We’re blitzing towards the finale, episode order be damned, and there is only one thing that matters at this point: get! Lizzie! and Gordo! Together! Miranda is gone! Maybe she’s dead for all we know! School doesn’t matter! Plot points don’t matter! Gordo likes Lizzie and that’s what this show is all about now!
For those of you watching at home (are there any of you?), the file for “Clue-Less” is badly damaged in Disney’s Fucking Terrible Online Video Player™. The sound is all messed up, constantly cutting in and out or being replaced with static. It’s pretty awful, but luckily you can watch it on YouTube.
It begins with Lizzie walking down the aisle in a wedding dress, leaving the audience to be all “Whaaa? Huh? Is Lizzie getting married?,” a hilarious joke setup already employed by this show once before, in “I Do, I Don’t.” Jo appears, wearing a maid costume and screaming in a Cockney accent, to announce that there’d been a murder. It’s a murder mystery party, get it? Not a real wedding!
A flashback to a few days before shows Ethan running up to Lizzie to ask her if it’s possible to throw a party while his house is being fumigated for bugs. Lizzie says no but offers to throw the party for him. This is where Ethan makes no sense as a character. He doesn’t seem to have any of his own friends, even though everyone in school is obsessed with him, and he always comes to Lizzie with problems like this, though they’re not supposed to be very close. It’s so bizarre that he doesn’t have his own crew and party with people like Kate and Claire.
There’s a very weird joke here, because Ethan says, “There’s gonna be a wedding at the party, and people fighting over money, and someone’s gonna get iced!” and Lizzie, not realizing it’s a murder mystery party, asks “There’s gonna be, like, no drinking, right?” Is that a reference to icing people, like with Smirnoff Ice? Bros Icing Bros? I don’t know if that game was around in 2002.
Before the party, they all meet up to pick characters from a hat. The guests file in, and again it’s puzzling to try to analyze Ethan’s social circle. Kate arrives and Ethan says, “Gotta invite her.” I don’t know why, except for the sort-of relationship the show sort of establishes them having. Kate brings Cousin Amy, but she gets only two lines the entire episode, so I don’t know why her random character was brought in over someone like Claire. Maybe the Duff family just requested more screen time for Haylie, or maybe that part was supposed to go to Miranda before her family got abducted in Mexico, never to return. Gordo shows up, which I buy because he and Ethan always got along. Veruca shows up? Ethan says she invited herself and he was too afraid of her to say no. Aww, Veruca’s nice. That’s unnecessary. And then Tudgeman, of all people you could want at a party, shows up and Ethan says, “He saved my life once! Pulled me out of the way of a parade float.” I’m assuming that’s a flashback to another episode that hasn’t aired yet, because usually we get an over-the-top flashback scene for absurd statements like that.
In my favorite part of the episode, Ethan picks his character and announces that he’s Clive McGuffin (I see what they did there), heir to the McGuffin fortune and fiancé to Penelope Featherstone. Gordo then picks his character and reads, in an annoyed voice, “I’m Penelope Featherstone, the blushing maiden that Clive is making his own.” I love it! I wish he stayed Clive’s blushing maiden. But he gets to pick again and gets Aubrey Carstairs, Lord McGuffin’s old war buddy.
Kate is a sweet old children’s book author. Cousin Amy is “a bored, tempestuous heiress” (how can one be both bored and tempestuous?). Veruca is an acclaimed theatre actress. Tudgeman is a Brazilian-born Hollywood actor. And Lizzie, to her delight, is Penelope Featherstone.
Randomly, this party brings out Season One Gordo once again. He complains that he’ll be stuck being the best friend no one notices and yells that this is going to be a dumb party where everyone will drool over Ethan and no one will notice him. It’s….Ethan’s party. What kind of asshole doesn’t want to go to other people’s parties because it means the host will be the center of attention? Lizzie is excited about the party, having read a lot of Nancy Drew books, and Gordo gets competitive about beating her. The number of red flags in this scene is bananas. Guys who feel angry when other people get attention they feel they’re entitled to are bad news. So are guys who get competitive and ruin the fun for attention.
Everyone shows up to the party in fantastic costumes that middle schoolers probably couldn’t assemble and most of them stay in character almost all of the time. Kate continually breaks character to complain about having to pretend to be nice, which is annoying. Tudgeman is particularly enjoyable as a lothario, though he attempts to hit on someone who turns out to be Ethan’s very young stepmom Tawny. Tawny says a bunch of dumb stuff all episode, which is a bit confusing because she’s not related to Ethan but they’re both just as dumb, and she occasionally embarrasses him, which makes me sad for him.
Since everyone is in character, let’s pause for a moment for a ranking of accents from best to worst:
- Hallie Todd, doing Cockney, is excellent as always
- Rachel Snow (Veruca), doing heightened RP, is very impressive for her age
- Clayton Snyder, doing RP, is my favorite as per usual
- Adam Lamberg, doing RP that lapses into Cockney on occasion, goes in and out slightly but does well when he has it on
- Kyle Downes (Tudgeman), doing a Brazilian accent, commits very hard and handles the Spanish phrases thrown into his dialogue
- Ashlie Brillault, doing her best, somehow manages to place much higher than I’d expect
- Jake Thomas, doing what is definitely German for a few lines and British on others, is an actual child and does well with that taken into account
- Haylie Duff, not even attempting an accent, is still better than…
- Hilary Duff, who’s a real mess and throws an accent onto about every tenth word and half the time that accent is Southern
Lord McGuffin, played by Sam, interrupts the wedding from the opening scene by getting himself murdered. Lizzie notices a clue immediately and Gordo undermines her immediately by noticing another.
Matt bursts through the front door – who knows where he was before this – in a Sherlock Holmes cape and deerstalker, and Jo tells Lizzie he should get to play too even though it’s Ethan’s party. I wish Matt were written out instead of Miranda. Lizzie finds another clue and Gordo literally jogs up to “well, actually” her. Lizzie feels pretty bad about this, so Gordo laughs at her and tells her to try harder.
Tudgeman and Veruca’s in-character flirting leads them to fall for each other IRL, breaking character to make eyes at each other. I like them both individually and together and this is the only bright spot in this damn episode for me besides cool costumes and Hallie Todd being a gem.
Lizzie flirts with Ethan and has a good time and finds a clue. Cue Gordo, running over to snatch it from her hands. When she asks why he’s being a dick, he says she’ll have to choose between solving the mystery and pursuing Ethan. I haven’t hated Gordo this much all season, but boy do I hate him this episode. If he were a real friend, he’d let Lizzie enjoy her time with Ethan because that’s what she wants. Using the fact that he has a crush on her to justify ruining her night is absolutely unacceptable.
Adam Lamberg busts out his old Dirtbag Gordo characterization to snarl “too bad” at Lizzie when she tells him he’s being a dirk.
Dude is being a stone-cold dirk, for real.
Matt tries to show everyone at the party Lizzie’s pajama bottoms, which is sort of embarrassing but not really, but Lizzie threatens to give him a wedgie so he stops. We just saw that convenient threat used to move the plot forward two episodes ago, but it somehow gets Matt to disappear for the rest of the episode so I’m on board. I don’t know why anyone even bothered to write him in this one at all. Jake Thomas must have had something in his contract about appearing in every episode.
Lizzie pulls Gordo outside to ask why he’s being so mean to her and Gordo continues to use the game as his excuse for it. This is red flag #150 or so, for anyone counting – Lizzie personally asks him to stop treating her like this and he ignores her.
After a clue-hunting montage where they both race to find clues and seemingly no one else even attempts it, Lizzie finally finds the last clue and almost runs downstairs to announce that she’s solved it, but Kate intercepts her.
This next scene makes me legitimately furious. Kate, allegedly because her nice person character has rubbed off on her, pulls Lizzie into her room to yell at her for not getting why Gordo is taking the game so seriously. She says Lizzie treats him like a doormat, a pretty loaded accusation with no basis in truth. Kate treats Ethan like a doormat, often yelling at him and telling him what to do, but Lizzie doesn’t walk all over Gordo. And it’s shitty to suggest that not feeling the same way about a friend who likes you = walking all over him. Lizzie says Gordo is acting out for attention and makes the great point that “He doesn’t have to be obnoxious to get noticed.” Kate breezes past this to drop the drama bomb that Gordo wants Lizzie to notice him, because “everyone at school can tell – Gordo’s had a crush on you for, like, ever.”
Lizzie is uncomfortable, so she runs downstairs to make her announcement. But during her speech explaining who did it, she notices that Gordo feels bad that she’s winning. Cartoon Lizzie says Gordo’s not being immature, he just wants to impress her. Him trying to impress her is immature. So she decides to throw it! She purposefully accuses the wrong person! Lizzie solved the mystery with her own brain and then played dumb to make a man feel better so he wouldn’t be upset at being beaten by a girl!
Gordo jumps in to explain it smugly. He makes the right accusation and everyone showers him with attention. Fuck Gordo and this episode.
Oh, and the killer was really the maid because she was having an affair with Lord McGuffin and had purchased a fancy boat ticket out of there, and none of that really jives with class structures of 1920s England.
Lizzie pulls Gordo outside at the end of the night to tell him he did a good job because he’s so smart. I HATE THIS. She specifically tells him he impressed her to make him feel good. Stop catering to his emotions, Lizzie! He doesn’t give a shit about yours. Gordo steps in closer to her and almost asks her out, but Sam runs outside to yell about something on the Food Network. None of the male characters on this show are redeemable.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. Ethan is great.
Gordo leaves and Lizzie realizes she feels “all flushed and light-headed” so I guess she officially likes this asshole too now. I hope she sees her mistake soon.
This. One. Was. Bad. It’s a shame, because the murder mystery setup was fun and the costume and set design was all great. But the way it sets up Gordo and Lizzie’s relationship is legitimately unhealthy. Gordo treated her badly all episode, even when she asked him over and over again not to, and she finally decided to give him what he wanted because he was only doing it because he liked her.
I’ve had to readjust my expectations for Gordo this season, because he’s been written as much goofier and much more supportive, and Adam Lamberg has been playing him completely differently too – more easy-going, funnier, and more attached to Lizzie. But this episode resets all the things that made me hate him and his relationship with Lizzie last season.
Weird never-popular youth culture slang: “dirk” all over the place
Notable fashion moments: I LOVE THE MURDER MYSTERY PARTY COSTUMES. I WANT TO WEAR ALL OF THEM ALL AT ONCE ALL ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.
Look at Veruca’s peacock feather turban!
I especially loved how the costume designer worked Tudgeman’s signature polo into his costume, actually making it look debonair.
Cousin Amy looked great, even if she didn’t need to be in this episode. Notice that even in the 20s, ladies be filin’ their nails.
However, Lizzie’s look was not very 20s. Amy’s hair has been fashioned into a faux-bob, but Lizzie’s hair and makeup are both pretty starkly 2002, with slightly smokier eyes than usual.
Lame. I’m pretty sure the thinking here was that Lizzie needs to look relatable and like herself when she finds out Gordo likes her. Ugh. I bet Gordo is one of those guys that tells girls they look prettier without makeup without realizing they’re wearing a ton of natural-looking makeup.
I liked that Gordo, for the first time, wears a suit that manages to make him not look like a total dweeb. I wish that didn’t happen for this episode.
Other interesting tidbits: This episode was my first introduction to the concept of a murder mystery party and it made me want to throw one. It’s been almost fifteen years and I still haven’t, even though it’s aggressively up my alley.
Adam Lamberg does a good job with scenes where he’s supposed to be nervous around Lizzie. He’s a good actor and has a great handle on what the character should be. I’m sad that the writing never supports that.
One of Hilary Duff’s attempted British pronunciations is saying “mur-ter” for murder, hitting the t very hard.
Clayton Snyder is a national treasure. I’m so glad Disney is finally giving him his own show even though he’s almost 30 years old. He deserves it. On close rewatch, I get to see all the weird choices he’s always making, in every frame he’s in, and it’s one of the only pleasant experiences of this entire project. And blessedly, he’s even in an entire murder mystery party web series right now! This is the universe’s reward to me for having to rewatch this one.
26 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 22: “Clue-Less””
Yay, murder mystery episode! I’ve been waiting ever so patiently for this review! Yay. I agree the costumes are so cool. Never really gave much thought to how much of a “dirk” Gordo is. But, yay, murder mystery!
It always bothered me that Ethan’s stepmom’s name is Tawny. Tawny was already an (awesome) character on Even Stevens, and it’s not a very common name. The fact that they’re not blood related annoyed me too. Maybe there really is “something in the water” at Ethan’s house…
I feel like they only wrote in his stepmom so they could make one (lame) joke about her misunderstanding him saying “My father is dead!” in character so she could assume she was inheriting all his real dad’s money. But did we really need to meet Ethan’s stepmom? Ethan’s dumb dad would have been way funnier. Or what if we met Ethan’s dad and he was a genius? Or they could have just given her slot to Claire, an actual named character who matters more than Cousin Amy or Ethan’s just-introduced stepmom!
I always watch at home! 🙂 You point out so many bizarre directing/editing choices, I always get curious and look up the episodes on YouTube so I can follow along!
“Lizzie solved the mystery with her own brain and then played dumb to make a man feel better so he wouldn’t be upset at being beaten by a girl!” I definitely agree with you, fuck Gordo and fuck this episode! It’s so dangerous and damaging to tell girls, “If a guy treats you like dirt, it means he likes you.” Did it ever occur to Gordo that he could maybe respect Lizzie and treat her like an equal, as opposed to a silly flighty girl just because she has a crush on Ethan? I hate it. Fuck Gordo and fuck this episode.
On another note, I’m really sad the finale is so close! This blog is the only reason I look forward to Mondays! What are you going to do when you run out of Lizzie episodes? You’re so articulate, funny, and analytical. You should review Even Stevens!
I’m currently ranking and reviewing Even Stevens here: http://www.evenstevensranked.tumblr.com!
Yay! Even Stevens was such a clever, funny show! Thanks for sharing your link! 🙂
Thank you for this comment, Keit! It’s so nice! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog (and AMEN to your Gordo comments!).
While the finale is just around the corner, the blog will go on for a while more – because of course Disney aired the finale completely out of order. This is episode 22 of 34 this season, so there’s still 14 more weeks. Plus final wrapup thoughts and, of course, the movie!
Good to know someone’s watching at home! I’ve always wondered if anyone does. If you ever can’t find them on YouTube, they’re all at http://video.disney.com/lizzie-mcguire, which I recommend more as a last resort because it’s a garbage, but I wanted to point that out since I know sometimes episodes aren’t up on YouTube.
I’m so happy for Clayton Snyder! Apparently Ethan was originally intended to be a “dirk” but he urged the creators that Ethan be good-hearted, just dumb as a bag of rocks, because there were already so many mean-spirited characters on the show. I love this guy. He seems like such a gent.
Also…I completely forgot how much of an ass Gordo was in this episode. Also, as much as you sometimes want to say “thank you, Kate!” for stating the obvious, if anything, she should be criticizing Gordo for being such a jerk to Lizzie, not the other way around. Good idea, poor execution.
I loved the original wannabe-gangsta version of Ethan as well! Probably because of Clayton Snyder. I didn’t really care about Ethan when the show was on the air, but he has won my entire heart on re-watch.
Do you have a source for that information about him telling the creators to make Ethan more dumb? That’s FASCINATING to me. If the kid actors got to choose their own adventure with characterizations, it might explain why the characterizations are CONSTANTLY ALL OVER THE PLACE.
Not “more dumb” necessarily, but the central focus of having his character be dumb rather than be a bully. According to this interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7KAmsC1f00), the actor playing Danny Kessler either had other commitments or the creators had a change of heart, so Ethan was brought aboard as the heartthrob type.
But that does beg a question: if the actors had this much of a say, why didn’t Adam Lamberg appeal to make Gordo less douchey, or Lalaine appeal to make Miranda less of a drama mama ? Maybe they didn’t know they could!
Hallie is wonderful in this episode. If you were ever a fan of Star Trek the Next Generation you may have seen her in the episode The Offspring. She plays Data’s “daughter” as he creates her as an android. Here’s a clip of her right before she “dies:”
When Lizzie pulls Gordo outside to ask why he’s being so mean to her, I wish she would’ve played it more from a place of being hurt and upset. As it is, she played it as “Gordo, wtf?” I think it would’ve had more emotional resonance if she had come from a place of being hurt and Gordo could realize he was hurting the one he loved. But maybe that would’ve been too much like Boy Meets World kind of drama.
I don’t think it would have been too much drama! I think it would have been really positive if the scene showed that Gordo’s actions were wrong. Instead, the whole episode is set up so Lizzie feels sorry for Gordo for having to see her pursue Ethan and justifies Gordo’s rudeness and undermining as normal!
I loved the IDEA of the this episode more than I like the actual episode. I always thought the idea of a murder mystery party was super dooper cool but not in execution. I got pissed that Lizzie took the fall for Gordo at the end even though he definitely did not deserve it. Lizzie SHOULD be with Ethan. Ethan’s a kind soul. Gordo’s Lord Douchington.
Also, I went to school with Ashlie B. She was two years older but I had choir with her. Really cool, actually, not like Kate at all. Also pretty self-aware about Lizzie McGuire. She knew she wasn’t going to be an actress after the show.
Yeah, if this were just a murder mystery party episode without any Gordo/Lizzie drama, it would probably be one of my favorite episodes! Instead it was the most infuriating one I’ve watched in a while.
I firmly believe that Ashlie is actually great and smart. I wish she weren’t on the show, but I 100% blame that on casting directors.
So, what would you say is the worst episode of the series overall so far? Facts is Life is the weakest one from my memory, but i havent’ seen much of the show since i was younger outside of some, including that, so I’m sure there’s worse.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I miiiiight have a “Top 10 Worst Episodes” post that could potentially be coming when I finish this season…
your reviews made me realise that i really did like ethan back in the day not for his looks, but his character! such a sweetheart.
i’m curious though: you always talk about the “weird” choices that clayton snyder makes in his acting. what are you referring to specifically?
Ooooh, gosh, I love this question. Basically Clayton Snyder is always making some choice for his character, even when he’s just in the background, and it’s always something unexpected or over-the-top in a really delightful way. His facial reactions are always great, and you can tell he really thought about the funniest ways to deliver his lines – especially when you compare his performance to other kid actors on the show, who clearly just memorized their lines and delivered the basic emotion required for them. You can tell the actors weren’t given a ton of specific direction for line readings and physicality, but Clayton Snyder clearly wanted to make the most of his screen time and always delivered the hell out of whatever was required of him in a way you wouldn’t expect.
“If he were a real friend, he’d let Lizzie enjoy her time with Ethan because that’s what she wants.”
“So she decides to throw it! She purposefully accuses the wrong person! Lizzie solved the mystery with her own brain and then played dumb to make a man feel better so he wouldn’t be upset at being beaten by a girl!”
^ I didn’t like that. I wish Lizzie kept it real, said the right answer, won and got the praise, and the end told Gordo that she did in fact notice him and that she impressed him (win-win; but only if she really was impressed; she shouldn’t lie to cater to his desire)
“Lizzie pulls Gordo outside at the end of the night to tell him he did a good job because he’s so smart. I HATE THIS. She specifically tells him he impressed her to make him feel good. Stop catering to his emotions, Lizzie! He doesn’t give a shit about yours.”
^ Ditto. She didn’t have to do that.
YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD HAVE MADE THIS EPISODE BETTER FOR ME?
1) Lizzie doesn’t think she’ll win the Murder Mystery, since Gordo’s the smart one. She decides she’ll use the party to just enjoy being Ethan’s wife (she was jealous of Miranda for pretending to be his wife in that one episode). Instead, Ethan zones out and she finds herself actually interested in the game and capable of solving the clues. However, she also notices that Gordo is holding back, and then maybe (not via Kate but heck, I’d take Matt over her) to explain that Gordo doesn’t want to win because he knows that Lizzie really wants to. Lizzie would question why Gordo would do that for her and Matt could be like “HELL-O? He likes you, you clueless dirk.” (dirk being the writers’ go-to word).
OR SCENARIO #2
2) Gordo channels his season 1 Gordo and just curb-stomps Lizzie at every clue. Kate, who is bored with being nice, is noticing all of this from the background. Finally, she intercepts Gordo and asks why he’s treating Lizzie this way. Turns out, despite Kate publicly despising Lizzie, in this party with few members (and given those episodes where Kate and Lizzie get along and flash each other smiles, which are canon) she doesn’t like her former best friend being treated this way by Gordo. She reminds Gordo that the three of them used to be best friends when they were younger, and that she always knew that Gordo had a crush on Lizzie, although she never exposed that fact because it had happened to her when she was younger (some canon explanation as to why she would never have done this in earlier episodes when she wanted to humiliate Lizzie or Gordo). She then tells Gordo that a girl like Lizzie would not reciprocate his feelings if he acted the way he did, and that he should be happy for her if she likes Ethan, regardless of his feelings for her, and that he shouldn’t treat her like shit. Then she can be like “oh wtf im nice, this shit’s rubbing off on me, gotta go” and then Gordo goes downstairs and ends up acting in a manner that suggests to Lizzie that Gordo may like him. Or something like that.
On a side note – HAILIE TODD NAILED THE COCKNEY ACCENT, AND KYLE DOWNES GETS AN FOR HIS BRAZILIAN ACCENT. Even Adam Lambert and Jake Thomas did better than Hilary Duff – what’s up with that, Hil?
I like both of those scenarios a lot! My vote would be for the first, but either would work better than the one we got.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE MURDER MYSTERY! I liked the idea of the murder mystery – and that the idea came from Ethan Craft, of all people! And he’s the smart one in his family.
I thought you’d remark on Jo’s rant at the end – how she’s glad her husband’s dead after he cheater on her and how she killed him and she’d do it again. Her quote: “but he cheated on me. He cheated it all straights and he cheated on his taxes! He’s a monster, a louser, and I’m glad he’s dead. I’m happy about it don’t you see? He’s dead! He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead. I’m happy about it!”
^ “He cheated on his taxes.”
Um, didn’t she once tell Lizzie that Sam had tax issues because his Social Security # was one digit off from Bill Gates? Yeah, okay. Nope, he probably cheated. He’s probably had tax issues ever since. That episode where Fredo the chimp did Matt & Melina’s math homework? He tells Jo “maybe he could do our taxes”. After her rant, everyone stares at her and Sam has to snap her out of it. Jo was letting it all out there. Sam cheated on her, Sam cheated on his taxes, he’s a louser, and if he died, she’d be happy about it. I can see it now – Jo murders Sam and ends up in a prison where her blackjack dealing comes in handy.
First off: Lizzie/Gordo fans please don’t hate me!
I found this blog late but whatever. (I love it.)
I never shipped Lizzie and Gordo (like ever) I never saw the “hype” around them.
After reading this blog and your analysis, I ship them even less. (Maybe it’s cause I ship Gordo with Miranda but that’s besides the point.)
You note that Gordo isn’t a good friend to Lizzie at times and that makes me wonder how people love them so much. Not to mention in S2 Gordo’s crush on her seems off and on? (Maybe that has to do with the airing of episodes, but it’s strange.)
And then we have Lizzie’s “crush” on Gordo which only seems to be showed in two episodes. “Moving On Up” and this episode. And even in those episodes it’s vague. Lizzie never noticed Gordo had a crush on her until Kate points it out. And then later she forgets about it. (Bye Bye Hillridge Junior High and the Movie.) It’s seems like she never saw Gordo the same way, just as a friend hence why she forgets that Gordo likes her. (And Lizzie is always after Ethan throughout the show.)
Anyway, my point is, I don’t see why Lizzie/Gordo is so loved by everyone. To me Gordo and Miranda had a potential better friendship than Lizzie/Gordo (and maybe romantic relationship) I say “potential” because the they didn’t show enough of their friendship as a result of them being Lizzie’s “sidekicks.” But if you really analyze the show, you can see the great friendship Gordo and Miranda have. Although not shown often, its hinted they hangout alone together a lot. Miranda supported Gordo’s choice to go to high school (while Lizzie was kind of selfish) and Gordo was very worried when Miranda went on that “diet.”
Anyway…. I never meant this to be so long but I guess I had to get this out. Please don’t think I’m hating on Lizzie/Gordo. If you love them that’s great!! I just don’t see the big deal about them.