The theme of this episode is the importance of church attendance and, not surprisingly, Jack Davis is back. Jack already has a history of trying to skip church cleanup day and now he’s at it again. When Whit hears about Jack’s absence from church, he doesn’t need to directly confront him right away. He lets Jack figure it out for himself. And luckily for them, Whit has already written a play which is perfect for Jack’s situation. But that’s not too big of a coincidence. It’s likely that Jack’s recent lack of church attendance is part of a larger movement of people who are also skipping out on church. So the church responded by telling Whit to write this play. Of course, it would only be helpful to those who actually attend the performance, and that requires going to church. Here’s where it gets interesting. Jack, who just happens to love plays, just happens to be visiting Whit’s End during a play rehearsal and the main actor just happens to be sick, causing Jack to fill his role for the rehearsal. That’s a little more than a coincidence, I think.
The BODY has a noble purpose: to help others. That’s a very simplified version of what the church does, but it works for Mr. Whittaker’s short play. When the BODY meets together, Whit’s humor shines through. This story isn’t as heavily drenched in jokes like the episode Gifts for Madge and Guy, but it does have its moments. During the roll call, we hear everyone’s clever names. The interaction between Doris Lipman and Brian Headly was especially good. It felt like a fun and creative scene.
Jack, who plays a foot, leaves the BODY to join a group of feet, who happen to be pretty funny as well. When Jack says something, the group of feet always responds with a chorus of agreements. Even when Jack says he was dumb for leaving the body, the feet eagerly agree that he is dumb, clearly not understanding what they’re saying. The feet aren’t very smart without the rest of the body parts. Having them go right up to a homeless person and ask him if he knows anyone who needs help was a brilliant way to demonstrate this. They are quite enthusiastic, and also quite useless. The feet in this episode remind me of the Dufflepuds from C.S. Lewis’ novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Those creatures were always very loyal to their leader, and were constantly agreeing with him. They were also very stupid and foolish. And, interestingly, they each had one and only very large foot with which they hopped around.
This is another one of Whit’s stories with a sad ending. Like The Tangled Web, the consequences of bad decisions are not easily mended. Sometimes it’s more effective to get a message across to an audience if the story ends badly like a cautionary tale, and this is one of those times where that works well. A church is supposed to help people, including those within and those outside, and if it fractures it can be very difficult to come together again. Because of this reality, I thought the episode’s ending was appropriate. Overall, it was definitely a solid story. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.