Wednesday 1×06 “Quid Pro Woe” does a lot to move Wednesday Addams’ monster murder mystery investigation forward. But all that progress has its cost, particularly with regards to some of the character flaws we’ve already discussed.
Namely, Wednesday’s focus on solving the case, above all else, continues to hurt her friends. It’s still not that she’s attempting to cause harm — we’d even argue there are very clear examples of her trying to do the opposite. In “Quid Pro Woe,” especially — but that doesn’t lessen the consequences of her actions. And while it’s also been true all along that Wednesday is still figuring out who she is, how to care, and even how much she cares, she’s now reached a point in her journey where she has to either do better or prove her ancestor’s warnings right.
Maybe, like Goody, Wednesday Addams is destined to be alone. But we hope, and actually even suspect, that’s not the case.
A not-so-happy birthday
Wednesday 1×06 opens with the most Wednesday Addams surprise party imaginable. She’s lured to Crackstone’s crypt by an anonymous message, goes on a creepy nighttime adventure looking for clues, and even winds up investigating a strange noise. (Which, incidentally, any Scream buff would’ve told her not to do. Hilarious, considering our star’s connection to that franchise.)
At the end of all the darkness, there are all her friends — sans a still-hospitalized Eugene — excited to show her what else they have up their sleeves. A birthday cake with the Grim Reaper and his scythe on top, plus a little bonus pink balloon from Enid. Enid and Xavier are so pleased with the entire setup and their personal contributions to the celebration, showing just how much they get Wednesday. Even Thing is all festive, sporting his little party hat.
It’s such a great show of how far Wednesday has come in terms of making friends who support who she is and just want to do something nice for her. Unfortunately, it’s an even bigger show of how far Wednesday still has to go in terms of learning how to accept and appreciate all they do for her.
While she may grudgingly admit that “the subterfuge was impressive,” Wednesday’s initial reaction is just…annoyance, at best. She’s upset with Thing for letting literally everybody — including Tyler, who later reveals he’s perfected his latte art skills to wish her a happy birthday in her coffee cup — know it’s her special day.
After all, Wednesday Addams wants to be vilified, not celebrated. Well. By the end of the episode, that becomes a very big “be careful what you wish for” sort of situation.
“…icing on the birthday cake you wouldn’t even be bothered to cut.”
Wednesday spends “Quid Pro Woe” simultaneously claiming she doesn’t want anyone to make a big deal out of her birthday…and manipulating everyone’s desire to make a big deal of it for her own gains. Instead of just saying, “hey, let’s spend my birthday sneaking around the Gates mansion and digging into this mystery,” it’s all lying to Tyler about wanting to go to dinner. And making up a fake girls’ night, complete with making Enid think she’s come up with the perfect plan to escape Weems’ latest punishment.
“You didn’t have to trick us.”
It’s not that Wednesday, or anyone else, needs to feel indebted to their friends for doing something nice. That’s especially true if those friends don’t stop, for even the briefest moment, to consider what might mean something to them. But Enid, Xavier, Tyler — even Ajax — they all did put a ton of thought and care into their plans for her. And she didn’t even acknowledge it or them.
“You didn’t have to because that’s what friends do! They don’t have to be asked. And the fact that you don’t know that, says everything. You want to be alone, Wednesday? Be alone.”
So when, in fantastic performance from Emma Myers, Enid unloads all her frustrations at the end of Wednesday 1×06, she’s more than justified. Enid has tried so hard to be Wednesday’s friend, but all she ever really gets in return is a bunch of nothing. Worse than nothing, really — Wednesday seems to mostly just use her when she needs something and push her away when she doesn’t.
Myers does a brilliant job of showing all the pain and anger that kind of friendship causes, as all the emotions kind of release out of Enid in waves. You can tell she’s trying so hard to hold herself back. Eventually, though, she just can’t anymore — and she shouldn’t have to.
I feel like we’ve all been on both sides of this argument, at some point or another. Either as Enid, who is just tired of giving all of herself to someone who gives nothing back and doesn’t even realize any of it. Or as Wednesday, who just doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong, didn’t try to hurt anyone and even went out of her way to make up excuses for ditching a gift she didn’t like…but who hurt someone she cared about just the same.
A little gratitude goes a long way. Sometimes, even the most aware and empathic of souls forget that. And Wednesday Addams is…not, has never been, emotionally aware.
The good news is there are already signs of change here.
Really zoning in on Jenna Ortega’s (criminally good, as always) performance reveals true remorse. Wednesday may be defensive at first, but those eyes give away a sense of sorrow that is not the typical Wednesday Addams brand of woe. And if there’s any doubt at all that Wednesday heard Enid, or that she misses her almost instantly, her walk across that empty room says it all.
And the way she sits right down in the middle of that light-dark window, which is always such a stunning depiction of the two (usual) occupants of that room, is more powerful still. That is to say nothing of the self-soothing posture Wednesday takes when she sits down.
Even if Wednesday is clearly in the wrong in this particular falling out, her intentions were never bad. And it’s certainly impossible to feel anything but heartbroken for her, left there all alone. Just as Goody warned her.
We also know that Goody’s warning weighs plays heavily on Wednesday. Before she loses Enid at the end of “Quid Pro Woe,” she even opens up to a comatose Eugene about it. The cracks are there, and she’s far from “as cold and heartless as the first day she met” — no matter how much she wants to tell Dr. Kinbott otherwise.
So, knowing Wednesday already feels like she’s supposed to be alone, a lot of her actions after getting that warning could be explained, at least in part — our girl has been a certain kind of way all along — by how much it affects her. If she’s going to end up with nobody anyway, she might as well push everyone she’s starting to make friends with away to keep it from hurting even more later, right?
For anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t deserve real friends, or that everyone always leaves anyway, it’s easy to lie to ourselves and see self-sabotage self-isolation as methods of self-preservation. If a friendship feels too big, or meaningful, or close…better get rid of them before they get rid of you, right? Right. (I’m told wrong…seems fake.)
The character development in this series and what it reveals about outsiders, even without all the fun mystery stuff to drive the plot, really just remains top notch.
Here’s to second chances
While this is Wednesday Addams’ show, and Wednesday 1×06 is all about her day, we simply can’t leave Bianca Barclay out of the discussion. There’s still so much to this character, and she’s really, truly trying to become the best version of herself. And it’s one that her own mother doesn’t believe can exist.
Between Gabrielle’s blackmail and the fact that Lucas trashed the Rave’N dance with his normie buddies, she definitely had nothing to gain, and everything to lose, in trying to help him get away from Morning Song. But she did. Because it’s the right thing to do, and she is a good person.
As it turns out, as is often the case, these two seeming opposites — the siren and the normie, for their particular story — Bianca and Lucas have some very important experiences in common. Both of them have done things regret; both aren’t even really sure why. Most crucial of all, they’re both just trying to prove all their haters and doubters wrong.
“Most people think I’ll never amount to anything. And, while we’re being honest, I haven’t done much to make them think differently.”
Lucas and Bianca are two people who have made some pretty harmful mistakes. They just want to “start over.” Their situation should make sense not just to them about each other…but it should resonate with a lot of viewers, as well. If these two can do it, why can’t the rest of us? (Within reason. I’m not out here, like, “forgive nazis” or whatever.)
Maybe there’s hope.
More on Wednesday 1×06
- “I was reaching into the black maw of death to contact a relative.” “Feels very on-brand for you.” I just really love them, ok?
- The “dear Satan, WTF” look on Wednesday’s face when Enid offers her a scented candle for her séance…
- “I was fine on my own.” Sure, Weds.
- “Smells like childhood.” I’m remembering the scent of pre-tween body odor in a recently-vacated dance studio…
- Gorgeous, gorgeous shots of the flashlight beams in that crypt and, later, at the Gates mansion.
- “Wait. We’re never eating that cake, are we?” Ajax, asking the important questions.
- I still haven’t said this enough, so let’s be clear here: Jenna Ortega is a talent. Case in point, this time around: It’s ridiculously easy to forget only one actor is playing both Goody and Wednesday.
- “The path of a raven is a solitary one. You end up alone, unable to trust others. Only seeing the darkness within them.” Guess I’m a raven now.
- Enid is so delighted with that Wednesday-style pseudo compliment about her trickery. Wednesday tried so hard to do the fake “yes, this is a great gift, but” thing, too.
- When Principal Weems drops her politician’s face and goes after Mayor Noble, she is such a force to be reckoned with. Kind of like Gwendoline Christie, with every single aspect of this character. (And with every other character she’s ever played.)
- …but, again, for the record: It’s when that face screams murder that I love her best.
- “I’m trying not to turn into my mother. She’s like the ghost of bitchiness future.” Many can relate.
- ”But now, parties, and presents, and games…It…It all feels so trivial.” The world wants us to believe that this feeling is “growing up.” It’s wrong. Don’t let it win.
- “Sounds like she doesn’t see you for who you really are…” “She sees more than you know.” The layers of meaning…Not a line is wasted on this series. Not one.
- Death Certificate. Laurel Gates. All that evidence at the Gates mansion. Mmmhm.
- “Birthday, yes. Happy, never.” When your birthday is three days after that one winter holiday (hi), that is your life.
- “Every day is all about me. This one just comes with cake and a bad song.” This falls under both “yessss, Wednesday” and “this is exactly the problem, Wednesday.” People are complicated!
- “It’s about how whitewashing the sins of our past will come back to kill us all.”
- I continue to hate the Sheriff.
- Thing with the double snap!
- And that drawing? Hello???? Xavier Thorpe sees Wednesday Addams…And Wednesday does not at all know how to handle it. Her little black heart is on full display in this scene, and so is Xavier’s.
- Meanwhile: “Aren’t you her boyfriend?” “Definitely not.” Exactly.
- “No matter how hard I try, there will always be people who look down on me. My mission is to prove her wrong. I just figured you could relate.” Gonna throw Bianca’s “more than you know” back at her with this one.
- “He used to have wild theories on cases he couldn’t solve…” Anyone else think of The X-Files here or.
- “I think we’re a lot alike!” Another moment for those of us who grew up with Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams. And she lays it on so thick as Thornhill in this whole scene. In retrospect…hm.
- “It’s a werewolf thing.” None of us who grew up with Buffy Anne Summers ever had any doubt that sweet, sunny Enid would totally kick ass, did we?
- Ansel Gates looks like all the unwashed bigots flocking to twitter dot com with its new owner.
- “You seriously want to split up? In here?! That is literally how every best friend dies in a horror movie.” Enid Sinclair is Wednesday’s Randy Meeks.
- Wednesday made Enid feel like every single horrible thing her mom ever said to her was true. My heart hurts.
- …and yet, notice Wednesday putting her body between Enid and the monster, even reaching out with her arm behind her to protect her. Even when she’s clearly more afraid of that monster than she lets on. And even after Enid already showed she’s tough AF. If only Wednesday showed she cared in less desperate situations.
- “You ok?” “Since when do you care?” Me at every person with their disingenuous well-wishes when they’ve crapped all over me…
- I would watch a series that’s literally just Jenna Ortega and Gwendoline Christie arguing. Nothing else.
- “But for the first time in my life, it doesn’t feel good.” You can be comfortable on your own without feeling lonely, but sometimes, that loneliness just hits. Those of us with fierce independent streaks still have those moments. And Wednesday has found hers…
- “So, whoever’s watching me, know this: I will find you.” …but she’s still so determined. Wednesday Addams will not be defeated, even if she’s currently down. She’ll get back up.
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