This is an entry into the 36th Fortnightly Topic Challenge: "Twisted Classics".
Each clue/answer pair in this puzzle has been affected by one of these types of plot twist:
- 28 of the clues have wordplay resulting in a string with a "red herring" of two extra letters (always adjacent to each other). Record each pair of letters (in either order) for later.
- A few answers will have "false protagonists". Put these false characters in their logical places; then, if the false character's value is n, circle the nth letter from the start and end of the clue. When read in clue order (left to right in each clue), these circled letters will give you step 1.
- Some clues will have a "reversal of fortune" somewhere in their clue. If this reversal happens at the m-th word, take the m-th letter of the clue for step 2. (Hyphenated words are one word, not multiple.)
- An unreliable narrator has added an extra detail to the remaining clues in the form of a single word. The first and last letters of these words form step 3 and step 4, respectively.
Once you've puzzled out all the clues' plot twists, use the extra pairs to locate specific cells in the grid, and shade those cells. The pattern of shaded cells will be another "plot twist" in a very different form; the location where it comes from is "piece 1".
Next, follow steps 1 through 4, and you will add another "twist" to this puzzle. Three words will be revealed: when the object they describe is written out fully, it is "piece 2".
Finally, examine the shaded cells. One fully-shaded column (which may be a bit distorted by now) is a very informal phrase I might say to describe the puzzle after steps 1-4 have been carried out. Reading all the shaded cells in the proper order (which is also probably distorted) gives a phrase that you might say to describe the puzzle after steps 1-4. This phrase is also cryptic wordplay for a final 3-word phrase that describes the puzzle as a whole.
1: Metallic element created by Zulu rival of Forbes
3: Medieval weapon made by a male cat and a bird of prey
11: Patch of ground's place for a pan
14: Courageous trap for cure
17: Seaweed now having edge
18: Brazilian state's cooler judges
20: Speaker from Apple device stolen by sextet
21: Nimble alumni hide soldier in brown beverage
23: Again, starts up vortices with aliens
24: Klansman obsessed with fragments of Twin Towers
25: Alternative to stereo, just in Missouri
26: Uninspiring elements of master ski lessons
27: Loop consideration from Hulk director cut short
31: Sound of Dixieland's seductiveness: first sign of evil
33: Stumbles around, having time for those putting on a show
36: With TeX, adjust spacing and remove "e" to get "seagull"
37: Cries for "eternal spirit" deception, less politely
40: Brief images before stream similar to works with Mary cradling Jesus
43: Elk wanders with herds, losing leader
44: Body-bending exercise with interminable lag just after greeting
45: Spots of actinium put next to empty neckerchief and yarmulke
46: Brief facts of lower bound with no origin
47: Released a pleasant smell to the audience
48: Crosses having soap ingredient? Absolutely!
49: Emetic made from trimmings of nutmeg, zinnia, ulmus, and epigaea, with collection of 27 books
50: Match that's automatically now, near early evening
1: Essentially, Captain Underpants is one from Karafuto
2: From Yukon: also, not then having era (or so I hear)
3: Graphics package with a couple of errors is a piece of cake
4: At first, one very grand area seemingly is a place of refuge
5: Picture of trams not having front two pieces
6: That man's honeycomb she lost
7: Burnt remains of Christmas near hospital
8: More recently, authors of Q form a faction
9: Crustaceans' thousand arms and two left feet
10: Collector of dust returned deer
11: Fight, when energy becomes heart, turns into a pool of liquid
12: For instance, interrupting unknown person's big head
13: Makes less distinct avocado and Chinese food without hesitation
15: Modernize, fixing up "fey ring" decal with time
16: Gives wrecked car a pull again, after an accident with smashed towers
19: Cartoonist or animator's animal found in accelerator
22: Solve anagram: "laxest" and "exalts"
23: Now aged, walked over footpath again without end
26: Composer's wear, when a farthing becomes a shilling
27: Burning of boat with us aboard
28: Even after admitting extra weight, chowed down
29: Be jealous of technique with dash (pieces towards the back) of ivy
30: Dispose of loops being used as recaps for author Eliot
32: Disastrous gala for sea urchin plant
34: Elvish script missing final two characters leaves just under a dozen
35: Psychologically manipulated pace
37: Perceive reverse-engineered strap
38: Utah college with high class renowned in the UK (abbr.)
39: Partially knew jaunty odor from France
40: Quiet, pale fathers
41: Cooler for breakfast beverage
42: Nepal's money sounds like something that might go with a buck