.

One she didn't mention is that all season they have beat us over the head with clues and sub-text that something is uo or wrong with Dean and that is somehow connected to the mytharc. I want a payoff to all that build-up; first because Dean is a lead in the show and, second, because it has been in just about every episode so far, starting with LeviCas telling Dean he would be back for "him." Guy Bee said he was specifically told to put that in there.

I'm not sure yet that this will be one of the dropped plots/sub-plots . What I feel sure is that there are going to be dropped ones, because the plotting has not gone smoothly and there's too much left. Perhaps they will try to cover that up with the 'big' cliffhanger, but I don't think poor plotting is disguised that easily.

And the caveat, of course, is that I do not hate S7. I've still found it good TV -- thank you JA and JP.
BeccaB
# BeccaB 2012-03-29 18:19
Great article, I don't go to other review sites other than Galic Spirit. But I was curious, and peaked at what others had to say about my favorite show. Very interesting. I did love this episode and the see-saw aspect of the story presentation. In fact, I couldn't stop watching it. But, like so many others, I thought the end was rushed. It felt like the writers just ran out of time and steam. Given the time restrictions, all they really had to do was have Sam lean heavily on Dean to show that he had gone through a terrible ordeal, and have Dean show his brotherly love as only Jensen can do. And wa-la, rushed ending solved. Sorry about this guys, I'm definitely not a writer, which is why I lurk and seldom respond. But what he hell!
JoRuth
# JoRuth 2012-03-30 19:51
Thank you for this. The engagement with this show is wonderful and good critical reviews only draw me to think more about the story. Indeed, I loved every minute of this episode...but that is not to say from a critical point of view the ending might have been done differently. I think finally though that I put that down to the fact the time constraints of television and the desire to tell the story in full do not always mix well. I also think that is where my own imagination and engagement needs to kick in with the story. And the story and the characters and the actors are superb.
hedie
# hedie 2012-03-31 19:31
hey thank you so much for putting all the good reviews all in one place! here is mine , if u guys check it out i will be so happy! thnx!
http://heavenlymisha.tumblr.com/post/19858246149/my-review-on-born-again-identity
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:27
Thanks so much for sharing! Sorry for the late reply.
The kid
# The kid 2012-04-04 16:14
Oh, wow! So you find the Innsmouth Free Press review a good one??? this isn't even a review, it's just pure Sam hating rant... :sad: :-x
shadowhund
# shadowhund 2012-04-04 16:24
At least I would like to have a warning sign for Sam hating reviews, because I can ditch them immediately.Cou ld you please warn about them the next time, would you please do this?
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:50
I'm going share a story. Once upon a time, I publicly dissed the Innsmouth Free Press (I've never cared for their tone). The Dean fan hate poured onto this site and some very vicious fans jumped down my throat here and on other boards for a period of time. It was ugly.

So, this go around, some fans insisted I share the link. I decided to play nice. That way, I can't be accused of bias. If I had given a warning, ugh, these fans would have jumped down my throat again.

It's a vicious and volatile fandom. Sharing your opinion about that site though is VERY valuable. It gives feedback publicly that I'm not allowed to do in the realm of "objective" reporting. Thank you!

Also, you've given me a case to never share their link again.
shadowhund
# shadowhund 2012-04-04 17:05
I understand that! I would like to find some more review links that are Sam friendly! Would it be possible to share review links that are "Sam friendly" and "Dean friendly" or "brother friendly"? Simply in mentioning that?
Like Percy suggested Pink Raygun's reviews are Sam friendly (but not Dean hateful!)? The more I write about the issues the more I think its weird, when I think what this show is about! Thanks for answering, and sorry for mistakes in english!
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-04-04 16:24
I have to admit that I only made it through a paragraph or two due to the Sam hate. I wish I had been warned about it, because I would not have read it if I knew that it would start with Sam bashing. At least I know not to go back to the site.
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:54
As I've been telling others, my apologies. I couldn't give a warning. That kills the objectivity of the listing, and some people actually wanted me to share it. Sadly, the reviewer has found a niche. Not my niche, but still.

By publicly voicing a complaint though, you've given me an excellent case never to share their links again. Thank you!
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:26
To be honest, the tone on that site (and especially this writer) has never been my cup of tea, but it was passed onto me to share by some people who do love it. Everyone likes their reviews in different flavors! (In my very quiet voice though, you are right about the bias.)
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-04-04 16:37
I understand and appreciate that people do enjoy all flavor of reviews. I just want a warning where there is a known bias on a site. I love Pink Ray Gun, but I always note that she is very pro-Sam and is not fond of Castiel. She also hasn't reviewed the last two episodes, so I can't recommend her for this one. Just a heads up if the tone is really bad would be great. I love reading reviews, but some POV's are not my cup of tea.
lala2
# lala2 2012-04-04 16:40
That is a poster on the IMDb boards. I thought you guys knew. She hates Sam. He could kiss Dean's feet and sing Dean's praises, and she'd still find ways to hate him.

I've never read her reviews from her website, but her posts on IMDb were always pretty hateful toward Sam. I guess that hasn't changed. I stopped going to IMDb b/c of the "Sam hate" became overwhelming, IMO.
Blue Steel
# Blue Steel 2012-04-04 16:23
Yes, Innsmouth Free Press is a Sam Hater Zone. They should not be promoted anywhere.
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:34
It's certainly not a place I frequent (heck, ever go to), but when doing these review roundups, people send me links to share. There are some people on this site (including a writer) who love these reviews.

So while I keep personal bias aside when doing the review roundup, I personally agree with your opinion.
SarahG6
# SarahG6 2012-04-04 16:23
Couldn't agree more Kid. It is a Sam bashing thread, not a SPN review. Hope you get that cleared up before advising us to go there again. Once was enough!
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:40
My sincere apologies! This is where I fall between a rock and a hard place. Some people wanted me to share this link. If I publicly "out" them as a Sam bashing site, well, then I get Dean fans jumping down my throat for being a Sam fan. I just can't win sometimes.

Thank you for providing feedback on that link! It does give warning to others and will help me next time in making a case that this site does indeed offend.
lala2
# lala2 2012-04-04 16:45
I think saying, that the website and reviewer is very "Pro-Dean" so Sam fans should proceed w/caution is just stating the obvious.

Her hatred for Sam is very clear and obvious. The only people I think wouldn't be bothered by it are those who also dislike/hate Sam.

JMO.

ETA: Admittedly, I haven't read her review. I know her from IMDb so stayed clear of the review.
The kid
# The kid 2012-04-04 16:50
I'm sure that many Dean fans would hate this review too. It's too extreme. I do understand your difficult position and "can't win" feeling. Maybe just a "it's pro-Dean/anti-S am or pro-Sam/anti-De an" comment is enough for a warning without causing more trouble to you. 8)
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:59
I think the complaints here are enough. They shall not make our review roundup again. I have a case!
Sharon
# Sharon 2012-04-04 16:36
I didnt go onto Innsmouth as I know the reputation of the writer and the site .
I hadnt read a review by Gerry Weaver before though so thank you Alice .
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 16:57
Now Gerry I can personally recommend! She picked up the Supernatural reviews at Blogcritics after I left. She's great.
Whimsical Dragon
# Whimsical Dragon 2012-04-04 23:02
Coming out of my longtime lurker corner here....

Asking for warnings on Dean-friendly reviews? Seriously? A few people whine and you gladly use it as an excuse to not have to link to those reviews at all?

No, there's no bias here at all. *eyeroll*
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-04 23:24
Ah, there's that "damned if I do, damned if I don't" thing I was talking about people!

I do take complaints seriously here believe it or not. Are you a fan of the Innsmouth Free Press? Have I offended you in some way? Speak up. Maybe I should put this to vote. It was more that "a few."
Whimsical Dragon
# Whimsical Dragon 2012-04-05 00:05
I have visited IFP once or twice, but I wouldn't call myself a "fan". I do enjoy reading Paula's comments and thoughts about episodes, but that is not relevant to this discussion.

My "offense" comes from the comments posted, including yours. As I said, I am a longtime lurker. I never comment on anything -- ever. But reading how people want to be "warned" when they might stumble upon an article with an opinion different from theirs is grating. Reading that the moderator is happy that she doesn't have to post them anymore -- in fact, is happy that she now has "a case" -- is infuriating. Especially when the moderator continually states that this is a non-biased site and all opinions are welcome.

That's my offense. Don't say you're a non-biased site when you're activly keeping differing opinions off the site.
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-05 01:01
You know, this kind of attack isn't fair at all. I DARE you to do my job and try to keep balance in an explosive fandom. What do you expect me to say to the fans that were offended? Tough? Quit bitching? Like I said, this fandom is way too sensitive.

There's no freaking thing as "non-bias" in this fandom. Everyone is biased, on both sides. Look at it from my perspective. You want to know the exhausting hours I spend trying to please everyone? No matter what happens, someone is out there always screaming "bias." It's no win.

For one, I do not keep differing opinions off the site. Prove that I do. Have you read our articles? They are all across the board. We are talking about one freaking link here. Where are the defenders of this publication? I haven't seen any.

I am allowed to voice my opinion, especially in the comments. To think that I'm not entitled to an opinion is nuts. Have you not read my stuff? I've only been like this ever since I started the site. It's only my opinion. It's not like I'm God or anything.

I don't like the idea of issuing warnings. I'd rather not post the links then. All the other links I did post are of very different opinions as well. I suggest you read them.

I do apologize if I'm offending but crap, I'm not winning this either way.
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-04-04 23:48
Asking for warning on Sam HATING reviews. Loving Dean does not equal hating Sam and the Innsmouth Free Press review was a total Sam bash. Love Dean all you want, I'll gladly read it. Sam hate I can do without.
digyd
# digyd 2012-04-04 23:55
Alice, I wasn't going to say anything. I think I just wanted to say something to those inclined to hear me more than to you.

If I see a link, I click and I either read or something makes me not care and I come back. Done deal. I move on. I can't understand people asking you to do the extra work of saying if a site is pro/con Sam or Dean. Strikes me as lazy, actually, but with the family vibe so many of these fans are diggin' on, I suppose they feel comfortable asking for such indulgences and my guess is you want people to feel that way. But being in a family doesn't mean you get your way about everything, right? (Somebody channel Bobby now.) It also means sometimes you gotta be self-sufficient and not ask so much of each other.

If you are willing to take the time to post the links, Alice, and you already know it's not going to please everyone, I say do whatever is most convenient for you.

And now I bow out since I haven't been around here all that long and I'm not interested in arguments over this kind of triviality.
Alice
# Alice 2012-04-05 01:03
Thank you. I really love you right now!
JoRuth
# JoRuth 2012-04-05 07:32
Thanks Alice for all the work you do! Some choices are just too difficult and I am grateful for your caring and thought and amazing critical eyes and ears. I love this site. I also like to draw my own conclusions and to read what I want to read. I love Supernatural and this is why I am here. I ask for kindness and respect for different views. And hope I can give the same back. I am very very new to making comments, graduating from lurking but I believe this site is welcoming of the whole loving volatile fandom. :-) Thank you!
Karen
# Karen 2012-04-05 08:20
Totally love you too right now digyd and agree with everything you have said. Sorry Alice you really are between a rock and a hard place. I don’t normally visit your round up article as I stopped reading other sites reviews a long time ago. Not that I had an issue with them. I just found I had enough coming from this site to more than satisfy me.
I just wanted to add that you have a policy on this site that does not aloud Sam vs Dean articles/commen ts etc. That it’s ok to side with one brother but not by bashing the other. Same with the actors themselves. So if this particular person is a Sam hater and bashes his character, than as far as I’m concern you have every right to not advertise their reviews.
Also this is your site, your baby and your choice to publish, promote, indorse anything you feel is appropriate.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2012-04-05 13:20
Whimsical Dragon, I really don’t know why you’re going on the offensive for comments that other people have posted. Alice doesn’t have any control over those (though I dare say her life would be a lot easier if she had).

Secondly, I’m with the boss in asking for proof that this site is biased or is opposed to differing opinions. THE IFP link was posted so Alice opened the door for fans to read it if they so wish. For anyone who enjoyed reading it they now know it’s there so they can hit the favourites button at the top of the screen and read the IFP reviews any time they want. Surely Alice has done all she can in relation to bringing a variety of reviews to her posters. Her link on this site will surely generate more traffic for that article and that writer, showing a distinct lack of bias.

In relation to warnings being posted for each review, I’d say definitely not. It would put Alice in a very precarious position and it’s not exactly fair to ask her to decide what is, and what is not, suitable for us to read. Not only does she have enough to do but, with all due respect, Alice ain’t our mammy.

All a reader has to do is to read a paragraph or two of any article and then decide for themselves whether the writing is for them or not. In the first few paragraphs of the IFB review there were remarks such as ‘Please let this be the last Sam Hellpain recap, ever. Please’ and ‘I start to wish Dean had left Sam’s whiny-ass soul in the Cage and shot Sambot in the head‘ or ‘Since Fauxifer is Sam’s Inner Jerk, does this mean Sam thinks he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder? ‘Cause I can get behind that self-diagnosisâ €™ so it wouldn’t take much to make out it’s a (fiercely) anti-Sam writer. It’s then up to the reader to decide whether or not to continue reading.

This writer has obviously found a niche in the market and if some don’t agree with it, all they can do is ignore it, not give the writer and her review some sort of importance by asking that her writings come with a warning.

I read the article and now I know that review is not my cup of tea (I prefer my tea a little less bitter) so I’ve no intention of returning to the site or reading any more of that reviewers writings. All that knowledge cost me to find that out was about 3 minutes and a few eye rolls. No harm, no foul. I’ve actually come to a stage where I read comments and articles like that as almost a mark of commendation for Sam. It takes one hell of a character to provoke such a reaction so fair play to Jared Padalecki and the writers for creating one.

Alice, you’re a star for doing your utmost to ensure we can read as much SPN writings as possible. I think you deserve some homemade (well, it was homemade by someone) cake.

This one has a berry on it so you can eat as much of it as you like and it will be good for you! Yay for berries.