As a standalone episode of television, Wednesday 1×08 “A Murder of Woes” is fantastic; as a season finale, it’s even better. It pulls together every single major thread that’s been worth following during the series’ first season (of hopefully very many) and leaves just enough open for future storytelling. The murder mystery arc concludes in epic fashion, finally delivering on all the supernatural potential.
But, most notably of all, this episode cuts right to the heart. In the end, it’s bringing all the outcasts together that saves them all. It’s a message that, even if a little bit over-simplified for something like real-world hate, many of us could stand to learn from. Put another way, it’s something we could at least try to emulate. And at the center of all that bonding together is just that — bonding — showing us just how valuable friendship can be to even the most self-reliant and solitary of us.
There may be some things Wednesday Addams is just destined to do on her own. But, as we learn in “A Murder of Woes,” that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have people willing to help her along the way. Maybe it’s worth trying to take that lesson away from this series, too.
The single most emotional moment
It’s hard to believe it’s only been eight episodes of building up to the moment where Wednesday and Enid share a battered and bloodied embrace in the woods. But that’s reality…and proof that this series is one of the most well executed in a long, long time.
That hug, between these two young girls who are total opposites — opposites who somehow just work — is perhaps one of the most beautiful, earned, and downright emotional things I’ve seen on television in a long time. Perhaps it’s because, as someone who doesn’t hug “just because” and only does so when it really matters, I feel seen by a silly supernatural television show. Or maybe it’s just that it’s such a strong indication of Wednesday’s growth over the course of this series.
It’s probably both.
Either way, Wednesday 1×08 sees Enid Sinclair finally wolfing out — and her best, if sometimes most frustrating, friend witnessing it. After seeing Enid for who and what she truly is, Wednesday doesn’t run from her. She doesn’t turn away or suddenly feel like the sunny girl with all the rainbows who made her nauseous all this time is suddenly someone else. It’s still Enid, and Wednesday still loves her. (Although, she’d probably rather have screws shoved in her eyeballs than have to say as much out loud. Which, for the record, also makes me feel seen. Take from that what you will.)
Or, well. Ok…maybe Wednesday does run after witnessing the Wolf!Enid. But, to be fair, that’s kind of a whole, “I have to save the others” thing — not a “running from the wolf” thing.
After all is said and done, when the school’s safe, Emma Myers makes sure Enid wears that huge heart of hers on her sleeve, makes sure the concern and care for Wednesday — and Wednesday only — as the rest of the school pays tribute to her own heroics is all that matters. And in spite of herself, she can’t help but throw her arms around her friend. It’s the very type of embrace she’s wanted all along, the very hug she went for, yet then held herself back from giving, in their farewell moment in their room.
And Enid is immediately sorry when Wednesday pulls away.
But there’s that quick moment where Jenna Ortega’s performance shows all the complex, conflicting emotions battling it out in Wednesday’s mind. And then, Wednesday initiates the next, final, hug herself. That’s important. Wednesday Addams is not simply tolerating the emotional display of someone else — she’s making her own moment. That embrace is tight. The girls cling to each other, and it lasts far longer than just a quick, meaningless goodbye might have.
In short, it is the single greatest image to show just how important this friendship is. To show just how far Wednesday has come and just how big of a night both girls have had.
And again, this happens after Wednesday has seen Enid as the wolf. It’s after Enid has been hurt, left, been welcomed back. They’ve seen each other at their best and at their worst, and they love each other just the same. Here, at the end of a massive battle and with everyone looking on, they “literally never had an F to give” about anything other than each other.
What I’m saying here is yes, I’m crying every time I watch this part of the Wednesday finale — and you’d better be, too.
With a little help…
All of this is not to say that the grand supernatural showdown between Wednesday and Crackstone, with all the twists and turns that get them to that point, isn’t also entertaining as hell. It most definitely is. But, again, the real power comes from the personal touches.
While the Nightshades may be averse to helping Wednesday torture Tyler at the beginning of the episode, and even get Principal Weems’ biggest source of woe expelled by trying to do the right thing, they do come through when it matters most. Not just for Wednesday as an individual — for the entire school.
“Bianca. I owe you a thank you.”
Bianca Barclay, in particular, has her chance to save the day. Without her siren power, the very part of herself she thinks of as a curse, the task of getting the other students to safety may have been much more difficult. Sometimes, we get the chance to turn our perceived weaknesses into strengths. Bianca had hers in Wednesday 1×08. And it made her the prime example of how first impressions aren’t, in the end, actually everything.
Of course, much like Wednesday Addams herself, Bianca isn’t truly alone in her heroism. She has other sirens to back her up in her efforts sing others to safety. Then, when she shows up in the middle of Wednesday’s battle with Crackstone and distracts him from behind long enough to free Wednesday for her final blow, it’s a great show of partnership between two former enemies.
To be clear, I can’t honestly describe them as former rivals since they’re still exactly that. It’s just a friendly rivalry of mutual respect now, rather than a nasty one.
The shot of Ortega and Joy Sunday on opposite sides of the battlefield, so to speak, giving each other that little nod of approval and respect, is another huge image in this finale. So, too, is the way Sunday, as Bianca, delivers her fencing challenge with the same self-assured grin viewers may have once seen as a threat, perhaps an overabundance of smugness. Now, of course, we know it’s simply confidence in her abilities and, maybe, a bit of overdoing it to convince even her biggest critic — herself.
(Or her biggest critic who matters, at least. Literally nobody cares what Gabrielle thinks, do they?)
Also of note: Even Eugene gets his chance to save the day! First, he has the key clue — the red boots — to who the real Laurel Gates is. And then, he shows up, right when he’s needed most, so his bees can take down a
Thornhill Gates out for blood. He, like every other outcast, is not to be underestimated. They all have their gifts, and they all get to use them in Wednesday 1×08.
What makes each and every single one of these kids “different” or “weird” turns out to be exactly what Nevermore needs most from them. In a world that stifles all sense of individualism and attempts to batter away all sense of non-conformity by the time many of us reach adulthood, this series — and especially its finale — for all its fantasy elements and vengeful ghosts come back to destroy a school, is exactly what we need right now.
Basically, this show demands you let your freak flag fly — because it might just be what saves your life.
More on Wednesday 1×08
- In the end, Goody was wrong. Wednesday was never destined to do it all alone.
- “When I came to Nevermore, romance was the last thing on my mind. But when you kissed me, you opened my eyes. And suddenly, it all made sense.” Wednesday played Tyler so hard with this. And he deserved it.
- “Perhaps if I hadn’t been so distracted by my own mother hogging this photo, I would’ve noticed yours.” That feeling of not measuring up to your parents is a killer.
- That intent, intense Wednesday Addams look as she’s about to torture Tyler…Classic.
- Can’t believe intentionally swiveling around in a desk chair in a certain way could make such an impact. But uh. Gwendoline Christie did that on Weems’ call with Sheriff Galpin.
- When Hunter Doohan finally leans in on Tyler’s dark side…wow. That is one sinister, evil encounter at the Sheriff’s Office. Deliciously so.
- That last argument between Wednesday and Principal Weems was yet another work of art. All that rapid-fire dialogue, that bitter smile from Christie as Weems, and Ortega’s reaction as Wednesday hearing about Weems’ disappointment…Just wow. Talk about two powerhouses upping each other’s game in the acting department at every single opportunity.
- “For someone who claims to have no friends, you certainly go out of your way to protect them.” That!
- Percy Hynes White with Xavier’s pain and rage in that dungeon scene: Just another outstanding performance, especially when you pair it with the halting apology at the end — right as Xavier and Wednesday are back on their “let’s flirt by pretending to argue” bullshit.
- “I always believed relying on people to be a sign of weakness. That inevitably, they would lead me to disappointment…Turns out I’ve been the disappointment.” I am in this dialogue.
- “Not hugging is kind of our thing.” But later!!!!!!
- “You’re a very talented young woman, Wednesday. I can’t wait to see what you do next.” All of us at Ortega right now.
- As fun as seeing Christina Ricci play a sympathetic and even reverent Thornhill opposite Ortega’s Wednesday has been, seeing these two go at it with each other in this finale was several orders of magnitude better. Wouldn’t have it any other way, either.
- And when Ricci does go full evil and drop that mask…Whew. And yeah, that part where our girl says she should’ve known…yeah.
- Weems’ death scene. Brilliant from both Christie and Ortega, as is always the case when they’re together.
- “Wednesday’s my only friend, and if she’s in trouble, I’ve got to help her! It’s hive code.” Me, crying.
- “So, you come from a line of psychotic killers, too.” Was I suppose to laugh? I did. ’90s kids, back me up.
She’sShe was an Addams. Of course.
- They went all out for the set and the effects in the big Crackstone resurrection scene. Gorgeously spooky.
- “My dear Wednesday, you are the key.” Not this Dawn Summers shit again.
- Xavier calling Galpin an asshole is literally me every time he’s on screen.
- “Silence, woman! Begone, or I will cut thy tongue from thy wretched mouth!” “Never meet your heroes.” 1) The deadpan. 2) Yeah…How did Laurel really think resurrecting a man from an even more misogynist time was gonna work out for her???
- Thing comforting an injured Enid as she’s slowly morphing back to human form…Yep. Cried there, too.
- Remember, kids: A well-rounded education is vital. Wednesday used everything, from her fencing lessons to Xavier’s (and her) archery skills, to Eugene’s beekeeping skills to save lives.
- It’s giving “no weapons, no friends, no hope…” However, it’s better for so, so many reasons.
- “I may not get to kill all the outcasts. But at least I’ll get to kill you, Wednesday.” Bigots will really take whatever they can get, huh?
- “She was one of us.” I’m sad.
- “That’s a bold move. I hope you’re not expecting me to call you.” “No. Never. I’d settle for a text, though.” I love them.
- “I know the suspense is killing you.”
As a final word:
The strong female character need not be doomed to a lonely, empty life of constant pain. She can be like Wednesday Addams, self-reliant, self-sufficient, yet still able to form some of the best friendships imaginable along the way. And she can have a family who loves her and prepares her for the biggest moments of her life from day one, too. Not can, actually. Should. Must. Always.
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