“The Raid,” the latest offering from fan-favorite writer, Robert Berens, opens on a standoff between Mary and her sons. She’s still trying to get them to see where she’s coming from, and to put it mildly, things aren’t going well. When she tells them that Wally’s case had actually been hers, and that she sees Wally die every night, Dean takes no prisoners and replies with a cold, “Good.”
Three days later, Sam and Dean still aren’t answering Mary’s texts, and we learn where she’s been staying when not at the bunker. The British Men of Letters have one of their own bases, and it’s very high-tech, futuristic, compartmentalized. It’s a stark difference in comparison to the Winchester bunker, and I’m probably biased, but I don’t like it.
While we follow Mary into the new bunker, we learn that despite Ketch’s distaste for the idea, Mick is intent on getting Sam and Dean to join their relatively small and unimpressive team, because, “Where Sam and Dean go, the rest of the American hunters will follow.”
If you thought Dean’s “good” from earlier was bad, their continued exchange in a flashback to the episode’s opening scene is enough to rip your heart out. When Dean demands that for once she be a mom, Mary snaps back that she’s not just a mom, and that Dean’s not a child. Which, go Mary for standing up for herself and Berens for vocalizing the fact that Mary is more than what the fandom has known her to be for the past twelve seasons, but then Dean shoots back with the heartbreaking, “I never was” and goes on to call her “Mary” instead of “Mom.”
Just leave me here, guys.
In classic Winchester fashion, Dean starts searching for cases to help him get his his mind off things, but anything he comes up with is a reach, really. When Sam resumes his role of peacekeeper and tries to convince Dean to hear Mary out, Dean snaps, saying that for once in his life, Sam should take a side instead of just playing the middle.
Dean’s outburst–and subsequent trip to a bar–is enough for Sam to take action when Mary texts him, saying that they need to meet. From there, he’s introduced to the British Men of Letters and listens in on their plan to exterminate the last 11 vampires left in the Midwest. It’s hard not to be impressed, and it’s clear that Sam definitely is.
The motel where the last 11 vampires are staying is pretty empty, and one of the vamps is trying to comfort his comrade who’s panicking about hunters coming to attack, by saying that nobody will get into the motel without him noticing. To show just how wrong he is, the Alpha Vampire we all know and love makes an appearance, and he has some news to share with his kids.
Meanwhile, Dean returns to the bunker to continue his drinking, only to find empty liquor bottles (my headcanon is that Sam emptied them to make sure Dean didn’t get too smashed) and an unwelcome visitor: Ketch himself. After bribing his way inside with booze, Ketch tells Dean that he doesn’t give a shit if he and Sam join them, but that being a Man of Letters does wonders for people with their “inclinations”–aka they’re both killers, and having assignments gives them structure, an outlet.
Uh, excuse me, Mr. Ketch, but you can kindly step off.
Dean is so close to telling Ketch off and kicking him out, so close, when Ketch mentions that he’s got a line on a nest of vampires, which piques Dean’s interest. Just like that, Dean and Ketch are hunting buddies. Ketch is even intrigued by Dean’s choice of vampire-killing tool, opting to use a blade instead of his regular gun, which he calls, “Too easy.”
The motel is abandoned when they arrive, though, and when Ketch finally manages to find a straggler and tries to beat an answer out of her about where all the other vamps went, Dean proves that Ketch’s assumptions about him are wrong. He’s the one who gets an answer by saying that he’ll make her death quick.
“They’re hunting,” she says. “Hunting the hunters.”
Which is when the episode really gets intense.
The vampires have turned the tables and launched a surprise attack on the British Men of Letters’ bunker, and lots of questions start popping up at once.
Is the British Men of Letters’ method really that innovative or effective? Can they fight off the nest of vampires who’ve got the bunker surrounded, looking for revenge? Will all their new tech help them get out of this?
Short answer: hell no.
Nobody in the group has ever fought or killed anything with a knife or gun, and all their weapons are stashed away, including the Anti-Vamp Device (which, cue eyeroll emoji, honestly), so they’ll have to go old-school. With no other options left, Mary tells Mick to get “it,” and as if dealing with a pack of vampires and his issues with his mom aren’t enough, now Sam’s gotta deal with the knowledge that the Colt is back, and that Mary stole it from Ramiel.
Sam being Sam, though, keeps a cool head and gives Mick instructions on how to make bullets for the Colt, then starts defending the perimeter with Mary, the ultimate act of mother-son bonding. Eventually, the Alpha Vampire manages to get into the main control room, kills a couple of hunters, and drops the line, “America is my home, and it’s time you get off my lawn” to Mick before Sam manages to hold him at gunpoint with the Colt.
Sam tries to reason with the Alpha, offering Mick if he’ll let him and Mary go–Sam calls it “picking a side.” This doesn’t go over well with Mick, who attacks Sam, but it does give Sam the chance to grab a bullet from Mick, load the Colt, and kill the Alpha.
Dean and Ketch arrive once all the action has wrapped up. Dean tells Sam and Mary that he made a beeline to help at the bunker because he knew Mary was there, which paves the way for Dean’s version of an apology, and even more character development from the elder Winchester: “It’s not your job to make my lunch and kiss me good night. We’re adults, and you can make your own choices, even if I don’t like ‘em, even if I really, really don’t like ‘em. And that’s just something I’m gonna have to get used to. Okay, Mom?”
Such a nice way to wrap up the episode–or at least it would be, except for the fact that it doesn’t end there. We cut to Mick and Sam talking, and after Mick laments the fact that this was a shitty example of how the British Men of Letters do things, Sam tells him that he’s in. Mick, like most of the viewing audience, does a double-take when Sam explains, “You’re changing the world, and I want to be part of it.” Mick asks how Dean would feel about joining, too, and Sam says to give him some time.
Sam. Sam, no.
Based on the Winchesters’ history of keeping secrets, I won’t be surprised if, much like past seasons, Sam’s decision is kept under wraps for a few episodes, leading to anger and frustration and one of the brothers stalking off alone once it’s revealed. I hope it doesn’t go down that way–especially with the development the majority of our main characters have seen this season; it’ll be a big regression if it does–but I also hoped Sam wouldn’t choose to work with Mick and Ketch, so I’m just at a loss here.
I still don’t trust the British Men of Letters as far as I can throw them, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested to see where the rest of this storyline goes.