Missing Person is the second episode with both Isaac and Rodney, and the first episode with Isaac not to feature his name in the title. It’s unfortunate that this breaks a three-episode trend, but it’s also understandable. This episode is after all a remake and wasn’t originally intended for Isaac. And unlike the remake of Doing Unto Others, this time Isaac doesn’t replace another character. Instead, he’s a completely new addition to the story. And Isaac’s appearance changes the story quite a bit. This episode’s theme is officially listed as “you can’t run away from your problems.” But I would argue this copy and pasted theme fits the original show Harley Takes the Case much better than Missing Person. In the outro of Harley Takes the Case, Chris chastises the runaway kid for putting himself in danger. She closes by giving one final warning to audience: “Don’t ever run away from home.” But in the wrap-up of Missing Person, Chris doesn’t talk about Rodney running away from his problems and doesn’t once warn anyone about leaving home. Instead she comes from the perspective of Isaac and talks about the importance of showing love and compassion to your enemies. It’s a different theme and has a new focus on Isaac. I think that warrants Isaac’s name in the title. The only problem is that Isaac the Compassionate would basically be the same as the title of his previous show, Isaac the Benevolent, and Isaac the Merciful would be too similar to Rodney’s previous episode, An Act of Mercy. So maybe Missing Person is the best alternative.
The story begins with the state fair. We know that because Chris tells us and some upbeat music plays in the background for a few seconds. So prepare for an episode of spinning amusement rides, petting zoos, clowns, funnel cake, fried food and cotton candy. Or maybe not. But this episode has the next best thing: horseback riding at Tom Riley’s farm. That’s right, the Riley farm is now the kids’ favorite hangout spot. And Isaac and Lucy are heading there for some fun times. Except they never get there. But the diversions our characters go on don’t actually bother me. Unlike Pranks for the Memories, which sold the audience on an idea it couldn’t live up to, Missing Person never pretends to be a story it’s not. Chris tells us right away that Rodney will disappear and Officer O’Ryan confirms that in this first scene. Plus, the episode title gives it away. Now it’s just up to the writers to find a clever way to get us from the setup to the conclusion, and this episode does a good job, following two story threads which eventually meet nicely at the end. O’Ryan’s investigation uncovers the Rathbones’ side of the story and Lucy acts as Isaac’s conscience as he goes on his own journey.
Isaac remarks that he hopes Rodney would get arrested by the police. Don’t worry, Isaac, that’s already happened—twice in fact. Officer O’Ryan must be tired of arresting Rodney after An Act of Mercy. Meanwhile, Bart Rathbone seems to be getting pretty tired of Rodney’s antics as well. This is Bart’s second episode and his character is developing more and more. He’s no longer the father calmly admitting to his family’s faults or going out to get ointment for his son. He’s now the father who yells at his son for not being interested in baseball and then blows up at the police officer trying to help him. Bart can’t understand why Rodney would want to leave the Rathbone household and makes the absurd claim that “Everything was perfect when he left.” Apparently Bart thought Rodney pushing kids around and stealing apples didn’t reflect badly on his home life, but now that he’s run away all of a sudden Bart fears his parenting style may come under attack. And yet Bart isn’t entirely heartless, which makes him more realistic and endearing. He knows deep down what he’s done, which is why he tries so hard to cover it up. And despite all his claims that his wife is the one who’s in a state of worry and concern for Rodney and that he’s the level-headed one who isn’t governed by his emotions, as the story progresses it becomes clear that Bart really does care about his son. But just like the tough guy he’s raised Rodney to be, Bart doesn’t like to show it.
One way to find someone who’s lost is to get lost yourself, which is exactly what Isaac and Lucy do. So technically this episode features three missing persons, not just one. They stumble upon Rodney trapped under some beams in a barn. Evidently he crashed through the hayloft. Thankfully for Rodney it isn’t Tom Riley’s barn, otherwise he would once again be confronted with that horrifying word: restitution. Isaac and Rodney have a fruitful talk, both opening up about their relationships with their parents. But even in the midst of that Isaac makes some inexcusable statements. When Rodney says everyone in Odyssey hates him, Isaac says that’s true. And later Isaac says, “Boy, you’re really dumb aren’t you?” The shift in the power dynamic obviously goes to Isaac’s head. Then Isaac tells a story which is conveniently just like Rodney’s. He ran away from home once too. But I find that pretty hard to believe. Isaac Morton can’t help being honest and expressing his feelings. He wouldn’t go to such extreme lengths to cover them up by running away. If Isaac’s runaway story had been dramatized instead of Rodney’s, it would not have worked because he wouldn’t have the motivation to do it. Rodney’s motivation for running away makes sense and Officer O’Ryan’s unfolding investigation is actually interesting as a result.
Meanwhile, O’Ryan and Bart have a good conversation as well. Bart says, “I don’t care what the kid does the rest of the time. I just wanted him to stay with the sports, you know?” O’Ryan responds, “Well, maybe he needs you to care what he does the rest of the time.” Bart scoffs at that, saying, “Rodney? You don’t know him like I do.” And then O’Ryan says softly, “Do you know him, Bart?” That’s an insightful and cutting remark. When Rodney is rescued, O’Ryan arrives with his siren blaring, as he does whenever Rodney Rathbone is involved. Isaac gets all the credit for finding Rodney, even though Lucy is the one who went to get help. Speaking of which, how did Lucy even find her way back? They were both lost in the woods because of Isaac’s “shortcut.” Lucy is this episode’s unsung hero for traversing through the wilderness to rescue Rodney. If only she was afraid of the woods, like Shirley was afraid of the dark in Nothing to Fear, Lucy would have gotten more airtime. But alas, her story goes untold. Isaac, as thoughtful as ever, philosophizes about the implications of the episode. He wonders if Rodney will stop picking on him at school now, but then concludes, “Not a chance.” On the other hand, this episode isn’t for nothing because it draws Rodney and his father together, and it lets Isaac and the audience understand Rodney a little better. But Isaac could have come up with a better way to relate to Rodney other than telling a story about him once doing exactly the same thing as Rodney. This episode gets 4 out of 5 stars.