Episode Reviewed: Mistaken for Good (707)
Writer: Bob Hoose
Director: Bob Hoose
Sound Designer: Christopher Diehl
Music: John Campbell
Doing what's right
Original Airdate: 3/31/12

Review Written by: Ben Warren, Staff Writer

Rating (out of 5):


Episode Summary

Jay's visit to a nursing home takes an unexpected turn when an old woman mistakes him for her grandson -- and offers him money as a birthday present.


The Review

Mistaken for Good is a sweet little episode I quite enjoyed. If Unbecoming Jay showcased Jay Smouse's funny bone, then Mistaken for Good showcases the other reason we love him: he has a heart.
Without a heart, Jay, and this episode, couldn't have worked. Rodney Rathbone ends No, Honestly!, The Other Woman, The Blackgaard Saga or, strangely, even Changing Rodney hardly learning a thing. On the other hand, Jay Smouse, having an equally unrealistic voice, seems a more humane and realistic, learning at the end of Mistaken for Good his lesson--if not totally repentant.

This episode follows a similar story structure as
Easy Money. Butch, also technically a good person with a bad side gets pulled down by sleezeball and gambler Mac McCorby, while largely ignoring his friend, Sam Johnson. While Easy Money is one of my favorite episodes, this episode, Mistaken for Good is somehow much more complex and interesting. How so? Jay was in denial that he was doing good as Butch was in denial that he was doing wrong.

What makes Jay such a good character is that, despite the fact that he's a troublemaker, he's really not a bad person. Jay simply represents the troublemaker in each of us. We wouldn't typically call ourselves villains, bullies, or antagonists...but we each sure enjoy causing trouble from time to time. Thankfully, the Odyssey team makes sure that we root for him without necessarily rooting for what he does. When Jay calls Mr. Whittaker "my good man", he's quickly put in his proper place. By the way, wasn't that awesome to hear?

Bob Hoose allows Olivia and Vance to essentially act as Jay's "good Angel" and "bad Angel", respectively. If Jay has some goodness in him, then it's a side of someone like Olivia he connects with. And if Jay has some bad in him, then he feels at home with Vance. His relationship with both Olivia and Vance in today's show is so representative of Jay's overall personality in the series; while he can be an outright bully sometimes, at the core, he's so much more than that.

I've noticed there seems to be some debate about why Jay would do something so stupid as to ask Mrs. Wilson for money in front of John Whittaker. Isn't the reason obvious? He did it on purpose. On the one hand, he knew how Mrs. Wilson was being treated was wrong; on the other, he didn't want to be mistaken for doing good. Jay, then, did the only logical thing he could think of: get caught. In a way, there was so much selflessness in his final action that I felt sort've bad he got the punishment he got in the end.
Listeners may feel emotionally involved in this episode because of how cruel it felt for two boys to cheat a sweet old lady out of her money. There was something very disturbing about what Jay and Vance were doing, and we can't help but feel somewhat disgusted rather than amused. Typically, we tend to only recognize the performances of series' regulars, but Linda Porter was well cast as Mrs. Wilson, evoking a typical sweet old woman; additionally, Mrs. Kramer, after last week, is becoming a quite entertaining, secondary character, embodying that other old-woman stereotype.

All in all, there's very little to dislike about this episode. Only one question remains on my mind. Did anyone else wonder whether the ending was going to turn out to be similar to
The Pact where we find out that Donald, or even Humphrey, is actually someone we know? Red Hollard?, perhaps (the flat tires?...anyone? anyone? ) Is this a mystery yet to be solved? Or am I just thinking too much into it?

In any case,
Mistaken for Good surely won't be mistaken for good by anyone. It is good. Jay carries one of the season's finest. He's come far since we first met him in Target of the Week; and while we certainly must acknowledge that he should continue to change and develop, considering all the fun we've been having with him, I kinda hope it's a slow process.






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