I’m listening to the Green Ring Conspiracy this month, the first time this year. As you probably know, #53 has been my favorite album since I started listening.

But why?

I say that it’s my favorite album all the time, but there’s a ton of other great albums/sagas out there, so why do I choose the GRC and rate it as my favorite album?

Where do I start?

Plot

There was not a dull moment in this album. Part one begins with a plane crash, a criminal, a detective, and a mysterious return. Talk about a hook. The overall storyline is not of your average Odyssey Saga, unique from the Blackgaard and Novacom Saga in several ways, most notably that it doesn’t have all that much to do with computers/technology. Not to say I don’t like that, I just found this much more new and fresh in the world of sagas.

Characters

I was thinking about this earlier and I realized how many new characters were fitted into this album. I realize that this is probably slightly annoying to listeners, and I agree, but the new characters were balanced out well with old. For instance: Whit – Polehaus. Connie – Penny. Buck – Emily/Matthew/Eugene. Derk Begs – Wally Haggler.

I won’t spend time going over the minor new characters, such as Derk Begs or Lauren Tanner, but rather the ones that have (and still do) shaped the storylines of Odyssey.

Don Polehaus
The first impression people received of this detective was that he was a rude, sarcastic fellow. But as the Green Ring progresses and investigations are performed with Whit, listeners realize that there is a ‘normal’ side to this character as well. To this day, Polehaus retains his terseness (mainly towards lawbreakers), but his ‘good’ side has been revealed on several occasions, adding a new dimension to his character.

Buck Oliver
Out of all the new characters in the GRC, it is safe to say that Buck Oliver has impacted Odyssey the most. The album ends with his arrest, but he returns in Album 58: The Ties, That Bind to live with Eugene and Katrina. Buck has learned and changed immensely since his return in #58 and has dealt with the aftermath of his past in #66. To this day, fans have yet to find out what lies ahead for Buck Oliver.

Penny Wise
Penny appeared in the Green Ring as a ‘wise’, slightly silly, and naïve art student. As noted by the Official Guide, Penny was originally working with the counterfeiters, which could possibly explain her seemingly ‘duh’ moments throughout the album. At the suggestion of the actresses, the story was changed and Penny remained innocent and in Odyssey. Her main role has been here relationship with Wooton and eventually, their marriage. We have gotten to know her, Wooton, and her family since this album.

Continuity

One of the things I love most about this album is that listeners felt its affects and aftershocks. That is, of the Conspiracy itself. In Album 54, we see the criminals go on trial, Penny dealing with the betrayal and deciding what to do next. Though there was a large gap of silence, Buck Oliver’s return stirred up more talk about what happened in the past, particularly with Jay Smouse, who refused to trust him an inch. There was another gap, but the Green Ring is finally concluded in Album 66: Trial by Fire, where Mr. Skint is caught. And this is where the Green Ring is the most unique: Characters that were introduced in #53 returned and/or stayed. Blackgaard Saga? The bad guys are caught, Richard Maxwell disappears, and everything gets back to normal. Novacom? Sure, Mitch hangs around for awhile, then he leaves, Connie deals with the aftermath, and then life is back to normal again. The Green Ring? No; nothing gets back to the old ‘normal.’ It’s cool to be listening to current albums and hearing bits of a saga that actually happened when I was alive.

Message

All in all, there were several lessons when looking over the whole album, but the ones that stood out the most for me had to do with the issues of trust and purpose. The issue of trust was zoomed in on in parts 5-6 when Buck made his appearance at Whit’s End and some trusted him (Emily) and some did not (Jay). Chris advises listeners at the end of these episodes to watch a person carefully before deciding that they are worthy of trust, and I find this to be extremely important advice in today’s world.

Similarly, at the end of the Green Ring, in parts 11-12, Penny wrestles with the fact that Dr. Trask, who appeared to be a good person, was actually the mastermind of the entire conspiracy. She asks him in part 11, “What good is all the nice talk unless you’re gonna live it?” I believe this is another issue that is seen in today’s world. People can say whatever they want about what they believe; it is only their actions that will prove if they truly believe what they say.

And the other significant lesson came from Buck and his defiance/questions towards Mr. Skint. The moral foundation Skint had built seems to crumble during those four days in Odyssey. “Then what is it about?” Buck questions. Katrina later answers, “Life is about the choices you make. You can choose evil or you can choose goodness…you can choose God.” And this is the real message of the Green Ring, or AIO in general. Sure, we can have caution in choosing our friends and doing all these other things right, but it really amounts to nothing unless one knows the Good News that is the only thing that can really give purpose and life to, well, life.

In Summary

Phew, that went a lot longer than I expected it to. But, yeah, those are the reasons that the Green Ring Conspiracy sits in the place of ‘favorite album’ in my mind, which can best be summed up with this: Album 53 has a great story, characters, and message(s). If you haven’t heard this album in a while, I highly recommend revisiting it.

Oh, and be on the lookout for a post about the GRC’s controversial conclusion: The Long End.