"A Suspect of Circumstance"
Written By: Shadowpaw
Let me start with an observation. It's been noted several times in several episodes by several different people that Whit's End is not a safe place for children to hang out. The ice cream shop has been held up by a man with a gun, rigged to explode by an egotistical doctor, and broken into on more occasions than I wish to recall at this point in time. That's to say nothing of the dangers the Imagination Station poses to children when you consider it interfaces with a person's mind in such a way that would surely inflict brain damage if violently ripped from an adventure. So where am I going with this? Well, these are only minor examples of a safety threat regarding Whit's End. "Sounds Like a Mystery" unveils the biggest threat of them all: Macadamia Nut Air Fresheners.
Yes, I'm serious. 3 million people in the United States are allergic to nuts and the health risks are quite severe. Ever wonder why you see labels on food products or in restaurants that warn the consumer certain foods may have come in contact with nuts? Because it's a very real and dangerous allergy that has life threatening results. I knew a girl in elementary school who had to sit away from the rest of the school because of her allergic reaction to just the smell. It was so bad that when we went on field trips, we were explicitly told never to bring any nut products with us. Then about seven years ago, my own grandfather was hospitalized after eating just one macadamia nut, though thankfully he pulled through. We're not just talking sneezing here. We're talking swelling of the throat, skin rashes, loss of consciousness, and even death. Thanks to Whit, any patron to his shop that requires use of the restroom may discover it actually to be their final resting place.
Hehe, no, I'm not some big health nut (ho ho!), but I'm fairly familiar with the allergic reactions relating to nuts of any kind. In fact, though I could be wrong, I believe it's illegal for Whit to use macadamia scented air fresheners (which don't exist), even if he were to explicitly warn customers in his shop. But I digress... I just wanted to point out how seriously illogical that particular piece of the plot is... but it doesn't really ruin the overall enjoyment of the show.
And happily, there's lot to like about this episode which I feel is better than last season's finale of "No Way Out / No Way In". For one thing, I find myself liking Nick more and more. At first he struggled to fight off the stigmatism associated with being a Mulligan, but has since developed into an interesting and deep character. I've also adjusted to the idea of him working at Whit's End (I was very opposed to the idea initially) and rather than view him as a minor contributor to a story, I actually think he could carry an entire show on his own. In fact, I'd love to hear more about Nick's romantic exploits. No, none of that nausea inducing pos ion we suffered with Connie and Mitch, but just good clean fun from a character who represents most typical teenagers.
He even lied to Whit... again. I mean, this is a character who doesn't conform to any particular convention. He's not perfect, like so many kids come across as these days, and he's not created to cause problems, like your typical foil to those said kids... he's in the middle. Nick's gained a lot depth since he was introduced as the "Smoking New Yorker" and there's plenty of potential for turning him into an endearing favorite.
The use of Captain Quinn was nice too, though he factored only a tiny bit into the episode's events. Kenneth Mars played him slightly differently than he did in the three previous shows he's appeared in ("Jesus Cloth", "Real Time", "The Perfect Witness") but it was a comforting 'old time' voice to hear. It was also a nice touch to listen to Dave Arnold's voice (who reprised his role as Link Wainright from "Green Eyes, Yellow Tulips") and I got the distinct feeling I was listening to a classic AIO mystery. But can someone explain to me how Mr. Jenkins ("Cousin Albert", "The Unraveling") has become Lieutenant Jenkins? They are the same voice!
Hehe, anyway. Despite being fairly predictable, it's still an enjoyable mystery with a decent twist. I also liked the process of going through audio recorded, via motion sensor phones, and piecing together the puzzle in that way. Rob Jorgensen (who worked extensively on Radio Theatre after the Spring 2002 season), did an amazing job with a show that relied so heavily on the sound production and I hope it's remembered when the end of season voting begins! ;o)
Another solid beginning to a season that holds plenty of promise following an extremly successful Spring 2004.