It’s a good feeling to have my hunch validated by a show I started with scant optimism. It feels even better that my serendipitous mention of ‘One Tree Hill’ on the first recap of “School Spirits” has turned out to be not much of a reach after all. Perhaps the saving grace of the show is that its makers aren’t oblivious to its flaws. What makes me really hold out hope for it, however, are the very perceptible notes of refinement peppered around for us to pick up on. Episode 5 has a hold on my heart with the very thing that has convinced me to keep the fire alight for the genre despite being burned way too many times: the bonds forged in the age of the most impact. Of course, adolescence itself is ironic for a group of characters who have been forsaken by life. But the existential optimism, albeit absurd in the case of a bunch of spirits, may as well be taken as the bizarre yet alleviating reassurance that it’s never too late for personal growth.
What Do We Find Out About Claire’s Involvement In Maddie’s Disappearance?
The jarring ending of episode 4 chases Claire through the grimy alleys of her guilt and stops as we see her waiting on her partner in crime, Mr. Anderson. It’s unlikely that Claire would go about her merry day as soon as Mr. Anderson admits to keeping mum about the part she has played in the crime he was arrested for. Claire’s state of mind is strained, and understandably so when it is she who has the bulk of the losses to bear if her crimes ever were to see the light of day. Facing Claire’s homecoming stall, Maddie and Simon contemplate the possible motives the dicey girl may have had to kill her former friend. We get a peek at what it was like when Maddie and Claire were younger, having only each other in the overwhelming darkness of the tumultuous ocean they were braving. It wasn’t just Maddie who was mired down to a life made stormy by her alcoholic mother. Living with parents who had their claws out more often than not wasn’t easy on little Claire either.
Turning a disturbed Claire away at the door was the last time Maddie had heard from her, until a year later when she came back to start off middle school. Claire’s mother had remarried, this time to a rich guy who makes gigantic donations to the school. It’s Claire’s father’s money that Mr. Anderson stole, and that gives Claire the confidence that she needs to ask the principal about any other person’s involvement with Mr. Anderson. Claire’s query is born out of her own anxiety about the world seeing her grisly truth. Simon manipulates the janitor into giving him access to Mr. Anderson’s room, only to learn that Claire has been getting straight As for basically repurposing the same essay for all the topics. Claire may be blind to how close Maddie and Simon are getting to unveiling her crimes, but she’s not unaware of the looming possibility of her secret coming out for the world to see and point at.
Why Is Maddie Reluctant To Continue The Investigation?
Doting for Xavier is hard on Simon even though Nicole is vouching for him, especially in light of the sensibility Xavier is showering Maddie’s mother with. The cops have scoured the locale and found Maddie’s backpack along with the signs of a squatter in a deserted house that belongs to Claire’s family. Unlike Nicole, Xavier isn’t holding out hope for Maddie’s safe return. And even then, he finds it kinder not to blow out the light when Maddie’s mother gets herself hyped up, dreaming about the day she will see her daughter again. When she pays the teacher a visit to collect the schoolwork Maddie has fallen behind on, Maddie sees a rare side of her mom, who has gotten her act cleaned up to be a good mother for when her daughter comes back. Keeping the porch light on for Maddie is how her mom is summoning the strength to hold on to her sobriety. If she got to know that her daughter wasn’t alive, there would be nothing holding her back from drowning in a sea of self-destruction again. That’s not something that Maddie can ever forgive herself for. So she chooses a path of sacrifice once again to allow her mother the peaceful denial that can help her live a better life.
As the spirits come together to celebrate Wally’s glory days of football that ended on the field during a homecoming game, Rhonda makes good on her pledge of doing whatever it takes to be granted a chance to cross over. Conjuring his golden-retriever energy even in the afterlife, Wally is practically walking on a trampoline every step of the way as his death anniversary, and the coveted football game nears. And even more than the game, Wally is counting the seconds to see his mother, who had kept up the tradition of cheering on the Bandits who used to go by “Devils,” when her son was the star of the team. Out of the love he still holds in his ghostly heart for his mother, Wally puts on the jersey that she loved to see him in oh so much and sits by her side in the seat he believes that his mother reserves for him every year. As the crowd screams their lungs out for the bandits, Maddie’s teary eyes see her mother handing out flyers to the people entering the stadium.
‘School Spirits’ Episode 5: Ending Explained – Why Does Maddie Change Her Mind About Her Murder Investigation?
If there’s one thing Maddie is well accustomed to, it is the hold a dysfunctional parent can have over their kid. In her case, even navigating the afterlife isn’t free of the weight of taking care of her mother, hovering over her every step of the way. She doesn’t mean to project her own issues with her mom on Wally when she inquires about the reason why he’s still so fascinated with the homecoming football game. What starts off as two unlikely friends having a chat transforms into a safe space for Wally to open up. He didn’t inherit his mother’s love for the game. What made him join the team and give the game his heart and soul was his love for his mother and his desire to make her happy. In a world that helms parents as heavenly beings with halos over them, the sacrifices of the children that would do just about anything to make their parents proud often get dismissed or taken for granted.
Wanting to appease his overambitious mother, Wally got back on the field even when the coach benched him for his weak knees. That was the last time Wally ever played, for pleasing his mother came at a fatal cost. Maddie gets through to Wally when she reassures him that it’s alright for him to let go now. He has nothing left to prove anymore. Wally’s death may not have directly resulted from his mother’s dreams of her son playing on the state’s team, but just the fact that Wally still holds on to a game that he never really had any love for is proof of just how badly he wanted to make his mother happy. Unbeknownst to his mother, Wally takes off his jersey and bids goodbye to the part of his life that never brought him any true happiness. Just as she sees the enlightenment that she has been able to pass on to Wally, Maddie’s heart breaks to see the desolate look on her mother’s face when the crowd starts clearing. They stand face to face, and Maddie longs to be certain that her mother can’t see her. And when the morose realization hits her, Maddie comes to accept that protecting her mother from the truth will only make her live in a delusion that is bound to get more agonizing with time. If she wants to give her mother a real shot at figuring her way out of the grief, Maddie has to find out what really happened to her.
Nicole, Simon, and Xavier have just received a video text from an unknown source. The video incriminates Claire for being in cahoots with Mr. Anderson and threatening him with jail time for stealing her family’s money if he doesn’t give her straight A-s. While Nicole and Xavier can’t make heads or tails of what to do with the video, Maddie has hatched a plan to entrap Claire once and for all. Simon plays the mouthpiece, and Maddie comes up with a text for Xavier to write to Claire, seeking her forgiveness and asking her to the homecoming dance. The tears flowing down Maddie’s face are telling of the pain she feels as she makes Xavier type the words she wishes he had said to her instead of Claire. On her way back, Maddie runs into Wally, who has summoned enough courage to ask her to the homecoming dance. With Maddie saying yes to Wally, we’re possibly seeing the dawn of a sweet ghostly romance that I’ve been holding out hope for. Something clicks in Simon, and he hauls Maddie to the janitor’s room.
When Simon was down there to ask for the keys to Mr. Anderson’s room, the janitor was watching a video on his phone that Simon now suspects was the same video that was sent to them. But the real video that the janitor is reluctant to show him is of the site of Maddie’s murder, vandalized with slurs by kids. Maddie and Simon notice a door to an old panic room that has been seemingly untouched since the Cold War. But just the fact that Simon can still see Maddie in the room is proof that the room holds memories of death(s). Through that room, the two discover another door leading to a gloomy passage, through which Simon believes that Claire had dragged Maddie’s corpse. Simon’s determined suspicion of Claire is turning out to be shadier than he hoped it would come off as. Is it possible that Simon was involved in Maddie’s murder? That would explain why he is the only one who can see her when none of the other spirits have ever been able to be visible to anyone.