It’s always the long-lost twin brother, isn’t it? No missing twin last seen during childhood ever took up oboe or raised a sourdough starter. It’s world domination or nothing. It’s certainly true for Dr. L.D. Curtain. He looks like Steve Jobs and talks like L. Ron Hubbard on shrooms, and he’s better at everything than his brother Nicholas. Except maybe anything requiring basic humanity.
It’s safe to say when The Mysterious Benedict Society set out on their mission, “evil twin” wasn’t high up on the list of possible perpetrators, and they spend some time arguing about the most likely solution — clone, split personality — before Reynie points out the most obvious answer is likely the correct one. When they pass along the message about the “Gemini” in charge it doesn’t take long for Mr. Benedict to figure out his brother Nathaniel is the man behind the Institute. Like our intrepid team, the Benedict twins were orphans, separated when Nicholas got adopted and Nathaniel didn’t. If you ask me it’s a real plot hole; who doesn’t want to raise an evil genius? Mr. Benedict handles the news about as well as you’d expect, with lots of self-flagellation while completely ignoring Milligan’s sweet oyster haul. Weird priorities.
Sticky spends the episode playing the Doubting Thomas of the group, asking why Mr. Benedict didn’t tell them about his brother and questioning Reynie’s instinctive trust of Benedict. Kate and Constance aren’t having an easy time bonding either, as Kate turns her bunk into a cave to avoid Constance. Classes are no refuge, as nothing they’re learning makes sense. Reynie and Constance face bizarre riddles. Sticky’s elocution class features the same weird jargon as Dr. Curtain employs. Kate’s told to find the center of an amorphous shape. Worse, she’s struggling. Kate, remember, got in on her ability to creatively problem solve practical issues, and it’s obvious the subterfuge wears on her. She’d much rather employ her acrobatic skills, scale the tower, and learn the answers before they get caught. Constance continues hearing the subliminal messages broadcast in every TV and radio signal, and they make her feel ill. It’s a problem that Kate and Constance aren’t doing well, as they discover when poor Charlie ends up in the red on the standings board, and soon on a barge headed home with his brain “swept” clean. He’s not the only one; Reyne recognizes a Mr. Bloom, once a school inspector and now a landscaper at the Institute with no memory of his past life or even his name.
Rhonda and Number 2 do a little bickering of their own as they research Dr. Curtain. He’s done everything he can to wipe Nathaniel Benedict from the record. He earned advanced degrees, worked for an aerospace engineering firm and a philosophy collective before forming the Institute. He won several prestigious awards from committees who passed up his brother. It’s all a bit much for Mr. Benedict, and he spends some time screaming at the forest and chopping wood to deal with his feelings.
Milligan, our comic Eeyore, spends some time in front of a truly awful green screen as Mr. Benedict tells him where to find a very special envelope, abandoned when the house was invaded by Institute thugs. He spends most of his time trapped in the walls of the house as said thugs set up cameras and talk sports.
Reynie is invited to lunch by Dr. Curtain, where he meets the teenage S.Q., L.D’s adopted son with a penchant for drawing birds and assigning them various names and occupations. Reynie incorrectly identifies it as a bluebird (clearly a blue jay, someone stick him on a barge) and Dr. Curtain shows up to share a tableside-made salad and caution Reynie about getting too close to anyone at the school, Sticky included. He believes Reynie is going places, and the school’s cutthroat environment leads to betrayal. He tells Reynie how his brother abandoned him, no doubt causing emotional distress most of us use alcohol and unhealthy co-dependent relationships to cope with, but that drove him to brainwashing and world conquest instead. After Mr. Benedict tells the kids to cheat if necessary to stay in the green, Kate builds a model of the island out of toothpicks and determines a nearby inlet is the most likely source of materials for the tower. She and Constance search the area and discover there are people working underwater before they’re busted by Jackson and Jillson. Meanwhile, Dr. Curtain informs his engineer Dr. Garrison that due to his brother’s interference, the timetable must be accelerated. That’s right; the bad doctor knows! And finally, Ms. Perumal discovers Reynie isn’t at the Boatwright Academy after all, and she’s not happy at all. She’s on her way to the Academy to speak to the headmistress.
Tune in next week for Episode 4: Miss Perumal Wants to Speak with Your Manager!
Header Image Source: Screenshots