School Spirits Review: Episode 1×06 “Grave The Last Dance”

By Sara Ashton

Contains spoilers for episode 6.

Episode 6 begins with ‘Operation Claire’ still in swing. Claire accepts Xavier’s homecoming invitation – it seems very tense as Claire replies to his message. But it’s a good job, for the plan to be in full swing and setting the episode up on its legs in anticipation of an obvious homecoming episode.

There is a scene between Rhonda and Maddie, the characters talk to one another and Peyton List and Sarah Yarkin play these characters well, where underneath their exteriors there seems to be some softness and they almost seem to be bonding as the show progresses. Good thing, right? 

Charley and Maddie converse about the letter he’s been working on for Emilio, but as this has been continuing for a few episodes it is evidently a challenge for the spirit. Nick Pugliese plays the tormented, lovelorn spirit with enthusiasm and regret as he is very clearly still torn up on the past though there is nothing he can do about it. 

Forgiveness is a key theme, as that is what he seeks. 

Simon and Nicole discuss Claire as a suspect, but in an urgent moment Nicole tells Simon “it doesn’t matter who took the video” of Claire arguing with Anderson. This itself is seemingly suspicious, as she is so desperate to emphasise the fact that it doesn’t matter who recorded them in the parking lot that day. 

It is a painful watch when Simon has to act as though Maddie is still alive in front of her mom. This is a heart wrenching watch as everyone is full of hope, though Simon is subject to the truth.

Wally and Maddie attend homecoming together (we spotted that a mile away!) and the ghostly couple exchange creative gifts – and lets not forget to mention how they travel in style with a golf cart.

As the episode continues, Claire questions Xavier’s dad, the sheriff as she picks Xavier up for homecoming. She is quick to make her way back onto the suspect list as she’s seemingly so interested in the events going on related to Maddie’s case. 

Meanwhile, Simon has a bright idea for some ‘psychological torture’ whilst attending the dance. He takes a photo of Maddie to display at the dance in hopes of making a guilty individual come forward and admit their crimes.

Claire and Xavier travel to homecoming, and she warns him about her cheerleader friends and how they might ‘act shady’ towards him. The way she pulls over to talk to him about this is shady in itself, he is clearly worried when she does so. 

Back at the dance – Maddie and Wally share a few sweet moments. The chemistry between the characters is undeniable, but she cannot help being distracted by her very much alive ex boyfriend and suspected killer.

Maddie’s mom, Sandra is home alone and hears some activity in her yard. It begs the question, what exactly is going on around here? 

Good news finally! 

Emilio finally receives the letter Charley wrote with help from Maddie and Simon. It is a sweet moment as Simon tells Emilio he found it in a library book, no doubt adding to the nostalgia as he reads it in an emotional scene where Charley watches his reaction. It is an emotional scene especially when you realise poor Charley can do nothing to comfort Emilio – but at least the truth is out and feelings are being laid bare.

Claire finally leaves the suspect list in a tense scene where Xavier takes Claire down to the fallout shelter in hopes to get the truth out of here. She reveals that she figured out Anderson was dealing and bribed him, wanting to get good grades. She admits she tries to manipulate him for her own gain – but it all got caught on video. Anderson got rid of Maddie’s phone for that reason. 

But there is no telling for certain that no one is no longer a suspect, especially in this show with so much suspense.

Finally – a breakthrough as a possible murder weapon is found and the school janitor Mr South is now a main suspect…. Seems odd.

The episode concludes with a cliffhanger as always. Nicole is digging, which is definitely not suspicious at all. It is almost too obvious that she could be hiding some sort of evidence which is emotional as she was with Maddie’s mom when the sheriff told her about a murder weapon, and not long after this we see her digging? Shady behaviour from Nicole. She was on the suspect list last week, and now she’s at the top for sure.

However, with this show you never really know what to expect as it is full of twists and turns. Another great episode and things are finally progressing, we can only anticipate the next episode and what it might bring!

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School Spirits Review: Episode 1×05 “The Twilight End Zone”

By Sara Ashton

Contains spoilers for episode 5.

These characters are coming into their own in this episode as more backstories are revealed, even the dead ones.

This episode follows directly on from the cliffhanger with Claire, and the same question is on everybody’s lips… what was she doing having her teacher’s phone number? Rainbow Wedell plays this character with a gripping intensity that keeps the audience wondering whether Claire is guilty of having something to do with what happened to Maddie, or was it something else?

It is a treat to revisit the dead club as they have a groupchat, all while decorating for some event which seemed unfamiliar to begin with. But the banter between these dead friends.. Or acquaintances are a great addition to the show which mostly engages in heavy storylines, so it is good to have their banter, even in death which breaks it up a bit.

We then learn that Claire and Maddie were neighbours growing up, and not is all that it seems. They appear to share similar backstories, however Maddie appears to have pushed Claire away and clearly regrets it.

Maddie’s backpack also gets found, which adds more mystery to this tale. Who has her backpack? The killer? Was it found somewhere and ended up in this house which Xavier knows? 

Simon and Nicole do clash heads in this episode over their differences, but ultimately they want the same thing – to discover what happened to Maddie – despite Xavier. These teens should put all that behind them in her name, in my opinion. 

We then learn that the reason the dead friend group – who I once likened to The Breakfast Club – are celebrating, or honouring the anniversary of Wally’s death. It seems tradition for these dead souls, but I suppose they have nothing better to do!

Maddie’s mom shows up again in this episode, and is sober. This is a rare sighting for the teen which results in some contemplating moments for her. Peyton List plays into the emotional vulnerability with poignance. She wishes to put her investigation on hold for her mom, if it means she gets to remain sober.

Claire and Anderson also buttheads in this episode. Yes – there’s a lot going on. Prior to this, Simon discovered Claire was receiving straight As on her essay in class but kept turning in exactly the same paper supposedly for different books. Everything between these two keeps getting more and more shady, even as the seconds go by at this point.

Claire seems hung up on asking Anderson whether he mentioned her when he spoke to the police – why? It almost seems too obvious that Claire would be the one who sent Maddie to an early grave. I have a small suspicion there is more going on between these two characters than we realise, especially when a video surfaces of Anderson and Claire arguing in what appears to be the school parking lot. The video had to be recorded by someone, right? Perhaps it was Maddie? Who knows.

This episode also proved that even ghosts have their demons… 

Maddie and Wally open up to one another in an emotional exchange where they discuss their moms. Even in death, Wally seems to be stuck in a rut regarding what his mom wanted for him. This results in emotional exchanges and truthful moments between these characters as List and Manheim channel this emotional, charged energy.

Rainbow Wendell | Photo by Ken Kwok/Paramount

Simon hatches a plan to attempt to uncover the truth about Claire – his idea being Xavier asking Claire to the homecoming dance, even when Xavier is in her bad books… Good idea? We shall see. Will the cheerleader crack? Time will tell. 

Maddie revisits the place where she woke up, down in the basement of the school. She and Simon discover a fallout shelter – being able to converse down there meaning someone had to die in that specific place for this to have occurred…

On the surface, Nicole is exchanging words with Maddie’s mom. Nicole seems to be very on edge as she opens her car to put something into the trunk. Maybe I’m just on edge and am reading too much into things? But she has officially made it onto my suspect list. Kiara Pichardo does a great job at projecting some kind of urgency from this character, it appears uncomfortable – perhaps she is hiding a secret? 

Another standout from this episode is Rhonda’s desperation to crossover from the dead club to find peace. And who can blame her? I’m sure as the episodes progress, she will either get what she wants or we shall see her tough exterior soften as a result of Maddie. These ghosts are sure to work together at some point or other! Maybe we will see them at homecoming if we’re lucky?

As far as episodes go, this was a slower one but things did pick up midway through.

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