Boy. This episode was probably one of the best yet. We didn't learn a whole lot, but there was enough new information and action to hold my attention the entire time. When it finished, I couldn't believe it was already done! It's going to be so hard to wait all this week until I can hear Part XII next Saturday. It's so difficult to be patient when I have the means to hear the end of the saga in my possession right in my bedroom where I could pull it off the shelf at any time! But I promised that I would listen to the episodes as they aired and not take advantage of the fact that FOTF has done things differently this time around, so I'm going to do my best to keep that promise. But it's so hard!
I probably could review this episode in a short form, but I got up extra early this morning to get it done today, and I've had a couple of people tell me they really enjoy reading my reviews, so I'm going to do my best to do another long one. Here goes.
This episode begins with Penny and Connie on their planned hike together. But Connie isn't enjoying it very much she was expecting more of a leisurely stroll than a rock-climbing expedition. But Penny encourages her to keep on because it will be worth it when they reach the top and see the view. Connie asks her how she found the area, because she didn't know there was such a place in Odyssey. Penny says that she and some of the class have come up a few times with Dr. Trask to "meditate on the beauty of God." Connie remarks that Dr. Trask must really know his way around the area. That will become important later in the episode. Penny ironically remarks that she's not a big fan of trip like this though. She'd rather go skeet-shooting. I had to look that up. It's a recreational game involving the shooting of clay disks that have been flung into the air. Here's the link to Wikipedia's explanation. I've done something similar called pigeon shooting before. It's pretty fun; I don't know whether I'd rather do it over rock climbing though. Both are moderately fun activities to me. I'm not that outdoorsy of a person.
Anyway, the next scene finds us at Uncle Archie's Carnival where the auction is just starting. A funny-sounding man who's obviously played by Jess Harnell named Hubbard Gutman is the auctioneer. We hear him throughout the rest of the show whenever there's a Whit-Detective Polehaus scene because they keep watch at the auction for the entire episode. By the way, I wanted to mention that I think I trust Polehaus now. I'm done thinking that he's secretly working for the other side. Especially after the events in the last episode and this episode, I don't think there's any way that he's involved with the counterfeiters. In this scene, Polehaus tells Whit that he's been trying to find the Stiletto in the crowd. Whit quickly changes the subject, and asks the detective if he's had anyone see what went on at Trickle Lake Concrete the day before. But Polehaus says it's not his top priority. That pretty much tells us that something big must have happened there, because obviously Whit is smarter than Polehaus, and the pickup truck wouldn't have stopped there for no reason. Plus, Sullivan (Archie Haggler's Goon #1) non-subtly told us last time that the engraving plates were dropped off there.
Well, after that exchange, Whit gets a call from Monty who informs him that Derk Begs (I found out I've been spelling it wrong this whole time.) is finally out of his coma. It feels like it's been forever since that first episode when he was taken to the hospital, but I think it's actually only been two or three days! Monty wants in on the action, so he tells Whit that he's going to go try to get some information out of Derk. Whit tells him to ask about the numbers on the paper in the backpack that matched the ones sent in a text message. Then he started to tell him something about the Stiletto--I would guess he might have mentioned Jason--but the nurse started to come into the room, and all Monty got before hanging up was that the Stiletto is in town. He's able to use that information to threaten Derk later.
Then we hear the little ditty informing us that a Skint-scene is up next. He's preparing to leave to go check on things at the auction and then head over to the compound. He tells Buck his plans, warns him to keep a low profile, and leaves. No sooner has he exited than Ms. Katri...er...Katrina appears. She explains how she found him, but he's still surprised--especially when she explains that she's come to rescue him. He strongly hesitates, and she tries to persuade him by telling him that given a chance to get away from Mr. Skint's influence, he'll see what a "good heart" he has. Now, not to pick on her theology, but what's that verse in Jeremiah 17:9? "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Umm...that's pretty straightforward and clear. It's things like this, along with episodes like Opposite Day and When You're Right, You're Right that convince me that Odyssey is slowly moving toward the liberal side of the scale.
Anyway, when Buck argues that life isn't about good hearts or bad hearts, but rather about survival, Katrina responds that life is about the choices you make--you can choose evil or you can choose good. I guess you could say that, but in my Calvinistic point of view, life is about the choices God has made. That gets into the issue of free will vs. God's predestination, and I don't want to get into that, so I won't elaborate. She then implores him to choose God. Again, I'm pretty biased, but doesn't Jesus say, "You did not choose me, but I chose you"? Buck says he doesn't know anything about God, so Katrina tells him to come with her so she can explain it to him. They start to argue because Buck says he can't go, but then Skint appears and says that no, Buck can't go. (I'm sorta glad he popped in, because otherwise, there might have been a scene where Katrina explained "salvation" to Buck, and then I suspect I would have had a lot to complain about. But, unfortunately, Chris had a lot to say at the end of the episode, so I guess I'll have to say something when I get to that.) Mr. Skint had come back for his car keys, and he commands Buck to tie and gag her.
Back at the hospital, Monty goes to visit Derk Begs. After he walks in, Derk expresses his frustration over the fact that Monty double-crossed him. If this was a movie, the exchange probably wouldn't have been G-rated, but I'm glad it stayed that way. :) After they discuss German jazz bands, Monty cuts right to the chase and asks Derk about the numbers. Derk says they should be self-explanatory if the phone's working, so he suspects that Monty is bluffing. He starts to make a deal, but the nurse (who doesn't even care if he's the king of Siam) comes in and orders Monty to return to his room. Monty leaves Derk with the wonderful thought of what the Stiletto might do to him now that he's in town.
Now we go to one of the most pivotal scenes in the episode. Matthew and Emily decide they've collected enough information from the library, and Emily calls Eugene on the walkie-talkie thingamabob. She tells him that she's searched through any instances in Odyssey's past that involved counterfeit money, and then she cross-referenced those dates with national archives. She discovered that pretty much any time the subject popped up, Uncle Archie's Carnival was nearby. (What a surprise!) Matthew discovered a picture taken 20 years before featuring Archie Haggler and Benjamin Trask together, celebrating the beginning of The Consolidated Arts Company. Then comes the surprise (unless you were already expecting it like I was). Matthew went way back in the history of Dr. Trask, and found an article about him from 30 years before when he first came to Odyssey. The kids send the information to Eugene, and when he sees what the professor's occupation was before coming to town, he exclaims, "Unbelievable! Excellent work! I have to contact Mr. Whittaker right away!!"
Thankfully, we aren't kept in suspense for very long, because right in the next scene, we come across Whit telling Eugene to slow down because he can't understand what Eugene's saying. He slows down and tells Whit that the e-mail the kids sent him told him that Benjamin Trask was formerly a template engraver for the U.S. Mint! He was one of their top designers! The only reason he stopped was that he had to retire because the fumes were having a negative effect on his system. Hey, I wonder if that's why his mind has conjured up so much fluffy junk about meditation and God. ;) Eugene lastly counsels Whit to call and warn Connie to tell her that Penny could be involved in the conspiracy along with Dr. Trask.
Back at Trickle Lake, Connie and Penny are climbing down from the "small pile of rocks" remarking about how beautiful the view was. Just as they're starting to discuss the beginning of their business partnership in copying paintings, Connie's cellphone rings. (Even though she's changed the ringtone since A Thankstaking Story, it still might be too rocky for conservative listeners.) We hear Whit tell her to make sure she doesn't react, but that he has important news for her. She walks away from Penny who figures she must have left the cash register open again. We then hear a "WHAT?!" in the background, and Penny remarks, "Oooh. There must have been a lot of money in that drawer. :D
Over at the auction, Whit fills Detective Polehaus in off-air about Dr. Trask. He says he'll send one of his men up to his place. I don't know about you, but he seems awfully calm about the situation. You'd think having figured out the identity of a thirty-year counterfeiter would get him excited. Nope. He's more concerned about what he sees at the carnival. He tells Whit that he's noticed that everyone at the auction is winning equally; no one person is getting the top bid on any of the equipment. It's rigged. Whit deduces that that must be how the counterfeiters conveniently get the money distributed all over the country. But Polehaus assures Whit that the trucks holding the equipment and money won't get past their roadblock. He then makes a comment about the smell of victory. He's really getting out of character here. Usually he's totally suspicious and pessimistic that anything could go right for him, and now that he's at the pivotal point of the whole conspiracy, he sits back and talks about how superior and victorious he feels. Give me a break.
Now we get back to Connie and Penny's hike which, according to Penny, has turned into a "marathon" because Connie is so bent on getting back into town to talk to Whit. And Penny wants to know what in the world Mr. Whittaker could have said to her to get her heading back so quickly. But before Connie can say anything, lo and behold...Wooton pops out from the bushes! Oh joy! Rapture! (More like "Oh, migraine headache!" which I happen to have right now.) While Penny is amazed at the coincidence that Wooton was hiding in the woods just as they were going past, Connie scolds him for scaring them. He reminds her that he was planning a picnic at Montague Point. (I think that name is an allusion to the last name of the character Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I just read that for Literature this year, and it's usually a word used when referring to a forbidden relationship. [Romeo and Juliet had a forbidden love.] I think it might be a reference to the fact that Wooton and Penny are forbidden by the Bible to have an intimate relationship because Penny isn't a Christian. That's probably a longshot though. But maybe that's why they never make it to Montague Point. Does any of that make sense?) Connie tells Wooton that she forgot about the surprise, but that they need to get back to town.
Penny practically begs Connie to tell her why they're suddenly in such a hurry, so she gives in because she trusts Penny (oh, and we'll assume Wooton too). When Connie finally spills the beans that Penny's mentor might be the crime boss of the whole counterfeiting ring, Penny is shocked and immediately changes her mind and, to the dismay of Wooton, sides with Connie about going back to town. Penny leads them on a shortcut that will take them "to the truth."
*insert Skint music*
But, *gasp*, it's not a Mr. Skint scene! Marvin was wrong! Well, while he did say that it was always there when a Skint scene was coming, he didn't say that whenever it came, a Skint scene was coming. But this is a Buck scene, so it's pretty close. Buck has just finished tying and gagging Katrina, but she has something to say to him. After she promises not to scream, he takes the gag off. She tells him that he still has a choice as to whether or not he's going to follow Skint. She promises to pray for him every day, and then she gives him a talk about Mr. Skint. She tells him that though he may be loyal and that may seem like love, if he really loved Buck, he'd do the right thing. But that strikes a nerve, and Buck tells her that's enough talking for now. I have to commend Buck for his loyalty; even though Skint is doing the wrong thing for him, Buck, I think does love him, and he doesn't want to think of leaving him. But I think he'll eventually come to his senses, and that's when he'll leave Mr. Skint. The question is, what will he do then? He has nothing. That's why I think that it's perfectly plausible that the Meltsners will adopt him. It is a weird idea, and it'd take a lot of getting used to, but what other option is there? I mean, he could just go along with the counterfeiters, but that would contradict everything to which the Katrina-Buck saga seems to be leading. I don't know.
After a commercial break (I'm not sure if it was the first or second one), we get back to Whit and Polehaus where the auction is over and the trucks are leaving. Detective Polehaus is disappointed that he hasn't gotten to see the Stiletto, and Whit nearly ruins things when he says that he's been looking for him all day and he's concerned. But after a double-take by Polehaus, Whit quickly corrects himself, and the detective tells him he might be spending too much time in the sun. Whit changes the subject, drawing the attention to Uncle Archie, who's looking very pleased with himself. Polehaus remarks that he's confused about how they got the money into the trucks. We know from a few episodes ago that the plan was changed because of the Stiletto's suspected treachery, so that's not how the exchange is going to happen. Polehaus then speculates that maybe the trucks are headed to a rendezvous point, but then he chuckles because he "knows" that the roadblocks will get them.
Back in the woods with the three wheels (of which Connie was originally the third, but now, since the tides have changed, of which it seems Wooton has claimed the title), Penny claims they're almost to the place where the truth will be revealed. Judging by the barbed-wire fence, Penny says that they should be right about to Dr. Trask's property. Connie is shocked and frustrated that Penny brought them to his house, but Penny says that they need to get to the bottom of the issue, and this is best way to do it. However, a guard, who has a voice strikingly similar to Mr. Dosh from the Old Ross Compound, comes to them before they enter the property and informs them that this isn't Dr. Trask's house, but rather, they should go down a road over to the other side of the property where they will find him. Unfortunately, Mr. Skint picks that time to walk up, confirming to us that this is the Old Ross Compound and that is Mr. Dosh. He asks Mr. Dosh what the trouble is, and at that moment, Penny decides that she recognizes Skint--even though he's shaved his entire head and face. (She'd know his dreamy blue eyes anywhere!) Mr. Skint acknowledges her then, but at that time, Connie realizes the danger and starts leading the group away. Therefore Skint commands Dosh to get out his weapon and take them to the bunker and lock them up. He, not unlike Wooton, doesn't trust awfully strange coincidences. ;) By the way, I absolutely loved Phil Lollar's (Dosh) "You'll see" at the end of the scene.
Over at another yelling-detective scene, Polehaus is radioing Martin for a progress report on the blockage of the trucks. He redeems himself from any doubt I had that his heart is in this chase, because as soon as Martin describes the situation of eight trucks going in separate directions, Polehaus yells nearly at the top of his lungs to pull them over. However, the truck-drivers have lost their minds and are speeding on. But have they lost their minds, or are they quickly headed to the rendezvous at the Old Ross Compound. I'm going for the latter.
At the compound, Wooton, Penny, and Connie are locked in the bunker (reminding me of The Other Side of the Glass) which, relievingly, has both a light, and more than enough space for the picnic blanket. Wooton starts getting out the food, while Connie desperately tries to figure out how to escape. Okay, maybe not desperately, but she's pretty stressed. Wooton says that even though there's only one way out, there'll be another chance to leave because the bad guys will have to come back for all the boxes of money. And of course, the boxes have to be full of money, because who would go to all that trouble to package Cabbage Patch Dolls? Connie rips open a box and finds that it is full of money, and she concludes that adding that with all the other boxes in the bunker, there must be millions of bills! Penny remarks, "How could this happen?" But of course she doesn't mean, how could she be duped into helping Trask with this scheme--she means, how could she lose her taste for raspberry soda! *sighs* Seriously. To quote Marvin, "DIE...PENNY! DIE!"
So they're stuck. But maybe not! Wooton exclaims, "This is a job for Captain Absolutely!" But Connie quickly shoots back, "No it's not." Man! I totally believed him. I thought maybe the counterfeiters were going to come in and maybe he'd do some kung fu and make it out and tell the police and apprehend them all. But, then again, that'd be totally unrealistic and...unrealistic, so I'm glad it didn't happen that way. Instead, Skint barges in with some goons and they begin taking out the boxes. Dr. Trask then comes in and, after Wooton and he have a nice little exchange about the wonderful Montague Point, Penny starts into him. First she asks how he could do all this with all of his classes and talks about the beauty of God; they were just lies! But he says that everything he taught he believes is true. (That's awfully comforting.) So she digs further, making her first very good point of the season, saying that he didn't live it; none of that talk is any good if he doesn't live it. Dr. Trask commends her for making that point, and says he'll consider it...while he's living off of his millions of dollars. Finally we see the bad side of the professor. That seemed so out of character, but I guess the real time he was out of character were any of the times he was acting innocent. Then Penny takes the opportunity to make a very thoughtful observation: "You are not a very good person at all!" "Oh, good, bad," says Dr. Trask, "they're all a state of mind." Yeah, sure. Depravity of man--right there. Even the worst of criminals can't admit that they're bad. Anyway, the episode ends with Dr. Trask letting them know that they aren't getting away; they're getting moved with the money--and they're not using the roads! *Dun-dun-dun*
Okay, that's it! Well, not exactly. Chris said some interesting things during the ending segment about how we receive "salvation." (I put it in quotations because I don't believe doing what she said gets us true salvation.) I won't bore you with all that I think about what she said, because I'd probably spark a theological debate, which I don't want to do, so I'll just say I don't agree with her, and that's that. (Though you're perfectly welcome to ask me about it; I just don't feel like writing anything else now.)
Thank you for reading the review! I know it must take a long time, so I appreciate those of you who do. Please comment!