We’ve heard from other cats on Odyssey before. There were Mrs. Rossini’s cats in The Day After Christmas, Karen’s cat Ferguson which she gave to Donna before she died, and Dr. Blackgaard’s cat Sasha. But this episode is a first for the show. It appears to be the very first time a pet has been so absolutely central to the story. There have been countless minor characters on AIO who have never gotten a whole episode all about them, but Boswell the cat gets that honor bestowed upon him. As silly as it sounds, Boswell is able to drive the plot of this episode forward. Robyn Jacobs getting a job babysitting could easily have been another average Robyn episode like Good Business or But, You Promised. All’s Well with Boswell, on the other hand, adds a twist and gives Robyn a cat to look after instead of a kid. In the end the story does better than previous episodes because it embraces its ridiculous premise and aims for comedy. It’s a fun, childish show which serves as an important milestone for Robyn, as it is her last episode before she is joined on the show by her sister Melanie.
The episode starts off with some hilarious clips from television commercials and soap operas, one of them featuring Roger and his receding hairline. This helps set the scene for what turns out to be an equally ridiculous storyline. All’s Well With Boswell isn’t quite AIO’s version of a soap opera because it doesn’t include any over-the-top romantic elements, but the simple story beginnings it does include soon become overly dramatic enough. Imagine if this episode had started off halfway through with Robyn stuck in Connellsville with Mrs. Fishbine’s cat, and then Robyn had to explain how she got there. None of us in the audience would believe her outlandish story. I’m surprised Jessie doesn’t accuse her of still being under the influence of bad luck from their episode together in Album 6. And speaking of Jessie, she seems to be where all the trouble starts. You might think Robyn’s big mistake is refusing to be honest about the broken figurine and instead trying to replace it without Mrs. Fishbine knowing about it, and you’d be right because that’s probably the intended lesson. But the lesson I get out of this episode is never invite Jessie over while you’re at work. Robyn’s mistake is calling Jessie on the phone instead of someone more responsible. But come to think of it, Robyn doesn’t have much of a selection to choose from after she lost her friends Donna and Lucy in the episode But, You Promised in Album 6. It still bothers me that their falling out is never resolved or mentioned again on the show.
Jessie Morales is a great character and this story gives her a great opportunity to shine. In terms of serious dramas, The Very Best of Friends is one of her best shows. But All’s Well With Boswell has to be one of her best comedies. Jessie’s personality adds a lot of humour to an already silly episode. When the cat food spills all over the kitchen floor, she says, “Why don’t you just put Boswell down and let him eat it up? …Okay, bad suggestion.” After Boswell escapes into the yard, Robyn is about to recapture him but is foiled when Jessie jumps out of nowhere screaming “Boswell!” at the top of her lungs. She nearly knocks Robyn into a garbage can, which would have been a nice tribute to Robyn’s dumpster diving in the show Bad Luck. And as if that wasn’t enough, Jessie entertains us further by humming “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” which is hilariously Boswell’s favorite song. Boswell and Oscar Peterson would have gotten along well. But somehow I feel Boswell would be less enthusiastic about Jessie singing “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea.” Poor Robyn. It’s one of the most repetitive and annoying tunes in the history of the show, but Jessie’s performance fits this whimsical episode perfectly.
Like an Act of Mercy and Pranks for the Memories, this is yet another episode featuring Tom Riley’s apples before the discovery in One Bad Apple that they’re laced with arsenic. It’s a good thing Robyn and Jessie don’t get hungry on their journey back from Connellsville in Tom Riley’s truck. They finally arrive at Whit’s End where Tom makes the poisonous delivery, although it’s not exactly clear whether Whit decides to take some apples from this particular batch. There’s some tension as Whit thinks about whether to look at the apples and discover Robyn and Jessie’s hiding spot, but ultimately he’s interrupted. It probably would have served the comedy of the story better if someone had discovered Robyn and a cat named Boswell cowering in the back of the truck underneath the tarp. Bernard Walton has found her in a dumpster before, so this would be nothing new. But unlike the predictable episode But, You Promised in which Robyn’s deception all comes out in the end, this episode goes for an ending more similar to The Tangled Web. It’s more open-ended then you might have expected it to be.
The more I hear this episode, the more I think Mrs. Fishbine is more than a little crazy. She doesn’t keep seven cats like the cat lady Mrs. Rossini, but the one cat she does keep is enough. That she refers to looking after her cat as “babysitting,” speaks about him as a human, and forgets until the last minute to tell Robyn that Boswell is a cat, are the first signs that she doesn’t have her priorities in order. Boswell is fat and spoiled, probably because Mrs. Fishbine force-feeds him when he pulls his “finicky act.” No wonder he keeps knocking over her figurine to spite her. No wonder he runs away to try to escape her clutches. This episode hints of an untold story, the story of Boswell’s captivity. Every time he meows you can hear his pain. But what really confirms Mrs. Fishbine’s foolish state of mind is the fact that she buys ballerina figurines by the dozen because her spoiled cat keeps breaking them. Who does that? No wonder Greenblatts Department Store only has one left when Jessie comes by. Mrs. Fishbine must have bought all the rest. Unfortunately this places Mrs. Fishbine in the territory of an eccentric caricature which takes away believability from a story which was already in desperate need of a reality check. Portraying your boss as a crazy person probably isn’t the best message for kids looking for a job. But overall this episode is very enjoyable. It gets 4 out of 5 stars.