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American Vandal exposes a cover-up as the boys get to the bottom of a fourth poop crime

Illustration for article titled American Vandal exposes a cover-up as the boys get to the bottom of a fourth poop crime
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Would a prestigious private school cover up a crime to protect their reputation and the status of one of their most popular students? This is the question at the heart of the fifth episode of the great second season of American Vandal, as Peter and Sam attempt to prove that there was a fourth poop crime, thereby exonerating Kevin McClain from the accusation that he is the infamous Turd Burglar.

Just as it did around now last season, the writers of American Vandal get a little more serious as they move into the back half of the season. Even the recreations seem a bit more melancholy and the score changes to reflect the sad truth of what Sam and Peter have learned: the powers that be at St. Bernardine’s know that Kevin is innocent but they’re sweeping the whole thing under the rug and letting him take the fall. And Kevin’s assertion that no one cares about whether or not Fruit Ninja even returns, even his former friend Chloe, rings poignantly true. Kids like Kevin can get expelled and no one really notices; kids like DeMarcus can commit crimes and administrations cover it up.

But is DeMarcus Tillman even guilty? The final shot reveals something I suspected a few episodes ago, but I’m getting ahead of myself.


First, we need to talk about the 4th Poop Crime, which doesn’t have as catchy a name as the Brownout or Shit Launcher despite the congruence of date and number of crimes. Let’s get more creative. What should we call it? Merry Poopmas? All I Shit For Christmas? The Holiday Craptacular?

After spotting the advent calendar in the Faculty Lounge, Sam and Peter attempt to prove that something happened on December 4th, meaning that the final two posts by the Turd Burglar were not warnings with no follow-through but a warning and a follow-up. Considering the advent calendar wasn’t even in the school until after Kevin was put under house arrest, proving a crime happened would exonerate him. But will it matter? Even if Sam and Peter prove that Kevin can’t be the Turd Burglar, have the corrupt wheels of justice already convicted him?

They start by interviewing the janitor, learning that the new guy, Sam Pinkerton, started on December 6th. Was what happened on the 4th-which Pinkerton refers to bluntly as “all the shit”-so bad that his predecessor quit? The investigation brings American Vandal to the saga of the Hot Janitor, a social phenomenon for the kids of St. Bernardine’s because, well, he’s hot. Even Mrs. Montgomery calls him a 9 (because calling him a 10 wouldn’t be appropriate) and DeMarcus admits that Hot Janitor would get the silver if there was a contest as to who people wanted to smash at St. Bernardine’s. He also turns out to be Lil K’s mushroom connection, and that brings Sam and Peter to Hot Janitor’s mobile home in the middle of nowhere and closer to the truth.


Here’s what we know for sure. On December 4th, someone in the teacher’s lounge ate the chocolate in the advent calendar, learning too late that it was cat shit. That person puked, causing another person to puke, and the lounge was basically destroyed. After cleaning it up, Mrs. Wexler reassigned Hot Janitor to another school, where he’s probably already an Instagram hit.

Sam and Peter determine there are only three teachers who could have eaten the chocolate-covered feline feces, and they all use the same strangely rehearsed language to deny anything funny happened that day. The crime investigators of dick and poop-related vandalism learn that Mr. Fernandez left early that day and was suspiciously added as a chaperone on a charity trip to Costa Rica called Gifts for the Lamb. The real gift is the luxury hotel for the teachers and students. Was Mr. Fernandez bought off with a beach vacation? His outburst when Sam confronts him with the question sounds pretty guilty.


Thinking they may finally have enough evidence to free Kevin from his exile, Chloe gets wired up to talk to Mrs. Wexler. First, she suggests that the 4th Poop Crime could have been a copycat by one of Kevin’s friends. Second, she threatens Chloe by suggesting maybe she did. This woman pressured Kevin into a false confession. She’ll do whatever it takes to keep her shitty secret.

In the final scene, we hear Kevin explain to the boys that his locker is across from the Faculty Lounge door. They could set up a camera and learn who has access. As the episode ends, we see a familiar face enter and exit: the man who DeMarcus basically looks at his hype man, the very suspicious-looking Lou.


Stray observations

  • #1 Suspect: It’s Lou. Suggested that a few recaps ago. The question now is why. Did he try to frame DeMarcus and just stumble into framing Kevin? Now how can the boys prove it?
  • Was anyone else really sad after Kevin listened to the recording of Wexler threatening Chloe? It’s a mirror to the beats from last season when Dylan Maxwell learned that no one really cared if he found justice or not. The line about Kevin’s attitude being why his mom left was particularly sad.
  • I loved DeMarcus explaining bidets.
  • Why are social media posts set to “Pony” inherently funny?
  • I’m still stuck on Tanner Bassett’s role. He seems so confident that Kevin did it. Is he just mistaken or will it be revealed he’s a part of the St. Bernardine’s corruption too?

Brian is the Editor of RogerEbert.com, President of the Chicago Film Critics Association, and a contributor to Vulture, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times.

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