The Mortal Coil, Part 1

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#211: “The Mortal Coil, Part 1”
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1 Corinthians 2:9

9However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--

1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

2 Corinthians 4:18-5:2
18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Chapter 5

1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,

Revelation 7:17
17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 21:4
4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

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The Mortal Coil, Part 1

“The Mortal Coil, Part 1” is episode #211 of the Adventures in Odyssey audio series. It was written and directed by Paul McCusker, and originally aired on November 21, 1992.


Whit programs the Imagination Station to show what life after death might be like. Against the advice of Tom Riley, he tries the program on himself … with dangerous results.


Whit has been working long hours on a new program for the Imagination Station, and Connie is curious about what the program is. This time, Whit tells her it is an adventure that explores life after death.

Connie is taken back by this, but is also eager to try it. She does, and the program seems to fizzle out on her. Then Whit gets in the Station to experience the program. While it's running, Eugene enters the Bible Room, just in time to hear Whit cry out! Eugene shuts down the Station. Whit steps out, very shaken.

Later, Tom visits Whit at home and speaks with Whit about the death program. For Christians, Tom says, death is a door to eternal life with God, but it's supposed to be a locked door until God opens it. Whit knows Tom is right, but the explorer in him outweighs Tom's good sense. Whit goes back into the Station. Only this time, something goes terribly wrong, and Whit winds up in a coma!

After putting Whit in the hospital, Tom and Eugene go back to Whit's End. There, Tom tries out the program for a fraction of a second. It's also too much for him, and he orders Eugene to destroy it immediately! But after Tom goes back to Whit in the hospital, Eugene hops into the Station, with disastrous results.

Meanwhile, on the doctor's advice, Tom talks to Whit, hoping that the stimulation might "bring him back." Tom tells Whit that he had no business messing around with life after death, only God should be the one to say when and how people are to die. But even as Tom speaks, Whit's heartbeat slows down and stops completely. A distraught Tom shouts for help.

This plot section is too short and should be expanded. »

Discussion Questions

  1. Why was Whit so adamant about retrying the death program?
  2. Why was Tom so insistent that Eugene destroy it?
    • Why was the program so frightening to Eugene?
  3. What do you think heaven will be like?


Heard in episode

Role Voice Actor
Connie Kendall Katie Leigh
Doctor Bob Luttrell
Eugene Meltsner Will Ryan
Fionna Donneral Maggie Malooly
Harold Whittaker Chuck Bolte
Jack Allen Jonathan Crowe
Jenny Whittaker Natalie O'Hare
John Whittaker Hal Smith
John Whittaker (boy) Joseph Cammaroto
John Whittaker (young man) Jim Custer
Doc Morton Diane Michelle
Tom Riley Walker Edmiston

Mentioned in episode

Character Mentioned By
Mildred Kendall John Whittaker
Jason Whittaker Doc Morton
Jana Whittaker-Dowd Doc Morton


  • PARENTAL WARNING: This episode about life after death may prove to be too intense for listeners under the age of 10.
  • This first part of the two-parter The Mortal Coil was originally written to be put aside in case Hal Smith (Whit) died. Instead, the AIO creative team liked the story so much that they decided to finish it. (The Complete Guide to AIO) This episode originally would have been the end of Whit if it came to that. They finished the episode, and Whit is still on the show to this day.
    • Interestingly, two of Whit's lines spoken to Tom in this episode ("Okay, Tom" and "Will do") would be used in the episode #280: “Gone...” to usher Whit out of Odyssey after Hal Smith truly did die two years later.
See main article: Whit's Foreign Lines
  • Hal Smith's wife, Louise, died weeks before the recording of this episode. Hal Smith still went on to record it even though it might have been sensitive to his situation.
  • This episode flashes back to #49: “Thank You, God”, #93: “Rescue from Manatugo Point”, and #19: “Recollections”, a line later said in #464: “The Triangle, Part 1”, as well as other parts of Whit's life that have not been made into AIO episodes.
  • Eugene alludes to the events of #73: “A Bite of Applesauce” in this episode as he chastises Connie about the dangerous consequences of her curiosity.
  • Although he wouldn't be named and was played by a different actor in this episode (much like Jason Whittaker in the following episode), Jack Allen makes his first canon appearance here during Whit's flashbacks in the Imagination Station, voiced by Jonathan Crowe.
  • This episode received a lot of negative mail when it originally aired. As it ends with Whit flat-lining at the hospital, a lot of people were left wondering for the next week whether he was alive. It also aired near Thanksgiving, so many families were traveling and missed part 2, making the wait even longer for distressed kids.
  • This was the first episode in which Whit himself uses the Imagination Station (rather ironic since Whit is the one who built the machine), and also the only time that Tom uses it until #370: “Christmas Around the World, Part 1”.
  • The AIO team thought that since they had a massive cliffhanger they would add a little hint at the end. When Chuck Bolte nearing the end of his wrap-up, he said: "We'll see you next time, when Whit's special adventure continues." How could it continue if Whit was dead?


Connie Kendall: Just push the button when you're ready, Whit.
John Whittaker: Thanks, Connie.

Tom Riley: No, I am serious. You're messing around with somethin' you don't have no business with.
John Whittaker: It's only the Imagination Station.
Tom Riley: I don't care what it is. You said the whole thing seemed realer than real. And that's what makes it so dangerous. Look, you know that Jesus took the sting out of death. Death is our doorway to God. But it's not something we should want or try to create! It's a locked door until God and God alone opens it for us!

Tom Riley: Is this your impression of a mad scientist? Tampering with things that are none of your business? You know what happens to them in the late show and the movies. If the monster doesn't get 'em, the mobs do!

John Whittaker: Let's see if this thing works.

Tom Riley: <banging on the door> Eugene!
Eugene Meltsner: What? Mr. Riley? I-It's only been a few seconds!
Tom Riley: Let me out! Let me out!
Eugene Meltsner: Mr. Riley—
Tom Riley: That's enough, Eugene! I get it now!
Eugene Meltsner: But—what happened?!
Tom Riley: I want you to erase that program, Eugene, understand? Erase it, now!
Eugene Meltsner: But Mr. Whittaker won't want me—
Tom Riley: Don't argue, Eugene! It's too dangerous to keep! Just erase it, erase it! I have to get back to the hospital!

Tom Riley: Whit? I don't know whether you can hear me or not...maybe some of what I'm sayin' will echo through. See, I tried your program in the Imagination Station, and I think I have it figured out. I think I understand what happened to ya. You did a good job on your death program, Whit—too good a job, in fact. You made a program that gives just a taste of what life after death is for a Christian. The reunion with loved ones...the warmth, the beauty of goin' to be with God... I don't know how you did it, but... you did! You made it... beautiful. And attractive. But that's the problem, Whit. Now... now you correct me if I'm wrong, but I figure you made it look so good that you wanna be there—that you wanna give up on livin'. Well, Whit, I have to tell you that you're wrong! You're wrong! I mean—I can't second-guess God, but it's like I told you before—death is the passageway to be with our Lord. It's not a door we should pass through unless God says it's time to go—that's the glory and the mystery of it! As believers, we may long for heaven, but we must remain here as servants until the Master calls us! So Whit... I figure the Imagination Station gave you a glimpse of somethin' you shouldn't have seen yet. So I'm askin' you to come back. D'ya hear me, Whit? I'm askin' you to come back! I think—I think you should come back to us! Please... please, Whit. Come back.