Wednesday 1×03 “Friend or Woe” is a pivotal third episode for the series. It features a huge reveal about the Addams family’s past and a very clear, very timely message on the dangers of whitewashing history. Somewhere in all of that, though, there are also some touching personal beats…and even a few that are anything but.
For our main character, the personal touches continue to be baby steps toward progress. She approaches Xavier to start a conversation — even if with a snarky opener about staring at a blank wall — on Outreach Day. And, after she’s already shown off her phenomenal badassery, yet again, with the pilgrim bro bullies, she takes care of Eugene. She’s careful with him as she cleans him up, rather than sticking to her more abrupt, detached nature. And it’s also noteworthy that Wednesday even tells him he reminds her a little bit of her brother. After all, we know her care for him is exactly what got her kicked out of her last school, thus starting this entire journey.
Then, we again have the briefest of moments with Enid. Wednesday doesn’t allow the other girl to hug her when she gets excited about getting to volunteer with Ajax. But she doesn’t back away and completely shun Enid’s touch, either. There’s plenty of opportunity there — and we know Wednesday usually takes it — but she stays put and allows a little…something. Honestly, it’s kind of a big deal.
Later, when Enid’s getting ready to go meet Ajax, Wednesday tells her, “if he breaks your heart, I’ll nail gun his.” Sure, this character loves any opportunity to torture…But there’s no way she would’ve brought up the heartbreak, much less gotten distracted enough from her writing and her mission to say something, if she didn’t care.
Basically, while Wednesday continues to track the clues to Rowan’s murder, we’re definitely keeping our eyes out for clues on character development. And, uh. Wednesday 1×03 “Friend or Woe” has plenty…if viewers care enough to look for them.
With that being said, let’s talk about our girl’s mission, her family history, the importance of sticking together, and some wish fulfillment.
“So it would just be us — them! — against the world.”
One of the most compelling points in Wednesday 1×03 comes from Enid’s adorable, yet ultimately…not-great…attempt at flirting with Ajax. In a school full of outcasts, Enid is almost her own sort of standout. She’s bubbly, full of light, and the only werewolf who’s yet to transform. What we love most about her, though, is her absolutely giant heart. And we want nothing but the best for her.
So, even if it comes through Wednesday’s typical “hey, I need you to do something for me so I can complete my mission” level of making demands, it’s a real treat to get to see her spend the day with her crush. Emma Myers and Georgie Farmer have that sweet sort of “first crush” chemistry together, and with all the darkness in this series, their stilted attempts at understanding each other’s idea of flirting is a welcome break from all that.
That’s not to say, however, that Enid and Ajax’s bonding time is all sugary fluff. (Even if it’d be the deliciously sweet sort of cotton candy type if it were…and we’d be fine with that!)
In the first place, we learn a little bit more about Xavier from Ajax. He has a “darker side” to him, probably thanks to the pressure of his dad being so famous. Even without him present, it makes that character much more fleshed out…and throws some potential red flags out there, as well. Or, they could be misdirects. Whichever!
But the most important part of their time together at Uriah’s Heap is the message their mutual admiration sends. First off, Enid accepts Ajax for who and what he is. She isn’t afraid of being “stoned” because of his Gorgon nature. Sure, he’s different from her…but his powers are just another part of him and not the whole picture.
Bouncing off that, and a huge moral quite a lot of us could learn from right now, is Enid’s response to Ajax’s question about rats and squirrels working together. Now, nobody who interprets this scene in good faith will think folks are really advocating for interspecies relationships in the real world. But in the world of Wednesday, yes, it is possible for different outcast species to work out. In fact, like Enid tells Ajax, it’s necessary for them to stick together.
“They both have more in common than you think. Most people are scared of them.”
…and so, it’s just the outcasts against the rest of the world. Putting that message into a more real-world context, the world tries its hardest to pit marginalized groups against one another. People who hate us want us to tear each other apart so that they have less work to do to make it happen themselves. But we have much more in common than we think…So. Like Enid said, it’s just us against the world.
We could all learn quite a lot from Enid Sinclair. But if we learn nothing else, it should be this.
“Then, why be complicit in its coverup? Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
Wednesday 1×03, more than anything else, is a reckoning with problematic history. As the entire town is celebrating Outreach Day, pretending to be about forging a bond between outcasts and normies, Wednesday Addams is busy learning about what Jericho’s founder, Joseph Crackstone, was really all about. And, uh, it certainly wasn’t an “open heart” — or whatever the Mayor said in his corny dedication speech.
No, Crackstone was like most of the colonial figures in our whitewashed history: vile, hateful, genocidal…just awful in every way. So, of course, he gets immortalized as some kind of hero. Look! Pilgrim World! Check out all the fun history, the lady talking in ye olde English, and all the other fun and games! (Forget the fact that the real-world pilgrims were…objectively not great themselves.)
A lot of people wondered why this series was released around Thanksgiving instead of Halloween. Well, “Friend or Woe” ought to clear up that mystery. Not to mention, Wednesday Addams already made her hatred of the holiday known back in the ’90s…
But anyway, back to the issue of Crackstone himself. In one of her unpredictable visions, Wednesday witnesses her ancestor, Goody Addams, surrounded by an angry mob that wants to burn her as a witch. So, we can also relate all of this to things like the Salem Witch Trials, as well. But, of course, that would leave out the added wrinkle of Crackstone and his kind specifically wanting to wipe out outcasts — and using religion as an excuse while they’re at it. (Hm. Sounds familiar.)
“We were here before you, living in harmony with the nature and the Native folk. But you have stolen the land. You have slaughtered the innocent. You have robbed us of our peaceful spirit! You are the true monster — all of you!”
So, yet more genocide from pilgrims. Typical.
The most heartbreaking part of all of it, of course, is that Goody Addams becomes the outcasts’ “only hope” and has to leave her own mother chained up in the inferno to die to do it. It’s a huge contrast to Wednesday’s relationship with her own mother, and the goodbye serves as both a horror show and one of the most emotionally-gripping moments in the series up to this point.
So, Wednesday does what is, frankly, the right thing: She makes sure Crackstone is not memorialized as hero this time, getting Thing to set the statute on fire in a fitting revenge move. And…she just smirks in that satisfied way of hers when the deed is done, having casually rocked out on her cello the whole time everyone else was rushing away from the inferno. See, the normies get to run from her fire; her ancestors and their kin…didn’t get to run from the pilgrims’.
Afterward, Principal Weems, who’s been trying to make nice with the Mayor and all the normies all along, confronts her about it. And Wednesday does not back down. She demands to know why Weems is complicit in whitewashing history. Weems seems to think she can start a new era, but Wednesday is unconvinced. As she should be. You can’t build a “new” relationship by sweeping the original one under the rug. And while Larissa may have the right idea in wanting to move forward, she knows Wednesday is right about there being no gray area with this kind of hate.
Gwendoline Christie absolutely kills all those moments of remorse and recognition, even as she’s fabulously fuming away at her most frustrating and exhausting student.
But the fact remains: Whitewashing history, building monuments to murderers, is wrong. And Wednesday Addams, the hero we deserve, will not be swayed. She displays the same strength in her convictions here as she does with her beliefs about Rowan’s death and a monster in the woods. But, of course, this point is far more vital than just one individual. The past, present, and future — all the parts of Wednesday’s investigation that she calls “coincidences” during the final sequence — of outcasts is at stake here. And, somehow, she and her ancestor are right at the heart of it.
More on Wednesday 1×03
- Wednesday really just…casually destroys all the “cool” kids in the Nightshades.
- “…after some normie kid died.” Important.
- “We talk about not making waves? She’s a tsunami.” Bianca says that like it’s a bad thing.
- “I freed myself five minutes ago.” A self-reliant queen.
- Jenna Ortega remains too good for words. Do we talk about how well she plays Wednesday’s interest in that book? Or the delivery on all the snark? What about the heart as Goody Addams versus the very real terror from Wednesday as she sees the whole scene unfold? The melodramatic way she mocks having a vision with the Taco Hell bag, perhaps??? Absolute gold. All of it — and then some.
- “I caught your rooftop serenade the other night. Impressive.” To say the least.
- “…as long as you promise to hang me as a witch afterwards.” And then Weems’ little smile. Iconic…and also, uh. Telling.
- Xavier is trying so hard to be Wednesday’s friend, and she keeps being like “nope.” Percy Hynes White continues to do an absolutely amazing job at showing his frustration and pain, coupled with…just not at all knowing what to do with this girl, yet knowing he’s impressed. One way or another.
- The vindicated lift of the chin when Xavier admits he hasn’t really heard from Rowan…
- “People can try and dismiss me and make a million other excuses, but I’m not going to stop.” A hero!
- “Don’t look too excited. Those outcast kids might think we’re happy to have them.” The Mayor literally only cares because he’s getting money, so this was a welcome comment to chastise Galpin for his prejudice…except not.
- “No need to pay for that overpriced hipster swill.” I very much love our QUEEN Sophia Nomvete here…except for this part. Some of us like our overpriced coffee, ok?
- Myers with the delightfully over-acted “yuck” looks from Enid. Love.
- “Enjoy your ‘authentic’ pilgrim fudge made with cacao beans produced by the oppressed indigenous people of the Amazon…All proceeds go to uphold this pathetic whitewashing of American history.” The power this child has.
- Thornhill had way too much interest in Weems’ conversation with Mayor Walker. Just saying.
- “I don’t know who Etsy is, but I doubt she was an outcast settler.” If you didn’t scream, I judge you.
- “I deserted it while my sanity was still intact.” May we all have the opportunity to do this with terrible jobs.
- “I told you he was bad news.” “Twice. But who I speak to is my business.” More of Wednesday being a fabulous role model here…except for the part where I can’t stand Xavier’s little hurt face.
- “I could eat Girl Scouts for breakfast. Actually, I have an uncle who went to prison for that.” The beautiful nod to “are they made from real Girl Scouts,” coupled with how much this is on point for this version of Wednesday Addams…genius.
- “Use the words ‘little girl’ to address me again, and I can’t guarantee your safety.” !!!!!!
- Goody’s speech to Crackstone clearly inspired Wednesday’s speech to Sarah Miller. I said what I said.
- “The monster is human.” Honestly, humans are always the monsters — let’s be real.
- “Ok. He was a sadistic asshole. So, what? It was 400 years ago. It’s got nothing to do with now.” A privileged take if I ever saw one. I was rooting for you, Xavier. Shame.
- “And let’s be honest: Emotion isn’t exactly your strong suit.” That look on her face after…ouch.
- Weems’ “I see you” face when she realizes Wednesday had something to do with that fire…Gwendoline Christie, amirite?
- Kickass shot of the statute’s face melting, too. The way I’d love to do that to some whitewashed memorials in real life…
- “If trouble means standing up to lies. Decades of discrimination. Centuries of treating outcasts like second-class citizens. Or worse.” Be the trouble, kids. Be. The. Trouble.
- “But it’s either they write our story or we do. You can’t have it both ways.” GO OFF TINY QUEEN
- “I don’t believe in mandatory volunteer work, sugarcoated history, or happy endings.” Same.
- “Nothing Else Matters” during that ending sequence. The music department continues to be nuts good.
- Christina Ricci doing the double snap: That was for me, specifically, right?
- Sheriff Galpin, bestie, you can’t deny the photographic evidence, can you?
- Also, remind me not to piss Enid off.
- And poor Ajax…he really wanted to meet her. He was even getting all cleaned up and everything.
- “The truth is, there are monsters everywhere. And sometimes, the monsters we least suspect are the most dangerous.”
Thoughts on Wednesday 1×03 “Friend or Woe”? Leave us a comment!