School Spirits (Season 1), Episode 1: The new drama series “School Spirits” on Paramount+ follows a young adult in the afterlife, struggling to recall the events leading up to her death. With themes of grief, teenage drama, paranormal activity, and depression, the show’s premise is familiar yet intriguing. The series was created by Nate and Megan Trinrud and produced by Awesomeness Studio and Paramount Television Studios. Each of the eight episodes has a runtime of 45-50 minutes, allowing for ample character development and exploration of the complex layers of teenage life.
Despite its slow pace, Episode 1 of “School Spirits” remains engaging as it transports us through different periods, showing how each generation, whether from the 60s, 90s, or more recent times, struggles with the same issue: fitting in. The episode is a compelling exploration of this universal theme and succeeds in drawing the viewer in.
The plot of the Young Adult TV series follows Maddie, a teenage girl trapped in the afterlife, who finds herself investigating her unexplained disappearance. As she adjusts to her new existence, she embarks on a journey to unravel the mystery behind her vanishing. However, the closer she gets to the truth, the more she uncovers secrets and lies. Maddie must navigate through the murky waters of the afterlife while piecing together the clues that could solve the case of her disappearance.
In the following article, I have detailed everything significant that takes place in the episode, with an added dive into how it ends. Spoiler Alert kindly read at your discretion.
School Spirits (Season 1), Episode 1 Recap:
A tense girl is trying to focus on the school meeting led by the principal, who draws everyone’s attention to the latest event. The Split River Police are considering a missing person investigation. Still, as the principal continues talking, the girl notices that none of her fellow students seem to care about the missing person or even know the person’s name. Meanwhile, conversations among the students reveal that the missing person’s name is Maddie Nears, and her blood was found in the boiler room. It is suspected that she did not have her phone when she disappeared. As the girl continues to observe the reactions of those around her, we realize that the missing person is the same girl sitting on the podium of the assembly hall.
After her disappearance, Maddie encounters Charlie, a fellow ghost haunting the school since the 90s. Despite his attempts to make her feel at ease in the afterlife, Maddie is unhappy with her new situation. Charlie shows her around the school and introduces her to the support group for deceased individuals led by another ghost named Mr. Martin. However, Maddie finds the whole experience unsettling, particularly as she doesn’t know how she died. When the other support group members react with surprise to her ignorance, Maddie decides to leave and find out what is really going on at the school.
Split Rivers High School is home to many ghosts; numerous students and faculty members have passed away over the years. Maddie learns about several of them during her time in the support group. Rhonda, for instance, was murdered by her guidance counselor, while Charlie suffered a fatal allergic reaction. Even a musical band died in a storm, and they are said to still practice their performance in a ghostly circle.
Maddie also discovers the story of Dawn, a girl who died in the 60s, possibly due to a bad acid trip. As she tries to piece together her situation, Maddie remembers an encounter with her boyfriend, Xavier, whom she caught smoking pot instead of attending class. In the present day, Xavier is seen walking toward his class, looking worse. Despite the many ghosts haunting Split Rivers High School, Maddie is determined to discover the truth about her untimely demise.
Nicole and Sam, who are Maddie’s closest friends, are visibly upset by Maddie’s sudden disappearance, while other students seem unaffected. A disturbing incident occurred when someone wrote “dog” on the poster about Maddie’s disappearance. In another scene, Simon became agitated in class when no one volunteered to join the search party for Maddie. He even singled out Xavier and asked why he hadn’t added his name to the list, given his romantic involvement with Maddie.
During a scuffle between Simon and Xavier, Maddie’s phone falls out of Xavier’s bag, putting him in a difficult position. Despite this, Maddie still feels connected to Xavier and believes he may have a good reason for having her phone. However, other ghosts warn Maddie not to investigate her death, suggesting that some things are better left unknown and encouraging her to move on to the afterlife. Nevertheless, Maddie remains fixated on solving the mystery of her murder. Charlie notices Maddie’s distress and takes her to a shower room, which he sees as a form of revenge for the bullying he endured as a gay student in the 90s. However, Maddie is unfazed by Charlie’s actions, as her focus is on uncovering the truth about her death.
The support group advises Maddie that taking matters into her own hands may not yield any results and that it would be better to talk about her feelings instead. It leaves the audience with a choice: to side with Maddie and support her in her quest to solve her murder or to side with the support group who seem to have lost their sense of time and memory of their past and afterlife, according to Maddie.
Maddie becomes frustrated and storms out of the school grounds. However, she repeatedly returns to the boiler room, where she was the last present in her mortal form. After several attempts, Maddie finally realizes she cannot leave the school premises because she died there.
School Spirits (Season 1), Episode 1 Ending, Explained:
Why does Xavier have Maddie’s phone? Can Simon really see Maddie Nears in the end?
A vigil is being held for Maddie, and her mother attends, having recently completed a two-week rehab program. Despite her concerns that her daughter would be embarrassed to see her, Maddie is moved by her mother’s presence and state of mind. The teachers distribute candles to the participants. Meanwhile, the police take Xavier in for questioning and uncover evidence that he had been cheating on Maddie with a cheerleader named Claire. Xavier had mistakenly sent a text meant for Claire to Maddie, asking her to change her route to avoid seeing him with Claire. Because Maddie’s phone had died, she had not seen the message. Xavier had taken her phone to delete the evidence of his infidelity. In the afterlife, Maddie hears everything, and it breaks her heart.
During the vigil, Simon apologizes to a teacher for his earlier altercation with Xavier. However, he also confides in the teacher that he believes something serious has happened to Maddie. As her longtime friend, he knows she is a determined and independent person who wouldn’t simply run away without reason. The teacher tries to comfort him by assuring him that they will eventually learn what happened to Maddie and that things will be okay.
Emotionally overwhelmed, Simon moves to a corner of the classroom to stand by the window. Through tears, he watches the others gather outside with lit candles to remember Maddie. Maddie, who is also deeply saddened, stands beside him and thanks him for being there for her when no one else seems to care about her absence. Suddenly, Sam becomes aware of Maddie’s presence and looks directly at her, calling out her name.
The episode ends with the sense that Simon may have seen Maddie before him. It remains unclear if he saw her or was consumed by grief and saw something that might help uncover the truth about her disappearance. Viewers must tune in to the next episode of School Spirit, airing next week, to find out.