Warning. Contains spoilers, and is a gut reaction review. Click the “continue reading” button to continue.
Warning. Contains spoilers. Click the “read more” button to continue.
Hey, nerds! James, who is a reader of Odysseynerds and creator of the AIO Rating System, wrote a good review of the two-parter episode David and Absalom, down in the comments of my review. It’s a good read! Check it out below:
“The books of Samuel are some of my very favorite parts of the Bible, so I’m not quite sure whether my expectations were impossibly high, or deflated because I knew they couldn’t possibly meet them.
There were parts that weren’t strictly accurate (putting aside the addition of the kid characters), which bugged me a bit as a huge fan of those stories. The scene where Absalom decides how to pursue David is off on some details. From my recollection the Biblical account was at high council of a meeting of tribal leaders, not Absalom alone taking counsel with a couple of his advisors. Ahithophel’s advice was only ever mentioned as being to kill David alone, although the episode does correct what seems initially seems an error by having him backtrack and change to talking about killing David. I believe Ahithophel had given his advice before Hushai’s appearance, so the order of everything was jumbled up. While Ahithophel’s passionate, but rushed sell of his proposal compared to the smooth-tongued Hushai does provide an explanation as to how he might have been passed over, I think the implication from the scripture is more that Absalom and his council were simply prideful and enamored with the idea of leading a vast host to glory (and perhaps also swayed by caution through the reminder of the Davidic guard’s past glories, overlooking Ahithophel’s presumably accurate conclusion that they would be tired and vulnerable to attack). That said, the reading between the lines showing Absalom becoming suspicious of Ahithophel getting the credit is a good touch, as well as Hushai’s sly point about David losing his power by not being a ‘man of the people’ at the front.
I had hoped Abishai would make a bigger appearance as Joab’s older brother, especially in the scene where he volunteers to cut off Shimei’s head (a line that I think was given to Joab here; understandable since Abishai wasn’t previously introduced, but disappointing all the same). The scene with the runner after Absalom’s death is also changed, probably for the sake of time, completely cutting out the first runner. David’s men going on the run and going to battle were all portrayed less dramatically than I personally imagine it to be, being very familiar with the knowledge that these men had been with each other for years (some of them having been with David from the very beginning, and many from his days as an ‘outlaw’). There’s a real poignancy and story in the elite guard, the veterans of countless battles together, taking on the hosts of their rebellious, inexperienced countrymen. That said, while it’s easy to think that it could have been more so with less time spent focused on the kids, perhaps that is expecting too much. Nothing short of perfection (like in *the* moment where Isaac blesses Jacob in the Bernard retelling, one of the most powerful moments in the AIO Bible stories and something that really brings tears to my eyes) would have sufficed for my imagination.
Time and focus are the essential conflict between an Imagination Station adventure and retelling it straight, time focused on building existing characters versus time spent telling the actual story. I think the classic Bernard stories you mentioned pretty much hit the spot, but it is hard to make use of your characters if you don’t give them anything to do, and when you have a plot device like the Imagination Station it’s hard to decide not to use it (especialy in a circumstance that seems like it would be made for). It’s also worth noting that those two-parters represented a high point in the Bible stories — even some of the later stories from Bernard didn’t go quite as well (post-Job, I’m thinking). I’m hard-pressed to think of many I.S. stories that I think couldn’t have been told better straight, though.
I generally thought the voice acting was good, though Ahithophel should have sounded older, and there *is* a fair amount of screaming. I thought the pronunciation of the Bible names was a bit odd in numerous cases, but as I’m not acquainted with the correct Hebrew renderings, I suppose I will have to defer to them in that regard. Olivia sounds a bit silly at points, over-the-top, but what’s easy to forget about her is that while she’s generally very sweet and sounds mature, she’s still young, and has a lot of growing to do — this dual nature is showcased in episodes like “Parker for President” where she’s the loving mature older sister in one moment, turns vicious and spiteful in just a few minutes later of episode time, and then back again at the end, and “The Grass is Greener”. The final scene was sweet, though the “cool” post-ending, as you said, was a bit much. 😉
There are definitely rough spots, but it is probably one of the better I.S. episode two-parters in recent memory in my opinion. But then, how many *have* there been lately? Except for that (in my opinion) fiasco with “Where Your Treasure Is”, I think they’ve been rather averse to the format of late. Perhaps that explained why they decided to make it a I.S. story, for fear of ‘abandoning’ the invention. The Room of Consequence might have started out as sort of an afterthought compared to the original virtual reality machine, but now I think it is (rightfully) the most popular of Whit’s inventions to appear in episodes. Now if we could only bring back the transmuter we’d be set. 😉
Probably the biggest trouble with this is that two parts is really too short an amount of time to tell the whole story, an epic saga that properly must go from before the war with the Ammonites to at least after David’s return to Jerusalem after the death of Absalom, and maybe better suited to end after Sheba’s death. A sequel to Darien’s Rise (perhaps “Darien’s Decline”, although Darien’s state would be somewhat restored by the end) perhaps wouldn’t be out of order.“
Warning. Contains spoilers and is a “gut reaction review”. Click the “read more” button to continue.