Suspicious Minds seems to be a sequel to the Album 4 episode Let This Mind Be in You, only it takes the comedy up another notch. In both shows Whit is absent from the action for significant periods of time, allowing Connie and Eugene to run wild. Their personalities clash and they spend the beginning bickering, and then move on to reshaping Whit’s End in their own image, somehow believing they’re doing what Mr. Whittaker would want them to do. Let This Mind Be in You culminates in Whit’s return and his scolding of his employees, but the episode Suspicious Minds is faster paced and features Whit returning to the scene multiple times, scolding Eugene and Connie each time. Even after hearing his advice, they pay no attention to it and take even more extreme action, eventually turning on each other again after a short period of working together. But who really keeps this story’s comedy going is Bernard. His character was only created during this album and he’s already found his place as the town’s lovable curmudgeon. Bernard acts as a guiding force in this episode, orchestrating hilarious scenes for the audience’s enjoyment. And his commentary is unforgettably good.
The episode jumps immediately into Connie and Eugene’s banter, which is a great place to start. This particular conversation gets back to basics as it revives Eugene’s love of technology, which is in direct conflict with Connie’s inexperience with technology. Connie offers one of her less-informed opinions, saying, “You’re going to spend a hundred bucks on a dumb computer? Good grief.” Of course this would set Eugene off. It would set off a lot of people. Somehow Connie doesn’t understand the importance of computers in the modern world. Maybe she forgot how the computer program Mabel got her fired from Whit’s End just three albums ago. Or maybe that’s the real reason she calls computers dumb. And as if that wasn’t enough, she goes further and says, “Nobody needs a computer, Eugene.” She suggests that having a car is far more essential, somehow failing to see the connection between computers and automobile technology. Eugene doesn’t agree with her, it would be difficult for anyone to defend her, but it should also be noted that Eugene doesn’t have his driver’s license at this point, so that also must contribute to him scoffing about Connie preferring a car. That and maybe Connie’s plan to buy “a brand-new 1967 Ford.” That car would already be twenty-three years old when this episode came out in 1990, and in 2015 it would be forty-eight. But maybe cars age more slowly in Odyssey. Needless to say, this conversation is a lot of fun to listen to because of how ridiculous it is.
After the set-up is complete and it is established that both Connie and Eugene need $100 to pay for their various purchases, the story can really begin. When $60 goes missing from the cash register, Eugene turns into a sleuth and the episode transitions to the next scene with the same music as The Case of the Secret Room. But then again, so does the comedy episode Heatwave. Suspicious Minds definitely leans towards the comedy side, while at the same time taking on a slightly more serious mystery than Heatwave did. But just in case that foreboding musical transition caused you to recall memories of poison darts and a skeleton locked up in a secret room, Eugene immediately comes to the rescue and lets us laugh a little as he orders Connie to hide behind the houseplants and then proceeds to surprise the poor window washer Bernard by attacking him with handcuffs. Somehow Eugene, who loves technology so much, thinks Connie wearing camouflage paint is a better method of surveillance than installing a security camera. After Eugene accuses Bernard of stealing, Bernard has a great line. He says, “If I was going to rob a cash register, do you think I’d come here?” This works on a number of levels. On the one hand the line is funny because Bernard is right. If you were going to rob a business you’d target somewhere that has a little more cash, like a bank. On the other hand, the line shows how oblivious people are to what Mr. Whittaker has going on behind the scenes. He’s no ordinary small-town businessman and Whit’s End is no ordinary ice cream shop. If a villain was ever going to target a business in Odyssey to rob, Whit’s End would be the perfect place to do it, and this happens frequently in future episodes.
Mr. Whittaker reprimands Connie and Eugene for their shenanigans and threatens to close down the shop if they continue. But Whit’s appearance is brief and his warning is quickly forgotten in the next scene as Connie tries to put her own money in the cash register for Eugene’s sake. Bernard catches her and offers another perfect line, saying, “Your brain is missing in action but your heart’s in the right place.” What a great compliment. Bernard seems to be on the side of the audience. He says what everyone’s thinking and he does his part to move things along for our entertainment. When Eugene says he believes Connie should seek help, Bernard is brutally honest and mutters, “I think you all need help.” He encourages Eugene as he finally unleashes his technological knowhow to rig the cash register with a trap that shocks people. Even though Bernard gets electrocuted by the trap, which is the second time he falls victim to one of Eugene’s traps in this episode, Bernard doesn’t say anything to stop Eugene’s new plan from going into effect and even helps him, suggesting he can get Connie away from the shop by telling her to get a roll of quarters from the bank. And then Bernard sticks around for the day to watch things escalate. He laughs as he explains the situation to Whit in hushed tones. Bernard seems to be the only one in the episode having as much fun as the listeners.
But Whit has to ruin our fun and give Connie and Eugene a dose of reality. He casts them out of Whit’s End and says, “I’ll take care of things here until you learn a little more about trust.” This moment reminds me a lot of A Bite of Applesauce in which Whit’s trust was broken and he cast Eugene and Connie out after firing them. But then out of nowhere this episode takes a different turn for the better, as a comedy would be expected to do. As Connie is on her way out, suddenly she finds that the cash register drawer has jammed. The missing money is found and it’s a happy ending after all. If you’re looking for closing statements, look no further than Bernard and Whit. Bernard brings the comedy and Whit brings the Christian lesson. Bernard sums it all up by saying, “You folks are a bunch of loonies.” Whit’s efforts to sum up the show involve talking about the importance of trust. But even Whit shows that he can have some fun at the end when Eugene and Connie start arguing again and instead of getting involved Whit laughs and jokes about the whole situation with Bernard. This episode sets a new bar with its comedy and makes great use of its characters, especially Bernard. It gets 5 out of 5 stars.