Spelling Bee is such a magnificent ep, I’ve been rewatching it a lot lately when life stuff seems like Too Much. I keep coming back to it and there are moments where that still catch me by surprise.
1. Pippa Pentangle pulling out her thick af, worn-ass rule book and whipping out Paragraph 4, Clause 5. She can, and does, recite the rule about the penultimate round. The glasses are just for fucking show. And, yes, Hecate “I Love Rules” Hardbroom thinks Pippa’s doing it to spite her. But they were friends for a reason. And the fact that Pippa knows an obscure rule and can recite it from memory, absolutely has to get Hecate all hot and bothered on some level. I am willing to bet my life that “may I draw your attention to the rules,” is like…. the equivalent of actual foreplay for Hecate. Though she is not. going. to. admit. it.
2. “Let’s just say a doubles display with only one of you doesn’t go well.” I bet actual money on the fact that fueled by heartbroken, fiery determination, Pippa Pentangle went and did the display solo and gave no fucks about how people laughed at her (people laughing isn’t the thing that hurt her so deeply that day). Even though it made her look very foolish indeed to go it alone, she did it. And she gave it her best shot. It would be just like Pippa to put on a brave face and go on with the show though she’s dying inside. And I love her for it.
Mildred: You think I have a gift?
Pippa: From the first moment I saw you.
Not only is Pippa the one of the first adults to really believe in Mildred, she believes in her instantly. Sure some of this is Pippa’s “modern” approach where she doesn’t care about family name, but she connects with Mildred on sight, which is super interesting. Could it be because she used to know another little girl with braids and her knee sock falling down her leg? A girl who was powerful and lived in the top tower of the Cackle’s dorms? Oh. Oh.
4. I also think that Pippa has a really good sense of self worth. She knows, even though Hecate hurt her so badly, that she has value. I think that’s why she wants Mildred at her school so badly. Mildred says, “Miss Hardbroom doesn’t think so,” about Hecate thinking Mildred isn’t good enough. And Pippa knows exactly what that feels like. And she can’t protect her own heart, but she can try to protect Mildred’s.
5. “It’s not fun being shunted aside is it?”
It’s so interesting that though Pippa might see Hecate in Mildred, she also sees herself quite a bit. She uses the same language to describe Mildred’s situation as she uses to describe how Hecate makes her feel. Which is a pretty powerful self-described paralleling. For Pippa, when she’s speaking to Hecate, it reveals terrible hurt. And Pippa can see that Mildred is hurting much the same, though due to different causes. And Mildred’s situation clearly shakes Pippa’s so much that she’s willing to let her school lose to help Mildred learn that she can be just as good a witch as Ethel. And she lets Mildred get there on her own merit too, which is really lovely.
6. “That’s because she’s set in her ways.”
I love that Pippa comes back with this as a response, just like earlier when she says, “Dear old Hecate, she takes things so seriously.” Pippa’s trying to frame Hecate for Mildred in a way that helps Mildred understand who Hecate is, without putting Hecate down, and without Mildred taking on the responsibility of Hecate’s behavior towards her. It’s a pretty protective move towards both Mildred and Hecate. And I love Pippa Pentangle so much I could cry.
Anyway, there are probably like a dozen more little moments that I’ve been thinking about. This ep is like my #1 happy place, and I love that even though I’ve watched it probablllllyy 100+ times and written 300K+ words about Hecate and Pippa, this ep still continues to reveal these tiny little moments that tell so much of who Pippa is. Combined with Amanda’s truly lovely acting choices, it honestly makes her like 10 minutes of screen time seem so much more.