Oh, 12.14, I barely have the words to say how much I loved you! Prepare yourselves, dear readers, because the next several paragraphs are, largely, a love letter to this most recent episode. Truly, The Raid was an exceptional combination of storytelling, acting, and cinematography that came together at an ideal just-past-midway point in the season to deliver one solid episode packed with plot.
The Raid had an added level of great visuals this week. While Supernatural has rarely disappointed when it comes to visual delivery and artistic enhancements to the going-ons in any scene or plot event, some episodes offer some especially apropos supports. This week, the sepia-esque quality to bunker flashbacks were subtle, smooth and significant; underscoring the high emotional feel of the conversation between Mary and her sons. Nothing was so strong it hit the audience over the head shouting “THIS IS AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT” when it transitioned. Nevertheless, the shift in mood was clear and key.
Further, the bunker was consistent in these warmer overlays and tones where the Men of Letters set up was distinctly…cooler and all mechanical. It was sharp, sleek and, as they would come to realize, too modern for their own good. Cold with silver shades, metal and black throughout contrasted with the personalized, warmer golds and sepia shades of the Winchesters home. Even the Colt – and the Alpha for that matter - looked distinctly out of place in such a sleek, modern, lifeless facility.
Enough about the tones and colours though, right. What about those fight scenes – intensity, panic, anxiety – it was all on the menu. The narrow shots in small spaces with a fast pace – both inside and outside of the compound delivered the urgency and bloodlust. Chaos well conveyed by director John MacCarthy.
Speaking of bloodlust, let’s look at the storyline here – also well done, both the writing and the acting. First we have the familial divide – more on this later – which was done, as I mentioned in my last review, quite organically over the last few weeks and lead to a natural upset. Sam struggled with the separation more than Dean and surely as Dean closed his mouth on the last syllable of “choose a side” I knew that Sam would end up with the BMoL – but I couldn’t see how.
The vampire plot was done brilliantly: instead of relegating vampires to such easily slaughtered creatures – which initially it appeared the writers might be, which the special AVD and the “only 11 left” talk – despite how clever, resourceful and even humane we’ve seen vampires be through the series, the BMoL were deeply, powerfully humbled. Watching Sam learn about the BMoL in their compound, witnessing their technology and discussing wiping out vampires entirely it was unclear what direction the story was going in. This plot was well paced, keeping things interesting with Ketch going to Dean and taking him to the vampire nest, leading us to possibilities like all three Winchesters might just end up together hunting these vampires? And of course with the appearance of our Alpha but not a word one way or another about his plan – quite the attention grabber too.
Ketch and Dean seemed to connect on an unexpected level as well. There was equal amounts of suspiciousness about the entire “olive branch” of Ketch and his name-drop of the vampires to Dean to keep it curious and unknown. A set up was an obvious route; so that it didn’t play out that way and in fact these two seem to have rapport intrigued me more – this was the first time we’ve tasted Ketch’s personality to this level. And, I kind of liked it. You have convinced me, writers, there is potential in this character. Mick too, maybe.
Finally, the vampire attack on the compound was swift, vicious and intense. But the most significant part was how useless the BMoL proved to be in the end – even Mick couldn’t deny this in the closing moments of the show. They were wholly unprepared for the war up close and personal, the “down and dirty hunters” had to save them. Now, there were a few minor issues here: I had to ask myself – did the BMoL really use a CHAIN LINK FENCE to protect its organization while also going to the effort of hand scanners? I mean, really?! That is a ridiculous oversight, no? Moreover, when Toni kidnapped Sam she had the house warded against everything under the sun (and above it too) – so….did somebody forget to do this? HOWEVER,…since this was such a great episode on mostly every other front, let’s use our imaginations and call these errors of ego (instead of writing oversights).
And of course, we can’t forget our Alpha.
The Alpha, played again by the unmatched Rick Worthy, is a force that fills the room before he opens his mouth, even more so when that incredible voice intones the sins of the British MoL:
“I'm old. I like living quietly. You've been making my life awfully noisy lately. You've killed so many of my children. I've seen your work. In England, I didn't get involved because, well it's England. But America yes. America is my home. And it's time that you get off my lawn.”
Clever Alpha used the apparent bumbling Pierce to facilitate this raid – and if you saw that twist coming you are a psychic. That was a very subtle, well-done manipulation of a side character I had written off as comic relief. The final exchange with Sam and the Alpha was one of the many potent moments in the show. Although Supernatural has never shied away from killing characters, regular, guests, beloved or otherwise – it was still somewhat incredible to see the bullet from the Colt actually succeed in killing the Alpha Vampire. And what a visual this was. I can’t do it just to describe here – I’ll just say it was a breathless moment, done in such a crafty way that it took a minute to truly know whether he was one of those infamous immune five.
“We're your sons, and you've been gone. Our whole lives, you've been gone. You said that you needed time. No, you said you need space. So we gave you your space. But you didn't need just space. No, you needed space from us…How 'bout for once, you just try to be a mom? ...
I never was [a child]. So between us and them …And you made your choice.”
A short few moments at the start of the episode, heady with tension and heartache. These scenes continued the conversation where we left from Mary’s confession about working with the BMoL last week – and her boys are not impressed. For Dean’s part, the hurt is so far down under the anger and Sam, well he’s just torn between the two isn’t he?
Everyone delivered in this exchange so well, especially Jensen, conveying such vivid but contained emotions of an adult son asking for his mother to be a mom when she won’t, can’t or doesn’t know how. This is an issue that has been discussed since we knew Mary was coming back last year – how can she connect with her grown children as a mother when she only knows them as fully formed adults? Of course, Dean has wanted a mother his whole life and missed the mother he remembers, but Sam didn’t know her and doesn’t have this same reconciliation between two versions of mom. This issue was underscored as they sat at the table and Mary stated Dean didn’t need anyone to pack his lunch anymore while he responded with her first name, instead of Mom. Ouch.
Throughout this all, Sam’s only expression was hurt and uncertainty. No words needed – he’s stuck in middle, which Dean later calls him on and we all know how that goes.
The one thing I can’t figure out about The Raid is Sam’s logic in saying yes at the end. So, he just witnessed a massive slaughter and frankly came close himself. If it wasn’t for that Colt “resurfacing” (by the way – kudos for the reaction when he saw that again!) because of the drama with Ramiel, that was orchestrated via lies and led to death of a hunter and near death of Cas, the Alpha vampire would have slayed them. The BMoL proved wholly useless when up close and personal with big bads – Ketch aside but he wasn’t around – and the intel they relied on was inaccurate, but they were too arrogant to know better. Therefore, “you’re changing the world” is good in theory but they did not do anything here. Hunters did.
What will Dean say?
The Final Thoughts
Loved it. Action, adventure, emotion, drama. Old met new with BMoL, the Colt and the Alpha vampire. I’ll sound like such a broken record at this point – this season tastes so much like the good old days while maintaining a fresh new style and it’s episodes like this that over that nostalgia the most. It was an excellent story with beautiful acting and strong visuals. I am excited to see how Sam’s new choice plays out in the family. Any thoughts/theories on this alliance and where it is all going to end? Maybe Dean will make a new friend of his own?
Share your thoughts below!
PS – thank you always for your comments, opinions, theories and more! I always read the comment section, but rarely have a chance to reply, so thank you everyone!