This essay was original published at Roxy Reviews and is reprinted here with permission.
Poor Clash. Of all the characters in the Jem canon, she's perhaps the one that comes to the worst end. As the series winds down, Clash is expelled from the Misfits' entourage, she blows it with Video and the Holograms, and she's essentially left without a friend in the world. The last time the viewer sees Clashbarring an apocryphal cameo that was probably an animation error in "Change of Heart"she's running down the street in the middle of the night, all alone, pleading for the Misfits to forgive her. It's a pitiful sight.
How does it all go wrong for the Misfits' #1 fan? When she first shows up, in "Starbright," she presents herself as a perfect secondary character. She lavishes the Misfits with compliments, adopts an edgy style of fashion, and makes it clear that annoying the Holograms and her cousin, Video, is a top priority for her.
Video and Clash are the supporting cast equivalents of Jem and Pizzazz. One's the small-town goody two-shoes that did well for herself; the other is the small-town outcast who did nothing but cause mischief. However, Clash never carries the same level of appeal as the Misfits.
Clash charms Pizzazz with her adoration; but she's kept around because she is, above all, useful. She possesses stunning talents of mimicry and disguise and puts them to use on many occasions. She's also resourceful, ruthless and persistentall attributes that are good for a Misfits henchwoman to have.
CLASH AND THE MISFITS
When one studies the Clash episodes, one thing becomes apparent: she isn't buddies with the Misfits, per se. She's Pizzazz' pal. It's Pizzazz who accepts her; Pizzazz who gives her orders; Pizzazz who ultimately seals her fate with the Misfits. The others usually refrain from speaking to her directly or interacting with her, unless it is to offer a derisive remark. When Pizzazz turns on her after "Father's Day," not even Stormer comes to her rescue.
In addition, is Clash ever really a buddy? True, she's allowed into the inner circle of the Misfits' world on many occasions. Various episodes depict her hanging out at the mansion, watching television with the Misfits. They take her on vacation with them in "Last Resorts." In "Rock Fashion Book," they give her creative control over the JatH project. However, Clash is never exactly in the loop. She tends to show up when she is needed and drop quickly out of the picture when she isn't. In key scenes, such as the Music Awards banquet and the Talent Search episodes, she is nowhere to be seen.
Why is Clash there to begin with? And why do they keep her around? In the earliest episodes, she is part of the Misfits' support team. Even if the Misfits' plans failas they usually dothe failure isn't a direct result of Clash's actions. In "Glitter & Gold," for instance, she's unable to stop the record store customer from buying a Jem album and the Misfits lose the contest, but the picture's much larger than that.
Clash generally holds up her end of the bargain. In "Rock Fashion Book," for instance, she snags the shooting schedule, which enables the Misfits to plot their next move. In "The Jem Jam," she manages to get ditch Ba Nee and tape the press conference. Clash is valuable to the Misfits because she can help them further their causes.
The Misfits exhibit a fair measure of tolerance toward their cohorts. For instance, no matter how many times they threaten to fire Eric Raymond, they always take him back. Techrat's transgressionsfor example, his dangerous gimmick gone awry in "The Jem Jam"are forgiven. Pizzazz never quite deserts her father, even though their relationship is far from healthy. Before "Father's Day," Clash's mistakes are similarly dismissed. Even after she blows her cover by singing (and badly) at the concert in "One Jem Too Many," she's seen at the Gabor Mansion in her next episode.
As the second season rolls on though, Clash starts screwing up in ways that directly affect the Misfits, costing them time, money and dignity. In "One Jem Too Many," for instance, she blows her cover as the Jem impostor by singing at the concert, against Pizzazz's orders. In "Aztec Enchantment," she gets the entire band stranded in the jungle. When the Misfits give Clash a final chance to prove herself, in "Video Wars," she once again crashes and burns.
Also, the other characters start learning Clash's tricks and undermining her value. They don't need her to break into the Holograms' studio and steal schedules when Techrat can access much more information on their rivals in seconds ("Shangri-La", "Treasure Hunt," etc.). Jetta can find just as many ways to rattle the competition, and is just as fierce a competitor. Even Roxy and Stormer can cook up some diabolical plots when inspiration strikes them ("Jazz Player").
In sum, in season two Clash becomes a lot less useful to the Misfitsin fact, she becomes a liability.
I WANNA BE A ROCK STAR
The second nail in Clash's coffin is her desire to be a Misfit. Although there are hints of this wish earlier in the seriesfor example, in "One Jem Too Many" where she is clearly eager to singit is never fully fleshed out until "Father's Day," when the band learns that Clash has lied to her father and posed as a Misfit.
The Misfits accept Clash, in their way, as a groupie, a hanger-on, a henchwoman. Once they discover that she wants more, they close ranks.
PIZZAZZ AND FATHER'S DAY
The third, and probably most significant nail in the coffin is the debacle of "Father's Day," when Clash unwisely invites the Misfits home with her. Of course, Clash means no harm with her invitation. She's trying to impress the Misfits the only way she knows how. She even shows the band her childhood home videos. She believes that the Misfitsparticularly Pizzazzwill be pleased by her adoring father; in fact, the sight makes them angry and resentful. In "Let's Blow This Town," the Misfits' video for the episode, Pizzazz throws a tantrum that spreads across the entire town. Compounding the rage is the surprise appearance of Harvey Gabor, arm in arm with one of Pizzazz's arch-enemies. In all, Clash's father's day banquet spells nothing but disaster and emotional meltdown for Pizzazz..
Pizzazz never forgives Clash for "Father's Day." The episode is a definitive break for the Mifits and their #1 fan. From that moment on, Clash is depicted as a nuisance and a wanna-be. Never again is she assigned a mission for the Misfits. The next time we see Clash, it's "Aztec Enchanment" and Pizzazz is shoving her out of the way to get away from her.
CLASH AS A CHARACTER
Clash is, when it comes down to it, the ultimate wannabe. She admires the Misfits and emulates their style. What she's missing, though, is the Misfits' survivor spirit. Clash, by all accounts, grew up in a supportive household with an adoring parent. By the looks of the Montgomery home and vintage car, the family wasn't poor. Clash simply doesn't comprehend the fact that the Misfitseven Stormerhave survived the School of Hard Knocks. She never really understands everything that the Misfits represent. If she did, she never would have invited the group to meet her father, for one thing.
What motivates Clash? She wants to be part of the gang, that much is apparent. She dresses like her idols and does anything she can to curry their favor and attention. She wants to be included. On some level, she's a very sad character.
Clash's resentment of Video is mentioned on several occasions in the series. Why does that cousin rivality exist? Was Video always held up as a good example? Did people back in Malberry compare the two girls? Is Clash jealous of Video's professional success? We're never told, but all of these things are likely.
(exit CLASH, stage left)
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