This week, the boys go looking for the school’s mysterious previous janitor, whose last day was December 4th, the same date as the Turd Burglar’s final, mysterious post. Said janitor was by all accounts superhot and, according to DeMarcus, changed “the whole janitor game.” The new janitor, a perfectly ordinary-looking middle-aged dude, says, “I consider myself, for my age, not bad-looking, but apparently the last guy was all that.” No one can beat American Vandal for secondary character development and, I guess, personality-driven side quests (“Subplots. The word you’re looking for is subplots.”)
Sam and Peter realize the picture in question was the advent calendar in the teacher’s lounge, which has huge implications for Kevin, but he can’t get past the fact that Sam and Peter got to see the inside of the teacher’s lounge. (“Private faculty quarters. The term you’re looking for is private faculty quarters.”) Since the advent calendar didn’t get put up until the 4th, and Kevin was on monitored house arrest by November 30th, talking to the hot janitor could be the key to proving his innocence. “It would change everything,” Peter says, which he says an average of four times an episode, equally solemn on each utterance. I love it every time.
So they take a road trip to find Hot Janitor, on the strength of a tip from David “Lil K” Kaczmarowski. Lil K’s brother gets his mushrooms from Hot Janitor (“We needed them for Bumbershoot. We peaked during Major Lazer … it was awesome”), who is otherwise almost entirely off the grid, with an unlisted phone number and no social-media presence. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given how painfully social-media activity seems to have worked out for most people on the show, Hot Janitor seems happy in a way no one else we’ve seen has been. He lives in a camper in the woods, tends to his garden, and collects moss after storms and puts it back on the trees because “that’s where it wants to be, I think.” (Me, softly, to my computer screen: “I would DIE for Hot Janitor.”)
Hot Janitor is more than happy to talk to Peter and Sam: It turns out he didn’t quit but was transferred by Mrs. Wexler the day after cleaning up the faculty lounge. There were “two piles of vomit,” one by the calendar and one in the sink (“That one was probably a sympathy vomit”) because one of the half-eaten chocolates from the calendar was filled with, “not nougat, not caramel, but cat shit.” (There’s a 3-D re-creation of the vomiting sequence. This show, man.) It’s hard to faze Hot Janitor, though, who’s enjoying his raise and shorter commute at a new school, declaring the whole situation to be full of “good vibes all around.” Sam later offhandedly remarks that Mrs. Wexler “moved [Hot Janitor] around like a rapey priest,” which is certainly a direct way of drawing a comparison between the school’s cover-up and the wider issue of clerical abuse. I get it, I suppose, but it feels clunky and isolated, like they either needed to do a whole lot more or a little less.
The boys are able to narrow down the possible candy-eating victims to five, but two of them were off campus at the time, and the remaining three claim not to remember anything unusual about that day. Their denials are all remarkably similar, and echo the bland corporate-speak of Mrs. Wexler’s original email — “Not to the best of my knowledge.”
Mr. Fernandez, however, left campus early that day — right after lunch. The boys’ attempt to subtly question him goes quickly south when Sam interrupts Peter’s soft-shoeing and blurts out, “Did you eat shit?” Nobody ruins things quite like how Sam ruins things, and I love reminders that for all their attempts to sound like serious investigative journalists, they’re still high-school idiots. Mr. Fernandez angrily denies anything of the kind, and throws them out of the classroom.
“Why would Mr. Fernandez want to deny eating shit?” Further digging reveals that Mr. Fernandez was added as a last-minute bonus chaperone to the school’s annual Gifts of the Lamb missions trip to Costa Rica where, as one student puts it, “We spend like, two hours painting a [lousy] shack, and then we stay at a dope-ass resort.” Kevin grows newly enthusiastic at the prospect of a real lead, but Peter — remembering Dylan’s crushed spirits after thinking he was about to be allowed back in school in season one — says that “hope without confirmation means nothing.” Chloe meets with Mrs. Wexler with a hidden microphone, and gets nothing out of her but some vague threats that if Kevin had a friend helping him out, “it wouldn’t be in her best interests to keep asking questions.” Kevin’s sunk, and he’s not interested in any comfort anyone can try to offer him. Chloe pays him a visit, her first trip to his house “in months,” and asks, “Oh wow, is this the Doom hammer you were saving up for?”
“Yeah,” he says, unmoved. “It’d be totally impractical in actual combat. I regret the purchase.”