Wednesday, June 13, 2012

#16: The Loyal Order of Corn

Episode 1017:  "The Loyal Order of Corn"

Original Airdate:  March 22, 1992

One-Sentence Synopsis:  Eerie's fraternal organization, the Loyal Order of Corn, has recently inducted Marshall's father to help them with a secret project, and it appears the lodge's elderly bartender has all the answers about the true nature of the device, as well as the grey-haired kid's past.

Marshall and Simon follow Marshall's dad to the Loyal Order of Corn, an organization that consist of most of the town's men that is seemingly centered around corn.  On that same night, the grey-haired kid has been hired as an assistant to the lodge's bartender.  When the men go in the mysterious back room to see if Marshall's father is "ready," the weird kid catches Marshall and Simon snooping, but they pay him to keep them hidden behind the bar.  While there, they notice that the bartender appears in every photograph of the Loyal Order's leaders, dating back to 1915.

The men leave the back room, with Marshall's father seemingly having failed his test.  They leave to continue their business back at the Teller house, along with the bartender.  The boys investigate the lodge and the weird kid shows them that he can unlock a cabinet that features the same markings that are on the back of his hands ("+" and "-").  The kid decides to name himself "Dash X" based on these markings, and since they are the only things identifying him.

Dash grabs a glowing crystal out of the cabinet and then takes the boys to the back room, which featured a large television screen, projecting barren landscapes, as well as an odd pedestal with the same plus/minus markings.  The crystal fits into the pedestal and the television screen becomes malleable, causing Simon to pass through into a frozen, snow wasteland.  The picture remains fuzzy and Simon is unable to pass back through.  Suddenly, the bartender returns and starts explaining himself.

He tells the boys that the Loyal Order of Corn has been unknowingly building a teleportation device that can send people to other worlds.  The bartender is actually an extraterrestrial explorer who ended up on Earth by accident in 1908.  Since he had no means of getting back to his home planet himself, he constructed the Loyal Order to gather individuals who could help invent the necessary technology to construct another device.  Marshall's father is in charge of the universal remote, which would allow the device to function properly.  Because the device was incomplete, Simon will remain trapped on some other planet until the remote is fixed.

Marshall rushes home to get his father's remote.  Once it's finished, they return to the lodge to free Simon.  But before the bartender can return to his home planet, Dash hijacks the remote.  The bartender seemingly knows a lot about his past and even shares the same markings on his hands.  He wants to leave Earth and find his true home, but the bartender instructs him to stay, since he has work to do on this planet.  The bartender leaves and the device is shut down.

Evidence Locker Item:  One of the Corn Lodge hats (which were used to hypnotize the men into building great inventions), Tag #258

The Loyal Order of Moose - Moose Lodges first appeared in 1888 as organizations for men to provide community service and recreational activities.

My Favorite Martian - The bartender is played by Ray Walston, who was famous for his character Uncle Martin the Martian in this 1960s sitcom, and once again he plays an alien.

"The answer to your questions is simpler than you think and stranger than you imagine."

Like "The Lost Hour," this is another mythology episode that brings up more questions than it does answers.  This time, however, the focus is on Dash X.  He spends the whole episode discovering new things, and has to come to terms with the fact that he is probably an alien.  But, unfortunately, we never resolve his storyline, so we are just left scratching our heads.

The Corn Lodge is a great locations and it's fun seeing all of our favorite Eerie men gathered to act goofy in their corn hats.  It's another nice piece of world building, and it suggests at more sinister implications behind the weirdness that is Eerie.  Is the bartender behind Eerie's weirdness, or was his arrival just a byproduct of it?  Either way, it would have been nice to see more of the men's activities to see what influence they have over the whole town.  However, with Dash's storyline taking center stage, I'll have to take what I can get.

The television/teleportation device always seemed a little too impossible for my tastes.  I don't exactly understand how it was supposed to work or why it had to function as a TV.  I also wondered what was going on on Simon's side of the whole ordeal.  He can clearly breathe, so I guess he's not on one of the planets in our solar system.  But was there also a device at his end?  He stays put and keeps staring straight ahead, but could he see and hear what was going on back on Earth?  Or did he just step out from nothingness?  I feel that could have been explained better.

Nonetheless, the interactions with Dash and the bartender are great, and it makes this one of the most important episodes of the series.  There are some funny moments with the Corn Order, but they get pushed aside for the Simon story.  This would have benefitted from an hour-long episode, much like "The Lost Hour," if only to provide more details and explain just what the heck is going on!

Random Observations:
- Sgt. Knight remains in his police uniform instead of the Corn Order uniform.  He also stands rigidly with the popcorn that everyone is passing around and eating.  He doesn't do anything else in this episode, but his lack of movement makes him all the more interesting.  An episode based around the Eerie Police would have been a welcome addition to the bunch.

- Why does the Bartender appear in all the photos since 1915 and then display them prominently?  You think he'd be more discrete about his supernatural nature.

- Syndi doesn't appear at all in this episode.  Yet, it's still good.

Conspiracy Theories:
- Dash X asks the bartender if he is his father, and the bartender tells him no.  He claims that he doesn't know why they have the markings on his hand or why the kid has grey-hair, for this is how it has always been.  I am beginning to suspect that, like the milkman in "The Lost Hour," the bartender is actually Future Dash X.  That answer is certainly simpler and stranger than what he would imagine.  So, does that mean that Dash will someday leave Earth, travel through time, and return to Earth to ensure that mankind fulfills its duties in the world of technology?  That would make him another course corrector, just like Milkman Marshall.

Grade:  Another good mythology episode that suffers from a severe lack of answers.  A-

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