I always thought you needed a group to hold a seance and that perhaps Wednesday’s desire to do so would give her no choice but to actually rely on her friends, thus forcing some personal growth. But apparently you can seance solo, which is exactly what Wednesday attempts to do. Instead of summoning Goody, she’s interrupted by Enid, and then a letter slides under the door written in old-fashioned ransom-note style, with cutout magazine letters. Time for a trip to the Crackstone Crypt for the greatest horror of all: a surprise birthday party. Happy sweet 16, Wednesday!
We have a bit of inexplicable character behavior that really bugs me here: Why on earth would Xavier come to this party? (Later on he tells Wednesday that he showed up at the party as a sort of olive branch, but she still thinks he could be the monster and isn’t speaking to him. A for effort, Xavier.) But everything else about this is great, including the tiny party hat on Thing and the pink balloon on the Grim Reaper on her cake. Wednesday realizes that the full version of the quote burned into the lawn — ”Fire will rain when I rise” — is etched into the crypt’s walls. No time for birthday cake; our girl is having a vision. Goody appears to tell Wednesday that the path of a Raven is a “solitary one,” which of course appeals to our pouty little loner, who only has two more episodes to figure out the importance of friendship. The vision also reveals this wrought-iron gate to … somewhere!
Back at the dorm, Enid takes responsibility for throwing the party (Wednesday concedes that her subterfuge was impressive) and gifts Wednesday a hand-knit snood. Well, it’s no squirrel-taxidermy kit, but what can you do? I love that Wednesday has made meaningful, but believably incremental, progress toward possessing social grace: She gently dodges Enid’s idea of wearing their matching snoods together by saying the gift is far too exquisite for something so mundane. “I suggest we wait for a more special occasion, like a funeral.”
Lucas has to do community service at Nevermore to make up for the whole Carrie-at-the-Rave’N incident. Bianca spots him at work and catches a MorningSong bracelet on his wrist. I’m sorry to report that I still don’t find this cult all that interesting, though we do get the first line from Bianca that would suggest she has the sass it takes to be a real-deal queen bee: Her mom, she says, is “the ghost of bitchiness future.” When they meet up at the Weathervane later, Lucas says he’s not wearing the bracelet anymore, thanks to Bianca’s counsel.
Wednesday is still visiting the comatose Eugene, to whom she confesses that her love of birthdays — after all, each birthday brings us closer to death — now feels “trivial.” Dr. Kinbott arrives with peachy-pink roses, telling Wednesday she’d promised Eugene’s moms that she would look after their son while they went away. According to Dr. Kinbott, Wednesday isn’t that cold or heartless if she’d devote all this time to visiting her friend. But do we trust her?!
Over at the station, the sheriff is still getting calls from someone named Inez Gates who keeps complaining about lights being on. I didn’t mention her the first time she came up but it feels worth pointing out now that this recurring off-screen character is a GATES — like Garrett! Meanwhile, he receives a copy of the death certificate for Laurel (who, as you know, I believe is still very much alive), and I’m pretty sure it says something spooky and unofficial like “we guess she drowned? But we never found a body so really it’s a real choose-your-own-adventure situation here!”
At the Weathervane, Tyler continues to prove his devotion to Wednesday: He was responsible for the birthday cake (98 percent dark chocolate, since that seemed like her style) and stencils a “Happy Birthday” in the foam of her drink, and all he wants is to go to dinner with her. She insists she is far too busy for such an outing but consents to show him the sketch of her latest vision. She also tells his dad, who shows up as she’s leaving, that there’s a connection between Crackstone and the writing burned onto the Nevermore lawn.
That night, Wednesday goes to Xavier’s art shed, demanding his help. He is delighted to be needed. He tells her that the gate from her vision is the Gates’s gate (lotta gates over here), and while that sinks in, Thing reveals Xavier’s painting of Wednesday playing the cello. Xavier says he painted her in an effort to forget her; he can make the bow move so it’s like she’s playing, and even though I’m not really into Xavier, I do feel like that is very cool. Basically two boys professing their unwavering devotion in the space of one afternoon … what a birthday Wednesday is having! Dumbstruck by this display of emotional vulnerability, Wednesday bolts.
Obviously, Wednesday decides to sneak into the old Gates mansion without even telling anybody except Thing. But when she gets there, she finds the mayor wandering around, leaving one of those voicemails for Sheriff Galpin that tell you “Oh, this guy is definitely about to die.” She climbs into his trunk and hitches a ride back to the Weathervane, where the mayor is promptly hit by a car.
Wednesday gives the sheriff her very spartan statement: It was a blue Cadillac with no plates. She knows something is up with the Gates family and their house, but the sheriff is uninterested in ghosts. (Wednesday’s reply, paraphrasing only slightly: “You best start believin’ in ghost stories … yer in one!”) Then she returns to Nevermore, where the school is on lockdown and — finally! — Weems revokes her off-campus privileges. The principal is LIVID that Wednesday is at the center of every psychotic thing that happens around here. While Wednesday is working on her novel later that night, Thornhill pops over to give her A COPY OF FRANKENSTEIN! Called it! Wednesday is, of course, already familiar with this seminal work by her “literary hero and nemesis,” Mary Shelley. Thornhill warns Wednesday that she could be expelled for real; Wednesday, though she’d seemed to be warming toward the only normie on campus, shuts down all efforts at bonding, insisting they are NOT alike and anyway she already HAS a mom AND a therapist so BACK OFF.
Wednesday calls Tyler to take him up on his offer for a date, which you know is not really what she has in mind, but Tyler is too hopeful to see clearly. His dad warns him to stay away from Wednesday because “I know girls just like her,” which adds some more weight to my theory that Tyler’s mom was an outcast and her outcastdom led directly to her death. (Or she’s Laurel Gates! But I lean more toward unrelated outcast … please leave your theories in the comments!) Tyler is all “did you even love her?” and Dad is all “more than you could ever know,” which is all very cliche as tortured father-son TV dialogue goes, I’m sorry to report. If she died in childbirth and that’s why this dad can’t hug his son … I will riot.
As if she’s on some amends-making spree, Wednesday tells Enid she regrets not being more grateful about the party, and basically manipulates her roommate into helping her break out of the dorm (Enid can say she needs a pass to the cages where the werewolves go to wolf out, and Wednesday is her designated locker-inner). Suffice it to say neither Tyler nor Enid is thrilled to discover there’s a plus-one for their outing and that Wednesday has misled them both as part of her scheme to break into the Gates mansion. Do we think this will be the treachery that makes Enid and/or Tyler want to ditch Wednesday for good?
Despite their anger, Enid and Tyler join in Wednesday’s breaking-and-entering mission, discovering (1) the Cadillac that hit the mayor is parked in the garage, (2) a Gates family portrait in which the boy in the painting looks a LOT like Xavier, no? (3) one of those secret library doors that opens to reveal a creepy altar to Crackstone himself along with the whole “blood will rain when I rise” mantra painted on the walls, (4) candles at the shrine that are still warm, which means someone else was JUST there, and (5) Laurel Gates’s room, which looks like someone is staying there, and there are fresh roses — JUST like the kind Kinbott brought to Eugene earlier that day — on her dresser.
Why Wednesday thought it was a good idea to let Tyler, who as far as we know has no superpowers, prowl the ground floor of this haunted mansion, which all evidence would suggest is currently housing a serial killer and/or monster tamer, all by his lonesome is beyond me. So I don’t mean to be callous when I say “of course the monster showed up and clawed poor Tyler’s normie body,” but what did everyone THINK was going to happen here? As the monster rampages through the house, Wednesday and Enid hide in the dumbwaiter. The DUMBWAITER. As the famous saying goes: If I had a nickel for every time a show I was recapping made a whole plot point out of people hiding in dumbwaiters, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice, right?.
Wednesday enjoys a real two-birds-one-snood moment (getting rid of a present she never wanted; fending off the monster), and then the rope in the dumbwaiter snaps and the girls plummet to the basement, where they find … all the body parts taken by the monster STORED. IN. JARS. YES! (Not rooting for storing body parts in jars in general, but I’m very here for the show committing to its kooky-spooky origins, plus my Frankenstein theory.)
The girls escape and Enid, rightly, is furious. Wednesday goes back for Tyler because even though she is a shitty friend, she is not the literal worst person we know. Xavier — conveniently! OR suspiciously?! — is already there, and Tyler is wounded. Though in accordance with the Inviolable Laws of Television Health and Medicine, as previously decreed by me in my Pretty Little Liars Power Rankings, Tyler’s injury is a very manageable claw-to-the-upper-chest, which requires him to be shirtless in order to receive medical care from Wednesday but is not so severe that he actually needs to be hospitalized or look unattractive at any moment. Of course by the time Wednesday gets Sheriff Galpin to go back to the mansion with her, all the evidence they saw was gone. (I know Wednesday is anti-technology, but don’t Tyler and Enid have cell phones? Why didn’t they take any pictures?)
Usually I side with Wednesday over the sheriff, but when he reams her out for how she almost got everybody killed, I have no choice but to say he makes a totally fair point. He forbids her from seeing Tyler and from pursuing the case.
Back at Nevermore, Wednesday tells Weems it would be a mistake to expel her and shows Weems the picture from Rowan, telling the principal that she believes she is destined to save the school. She even says “please” when she asks for another chance! Moved by this staggering display of humility, Weems allows her one last chance. But in other departments it would appear Wednesday is out of chances: For instance, with Enid, who is packing up to go to Yoko’s room. Something tells me Miss Leave Me Alone is not going to like being alone very much after all!
Left with no one to talk to, Wednesday examines the piece of evidence she was able to swipe from the Gates mansion: a jewelry box from Laurel’s room, which has photos of Wednesday stashed inside. Like, very recent photos! It’s all connected! While Wednesday puts those pieces together, someone wearing black leather gloves (A from Pretty Little Liars? Sorry, but the resemblance is striking) swings by Mayor Walker’s hospital room to finish off their murder.