October 8, 2020
The Mark of Cain storyline. That seems like an age ago, doesn’t it? Good times.
Sam is in the library on research detail. The table is covered with books and papers. John’s Demonic Day Planner is open to the page on dreamwalkers.
The Post-it note sketch of a dream catcher makes me wonder who might have taken that prop home when shooting wrapped (SOB!). Sam is briefly distracted by a rattling, rumbling sound before turning his attention back to the page in front of him.
Dean walks in to complain that the pilot light keeps going out on the stove. He’s wearing a long white catering apron and has a kitchen towel draped over his shoulder. Fact: I can’t work in the kitchen without a towel on my shoulder.
I am calling this a personal shout out. SHOUT OUT!
And if it’s not the pilot light, it’s the hot water. Dean grumps that he thought the Bunker was supposed to be state of the art. Sam says it was … in the 1950s.
Talk turns to Jack, his soul havening, and the crushing weight of what he’s done and has yet to do. Because that now includes killing Amara as well as Chuck? Because reasons? To maintain balance and prevent the world from ending? Whatever. I still think skipping straight to “Kill Amara, DIE DIE” without at least first talking to her is the wrong strategy and that is a hill I’m prepared to die on.
Also, Cas has apparently been tasked with locating Amara, using his angelic contacts—all 12 of them that remain in Heaven. It’s more likely that he’s in Branson staying in the Kevin Tran “we don’t know what to do with you, you exist off-screen now” Memorial Suite.
The air handler gives a groan and whirrs to a stop. Dean puts down his spatula and pulls off his apron with an air of resolve. He says they’ve fought the Devil. He’s killed Hitler. He thinks they can handle a few old pipes.
Sam does not share Dean’s confidence.
They head down into the bowels of the Bunker while Sam refers to an MoL maintenance manual. They contemplate the glowing buttons on the control panel of the Bunker’s grid unit. Dean zeros in on two in particular. The yellow one labeled “Reset” and the blinking green “Standby”.
Dean naturally does what anyone with a reasonable degree of technical acumen would do.
He hits the reset button.
The Bunker powers down and goes still … before humming back to life again. Dean cackles with glee and rewards himself with a hot burger and a cold beer. He whistles as he walks into his room … and stops short at the sight of the pleasant lady of a certain age busily folding his underwear.
HIs Scooby-Doo and Shaggy boxers from the Hot Topical, to be exact.
Oh, I see you writer Jeremy Adams. I see you.
Dean bellows for Sam and gawps at the nice lady as she runs her fingers along the library’s surfaces, bemoaning the state of the place. Sam enters stage right. He’s like hello? And you are? Dean explains that she’s the lady he found folding his underthings.
The nice lady clucks that if he’d folded them properly to begin with …
Dean throws up his hands in full-body exasperation. Sam asks again some more, who are you?? She tells them that Mr. Ganem called her Mrs. Butters—her true name being indecipherable in their tongue.
She’s a wood nymph. Obviously. Dean’s like, okay … shouldn’t she be in the woods? Nymphing? Mrs. Butters sighs with longing and says that is a young one’s game. And besides, she lives there. In the Bunker. She looks after things. She takes care of the Men of Letters. Her voice takes on a doting tone as she calls them her boys. Her family.
Sam and Dean are all like,
Pieces start thunking into place and Sam asks Mrs. Butters what year she thinks it is. Dean bluntly brings her up to speed. It’s not 1958. The news knocks the wind out of her. She gestures to the framed photo on the wall and asks where are the rest of the Men of Letters? Dean is softer but no less direct. He says he and Sam are all that are left. The others are dead at the hands of Abandon.
Mrs. Butters’ face crumples. She says that’s why they didn’t come back. She was told to stay behind and guard the Bunker when they left for the ceremony. Eventually, she placed both the Bunker and herself in standby mode. Mrs. Butters dabs at her eyes. She says she never dreamed it would take this long to be reactivated.
While she frets about all of the home-cooked meals and holidays the boys have missed, Dean pings on the whole “standby mode” thing. He asks if that means they’ve been operating at half-power this whole time. She says the MoL used her magic to give the Bunker an extra boost.
She snaps her fingers and it’s like the Bunker gives itself a good stretch.
The room gets just a little bit brighter. The lights around the telescope turn green as it begins to hum. A beeping ping comes from the other room. A red light glows on the map table. Mrs. Butters says it’s the radar, of course.
The monster radar.
The chime means it’s something relatively nearby. The color suggests a nest of vampires. She places her finger on the light and gives them the exact address. She tells them if they hurry, they can clean out the nest and make it back in time for supper.
Mrs. Butters pulls out a feather duster and bustles off to set the Bunker back to rights. None of this is sitting easy with Sam. He questions if they should trust Mrs. Butters. Dean is basking in their apparent good fortune and itching to gank some vamps. He suggests they check it out. If it’s real, they can trust her. If it’s not … “Then we deal with it.”
Jack is in his room, and this mopey moppet. It was a stroke of good fortune that Alexander Calvert was cast in this role. His natural charm makes me want to like Jack and elevates the character well above what he’s given on the page.
Dean raps on his door and is like, we’re gonna go do a thing. Don’t be alarmed by the probably harmless woman baking cookies. Call us if anything happens.
As they drive, Sam can’t let go of his worry. He wonders if having Mrs. Butters around is a good idea. Dean is like, they have the Son of Satan living down the hall, so. And Jack is going to be fine. Dean says he’s been through worse than the kid has and he’s the picture of health!
“Ignoring your trauma doesn’t make you healthy.”
No, but it does make you a Winchester.
And I get Sam’s concern, but dammit man! Let Dean finally have someone who takes care of him.
She’s going to turn out to be too good to be true, isn’t she?
The boys kick in the door of a tumbledown shack and Yahtzee! The radar wasn’t wrong. They’ve got vampires! Two vampires who are watching an episode of Dark Shadows and sipping on blood bags like they’re Capri Suns. Does that mean they’re “vegetarian” vampires? They don’t hunt humans? But there’s no time for that kind of nuance when we’ve only got seven episodes left in the entire series. CHOP! CHOP!
Dean hoots that this must be a record! No investigation, no dead ends, just two heads on the floor. Monster radar rules!
An hour later they walk through the Bunker’s door and into a Christmas wonderland. Colored lights are strung from the balcony and a fully decked tree sits on top of the map table. A toy train happily toots around the pile of wrapped presents. Mrs. Butters scurries in and excitedly cries MERRY CHRISTMAS! She can’t contain her glee as she dances around with a full plate of cookies.
Dean takes it all in. A smile blooms across his face. “We are so keeping her.”
The next morning Mrs. Butters puts a plate of bacon and a stack of pancakes in front of Sam. She has no time for a Grinchy grumpy attitude from the Boy Who Hates Christmas! She blows a loving raspberry at him and tells him not to be so dour. “Enjoy the world you’re fighting for.”
Jack wanders into the kitchen and greets Mrs. Butters with his signature wave.
That will never not be a delight.
Mrs. Butters is nonplussed at the sight of him. Her bubbly good humor evaporates. “What are you?” The question is blunt. Dean defuses the tension by announcing that Jack is a Millennial and a good kid.
They might have avoided some later unpleasantness by telling Mrs. Butters the truth—she can obviously tell Jack isn’t human—but I like to think this line suggests something about how Dean actually sees Jack. Not as Lucifer’s son, but just as a kid. Their kid.
Sam is like, cool cool CAN WE TALK ABOUT WHAT DEAN IS WEARING? Why Samuel, I don’t mind if we do! Because Dean is wearing a lavender purple nightshirt and matching sleeping cap with a big fuzzy pom pom on the end. Dean declares it the best gift ever! It’s like he’s wrapped in hugs!
He sits on the edge of the table and holds up the hem of his nightshirt for Sam’s inspection. Sam gags and prays for the sight to be taken from his cursed eyes.
Apparently it’s not just Scotsmen who don’t wear anything under their kilts.
Mrs. Butters shakes off her reservation and embraces Jack as one of her boys. She hands him a smoothie. Hey, Dean wants in on that action! Mrs. Butters says he may have tamahtoe juice. She’s worried about his cholesterol.
The aah-OOGAH of a klaxon begins to sound. Dean cries, “We got one!” as he and Sam rush off to get dressed.
Mrs. Butters hands them bagged lunches for the road—no crusts for Dean—as they rush back past the kitchen. She tells Sam the radar indicates it’s a lamia. There are blessed knives in the trunk and tell Dean to take it easy on Baby. Mrs. Butters just waxed her.
Jack is left standing in their wake holding his smoothie. Mrs. Butters fixes him with a look and wonders, “What shall we do with you?”
That’s not ominous at all.
Mrs. Butters washes the dishes while Jack dries. She seems to take the whole Son of Lucifer thing in stride. Jack explains he didn’t know his father very well. The only family he’s ever really had is Sam, Dean, Cas …
Mrs. Butters pings on the pause. She says it’s alright. He doesn’t have to talk about if he doesn’t want to. The expression on her face says you are 100% going to talk about it, Skippy.
Jack takes a deep breath. He says Mary was Sam and Dean’s mom and a good friend. Mrs. Butters thinks she sounds lovely. Jack is like, she was … and then I killed her.
Mrs. Butters turns Jack to face her and gently chucks him under the chin. She tells him we all do things. Things that we’re not proud of. But life gives us second chances, and it is our obligation to hold on to them. Now here, drink your smoothie.
And with that, the boys settle into a comfortable routine. Mrs. Butters sees them off each day as they rush off to take care of the latest ping on the monster radar. They arrive home to a celebratory feast. Thanksgiving with all the trimmings! Carving all the pumpkins! 4th of July! MURICA! None of which Cas apparently gets to enjoy even though this must go on over a period of weeks!
As the montage ends, Sam and Dean blow one final door off its hinges. They step through the opening and we see Dean is carrying the big, beautiful, and dumb grenade launcher. Sam is holding Mjölnir.
This time the celebration is a birthday party for Sam, complete with party hats and horns. Jack claps his hands like the delighted puppy he is. Dean asks if when it’s his birthday can he have Rice Krispy treats? Mrs. Butters is taken aback. At his age, she didn’t think he would want to celebrate his birthday. She only lets Dean stew for a moment before chuckling and telling him there’s an extra batch in the kitchen, just for him.
Sometime later, Jack comes upon Mrs. Butters going through one of the filing cabinets in the library. Something about her manner strikes him as squirrelly. He looks and finds a manilla envelope holding a film reel and a classified MoL case file on Mrs. Butters.
The film was made by Cuthbert Sinclair, documenting Henshaw’s successful retrieval of “Subject B” from a Thule lab. He reports that, after encountering a Nazi battalion, she destroyed upwards of 200 men before being restrained. Sinclair concludes that, while naturally docile, wood nymphs will respond violently when home or family are threatened. A quality that Sinclair is eager to exploit to the MoL’s advantage.
To demonstrate Mrs. Butters’ new found devotion to the MoL cause, he pulls the hood off a bound Thule agent who Sinclair says is no longer of any use. Jack watches in silent horror as Mrs. Butters grips the man around the neck and neatly rips his head from his shoulders.
Jack rushes off to tell someone what he’s discovered, but there’s no one to tell. Sam is on his way to meet Eileen for a date and Dean has three seasons of The Crown to binge after Mrs. Butters fixed the TV in the Dean Cave. So Jack resolves to handle the problem on his own.
Oh, sweet buttery, he really is Castiel’s son, isn’t he?
Jack follows Mrs. Butters down into the dungeon and confronts her. He says he knows what she is. He saw the film. And I know we’re supposed to think she’s dangerous, but y’all. She killed a Nazi. They gave our grandfathers medals for that.
Mrs. Butters isn’t concerned. Nor is she surprised. She meant for Jack to find her file. And watch the film. And relish the pain she inflicted—proof that Jack is a danger to Sam and Dean. A danger to her family. But now that she’s here, Mrs. Butters says they will never have to worry about Jack again.
Jack barely has time to be crushed and devastated before Mrs. Butters magics him across the room, sending him tumbling into the wall. He tries to glowy eye zappy zap her, but thanks to all those smoothies, Jack is weak as a kitten. Mrs. Butters claps handcuffs on him and explains that she learned a few things while she was doing the dusting.
A starving Dean walks into the kitchen and is downright giddy at the perfectly toasty grilled cheese sandwich that Mrs. Butters has waiting for him. She tells him to eat up. He’ll need his strength so they can go kill Jack.
Dean is like, what in the who now? Mrs. Butters holds the archangel blade out to Dean. She says he and Sam don’t need to be afraid any more. Dean looks at the blade. He looks down at his sandwich. He lets out a growl.
Why can’t Dean have nice things? Why? WHY??!??
He flings the sandwich back on the plate and sets it aside. He takes the blade from Mrs. Butters and muses that they had a good thing going … and of course, OF COURSE, she had to go “full Nurse Ratched”. Mrs. Butters doesn’t know what that means, but she does know that Jack is a monster. “He killed your mother!”
Oh, Dean knows. He doesn’t need reminding.
Dean turns away from that statement and finds himself looking at the sandwich. Two toasty pieces of bread between which are melted slices of his fondest hopes and dreams. He gazes at it longingly before returning to the problem at hand. He offers Mrs. Butters a better idea. He tells her they’ll go downstairs, let Jack go, and forget this ever happened.
Huh? Good plan? Grilled cheese for all?
Dean sprawls face down on the dungeon floor. Mrs. Butters scolds that she hoped for better from him. It’s obvious that Jack has infected him, just like the serpent in the garden. Just like his father!
Sam and his sweater vest of love come home to find Mrs. Butters waiting up for him. She curtly notes that it’s past his curfew. She calls him Samuel. Also, she has some good news … and some bad news. Sam slowly pieces it all together. Jack has taken over Dean’s mind and they’re both downstairs, ready to be killed. Mrs. Butters is like, thank you! Finally, someone who gets it!
“You were always the smart one.”
Sam is SO relieved she caught them! WHEW! He tells her he’s going to get his gun. Which is in his room. And then they can meet downstairs and get to the killing. Mrs. Butters could not be more delighted.
WHY? WHY COULDN’T WE KEEP HER? WHY CAN’T THE BOYS HAVE NICE THINGS???
Sam immediately calls Dean and is aghast that his brother didn’t call him first. Dean says he didn’t want to interrupt if Sam and Eileen were “practicing their sign language”. He says it’s been a while for Sam. In the moment, that seemed more important than being saved from a demented dryad.
Sam cuts to the chase and asks how they stop her. Dean doesn’t know—Sam said he was going to look into it. And that just seems like some weak sauce. Dean has cell reception—he couldn’t have Googled how to kill a wood nymph? And there are tons of files in the storage area right there!
Sam calls foul. He says they were going to look into it together. But then they had Christmas. And Thanksgiving. And ooh, that breakfast from Boxing Day. I think Sam’s soul leaves his body for a moment at the memory. Dean agrees it was the best omelette he’s ever had in his life.
If they don’t know how to kill her, Dean suggests pushing pause on her. Literally. He tells Sam to go down to the boiler room and hit the standby button. In the meantime, he and Jack need to find a way out of the dungeon. And again, we watched a 10-minute montage of the boys kicking in doors. Is the storage room door really that much of a barrier? Is it, writer Jeremy Adams?
Dean immediately nixes Jack’s suggestion he use his powers. He says it would be like sending up a flare for Chuck. Jack insists he has a job. A mission! Dean tells him to stop and gives him the ‘Don’t make me pull this car over’ look for good measure before turning away to think.
Jack quietly asks if Dean still thinks he’s a monster.
Dean lets the question settle into his bones before turning back to the boy. He doesn’t lie and he doesn’t sugarcoat his response. He simply says he’s trying. What Jack did … it’s not easy to forget. Dean says he was angry with Jack for a while. He admits—to Jack and to himself—that maybe he still is, a little.
But he’s not going to let evil Mary Poppins kill Jack.
She’s on to Sam long before he makes it to the boiler room. Mrs. Butters isn’t mad; she’s disappointed. And she’s not giving up on Sam—at least not yet. He is her favorite after all. So she’s going to do for Sam what Mr. Cuthbert did for her—torture him into submission.
In the dungeon, Jack is having second thoughts about Dean using the archangel blade to cut through the handcuffs. Is he sure it’s going to work?
“Let’s say yes!”
Dean positions Jack’s hands just so, brings down the blade, and sends the kid sailing into the cabinet behind him. Jack crashes to the floor in a pile of broken wood and shards of glass. The cuffs are still securely fastened.
“Dang it. Dang? Dammit. DAMMIT!!”
Pfft, language. Dean’s sweet silky buttocks, language.
Dean picks the kid off the floor. He looks at the door. He looks at the smashed cabinet. He tells Jack he has another idea.
Ripping Sam’s fingernails out. Ripping Sam’s fingernails out. Ripping Sam’s fingernails out. It must be Christmas again in the Bunker. Also, someone should have explained Sam’s pain tolerance to Mrs. Butters. This ain’t even his whole day.
Dean positions Jack in front of the door and tells him to remember—pain is just weakness leaving the body. The look on Jack’s face. Trusting Dean even though he knows this is a very bad, terrible idea. Alexander Calvert is just *chef’s kiss*. Dean says he’ll do it on three, but drops the hammer at two. Jack and the door clatter to the floor in a cloud of dust.
They hot foot it down to the boiler room and instead of hitting standby, Dean smashes the reset button with a ball-peen hammer? Because reasons? The alarm klaxon sounds as the red lockdown lights begin flashing. They hurry upstairs and find Sam and his bloody fingers alone in the library. It worked!
Except for the part where wood nymphs will respond violently when home or family are threatened.
And as far as Mrs. Butters is concerned, both are under attack right now. She frees herself and rails at Jack. He thought he could destroy them? Destroy their family?!? She is going to stop Jack from hurting Sam and Dean! Sam shouts that killing the people they care about isn’t saving them.
Mrs. Butters is spinning. She insists that Jack is a monster. It’s because of him—of things like him—that Mr. Cuthbert said she couldn’t go back to her forest. Sam is like Cuthbert Sinclair was an evil douchebag who tortured and used her for his own ends. Dean sits quietly on the floor like, been there. Killed that.
And then he tells her Jack can save the world.
Isn’t that why the Men of Letters exist? Isn’t that the mission? Saving the world?
Jack looks up at Mrs. Butters like the big floofy puppy he is and her shields crumble. She breaks down in tears and whispers that she misses them so much.
Some time later after they’ve all collected themselves, Mrs. Butters gives Sam a manicure and apologizes. She says she’s sorry for everything. Sam asks her about her home in the forest and she wistfully says she would love to see the woods again … the sun streaming through the trees. She waves away the memories, but Jack says it’s settled.
Traveling coat and hat on, Mrs. Butters says her goodbyes. She tells them that without her magic, the Bunker will revert back to standby mode. Dean jokes that things were getting too easy anyway. Who needs a monster radar? Or that telescope thing that doesn’t even work? Dean says he looked through it earlier and didn’t see anything. Oooh … not being able to see anything through the inter-dimensional geoscope … That’s not good.
Before she leaves, Jack hands Mrs. Butters the photo of her boys. She says she will treasure it always. And with that, it’s time.
“Dean, eat your vegetables.”
“Sam … cut your hair.”
“Jack, go save the world.”
And now is the time we care and share. Jack and Sam sit together in the library. Jack questions how he’s going to defeat Chuck when Mrs. Butters so easily got him. He says he was stupid. The statement hangs in the air. Jack leans forward and asks if Sam really thinks he can do this. Sam simply says Jack is the only one who can.
Dean walks in carrying a covered cake stand. He pulls the lid off with a flourish—TA-DAH!—to reveal a homemade birthday cake. White frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACK! in blue gel letters. Dean says he made it himself … obviously.
He’s very proud.
It’s not like Mrs. Butters would make … Jack says it’s great. Dean lights a single candle and pushes the plate in front of Jack. Sam tells him to make a wish. Jack looks lovingly at his dads, holds the wish in his mind, and blows out the candle.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)–for now–on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.