We begin In Media Res…
…with Wirt, Greg, Beatrice and Fred the horse having dinner with the fabulously wealthy and utterly batshit insane tea mogul Quincy Endicott who thinks that Wirt and Greg are his nephews. And he thinks that because…Beatrice has straight up told him that they are because she wants his money.
Wirt is aghast that Beatrice wants to scam this sweet old man and Beatrice explains that she was actually thinking of just straight up robbing him.
Beatrice says that they’ve already stolen a horse and are now way too deep into their life of crime to stop now. But Wirt counters that Fred cannot be stolen as he is a sentient being with inalienable rights, free to do whatever he wants. Fred says that he wants to rob the old man because free will is a double edged sword and the freedom to choose by definition means the freedom to choose the wrong action. And then Beatrice says that they only need to steal two cents from Quincy to pay their boat fare to Adelaide’s house. Which raises another ethical question as to whether it’s ever right to rob an old man even if you have a pressing need, he’s fabulously wealthy and the amount you’re stealing is so miniscule that losing it would not impact him in any meaningful way.
We are two minutes into this cartoon and already I feel like I’ve learned more about ethics than I did during two semesters of Philosophy.
Anyway, the boys notice that Endicott seems a bit jumpy and he confides in them that he believes the mansion is haunted by the ghost of a beautiful woman who entrances and terrifies him in equal measure. Greg, his uncle’s nephew in soul if not in blood, insists that he and Fred go with Endicott to look for the ghost. This leaves Beatrice and Wirt to search the manor for two cents where they get locked in an armoire. While trying to escape Beatrice lets slip that she used to be a human being. She tells Wirt that she threw a rock at a bluebird who cursed her and her entire family, who are now all bluebirds. She says that she was going to visit Adelaide to ask her to change her family back into human beings but sadly says “that was the plan”. Now it’s Wirt’s turn to reveal a secret so he admits that he has a crush on a girl in his school, that he secretly recites poetry to himself at night and that he plays, get this, the clarinet.
Beatrice is understandably pissed that she traded away her story of revenge and black magic for Wirt’s asinine teenage bullshit. But she tells Wirt that that’s all normal and nothing to be ashamed about. They find a secret passage out of the armoire and find themselves in a different part of the mansion that seems strangely at odds with the rest of the house. Or, as Wirt puts it “it’s French rococco style which doesn’t really seem in line with Endicott’s Georgian sensibilities”.
This leads Wirt to deduce who Endicott’s ghost really is…
Meanwhile, Endicott, Greg and Fred arrive at the room where Endicott claims he saw the ghost. They don’t see no ghost, but they do see signs of a struggle which leads Fred to accuse Endicott of MURDER.
Fortunately, before the cartoon devolves into a brutal man on horse fight to the death, the ghost appears and she and Endicott both faint at the sight of each other.
When Endicott comes to, Wirt has arrives and he explains the mystery like a little pointy Hercule Poirot. Endicott’s house had grown so large that it merged with the mansion of his competitor, Madame Margueritte Grey, and he had accidentally wandered into her home. The two fall instantly in love and the couple bid Wirt, Greg and Beatrice a fond farewell. Fred, having become disillusioned with his life of crime, stays behind to become a tea horse for Endicott.
To thank the boys, Quincy and Margueritte each give Greg a penny, saying that’s a fine boy with good sense. Beatrice and Wirt are delighted because they now have the fare to get to Adelaide’s, until Greg throws both cents into a pond saying solemnly “Uncle Endicott had me pegged all wrong. I got no cents. no cents at all.”
How was it?: Probably the flat out funniest episode of the whole series but also pretty important in terms of lore. For the first time we see Beatrice treat the boys as anything other than a nuisance. In particular, she seems to have a lot more respect for Wirt, which creates nice continuity with the events of last episode. Some pretty important lore is revealed here too, like Beatrice’s back story. We also get the first references to Wirt’s crush on Sara which will be important later on. T
Holy Crap, that sounds like…: JOHN MOTHERFUCKING CLEESE THAT’S WHO IT SOUNDS LIKE. Giving, and I’m not even being a little hyperbolic here, probably the best performance he’s given in anything in the last forty years (which is simultaneously impressive, and also kinda not).
Regardless. Every single line he has in this is just phenomenal.
Can I see some references?: Easing up on the Americana for this one and instead drawing on British children’s literature. Endicott has elements of both Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Mad Hatter and the armoire leading to an unexpected place has a touch of the Chronicles of Narnia.
This frog’s name is: Still Wirt Junior. I swear I remember this frog having more names.