898-900: The Rydell Revelations - SPOILERS

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Monica Stone
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Post by Monica Stone »

Thank you for sharing this, Scientific Guy! This is really interesting and I'm glad we have an official statement.
Scientific Guy wrote:Rest assured that we did not come to the topic in question — that Whit knew that the escape room incident would occur and still allowed it to — in any light manner. There were many discussions, not all of them pleasant, of how we should approach the issue (some of the debates made it into the episode themselves). The crux of the argument is how appropriate risky situations, or specifically perceived risky situations, are for children to experience and be encouraged to experience.

First of all, we as Christians should be assured of our eternal safety through Jesus Christ. However, that does not mitigate the risk on earth — far from it. From Philippians 1:21 (“To life is Christ, to die is gain.”) to Luke 12:4 (“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.”) to John 16:33 (“In the world you have tribulation...”), the Bible tells us numerous times that living for Christ is not safe. In many ways, it's risky, and it's not our place to look for a “safe” life.

Naturally, we understand how our call to live for Jesus is different from pushing someone into real danger. We didn't want to go too far in making the escape room dangerous for any of the kids involved, so we mentioned multiple times how the threat was only psychological, not real. When Whit calls Morrie’s bluff and says the whole thing was a lie, Morrie follows up by saying how he wished Emily had figured it out and lived up to his expectations. We understand how, if we made it physically dangerous, listeners would be upset, which is why we were very careful to ensure that it wasn't.

But the psychological risk of the escape room brings up another question, the very one discussed in the last scene of “Revelations, Part 2”: What makes the escape room different from the Imagination Station? After all, don't kids think they are at risk of dying while in the Station? Whit explains at the end of Part 3 that he was sympathetic to what Morrie did, the individual actions he took. However, there are significant differences to the initially similar situations, particularly with Morrie's motivations. They aren't necessarily good. These differences will be addressed in the episodes to come.
Morrie’s motivation is his personal enjoyment and not the benefit of those he manipulated, but Whit’s is to help others be prepared for the trials in their future in a righteous manner.
Hopefully, the upcoming episodes will elicit praise rather than criticism as you continue to thoughtfully consider the themes in upcoming episodes, one of which is how Morrie and Suzu will have to deal with what they've done in the previous episodes. Please tell us what you think in the days ahead as we continue the story!

Remember: This is a paraphrase.
My argument concerning the moral in "The Rydell Revelations" itself still stands. As you have brought up, the episode can and will be viewed in isolation until album 70 and will always stand alone in its moral. Whit says (and I'm paraphrasing, of course), "I probably should have stepped in sooner, but you three are geniuses who can and should handle less tame adventures." Big disagree. I've explained why before I think this is a bad moral, but I'd also like to add that Raymond Rydell asked Whit to keep an eye on his kids and it's implied he also wanted him to keep them out of trouble. Instead, Whit allows them to get into crimes and manipulating other kids. That isn't a healthy mentorship.

Trials & tribulations are apart of the human experience. We also shouldn't be afraid to do what's right even when it's tough (no matter what). We shouldn't be paralyzed by fear of death. All of the verses are correct but are bad excuses for Morrie's extremely intentional schemes and the pain he caused to others. We shouldn't be cripped by fear of death, but there are situations, like the escape room, where characters think they are going to die and are afraid. It's natural and God gave us those instinctual feelings. Those feelings are valid and I do not think God frowned upon Emily & Matthew for fearing for their lives. I'm really muddling my way through this, but it's late. If we want to discuss this point further, I'll do it when I'm more fully awake. My point is that those verses do not justify or make better Morrie's actions.

The escape room could have truly had a real, physical threat but ultimately Emily & Matthew came out physically unscathed. Regardless of whether there was a physical threat or not, they came out of it fine. Either way, the point is they thought they were going to die.

All of that said, I am glad this will be further discussed in future episodes. Even if "The Rydell Revelations" is really unclear and confusing about its moral, at least we'll get some clarity in the future. I would rather have a flawed three-parter where future episodes elaborate on the themes than a flawed three-parter where future episodes do not clarify at all.
Scientific Guy wrote:Also here's a thing I recorded with Monica yesterday.
Gianna: Was Morrie Right? from AIO Audio News
\:D/ \:D/
Last edited by Monica Stone on Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:36 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Monica Stone wrote:Thank you for sharing this, Scientific Guy! This is really interesting and I'm glad we have an official statement.
Ditto!

I agree with you on all major points here, Monica. I am not satisfied with Nathan's explanation. If anything, it removes all pretense that Morrie's motives have been in any way good and, in my book, turns John Avery Whittaker himself into the child-manipulating master villain of this saga.
Monica Stone wrote:Whit says (and I'm paraphrasing, of course), "I probably should have stepped in sooner, but you three are geniuses who can and should handle less tame adventures." Big disagree. I've explained why before I think this is a bad moral, but I'd also like to add that Raymond Rydell asked Whit to keep an eye on his kids and it's implied he also wanted him to keep them out of trouble. Instead, Whit allows them to get into crimes and manipulating other kids. That isn't a healthy mentorship.
This is exactly right. Morrie has undeniably done wrong here. But I am still inclined to place the greater blame on Whit. The bottom line is that Whit has failed these kids. He had the opportunity to mentor and guide them down the path of what is true and right and good. But he didn't do it. Instead, he allowed them to run rampant, continuing to believe that their skewed sense of morality is "good" and hurting another innocent child in the process. And for this, I believe that Whit, as the authority and teacher figure, must be held to the highest level of accountability. [See Hebrews 13:17 - "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account" and James 3:1 - "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness"]
Monica Stone wrote:The escape room could have truly had a real, physical threat but ultimately Emily & Matthew came out physically unscathed. Regardless of whether there was a physical threat or not, they came out of it fine. Either way, the point is they thought they were going to die.
Again, you are absolutely correct here. Honestly, the argument that what Emily experienced is not truly traumatic because she was never actually in any danger makes me very angry. So I have a question for the Odyssey team. What if the scenario had been different? What if, for example, someone had threatened Emily with a realistic-looking fake gun (think Waylaid in the Windy City or Treasure Hunt)? Would the "well she wasn't in any real danger anyway" argument still stand? Where do you draw the line there? Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter. The trauma Emily experienced cannot be dismissed simply because someone else may not see it as such. Like both of you, Monica and Lee, I side with Emily in this whole thing, and if the rest of this saga tries to spin Emily out to be the bad guy, I will be extremely upset.

When all is said and done, I think the AIO team would do well to hold off on production of the next Rydell saga episode (anybody wanna talk predictions on that?) and just take some extra time to hear and consider the fans' concerns at this time.
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Post by MonkeyDude »

Thanks, Scientific Guy! It's good to see a statement directly from the AIO team about that!
Monica Stone wrote:My argument concerning the moral in "The Rydell Revelations" itself still stands. As you have brought up, the episode can and will be viewed in isolation until album 70 and will always stand alone in its moral. Whit says (and I'm paraphrasing, of course), "I probably should have stepped in sooner, but you three are geniuses who can and should handle less tame adventures." Big disagree. I've explained why before I think this is a bad moral, but I'd also like to add that Raymond Rydell asked Whit to keep an eye on his kids and it's implied he also wanted him to keep them out of trouble. Instead, Whit allows them to get into crimes and manipulating other kids. That isn't a healthy mentorship.

Trials & tribulations are apart of the human experience. We also shouldn't be afraid to do what's right even when it's tough (no matter what). We shouldn't be paralyzed by fear of death. All of the verses are correct but are bad excuses for Morrie's extremely intentional schemes and the pain he caused to others. We shouldn't be cripped by fear of death, but there are situations, like the escape room, where characters think they are going to die and are afraid. It's natural and God gave us those instinctual feelings. Those feelings are valid and I do not think God frowned upon Emily & Matthew for fearing for their lives. I'm really muddling my way through this, but it's late. If we want to discuss this point further, I'll do it when I'm more fully awake. My point is that those verses do not justify or make better Morrie's actions.

The escape room could have truly had a real, physical threat but ultimately Emily & Matthew came out physically unscathed. Regardless of whether there was a physical threat or not, they came out of it fine. Either way, the point is they thought they were going to die.

All of that said, I am glad this will be further discussed in future episodes. Even if "The Rydell Revelations" is really unclear and confusing about its moral, at least we'll get some clarity in the future. I would rather have a flawed three-parter where future episodes elaborate on the themes than a flawed three-parter where future episodes do not clarify at all.
Scientific Guy wrote:Also here's a thing I recorded with Monica yesterday.
Gianna: Was Morrie Right? from AIO Audio News
\:D/ \:D/
These are really good thoughts. I genuinely hadn't thought about Raymond asking Whit to sorta mentor Morrie and Suzu and push them in the right direction and Whit is just kinda like "uh-huh, yep sure thing. I will do that by letting them traumatize the other children and not formulating a bond with them or telling them anything about my previous affiliation with their family." (to be fair though, I think there was an alright explanation for that last thing on why Whit didn't let them know. Either way, the whole thing just feels very un-Whit-like)

((Ok so I wrote this next part before you posted your comment Brownie but this is kinda along the same lines of what you said but just worse haha! I tend to sit on my comments before I post them most times so yeah))

Also, I'm sure I'm literally the only one (haha jk jk) but I'm a little bit confused about a couple of things. I haven't heard the review with Phil Lollar yet so I'm not going to pretend like I know what he was talking about or the context in which he said it. It really wouldn't surprise me if he was playing devil's advocate, but it almost feels as if the escape room is being somewhat justified by saying "oh but Emily and Matthew aren't really traumatized because they know they weren't in any danger now, and Christians aren't supposed to be afraid of death." It seems from the episodes and how Phil Lollar himself has written Emily, she is slightly shaken by the experience (as seen in FFTT and Rydell Revelations). But who knows, maybe she really isn't traumatized about the experience and has moved on. That leads to the question many of us have been grappling with; if no one is hurt and people learn from the experience does that make it good? As previously said about this incident by Lee, 'the end doesn't justify the means', which to my knowledge is a theme that has been covered on Odyssey countless times. What is the defining factor that makes the escape room incident a moral or immoral means to get a positive result? If the fact that Emily and Matthew aren't traumatized and potentially became better people (both good things) is how Morrie's actions are justified...I just don't know. Using the fact no one was hurt as a reason why unnecessarily dangerous incidents can be a good thing feels slippery.

This is a garbage and extremely flawed analogy that I'll probably regret making in the future so feel free to tear it to shreds but imagine if I were to shove my friend onto the ground and they found 100$ hidden underneath some furniture because they were on the ground. Does that make my action ok? No, it doesn't. My action does not change and remains rude and unnecessary even if it resulted in something good. Now let's switch it up. What if I were to see the 100$ on the ground so I then push my friend onto the ground so they can see it? My motive would be different and more moral, much better than just shoving my friend for personal reasons. However, my friend could still get hurt and the action remains rude and unnecessary when I just could've talked to my friend or picked it up myself. However, since my friend wasn't hurt the action will seemingly fade in the light of the result because "bazinga we are slightly less broke than before"! But what if my friend did get hurt? Suddenly things seem a little different. Why is that?

What if Emily or Matthew had gotten hurt? Not from being suffocated, since that wasn't a huge possibility, but instead, as Brownie pointed out, had reacted negatively to the stress or suffered a panic attack? Morrie's actions and motives remain unchanging, but the result of those things does not. I have a really, really hard time seeing Whit excuse Morrie's actions the same way he did in Rydell Revelations if this was the case.

Yes, Whit or Morrie could have somehow stopped the escape room if the whole thing had gone bananas, but suddenly the choice to trap Emily and Matthew(or let the whole thing happen) seems completely foolish and downright sinister. If the good in people isn't brought out or worse, people get hurt, the escape room only seems to serve as a mindless death game that I can't imagine AIO entertaining the thought of portraying in a positive light. But because good things came from what had the potential to be bad, the show does not (yet) address it negatively.

My biggest question as of now is how does the show justify the virtue and ethics of Morrie and Suzu's escape room (as well as other shenanigans) and are those ways of justification right? Is it the result of Morrie's actions that define their morality? Or rather the motives of those actions do that as well? Neither? (Seriously though, sorry for all the questions squad fam)

I don't want to play a game of "what-if" though. That isn't fair to the people who worked hard on these episodes (which I really enjoyed btw). Rather, I just want to explore these things and get input from you all since they've been swirling around in my brain as I'm sure they have been in yours.

One last thing but look, I know Emily is a 'special little bean' but that doesn't mean experiencing trauma is the only way for her to grow as a person and live to her potential. Morrie and Suzu could have definitely found a way to learn about Christians and bring out the good in people without going to these measures.

I'm not really trying to make a point to anyone here but I'm mostly just trying to work out how I feel about this whole thing via typing so thank you for humoring me. I'm sure I'll be back through here to edit or re-clarify some junk so yeah
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Monica Stone
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Post by Monica Stone »

I looove these thoughts, Brownie & MonkeyDude! =D>
ByeByeBrownie wrote:I agree with you on all major points here, Monica. I am not satisfied with Nathan's explanation. If anything, it removes all pretense that Morrie's motives have been in any way good and, in my book, turns John Avery Whittaker himself into the child-manipulating master villain of this saga.

This is exactly right. Morrie has undeniably done wrong here. But I am still inclined to place the greater blame on Whit. The bottom line is that Whit has failed these kids. He had the opportunity to mentor and guide them down the path of what is true and right and good. But he didn't do it. Instead, he allowed them to run rampant, continuing to believe that their skewed sense of morality is "good" and hurting another innocent child in the process. And for this, I believe that Whit, as the authority and teacher figure, must be held to the highest level of accountability. [See Hebrews 13:17 - "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account" and James 3:1 - "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness"]
I was literally thinking about this today. Whit is an antagonist of this saga. Perhaps not technically the main one, but by all accounts, he is considered an antagonist. He is not an antagonist because he made poor decisions (which he most certainly did). It's more to it than that. He did not opose the main antagonist (Morrie) when he did awful things and allowed these events to continue happening. Whit only stepped in to help the antagonist (again Morrie) fight a "bigger bad" (Mrs. Mado) and when Emily is kidnapped. It takes a literal kidnapping for Whit to come around, confront Morrie, and then move on to rescue an innocent girl. Who knows when Whit would have stepped in if Morrie hadn't run into his office in a panic?

I didn't think of Whit from that perspective, but you are right. Whit could have helped them. He could have mentored them in a healthy way. He could have done so many things differently. But he chose to be deceptive and allowed them to do practically whatever they pleased. I don't have a problem with Whit hiding that he was longtime friends with Raymond Rydell. It makes sense. He didn't want Morrie and Suzu to distance themselves and become unreachable. But he should not have allowed Suzu and Morrie to continue committing crimes and hurting others. He could have prevented everything but he didn't.
ByeByeBrownie wrote:Honestly, the argument that what Emily experienced is not truly traumatic because she was never actually in any danger makes me very angry. So I have a question for the Odyssey team. What if the scenario had been different? What if, for example, someone had threatened Emily with a realistic-looking fake gun (think Waylaid in the Windy City or Treasure Hunt)? Would the "well she wasn't in any real danger anyway" argument still stand? Where do you draw the line there? Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter. The trauma Emily experienced cannot be dismissed simply because someone else may not see it as such. Like both of you, Monica and Lee, I side with Emily in this whole thing, and if the rest of this saga tries to spin Emily out to be the bad guy, I will be extremely upset.
The writers may have completely screwed over Whit, but I don't think they would frame Emily in the wrong. I don't think... She is so justified in her distrust of Morrie & Suzu. Yes, she should ultimately forgive them, but forgiveness doesn't equal friendship restoration. I mentioned this earlier, I want an episode where Emily not only distrusts Morrie and Suzu, but also Whit. Then Whit realizes how downright immoral his actions were and has to figure out how to deal with the consequences of his actions. If album 70 actually gives me this, I cannot even put into words how happy I would be. It wouldn't "fix" everything that has already occurred, but it would be an incredibly amazing step in the right direction.
MonkeyDude wrote:I haven't heard the review with Phil Lollar yet so I'm not going to pretend like I know what he was talking about or the context in which he said it. It really wouldn't surprise me if he was playing devil's advocate, but it almost feels as if the escape room is being somewhat justified by saying "oh but Emily and Matthew aren't really traumatized because they know they weren't in any danger now, and Christians aren't supposed to be afraid of death." It seems from the episodes and how Phil Lollar himself has written Emily, she is slightly shaken by the experience (as seen in FFTT and Rydell Revelations). But who knows, maybe she really isn't traumatized about the experience and has moved on. That leads to the question many of us have been grappling with; if no one is hurt and people learn from the experience does that make it good? As previously said about this incident by Lee, 'the end doesn't justify the means', which to my knowledge is a theme that has been covered on Odyssey countless times. What is the defining factor that makes the escape room incident a moral or immoral means to get a positive result? If the fact that Emily and Matthew aren't traumatized and potentially became better people (both good things) is how Morrie's actions are justified...I just don't know. Using the fact no one was hurt as a reason why unnecessarily dangerous incidents can be a good thing feels slippery.
Love all of this. I, too, would not be surprised if Phil Lollar was playing devil's advocate or exaggerating his thoughts to cause discussions and reflection. The argument that Emily probably isn't that traumatized doesn't make sense coming from him. He is the one who has written for Emily the past three episodes and it shows that she is shaken. He cannot dismiss his own writing.

Morrie's actions are not justified no matter the result. He forced Emily & Matthew into a diabolical situation where Emily had to choose Matthew's life before her own. She made the most selfless decision, but not only out of love for her friend, but out of seeming necessity. She should not have had to make that choice in the first place. I'd like to quote Wilson Knox in recent Phil-Lollar-written-episode, Millstones, "Doing wrong in the name of doing right is still wrong."
MonkeyDude wrote:My biggest question as of now is how does the show justify the virtue and ethics of Morrie and Suzu's escape room (as well as other shenanigans) and are those ways of justification right? Is it the result of Morrie's actions that define their morality? Or rather the motives of those actions do that as well? Neither? (Seriously though, sorry for all the questions squad fam)
Again, the ends do not justify the means. If the show does try to do that, I'm going to be horrified. I do not think future episodes will try to justify Morrie and Suzu's actions, but I don't know if their actions will be treated in the very serious manner with which would be appropriate. We shall see. In Nathan Hoobler's paraphrased statement, he said that future episodes will deal with the fallout of their actions. So we just have to be fair and wait.
MonkeyDude wrote:I don't want to play a game of "what-if" though. That isn't fair to the people who worked hard on these episodes (which I really enjoyed btw). Rather, I just want to explore these things and get input from you all since they've been swirling around in my brain as I'm sure they have been in yours.
I am positive that none of us are trying to trash these episodes and say they are definitively horrible and no one should like them. I'm not trying to say that at all. I have no interest in engaging in conversation dedicated to tearing down and hating aio. This is a productive, thought-provoking conversation worth having and constructive criticism is valid. Other than all of the Whit & morality problems, I think these episodes are intriguing and otherwise good. Part 1 literally has the best Odyssey soundtrack ever with an extremely satisfying way of weaving together past events and amazing characterization. But currently, the overall episodes are overshadowed by the moral weirdness weaved throughout them.
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Post by ByeByeBrownie »

Monica Stone wrote:
MonkeyDude wrote:I don't want to play a game of "what-if" though. That isn't fair to the people who worked hard on these episodes (which I really enjoyed btw). Rather, I just want to explore these things and get input from you all since they've been swirling around in my brain as I'm sure they have been in yours.
I am positive that none of us are trying to trash these episodes and say they are definitively horrible and no one should like them. I'm not trying to say that at all. I have no interest in engaging in conversation dedicated to tearing down and hating aio. This is a productive, thought-provoking conversation worth having and constructive criticism is valid. Other than all of the Whit & morality problems, I think these episodes are intriguing and otherwise good. Part 1 literally has the best Odyssey soundtrack ever with an extremely satisfying way of weaving together past events and amazing characterization. But currently, the overall episodes are overshadowed by the moral weirdness weaved throughout them.
THIS. While I am disappointed by the confusing morals presented here, this truly is an EXCELLENT trio of episodes, and the AIO team is to be commended for some really great work here. We have had some wonderfully thought-provoking discussions regarding these episodes, and I'm looking forward to continuing these conversations!
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Post by Monica Stone »

How are we supposed to view past Rydell Saga episodes in light of what we have learned about Whit's involvement? I stand by my opinion that Whit's character and the morality weirdness in these episodes is by far the worst part of the saga (I really enjoyed everything else). But now we know that Whit knew nearly everything in advance. I won't lie to you guys, "A Sacrificial Escape" is one of my favorite episodes ever, probably in my top 2-3 personal favorites. But I feel like there is this shadowy cloud hanging over the episode that is Whit. Whit knew it all and still allowed it to happen. Emily feels betrayed, I feel betrayed, and I think we all feel somewhat betrayed. When Whit is being geniunely comforting & kind to Emily at the end of the episode, it feels wrong now. I don't fault "A Sacrificial Escape" for what "The Rydell Revelations" does with Whit. But how do I reconcile what I know now with past episodes?

I would genuinely love to hear everyone's answers.
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Post by Bob »

It's a disturbing possibility, but I question whether what Whit did here is necessarily that much worse than what he's done in other episodes.

Stay with me and think about it for a moment. In "No Boundaries", Alex gets into the Room of Consequence to see what life would be like without rules. Between programming the adventure and his general knowledge of human nature, Whit has a pretty good idea of the general direction this is likely to go, even if he doesn't necessarily expect Alex to abandon all his inhibitions and be all-out juvenile delinquent in just a few minutes. He doesn't serve as a 'conscience' by nagging Alex to do the right thing (granted, that would somewhat go against the theme of a 'no boundaries' program where human nature is left to take its course). So, Alex commits vandalism, attacks an adult, kills his best friend in a car accident, and is paralyzed himself. It's fair to say that Alex is very upset at the end of the program, although he appears to bounce back fast.

Is letting Alex bring out the bad inside and suffer the consequences actually any better than letting Morrie run amok for at least the pretense of bringing out the 'good inside'? If it isn't, then we could make the case that 1) Whit comforting Emily isn't any different from his trying to help others after their miserable experiences, and 2) Whit's often been in the wrong the whole time he's been doing these adventures, and it just took Morrie doing a not totally dissimilar bad thing for us to finally figure it out.

If you think about it, you can make the case that there are a lot of 'iffy' or dangerous trips. To list a few: Digger ("Digger") Digwillow experiences the Crucifixion program, which, it goes without saying, is not exactly kid-friendly. Jimmy is near Abraham Lincoln's assassination (after having befriended him). Robyn is put into apparent peril by Jezebel several times, and there's even a part in the adventure where she and Jack thought they were about to die. The infamous Mortal Coil program traumatized Eugene, badly rattled Tom, and put Whit himself into a coma. Liz may not have been 'scarred' exactly by her comparatively mild eternal birthday, but she did scream in horror at the time when Whit pulled his 'false ending' trick, and she did note later on that it almost 'put her off [her favorite dessert] permanently'. The girl in the Middle Eastern Club adventure was placed outside of the Ark when the Flood came. Even Mr. Weizel was disturbed by his relatively goofy and unrealistic experience (albeit, in a program Jason and Jack, not Whit, worked on).

Now, you can make the case that some of those are not Whit's fault; they're programming errors, and/or times when people used the technology without his consent. That's true and is a legitimate rebuttal, but at the same time, if Whit hadn't done something wrong (in his programming) or careless (in allowing a circumstance where people could access his super-advanced top secret technology without him present) or both, it wouldn't have happened. It seems a little odd to give Whit a full pass for that while being disturbed by his complicity in the escape room scheme. The only reasons why we are okay with all those other trips is because 1) it's not real (but then, it turns out the escape room wasn't a real threat either?) and 2) they learn a lesson and usually don't seem to be permanently hurt by it (so the ends justify the means?)

The case for Morrie doing good hasn't gotten better, but the case for Whit doing bad seems to have gotten a lot more compelling. Am I out in left field?

Also, this thought crossed my mind earlier, and even if it's not exactly up to date in the point of the discussion we're at, it's too good to pass up altogether. Barrett was about to waste his money on a video game, but instead, he comforted Riley, befriended him, and bought him a drink. Considering that Barrett has demonstrated both an obsession with video games and trouble giving money to good causes before, you could say this is a pretty big deal. So, Jay Smouse brings out the good in people!!!
Last edited by Bob on Sun Aug 09, 2020 9:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Scientific Guy »

Bob wrote:The case for Morrie doing good hasn't gotten better, but the case for Whit doing bad seems to have gotten a lot more compelling. Am I out in left field?
No, you're on point here, but we need to understand the tu quoque fallacy. It's what Morrie makes at the end of "Revelations, Part 2", and what Ryan and I talked about recently. I'll throw that audio in here.

Ryan: Was Morrie Right? from AIO Audio News


The tu quoque fallacy states, "You're doing that bad thing, so why can't I?" It's different from pointing out hypocrisy because the one making the fallacy also wants to perform the action being cited as bad. Therefore, when Morrie calls Whit out for doing the same thing Morrie is, it's not a tu quoque if the action is good. However, under the hypothesis that Morrie's actions are not good, Whit's actions become bad, and the tu quoque does not save Morrie if it turns out Whit's actions are good. That's the fallacy on its face, without going into the logic of why Morrie and Whit are different.

In other words, if the argument is made, "Whit does this all the time, and we call it good. Therefore, why can't we call what Morrie's doing good, since it's basically the same?" then the response to that is, "Well, I guess we have to condemn what Whit does as well." That is the correct reply without further logic, and clears up the tu quoque.

However, if we want to go into the logic here, the largest issue is the one of the immediate threat of death to Emily by Morrie, a threat Whit has never given. In all his inventions and scenarios, the threat of death has always been preceded by the character's knowledge that he is in a virtual environment, that Whit is in control, and that permission has been given to Whit to manipulate the scenario. The situations are still scary, but the threat of death, the strongest trauma here, is known intellectually to be fake during the threat itself. However, Emily genuinely believed she was going to pass out and be hurt by the escape room in the third-to-last scene of "A Sacrificial Escape." This itself crosses a line, regardless of whether there was actually danger; Emily didn't know. Robyn did. Jimmy did in "Moses: The Passover."

Whit's individual actions would have been excusable had he prefaced the escape room with the assurance that he was in full control and that nothing bad would happen to Emily or Matthew. That's not what he says. Instead, he says, "Let the kids leave, and you and I can play twenty questions," implying danger. At the end, he says, "I suspected as much" to the lie about the oxygen, not "I knew as much." In every other episode, he's been forthright about the virtual experience. Here he was not, and that is why this is worse.

Also JAY IS MORRIE
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Post by Monica Stone »

I agree with you, Scientific Guy. I also really enjoyed hearing your discussion with Ryan. This brings me to a point I've been wanting to make but was unsure how to present. Scripture has been used by Phil Lollar and Whit and twice do I not like its usage. I agree with how you and Ryan discussed it on AIO Audio News.

Firstly, Proverbs 27:17, "Like iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." This does not apply to Morrie. Two friends sharpening each other refers to two friends challenging each other to do good. From a young age, I was told that the ultimate friendships are where two people are in a mutually beneficial relationship where they both encourage and challenge each other to do good for the glory of God. That pretty much sums up this verse. Morrie, however, is testing the other kids, not in an encouraging, fruitful way, but in a deceptive, "let's see if you will do as I have challenged" maniacal way. His actions do not align with the verse. Lee, you said in your discussion with Ryan, "Like iron sharpens iron, so a friend traps another friend in an escape room and makes them think they’re gonna die." That's my problem with Phil Lollar's Biblical argument. This verse is being used wrongly in the context of the discussion.

At the end of part 3, Whit cites Matthew 25:14-30 with the parable of the talents. You & Ryan greatly summed up my issue with this parable's usage in the episode. Yes, the master gives his servants talents each according to their abilities. I think the moral of the parable ties into the verse in Corinthians where we learn that God will not give us any more than we can bear. Whit uses this verse to justify why he didn't step in sooner. That's a bad excuse. I hate when people use Scripture to justify bad that they have done. Although some may make jokes about this, Whit really isn't God. He is in a position where he is supposed to watch over Morrie & Suzu and guide them in the right direction. He failed. And as for Emily, he failed there, too, because he allowed her to be psychologically hurt when he could have easily prevented it.

I would also like to add that Whit is just wrong about allowing Morrie & Suzu (children) room to commit crimes and hurt people because they're "talented." Now, one may argue that they aren't Christians and don't have a firm understanding on morality. They may not be Christians, but they know basic human decency and crossed universally understood lines. A decent human knows manipulation, breaking and entering, fraud, and death threats are wrong.

If I have muddled my way through this, please let me know I can further elaborate.
Scientific Guy wrote:Also JAY IS MORRIE
Please elucidate. #-o
My mind jumped to Jay's actions in "Millstones" and how they could parallel Morrie's actions throughout the saga but maybe that's just me.
Last edited by Monica Stone on Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by MonkeyDude »

ByeByeBrownie wrote:
Monica Stone wrote:I am positive that none of us are trying to trash these episodes and say they are definitively horrible and no one should like them. I'm not trying to say that at all. I have no interest in engaging in conversation dedicated to tearing down and hating aio. This is a productive, thought-provoking conversation worth having and constructive criticism is valid. Other than all of the Whit & morality problems, I think these episodes are intriguing and otherwise good. Part 1 literally has the best Odyssey soundtrack ever with an extremely satisfying way of weaving together past events and amazing characterization. But currently, the overall episodes are overshadowed by the moral weirdness weaved throughout them.
THIS. While I am disappointed by the confusing morals presented here, this truly is an EXCELLENT trio of episodes, and the AIO team is to be commended for some really great work here. We have had some wonderfully thought-provoking discussions regarding these episodes, and I'm looking forward to continuing these conversations!
Just to clear up anything, I for sure didn't mean to imply anyone was trashing or dissing the episodes haha! I very recently tried to write a script to better understand the process (and just for fun) and realized just how difficult it can be, so I was kinda coming from that standpoint.
Bob wrote:It's a disturbing possibility, but I question whether what Whit did here is necessarily that much worse than what he's done in other episodes.

Stay with me and think about it for a moment. In "No Boundaries", Alex gets into the Room of Consequence to see what life would be like without rules. Between programming the adventure and his general knowledge of human nature, Whit has a pretty good idea of the general direction this is likely to go, even if he doesn't necessarily expect Alex to abandon all his inhibitions and be all-out juvenile delinquent in just a few minutes. He doesn't serve as a 'conscience' by nagging Alex to do the right thing (granted, that would somewhat go against the theme of a 'no boundaries' program where human nature is left to take its course). So, Alex commits vandalism, attacks an adult, kills his best friend in a car accident, and is paralyzed himself. It's fair to say that Alex is very upset at the end of the program, although he appears to bounce back fast.

Is letting Alex bring out the bad inside and suffer the consequences actually any better than letting Morrie run amok for at least the pretense of bringing out the 'good inside'? If it isn't, then we could make the case that 1) Whit comforting Emily isn't any different from his trying to help others after their miserable experiences, and 2) Whit's often been in the wrong the whole time he's been doing these adventures, and it just took Morrie doing a not totally dissimilar bad thing for us to finally figure it out.

If you think about it, you can make the case that there are a lot of 'iffy' or dangerous trips. To list a few: Digger ("Digger") Digwillow experiences the Crucifixion program, which, it goes without saying, is not exactly kid-friendly. Jimmy is near Abraham Lincoln's assassination (after having befriended him). Robyn is put into apparent peril by Jezebel several times, and there's even a part in the adventure where she and Jack thought they were about to die. The infamous Mortal Coil program traumatized Eugene, badly rattled Tom, and put Whit himself into a coma. Liz may not have been 'scarred' exactly by her comparatively mild eternal birthday, but she did scream in horror at the time when Whit pulled his 'false ending' trick, and she did note later on that it almost 'put her off [her favorite dessert] permanently'. The girl in the Middle Eastern Club adventure was placed outside of the Ark when the Flood came. Even Mr. Weizel was disturbed by his relatively goofy and unrealistic experience (albeit, in a program Jason and Jack, not Whit, worked on).

Now, you can make the case that some of those are not Whit's fault; they're programming errors, and/or times when people used the technology without his consent. That's true and is a legitimate rebuttal, but at the same time, if Whit hadn't done something wrong (in his programming) or careless (in allowing a circumstance where people could access his super-advanced top secret technology without him present) or both, it wouldn't have happened. It seems a little odd to give Whit a full pass for that while being disturbed by his complicity in the escape room scheme. The only reasons why we are okay with all those other trips is because 1) it's not real (but then, it turns out the escape room wasn't a real threat either?) and 2) they learn a lesson and usually don't seem to be permanently hurt by it (so the ends justify the means?)

The case for Morrie doing good hasn't gotten better, but the case for Whit doing bad seems to have gotten a lot more compelling. Am I out in left field?
First off, really well said! 'No Boundaries' is one of those episodes that really did its job and haunted me (like I'm sure it did Alex). I've been kinda going back and forth with myself if it's worth it to learn an important lesson but have it ingrained in you so deeply. Like, even if it was fake, experiencing killing my friend in a car crash and becoming a quad would 100% haunt me and probably impair my ability to drive for the rest of my life. I do think it is an important lesson though, one that was important for Alex to learn. In similar fashion to Emily in the Rydell Saga episodes, No Boundaries served it's purpose well, by teaching younger me a valuable lesson whilst sticking with me via terror.

I don't know if this is a strong point or even worth bringing up but I was thinking about it the other day. In most of the cases we've named of Whit having an intentional hand in more trauma-inducing scenarios, there was an extremely relevant lesson that people needed to learn. Alex needed to learn why rules are made and why they are important, Digger Digwillow needed to learn about Jesus in a way that would captivate him, etc. Yes, learning about self-sacrifice and how much your friends mean to you is an extremely valuable lesson, a life-changing one even, but I'd argue that it isn't a lesson Emily and Matthew needed to learn at that time or in that way.

Before these episodes, I'd say I (and probably the majority of AIO fans) very much agree with Whit's philosophy of letting kids make mistakes and learn from them. Because, while sometimes those memories can be really uncomfortable (and keep you up into the late hours of the night *shivers*) you don't forget them, and you are better because of it. But I think this is where I draw the line. Will Emily and Matthew be better people because of this experience? I'm definitely not going to cross that possibility out but it doesn't seem like they really gain anything from the situation other than the knowledge that they care and are willing to sacrifice their lives for each other which definitely isn't to be discredited but something they probably could have lived a healthy Christian life without.

Also, kinda irrelevant here but if we are following the pattern of most traumatizing Imagination Station/lesson-learning episodes, the lesson going into 'A Sacrificial Escape' could have easily been for Matthew (or Emily, but FFTT and RR both kinda covered Emily feelings about Matthew leaving very well in my opinion). Learning how to speak up for yourself and be honest with the people closest to you even if it may result in fallout is a really important lesson. 'Your Honest Opinion, Please' covers this pretty well but it still would've been cool to see that a bit more in depth. Not complaining here or anything, I actually really like the moral of 'A Sacrificial Escape' but it's just interesting to think about.
Scientific Guy wrote: However, if we want to go into the logic here, the largest issue is the one of the immediate threat of death to Emily by Morrie, a threat Whit has never given. In all his inventions and scenarios, the threat of death has always been preceded by the character's knowledge that he is in a virtual environment, that Whit is in control, and that permission has been given to Whit to manipulate the scenario. The situations are still scary, but the threat of death, the strongest trauma here, is known intellectually to be fake during the threat itself. However, Emily genuinely believed she was going to pass out and be hurt by the escape room in the third-to-last scene of "A Sacrificial Escape." This itself crosses a line, regardless of whether there was actually danger; Emily didn't know. Robyn did. Jimmy did in "Moses: The Passover."

Whit's individual actions would have been excusable had he prefaced the escape room with the assurance that he was in full control and that nothing bad would happen to Emily or Matthew. That's not what he says. Instead, he says, "Let the kids leave, and you and I can play twenty questions," implying danger. At the end, he says, "I suspected as much" to the lie about the oxygen, not "I knew as much." In every other episode, he's been forthright about the virtual experience. Here he was not, and that is why this is worse.

Also JAY IS MORRIE
This actually gave me a lot of peace! Really, really love the points you made here. I'm really curious to know if it was in the plan for Whit to know about the escape room back when 'A Sacrificial Escape' was written.
Monica Stone wrote:Firstly, Proverbs 27:17, "Like iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." This does not apply to Morrie. Two friends sharpening each other refers to two friends challenging each other to do good. From a young age, I was told that the ultimate friendships are where two people are in a mutually beneficial relationship where they both encourage and challenge each other to do good for the glory of God. That pretty much sums up this verse. Morrie, however, is testing the other kids, not in an encouraging, fruitful way, but in a deceptive, "let's see if you will do as I have challenged" maniacal way. His actions do not align with the verse. Lee, you said in your discussion with Ryan, "Like iron sharpens iron, so a friend traps another friend in an escape room and makes them think they’re gonna die." That's my problem with Phil Lollar's Biblical argument. This verse is being used wrongly in the context of the discussion.
Can I just say...
THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS. I don't know what is going on at Focus, maybe they are trying to test us or something but these have been some kinnnnda alarming uses of scripture. Very creative, but a little concerning.
*Finger guns aggressively*
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Post by Scientific Guy »

And here's two more discussions! The third, which I did with Hannah Kate (Sparky the Happy Giraffe on Tumblr):
Hannah Kate: Was Morrie Right?


And the fourth, which I did this morning with Lil (MonkeyDude):
Lil: Was Morrie Right?


-- Wed Aug 12, 2020 9:06 pm --

Well, I just had a 3 hour and 40 minute interview with Phil Lollar and Ryan Matlock, an hour of which is just Phil and me. Here's the gist of it:
  • 1. Morrie's actions can be called wrong and sinful.
    2. Morrie doesn't call them wrong and sinful.
    3. Do the ends justify the means?
    4. I'm not gonna tell you what the official AIO stance is on Morrie's actions. I want you to discuss it among yourselves and grapple with the issue. It'll take time, and you can't come to the decision lightly.
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Post by Monica Stone »

I would just like to say I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the latest installments of the "Is Morrie good?" series. I got some new perspective. Fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Please tell me someone got that Ratatouille reference.
Scientific Guy wrote:Well, I just had a 3 hour and 40 minute interview with Phil Lollar and Ryan Matlock, an hour of which is just Phil and me. Here's the gist of it:
  • 1. Morrie's actions can be called wrong and sinful.
    2. Morrie doesn't call them wrong and sinful.
    3. Do the ends justify the means?
    4. I'm not gonna tell you what the official AIO stance is on Morrie's actions. I want you to discuss it among yourselves and grapple with the issue. It'll take time, and you can't come to the decision lightly.
Ooh, that must have been very insightful. I'm ready to start discussing this with everyone. Let's go!
  • 1. Some are more conflicted than others, but I don't think I've seen anyone say that Morrie was completely in the right in most his actions. None. Nada. Yes, Morrie was sinful. I guess if I were to sum up my thoughts on this issue (no hot takes here), it would be that the ends do not justify the means and Morrie forced the kids into making decisions that they should have never had to make (i.e. Olivia in "The Good in People", Emily & Matthew in "A Sacrificial Escape", and Emily in "Further from the Truth"). As for "The Key Suspect", that was plain criminal and intrusive of private property. "The Secret of the Writer's Ruse" confuses me, but the final monlogue leads me to believe he had bad intentions. But yeah, in short, I think what he did was despicable, manipulative, and criminal.

    2. Hmm, that's interesting but isn't shocking. It definitely makes sense for Morrie's character. I thought that the end of part 3 hinted that Morrie realized he may have been at least slightly wrong. He said, "Our father sent us to Odyssey because he thought our being around the people here and around you would push us in the right direction." That implies Morrie knew he was in the wrong and needed to see goodness in action and to be pushed in the direction of good. But I digress. I am interested in seeing where this will go in the future. I am also curious to hear what Suzu's perspective is on her actions.

    3. I have said this many times and I will continue to say it a thousand more times, no, the ends do not justify the means. I'll try to keep this short. As it was especially emphasized with your & MonkeyDude's conversation about him, Morrie does not get credit for the good decisions of others. For the sake of the argument, let's say he does recieve the credit. The sins he committed are not justified because he pushed others to make selfless, virtuous decisions of their own. Sin is sin. God brings good out of bad situations, but that doesn't mean He says the bad situations were in of it themselves good.

    4. I am curious about the official stance. I hope the show is very clear that Morrie's actions, motivations, and means were very wrong. I don't think the show brush away Morrie's actions but I wonder how seriously they will be taken. I honestly think the show handles tough issues usually really well (not to be controversial, but *cough* The Ties that Bind). I trust them and that's why the argument that the ends justify Morrie's means alarmed me so much. If this were nearly any other show, I would probably be really disappointed but unsurprised. But this is Odyssey. I am curious to continue this part of the conversation.
Last edited by Monica Stone on Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by ByeByeBrownie »

Monica Stone wrote:I would just like to say I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the latest installments of the "Is Morrie good?" series. I got some new perspective. Fresh, clear, well-seasoned perspective. Please tell me someone got that Ratatouille reference.
Ditto, and I got your reference, too. :)
Scientific Guy wrote:Well, I just had a 3 hour and 40 minute interview with Phil Lollar and Ryan Matlock, an hour of which is just Phil and me. Here's the gist of it:
  • 1. Morrie's actions can be called wrong and sinful.
    2. Morrie doesn't call them wrong and sinful.
    3. Do the ends justify the means?
    4. I'm not gonna tell you what the official AIO stance is on Morrie's actions. I want you to discuss it among yourselves and grapple with the issue. It'll take time, and you can't come to the decision lightly.
I am very interested to hear the rest of what Phil had to say on this.

The second and third points are very closely linked in my opinion. Morrie is a textbook example of chaotic neutral. To quote Wikipedia:
A chaotic neutral character is an individualist who follows their own heart and generally shirks rules and traditions. Although chaotic neutral characters promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first; good and evil come second to their need to be free.

Morrie's chief m.o. is that the ends justify the means, and the ends are whatever he determines them to be. All of this makes Morrie an absolutely fascinating character, who I actually relate to quite a bit (I guess my crazy is showing a little bit here :lol: ). I had a lot of that same chaotic energy as a child, and I understand on a very personal level the curiosity he has about people's actions and motivations and what they will do in certain situations. When I was growing up, my parents gave me quite a long leash to learn and explore and challenge my potential. They understood that I was independent and intelligent and that there were certain things I just needed to discover on my own. But they didn't just leave me to my own devices to create chaos wherever I went. Instead, they actively helped me channel my curiosity and intelligence in positive ways and instilled in me a Biblical worldview that would help guide me in making wise and constructive choices.

I'm not totally sure what I'm trying to say here, except that, while Morrie's actions were undoubtedly wrong, I can't really be too hard on him because 1) he's a child, and 2) he's never been taught, challenged or necessarily corrected by the adults in his life.

This all probably sounds super crazy and doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I just wanted to throw it out there for y'all to think about.
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Post by Monica Stone »

Whit delivers the moral at the end of The Rydell Revelations, Part 3; Morrie, Suzu & Emily (rip Matthew :cry:) are intelligent, special kids whp potentially need room to use their abilities in constructive ways. It sounds good, but it works terribly when you consider Whit lets Morrie & Suzu use their intelligence in an extremely destructive way. I have asked this before, but why that moral? So many problems with the episodes wouldn't exist had it not have been for Whit's ending tangent! Because this is the moral hammered home by Whit and the episode (maturity was leaked as one of the morals on the official site for a brief amount of time) it is correct to assume that this episode is reflective of the views of Adventures in Odyssey. No amount of retconning can change that. This is the show's official stance. There may be further elaboration on the theme, but it doesn't change what this episode says. So I believe I have an idea about what Phil Lollar said in the interview. But I am eager to actually hear the interview before I cast judgement.
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off may be excellent for all I know, but even if it presents its own moral that actually makes sense, it can't fix this episode. It has the potiential to be great in its own rite, but this episode stands alone.
August 22 edit: So I just heard the AIOWiki Podcast interview and my brain hurts. I wanna talk about it but I don't know where to even start. Wow.
Last edited by Monica Stone on Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Scientific Guy »

Monica Stone wrote: So I just heard the AIOWiki Podcast interview and my brain hurts. I wanna talk about it but I don't know where to even start. Wow.
I'll post the links here.
AIOWiki Podcast #29

Phil: Was Morrie Right? on AIO Audio News
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Post by CarlR »

Monica Stone wrote: August 22 edit: So I just heard the AIOWiki Podcast interview and my brain hurts. I wanna talk about it but I don't know where to even start. Wow.
Same here, \:D/ finished listening to it last night, there is so much stuff in there, it’s probably going to take a me week to write a comment :shock:
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Post by MonkeyDude »

I'm half way through and absolutely digging it haha!
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Post by Monica Stone »

I wanted to re-listen to the last hour of AIOWiki Podcast #29 before I said anything. After I heard the podcast for the first time, my brain hurt but things became more clear the more I thought about it. So I re-listened while writing my thoughts below. I hit each of the points as they were raised in the podcast.

I realize this isn't the main point of conversation, but I want to address the bit about Whit "withholding" information from Emily. He blatantly lies to Emily in Further from the Truth. I'll quote the episode itself:
Emily: So no trails leading back to him?
Whit: No, we don't know much yet.
Whit could have easily replied to Emily with, "I have my suspicions, but I don't want to say just yet." But instead, he chooses to lie to her unnecessarily. Emily isn't a Nazi on the hunt for Jews to kill (in fact, she isn't any kind of weird/twisted person at all), it isn't an unreasonable question, and Whit even told her in ASE that he would let her know how she could help. I am of the opinion that in certain extreme situations, lying is acceptable.* but this was not one of those rare exceptions, no matter how you choose to spin it. Now, say Whit had indeed told Emily that he didn't want to say anything and she continued pressing for information. In that case, it would have been well within Whit's right to keep the information to himself and tell her off. But that's not what happens and that's the problem. He lied about information that, reasonably, she should have known. Now, yes, it's true that in The Rydell Revelations, Part 1, Emily says she wants to investigate solo. However, that may have changed if she knew Whit wasn't clueless. Further from the Truth may have been the only time Whit blatantly lies to Emily, but he acts continually clueless and deceptive throughout these episodes. If Emily knew Whit knew that Morrie was behind everything, she may have chosen to pursue the truth alongside Whit. In the episode, perhaps she just wanted to collect evidence and clues on her own because she thought Whit would only slow her down. *I would love to further discuss and ponder the conversation of whether it's ever okay to lie, so if you want to dispute me or discuss this, talk to me. :)

Onto the point about children with special abilities. Ooh boy! This is a big one. I agree with the premise that different children have different strengths and must be treated differently. Raising/mentoring children isn't a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Parents and mentors need to adapt and raise their kids differently in the way that is most helpful and fruitful for the child. I really appreciate that message and agree with it. However, I disagree with the way Whit applies this message. This is where we get into the metaphor about the physically strong children that is presented in the interview. I say, yes, let the physically strong kids test, challenge, and work on themselves in a more extraordinary way if they are able. Let the three strong kids push themselves and each other outside of the ordinary boundaries set for the "typical kid". But this should not come at the expense of themselves or others. Even especially strong kids need boundaries set somewhere. They are, after all, ultimately still children who can't run completely wild. I also agree with Phil that there are too many helicopter parents who never give their kids an opportunity to learn and the children are thus unlearned. I do not, however, think the solution is to let kids run rampant with their abilities. And I don't think that's what Phil is saying at all, but I think boundaries are critical to set. Each situation requires a different set of boundaries. Kids get themselves into trouble and they need to learn the consequences of their actions and not be bailed out, sure, but this is next level trouble that is hurting others.

In these episodes, Morrie and Suzu have no boundaries and commit crimes and Whit allows them to do so because they need to "use their abilities." This comes at the expense of Emily, Matthew, Olivia, doing good, and following the law. There are many more good, constructive ways Whit could have helped Morrie and Suzu use their abilities. Whit could have given Morrie an honest offer to program an Imagination Station adventure together (that wasn't creepy and manipulative). Whit could have given some equipment with which he had been struggling to Suzu to figure out. Meanwhile, Emily would have never gotten roped into this mess of a mystery and could have continued to solve mysteries that didn't involve her getting traumatized for life. Whit could have programmed mysteries in the Imagination Station specifically to challenge her, with the consent of her parents and herself. Boom. Those would have been good uses of their gifts. But instead, Whit's like, "Screw it, they can traumatize Emily & Matthew. It's good and challenging for all of the kids in this situation! Morrie and Suzu get to find a creative way to tamper with the escape room and set up an interesting scenerio while Emily and Matthew get to grow as detectives and as people." No! This is not a healthy mentorship!

Also, sure, Phil may question how traumatized Emily will ultimately be in the end, but whether this affects her in the long run or not, Morrie and Suzu hurt her. And you can't say, "Oh, I don't think she was really traumatized, so what they did isn't a big deal." She was undeniably hurt. I said after part 1 dropped that Emily's investigation into Morrie was not only fueled by her love of mysteries but also sparked by her anger at whoever hurt her. I maintain that. Her motives may have been vengeful, but she wants to bring Morrie to justice and have him face the consequences of his actions that way. She doesn't want to personally attack him with a bat or anything along those lines. She wants him to face the law. I don't think it's valid to say, "Oh man, she really wanted to get revenge on himself!" Perhaps bringing him to justice would have been the only way she thought she could feel any semblance of closure from the escape room.

Phil argues that nobody was hurt and Morrie just wanted to test the beliefs of the believers. For the sake of the argument, I will pretend that I think no one was really hurt. But Morrie himself committed crimes. Or, even if he technically didn't, he was willing to commit crimes, lie, and do wrong to see if others would practice what they preached. Phil's right, you can't hold Morrie up to the same standards as a Christian because he isn't one, but he defied the rules of basic human decency. Morrie may not think he is wrong, but he is wrong. Bringing out the good in others isn't the same as doing good itself. The listeners know that, the writers know that, we all know it. I guess it's just up to future episodes for Morrie to learn that what he did is right or wrong. Throughout his life, he has probably been told not to do certain things and has been taught basic manners, but he doesn't know why. He probably wonders, "How do you know what's good?" And I bet future episodes will explore that (and I'll eat that content up).

As for making ethical decisions, I have God, the Bible, and the Church to guide me. I also have my good sense and I have to use what I know and my conscience to make the best ethical decisions. I think I have a new appreciation for "Millstones" now. I see how this three-parter and "Millstones" thematically tie together now.

This is probably a muddled mess. But I now realize the root of my issues is Whit and how his actions are portrayed as good. I respect what Phil is saying in the interview and about helicopter parents, but no, Whit was the drastic opposite of helicopter parents in a bad way. Whit says in album 58, "If I tolerate everything that makes me or others happy, even if its wrong, then I'm encouraging people to live out lives that could hurt their souls for eternity." And...he kinda does that in this three-parter. And that is the root of the problem. I don't think Christians and kids are stupid and can't figure out that Whit made mistakes, but I don't like aio presenting Whit's deception in a positive light. It's one thing to have a morally ambiguous episode but it's another to portray bad in a good light.

I also now feel like I have to think about the Room of Consequence in a new light. If we're comparing Morrie & Whit, Whit wouldn't stoop to Morrie's levels of manipulation to get others to do right. But yeah, I also would love to discuss Whit and his inventions more, too.

If I have seemed like a know-it-all in any of my posts, I apologize. I am trying to work through my thoughts and discuss this with others. Frankly, I don't know everything (I actually feel like I know very little), but I want to learn more. Phil's right; we need to practice our faith and beliefs and practice ethical decisions over and over again. And this is a conversation that really interests me.
Last edited by Monica Stone on Thu Aug 27, 2020 4:59 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by Petrichor »

I will probably regret getting into this, since I haven’t listened to AIO faithfully for many years, and I didn’t listen to the “Rydell Revelations” episodes with the utmost level of focus. But… what the heck?
WHIT: “You know, I see so much of myself in you three. I was very much like you when I was your age. And I was given the freedom to be allowed to live up to my potential. How could I do any less for you? And, while I wanna guide you and help you make the right decisions, it also means that I’m gonna have to handle you three… differently than I do the other kids around Odyssey. It also means that some of the adventures you get into will not always be…”

MORRIE: “Tame?”

WHIT: “That’s a good word for it. Yes, tame. I have to let you operate each according to your ability. Well, I hope that’s a satisfactory answer, Emily. It’s the best one I can give you.”
I don’t think it’s a satisfactory answer at all.

Am I missing something? Who made Whit the arbiter of kids’ futures in Odyssey? Look, I know the man is influential, but I don’t think the parents who send their kids to Whit’s End are writing a blank check for Whit to “handle” their kids. The episodes that come to mind contradicting this view are “Breaking Point” (Album 36) and “A Touch of Healing, Part 2” (Album 24).

In “Breaking Point,” Mr. Whittaker has a conversation with Alex Jefferson’s dad after Alex is trapped in the Imagination Station and has some kind of panic attack.
MR. JEFFERSON: “You really should have had someone there who knew how to turn it off. […] Look Whit. Some of us—parents, I mean—well, we’re concerned about what’s going on at Whit’s End lately. I haven’t seen you there lately. […] We trust you with your kids. It’s nice to have a place where I can send my son and know that he’s in such good hands. I’d hate to lose that. […] He loves your shop. He loves you.”
So there have been issues of safety of the kids before, but Whit has always responded to them swiftly and decisively. He previously seemed to deeply care about the safety of the kids who came to Whit’s End. When did that switch to the (conveniently vague) “the adventures you get into will not always be tame”?

In “A Touch of Healing,” Jason and Jack get into an argument because Jason disagrees with Zachary’s mother about what’s best for Zachary. Jack pretty strongly reprimands Jason for contradicting Mrs. Sellers in front of Zachary.
JACK: “Don’t you see? It’s like parents are contradicted at every turn by every other institution. They look to Whit’s End to help support them.”

JASON: “But I happen to think she was wrong in this case.”

JACK: “Oh. And you’re the one who’s going to tell parents they’re wrong in how they raise their own children?”
As problematic as a blind dispensation of this philosophy would be (I certainly hope Whit would step in and call the appropriate authorities if he suspected abuse), the attitudes in this episode seem to mark a distinct shift in how AIO portrays Whit’s role vs. the parental role. I get strong “Look, Mr. Whittaker, I pierced my own ears, just like you said!” vibes from the whole thing. I know characters are allowed to evolve, but for Whit to knowingly manipulate and push young kids through potentially traumatic/”not tame” situations WITHOUT permission from the parents, let alone the kids? It’s so out of character, and it feels completely wrong.

Now, maybe I missed some earlier episode where Emily’s dad had a conversation with Whit where he essentially said, “Yeah, I’d like you to put Emily through her paces. As long as you are reasonably confident that she is never in physical danger (mental trauma lolz who cares), you have my permission to do whatever.” But do the parents of Odyssey know what’s going on over at Whit’s End?
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