DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Wednesday season finale episode, “A Murder of Woes,” contains spoilers. Proceed at your peril, normies.
Welcome back, normies and outcasts! It’s season finale time for Wednesday, and sh*t has effectively hit the storytelling fan. “A Murder of Woes” brings this narrative to a satisfying conclusion with hefty twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Granted, there are a few predictable moments and reliance on tired genre tropes, but it’s still a barrel of dark, macabre fun.
The performances are solid across the board, the plot moves briskly and even the special effects aren’t half bad. It’s one of the strongest episodes of the season.
Ready to delve into “A Murder of Woes”? Let’s get to it.
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We open with Tyler (Hunter Doohan) meeting Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) in the woods at night. He thinks it’s another date, but our Goth gal reveals him as the Hyde monster. Naturally, Tyler denies it and wonders why she would meet him alone if he were the creature. A handful of Nightshades members, including Bianca (Joy Sunday), Yoko (Naomi J. Ogawa) and Ajax (Georgie Farmer), emerge from the shadows to back up our heroine.
They chain Tyler up in Xavier’s art studio. Wednesday procures Tyler’s mother’s records, including proof she attended Nevermore Academy. She was even on the fencing team alongside Morticia Addams. Sheriff Galpin fell in love with an outcast, making Tyler only “part-normie.” He claims his mother had severe bipolar disorder, but she was a Hyde, as is he. Wednesday lays out the timeline of Tyler’s journey to this point for all to see. He vehemently denies everything.
Next, Wednesday whips out two tasers, giving the Nightshades pause. They didn’t sign up for a torture session. However, our girl believes a Hyde only understands pain, so perhaps it’ll trigger Tyler. After they leave, our protagonist proceeds to shock Tyler. Meanwhile, Sheriff Galpin (Jamie McShane) listens to recordings from Dr. Valerie Kinbott’s sessions with Tyler. She explains how the loss of his mother left deeper psychological scars than she initially realized.
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Bianca and the others inform Principal Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie) about what’s happening, so she calls the sheriff. Galpin and his squad barge into the art studio before Wednesday can inflict more pain. Wednesday and Tyler are taken to the police station. Larissa tells our hero that Galpin won’t press kidnapping charges. Tyler wishes to chat with Wednesday before she departs. He asks her what it’s like to lose.
Then, Tyler inches closer to her and explains how much enjoyment he derived from killing his victims. He not-so-subtly threatens Wednesday, telling her she’s not ready for what comes next. Oh, sh*t. Doohan seamlessly executes the transition from an innocent, bland yet sweet man to a malevolent foe like a pro. This moment will perpetually reside rent-free in my head, namely when he says, “lose.” When our girl returns to Nevermore, Larissa informs her of her expulsion, effective immediately. She’ll board a train the following day to go back home.
Next, Wednesday visits Xavier (Percy Hynes White), who wants nothing to do with her. She apologizes in her own way for not listening to him. She allowed Tyler to sway her, leading to Xavier being wrongfully accused. Xavier tells her that trouble follows her wherever she goes. If she genuinely wants to prevent Nevermore’s annihilation, thereby leaving a prophecy unfulfilled, she should skip town.
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Later, Enid (Emma Myers) and Wednesday bid farewell. Our Goth girl displays a modicum of emotion, and while we don’t get a full-fledged hug, their goodbye is touching. Before Wednesday departs, Marilyn Thornhill (Christina Ricci) gives her a white oleander. Wednesday learns Eugene is awake, so she asks Larissa to allow her to visit him before leaving for the train station.
Eugene (Moosa Mostafa) sits upright in his hospital bed, surrounded by bee-themed gifts. Our bee besties reunite, with Wednesday getting Eugene up to speed on the situation. Our protagonist asserts that Valerie set the Hyde cave ablaze, and she controlled Tyler before he turned on her. Eugene recalls seeing someone wearing a black coat and boots before the cave burst into flames — red boots, to be exact. Hmm.
Next, Wednesday confronts none other than Marilyn, a.k.a. Laurel Gates, in the school’s conservatory. She lays bare Laurel’s treachery and nefarious plans and how she triggered Tyler’s Hyde via plant chemicals. Now, Tyler refers to Laurel as his master. “Marilyn” initially brushes off the accusations but grows increasingly frustrated with Wednesday’s persistence. Tyler appears and watches the confrontation.
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Laurel wants to eradicate outcasts permanently, and she can with Tyler’s help. Suddenly, Tyler transforms into Larissa, who puts her shapeshifting powers to good use. Now, she knows the truth. Laurel, at a loss, injects Larissa with Nightshade poison. Unfortunately, Larissa perishes. RIP, Principal Weems. You fought for Nevermore until the bitter end. Laurel knocks Wednesday unconscious with a shovel.
Meanwhile, Enid and Ajax are making out in the former’s room. Eugene video calls her. I love that her ringtone for him is “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Eugene reveals Marilyn Thornhill is the baddie, and Wednesday and Larissa left to confront her. Enid vows to check the conservatory for them. Thing arrives and frantically fills Enid in on the dire situation and Wednesday’s kidnapping.
Then, we see a blood moon hanging in the sky. Wednesday wakes in the crypt while chained to the wall. We get a little expositional dump, with Laurel explaining what she’s doing. The missing body parts from the victims? She collected them to bring Joseph Crackstone back to life. Laurel herself is his descendant, just as Wednesday is descended from Goody Addams. Goody sealed Crackstone with a blood curse, and the only way to sever it is to cancel it out with the blood of a living descendant on the night of the blood moon. That’s what Goody meant by Wednesday being the key!
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Laurel’s objective is to revive Crackstone and have him complete his mission to obliterate all outcasts. Meanwhile, Galpin drives around the woods with Xavier bound in his backseat. He’s tracking Tyler’s whereabouts. Laurel moves Wednesday to the seal on Crackstone’s crypt and slices the latter’s hand. Our Goth girl’s blood destroys the curse while opening the crypt. Joseph Crackstone (William Houston) emerges, looking worse for the wear. He’s in desperate need of a good moisturizer. Well, he was dead for hundreds of years. On another note: I love that the former Wednesday is torturing the current Wednesday. It feels apropos. Ricci handles this villainous turn like a boss, too.
Crackstone stabs Wednesday before leaving with Laurel, who looks like she’s head over heels for a long-dead, crusty old bigot. Enid and Ajax meet with Bianca and the Nightshades in the Nightshades library. Enid volunteers to take Thing and search the woods for Wednesday. Back in the crypt, Goody Addams visits the dying Wednesday. She reveals that the only way to kill Crackstone is to stab him directly in the heart. Goody heals Wednesday’s wounds by essentially passing through her. However, because she did this, Wednesday will never see Goody again.
Meanwhile, Galpin uses a “Track My Kid” app to find Tyler. I’m cackling that this app is called “Track My Kid.” Very straightforward and no-nonsense in its moniker. The sirens use their siren song to evacuate Nevermore and get the students to safety lest the Crackstone/Wednesday showdown transpire on school grounds. While searching for Wednesday in the woods, Enid begins “wolfing out.” It’s finally happening! Thing watches as Enid transforms into a bona fide werewolf.
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Later, Tyler encounters Wednesday in the woods. He morphs into his Hyde monster, an imposing, towering creature with bulging eyes. This design might be the most Tim Burton-y aspect of this series. Before he can attack Wednesday, Enid lunges at Tyler while in full wolf form. Our titular heroine recognizes her roomie/bestie. Enid and Tyler go at it in their respective beast forms. Crackstone arrives at the school with Laurel in tow. Thing frees Xavier from his police cruiser prison.
The Tyler versus Enid battle crescendoes before a bloody, brutal conclusion. Enid walks away victorious, transforming into a human in time for Thing to find her. Galpin discovers Tyler lying unconscious and naked in the leaves. He’s covered in blood and gashes. Meanwhile, Wednesday returns to Nevermore and arms herself with her father’s sword. She dukes it out with Crackstone. Like father, like daughter. Xavier shoots an arrow at the walking skin bag of malicious bigotry, but Crackstone turns the arrow back in the former’s direction. Wednesday steps in front of it, taking said arrow in the shoulder.
Wednesday rises to her feet and continues fighting Crackstone. Unfortunately, her sword snaps into several pieces. Bianca sneaks up behind Crackstone and stabs him. It poses enough distraction for Wednesday to take a shard of the sword blade and drive it into Crackstone’s black heart. She twists it for good measure. Crackstone bursts into flames. Huzzah!
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As for Laurel, Eugene makes his grand entrance with his bees and sicks them on her. Hummers gotta stick together, right? Look at my boy go! Enid reunites with the Nevermore students hiding out in the woods. She embraces Ajax. Then, Enid spots Wednesday, Bianca and Eugene standing in the distance. Enid runs to embrace Wednesday. At first, our eponymous hero seems resistant — we know how she feels about hugs. However, she returns the embrace, and wholeheartedly, at that. It’s such a beautiful moment. The series knows how to reserve these impactful beats for the right time.
Later, we see Lurch (George Burcea) removing the last of Wednesday’s belongings from her room. Classes have been canceled for the remainder of the semester. Presumably, to honor the death of Larissa. Enid encourages her roomie to visit her in San Francisco. Wednesday bids farewell to Bianca and thanks her for her help. Then, our heroine spots Xavier lounging on the floor above her.
Xavier states that being her friend should come with a warning label before giving her a gift: a phone. He put his number in her contacts, too. Wednesday vows never to call him, but she might shoot him a text or two. He asks if she’ll return next year as she departs.
Lurch drives her home. While sitting in the backseat of the family car, Wednesday receives a text from a mysterious someone. They send her pictures and claim they’re “watching” her. Aw, baby’s first stalker! Meanwhile, we see an armored truck on the road, with a subdued and bound Tyler inside. Suddenly, he wakes, and he begins transforming into his Hyde monster.
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“A Murder of Woes” delivers several poignant, powerful beats, particularly for Wednesday. So much of this season focuses on her ability to adapt and make room for change. In addition, she learns how to open her heart to new people and experiences and not live in perpetuity behind a towering, ironclad wall. Jenna Ortega is the highlight of this series, bar none. She infuses the titular character with nuance and layers, deftly doling out deadpan deliveries and snappy comebacks while mining the depths for vulnerability and humanity. Everything she does is subtle and intentional.
Wednesday goes on a journey in Season 1, and we watch her evolve from a closed-off sardonic teen to a slightly less closed-off sardonic teen. The development for her is organic and sensible — she doesn’t transform into an Enid by any means, and that wouldn’t work for her character. The supporting cast development started shaky for me, but by the end, I became smitten, namely with Enid, Eugene and Bianca.
Wednesday doles out red herrings and misdirects aplenty this season and kept me guessing who might be the culprit behind the grisly murders. Despite feeling like a sanitized, safe version of a Tim Burton project; despite the reliance on predictable, unoriginal tropes; despite the hokey teen drama, I genuinely enjoyed this series. It’s entertaining, and Wednesday’s one-liners are hilarious. It’s also bursting with heart and overflowing with love while encouraging viewers to embrace their innate weirdness. For all its narrative issues, I find myself wanting more. A few hints at a potential second season are in the final minutes of “A Murder of Woes.” Bring it on!
Additionally, I love the Easter eggs and references to the Addams Family ’90s films. I wish we had more time with Gomez, Morticia and Pugsley, but perhaps Season 2 will give us that. I need those family dynamics like I need to snap-snap.
Wednesday Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix. 🖤