I have had "The Maple Leaf Forever" stuck in my head the past several days, and it may or may not have anything to do with Revelations Pt. 3.
But anyway, let's get down to business.
First off, Monica, what a fabulous summary of what many of us have been thinking! Part 3 left the door wide open for the show to delve into this whole fiasco's effect on Emily and her relationship with Whit in particular, and I really hope the team capitalizes on that opportunity. A simple "I'm sorry" from Whit would not have been difficult to fit into the dialogue, but it would have added SO MUCH, in my opinion. And I'm hoping we do finally get it somewhere down the line. I'm also REALLY hoping we don't end up with an "Emily needs to learn about forgiveness" episode. THAT would almost be enough to make me quit Odyssey.
MonkeyDude wrote:Something very unique about this arc is how morality has been bent constantly, blurring the line between protagonists and antagonists. Especially after listening to the 'What If Was Morrie Right?' clip, I'm kinda inclined to agree that really nobody is a good guy here. Everyone made mistakes which is what makes it feel realistic to me.
I am so glad you brought this up! There's a section of the song "Wonderful" from the Broadway musical Wicked that really resonates with me, and I think it applies wonderfully
here (haha, see what I did there?
Okay, I'll stop
). Anyway, it goes like this: "There are precious few at ease/ With moral ambiguities/ So we act as though they don't exist." And I kind of get the drift that that's what Phil's wanting us to think about here. AND I DIG IT. We live in a world that wants to assign absolutes to everything. We want "good guys" and "bad guys," simple "rights" and "wrongs." But reality is much more complex than that (just flip through your Bible--the Old Testament in particular). If Phil's goal with this trilogy was simply to spark conversations surrounding issues of uncertain morality, then he has achieved it brilliantly.
NOW. With regard to the question, "What if Morrie was right?"
WOW. There just is really a lot to unpack here. So I listened through the complete Rydell saga again yesterday with this question in mind. Playing devil's advocate, I tried to be as generous as possible in analyzing whether Morrie's actions in each episode were indeed good
. Here's what I came up with:
1. Parker for President - GOOD
Morrie did not break any rules in this episode, nor did he do anything that I would consider morally "wrong." I would argue that Emily was, in fact, the best candidate for student body president anyway, so, in my opinion, everything truly "ended up like it should."
2. The Key Suspect - TOSSUP
This episode has always been a bit confusing to me, and I found it pretty tricky to reconcile with the conclusion of Revelations. I’ll explain it here the way in which it makes the most sense to me.
Opening the lockers was likely Suzu’s idea (the clepto, looking to make a grab). Morrie figures out what she’s up to and follows her to watch. When he sees her take stuff from the lockers, he goes back and returns it. He follows her again on the second night, this time on a quest for information about the kids at Odyssey Middle School. After that, he’s seen all he needs to see and is ready to be done. But Matthew and Emily continue to investigate, so he gets a bit nervous that he and/or Suzu will be caught. So he frames Dion to protect himself and his sister. Only he doesn’t tell Suzu he’s done so. But she suspects him anyway and is now a little miffed at him for doing it because she now wants “to do what is right” for their new friends.
So, here, Morrie is doing what he thinks to be the right thing. First, he returns the stolen goods, and then does what is necessary to keep his sister out of trouble. But in doing so, he has still 1) broken and entered and 2) framed an “innocent” kid. BUT. There are ways to get around the breaking and entering thing, in that the window could have already been broken and some other stuff I don’t feel like typing out at the moment. AND, once prompted to do so, Dion DID break into the lockers. It's arguable that when presented with the opportunity, Dion would have done the wrong thing anyway. So this one’s a tossup for me.
3. The Secret of the Writer's Ruse - GOOD
This one's pretty straightforward. Except for that problematic Whit line at the end. I thought that was going to resolve itself in pt. 3, but alas.
4. The Good in People - GOOD
Olivia needed to keep her promise. Morrie's scheme gave her an extra push of motivation that would not likely have come from any other persuasion tactic. This one is actually a very Whit-like move in my opinion. And, as Olivia admitted, Morrie worked just as hard, if not harder, than the other kids to help raise the money. This is another "good" for Morrie's record.
5. A Sacrificial Escape - ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? *drumrollllll* GOOD
To quote Grandpa Bassett, "...and no, I haven't lost my mind."
Emily and Matthew WANTED to do the escape room. Morrie just raised the stakes. For all Emily and Matthew knew, the mysterious voice and all that jazz could have just been part of a super intense escape room experience. Had something truly dangerous happened, or, say, had one of them been on the verge of an actual panic attack or something, I think Morrie would have had enough sense and empathy to stop it. But nobody was ever in any actual danger. Theoretically, it could all be chalked up as an elaborate prank. And Morrie's motives were "good"--to test the mettle of Emily's and Matthew's faith and friendship.
6. Further from the Truth - Good? From bad?
This is the one I get hung up on as far as consent goes. Emily did not consent to the imagination adventure here. There is an element of consent when kids go into the imagination station, because they are voluntarily doing so. Not here, though.
My counterargument to Phil's argument that kids go through a lot of intense situations in the imagination station is that in the actual imagination station, they know that what they are experiencing is already in the past and that they are not in any actual danger. Emily, in both the escape room and the cobblebox adventure, did not know what was really going on or why. And that can really mess with your head.
If Morrie had gone about this part of "bringing out the good" in Emily in a different way--say, asked Emily to go on an imagination station adventure with him, maybe that would've been okay. Anywho, the more I think about this tech, the more weirded out I get by it. Like I said, the key here is consent, and it was clearly not given. But here, again, Morrie is acting very similarly to what he's seen Whit do, and the lesson he's trying to get across is definitely a good one. So... "good from bad"?
If you do the math, that's 5 "good"s out of 6. Not bad.
So now we're left with a few questions:
1. How many punishable offenses has Morrie actually committed?
2. Whose job is it to confront Morrie and make him face consequences for his actions?
3. Even if Morrie's actions are indeed "good," is it really his place to be bringing out "the good in people"?
With regard to the first and second questions, like Mrs. Mado mentioned, Morrie is "slippery," and it really is difficult to solidly pin anything on him. My head cannon is that when Whit found out Morrie was behind the escape room fiasco, he spoke with Mrs. Mado to get her input regarding suitable consequences for Morrie. That is when she shared the excerpt of Morrie's journal with Whit. And we all know Mrs. Mado's got spy stuff to do, so she leaves Morrie's cummupence in Whit's hands. Whit's still trying to figure out what he's going to do when Morrie comes bursting into his office with Emily's phone, and we know the rest.
The third question has a very complex answer, in my opinion. Morrie is really only mimicking what he perceives Whit has been doing. This is such an interesting concept to me. I mean, as they say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and this shows us that Morrie actually really does look up to and respect Whit, which is GREAT. But Morrie is a CHILD. And he is manipulating CHILDREN. As Emily pointed out, his "lessons" are quite often a bit "off" and may in certain instances end up causing more harm than good. And I don't know that it really is his place to be trying to teach the lessons he's trying to teach.
This is going to be a pretty rough segue here, and I apologize about that, but I wasn't sure how else to fit this in, so here we are. Whit's gotten a lot of flack after these episodes, and a lot of it is deserved. But I'm going to go to bat for him a little bit here:
First of all, it's important to note that Whit actually could not have stopped what went on in the escape room, because he did not yet know who was behind it. Additionally, at the end of A Sacrificial Escape, Whit does tell Emily to tell her dad to come by the next day so he can talk with him further about what happened. I would like to assume that in this "off-camera" discussion, Whit apologizes to Simon Jones and assures him that he will do everything he can to get to the bottom of it. I would also like to think that Whit also keeps Simon in the loop when he discovers Morrie to be the perpetrator and leaves up to Simon's discretion whether to tell his daughter bout it or not.
Additionally, as I mentioned before, Whit has only very recently discovered conclusive evidence that Morrie is behind each of the incidents in question. Before any corrective action is taken, Whit must first consult with with Morrie's guardian.
Now, what about the question, "Is Emily the bad guy?"
In my opinion, ABSOLUTELY NOT. There nothing wrong with investigating the incidents that have been going on, and as Bob pointed out, she seems to be the only one here who is actively committed to the truth. And when her desperation leads her to some slightly dubious actions, she is quick to apologize. She is willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and continually puts others ahead of herself, even those who have clearly damaged her trust in them.
I would argue that she was not wrong in suspecting Morrie as the bad guy. Using deceitful measures to bring about a positive result deserves any investigation it receives, and Emily has a right to know who has been operating to bring out the good in her.
More than any of the rest of this, though, I see Emily as a broad representation of mental health issues and how they are often handled (or not handled, as it turns out). Question: Why does Emily not seek help, and even refuse it, in her investigation? I think the answer to this question is clearly illustrated by Phil's questioning whether what Emily has experienced is really trauma. Emily has perceived that the people around her are not taking the mysterious happenings as seriously as she is. She feels invalidated by this and thus is hesitant to trust the others. She figures it's better to go it alone than to not be taken seriously. And this is all too often the case with mental health issues in real life. What constitutes trauma (or triggers depression, anxiety, etc.) for one person may not for another. This does not invalidate what the traumatized individual is feeling, but unfortunately often forms a barrier against the person getting the help they need.
That said, my opinion is that in these episodes, Whit has shirked his responsibility to look out not only for Emily's physical wellbeing, but also her mental and emotional wellbeing. I would love to see this angle continue to be explored, with Whit ultimately apologizing for failing Emily in this area.
Oof, okay, that was a lot. If anyone has actually read through this whole mess, my deepest apologies and heaven bless you. There's still so much more I could say about the Rydell saga, but I'll spare you all for now.