The Barclays are back and this time they’ve come to learn about stewardship, which ties nicely into previous episodes. Just think back to Peace on Earth, when the whole family is more focused on presents than on Jesus’ birth, or even more recently, in The Prodigal, Jimmy, when Jimmy spends all his money on arcade games. There’s clearly something wrong here. It’s no wonder George Barclay re-examines the situation when he hears Jimmy wants money to buy yet another video game. This scene would have been perfectly fine if the Barclay kids had been the only ones pleading for cash. But then their mother Mary Barclay joins in to also pester George. She starts beseeching him for a nice, expensive vacation, right in front of the kids. That struck me as unrealistic and out of place. Here you have the Barclay mother suddenly acting immaturely like one of her kids, as if she is one of them. This was probably supposed to be a funny but it didn’t work for me. I don’t think acting like that fits with Mary Barclay’s character, and it was even less appropriate in that context. If you’re trying to get your kids to stop doing something, lead by example and don’t join in on their bad behavior.
Connie and Eugene don’t share the same sense of humor. That’s what makes them work as foils so well. But for some reason Whit wants to ruin the audience’s fun and cut down on the amount of drama unfolding at Whit’s End. What are they arguing about this time? Eugene is convinced that he is a “truly rounded person” and Connie makes very clear her disagreement, as well as her distaste for scientific books. It’s quite an entertaining conversation. We hear another reference to Connie’s supposed bowling skills, which is funny considering how terribly she bowls with Mitch in future episodes. Either Connie was bragging a bit too much in this episode, or she lost her skills over time because Eugene never agreed to go with her to practice at the bowling alley. This makes me wish there had been an episode where Eugene did go bowling with Connie. It would have been hilarious listening to Eugene attempt to bowl. But, I’m also glad that Connie and Eugene didn’t hang out together outside of Whit’s End a lot. That might have pressured the writers into making them into a couple, which would have been a mistake.
George and Mary Barclay create their family budget together, which is an improvement from the previous situation where they didn’t appear to be on equal footing. I’m glad that this time it isn’t just George by himself, in secret deciding an allowance for Mary without her input. And having the kids do extra chores in addition to their regular ones is a good choice. Not every single household chore should be a paid job and there are certain duties and responsibilities that come with being part of a family. I like the idea of dividing money into different envelopes, but its use is limited. Working with cash, you can’t always evenly break it down if you don’t have the proper change. And I’m not sure the benefit of keeping the money you’re planning on saving at home in an envelope. That’s what a bank account is for. But after hearing that intro skit with the host Chris falling victim to an evil bank teller who refuses to allow her to withdraw her own money, I guess going to the bank isn’t an option for the people of Odyssey. Also, I’m glad they didn’t mention the exact amount of money the Barclay kids will receive. Not only because it would date the show due to inflation, but because parents of different families can decide on very different allowance amounts. The showrunners made the right choice in keeping it vague.
There goes Whit again with his crazy ideas. First a photocopier-turned-pizza-oven, and now this. Apparently he wants to entertain himself, because he creates a strange game where Connie and Eugene basically need to completely avoid talking to each other, lest their personalities clash and an argument ensues. Kind of like a swear jar, but for a family friendly show. Of course, Connie and Eugene have the best arguments, but they’re better in small doses. You couldn’t very well listen to them argue for the whole episode. It wouldn’t be a good influence and it would get repetitive. Not to mention it would be difficult to write that many witty lines. So in the end, we hear very little from them during the day as they proceed to waste away their bonus hundred dollars. Not very good stewards, are they? But it’s just as well that they’re in the background. That way they don’t start to annoy us, and our appreciation for their witty banter is preserved. This episode maintained a good balance between its different characters and taught a basic but important lesson through a relatable drama. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.