Long time Adventures in Odyssey fans—not planning on listening to Album 53: The Green Ring Conspiracy? If that is so, you will really be missing out. "On what?" you may ask. "Well," says AIO marketing manager Brock Eastman in a recent interview with AIOWiki, "there are some past characters returning [in 53]. I think the fans will be pleasantly surprised at who reappears, as was I when I heard." The next question most of us Odyssey fans ask is this: "Will Jason Whittaker be coming back to the show in album 53?" I can answer that question right now. The Odyssey team is not going to tell you. However, if you have been paying attention to the show and its various fan websites for a while, you can pretty much guess the answer: Jason Whittaker will almost certainly return in album 53.
In a fan podcast, the host asked Odyssey writer Nathan Hoobler if Jason was coming back to the show. Of course, Mr. Hoobler would not answer the question definitively one way or the other. Similarly, on the Town of Odyssey message boards, he was repeatedly asked this question again and again. Ultimately, his response was, "I'm seeing the Jason questions. But, I'm a purist. I don't like to know when characters are coming back. I don't want to tell when (or if) Jason . . . [is] coming back." But, if Jason is not coming back, why not say so? Holding fans in hopeful suspense on such an important issue and then disappointing them later is not the trick a wise writer would play on his fans for fun. No, Mr. Hoobler must be hiding Jason's return; he is trying to retain the element of surprise up until the actual moment of the event—an event supported by an increasing amount of evidence.
Since Jason's debut on the show, he has been in every major action-adventure-intrigue story arc that AIO has done. It is not likely that the Odyssey team would decide to end that trend now.
Furthermore, in the 83rd Official Podcast, producers Dave Arnold and Paul McCusker all but promised Jason's return to the air waves:
Mr. McCusker: "I think it was always in our plans at the end of album 50 that Jason would reappear in the show. Now, I don't believe that he can come back to [the town of] Odyssey [because of] the way we wrote his exit in album 50. But, it's entirely possible—it's entirely likely…
"In fact we've talked about it," interjects Mr. Arnold.
"Yeah," agrees Mr. McCusker. "I have an idea that I really want to develop. But, Whit and the gang would have to go out of Odyssey and meet with Jason somewhere else."
So, do Whit and the gang leave Odyssey to go see Jason Whittaker, alias Jason Israel, in 53? The album summary certainly makes provision for that possibility by saying "The Green Ring Conspiracy [is] . . . a scheme of international proportions [emphasis mine]."
The album 53 summary also says "old friends have secrets they must keep." Jason definitely falls under the category of "an old friend with secrets to keep," considering the fact that he is a pre-album 51 character and a former secret agent who must keep his true Whittaker identity and whereabouts a secret.
Additionally, McCusker used the word "idea" to refer to something he really wanted to develop. This word brings to mind thoughts of a series/story arc, not a single episode. Unless plans suddenly changed, The Green Ring Conspiracy must be the story arc that he was referring to.
Given the evidence, Jason's return is undoubtedly imminent. Granted, as I am merely a fan, my prediction could turn out to be wrong. Jason might not return at all in album 53. Nathan Hoobler, with all his stalling and evasive answers, might just be trying to keep fans on the edge of their seats and surprise them. Besides, if Jason does return, it certainly would not be a surprise, as Brock Eastman said the character reappearances would be. Perhaps the surprises Mr. Eastman was referring to were the return of some other characters: the Chairman, Robert Mitchell, or Richard Maxwell. Either way, Brock Eastman said that "there are some past characters returning [emphasis mine]," so expect more than one character reappearance.
And be on the lookout for a guy by the name of Jason Israel.
Marvin Grant is an Adventures in Odyssey fan and frequents The Odyssey Scoop.