Duncan Boszko - Kevin Kutchington, Clorm, Crazy David, Agent Waters, Zaxazel
Mark Boszko - Sheriff Trace Irons, Kurp, Zake Tartar, Case Kutchington
Kristy Brannon - Trojan Malloy, Felicity Brimstone, Miff Sparkletone
Randall Cleveland - Oskar Tyrannus
Robert Cooper - Narrator
Terry Drosdak - Candida Prim
Brian Lynch - Jad Cortland
Kara O'Connor - Zyzzyx Jones, Erasure Delacruz
Caitlin Obom - Metalious Steele, Tredge, Giselle Geroux, Bazalakesh
Josef Ravenson - Dr. Chag Laeknir, King Wasp
Matt Rowbotham - Aaron Faucet
Nicole Santora - Vatican/Ottawa St. Corby, Jessica the Demon
Amanda Smith - Ravina, Orchid McAllister, Mary Madison, Deputy Sinder
Sabrina Snyder - Pernicia Cortland, Thelma Stanwyk, Kola Champson
Molly Tellers - Malison Virino
Jason Wallace - Broyce Champson, Psychic, Alistair Eventide, Jim the security guard
Ron “AAlgar” Watt - Chag McAllister, President Teddy Roosevelt, Gart Champson, Niff, Jackory
Written by Ron “AAlgar” Watt with Kara O'Connor and Jason Wallace
Directed by Ron “AAlgar” Watt
© 2016-2017 AAlgar Productions
• I wanted to go with a lot more teen drama for season 2, since we'd be jumping five years ahead (not coincidentally, to the year of my own high school graduation), so I started watching a lot of Beverly Hills 90210. Like, a whole lot. It was great research for Contentment Corner, but I ended up actually kind of enjoying that show in a way that I can't entirely defend. Anyway, there are a lot of influences on this season, but as season 1 had Peyton Place deep in its DNA, season 2's weird genetic mother was 90210. This should be obvious from the title of this episode (side note: that ZIP code does not actually exist), among many, many other things. I'm not going to bother pointing these out unless they have specific relevance.
• 90210 is also the reason for the meedly guitar I added to the theme song for this season.
• I'm a real sucker for copying the same opening for a new season, so that's why I went with introducing the first of our new characters this season via a train ride into town. And Pernicia's snotty ruminations on people were a nice contrast to Aaron's wide-eyed idealism at the start of season 1.
• The town, of course, still doesn't have its own train station. I wonder if they ever will.
• Erasure Delacruz was a character conceived almost entirely by Kara O'Connor, who plays her. Easily one of the best additions to this season's ensemble. (Erasure, I mean. Not Kara. Kara was already, among others, the excellent Zyzzyx Jones last season.)
• I did continue the fine tradition of providing my own original incidental music this season, though most of it doesn't actually have lyrics this time since you can't hear it anyway. But that snippet of Rusted Meat's "Society Blows" is, indeed, mine.
• That's also me singing the jingle for MacLay's grocery store. It's ripped off from an incredibly insidious earworm for a chain called McKays, which was local to the town I grew up in, in southern Maryland.
• This "sheriff meets the pretty new girl in town" scene is modeled after a similar scene in my favorite go-to trashy soap, Passions. Those two ended up falling in love. These two will not.
• Brian had a nasty cold when we recorded this issue, which is where the "Jad took up smoking and wrecked his voice" thing came from. Seamless!
• Pernicia's super-weird flirtation with her own brother comes from... a lot of things, actually. Primarily from 90210, where Brandon and Brenda would actually climb into bed with each other on more than one occasion. Gross.
• I definitely looked up "flamingo lifespan" before writing the return of Jad's pet flamingo, Domingo. That's just the high level of realism I strive for in my writing.
• I had every intention of amping up the "two warring companies" angle of things this season, but several characters and plots demanded my attention and we kinda got away from it after awhile. There's always season 3...
• Pernicia going undercover at a high school despite obviously being about 25 is a not-so-subtle reference to every TV teenager ever. And her getting inexplicably caught up in all the tawdry melodrama is very much a reference to myself and that whole 90210 thing I mentioned earlier.
• Ravina's lighthouse was, of course, destroyed in the season 1 finale. Making her a high school teacher was a bit of a stretch, but I really didn't want to lose this character.
• I know we dump a lot of new characters on you in this episode, but each of them will get a chance to be fleshed out. And I love every goddamned one of them, seriously.
• Was Tordovia part of the Soviet Union? Not necessarily!
• There's also a bit of the teens from Twin Peaks in this season, since that show dropped in 1990 but all the kids were inexplicably into, like, James Dean and doo-wop music. At least that kind of fit in the surrealist David Lynch show. 90210's teens hung out at a soda shop for absolutely no discernible reason.
• The Narrator taking over at the radio station happened at the end of last season, and I'd hoped to turn him into something like the deejay from Northern Exposure, whom I remembered serving as more of a narrator on that show. But then I watched it again and he hardly ever did. Still, I had fun writing these bits and Robert did a fantastic job with them.
• Since the teen characters in this season are effectively my age (ie, graduating high school in 1992), it was not difficult to form a very clear picture of, for instance, the high school newspaper room. Especially considering that this is where I spent most of my senior year, hanging out with future Contentment Corner cast member Mark Boszko.
• Kevin's weird mother thing pays off bigtime in a few episodes.
• I tried my best to write a suitably stirring melodramatic speech for Vatican. I'm not sure I entirely succeeded, but the music helped a little and Nicole's goddamned amazing acting helped a lot. As a comedy writer, I often tend to think of characters in terms of gimmicks — what's the thing that makes them funny, from which we can derive jokes? And I'm slowly discovering that Nicole is one of those performers who doesn't actually need that. I can write a relatively straight character and she will completely sell it. Which means less effort required from me. Hooray!
• I think this episode did a pretty good job of covering the salient plot points that we missed in the 5 years of in-story time since season 1.
• Caitlin really gives this silly "Sheriff Steele's mind is slowly slipping away from her" bit the appropriate gravitas — it's still funny, but it's also tragic, but not too tragic. Jesus, I ask a lot of these people.
• Matt is a huge fan of The Rockford Files, so Aaron is now too, why not.
• Some day we might revisit the brief period when Aaron dated Ravina because that was probably insane.
• I love making everyone have to spit out "Donavan-Sorrentino-Takahashi-Von Schmidt." Usually as rapidly as possible.
• Of course Case had a secret family. I mean, of course he did.
• Sheriff Metalious Steele was, as I have previously mentioned, named after Grace Metalious, author of Peyton Place. I don't know if she's actually meant to be Grace Metalious or not just yet, but I have been dropping the occasional hint from time to time. Which is why she's interested in things that would make excellent book titles.
• Caitlin (Sheriff Steele)'s playfulness with Nicole (Vatican) still delights me, and I've heard this episode a dozen times by this point.
• I am very particular about dead most definitely meaning dead in the stuff that I write, which seriously denies me one of the most well-known soap opera tropes. That said, we've managed to continue to feature Zyzzyx Jones in a bunch of different ways since we killed her off, without actually breaking my stupid rule.
• It really is a terrible rule, if I hadn't made that clear.
• I don't think Sheriff Steele is actually dead, but she's definitely in no shape to be sheriff anymore. Maybe we'll revisit that someday.
• Man, Nicole completely sells the absolute bleakness of a 12 year old girl having to deal with some seriously heavy shit.
• This bit with the Narrator in the earliest days of deejaying was actually written by Robert. I couldn't find a home for it in the very crowded season 1 finale, but since we were flashing right back to 1987, it fit perfectly here. It's truly bizarre. I like it.
• I briefly considered doing a one-off of Thelma and Joe's Doctor Who-style adventures with the Presidential ghosts. That never quite got off the ground, but I did want to at least check in with them once more and also give myself an excuse to play another President!
• Jason's psychic character originated in this SV sketch from 2014. He really liked the voice, and wanted to use it again. I try to file those suggestions away when the cast gives them to me until I can figure out what to do with them. So it took 2 and a half years, but here you go, Jason!
• There was a tedious, uninteresting behind-the-scenes reason why I ended up going with this Freaky Friday business with Ottawa and Vatican, but that's not really important. What is important is that I ended up creating one of the most quintessentially Contentment Corner situations from that need. I love when creative problem-solving turns into a genuinely good idea.
• I guess we never really came out and said this, but the reason everyone's into the 50s and weirdly straight-laced about stuff like alcohol, is that the most popular kid in town (Vatican) is actually her own mother, trapped in the body of a teenager.
• It's no mistake that you're hearing Orchid and her father again in this episode, for reasons that will become clear later in the season. The meta-reason for it has to do with a stretch of Bold and the Beautiful episodes where a family was having a conversation in their foyer for, seriously, like a month.
• I enjoyed keeping Mayor Tyrannus' vampire status vague for awhile, but the thing about ambiguity is that it really starts to piss me off after awhile. Also, it fit the season-plot nicely for a number of reasons.
• Writing Trojan as a sociopath is fun, but my words alone would not do this concept justice. Kristy's performance really brings the idea home. Such a fun character.
• Calling the high school newspaper The High School Newspaper is a joke that I stole from something. I'm not going to tell you what.
• There may be some meta-commentary in Trojan's total devotion to a thing that nobody pays any attention to. Commentary about what... again, I'm not going to tell you. I suspect you can work this one out for yourself.
• "Psychopath" and "sociopath" meaning the same thing is an observation that Amanda made about Sherlock some time ago. So I stole that too. I steal a lot of things, as it turns out.
• That is indeed George "Space Ghost" Lowe doing SVFM's station identification. I paid him to do a bunch of voice stuff for me in 2013 and damn it, I fully intend to get my money's worth.
• I figured after 17 episodes of playing supporting characters and Presidents, it was time to give myself a recurring role. I'm not really qualified to comment on the quality of my performance with any sense of fairness or objectivity, but I had a lot of fun playing him. I particularly enjoy making completely innocent lines sound sinister for no reason.
• At least two — possibly as many as three or four — characters in Twilight Zone episodes were named "Gart." Maybe this was a common name in the mid-1950s. Rod Serling certainly seemed to believe it was.
• This bit with the mayor having fiber optics installed in the early 90s was just meant to show how forward-thinking he was. That Randy, who plays Mayor Tyrannus, actually works for a fiber optics company in real life is a happy accident.
• I borrowed pretty heavily from Luke Perry's Dylan McKay for Broyce — especially that character's weird insistence on calling his father by his first name. Also the whole "I'm a Little Teapot" bit is based on Dylan's actual answering machine message, which instructed people to leave a message after the "beeparoonie." Nice one, tough guy.
• Filling in the history of not only Mayor Tyrannus but also Contentment Corner itself is genuinely enjoyable. Like, I've tried to restrain myself with the world-building, but when I get an opportunity to actually work it into a story, I love it.
• This parking garage scene is really silly. I like it.
• Amanda and I have carefully constructed Mary Madison to be incredibly tenacious, often to the detriment of basic civility. I thought it would be fun to pair her up with someone even more like this. If Mary was our Batman, Trojan was our The Question.
• It also occurred to us that Mary may have softened a bit as she got older, or at the very least she realized that there were times when keeping the truth to yourself served the greater good (as in this case, with Mayor Tyrannus). Some day we're going to do a story that connects the dots from younger Mary to this Mary.
• "Yes, that's right, I read my diary front-to-back every evening" was Randy being a bit of a smartass via improv. But it was funny and he did have a point.
• I was pretty pleased with how Oskar's flashback scene turned out. I was worried we'd fumble the actual explanation of this somewhat unusual concept, but I think we got it. More importantly, I think we got it in a scene that was more entertaining dialogue than ham-fisted exposition. Maybe I'm finally learning how not to suck at this! (It involves a lot of stealing.)
• Yes, Contentment Corner still has rotary-dial phones in 1992. The real-life North Dakota town it's based on still did at that point, too.
• This one was co-written by me and Kara O'Connor, and I absolutely love what she brought to the project. She has an excellent sense of character, which is probably at least partially why she's such a good voice actor. We'd discussed Erasure's personality and arc before season 2 started, so that gave me some time to set things up. I think it paid off beautifully here.
• To be completely honest, I didn't really have a plan for Candida beyond what we did with her in season 2, so the appearance of a young, naturally talented witch to potentially challenge her authority (or in this case, apathy) kind of helped me out of a corner I'd inadvertently painted myself.
• How can Erasure hear the Narrator? What is his deal?! Actually, I know exactly what his deal is now, and this is all foreshadowing for the season finale. No, seriously!
• It was weird playing Niff, my working-class schlub, without Duncan's Clorm to bounce off of. But making him Erasure's father helped tie her to established characters, so it didn't feel like all of these teenagers just sort of spontaneously appeared between seasons.
• Erasure's light humiliation of Zake for some reason put me in mind of the Scott Baio movie, Zapped. Which I just realized I actually have a character say out loud, so never mind.
• Scott Baio, incidentally, is kind of an asshole.
• I have no idea why people who use magic in TV and movies get nosebleeds.
• It is indeed super inappropriate for Ravina to be hitting on Erasure.
• Obviously this goth chick/aspiring witch would think Alistair Eventide was super-cool and would go to considerable lengths to work for him.
• "The conundrum of the terminally hip, or as it is also known, Fonzie's Paradox" is, I'm not going to lie, one of the best jokes I have ever written. Actually, I'm pretty damned proud of most of the dialogue in this scene. But you're not reading these annotations to see me pat myself on the back. Or maybe you are. I have no way of knowing this.
• Candida's regular D&D game was established in season 1. Someday we're going to sit in on one of those, and our ratings are going to go through the roof.
• There is no law on the books that says a vampire can't be mayor. There's also no law on the books that says a goose can't be sheriff.
• Lefty is, I assume, the brother of Righty, who runs the tavern we visited a few times in season 1.
• We started brainstorming this episode by thinking of which characters Erasure would find interesting. Aaron was pretty high on the list. Plus, I wanted to establish that he probably doesn't have an actual home; he sleeps (when he sleeps at all) on a couch at the radio station.
• Is "oh snap" a thing kids said in 1992? Possibly not.
• How does the Narrator know about this stuff? You'll find out by the end of the season!
• Candida's predecessor was, of course, Ljiljana Dragana (also played by Kara).
• These books on witchcraft that Erasure mentions are apparently real and quite impressive if you're into that sort of thing.
• Who's helping Candida? I mean, it should be pretty obvious. Do you even listen to this show?
• In the process of researching melodramas to crib from for this series, I discovered the films of Douglas Sirk. Sirk made these absolutely gorgeous films in the 50s that definitely fit the bill, but not in the weepy, poorly-constructed way people usually think of melodramas. And my absolute favorite of his was All that Heaven Allows, an incredibly bittersweet love story starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson. So the title of this episode is a play on that (and, consequently, why I chose to violate my normal naming conventions when I named Kevin). I also explored one of the more problematic aspects of that film and other melodramas and soaps I've seen — the full- (or at least mostly-) grown son essentially dictating how his mother should compose herself. Maybe it's just one of those old-timey things that I can't relate to, but it struck me as super weird. So, as I so often do, I threw it into my soap opera.
• Consequently, this may be the most purely soap opera-ish episode to date. There isn't even a supernatural aspect to it! (Though I suppose we think there is for most of the story.)
• I don't know why I'm surprised by how great Nicole is in this episode. It's not like this is my first time working with her. And yet...
• Also, I guess I haven't mentioned this before, which is insane: Duncan is freaking amazing as Kevin. He and Nicole recorded their parts together, and he even physically crowded in just a little too close to her while they were reading. So creepy.
• The other major influence on this episode is the Twilight Zone installment “It's a Good Life” (aka “wish them into the cornfield.”) Although, as I have already spoiled, this ends up being a red herring.
• What is the deal with all those Twilight Zone references, anyway? The answer is forthcoming!
• Scrapple is gross.
• I mean, I couldn't do a story about teenagers in the early 90s without doing the requisite egg baby episode, right?
• Jason and Duncan have a (fake?) rivalry that goes all the way back to our Sarcastic Voyage 5th anniversary live show in 2014, when Jason flew out to Seattle to perform with us. I'm like 90% sure their mutual contempt is just a bit, anyway. But it makes me want to pair them up in the most awkward ways I can imagine, as often as possible. Hence, Kevin's unnatural crush on Broyce. (It also mirrors Brendan's very real and obvious crush in Dylan from, you guessed it, 90210.)
• Where the hell is Orchid McAllister? Listen on, listener!
• Hey, yeah — why do teens on TV have street signs on their walls? What's up with that?
• Dr. Laeknir's first name is Chag. So is Orchid McAllister's father. It's a common name in Contentment Corner!
• Nicole's descent into incoherence as she's confiding in Chag is one of the funniest things she's done for us. And she's done a lot of funny things for us.
• "Everything becomes more colorful and vivid" was an oblique reference to the aforementioned films of Douglas Sirk, which were indeed like a magical drug trip.
• I also threw in some references to the weird things that keep couples apart in soaps — "you're upper middle class and I'm lower middle class" or "we're two slightly different denominations of Christian." I know these are actual real-life things that actual real-life couples have struggled with, but they seem silly to me. That's my privilege talking, I suppose?
• Ravina's take on the egg baby concept is incredibly silly and also quintessentially Ravina.
• I mean, if everyone in the town is obsessed with the 50s, you gotta have a pointless drag race. Obviously.
• My two favorite characters from last season were Zyzzyx and Case. I'm pretty happy that I managed to bring them both back, albeit briefly, for season 2.
• I love that Case even sounds like he's lying when he says "yes, it is me."
• Bob, who plays Case, is the real-life father of Duncan, who plays Kevin. This was largely a coincidence, as I typically like to cast Duncan as the father and Bob as the son whenever I can. Because that really appeals to my stupid sense of, for want of a better word, humor.
• The fact that Case doesn't know Kevin's name makes it pretty likely that he has other secret families elsewhere. I assume.
• The sound of Kevin's digital watch is very similar to the sound cue that indicated Evil Billy Mumy's magic powers in the aforementioned Twilight Zone episode. I think you get the general idea even if you've never seen that episode, but seriously: watch it. It's a great show!
• I'm pretty sure I've ADRed whistling for every voice performer we have. Do most people just not know how to whistle? That seems weird to me. I also know how to roll my Rs. Maybe I'm some kind of genetic abterration?
• This is probably my favorite episode so far. I tried to close all of the teens' current arcs before moving on to some stories about the adults, and I think I succeeded in giving every character something interesting to do.
• Man, I do not understand the concept of a "lock-in" at all. I think I made that pretty clear in this episode.
• That's Molly Tellers as Malison. Molly's in the comedy troupe Day Job with Kara. We'd hoped to work all three of the Day Jobs into this as Erasure's coven, but sadly the third member, Caitie, couldn't make it. We even say as much in the actual episode because meta. Molly was a fantastic addition to the ensemble, and makes me want to try more one-off guest spots in the future.
• It felt like Erasure's coven should have three people in it, so I had fun repurposing Bob's Zake Tartar (last seen tormenting Erasure for being a witch).
• This town is great, Vatican.
• We'll learn more about what Broyce's dad is getting up to in the next episode. I tried to do less of that "parallel story" thing that people found confusing in season 1, but it felt like the path of least resistance here.
• You mean Kevin had a crush on Broyce all this time? Whaaaaat?
• "The Big Man on Campus" is a thing in a bunch of old movies. I have no idea what it means.
• all of these unseen adventures that Broyce, Kevin and Pernicia mention were ideas that I had on my giant list of teen melodrama plots, but couldn't find a place for in this season. They also make great one-liners, especially when read off in a giant list!
• "Her dad locked himself in the cellar with a pound of heroin" is a reference to Peyton Place, in which a bunch of the town drunks just seal themself up in someone's basement for, like, a month and get blitzed on cases and cases of liquor. Is that a thing people actually do?
• I really did want to do more with the whole "Cortland family trying to destroy Vatican" thing, but sometimes the characters don't go exactly where I want them to go.
• Oh. I guess we did make the 50s thing clear after all.
• Glasses are hot.
• I typically hate writing scenes with lots of people in them, but this was totally worth it.
• What's going to happen to Felicity? Keep listening!
• Broyce riding off to inconsequential adventures in some other town is a reference to pretty much everyone's least favorite plot thread in Twin Peaks.
• The title of this episode is a reference to the GI Joe animated movie from the 80s, in which Cobra Commander is transformed into a snake. Contentment Corner has given me the opportunity to clear away a lot of old project ideas that never quite got off the ground. This one started as a series of notes from 2008 in which an up-and-coming supervillain finds the Cobra Commander snake, who coaches him in the ways of evil. The essence of that idea forms the basis of this episode.
• Fort Burr, city of a thousand supervillains, was featured in my now-defunct comic, Tales of the Odd. That story will actually be adapted into a one-off radio play in the very near future. In fact, there's a very good chance it's already happened by the time you're reading this.
• Gart's supervillain alter-ego, The Botsmith, was the primary antagonist in Tales of the Odd: Brain Hotel, the point-and-click adventure game I wrote for Pinhead Games in 2004. Is this Botsmith the same character? Sure. Why not.
• This "are you a supervillain?" scene was meant to reference the excellent episode of The Sopranos in which Meadow pointblank asks her dad if he's in the mafia. The Sopranos may very well be my favorite TV show of all time (top 3 for sure), and I'm pretty disappointed that I didn't come anywhere close to capturing what made that scene so great. (Gart's wife, Kola, is also largely based on Carmella. I completely dropped the ball there, and that's not Sabrina's fault at all. She did her best with what I gave her.)
• I love robots. I'm super-disappointed that this is the first substantial appearance of robots in a series that I created.
• That is, once again, TV's George Lowe as the original voice of the robot. The phrases he cycles through are the same ones we used for his Radio Adventures robot. Money's worth!
• I tend to cast Joe as blustery supervillains a lot. It's because he's so damned good at it.
• King Wasp's contempt for magic mirrors my own. You are shocked by this revelation.
• Inviting authority figures to your home to boast about your evil schemes is definitely a long-standing tradition of supervillainy. Not that precedence means it makes a lick of goddamned sense.
• Kola's little speech about how her furniture was made for the White House, but the White House got the copies, is actually based in real-life. I was told this same story by my paternal grandmother once — that supposedly someone in the Watt family made hand-crafted furniture for the White House and kept the originals. I have no idea if it's true, but I completely believed it when I was eight years old.
• I guess I did more parallel storytelling than I realized, because we also backtrack to discover what Alistair has been up to. Oops!
• Boy, this McAllisters scene is getting weird!
• Jason wrote this one pretty much entirely on his own. It's an excellent episode, and he's been working with us long enough that he did a great job matching the basic tone and rhythm of the sort of thing we do. But, because I didn't write it, I don't have much in the way of annotations for this one.
• There really are a lot of fun lines, though. I just don't want to make a giant list of "things that made me laugh." Seems tacky. Even for me.
• I will give myself some credit for editing a conversation between a man and a Newton's Cradle to sound like an actual conversation
• Among my oft-referenced list of ideas that I've cannibalized to make Contentment Corner happen is what I called "the most original story ever told." It was less an idea than a writing exercise, really — I listed all the tired tropes I was sick of seeing in movies and TV and challenged myself to do the exact opposite of them. That's where the good-natured sheriff Trace Irons came from — he's a small-town lawman who completely believes everyone's story. I guess there's a bit of a precedent with Andy Griffith from the show of the same name, but hopefully we took Trace in a bit of a different direction.
• Reinstating Trojan Malloy as a police officer was never really in the plan, but I really fell in love with that character and Kristy's portrayal of her. Also, her incredible directness contrasts nicely with Sheriff Irons' completely different style of incredible directness.
• I kinda want Amanda's deadpan Deputy Sinder to hang out with Kara's deadpan Erasure Delacruz.
• I love the line "she's an incredibly rigid cannon that can only fire in one extremely lethal direction." Hashtag-backpat.
• I love how Jason pauses ever so slightly each time before he says deadly nightshade.
• I'd like to say that I always planned for there to be a giant storage vault of weird shit under the town, and the idea made total sense once it occurred to me... while outlining this very episode. I mean ELABORATE MASTER PLAN.
• Acting Mayor Champson is attempting to do whatever the hell it was Giselle was trying to do at the end of season one. What that was, exactly, remains unclear.
• It did, however, give us the opportunity to bring back Caitlin as Giselle Geroux, which made me exceptionally happy. Her reads on lines like oh, for fuck's sake were just perfect.
• Duncan's Agent Waters follows in the tradition of M.U.C.U.S. Agents Poole and Fontaine. I have no idea why they're all named after water, but there you go.
• I actually did plan for the McAllister's weird time loop thing to pay off here. Hopefully getting here wasn't hugely irritating for the listeners.
• People experiencing a time loop should not be consciously aware of this. Fuck you, Brannon Braga.
• Of course Jimmy the security guard is still kicking around. He's probably an immortal. (That's not canon.)
• Two death scenes in two episodes for Duncan!
• I definitely wanted to go with a more Sopranos-style structure to this season, where the big action mostly happens in the penultimate episode and the final episode is more of a quiet, psychological/philosophical affair. Except, you know, actually set in Hell.
• I was super-reluctant to ever do a recap in this show, but I was tying a lot of threads up here. Also, there's an in-story reason that Robert's narrator character would be talking about this stuff, so I relaxed my rule just this once.
• Okay, I lied when I said episode 21 was my favorite. This one is my favorite. I got to do the thing I love most, which is fitting together a bunch of puzzle pieces in a satisfying way. This one episode really closed a bunch of loops in one fell swoop, without drowning in exposition like my previous efforts so often have. For all the boxes I was trying to check with it, it's surprisingly character-driven and surprisingly funny.
• Kristy completely sells Felicity's inherent Bugs Bunny-ness in this episode — she remains comically unflappable under the most trying of circumstances and I love it.
• Nicole has been wanting to do this demon voice since early 2016, when she used it in a live SV sketch at Emerald City. Like so many other things the voice actors suggest, I stuck it in my back pocket until we finally found a place for it.
• I did some superficial research into what Amanda calls "Bible fanfic" for this one: The Inferno, Paradise Lost and Faust. Hardly any of that ended up in the episode though.
• I swore there was a word for a "demonic companion to guide you through Hell" but none of the experts I know could help me there. That's why there's no word in your language for what Jessica is.
• Yep, Erasure totally stole the deadly nightshade that got Alistair so ticked off.
• Oh look, I managed to bring back Zyzzyx and Case again!
• Of course Alistair is fine. This guy dies all the time.
• Felicity's "God"s being bleeped was blatantly stolen from The Good Place, which is a bleep-damned amazing show.
• Yes, you do actually carry your handicaps with you to the afterlife! It's SV canon!
• We also got to bring back Caitlin as Bazalakesh, Felicity's demon mom. No wonder this is my favorite episode!
• Felicity logic-ing her way out of this torture put me in mind of Captain Kirk making a computer explode. I love it.
• So that's what the Narrator's deal is! And those Twilight Zone references! It all makes sense now!
• Case as Felicity's lawyer was not something I had planned all along but god damn was it perfect.
• This Faust thing came from Irene, who actually did some pretty intensive academic study of said text. Thanks, Irene!
• The idea that Candida, Felicity and Erasure form a super-coven so powerful that Satan himself felt compelled to keep them apart was also not in the Master Plan, but it fit everything that had happened so far surprisingly well. The only people in town who ever actually interacted with the Narrator in any meaningful way (apart from Aaron and Ravina, who are both crazy) are witches. He's been manipulating them for years! Like I totally intended all along!
• This also means that I can totally stop doing a bunch of supernatural garbage in future seasons of Contentment Corner, because the super-coven totally has everyone covered now.
• I love that Felicity's return neatly solves the other plot we left unresolved, almost as an afterthought. Could this be metacommentary that I wasn't super-pleased with this plot? What an odd question. I shan't dignify it with a response.
• "Safe journeys" is, of course, a deep SV callback.
• This season featured almost no Niff and Clorm, which is a damned shame. I'm glad I managed to work them in this once, if nothing else.
• This episode ends with someone else having to do the end credits, since the Narrator is now gone. This gave me the opportunity to bring things completely full-circle, both with season 1 (which began with Aaron) and with Sarcastic Voyage as a whole. The text of Aaron's intro is exactly the same as the text of the very first Mysteries of the Unexplained sketch. Which is the sort of thing I love doing.
• Will there be a season 3 of Contentment Corner? To be honest, I wasn't sure when we ended season 2. It's a lot of work that, quite honestly, I'm not sure if anyone is even listening to. But the mere act of revisiting these episodes a couple of months later to write these annotations reminded me how much I love this show and the performers who make it happen. And so, yes, there will be a season 3. It may have already started by the time you read this!