The Morning After
“Last Holiday”, Supernatural’s premiere episode of season 15, part 2 (Jared said they’re calling it season 15 ½), was a breath of fresh air. Jeremy Adam’s story was entertaining, humorous and creative but it never lost sight of the essence of the show – the family business. The Supernatural Family needed the solace of Mrs. Butters’ reassuring care as much as the Winchester boys did. After seven months of being away, her comfort food delivered the perfect recipe for rejuvenation and reunion.
Mrs. Butters and Jack
Guised in the persona of a sweet, old, grandma, Mrs. Butters turned out to be an extremely powerful, dangerous foe. In that way, she paralleled Jack. At first glance, Jack is a harmless, maybe even naïve, young man. His gullible toe-in-the-sand wave hello; his innocent curiosity about absolutely everything; his pleading for guidance, forgiveness and love are all genuine reflections of who he is at his core – of his soul’s purity. But underneath all that sweetness dressed in pajamas is the “most powerful being in the universe” who is being tasked with killing god.
Mind Games (i.e. Who’s the Enemy?)
Similarly, Sam, Dean and Jack initially accepted Mrs. Butters as a welcome guardian, because outwardly, her appearance and her actions were nurturing.
Sam: Dean, hold up. How do we know we can trust her? (Trust was a thread in the prior episode)
Dean: Look at her!
But when she turned against Jack because he was a “monster” who threatened her mission, she revealed herself to be a powerful, formidable enemy. Neither Jack’s nor Mrs. Butters’ powers or true selves could be judged by first impressions. Thus, one of the themes in this episode was looking past outward appearances and actions to understand your enemy.
The relationship between the bunk mates and Mrs. Butters changed fluidly as they learned more about each other. At first, Mrs. Butters accepted Jack (she made him a sandwich, "leaving" it outside his door). However, as soon as she met him, felt his power and heard that he accidentally killed the boys’ mom, she judged him to be a monstrous enemy who threatened the “home” and family she had been charged to protect.
It’s quite understandable that Mrs. Butters considered Jack a threat to Sam and Dean. He could easily kill them, by accident or through misguided intention. Asmodeus, Lucifer, and to some extent, Michael, had all tried to pull Jack to the dark side by brainwashing him into their way of thinking. She knew first hand that could happen since, sadly, that’s exactly what Cuthbert Sinclair did to her. Using torture and isolation from her native surroundings, he perverted her need for purpose, a family and a home into a confused, draconian weapon. She never stopped being a good person with good intentions, but for a while, she was a lethal enemy, who the boys believed they had to kill because she was the powerful “monster” who threatened their lives and their home.
It was only through explanations, careful listening and deepened understanding that enemies were converted to an allies, without anyone dying. Mrs. Butters thought Jack was the enemy, but it is now his soul – his sense of right and wrong – that defines him rather than his past actions. He is a powerful ally because he sees the truth. The boys saved her (and themselves) by helping Mrs. Butters see the truth of who they were and what she was doing.
In the end, they became friends. Jack gave her a gift she would "treasure always" and then Mrs. Butters returned to the natural, beloved place she belonged.
Mrs. Butters’ “mission” was also a poignant parallel to Team Free Will’s battle with god. Just as she believed she needed to destroy a powerful being (Jack) to defend her family and home, Team Free Will 2.0 is convinced they need to destroy another all-powerful being (Chuck) because he is a threat to their mission of defending the Earth. In turn, Chuck believes he has to destroy them because they threaten his mission of writing the perfect story. Maybe everyone can walk away alive and happy if they can learn the other person’s truth? Chuck’s death will throw the world out of balance. Maybe he doesn’t have to die? Maybe, like Mrs. Butters, he and Amara can go back to whence they came and be content, leaving humans to live their lives free from influence?
Deb Ryzley (@Dryzley) was thinking along the same lines when she wondered aloud on Twitter today, “Could it be this simple? Will the universe be reset or put in standby? Could God be reset by Jack or Amara? Are Sam and Dean the Reset button? Could Castiel be the trigger for a reset?” That’s an intriguing theory! The fun, seemingly simple episodes are often the ones that hold the key to the final resolution, so her observation has some merit!
I’m not sure how it will play out, but there is definitely a foreshadowing lesson in the clash of the titans (Jack, Mrs. Butters and Sam/Dean) laying down arms, seeing their adversary differently and parting as friends. Listening, being understood (vs. not being heard), mending relationships, and leaving/saying goodbye have all been threads in several episodes this season so maybe Chuck isn’t really the monster they think he is at the end of this book.
An obvious thread throughout many episodes this season, power was again center stage in “Last Holiday”. The delightful nod to a horror predecessor and classic TV show, Dark Shadows, forewarned us of Mrs. Butters' powers, and possibly of future, perhaps unknown, powers of Jack's:
Mr. Barnabas: In my new life, I have been discovering that I have some strange and remarkable powers.
Ben: What kind of powers?
Mr. Barnabas: You will find out soon enough.
Perhaps the most intriguing line was this tease about Jack:
Sam: It feels like Jack is hiding something.
I’m don’t think we found out what Jack was “hiding” but certainly Mrs. Butters was hiding her true mission and powers. Mrs. Butters admitted that it was Jack’s powers that classified him as a threat to her true purpose:
Jack: They know…
Mrs. Butters: Know what? How powerful you are? How powerful you’ve become? Because I do. They should be scared of you!....
Jack: What are you doing?
Mrs. Butters: What I’ve always done. I’m protecting my family.
Then, when she was able to neutralize Jack’s powers with magical green smoothies, she told Dean,
Eat up, dear. You’ll need your strength so we can go kill jack. I’ve got him downstairs, trapped.
Carrying the thread forward into the next episode, curiously the first sentence we hear Dean saying is,
“We’re tracking down one of the most powerful beings in existence.”
Presumably, at that moment, Dean is referring to god’s sister, Amara. Since “Last Holiday” climaxed with new powers being revealed (Mrs. Butters), known powers being neutralized (Jack’s), and words proving to be the most powerful weapon of all (Sam and Dean’s), the future promises to be a test of powers. Somehow, Jack, Sam, Dean and Castiel need to amp up their side of the equation. Since the bunker’s electrical, warding and monster detection powers were boosted by the nymph’s magic,
Dean: So this entire time, we’ve been operating on, like, half power?
Mrs. Butters: The MoL used by magic to give the bunker an extra oomph.
maybe Power x Magic = A Win?
Title Thread, Leaving & Goodbyes
Why was this the boys’ last holiday? Does the title refer to the meta reality that the show is ending and we’ll never see them celebrate another holiday together with their fans, or does it foreshadow that the boys won’t live to celebrate another holiday? They fast forwarded through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Boxing Day, Independence Day, Sam’s birthday –a whole year of holidays to supply us with memories for the first year without them. Either way, it all breaks my heart, so that is all we’re going to say about that! We all know they’re leaving us, so can we not talk about it, please??
As mentioned earlier, leaving, and the subsequent goodbyes, have been threads all season. Characters have come and gone, saying goodbye to us all – Kevin, Garth, Benny, Rowena, Ketch, Eileen (maybe) – so it’s interesting that Mrs. Butters at first resisted leaving the bunker and going to her true home (the forest) when, deep down, that’s what she really wanted most of all.
Mrs. Butters: The MoL, though highly intelligent, were oblivious to the necessities of life. But they were my boys, my family.
Dean: Well, that’s very progressive. Okay, well, we don’t want any trouble so you can just leave.
Mrs. Butters: Leave? But this is … this is my home.
In the end, that’s the happiness and freedom the boys granted her. Going back to the possible foreshadowing within the episode, is that maybe what Chuck wants most – to leave this world and go back to his garden?
Dean: alright, now, remember… pain is just weakness leaving the body.
Say what, now? I’ll pass on that particular parting gift! But her farewell is what we know is coming for us:
Mrs. Butters: Well, I guess it’s time. Dean, eat your vegetables. Sam, cut your hair. Jack, go save the world. Well. Goodbye, boys.
Welcome Back, Characters
The grenade launcher and Thor’s hammer made cameo return appearances! That treat added a whimsical touch to an already joyous time in the boys’ lives. “Last Holiday” also gave us all a chance to say goodbye to another character, Cuthbert Sinclair. I enjoyed welcoming back Cuthbert, played by Kavan Smith, even if it was just for a brief scene. His was a complex character with a lot of style and intrigue, so it was fun to have him back as the plot vehicle to explain Mrs. Butters’ frame of mind and presence in the bunker.
Mrs. Butters: Sadly, without my magic, the bunker will revert to standby mode.
Dean: Ah, well, things were getting too easy anyway, you know? Who needs a monster radar, or whatever that telescope thing is.
Mrs. Butters: It’s an interdimensional geoscope.
Sam: It’s a what?
Dean: I looked in it earlier. I didn’t see anything.
Mrs. Butters: Ohh. Oh, that’s not good.
One of the fun aspects of this episode was explaining more about how things in the bunker worked! That wonderful telescope, which has been nothing more than a beautiful scene prop all these years, allowed the MoL to see other dimensions. First of all, that means they knew about other dimensions. Now, it confirms that the Earth is the only world left standing.
The map table also got an upgrade and we saw a new room of the bunker! They have a basement boiler room with a handy-dandy bunker circuit box… with ever-so-important, symbolic “Reset” and “Standby” buttons.
Mrs. Butters: Life gives us second chances, and it is our obligation to hold onto them.
Mrs. Butters got a second chance to live her life, free of coerced duties. Maybe the last thing this episode foreshadows is that Sam, Dean, Jack and Cas will get a second chance to live an unencumbered life as well. They’ll reset the world, and fans will be put on “standby” until they return. Let’s hope so.
I loved “Last Holiday”. It was just what I needed. Thank you Jeremy and Supernatural. As Mrs. Butters said of her long lost family,
I miss them so much.
I raised many questions, and the episodes raised even more, so please share your thoughts below!
Catch up on Nightsky's "Threads" reviews! Links can be found on her writer's page.
Transcript Quotes courtesy of http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/