Anne’s plans are finally coming to full fruition in What/If episode 7, “What Ghosts”, with Sean feeling like he has no choice but to confront his past, rather than escape it.
This recap for Netflix’s What/If Season 1, Episode 7, “What Ghosts”, contains significant spoilers. We have provided extensive coverage on Mike Kelley’s neo-noir social thriller, and you can read the recap of the previous episode by clicking these words.
What/If season 1, episode 7, “What Ghosts”, was a breakthrough chapter for Mike Kelley’s neo-noir social thriller, especially for Sean (Blake Jenner), who has been dealing with his demons since the Netflix series began. What/If has been a slow-burner for sure, but the bubbling darkness seeping through provides good drama.
Episode 7 places Sean and his friends at the high school reunion party, and without Lisa (who is with Anne for the FDA trip) he is not coping with the nostalgia, especially with the death of Maddie. “What Ghosts” is a literal chapter title for Sean, who has begun seeing Maddie, and even talking to him. The high school reunion was as cheesy as you’d expect; some characters eager to impress, and others introverted and wishing to leave. Sean wants to go as soon as possible, as there is an investigator there, looking into the death of Maddie and how it links to the 2012 alley murder.
And then What/If episode 7, “What Ghosts”, deals with Marcos’ mushroom trip he experienced in the previous chapter. His story feels disjointed at present, as he does not involve himself with the other core characters. He tells his new friend that his hallucinations off the mushrooms linked to his childhood; he caused a fire accident which led to the death of Lisa’s parents, which is why he is haunted by guilt. What/If season 1 enjoys burdening characters with their past.
“What Ghosts” also deals with Todd’s father, who was an abusive parent. He shows up to the reunion party, pretending that he wants to reunite, which Todd nearly falls for, but it appears his Dad has not changed, only wishing to sponge Angela’s money. As the reunion party ends, Sean has a breakdown when the party starts honoring Maddie, and his anger rips through for the public to see.
As for Lisa (Jane Levy) and Anne (Renée Zellweger), “What Ghosts” finds a way to put both characters together in one room after their flight is halted due to a storm. The characters try and find commonalities; the most exciting moment is when Lisa hypothesizes that whereas she finds conclusions in data, Anne finds conclusions in people. She raises a good point; what if your conclusion of that person is wrong?
Anne shows off her sexy yet manipulative ways in the motel room, forcing a porter to find them BBQ ribs, and quieten the party next door. Both characters open up to each other, discussing each other’s childhood, which leads to Anne’s story about her abusive mother and how she fell in love with an older man, who was murdered. Their open conversation leads to Anne revealing that she never slept with Sean, but with Lisa pressing, she tells her to prepare for her day with the FDA.
What/If episode 7, “What Ghosts”, ends on a suitable cliffhanger as Sean approaches Anne’s closest aide. We learn that her aide went to prison for murder in the past, and he advises Sean that he should confront his past, rather than hide it in darkness, so he does not bring down Lisa with him. As Angela and Todd go home, a gift arrives, and inside is a real pig heart, prompting Todd to try ring the police, but Angela stops him, ready to tell him the truth about Ian.
It seems that Sean is ready to hand himself into the police for the murder of the man that tried raping Maddie outside, but the question remains; why does Anne want to cripple Sean with his past? Was this man the person she loves? These answers are not transparently clear yet.
Our coverage of What/If season 1 does not end here. You can read the recap of episode 8 by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.