‘School Spirits’ Episode 8: Recap & Ending, Explained: What’s Going On With Mr. Martin? Is Maddie Alive?

There’s more than one way “School Spirits” benefited from not being a Netflix original. Not only did it skirt around the superbly unrelatable and queasy representation of teenagers, but it also stood a legitimate shot at being renewed for a new season. Barring just one weak episode, “School Spirits” has scarcely been a letdown with its treatment of the pivotal mystery or its all-pervading drama. But if I must emphasize the one thing that has been a rather pleasant surprise with “School Spirits,” that would be how it stands apart from all the other contemporary teen shows with its strikingly affecting range of emotions that don’t exist just for the heck of the narrative. The Paramount mystery drama is impressively tender, with the heart that is present throughout the unfolding of the titular enigma that keeps us hooked.


Spoilers Ahead

Plights Of Having An Unstable Parent

The ‘School Spirits’ finale doesn’t give away the cliffhanger episode 7 left us with. In fact, it is never forthrightly addressed, and instead, you’re given clues to draw your own conclusion, should you need it. Suspicious of practically everyone around him, looking through Maddie’s house to locate the money they suspect Sandra to have stolen comes easy to Simon. He’s entered the house under the ruse of looking for Maddie’s notebook, and he leaves the house with the envelope we’ve seen Sandra hide in Maddie’s dresser. The content of the envelope definitely isn’t what we were expecting, yet what Simon finds somehow incriminates Maddie’s mother even further. Sandra had one of the two things Maddie didn’t find on herself when she woke up as a spirit: the pendant that her father had given her. Before they can even begin to brainstorm the ways to make her mother confess to the possible crime, Maddie’s teacher hands them the opportunity to conduct their investigation on a platter.


Maddie is about to receive an award, which Simon is asked to accept on her behalf. But with Maddie’s encouragement, Simon suggests that it would only be appropriate for her mother to receive the award on account of her daughter being missing and most likely dead. Simon’s promise of helping her out with her speech gets Sandra into the English classroom to be interrogated by him. Yet when she begins getting antsy and tries to avoid being questioned, Maddie gets yanked back to a memory that sheds light on what went down between her and her mother on the day of her disappearance. Sandra only showed up at Maddie’s school to deliver the wretched news that she had exhausted the college fund her dad left behind to buy a cottage and start a new life.

Cleaning up after her dysfunctional, alcoholic mother ever since she was a kid was hard enough on Maddie. But seeing her dream of attending a good school in Chicago mindlessly butchered by her unstable mother absolutely devastated the girl, who struggled to hold on to hope in a life devoid of it. She understandably lashed out at her mother before cripplingly falling apart and throwing the necklace at her mom so she could pawn it off for a doormat for the new cottage. The crushing guilt of being a wreck of a mother the last time she saw her daughter made it impossible for Sandra to ever speak up about it. In grief’s chokehold, miserable Sandra tries to do justice to Maddie’s memory at the award ceremony and speaks of the abundance of kindness that her daughter was capable of. But that isn’t a burden of benevolence anyone should have to bear, let alone a teenager. There’s a line where the goodness ends, and emotional exploitation begins. Sandra may not have physically murdered Maddie, but she died every single day living with a mother who made it a point to wreck her life.


Wolf Dressed In Sheep’s Clothing

What do we even know about Mr. Martin? He’s seemingly helpful, maybe a bit too much for it to come off as sincere. He apparently wants to help all the poor, miserable spirits stuck in Split River High. Although how insistent he is about moving forward instead of looking for closure does seem rather odd. Most importantly, we only learn of the circumstances of his death when the frustrated spirits voice their concerns about the method he compulsively preaches. Why not look back if the past holds all the reconciling truths?

What Mr. Martin elaborates during his meltdown may sound like a simple case of emotional projection, but it certainly runs deeper than that. So, it looks like Mr. Martin was the chemistry teacher who valiantly saved his students from a fire in the lab but could not save himself. His story doesn’t sound all that convincing to Charley and Wally, as they’re understandably wondering why he doesn’t consider himself a hero for saving the lives of students who were sure to die in the fire. They also can’t wrap their minds around why Janet’s cross-over didn’t result in the same effect as Dawn’s. Looking through the old school computer, Wally stumbles on to records going back to the 60s and unearths a consequential part of the truth that Mr. Martin very conveniently left out. He claims to have been the only victim of the fire, when in truth, Janet was a student who also died in that chem-lab accident. Mr. Martin is clearly letting on far less than the true extent of what he knows about the ethereal happenings at the school. There’s no way Charley and Wally can let it go now that their spiritual (literally) guide for the last 60 years has turned out to be a fraudster. 


New Place To Stake Out

Nicole is right in not wanting to disclose her involvement to the police without any proof that points out the real culprit. Xavier may have Mr. South’s best interest at heart, but Nicole throwing herself under the bus would do nothing to help the poor guy. Going to the station to talk some sense into his dad gets Xavier nowhere with the town sheriff. But something good does come out of the visit when Xavier steals the intel his dad has just gotten and decides to check the place out with Nicole and Claire. When bickering outside the abandoned house gets to be too much for the three to bear, Nicole and Xavier throw caution to the wind and settle on inspecting the house by themselves while Claire stands guard.

Rising above the heebie-jeebies the creepy house is giving her gets to be too much for Nicole, but before she can call it a day, she comes across a makeshift living situation a squatter has left behind. Claire sees a hooded person make their way into the house, and she runs out to caution her friends. This looks to be the same person who was following Simon and Nicole when they were trying to dig up the cash. Before Xavier can jump the squatter, they make a run for it and get in the van. Claire made the mistake of leaving the key in the van, giving the perp the perfect escape vehicle, which they almost ran over Xavier with before driving off. While Claire tends to the unconscious Xavier, Nicole chooses to do what she does best. She records a video that is likely to change everything they thought they knew about Maddie’s disappearance. 

‘School Spirits’ Episode 8: Ending Explained – What’s Going On With Mr. Martin? Is Maddie Alive?

Finding out about the truth of Janet’s death only compels Charley and Wally to poke and prod further into Mr. Martin’s history. They find out that the school took part in the National Pilot Programme to protect the students from nuclear threats, and that is when the fallout shelter was built in the same space that used to be Mr. Martin’s chemistry lab. When they look through the storage racks in the shelter, Charley notices an unusual pattern in the dust and realizes that the boxes have been moved. What they find behind the box makes a siren go off in their minds. Mr. Martin has been treating them like lab rats and noting down every little detail about them in multiple files. Shocking the two, Rhonda walks into the room and leads them to a barrel that contains eerie objects stored by Mr. Martin. He has been holding on to the traces of each of the spirits’ deaths for a reason that is not yet clear to the three of them. Before they can think up what to do with the evidence they’ve gathered against Mr. Martin, someone, most likely the man himself, locks them in the fallout shelter. This proposes even more questions only the 2nd season will be able to answer. How can spirits be contained in a room? It’s possible that Mr. Martin’s experiment has aided him in figuring out a way to control the movements of the spirits of Split River High. 

Sometimes being unpredictable is being so darn obvious that the audience gaslights themselves into believing it can’t be true. And that is exactly how ‘School Spirit’ has strung us along all this time to unmask to us the very truth we were wary of speculating. Hearing the affecting speech by her mother somewhat quietens the turmoil in Maddie. For a girl who has always only given and barely gotten anything in return, a friend like Simon, who never really wanted anything from her, was a breath of fresh air. He was also the reminder that she didn’t exist to serve, and her worth wasn’t rooted in what she could do for others. So, the obituary that Maddie writes is practically a letter appreciating Simon and acknowledging what a great friend he has been to her in life and beyond. But the acknowledgment comes a bit too late. The video Simon gets from Nicole makes him believe that he has lost his mind.


The hooded squatter who hurt Xavier was Maddie herself. Now that he knows that Maddie isn’t dead, Simon is convinced that Maddie’s spirit is a fragment of his imagination that he created to cope with the absence of his best friend. Ignoring all of Maddie’s screams, Simon rushes out, losing his mind over the possibility that he has already lost his mind. Running after him only takes Maddie to the school’s threshold and right back to the boiler room, which triggers the most consequential memory that sheds light on the entire ordeal for her and for us. Now that she’s hearing her spirit friends bang on the door of the fallout shelter to be freed, she’s taken back to the day of her disappearance. After Sandra had left her on that day, Maddie heard two voices in the shelter arguing and heard a man’s voice (whom we recognize to be Mr. Martin) address the other one as “Janet.” When she opened the door, Janet’s spirit went into her with the force of a full-throttle train. If you ask me, my speculation would be that Maddie’s spirit was pushed out of her own body when Janet’s spirit entered it. Since then, Maddie has been stuck in the halls of Split River High, believing that she’s dead, while Janet has been out there hitching a ride in Maddie’s body. As we see Janet booking a bus ticket, we know that she most certainly has no desire to come back and help out the poor girl whose body she has stolen.

What Do We Expect From Season 2 Of ‘School Spirits’?

Season 1 of Paramount’s teen mystery drama has characteristically left us with way too many questions; we are bound to come back to find the answers. Season 2 will likely reveal the real monstrosity behind the benevolent facade of Mr. Martin. It would also be interesting to know how “alive” Maddie was able to see and hear Mr. Martin and Janet’s spirits arguing in the fallout shelter. Was it the same loophole that allowed Simon to talk to Maddie’s spirit? After Simon inevitably comes around, the friends can be expected to hunt down Janet and make her give up Maddie’s body so that she can be alive again. But it wouldn’t be easy. And it would certainly not happen before Maddie could help her spirit friends solve the mystery of Mr. Martin’s sketchy behavior.


Lopamudra Mukherjee
Lopamudra Mukherjeehttps://muckrack.com/lopamudra-mukherjee
Lopamudra nerds out about baking whenever she’s not busy looking for new additions to the horror genre. Nothing makes her happier than finding a long-running show with characters that embrace her as their own. Writing has become the perfect mode of communicating all that she feels for the loving world of motion pictures.

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