"Emily and Matthew are trapped inside an unfinished escape room in the basement of Whit’s End. A mysterious voice insists that the two of them must play a game called “Search for Your Life” to get out." - AIO
“A Sacrificial Escape” ends like many past Morrie episodes have -- leaving the audience with more questions than answers. I’ve previously voiced my concern that these Morrie episodes haven’t been all that satisfying because they haven’t actually provided us with new information about Morrie, each following the same pattern; Morrie lays out a scheme, our main characters get tricked, and Morrie gets away with it. The same has happened in “A Sacrificial Escape”, leaving Whit in the same “something-weird-is-happening” place as he was all the way back in “The Secret of the Writer’s Ruse”.
But “A Sacrificial Escape” is much more satisfying than those previous Morrie episodes because it churns out such a different, engaging, and high-octane story that my enjoyment of the story completely ceases to rely on how it fits into a bigger picture. Quite brilliantly, the episode uses an emerging trend, the escape room -- already frequently being used in various television shows (in “The Middle”, for instance, where, ironically, Atticus Shaffer - voice of Morrie - is seen stuck inside an Escape Room) and successful box-office films (the appropriately titled “The Escape Room”) -- and gives it a surprisingly unique spin; not only are Emily and Matthew stuck in an escape room, but Whit and Suzu are too. An escape room inside an escape room? Honestly, I thought this was an awfully clever twist.
The parental warning -- which every fan loves to hear -- is not undeserved, here. We’ve seen the warning being unnecessarily applied to Adventures in Odyssey episodes before, promising intensity but failing to deliver. In “A Sacrificial Escape”, however, our skin begins to crawl from the very moment we hear the chilling voice through the speakers. In fact, the concept of this episode is so intense that I’m surprised that the writers had the guts to follow through with it.
Think about how crazy this premise is for a second. Morrie -- as well as the group of adults assisting him -- choose to trap children inside a room and make them believe that they’ll run out of oxygen if they don’t solve a series of clues. This is diabolical -- downright evil -- stuff. And, on top of it all, the episode features the Jones and Parker Detective Agency, who were once known for solving mysteries about missing video games and milkball fountains, now investigating a legitimately deranged psychopath. Sniff, sniff. They grow up so fast.
Though, as frightening as the situation sounded, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think the voice actors were always selling their predicament. Given the severity of this dark situation, did anyone else think that Whit didn’t sound angry or worried enough? And given how oxygen was being kept from them, does anyone else think that Emily and Matthew seemed about as bothered about their predicament as stepping into a puddle of water? (Also, did anyone else find it unrealistic that Emily’s dad would choose to wait in the car at the end instead of coming in immediately to talk to Mr. Whittaker?) Remember that moment when the bomb was about to go off in “Real Time”? -- how much anguish Brian Dern and Whit had when they thought they were going to die? I think this episode would have been rated even higher if our characters had, perhaps, sound a little more hopeless and scared.
“A Sacrificial Escape”, more than any other prior, seems to promise that the answers to all of our Morrie questions are right around the corner. And I still have no idea how they will wrap up all of these story threads in a satisfying way. Honestly, I don’t even have a theory. Morrie is obviously technically savvy, but it seems unrealistic that he was able to pull all of this off without an adult orchestrating things behind the scenes -- which begs the question: what sort of grownup would care about helping a kid torment his classmates? And how does Suzu not even suspect her “brother” being involved? And what sort of parents must they have to be oblivious to his schemes? (And why couldn’t Whit and Suzu try to get help through the basement’s secret tunnel that still existed as recently as “Home Again 1-2”?)
But regardless of how things turn out, I have a feeling that “A Sacrificial Escape” will be remembered as a highlight of this particular era of Odyssey. The episode feels fresh and original -- quite unlike anything we’ve seen on the show. And while I was once worried that the show was raising all of these questions without the means of answering them, given how competently crafted it is, “A Sacrificial Escape” now gives me the assurance that the answers - whatever they are -- are in the capable hands of very capable writers. Honestly, the next episode of this saga can’t come soon enough.
Writer: Bob Hoose
Director: Nathan Hoobler
Executive Producer: Dave Arnold
Music: Jared DePasquale
Scripture: John 15:13
Original Release Date: 30.06.19
Date Reviewed: 30.09.19