The introduction of the character Connie Kendall to Odyssey was one of the best decisions the AIO team made early on in the show. Both her vibrant teenage personality and the fact that she was not yet a Christian play as a nice foil against Mr. Whittaker. She breathes life into an otherwise ordinary storyline in this episode.
The theme of Connie Comes to Town is about being content with what you have. Funnily enough, Whit’s End is crowded with customers and Whit isn’t content with not having any regular employees. A kid named Bobby is bored with the Bible Bowl and wants some excitement in his life. Whit says that excitement could be waiting on the other side of the door and at that moment Connie enters and the episode diverges from the standard show focusing on a kid character and switches to this new teenager.
When Bobby hears that Connie lived in Los Angeles he immediately mentions Disneyland. This doesn’t really date the episode, but it should be noted that the trend of mentioning anything related to real companies or popular culture was more prevalent in the early years of AIO and later these kinds of reverences significantly decreased to give the show a more timeless feel.
Connie is on her way to apply for a job at the Fashion Center when Whit offers her a job at Whit’s End. Of course, Connie decides to accept Whit’s offer. What seems like an unimportant decision to her at the time turns out to have massive implications down the road for her character and for the show. Connie has now appeared in more episodes than anyone else besides Mr. Whittaker. While walking with Bobby, Connie remarks that she’s never been bored before until she came to Odyssey. Sure, maybe this could come across as rude, but it also comes across as obviously untrue. At best it’s an exercise in nostalgia. Connie likes to think of her previous life in California as completely boredom-free, but it’s very unlikely that was the reality. By the end of the episode, she admits that she was wrong in idealizing L.A.
When Connie learns from Whit that Bobby has a crush on her and wants to go with her to Los Angeles she is shocked at the influence she had over him. Whit says that God wants us to feel responsibility for one another and take others into account. Connie on the other hand, unlike the younger kids in Odyssey, challenges Whit a little and says she needs to look out for herself. But she hasn’t worked at Whit’s End without maturing a little under Whit’s influence. He convinces her that it isn’t right to leave without telling her mother and it certainly isn’t appropriate to set a bad example for Bobby. Connie also begins to see that the more she engages with the people of Odyssey the less bored she becomes. What I don’t understand was that no one ever directly told Bobby that he couldn’t go to California with Connie. We didn’t hear Whit confront him. And all Connie did was reassure Bobby that missing the bus wasn’t a big deal because there would be other buses in the future. It seems the possibility for Bobby to leave his parents and run away to California was left open.
It’s interesting that Connie’s character has grown in a single episode to the point where she is willing to try out both contentment and selflessness. She stays in this small town full of Christians not only for herself but for the benefit of Bobby. And presumably for the benefit of the audience as well because she’s such an interesting character. Connie’s introduction and her development as a character in this episode made it a good listen. This episode gets 4 out of 5 stars.