“Which Witch?” is a brutally obvious allegory, but it’s grounded by a charming lead performance.
This recap of Just Beyond season 1, episode 3, “Which Witch?”, contains spoilers.
While the first episode of Just Beyond gave us a brief glimpse of high school, “Which Witch?” settles into the setting much more comfortably. It’s a metaphor, of course, this time for trying to blend in rather than embracing your true identity, using the idea of a witch, Fiona (Rachel Marsh), who is ashamed of her heritage and is only forced to confront it more directly when her “fresh off the broomstick” cousin, Luna (Jy Prishkulnik), arrives in town.
Just Beyond season 1, episode 3 recap
“Which Witch?” merges the usual high-school tropes — Fiona is happy to have been asked to the homecoming dance by her crush, Emilio (Will Kindrachuk) — with a cheery supernaturalism. Everyone knows Fiona is a witch and is alternately fascinated by it and vaguely horrified. For the other girls, it’s just an excuse to give Fiona grief. For the school faculty, it’s an opportunity to learn from a real, living resource. When Luna arrives, it’s an opportunity for the episode to lean more heavily into both of its duelling ideas.
Of course, Fiona’s friends are fascinated by Luna, and the school mean girls immediately hate her, but Luna doesn’t mind. Her obvious pride in her nature forces Fiona to reckon with hers more explicitly and sends people like Mr Barnett (David Lengel) into a tailspin. His efforts to try and get Fiona and Luna to reveal more about witch culture in class immediately backfires on him in a sledgehammer-obvious example of assuming those who’re different from you owe you an explanation for every difference. Ultimately, though, Luna’s performative witchy-ness only earns Fiona’s ire and threatens to demolish her social standing, so it’s difficult to know what the show is trying to say here about the value of embracing who you are versus safe conformity. Perhaps a half-hour episode in a family-friend anthology series isn’t the best place for completely unpacking these ideas, but just raising them in an interesting way.
In true high school fashion, the school’s resident mean girl, with the help of a pilfered wand, turns the homecoming dance into a creepy-crawly extravaganza for which even Fiona’s friends blame her in a classic bit of profiling. This forces Fiona to reckon with the fact that no matter how hard she tries to blend in, all anyone will see her as is a witch. “It’s not easy being one a kind,” says Luna, to comfort her, but Fiona has a better idea. If everyone’s going to see the witch in her anyway, they might as well see the witch, good and proper. Fiona’s courage wins her the respect of everyone, obviously, and makes her not feel alone for the very first time — at which point Emilio reveals she was never alone, displaying a pair of vampire fangs.