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Review: Supernatural 12×14 “The Raid”

The Winchesters have a long and storied record of keeping rather important information from one another, and the conflicts which arise from these deceptions have driven much of Supernatural‘s narrative for twelve seasons. While Sam and Dean have got better at sharing with each other in recent years, it seems they inherited their tendency to tell porkies from both parents. The aftershocks from Mary’s bombshell that she’s been working with the British Men of Letters were still very much being felt in this episode, as Dean and Sam found themselves working with the shady Brits against their better judgment.

There air was decidedly frosty in the bunker this week as Dean refused to see his mother’s take on things and unceremoniously turfed her out of their home. After being chewed out by a disgruntled Dean for sitting on the fence, Sam relented, reading Mary’s apologetic texts and agreeing to meet her at the BMOL’s US base of operations. On arrival, Mary explained that she wants to help the MOL wipe out monsters for good so that her boys can finally settle down and have ┬ánormal lives. Having been dead for thirty years, Mary clearly missed the parts where they tried that and massively sucked at it because they are basically serial killers with extreme co-dependency issues. But I digress…

At BMOL HQ, Sam was informed of their plan to exterminate every vampire in the US. Having all but cleared the mid-west region, the team had one more nest to take out. The surviving vamps were holed up in a hotel, and fans of the movie which gave this episode its title might have been wrong-footed at this point, as I was. Before Mary and co. had chance to move on the vamps, the bloodsuckers brought the fight to them, infiltrating the MOL compound with the help of the Alpha, the daddy of them all.

Defeating the Alpha with the use of the Colt and some improvised bullets gave Sam a chance to demonstrate to the pen-pushers that he and Dean are a forced to be reckoned with, and confirmed just why they are such a valuable commodity to the powers that be. But it also allowed Sam to see the benefits of a more strategic approach to hunting. His misdirection just before shooting the Alpha was particularly clever, because it sounded so plausible. I believed him when he said it should be ‘cops and robbers’ with hunters and monsters locked in a fair fight, although I doubted he’d give Mick over to be vamp chow. The fact that Sam decided to cooperate with their organisation was actually pretty surprising, although the younger Winchester has always been less stuck in his ways than his big bro.

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While Sam was battling vampires, Dean went off to drown his sorrows in a bottle, and returned to an empty bunker. He was visited by the highly persuasive Mr. Ketch, who came bearing a rather fancy bottle of scotch and demonstrated a piercing understanding of Dean’s psyche. It seems Ketch and Dean share more than just a love of expensive whiskey, and Ketch knew exactly what buttons to press to pique Dean’s interest. They too went hunting vampires together, but Ketch’s taste for violence was too rich even for Dean, and he had to step in when Ketch repeatedly punched a young female vamp in the face.

It’s been suggested many times previously that Dean Winchester has sadistic leanings, unsurprising since he spent the equivalent of forty years torturing souls in Hell. Lady Toni’s assertion that Ketch is a psychopath definitely rang true in this episode, with his charming veneer slipping to reveal something rather sinister, and while Dean clearly saw it too, he didn’t deny that he understood and shared Ketch’s need to ‘gut something’ on a regular basis.

Dean and Ketch returned to the MOL base in time to find Sam and Mary in the aftermath of the vamp attack. Dean admitted knowing that Mary was in danger was enough to make him forgive her transgression, and he vowed to let her make her own decisions regardless of whether or not he agrees with them. It remains to be seen whether his resolve holds up once he knows Sam is also interested in forming an alliance with the Brits.

I’m a fan of Robert Berens‘ writing, and while it wasn’t my favourite of his works, this episode was smart and snappy. I know Dean’s rough treatment of Sam would have angered some fans, but I think it’s fairly consistent with his character. Dean’s quick to flare up and hates the idea of Sam siding with anyone over him, even Cas and their mother. Dean’s issue with the MOL stems from their kidnapping and torturing Sam, after all, so in this case his rage is fuelled by concern for his brother. It’s still unclear whether the MOL are friend or foe, but this episode drew some interesting parallels between Dean and Ketch, and between Sam and the ops team at the base. It also allowed Sam and Mary some bonding time, although I’m still not as invested in her as I should be and, if I’m honest, I prefer the brotherly hunting team dynamic.

Final Grade: C+

+ Watching Dean and Ketch face off over the sand table while very much enjoying their whiskey was fabulous. I also loved Dean’s I Love Lucy nod. Berens’ Dean is pure sass and hedonism.

+ Jared Padalecki gave a lovely performance this week, especially when Sam realised Mary had been stealing the Colt while they were at Ramiel’s. His betrayed tears as he struggled to maintain his composure were a thing of beauty.

+ Ricky Worthy brought so much suave menace to the Alpha.

– BUT THEN THEY KILLED HIM! I guess it was an important victory and instrumental in changing Sam’s attitude to the MOL but it’s a shame to lose such a great monster.

– The British MOL have people with three PhDs each working there but they can’t come up with better names for their tech than ‘Anti-Vampire Device’. Seriously guys…

– I’m glad Sam stated that he chose the hunting life, but Mary’s claims that she was doing everything for her sons was a bit flimsy to say the least. I, like Dean, would have been better off with my hazy season 1 memories of Mamma Winchester.

Extra Thought: The BMOL’s reasoning that if they recruit Sam and Dean, all the other hunters will follow is surely flawed logic. They’ve been shot by other hunters for kickstarting the apocalypse!

What did you think? Was this episode FANGtastic or a pain in the neck? Sorry…Tell us what you thought in the comments, or visit us on Twitter!

 

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Katie Young

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