On Shaky Ground



I’ve got something I need to talk to you about Sam.


Well I don’t know, Jack. You didn’t call for an appointment. It seems to me you didn’t take kindly to my arriving unannounced at your building site, so I see no reason I should make time for you now.


Please, Sam, this isn’t easy for me.


Why Jack, that’s one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard you say.


Oh, for heaven’s sake, Sam, can’t you manage to be civil for about five minutes.


Jack, being rude has never been one of my shortcomings. I can scarcely say the same for you.


Alright, alright! I apologize for the other day when you came to the Clarke house! What I came here to tell you is that I think you’re right!


Wait a minute, I didn’t just hear you say you thought I was right, did I?

Just about my favorite thing as an author is to find the right metaphor. Sometimes they pop into my head effortlessly. And sometimes they require focus, deep thought, and a lot of patience. In the case of this episode title, it wasn’t so much finding the right metaphor as it was letting the meaning extend itself beyond the obvious.

The town of Milford-Haven is still unsettled after its sizable earthquake. As anyone who has lived through this kind of event will tell you, it’s not so much the quake itself, but the aftermath—everything from checking for structural damage and restoring power and water, to righting overturned furniture, glueing broken pieces, and sweeping up what cannot be put back together. Once the physical elements are taken care of, there’s a deep sense of being unable to trust that which we’ve always relied upon: solid ground.

In this episode we start taking a look at what else might be “shaky” in the characters’ lives. Zack, who had recovered from a serious diving accident that’d put him in the hospital, had seemed to recover. Yet a recurring despondency seemed to cloud his thoughts. Miranda, who had recovered from a minor head injury when a shelf fell on her during the quake, faints unexpectedly, right when she’s supposed to be packing for a working trip to Alaska. And Jack Sawyer, who had felt reassured when the new mansion he’s building did not collapse in the quake, is now more worried than ever: with a crew man missing, they’re having to dig away parts of the foundation, leaving the structure especially vulnerable.

Another “structure” on which American society relied since the country began was the press. There were high ideals: truth came first; opinion came second. So while journalists were offered opportunities to express their own opinions in columns and Op Ed pages, reportage had no room for the spin-doctoring that is now so commonplace.

This is highlighted when two characters have a serious argument in this episode: the newspaper journalist Emily Wilkins, and the radio announcer Radio Jones. Each of these characters is serious about his/her job and work hard, given they have so much to cover and no additional staff to help them. Jones accuses Wilkins of bringing him some false information. Both are furious, and both are concerned that the truth reach their audiences. Any of this sound familiar? So here’s another element of “shaky ground” as the free press is one of the pillars of democracy.

Relationships seem particularly shaky at this point, too. Miranda, on the verge of romance with Zack, is about to leave town for an extended period. Samantha, who’s been feuding with Jack Sawyer for years, is startled when he apologizes, leaving her unable to maintain her angry stance.

What do we rely on in life? What and whom do we trust? When the chips are down, what qualities come to the surface? The intertwined storylines pose all these questions, keeping the tension taut while engaging listeners in the possibility of self-examination and reflection.

I hope you have fun figuring out “What’s Shaking” in Milford-Haven!

By the way, if you missed Season 1 or Season 2, they are now available at MilfordHaven.com.

So now . . join us for Season 3 by downloading the episode or subscribing to Season 3, tune in to your favorite device, and join us in . . . Milford-Haven!