Warning. Contains spoilers. Click the “Continue Reading” button to read.
So the Legend of Sperry McGerk was hardly a title that made me want to hear this episode. If it was The Legend of Lieutenant McGerk or even the Confession of Reverend Newman, that would have piqued my interest. The name Sperry McGerk made me think of a little Irish elf, and then to make it twice as bad you have to add “Legend” to the title. And I am complaining because I have suggestions for you. See? Don’t complain unless you have a rational solution, or at least acknowledge that you don’t know how to fix it.
OK, so that aside, this had potential to be a really good episode. It wasn’t that bad, there were some parts I really liked. But there was room for improvement.
First of all, this was good. The beginning. We are introduced to Sperry, he seems like the hero, he is going to try and give the South the money before they come and burn the town of Odyssey and he is gonna go drive the wagon out and sacrifice his life as a Union army officer- oh how heroic. And then Whit announces that no one saw Sperry McGerk again- because he was a “complete and total fraud”. This got interesting real fast.
So- here is where things get on the not so conventional side. We find out that he was a confederatee a southern spy. And then it turns out he wasn’t a southern spy- he was a nobody. And then we find out that he later in life was a pastor back in Odyssey and told nobody about his last three professions of Union lieutenant, Confederate lieutenant, and nobody. That is basically the episode- how he found redemption from being this and that and nobody.
So, right in the middle of this episode we have McGerk hiding his loot in a cave. And there’s also this black guy hiding, he is a runaway slave and he sees McGerk’s Union outfit and praises him for being a man. So then- to stand up for his man-ness as well, the guy goes running right into the middle of the Confederate soldiers outside of the cave and gets shot down. Partially to get them to go away from McGerk, and partially because he wants to defend his man-ness. He says he doesn’t want to run anymore.
This was one of my problems here: this runaway slave wasn’t just protecting Sperry, he was protecting his honor. And fighting for a political cause. So- later in the episode an army doctor was like- it was greater love that he went running into the middle of the confederates for you, Sperry. It was kind of a stretch to me. I would have made it more like “I am gonna lay down my life for you, Sperry, because Christ died for me.” More preachy, less of a stretch. But then I would probably criticize it for being too preachy.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The guy goes and gets himself shot down- and this was one of the scenes that I liked. Sperry is gonna go. Run. And he tries to get out without looking at the dead body but he ends up stopping and being like… WHYYYYYYYYYYYY? He actually leans down and talks to the dead body. And then he goes out into the middle of this field with his confederate uniform on and these two armies come charging out, and he’s right in the middle. Um- how could you possibly not see them? How could you possibly-
And a giant cannon shell bursts very near him. He wakes up in the Confederate hospital tent thingy, his face is disfigured because of the fragments that got in his face. This was the other part I liked. Fred Tatasciore is a good actor. He’s like gasping for air, it sounds like something is wrong with his lungs and he’s still confused about dead boy back there. Both of these very emotional scenes were well acted. Anyway, so the doctor tells him it was greater love that caused the dude to lay down his life (a bit of a stretch), and then Sperry becomes a Christian and becomes a preacher and returns all the things that he stole, and no one ever knew it was him.
And mixed throughout this- we get a scene of where some dudes are finding the diary of Sperry/Reverend Newman, and of course Whit and Renee cutting in to talk about the story.
First of all: the scene where these two random dudes are finding the diary. I would have just cut that. It didn’t need to be there. Whit could have just said, “And in the old burned church they found the diary of Reverend Newman.” Boom. Done deal. I didn’t need two more characters thrown at my face for the single scene that didn’t even need to be there.
The other scene that didn’t need to be there was the mini-scenes where people are getting their stuff back. I would have believed it with just “They got their stuff back”. Or even- they could have done a thing where Sperry actually goes around doorbell ditching all the stuff. Idk how you would sound design that, but that would be cool!
Secondly, there was good opportunity for more of Odyssey to be included in here. The church could have been Whit’s End! Remember how it was a church a long time ago? If it was already, then someone did not do a good job of explaining that part, because I’m pretty sure they didn’t mention it. Second, the cave could have been Whit’s End! It really felt like that the lack of Odyssey references- besides the fact that there was the town- detracted from this episode a lot. It was in a historical setting, but not really much of a Odyssian setting.
All right, now down to the little things. Nathan Hoobler was in this episode. Fun stuff! Though I don’t think you should go for an Oscar anytime soon, haha. What a performance by Fred Tatasciore! Good stuff, man! Also- I like Whit’s narration. Especially the way he announces that Sperry was a complete fraud. That was fun and I was like- WUTT???
So overall, though this episode was not the best in layout or in scenes chosen to make, it was pretty good. The acting was good, I liked Whit partially narrating, and there were some riveting moments that came out of it. The Civil War setting was nice- the guy’s sacrifice was a bit of a stretch, but overall everything turned out neat.
Acting: 8.5. Good performance by Fred, who was definitely the star
Plot: 8.0. It was a little jarring in layout, but man there were some good scenes coming out of it.
Sound Design: 8.5 It wasn’t quite as refined in ambience, I wasn’t getting a clear picture of the environment in a few spots. This may have been due to the plot writing as well.
Music: 8.0 I noticed the introductory trumpet again, but I didn’t really notice beyond that.
Overall rating: 8.25.
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