Books are opened on the library table in the bunker as Sam focuses on them, occasionally jotting down notes. He is momentarily startled from his research by a strange rattle from the pipes. Dean enters, holding a spatula, with a white apron wrapped around his waist and a kitchen towel tossed over one shoulder. He's making burgers. They notice the rattling, commenting that the bunker is supposed to be state of the art -- but, of course, that's state of the art in the 1950s! They discuss how re-souled Jack is getting hit with the severity of the task ahead of him: killing Chuck and Amara too. Cas is out looking for answers too. All the Winchesters can do is "do what we got to do."
Another rattle - is it the air this time? "We got Lucifer. We killed Hitler. We can handle a few old pipes," says Dean. They head into the bowels of the bunker going down a curving iron staircase into a boiler room dominated by a large console with dials, knobs, and lights. Sam wishes they could just call a plumber to deal with this, and Dean mocks him: "What? We're just gonna call the Mario Brothers to come to our top-secret bunker? Go, Luigi!" Nope, he's going to do what he does when his computer doesn't work - turn it off and on. Sam tries to protest, but Dean reaches out and turns off the system. Everything turns dark, then the room lights up again.
Dean laughs in triumph. "Victory! Burger time! Meat man coming to town!" he exults as he heads back up the staircase. Shortly afterward, he walks whistling through the door to his room, holding a plate loaded with a delicious-looking burger, only to freeze in place, eyes widening. A matronly woman with a dated short hairstyle and a serviceable brown jacket over a white blouse is standing near his bed, folding his boxer shorts. "Hello, Dean," she says, pleasantly, the soft lines of her slightly sagging features looking both warm and no-nonsense. "Sam!" Dean hollers.
SUPERNATURAL - The words "Last Holiday" appear on the screen.
"How you live in this filth is beyond me!" tut-tuts the stranger making herself at home in the bunker. She has strawberry blonde hair and wears a skirt with practical shoes. Dean swears, and she mildly scolds him with the civilized affront of a proper lady: "Language!" "Sammy!" Dean yells again. Sam enters to join his brother in utter bemusement at the woman who seems so confident and comfortable in their bunker. She says that her tongue is hard for them to pronounce so they can call her Mrs. Butters. Her tongue? Then she's not human, they wonder. "Oh, no, no, no," she replies. She's a wood nymph. "Then why aren't you in the woods . . . nymphing?" the Winchesters ask. She tells them that this is much more important. Is she a Lady of Letters then? "No, no!" she laughs. She's a helper; she does the cleaning, the laundry, the cooking. The Men of Letters were her boys, her family.
Dean tells her that she can just leave, but her face wrinkles in distress. This is her home. What year do you think it is, they ask. Her response - 1958. Where are the rest of the Men of Letters, she inquires. You're looking at them, the brothers respond. The rest are . . . dead. "How?" she asks, voice trembling. They tell her that Abaddon, a demon, killed them. Mrs. Butters' face droops with sadness and her eyes fill with tears. Her eyes turn toward a framed sepia-toned picture on the wall of a group of six suited men, Cuthbert St. Clair in the front. "That's why they didn't come back," she muses. The bunker fades into a scene from her memory as she moves about the war room, dusting, until she decides to put the bunker in standby mode. After depressing the button, she dissolves into green smoke and retreats into a trio of sigils carved into the top of a wall in the bunker.
"I never dreamed it would take this long," she comments, coming back from her memories to the present. "I know how busy you are - it's probably been so long since you've had a home-cooked meal or celebrated a holiday - " Her nose wrinkles a bit as she took a step toward them. "Or washed your clothes." "We're not holiday people," Sam replies. Dean is interested in how she'd mentioned that the bunker was running at half-power after she'd put it into standby so Mrs. Butter snaps her fingers. The bunker lights up including the map on the war room table. It's radar showing them a group of vampires fifty miles away. Sam smiles as he realizes the usefulness of a map that identifies the proximity and location of monsters. "Hell, yeah!" Dean exults, quickly amending it to "heck, yeah!" after a look from Mrs. Butters who brandishes her duster before heading to the library to clean. Dean glances down at the lit-up table, appreciative of the monster-detecting radar, but Sam is concerned: "Do you trust her?" "Look at her!" Dean responds. It makes perfect sense to him that uppity preppy bachelors like the Men of Letters would have had someone around to keep house for them. This could be a serious break for them! "And if it isn't?" Sam asks. "Then we deal with it," Dean replies. "What about Jack?" asks Sam.
Jack is sitting cross-legged on his bed, unmoving, face impassive. Dean knocks on the door. Not hearing a reply, he talks through the door, explaining that he and Sam were heading out after vampires and that there was a guest in the bunker who should be harmless. Plus, she's making cookies: "Snickerdoodles!" There's no sound from Jack so Dean walks away from the closed door.
The Impala drives through the night, Dean at the wheel. The brothers are still marveling at the "magic Roomba" back at the bunker. "Is this a good idea?" wonders Sam. "The son of Stan is living down the hall," offers Dean as evidence that their life choices have already been quite unusual. Now that they've mentioned Jack, Sam is concerned about him, but Dean insists that he'll be fine. After all, lots of bad things have happened to Dean and he's fine. "Ignoring trauma doesn't make you healthy," retorts Sam. "Jack needs time!" says Dean.
Back at the bunker, Mrs. Butters knocks at Jack's door. "Sam and Dean told me you were giving them a hard time," she calls out in a kindly tone. She has a delicious sandwich for him which she leaves on a plate outside his door before walking away.
Two dark-haired, bearded men are slumped in ratty recliners watching Dark Shadows on an old television. They complain how in the show the vampire lives in a mansion while they are in shabby habitation. One sucks blood through a swirly straw from a "Big Swig" cup. Suddenly, the door is kicked open, revealing the Winchesters, armed with machetes. The vampires rise with a hiss, fangs lowering, but, with a synchronized swing from the brothers, both are instantly beheaded. "Monster radar rules!" crows Dean, clearly happy at the ease of the hunt.
Sam and Dean return to the bunker and open up the door, only to freeze on the landing overlooking the bunker's open space below them. Colored lights are twinkling along the railing, jaunty Christmas music is playing, and below them stands a huge Christmas tree, covered in glowing colored lights. Mrs. Butters, wearing a Santa-printed apron, enters the room with a large tray of Christmas cookies. She sways happily to the music, then spins. The Winchesters are stunned, but a smile begins to spread on Dean's face as his hands start to tap to the music. "We are SO keeping her!" he says.
Sam sits at a small table in the kitchen, still confused at the situation, while Mrs. Butters exhorts him with a caring tone: "You have'nt had much of a chance to celebrate! Don't be so down. Enjoy the world you're saving. I want you to celebrate all the holidays!" Jack enters and the older lady looks at him with considering eyes. "What is he?" Just then Dean enters wearing a large lilac nightshirt with a matching night cap, complete with a pompon on the end. He's is loving the comfortable feel of the material Mrs. Butters provided him, but he's a little too enthusiastic in showing it to Sam, pulling it up high enough to cause Sam to turn his head away and Dean to laugh awkwardly and drop his nightshirt back down.
Mrs. Butters hands Jack a tall glass: "Try this. You'll love it." Dean tells her he wants a smoothie too, but she tells him that he gets tomato juice. She's worried about his cholesterol. Dean's disappointment is interrupted by the sound of an alarm, and the brothers rush off to their rooms to emerge dressed in jeans and flannel. Mrs. Butter is ready in the hallway with a brown bag lunch for both of them as they rush past. "Buh bye!" she chirps as they rush out to defeat the monsters the radar has detected. Then she turns to eye Jack. "What do we do with you?" she muses. He eyes her innocently, a milk moustache on his upper lip.
Mrs. Butters and Jack stand at the sink washing dishes. She is still in her holiday apron while he wears a striped one. "Your father is Lucifer," she says. "What's that like?" "I don't know him much," Jack replies. His family is Sam, Dean, Cas, and Mary. "Mary?" queries Mrs. Butters. Jack is quietly uncomfortable but finally says that she was a good friend. Then he admits, "I killed her." "Oh!" says Mrs. Butter, just like a middle-aged lady from the 1950s might say. "I didn't mean to!" he adds. The matronly nymph eyes him, but says, "We all do things we're not proud of, but lfe gives us second chances. It is our obligation to hold onto them." Jack is thinking about her words as she adds, "Do you want another smoothie?" He smiles happily.
The next few minutes feature a fun montage of recurring scenes: Sam and Dean running off to hunt and grabbing brown bag lunches from Mrs. Butter as they head out, Dean looking very happy, followed by holiday celebrations -- Thanksgiving complete with candles and a happy Jack, Sam, and Dean around the table, Halloween with pumpkin carving, Fourth of July with tiny flags as centerpieces -- and scenes of well-armed Winchesters busting down doors ready to take on monsters. The last time, the door collapses with a flurry of smoke, and Dean steps through with a huge gun, followed by Sam holding Thor's hammer. The next celebration is Sam's birthday. They are all in party hats, and Mrs. Butters has a cake for him. Dean requests rice crispy treats for his birthday, and Mrs. Butters tells him she's surprised he'd want to observe his birthday at his age. His face falls, but then she adds that she has something yummy in the kitchen for him and he dashes off. "You are the best!"
At the back of the library, Mrs. Butter, ostensibly cleaning, stops to surreptitiously look through a card catalogue. Jack sees her and hesitates, then calls her name. "Oh!" she exclaims, startled. He asks for another smoothie. "Anything for my boys," she smiles. Later, however, Jack checks the drawers, finding a manila folder with classified papers, a black and white photo of Mrs. Butters, and a reel of film. When he plays it, he sees Cuthbert St. Claire announcing file 5150 and reporting how they rescued a wood nymph from the Thule. She destroyed 200 men; she reacts violently when her home or family is threatened. He recommends they retain her for service and security. The camera pulls away to reveal Mrs. Butters, still dressed in a conservative suit jacket and skirt, standing behind a uniformed man, seated, with his hands behind his back and a bag over his head. Cuthbert says he's a member of the Thule that they've thoroughly interrogated. Now it's time for Mrs. Butters. Calmly, she reaches out and yanks the man's head off. Her composure holds as she calmly asks if anyone would like tea or cookies. "Son of a bitch," exclaims Jack.
Jack runs through the bunker calling for Sam, running into Mrs. Butters instead. She tells him to settle down; Sam will be there in a moment. He's getting ready for his big date. Sam enters wearing a suit jacket and tie. "I feel silly," he says. "I look ridiculous." Mrs. Butters reassures him on his appearance, though she does suggest a trim for his hair. "Look who went shopping at Abercrombie and Bitch!" Dean remarks as he enters. "Language!" huffs Mrs. Butters. "Oh, Dean," she mildly disapproves as he makes another remark about Sam's potential activity that evening. Mrs. Butters hands Sam car keys, telling him to take one of the classics from the garage, then waves her hands and a huge bouquet of red roses appears. "Go get 'em tiger!" encourages Dean as Sam heads out. "You should be nicer to your brother," Mrs. Butters scolds Dean. "Why would I do that?" Dean replies unrepentedly. But at her casual mention that she fixed an old TV she found, he drops the attitude for wide-eyed enthusiasm. "The Dean cave?" he exclaims rushing out, ready to check out the working entertainment system.
Mrs. Butters walks down the bunker hallway. Jack follows her, but, when they get to the dungeon, marked by its devil's trap on the floor, she turns to him. "I know what you are," she states, not as though filled with malice but rather a solid determination to do what she must. She asks him how it made him feel to kill. She accuses him of relishing the pain he inflicted. "What? No!" Jack replies. He suddenly realizes that she wanted him to find her dossier. Is this some kind of test? he asks. She claims that he is bloodthirst and dangerous. He denies it. She insists he is. She knows how powerful he is. Sam and Dean should be scared of him. "I'd never hurt them!' Jack insists. "You have before," Mrs. Butters is relentless. "They're scared you'll do to someone else what you did to their mother." Then she throws him across the room with nothing but a motion of her hand. "what are you doing?" Jack exclaims as he struggles to his feet. "Protecting my family," she replies. Jack reaches out with his eyes glowing gold, but nothing happens. Mrs. Butters calmly snaps handcuffs around his wrists. Did he think those were just smoothies? She'd added some ingredients that have powered him down; now he's as weak as a puppy. She pushes him to the floor. "Why?" Jack asks. "To make the bunker safe again!" she replies, adding heatedly, "To get rid of all the monsters."
Mrs. Butters, smiling and holding a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich, approaches Dean. "You're a dream!" he declares as he eyes the sandwich with appreciation. "You'll need your strength so you can go kill Jack," Mrs. Butters says, pulling out a knife and offering it to him, hilt-first. "Dammit," Dean sighs, resigned. "We had a good thing going. But you had to go full Nurse Ratched." Mrs. Butters doesn't understand that reference. Dean looks sadly at the grilled cheese. "Let Jack go!"
Dean is hurled bodily across the dungeon floor. "He infected you like the serpent in the garden. Just like his father!" Mrs. Butters declares before leaving. Dean is not happy.
Sam enters the bunker to be greeted by Mrs. Butters gently remarking that he's past his curfew. "Where are Jack and Dean?" he asks. "I have good news and bad news," she replies. Sam nods, waiting for her explanation.
"So Jack has taken over Dean's mind? And they're in the dungeon ready to be killed by us?" Sam sums up her explanation. "Yes! You were always the smart one," the nymph replies. Pretending to acquiesce, Sam heads for his room, where he calls Dean on the cell phone. In the dungeon, Dean answers, wanting to know how Sam's date went. Sam can't believe he's talking about that, and why didn't Dean call him when Mrs. Butters went darkside? "I thought you were practicing sign language," is Dean's big-brotherly reply. "It's been a while for you." They decide to try shooting her and Sam pulls a gun out from under his pillow. They bicker about how they didn't look more into Mrs. Butters' background. "You were going to look into it," Dean accuses. "WE were," Sam clarifies, but they got distracted by the food. They mention that perhaps if they go back to stand by in the boiler room, their over-protective house mother could be stopped.
Back in the dungeon, Jack asks, "Do you still think I'm a monster?' "I'm trying," Dean tells him. "What you did - that's not easy to forgive. I'll probably still be angry, but I'm not going to let evil Mary Poppins take you out."
"Mrs. Butters?" calls Sam. "What's taking so long?" she asks. He tries to shoot, but his hand freezes on the trigger. "I'm disappointed," she says, forcing him telepathically into a chair. As he struggles futilely to rise, she tells him that Mr. Cuthbert had explained what she had to do. "Keeping you boys safe is important." Sam is her favorite; she won't give him up. She's going to help him the way Mr. Cuthbert helped her.
Dean and Jack face each other in the dungeon, Dean holding the long knife. Will it work? Yes? amswers Dean, not very convincingly. He smashes the knife down toward the handcuff links. Jack flies violently backward, smashing into a cabinet, breaking the glass doors. "Dang it!" says Dean. "Damn it! Language, my ass!" They can't break the chain; they need a key. Should they just wait for Sam to rescue them? Dean has another idea. He smiles.
Mrs. Butters is trying to convince Sam: Jack is Lucifer's son. Jack is a monster. "Jack is a kid," insists Sam. "No! He has blood on his hands!" Mrs. Butter retorts. She says that pain can be a wonderful teacher. "Let's see if it can't correct your ways. This will hurt me a lot more," she tells him, before calmly ripping off his fingernail. Sam writhes in pain, strapped helplessly to the chair.
Down in the dungeon, Dean is tell Jack, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body." He swings the knife down toward the chain again, and once again, Jack is propelled rapidly backward, toward the dungeon door and through it. The door collapses into the hallway, and they are free.
"It's his nature! Accept this!" the nymph continues to earnestly harangue Sam, using words and pain to try to convince him. Dean and Jack head to the boiler room; Dean has a hammer which he swings down at the reset button. Instantly the lights go out, the red warning lights flood the bunker, and an alarm sounds. The sigils glow. The pipes rattle. The control panel in the boiler room shakes. Mrs. Butters reappears, eyes glowing green. She walks determinedly through the bunker until she finds the three men. "You've all been very bad!" she tells them, sending them flying through the air and crashing to the floor. "I'm not going to fail!" she declares. "I wasn't there before. I'm going to stop you from hurting them," she says to Jack. "By hurting people we care about?" asks Sam, adding, "Mr. Cuthbert tortured you, used you!" From the floor on the other side of Jack, Dean states, "He can save the world." He stares earnestly at the nymph. "It's why we're here. That's the mission. He can do exactly that." Mrs. Butters begins gasping and crying. The lights in the bunker turn back on, the red warning glow disappearing. "I miss them so much," she cries.
Mrs. Butters is holding Sam's mutilated hand between her own. With a simple pass of her hand through the air, his fingers are healed, fingernails restored. "I'm so sorry," she says. "It's OK, really," Jack replies. "You just wanted to go back home," Sam tells her. Mrs. Butters admits that she would like to see her woods again. Soon she is standing wearing a small hat and a tweed coat, clutching a large purse. Without her magic, the bunker will go back on stand by. They won't have the radar or whatever that telescope thing is. She informs them that it's an interdimensional geoscope. Dean says he looked at it and didn't see a thing. "Oh, that's not good," she remarks with mild concern. Jack hands her a framed picture of the Men of Letters. She looks at it fondly, placing her hand over the smiling men from so long ago. Then she tells Dean to eat his vegetables and Sam to cut his hair. Then, to Jack: "Go save the world." With a snap of her fingers and a final "Goodbye, boys," their supernatural housekeeper disappears.
Jack and Sam face each other across a table, each with a bottle of beer in front of him. Sam asks if Jack wants to talk. Jack is bothered that he's supposed to kill God, but he let a nymph get him because he was stupid. Earnestly, he looks at Sam. "Do you think I can do this?" "You're the only one who can," Sam replies steadily. Dean enters the room, white apron on. "He loves that apron," remarks Sam to Jack. He has a covered cake dish. He thinks they should take time to celebrate. He removes the top to reveal a slightly lopsided cake, with gloppy icing, numerous sprinkles, and blue gel icing spelling out Happy Birthday for Jack. He admits that it's sloppy but Jack thinks it's great. Dean lights a candle and places it in the center of the cake. "Make a wish," says Sam. Jack eyes the flame thoughtfully, then leans forward and blows it out.
Let's get started discussing this episode!
- What do you think Jack wished for?
- Did Mrs. Butters look how you would expect a wood nymph to appear? What is the significance of her physical appearance?
- What similarities can you find between "A Very Supernatural Christmas" and this episode?
- How could Mrs. Butters reconcile protecting the Men of Letters with killing Dean?
- When does protecting your family make you hurt your family?
- Did the show portray the Winchesters celebrating all the holidays because they won't have any more, because it's their last holiday?
- How did this episode portray the themes of evil and forgiveness?
- What do you think was the purpose of this episode?
Read more of Emberlast's amazing episode recaps and speculation questions! Visit her Author Page to get Episode links! Recaps for seasons 9 to 13 can be found on Bookdal's Author Page!