Whit’s End is a little bigger than we first thought. Similarly to The Case of the Secret Room, we find out about another hidden room, except this one was actually created by Mr. Whittaker himself. Eugene even says it’s like one of those mystery stories, which should immediately call The Case of the Secret Room to mind. The fact that the key to the hidden room in Whit’s office can be found in the book The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis should be Eugene’s first clue to be careful, unless he wants to unleash a doomsday scenario. But I guess we can’t place too much blame on Eugene at this point. How would he know what Whit’s been up to? Like in a lot of episodes, Whit appears at the beginning in the intro as a happy, bumbling inventor whose inventions backfire and go crazy on a regular basis. Maybe that’s the way Mr. Whittaker likes people to see him. It’s certainly the way he’s presented in Whit’s Flop. But this episode reveals a little more about what’s really going on behind the scenes. Whit is actually quite the successful inventor. It’s not your average person who can create artificial intelligence.
If you were expecting Mabel to be a talking snake, you might be pleasantly surprised how subtly temptation is presented in this modern retelling of the Garden of Eden story. Mabel the talking computer seems harmless enough and actually quite helpful. And since it was partially the result of Eugene’s efforts to computerize the shop that led to Mabel’s creation, I bet Eugene thinks of himself as its co-creator and therefore somehow deserves to be able to make full use of it. But he’s restricted right off the bat. Applesauce, the forbidden program, is just out of reach. And what’s more, it’s exactly the mystery Eugene was waiting for. Applesauce is top secret and sounds like it could have been lifted directly from one of those mystery stories Eugene referenced earlier. And Whit adds to the intrigue by saying he’s only telling Eugene about all this in case anything happens to him. Does Mr. Whittaker expect to be assassinated by someone trying to steal Applesauce? And if so, why would he trust Eugene over Connie? Of course Eugene’s better with computers so he’s the logical person to tell, but when you’re dealing with a program like Applesauce you have to be careful. And literally handing over the keys of your high tech computer to an ambitious computer genius who may or not be trustworthy is a scary thought. Eugene could have been a spy recruited by Blackgaard from the college to infiltrate Whit’s End. Stranger things have happened. Whit should have at least told Connie as well, considering the fact that he’s known her for much longer.
Eugene may be good with computers, but he’s not good with people skills. When Connie asks him to fix the train set he suddenly gets very awkward. It’s like the Barclays trying to act nonchalant. He nervously tells Connie to stay there while he slips off in the opposite direction of the train set and heads to Whit’s office. Could he have been more obvious? Of course Connie gets suspicious and follows him. Anybody with a half a brain would see through Eugene’s ruse. When she enters the office she finds Eugene out-computering a computer. Eugene tells Mabel to “please discontinue the train’s activity” and when Mabel doesn’t understand his technical language he has to dumb it down for it. Up until this point, no one has intentionally done anything wrong. Sure, Eugene forgot to lock the door, but that was simply his absentmindedness. But now, Eugene is the first to fall. His pride gets the best of him and suddenly he’s playing up his own importance and his knowledge of Mabel. Connie asks about Applesauce and Eugene almost smugly says “I’m not permitted to talk about that one,” which implies that he knows everything about this secret program but Connie just isn’t allowed to know. In reality, he knows as much about it as she does, but he allows her to think he knows all about it simply to make her jealous. At the same time, Eugene is pretending to be the high and mighty one scolding Connie for her poor behavior, when he’s the one egging her on with his parade of self-importance.
And then Connie turns around and finds herself in Whit’s office with Donna Barclay peaking her head in the door. How did Donna get there? Connie pulled the same stunt as Eugene of course and told Donna to wait while she went off to the office, and definitely not to follow her because that totally worked when Eugene did that in the previous scene. This is the scene where Connie has her fall. It’s kind of scary how quickly and easily she justifies to herself that breaking into Applesauce would be a good idea. Later Eugene and Connie further entrench themselves in their path of disobedience when they agree to lie to Whit about what happened. Eugene says that Mr. Whittaker need never know what happened. But Applesauce doesn’t allow them to hide their sin forever. Like Adam and Eve, they hide in their shame and Whit calls out where they are when he returns. They play the blame game but to no avail.
This was a beautifully and artfully crafted storyline that parallels the Biblical account while naturally working in its own Odyssey-spin. And it doesn’t hold back in its ending. Connie and Eugene’s firing is a massive blow, both to them and to the audience. We are left to wonder how the show can go on without them. The answer is it can’t—at least not in the same way. Now that Whit’s trust has been broken so deeply, it can never be exactly the same as before. The episode underscores the magnitude and seriousness of freely doing what you know to be wrong. And it points back to the Bible and how terrible consequences occur when we think we know better than God. This episode gets 5 out of 5 stars.