As the beginning of this episode the announcer Chris says, “Whit and the gang are about to go through one of the most incredible and trying adventures of their lives.” Now, that could be interpreted in different ways. I used to think it was a silly line because it seems to date the show. The reason Chris overhypes this episode is because there is no way the team could have anticipated what would happen in Odyssey in the future, including Darkness Before Dawn and the Novacom saga. I think fighting an evil corporation that is wielding the weapon of mind control would probably be the most trying adventure you could have. But there’s another way to look at Chris’ line and it’s the way I prefer. She says this episode is “one of the most incredible” ones. It’s only one of many. This statement both acknowledges that this is indeed an exciting episode, but it totally leaves the door open for greater and greater adventures ahead. As Whit would say, the best is yet to come. Although I doubt he would use that line in this instance. These trials and tribulations are only enjoyable from the audience’s point of view, not the characters, unless of course you’re Mitch and you love putting your life in danger. I don’t think the people of Odyssey look forward to such moments.
Whit calls Blackgaard’s Castle a “mess” and it is. Eugene remarks that the layout is illogical and the displays seem to be disorganized. This is a clue that something isn’t quite right, just in case you weren’t paying attention earlier and missed Tom Riley’s barn getting burned down. Blackgaard’s Castle seems to have been put together very quickly. It’s almost like Dr. Blackgaard’s main purpose in Odyssey isn’t to run a video arcade for kids. His business, of course, is merely a front for his secret and illegal operations. Blackgaard, with all his secret plans, seems to be a larger-than-life figure. But then we hear that he is “somewhat illiterate” when it comes to computers. Wait, what? He’s not the genius we imagined him as? Both Whit and Eugene have way more computer expertise than Blackgaard. That explains why he needs Richard Maxwell around. Blackgaard may be intimidating, clever, cutthroat and powerful, but he’s still human. He’s not the incredibly smart mastermind who knows everything who you see on TV, nor does he fit into the bumbling villain stereotype. He is a more realistic character. His most evil quality is his willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals. That’s what is really frightening about him. He will stop at nothing.
Blackgaard calls children “free spirits” and says, “Pure, uninhibited fun is what we teach here.” That actually explains a lot. Blackgaard only wants to be free to do whatever he wants without restrictions. And that’s just fine with Lucy because she’s tired of being perfect and always following the rules. And speaking of Lucy, why hasn’t anybody told her about Richard Maxwell’s criminal past yet? For all she knows Richard is good friends with Eugene because they used to work together. But Eugene still hasn’t talked to Lucy about what Richard did at Campbell College. He even admits that he’s tried to speak to her about it on occasion but he can never find the right words. That isn’t a very good excuse. The only person who has the courage to confront Lucy is Connie. That was a powerful moment. Despite Lucy’s bad attitude towards her, Connie cares enough to tell Lucy about Richard’s bad reputation. Lucy brushes Connie’s concerns away, but it’s hard to believe her words didn’t sink in, especially since Lucy has already had quite a few misgivings about what Richard has asked her to do. Lucy was probably going to confront Richard about what Connie said when she stumbled upon Blackgaard talking about breaking into Applesauce. Connie’s actions led to a significant turning point in Lucy’s attitudes.
When Blackgaard and Maxwell hack into Whit’s computer they laugh maniacally at the thought that all the machines at Whit’s End are going crazy during the system check. But what are they really accomplishing? Sure, they’re creating a little chaos, but they’re also letting Whit know that someone is after Applesauce. That doesn’t seem like something they should celebrate over. But this just shows how irrational people desperate for power and control can become. Blackgaard isn’t always the cold and calculated machine with the perfect plan. Sometimes he is overwhelmed by the taste of more power and gets carried away. Blackgaard is shocked and enraged that Mr. Whittaker would have put on a password to protect Applesauce. Well, what did he expect? That he simply had to hook up a modem and then steal this incredibly powerful program which apparently has capabilities beyond your wildest dreams? Of course there would be security. Most computers these days have passwords whether they have secret government programs on them or not. Blackgaard then tells Richard to get the password from Lucy, as if she would know what it is. There is no way that was ever going to happen.
But now that Blackgaard has been foiled, his darker side kicks in. He isn’t fazed at all when he finds out he injured Lucy in the Imagination Station. Then he smugly laughs in Richard’s face and dares him to tell the authorities on him. He threatens to squash Richard like a bug. Then, as Richard is dancing around with glee as Blackgaard’s Castle burns down, Blackgaard reveals just how far he is willing to go to defeat his enemies. He pushes a machine onto Richard and leaves him to be burned alive. What an evil man. As I said before, this is what makes Blackgaard so scary. He thinks of himself as free to do whatever is necessary to accomplish his goals. It isn’t until it’s too late that Richard realizes this. But thank God for Whit. Mr. Whittaker should be a firefighter. He saved Tom Riley and his horses from the burning barn in The Nemesis and now he saves Richard from Blackgaard’s Castle just before it collapses in the flames. Blackgaard and Whit have some similarities. They’re both well-connected powerful men who run businesses for children where they serve ice cream and soda. But the climax of this episode makes the difference between them black and white. Blackgaard tries to destroy Richard, but Whit saves him. Blackgaard does whatever he can to help himself, but Whit does whatever he can to help others. The Battle makes the conflict between good and evil very clear and has a solid ending. This episode gets 5 out of 5 stars.