Wednesday 1×05 “You Reap What You Woe” is all about Parents’ Weekend, with a Nevermore twist. It’s another great episode that really shows how much we all have in common, even while recognizing all the things that make us unique. This time, that universal experience is having relationships with our parents that can, either at times or always, be difficult.
For Wednesday Addams, that difficulty is with her mom, Morticia. But their relationship, in the end, is salvageable — in its own Addams family sort of way. But for some of her classmates, Enid and Bianca specifically, maybe it’s actually best to look elsewhere for love. A parent who refuses to see you, who wants to change you or to blackmail you into doing their bidding isn’t necessarily one worth keeping around.
While “You Reap What You Woe” definitely puts these teen girls at odds with their mothers, the episode shouldn’t be scoffed off as just “typical” teen rebellion or angst. Even in this fantastical world, with all its werewolves and sirens (and Addamses), there remains a very real heart and a very real dialogue on what it’s like to grow up. To either feel misunderstood or actually be misunderstood, to either feel like your parents don’t care about you or to be given very clear signs that they most certainly do not.
For all their humorous dysfunction, the Addams family is doing it right. The others…not so much.
The wolf with an awful excuse for a pack
For a character like Enid Sinclair, who is so often the light and the joy of Wednesday, it’s particularly heartbreaking to see her hurt, repeatedly, by her mother. When the pack first shows up, the interaction is sort of your typical, overbearing mom kind of situation. Ester immediately comments on her appearance, on whether or not she’s had enough to eat…all the “usual” overly-judgmental mom stuff.
But as “You Reap What You Woe” unfolds, there’s something a lot more toxic here. Enid’s mom only wants to hear about whether or not she’s wolfed out, is completely disinterested in her relationship with Ajax — or anything else Enid cares about, for that matter. It’s obvious the kid feels like the family disappointment enough already, and her mom isn’t exactly helping. In fact, she even flat out says it’s disappointing that Enid has yet to wolf out.
While the rest of the pack is rough-housing, she’s just kind of…sitting it out. Instead of loving Enid and welcoming her no matter what, it’s like they’re shunning her. Then, when Ester finally gives her daughter a gift, claiming they “got off on the wrong foot,” and she just wants “the very best” for Enid, it’s…disgusting, actually.
Summer camp…for lycanthropy “conversion.”
There is not one, single “camp” or “therapy” of this type in the real world that is not an abusive attempt to rip away someone’s true self. So, for Enid’s mother to consider the werewolf version of this a “gift” to her daughter is sickening. (It also makes you wonder whether the series is trying to code or bait here, with all the rainbow everything and now…this. Or did someone really not think?)
“Don’t you want to wolf out and finally be normal, honey?”
What even is normal here, especially if these kids are all at Nevermore to embrace being outcasts? And what kind of mother, other than a terrible one, thinks that repeatedly sending the “you’re abnormal” message to their daughter is wanting the “best” for them?
“If I’m meant to wolf out, then I’m going to do it on my own timeline. And not yours. I just hope that, one day, you’ll be able to accept me for who I am.”
By the end of the episode, Enid manages to stand up to her mom. And she even gets a hug from her dad, who tells her he’s proud of her. But his silence up until that point is deafening. Not to mention, the pain her mother puts her through over the course of a single weekend is so difficult to watch, particularly as Emma Myers plays that absolute devastation over her “gift” so well.
Sweetheart, cut your mom loose and let Morticia adopt you. She won’t just “accept” you for who you are, she’ll embrace you and love you. Absolutely everything about you will delight her. As it should.
Gabrielle should’ve stayed not showing her face
So, to recap: Enid’s mom is painfully ignorant and bigoted, to the point where she really thinks forcing her kid to be someone she’s not is “care.” Next up is Bianca’s mother. This perfect example of “what not to do” in parenthood actually seems to take pride in hurting her kid. She knows exactly what she’s doing, but she flat out doesn’t care.
Gabrielle hasn’t even bothered to show her face since Bianca started at Nevermore, but she turns up now. Why? Not to support her daughter — to use her for her siren song.
Through their tense interactions, we learn that Bianca wants nothing to do with Gabrielle or her cult. She wants to be her own person, and she’s even rejected the (really not-at-all fitting) name her mom gave her. But when she outright refuses to help with Morning Song, her own mother blackmails her. She threatens to tell everyone at Nevermore that she only got in by using her powers…which is bad enough. Until…
“You’re just scamming a higher class of people, but they are not your friends. Sooner or later, they will see through you. A siren can never change her scales.”
This woman uses her own daughter’s biggest fear and worst insecurity against her. Gabrielle throws it in Bianca’s face, and it’s like she loves every second of it, savors every ounce of hurt she causes. Meanwhile, anyone with a heart, when faced with Joy Sunday’s emotional performance here, will be absolutely crushed on Bianca’s behalf. The transformation from all that defiance and the tough skin we’ve come to know and love, to all that pain and fear, just plain hurts to watch. Too bad it does nothing to move the character’s unfit parent.
Some of that toughness comes back, when Bianca says she’ll only help Gabrielle on the condition that she waits for the school year to end. But, as she says, “we both have too much to lose.” So, it’s difficult to believe any of it is really her choice.
This is another kid who could stand to cut ties completely — which, Bianca says she will once she’s done fulfilling her side of the deal — and maybe see if Morticia is interested in adding to the family.
The best family
While the other families are showing everything that doesn’t work in Wednesday 1×05, the Addams family is thriving. Which is weird to say, considering the whole “Gomez is the only murder suspect” plot that lands the majority of them in prison. But for all their story’s dark twists and turns, and for all Wednesday’s struggles to find a good place with her mom, this is a family built on real love. On celebrating all the weirdness, everything creepy, kooky, and all together ooky about every single family member.
Gomez Addams might not be the cool dad — he’s overly affectionate, and Wednesday knew all along he couldn’t be a murderer. But when he’s behind bars and apologizes for not being a better father, Wednesday reveals all the ways he’s supported and nurtured her her whole life. Does she say it that way? Uh, of course not. In her own way, though, she makes it clear that he’s exactly what she needs.
“You are the reason I understand how imperative it is that I never lose sight of myself. So, as far as fatherhood goes, I would say you’ve been more than adequate.”
In Wednesday-speak, that basically means he is an excellent father, and she knows how much he loves her — no matter what. (And she absolutely loves him for him, regardless of whether she’d ever actually say so or not.)
The same goes for how Gomez loves Pugsley. Kid likes to eat some potpourri for a treat? Great! Gomez will take a taste…and love it, too. He likes fishing with grenades? Cool. Daddy will pack his favorite bait for a weekend trip, and big sister Wednesday will make sure he gets a chance to use it. (She’ll even join in, in a beautiful sibling bonding moment, after a lecture on being strong for their mom.)
And ahhh, their mom.
First off, Morticia and Wednesday’s argument after the family therapy session gone wrong is a lot. It’s one of a precious few places where we really see Jenna Ortega get overt with her character’s emotions, rather than just hinting at them. It’s exactly the right note for her to hit here because this is obviously a place where Wednesday just has way too many strong feelings. She doesn’t know how to handle them, especially the part where she feels betrayed. It’s not at all something she’s used to, and Morticia doubling down on maintaining the lie by omission is just too much to handle.
Later, when Wednesday confronts Morticia about sending her to Nevermore, it’s just as excellent of a showing. This is kind of at the heart of why, as we learn when the family first arrives for Parents’ Weekend, Wednesday has been ignoring Morticia’s messages.
“Why would you send me somewhere where I could only ever exist in your shadow?”
At a certain point in our lives, we want to be ourselves — not our parents and not who they want us to be. So, for Wednesday to feel like all she’ll ever do is be second best to Morticia is kind of a healthy, typical response…as long as Morticia doesn’t actually want to compete. Which she directly states that she doesn’t. It’s not a competition to her and never was. All Morticia ever wanted was for her only daughter to come to this school, where an outcast like her should be safe.
This mother-daughter pair may have their tensions and disagreements, but ultimately, it’s when they work together that everything actually works out. They’re a fantastic crime-solving duo, and they’re even better when they confront Mayor Walker. By that point, Morticia and Wednesday are even shooting each other glances, communicating without words, and even expressing their pride in one another.
“You were very impressive in there.”
For the Addams family, it’s fitting that investigating a murder would bring a mother and daughter together like this. All the detective work even makes Wednesday open up to Morticia enough to talk about her visions. That’s kind of a big deal. The same goes for the way Wednesday, on her own, steps closer to Morticia and lets her blow air kisses, even smooth her hair, before leaving.
Is their relationship going to be perfect going forward? No. But will we take this weirdly healthy push and pull above those other awful examples of motherhood? Absolutely.
Basically, where do we sign up to join the Addams family?
More on Wednesday 1×05
- “How well do we really know our parents?” Often not very well at all, especially considering they had whole lives before we came along. Maybe not whole “yeah, one of us might’ve murdered a guy” lives…but still.
- The teen versions of Larissa, Morticia, and Gomez are so good. So good.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones just swanning about as Morticia is so on point. Great character work from her all around
- “On the mend? Try in a coma.” This one goes out to everyone having to “just push through” for our trash society when they’re actually suffering inside.
- Also, Larissa Weems is such a great politician. Which is both a compliment and a condemnation…
- “Have you been to see him? He’s your friend.” “And the reason he’s in the hospital.” Wednesday Addams, taking responsibility? Feeling guilt? Caring? Growth.
- “I give my mom 30 seconds before her judgey claws come out.” We’ve all been there, right? Right.
- Gomez and Morticia’s caught looks when Wednesday exposes their subterfuge with Thing…So good.
- This is where I say anyone who doesn’t love Luis Guzmán as Gomez has no taste and can fight me, right? Right. Because I’m saying it, and he is phenomenal in this role. Guzmán hits every single note. He’s equally good at being excessively demonstrative with Zeta-Jones’ character and just…stricken whenever there’s tension with Wednesday. Or, we can go back to how overcome with emotion he is — while clearly holding himself back for Wednesday’s sake — in the father-daughter prison scene.
- “Since you’ve abandoned me here, I’ve been hunted, haunted…and the target of an attempted murder.” Her little smile of pride when she mentions the murder. The Addams daughter is excited here, folks.
- “I’m not sure how much of this family togetherness I can take.” Xavier gets me.
- “I think you skipped the part where you apologized for acting like a total jerk last weekend.” But also, get him, Bianca.
- The enmity between Zeta-Jones’ Morticia and Gwendoline Christie’s Larissa is golden. That smug “such good times” line, followed by Christie’s look of “is she fucking for real,” just before plastering on the fake smile, is everything.
- …and then, Guzmán’s “oh, shit” face after the sequoia tree comment. Wednesday is a comedy, folks.
- I continue to loathe Sheriff Galpin and have no notes other than “I hate this guy. He sucks. Shitty father, shitty cop, shitty everything.”
- “The bees miss you, Eugene. We all do.” A friendship!
- I, too, would awkwardly make a hasty exit if Eugene’s moms were talking about how excited he was to be my friend. Can not take that kind of praise and warmth, especially not from strangers. Nope. Goodbye.
- Morticia! And! Her! Roses!
- “That’s me. Huge disappointment.” Same.
- Bianca’s reaction when Gomez gets arrested? Priceless.
- Gomez’s reaction to Thing showing up at prison visitation…Again, I’ll fight anyone who doesn’t like Guzmán in this role.
- “He mistook her kindness for interest. His infatuation turned into obsession. He started stalking her.” Far too many women can relate. Same goes for nobody believing them. Far too many can relate.
- Bigots controlling the cops? Brand new information, that.
- Anyway. ACAB.
- “Can we please do without the overt display of emotion?” “I know. They make you feel uncomfortable.” A boundary-respecting king.
- The haunted look from Zeta-Jones when Morticia describes the awful way Garrett behaved when he stalked her tells you everything you ever need to know about surviving that sort of thing. Folks who need to understand never will, though.
- Mama’s proud of her little grave-digger.
- “What I resent is that you could’ve prevented Garrett’s death if you had done your job when I lodged my complaint about him stalking me. But no, men like you have no idea what it feels like not to be believed.” That part.
- Garrett, son of a bigot, set out to murder kids for being different — but got what was coming to him instead. I said what I said. Not sorry about what happened to the rest of the Gates family either.
- The forehead kiss was so sweet, but maybe Enid’s dad should have spoken up sooner. Or at all, ever, in front of her crappy mother.
- Wednesday’s confrontation with Weems is even more excellent work from both Ortega and Christie. Especially the contrast between Weems’ deadly tone after Wednesday threatens to tell the Sheriff…and the way it’s like she’s been stabbed in the gut when Wednesday brings up Eugene.
- …fire will whatnow?
Thoughts on Wednesday 1×05 “You Reap What You Woe”? Leave us a comment!
Wednesday is now streaming on Netflix.