"The Search For Whit IV & V"
Written By: Shadowpaw
Adventures in Odyssey has been the air for 17 years. Would you believe, in all that time, I have not once had the priviledge of listening to a multi-part mystery on the radio? Oh sure, I came close with some of the Novacom stories, but those weren't your typical mystery shows. I also had the opportunity to listen to "The Pact I & II" before it hit the airwaves and was in Europe during "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow I, II, III". Before them, the most recent multi-part non-story arc mystery was "Malachi's Message I, II, III" which I heard all at once on Christmas Eve 1999. So then, how was my 'first time'? Well, truth be told... it was a mixed bag.
But let's back track a bit. Right from the opening you got the sense that you were in for an adventure unlike anything we've ever heard before. Though really, it's not all that different from "The Perfect Witness I, II, III" in terms of story telling. But rather than listen to Jenny recall the events of her kidnapping and try and solve the mystery along with the detective... here we are actively involved in the story, hearing from both sides of the mystery. It was an intriguing style of show that I wouldn't mind hearing again sometime, but unfortunately, it's a technique that suited this episode and probably wouldn't mesh with many other shows.
Front and center is the Washington family and their new home. It was a great way to open up the story and get the mystery rolling and I enjoyed following the kids on their investigation into the disappearing cheese doodles. Though I made the connection quiet early on that Lester was the one taking the food, which naturally lead to knowing Whit was somewhere in the house. This realization was fairly subtle and I felt no triumph in finding out that was the case the following week. When Chris started the wrap at the end of part one, I felt like there just wasn't even mystery left for part two.
I was right. Thus, my 'first time' I spoke of earlier suffered from fan speculation. Before hearing the episode, I welcomed the opportunity to chat with other fans about possible theories and ideas about what was coming up. Unfortunately, there really wasn't much to discuss as most fans all had similar ideas about what was to come. I'd be lying if I told you I had come up with everything, such as the combination for the safe being 3-18-99, but the things I didn't think of were thought up by other fans. Thus it made listening to part two anti-climactic as it was basically confirmation after confirmation of the theories fans had suggested. Some will argue that it's not the writer's fault for fans figuring out the mystery ahead of time, but I only partly agree as we had too much to chew on for a week. Too many hints and foreshadowing were presented to us that filling in the blanks just wasn't that difficult. You'd like to think the writers are two steps ahead of the listener, but in this case, the writers were content in letting us piggyback.
Another thing that bugged me was the "cliffhanger" from part one: Whit discovering that Lester has Xavier's jacket. To just about everyone listening, we already knew that Whit was in the Washington home and that jacket confirmed it. But the way Whit reacted made it sound like Lester had done something terrible to Xavier. Ok, I can get that Whit might logically think that... but the jacket was not once brought up by Whit in part two. It was a cliffhanger for the sake of ending on a dramatic note and never lead anywhere. There was no realization on Whit's part that he was in the Washington home, nor does he acknowledge the jacket once he's in the hospital. Tamika does bring up the 'missing' jacket, but she should have assumed Xavier had taken it to his mother's.
Ironically, of all the mysteries going on, the thing that shocked me the most was the speed in which the Whit storyline was finished with. The key element of part one was wrapped up quickly in part two when the search for the cash become the forefront. It was a bit of a twist that the plumber was the bad guy, though I did suspect as much way back when he showed up at the Washington's even before they had a plumbing problem. However, I forgot about that and was duped when the lawyer was on the phone and sounded very suspicious.
And what was with Connie? She had but a few lines and served little purpose in the episode. I guess Jason needed someone to bounce ideas back and forth with, but her character seemed fairly wasted in the long run.
However, I've been discussing a lot of the negatives. Many, many positive things came out of this episode as well. The music was absolutely stunning throughout, particularly in the hospital during Whit's flashback scene which I must admit was terrific. The perfect blending of past and present, without sounding awkward or cumbersome. It may have looked great on paper, but pulling it off would have been tough and the sound engineers did it flawlessly. A very nice moment. Another great moment occurred seconds before that, when Whit's heart stopped beating. It's not so much Whit that I'm thinking about though, it was Lester. I didn't like him for most of part one, but when I heard him call out to Marvin and Tamika I felt proud of him. Of all the various story arcs present in this show, it was his that I enjoyed the most. It was such a natural progression for his character and Jeff Doucette did a wonderful job making me sympathize with his character.
And on it's own, the episode is quite good. Well written, exciting, and full of great moments. The Washington family members were all utilized to their full potential, and aside from Connie, so was the rest of the cast. It's unfortunate that we had to wait a week in between shows as most of the suspense just got up and walked away. I envy those fans who will get to hear this episode uninterrupted for the first time, as they are in for a treat. But as far as my own experience with it, I should probably avoid talking with fans next time a two-part mystery airs... I just hate being spoiled! :o)