"Desperate to improve her chemistry grade, Renee agrees to let Horus help her prepare for the final exam." - AIO
Recently, Adventures in Odyssey has started to feel like a collection of many different shows, continuously rotating between Morrie episodes, Renee Carter episodes, Young-Whit episodes, Parker-family episodes, Perkins-family episodes, Buck/Eugene episodes, Wooton/Penny episodes, Connie/Jillian/Jules episode, Buddy Norman episodes...etc. The reason could be attributed to there being more writers than ever before, and -- for the sake of continuity-- each writer needs to “take charge” of specific storylines. The result is that listeners are far less likely these days to see certain characters appearing in episodes that aren’t directly related to their storyline, creating a show that feels much more fragmented than ever before.
Today, we have a Renee Carter episode. What I liked most about “Out of Her Element '' is that it has Renee Carter emerging from out of her own element, so to speak -- from the secluded workspace where she’s mostly been involved with Whit and his inventions. Here, she’s finally being given a chance to interact with a larger group of established characters she’s had little to no contact with (remarkably, she hasn’t interacted with Connie and Eugene since her introductory episode -- and most of those interactions were within the Imagination Station). While I was initially skeptical about an episode that stars Horus and Renee (how many fans were clamoring for that?), the episode smartly keeps its fan-favourites tightly involved with the main storyline, making this Renee episode feel less like an Odyssey-spinoff, and more like one that matches, both in spirit and tone, a typical Odyssey episode.
While I wish Renee’s motivations for suddenly buttering up Horus were made a little clearer before the tutoring montage (I only really understood why Renee was behaving this way once she had talked to Connie later), the pieces of this episode work surprisingly well. Her story was surprisingly amusing and concluded with an unexpected twist (that Horus was trying to butter her up, too), while Jay’s storyline as a food critic was an idea that’s so amusing that I almost wished it had gotten its own episode. Connie and Eugene’s supporting roles felt fitting in a way that reminded me of “classic Odyssey” -- though, as I later realized, part of the reason it felt “classic” might have something to do with the fact it was the first time those two characters had interacted with one another since “Crash Course”! That’s right! - fifty-seven episodes ago!
There’s a lot of comedic gold here. I liked how Horus didn't understand Renee’s “lead” joke until the following scene. I also liked how Jay cried out “You mean I sat through that whole nerdy explanation for nothing!?” after Renee’s explanation of nail polish. I appreciated the inclusion of scene-stealing Horus’s mom, and I particularly enjoyed the final scene in which Eugene shows he’d been duped by Jay’s alter-ego Percival Montgomery. And while the college scene involving three of our main characters glued to one another would normally be considered a little too cartoonish for my taste, writer Bob Smithouser lays on enough scientific jargon to make it at least somewhat believable. With “Out to Sea” and now “Out of Your Element”, who knew that one of the show’s best new Odyssey writers was one that had been working at Focus on the Family the past twenty-five years?
But, for a brief moment, let’s get nitpicky and talk about the show’s inclusion of Marie Curie. While I found her voice slightly cartoonish and Eugene’s pronunciation of her name in the final scene erroneous (Her last name is pronounced K-your-REE -- not like Curry, the dish) Connie’s excitement about meeting “the first woman to win the nobel prize” seems like a rather strange accomplishment of Curie’s to be excited about, doesn’t it? For one thing, there are far more numerous accomplishments of Curies’ that Connie could have been excited about, and, secondly, Connie’s sentence implies a thicker “glass ceiling” than there actually was. The first Nobel Prize was given in 1901, while Marie Curie was awarded her award in 1903 -- in other words, only a small handful of men had ever actually won these awards themselves! Connie’s excitement might have sounded more justified if she had described Curie as “the first person to ever win the nobel prize twice!” Also, the fact that she says this immediately after exiting the Imagination Station gives the impression that the speech we heard was of Marie Curie being handed this “first” award as a woman -- when, really, this scene was depicting the 2nd award she won in 1911.
These nitpicks aside, however, “Out of Her Element” shows that combining characters that don’t frequently interact with one another can lead to interesting and hilarious results. I like Renee. Most listeners I know like Renee. She remains one of the most likeable and endearing new characters introduced on the show. After ten above-average episodes, she’s certainly earned the chance to step out of club-exclusive episodes and interact with the rest of the citizens in more “important” storylines characteristic of mainstream/album episodes. How can this transition be done in a natural and seamless manner? I have no idea. Thankfully, I’m not the one who’ll be given that impossible task.
Writer: Bob Smithouser
Director: Phil Lollar
Post Production: Christopher Diehl
Music: John Campbell
Scripture: Philippians 2: 3-8
Original Air-date: 03.01.2020
Episode Reviewed: 05.25.2020