At the beginning of this episode Chris says, “It’s been a while since anyone’s used the Imagination Station at Whit’s End.” I’m sorry, Chris, but that sounds a little ridiculous from the audience’s perspective. When you consider the three-album-long-gap the machine got between The Potential in Elliot in Album 19 and St. Paul: The Man from Tarsus in Album 23, a mere 7 episode gap is nothing. There’s a similar gap of three albums from albums 40 to 42. Interestingly, the first gap happens to include Eugene and Bernard’s road trip and the second gap features Connie and Joanne’s road trip. Maybe Chris is deliberately ignoring the previous Imagination Station adventure with Nicholas Adamsworth just a few episodes ago because it turned out to be such a weak story. Thankfully, this episode takes a turn for the better. Elijah is a big improvement over A Prisoner for Christ and manages to tap into the same well-thought-out creative storytelling style that made Digger Digwillow’s opening journey in the Imagination Station such a success. Digger’s trip opened up the New Testament for listeners and this episode does a great job bringing the machine’s first trip back to the Old Testament.
The adventure starts for Jack because he pushes a flashing white button, not a red button, but realistically anything Jack did would have done the same thing if the story required it. Jack could have sneezed and the Imagination Station would have started. Meanwhile, Robyn has already been sucked into the machine. This was the perfect time to expand the Imagination Station to allow for two people because this story really benefits from having two different perspectives on the action. And both Robyn and Jack are well-developed enough to take their separate parts of the story and make them compelling. That’s one reason why I’m glad the AIO team decided not to throw both Jack and Oscar into this adventure. If this was a different story, it might have worked. For example, if the two kids were together the whole time in this episode, then maybe the Jack and Oscar combination would have been suited for it. But this episode calls for the separation of the kids during the adventure, and that would not have worked with Jack and Oscar. Jack would have done just fine, but Oscar would have floundered, causing the episode to suffer. Oscar fits into the sidekick role far better than the role of a main character. He just isn’t a strong enough of a character to hold his own. Robyn, on the other hand, is more than capable of countering Jack and keeps the episode balanced.
Besides strong characters, this episode is full of funny characters. The character of Benjamin is a good one and is played by Fabio Stephens, who would later play Curt Stevens. And he’s hilarious. Benjamin accuses Jack of being a thief and pokes him with a stick. Then he admits to having never come across a thief before and that he wouldn’t know one if he saw one. And then he threatens to poke Jack again in the future. It’s silly and fun and sets the strange tone that this episode takes on. On the one hand there’s a lot of comedy, but there’s also a lot of serious content. After Benjamin’s debut we transition over to the headquarters of evil where Queen Jezebel lives. And what do we find in this terrifying place? Robyn Jacobs running around, being chased after by a guard who’s trying to protect his eyes from being scratched out. Despite the dangers the wicked queen poses to Robyn, this is another silly scene full of laughs. Then when Robyn gets sent to the deep, dark prison, a similar dynamic occurs. It’s basically the opposite experience Digger had when he was captured. Robyn complains that “It's wet, and it stinks and I'm cold. It's terrible!” To which a prisoner replies, “Excuse me, don't forget the rats.” Another prisoner chimes in, talking about how bad the food is, the lack of plumbing, and complains about the whippings. They manage to create a whole list of complaints they’d like to take up with their jailers. And then when the jailer comes for “the one called Robyn,” all the other prisoners clamor around and claim they’re all named Robyn. It’s ridiculous, yes, but it’s pretty funny.
Then there’s King Ahab, who is the exact opposite of his wife. Jezebel is menacing and scary. She spends her time either plotting or worshipping false gods in her creepy temple, which is full of spine-chilling chanting and evil rituals. Part 1 ends with Jezebel shouting that Robyn will die for refusing to bow down to Baal and it’s a convincing performance. In part 2 she threatens Obadiah’s head, vows to kill Elijah, and then later charges at Jack and Robyn with a sword in a fit of rage. She is a force to be reckoned with. She intimidates everyone, including her husband. King Ahab, in contrast, is a pitiful pushover. He’s the farthest thing from threatening or intelligent and you can’t help but laugh at him. Elijah makes a lot of demands on him, telling him to assemble the priests on Mount Carmel for this special event. Ahab relies, “Oh, really? Is that all?” Then he asks, “And why should I do all those things for you, tormentor of my soul?” To this Elijah responds brilliantly, saying, “You will do it.” Of course, because Ahab is so weak-willed he has no counterargument. He likes to pretend he’s tough but he isn’t at all. When Elijah keeps Ahab waiting for his arrival on the mountain, Ahab threatens Jack and Benjamin that he’ll have their heads if Elijah doesn’t turn up. But he isn’t at all convincing. Jezebel’s threats are to be feared, but Ahab’s are to be laughed at. When Baal is proven to be a false god, Ahab suddenly claims that he knew Elijah was right all along, another laughable statement. And then when Elijah says the rains are coming Ahab disagrees and says he doesn’t see any rain on the horizon. But, with true comedic timing, Ahab is interrupted by a thunder clap.
It’s interesting to note that while the humorous spin that the AIO team puts on this Bible story may be an imaginative embellishment, it is not totally out of place for this particular story. Perhaps the writers were inspired by the scene on Mount Carmel, which is actually pretty funny in the Bible as well. I’m talking about when Elijah starts taunting the prophets of Baal who can’t seem to call on their god to do anything. They dance around for hours and Elijah makes fun of them, telling them they should shout louder if they want Baal to hear them. He speculates that perhaps Baal is busy, or asleep, or travelling. This episode takes the spirit of that comedic scene and applies it to the rest of the story, creating a very enjoyable Imagination Station adventure. From its strong-willed characters to its purposelessly weak-willed characters, this episode never stops being compelling. It gets 5 out of 5 stars.