‘School Spirits’ Episode 1: Recap & Ending, Explained: Why Did Xavier Take Maddie’s Phone? Can Simon See Her?


When we were told that “School Spirits” was going to be a series where a high school student’s ghost investigates her own murder, we had a couple of thoughts. The first was ‘good, another high school drama.’ The second thought was, “Good, another teen investigation,” and finally, “Good, these two things are coming together’. It is up to the audience to interpret our emotions as sarcasm or excitement because even we are not sure about it. Therefore, we will keep our pessimism in check and speak strictly about “School Spirits” Episode 1 for now. It was well-paced and engaging. It is too soon to say whether anything stood out for us since it was only the first episode. But we did read a joke today about how, if Gen Z really wants to bring back 90s fashion, they should overpluck their eyebrows. The memory of this joke made us pay special attention to the ghosts from the 90s, and we were mildly annoyed that their eyebrows looked fine. And when we noticed that the ghosts from the 1970s and 1990s were dressed just like the kids from the time the series is set in, we laughed at the unintentional accuracy. It was a good episode, and we are approaching it cautiously to see whether the rest of the series will hold up to our opinion of it.

Spoilers Ahead

The Investigation Of Madison Nears’ Disappearance

As the ghost of Madison Nears looks on, she sees Split Rivers High School’s principal talking about what a tough few days it has been for everyone since she disappeared. Two girls in the audience discuss how some blood was found in the boiler room and that she likely didn’t have her phone. Claire, another cheerleader, asks them to keep quiet, and the principal asks the girls to perform their routine once he is finished talking about Maddie’s disappearance. It is certainly in bad taste. Maddie meets Charlie, another ghost who has been in the school since the 1990s, and he tries to help her adjust to the afterlife. He takes her to a support group for ghosts hosted by Mr. Martin, though Maddie is more weirded out by it all than anything else. But she is not alone in being surprised at the situation since she is the only ghost who doesn’t know how she died. She skips the session to see what is going on in the school.

We would think that there is certainly something wrong with Split Rivers High School. Too many people have died here. There is Rhonda, who was murdered by her guidance counselor; Charlie, who died due to an allergy; a whole band that was killed due to a storm; and then there is Dawn, who acts like Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter. While assimilating this information about a world within her school, Maddie remembers that she had caught her boyfriend, Xavier skipping class in his truck. When asked about it, he had said that he was simply skipping class and smoking some marijuana, though Maddie hadn’t been convinced by it. In the present day, Maddie watches Xavier walk to class. Maddie’s disappearance has been taken in an odd way.

On one hand, her friends Nicole and Simon are completely distraught over it, whereas, on the other, somebody wrote “dog” on her poster. In the classroom, Simon lets out his anger at nobody for having signed the volunteer sheet for her search party and questions Xavier about why he did not put his name down. In the fight that ensues, Maddie’s phone comes out of Xavier’s backpack, which immediately puts him in a suspicious light. Maddie believes that he might have a reason for it and is still stuck on how to solve the mystery of her death since she doesn’t remember a lot of what happened before, but the ghosts around her are constantly pushing her to move on. Charlie tries to help her again, but looking at people in a shower room is his lecherous revenge for the bullying he had to face, and that has no effect on Maddie except to make her face foundation look uncomfortable due to the steam.

But she also meets a nice ghost, Wally, and all we can say is that he is a true sportsman who doesn’t stop playing even in the afterlife. If you know, you know. That is when Maddie gets another flashback, where she was talking to Xavier in class, and he canceled the plans they had. When she wasn’t looking, he took her phone out of her backpack. Maddie remembers that she came into the afterlife without her backpack or her necklace—odd things to go missing. When Maddie sees Simon and Xavier get into a fight, she decides to take matters into her own hands and asks the support group if they can scare a confession out of someone. But they insist that they cannot work that way and try to talk to her about the benefits of therapy. While we agree with everything they say, we think they have lost all sense of timing if they think it is okay to say that to someone who was likely murdered just days before and remembers nothing about it. Maddie stomps out in anger and tries to leave the school but finds herself coming back again and again to the boiler room. Fed up and seeing no other option in front of her, she goes back to the support group, where they welcome her, with Rhonda’s story giving her some perspective.

‘School Spirits’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Why Does Xavier Take Maddie’s Phone? Can Simon See Her?

A vigil is held for Maddie, and her mother has been invited to it. She says that Maddie would have been embarrassed to see her there, but right now, Maddie is completely grief-stricken upon seeing the state of her mother. She is not able to say more and gets off the microphone. The teachers tell the students to pick a candle each, for the vigil. Meanwhile, the police ask Xavier why he had Maddie’s phone, and he tells them that he had been cheating on Maddie with Claire. When she had caught him in his truck, he had been waiting for Claire, and he had texted her not to come but accidentally sent the text to Maddie. She had not seen the text because her battery died, and Xavier knew she was unaware of it by looking at the read receipts. When he stole her phone, it was to erase evidence of his cheating. Unfortunately, Maddie hears everything. It is an awkward situation for heartbreak.

As for Simon, he apologizes to his teacher for creating a scene before and tells her that something bad has happened to Maddie, as she is just not the kind of person who would disappear like that. The teacher assures him that everything will be okay and leaves. A tearful Simon looks out the window, with an equally sad Maddie standing next to him and thanking him for taking a stand for her, which is when he seemingly becomes aware of her presence and takes her name. It looks like he has actually seen her. There might be a theory of two spirits sensing each other through grief or love, but it could also be that Simon saw something of Maddie instead of her.

Final Thoughts

As we said before, there isn’t much here except a good pace. But we believe it is time to do away with the trope of the lecherous ghost. It is just not funny and feels very violative. Additionally, as much as we appreciate the angle of therapy for ghosts, we are worried that it might be used more for comedic effects than anything else. We are not against making fun of anything, but we would be disappointed if its effects were downplayed because we can see why a floating, dissatisfied spirit would need to talk about their innermost feelings with someone. We just have to watch more episodes to make up our minds about “School Spirits.”

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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