Tom Riley is a great character. He may not understand Greek but he has a good heart and often comes across as quite humorous whether he means to be or not. For example, whenever he encounters Eugene he doesn’t understand a lot of his vocabulary and tries to get him to explain himself. Now you would think teaching Sunday school would give Tom a break from people like Eugene, he’s dealing with just kids after all. But no, Tom quickly encounters a child named Reynold who is so familiar with Greek that he could very well pass for a miniature Eugene. Poor Tom. Thankfully, like so many other Odyssey characters, Tom also happens to be a great storyteller. In this episode he recounts a story from his own life, which is a practical example of being obedient to your parents, and God by extension.
The similarities between this episode and C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair are pretty obvious. A boy and a girl are on a mission through the wilderness and have been given specific instructions which must be followed no matter what, no questions asked. They get captured along the way because they disobey, but they manage to escape and continue following their instructions. I find that there are also quite a few similarities with John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. In both Bunyan’s tale and this episode there is a single path and the characters are told to avoid all other paths or perceived shortcuts. Tom and Becky go to the wrong house and get locked in the basement. Through a near miracle, they obtain the key and free themselves. This is very similar to The Pilgrim’s Progress in which the characters Christian and Hopeful are imprisoned in the dungeon of Doubting Castle by the Giant Despair, and only escape when they find the key of Promise.
Considering this is not just a tale but supposedly something that actually happened to Tom when he was young, it’s kind of scary. First or all, Tom almost falls in the river and drowns. Then, they encounter a stranger who promises them a shortcut and some food, which sounds too good to be true. I wonder what would have become of them if they had gone with the mysterious stranger. And thirdly, they get locked up by someone. This clearly had to happen during Tom’s childhood because nowadays law-abiding people don’t find it acceptable to kidnap kids and lock them in the basement to teach them a lesson. Also, nowadays these young kids probably wouldn’t have been sent by their father to walk alone through the forest.
Probably the only thing I didn’t like about the episode was that the kids had to destroy Becky’s book to escape. They tore a page out so the key would drop down onto it and they could slide it under the door. I do not endorse the destruction of literature. Aside from that, this show was great. It was a straightforward story with few characters but it developed those people well and gave us insight into the character of Tom Riley in particular. It also had a powerful message. Not only did it emphasize the importance of obedience, but it showed that even when you disobey, God shows grace and is willing to forgive. If you leave the path, you can often find it again. This episode gets 5 out of 5 stars.