There are inevitably going to be comparisons made between this episode and The Case of the Secret Room. Not only do they include strikingly similar events, but they have the same message about the harmful effects of greed. The Treasure of LeMonde!, however, doesn’t contain a lot of the more serious elements featured in The Case of the Secret Room, such as bank robberies, guns, murder and hidden skeletons. This would have been the perfect opportunity to write a lighthearted, comedic mystery to differentiate itself more from the previous one and create an enjoyable story along the way. This episode of course doesn’t go that route and therefore results in being just average, not at all exceptional. You can immediately tell how much this story borrows from The Case of Secret Room when Chris introduces it. She completely skips over the initial discovery of the mysterious door because it’s something we’ve heard before. Connie includes an explanation of the discovery of the door behind the boards when she says, “I don’t know. There was something about the way the flashlight beam hit them, something weird,” but thankfully that wasn’t dramatized into its own scene. At least the scene where they do enter this hidden room is used to explain a bit more about the history of Whit’s End.
Just as The Case of the Secret Room has its one kid character, Jami Martin, this episode has Robyn Jacobs to fill that role. But whereas Jami is a visitor to the town, Robyn is a regular. In fact, she is at the peak of her popularity in this episode, since it comes at the end of Album 6, which has the most episodes featuring Robyn—a total of six. If the episode You Go to School Where? had been included it would have been seven. No other album comes close to Album 6 in this regard. In second place is Album 13, which has a measly three Robyn episodes. Although for being such as regular, there are still some things we don’t know about Robyn. We learn that she is playing the song Für Elise by Beethoven for a piano recital. This sudden discovery that Robyn has known how to play the piano all this time would probably annoy me if not for one small detail—Robyn does a terrible job at it. Just as Ralph says about Davey Holcomb’s baseball ability in Whit’s Flop, “If I played like that, I wouldn’t tell anybody either.” Robyn admits she has to practice more and doesn’t even attempt to finish playing the piece. If she had been a great piano player it would have made sense for the audience to have known about it before now.
Professor Aldus Webster, a friend of Whit’s, marks the second time the name Webster has been associated with the bad guys, the first being the Webster Development Firm. You never know; maybe the two are connected somehow. Mr. Whittaker should have seen this coming. Aldus Webster’s name also marks the beginning of a series of odd names in this episode which the audience is somehow expected to remember. There’s the French nobleman, Henri LeMonde, who also happens to be a missionary and a prankster, the treasure hunter and poet Rufus Cowley, and the other treasure hunter Zachariah Ames. The name Aldus Webster makes the professor sound like he’s from the 1800’s and would fit right into that group of historical figures. The name Aldus even means “old.” An abundance of names with relatively little information as to who these characters are makes following the backstory a little too confusing. This is especially evident at the end of the episode. Whit tells us the poem saying that the treasure belongs to the person with green paint on them is legally binding because “it is what LeMonde wrote.” But wasn’t Rufus Cowley the poet? Now suddenly LeMonde is the one writing poems. There are a lot of unanswered questions about what actually happened with these various, underdeveloped historical people.
Another moment that was troubling was the lack of subtly employed to show us Robyn’s greed. Robyn says to herself, “Gotta find that treasure before someone else does! I’ll figure this out if I have to lie here all night. I want that treasure! Just think of all the stuff I could buy with it. I’ve gotta get it! I have to! Whatever it takes.” This went too far. Could she have been any more obvious about her feelings? What saves this unfortunate moment is the second half of the scene, which is Robyn’s prayer to God. I really admire Robyn for praying to God to take her corrupt feelings away from her and help her to think pure thoughts instead. She recognizes that she’s being tempted to sin and resists it. And it’s right after she takes her mind off her greed for money that she deciphers the clue. The clue about playing a deaf cabbage is actually pretty clever and is probably the most memorable thing about this episode. The scene that immediately follows at Whit End, however, couldn’t be more cliché and bizarre. Professor Webster suddenly appears and then yet another secret room opens. It’s a secret room within a secret room! And the description of this event is a little hard to visualize too, especially with everyone screaming different things. First Robyn says, “Look at that wall! It’s falling apart!” Then Connie says, “No, it’s opening! It’s a secret panel!” Then Webster says, “No, not a secret panel, two of them! One inside, one outside!” Then Connie says, “What’s that between them?” Robyn answers, saying, “It’s a telescope!” The characters are just screaming wildly, trying to convince the audience that this crazy stuff is really happening. And they didn’t do a very good job.
The trap Professor Webster falls into is actually quite serious if you think about it. Whit, Connie and Robyn find him hanging upside down. He’s barely conscious and says he’s been hanging up there for hours. If no one knew he went there he probably would have died, and all thanks to the famed missionary LeMonde. There’s something a little messed up about a rich nobleman keeping the Bible away from the common people by placing a series of traps in their way. This definitely wasn’t the intention, but it harkens back to a time when only a select few had access to the written Word in their own language. As I said before, by the end of this story many things seem to be left unresolved. Webster isn’t even charged for tying up Robyn and Connie, which does not make any sense. In The Case of the Secret Room someone can be charged for a crime that happened over forty years ago but in The Treasure of LeMonde! a crime that happened a few hours ago is apparently beyond the statute of limitations. This episode is basically a rehash of The Case of the Secret Room but it moves the secret room from the basement to the attic. But just because these two locations are literally at opposite ends of Whit’s End does not make them two different ideas. They’re the same concept. For being slightly convoluted and unoriginal, this episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.