Did Sam hallucinate the hunt in the mental institution?
Tonight I watched “The Born Again Identity” with Mr. Flutie. He floated a theory that completely changed my entire concept of the episode – and which I can’t believe I never thought of before, in all the dozens of rewatches: While he was in the mental hospital, Sam hallucinated the Hunt with Marin.
That is to say: the girl named Marin might’ve been real, but the exorcism, and quite possibly the conversation with her about her brother’s ghost setting the fire? All in Sam’s head.
After all, it is pretty convenient, isn’t it, that Sam should find the one person in the entire hospital who’s being haunted (and in a way that so closely resembles his brother’s grief). It’s even more convenient that she instantly believes Sam when he tells her he can help the voice go away, or that the brother just happened to bleed on a friendship bracelet that Marin kept on her person, or that a teenage girl was able to steal salt shakers and Marcus’s lighter (when Sam is the known, trained pickpocket), and so on.
But it’s not just that. We know that Sam’s hallucinations are connected to his insomnia; every time he’s about to hallucinate, he’s on the verge of falling asleep. We see this illustrated several times in the episode. For example, here he is in the car with the drug dealer, right before the imaginary pole goes through the windshield (2:31):
Or here, Sam is nodding off just as Dr. Kadinsky/Hallucifer walks in, when they have the conversation about there always being “a new 10” (at 8:18):
Or when Hallucifer wakes him up with the firecrackers (14;48):
We even see the episode nod to the insomnia-hallucination connection explicitly, when Lucifer (hallucination) reads Sam a bed time story (to put him to sleep) at the end of the episode (34:48):
So what do we see when Marin comes back into Sam’s room with the lighter, right before he performs the exorcism? You guessed it — Sam is on the verge of falling asleep (29:23):
Except this time, no hallucination of Lucifer occurs. Instead, when Sam is woken up, he goes straight to the exorcism – implying, then, that the exorcism itself is the hallucination.
What’s more, at the open of the scene in which Marin first mentions that her brother, not she, set the fire, there’s a a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot in which we see Sam shaking himself awake at 17:07, right before Marin walks into the room and hands him the candy bar:
Other indications that Sam may be hallucinating the events with Marin:
- After Marcus explains that “Marin didn’t get here because of no accident”, we never see anyone else in the hospital interact with her or mention her again.
- We never see Sam eat the candy bars Marin brings him — in fact, he tries to open the first one and can’t.
- When the orderlies show up after Sam has exorcised the ghost and the lights have popped out, Marin is not there; she conveniently fled before they showed up.
- After the orderlies have he’s strapped Sam to the bed and as he’s talking to Dr. Kadinsky about “surgical options”, there’s a long shot of Sam’s broken/bruised fingernails (implying that he’d actually punched out the lights, rather than them popping out because of the appearance of the ghost)
I have watched “The Born Again Identity” more than I’ve watched any other episode of anything ever, and that idea that Sam imagined the whole exorcism has never once crossed my mind. Wow.
Either way, whether the Hunt is real or not, I’m not sure it really matters. The point is the blurred line between reality and perception, madness and sanity; what is True and how that differs from What Matters; and so on. For that, I don’t think it matters so much whether the exorcism is real or not as much as that Sam thinks it’s real.
Still, cool thought, no?