At the halfway point of the second season of American Vandal, we have even less certainty over the answer to one of 2018's most pressing questions than we did when we started: Just who is the Turd Burglar? The authorities of St. Bernardine’s are still convinced that the villain is Kevin ‘Shit Stain’ McClain, but friend Chloe Lyman continues to point a dirty finger at star athlete DeMarcus Tillman. As any good true crime docu-series fan will tell you, it’s probably neither of them, and our intrepid heroes come to that same conclusion this episode, willing to (literally) dig through shit to find the truth.
Most of this chapter is dedicated to the profile of three new suspects, determined on ‘Just the Tip Day,’ when Sam and Peter go through the tip box of anonymous student suggestions and pick out the most recurring names (other than Russell Wilson). So let’s do the same:
- ‘Diapey’ Drew Pomkratz is one of those typical theater kids who lives so deep in the friend zone that his female pals can change in front of him without worry of sexual tension. Relatively invisible to the kids around him, he earned his nickname after photos of him in giant diapers acting like a baby surfaced online. He claims they were for a character, but he’s probably lying. Did he become the Turd Burglar as social vengeance for being dubbed ‘Diapey’? The librarian alibis him out, so probably not, but the kid putting one of his photos as his lock screen on his iPhone produced one of my biggest laughs of the year.
- Jenna Hawthorne is the rich kid at a school full of rich kids. Everyone rejoiced in her fall from popularity when it was revealed that a photo with her and Kendall Jenner that was cropped to look like their BFFs was really part of a meet and greet. She hung out for five hours to meet Kendall Jenner. Did she enact social vengeance with cat shit launched from T-shirt guns? She’s also alibied out by an internship on the days of some of the pranks, but this feels like the thinnest of the alibis.
- Finally, there’s an obvious suspect in Paul Schnorrenberg, the most Catholic kid at a very Catholic school. As one of his classmates says, “Even Jesus would tell Paul to take it down a notch.” And the Turd Burglar has used bible verses in his posts. Could Paul be enacting shit-covered vengeance on the sinners of St. Bernardine’s? He too gets an alibi in the form of his least favorite teacher, Mrs. Montgomery.
All three of these suspects are profiled in the context of one of the most interesting new clues: the story of the glitch, a real situation that unfolded in November 2017 in which the letter ‘I’ ended up coming through as an A and a question mark in a box. The Turd Burglar succumbed to the glitch in his warnings and boasts but both DeMarcus and Kevin don’t have it in the social media posts for which they take credit. After all, Kevin uses the “superior machine” of the Android. Doesn’t this mean that DeMarcus and Kevin are innocent? Never mind the fact that the Turd Burglar’s tweets don’t sound like DeMarcus, even if there’s evidence he knows a thing or two about code-switching.
So if it’s not Kevin, and it’s not DeMarcus, and all three of the tip box suspects alibi out, who could it be? And wouldn’t those three Just the Tip candidates just be the most obvious choices given their social media presences? Isn’t that the only evidence against them? Just as Sam and Peter are about to hit the wall, they discover something groundbreaking. Sam spots the advent calendar in the faculty lounge from which the Turd Burglar took his last post. The assumption was that the Mr. Hanky Instagram post and the advent calendar one were two false warnings, but what if they were a warning and an aftermath photo? That would mean that there’s a 4th poop crime! And that the faculty is covering it up to frame Kevin. The shit gets deeper.
- #1 Suspect: Here’s a crazy idea-what if there’s more than one Turd Burglar? What if all of these social misfits are working together, possibly even the three profiled this episode, to get their vengeance as a group? Wouldn’t that make for legendary prank? It would also make the individual alibis on specific days moot. It’s just crazy enough to be possible.
- What do you say? Is “Party in the USA” the ‘Bubonic Plague of sound’?
- The saga of Chloe and Kevin bonding over Angry Birds and then drifting apart as Kevin got weirder was actually kind of sad, but I’m not sure I believed Chloe when she said she’d be acting the same if it was DeMarcus in Kevin’s shoes. There’s something suspicious about Chloe. She knows more.
- This season is only getting stronger, with each episode topping the one before so far both thematically and just in pure comedy terms. Moving away from the silliness of the set-up has allowed the writers to really dig into some deep thematic issues like privilege, code-switching, social bullying, and more. And dig into some shit, of course. With chopsticks.