In the first four episodes of Netflix’s newest teen series Wednesday, things were looking grim for the students of Nevermore Academy. A deranged monster was on the loose, killing innocent people and harvesting their limbs and organs. An ancient prophecy foretold that a certain pigtailed teenager would bring about the school’s destruction. And, perhaps most horrifying of all, Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) was being assaulted on all sides by attention, affection, and overtures of friendship. These last four episodes uncover new facets of existing mysteries, narrowing down suspects while introducing the Gates, a fanatically anti-outcast family who supposedly died out decades ago. There’s also the menacing presence of Joseph Crackstone, the town’s sinister founder whose grudge against the Addams goes back centuries. As the series wraps up, the Gates family takes center stage, especially Garrett, a rival to Gomez for Morticia’s affections who paid the price with his life, and his sister Laurel, who is said to have disappeared overseas.
Facing constant interference by Sheriff Galpin (Jamie McShane) and Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie), Wednesday goes into full Harriet the Spy mode to gather clues and fit the puzzle pieces together. What follows is a fair amount of misdirection and subterfuge, as well as some standard breaking-and-entering and even a bit of light torture, as a treat. The twists are unnecessarily convoluted and Wednesday’s disposition makes Margaret Thatcher look like Mrs. Clause, but only a truly heartless bastard would be unmoved by Tyler’s date night — a cozy crypt picnic and screening of the renowned horror classic Legally Blonde.
In between subterfuge, back-channeling, and, presumably, attending class, directors James Marshall and Gandja Monteiro also make a point to develop Wednesday’s relationships and emotional growth. Even though the only person (or appendage) she truly loves is Thing (magician and illusionist Victor Dorobantu), others manage to creep, like needles, under her skin. There’s Enid (Emma Myers), her pastel-obsessed werewolf roommate, whose overbearing and judgmental mother wants to ship her off to “lycanthropy conversion camp”. Tyler (Hunter Doohan), a normie barista with ulterior motives, is dealing with the death of his own mother and his father’s pointed refusal to acknowledge the tragedy. Two characters who could use more backstory are Xavier (Percy Hynes White), an artist who always seems to show up at the most inopportune moments, and Bianca (Joy Sunday), a siren with a less-than-glamorous past. After steadily pushing away her would-be friends, Wednesday then manipulates them into helping her uncover the truth, heartlessly telling Enid they’re on a girls night and Tyler that they’re on a date. When they snap, it’s almost refreshing to see Wednesday finally experience the consequences of her antisocial actions.
But in order to prevent the prophecy from coming true, Wednesday must learn to play nice with others. She might be more ghoul than girl, but that doesn’t stop the fangs, furs, sirens, and stoners (and a very loyal beekeeper) from rallying to her side when she needs it most. The “teamwork makes the dreamwork” lessons aren’t subtle, and neither is the often cringey dialogue, but a second season is probably inevitable given the show’s bona fides and Ortega’s charisma. Nevermore lives to see another day — let’s hope it’s a stormy one.
You can currently stream Wednesday on Netflix.