The Blackgaard saga, named after the villain Dr. Regis Blackgaard, is the defining story arc in Adventures in Odyssey. Spanning multiple episodes originally broadcast over an eleven year period (1988-1999), the Blackgaard saga ties in numerous smaller plot arcs and involves nearly all major AIO characters. In September of 2011, all of these episodes were released in a special 10-disc collection called The Blackgaard Chronicles.
The saga involves Dr. Blackgaard's evil plots involving the town of Odyssey. It can be split into two sub-sagas; the first dealing with Blackgaard's attempt to steal John Whittaker's computer program "Applesauce", and the other about Blackgaard trying to create the deadly Ruku virus.
The Blackgaard saga begins before the existence of Whit's End, an ice cream emporium and the focal point of AIO, when Blackgaard's "Webster Development Company" is outbid by John Whittaker's "Universal Press Foundation" in the sale of the building and property that would later become Whit's End.
The saga resurfaces in the Daring Deeds, Sinister Schemes arc, spanning eight episodes. About twenty albums later, after many interlude episodes, the Darkness Before Dawn arc involved the climax of the saga. Things were then wrapped up in the albums Back on the Air and Welcome Home!. Blackgaard managed to squeeze in a few more schemes in the albums Virtual Realities and In Your Wildest Dreams!.
The following twenty-four episodes were included in either The Blackgaard Chronicles I or The Blackgaard Chronicles II, two albums released by Focus on the Family.
Whit shows Eugene a computer room hidden behind a bookcase in his office. The computers control every electronic device at Whit's End. Eugene notices a computer program named "Applesauce" on the computers, but Whit will not tell Eugene anything about it. Eugene is allowed to use any program except for Applesauce. Whit later leaves the shop and entrusts Eugene and Connie to hold down the fort. At closing time, Eugene and Connie's curiosity gets the better of them when they load the forbidden program.
As it turns out, the program was one that Whit designed for the government. The first phase of Applesauce involves a "systems check", which makes everything go haywire. Applesauce then enters level two, which requires a password. Since Connie and Eugene do not know the password, Applesauce shuts all power in the building down. When Whit returns and finds out what happened, he is forced to terminate both Eugene and Connie's employments in Whit's End.
Eugene, getting a job at Campbell County Community College, meets Nicholas Adamsworth, an eleven-year-old orphan who works at the college under Richard Maxwell. Richard orders Nicholas to change certain exam grades, threatening to give him a bad report, which would lead to Nicholas being sent back to the orphanage. Nicholas has to go along with it, but confesses to Eugene. Using the threat to send Nicholas back to the orphanage again, Richard gets Eugene to stay quiet. However, Eugene's supervisor began to suspect Eugene of changing the grades, and Eugene decided to tell the authorities about the threat, showing integrity. Whit learns about it and rehires Eugene to work for him, believing that he has learned his lesson and understood why he was fired. Richard is expelled from the college campus and fired from his job, but he has a "better position" lined up for him, and silently promises Whit that things won't be returning to normal just yet.
Dr. Regis Blackgaard is trying to open an arcade called "Blackgaard's Castle". He appears before the city council and claims that it will be similar to Whit's End. Philip Glossman, still an underhanded city councilman, tries to push the business into existence. Whit and Tom Riley don't like the negative influences it will have on the children and try to stop it from being built. A second meeting is planned to be held in a few days.
Meanwhile, Richard Maxwell gets a job working at the soon-to-be-constructed Blackgaard's Castle. He invites Connie to work for Blackgaard, too. Richard also befriends Lucy, who is still angry at Connie for sending her home early at Camp What-a-Nut. Connie, declining Richard's offer, later talks to Lucy about the misunderstanding at camp, and they make up. Connie is also concerned when she sees that Eugene is working at Whit's End.
Dr. Blackgaard devises a plan to keep Whit and Tom away from the council meeting. Richard manipulates Lucy by getting her to lie to Whit and Connie. Lucy tells Whit that Connie wants to talk to him, and she tells Connie that Whit wants to talk to her. Richard gets Lucy to schedule the meeting during the city council vote. Whit misses the vote, but makes up with Connie when he learns about her experience at the camp. Meanwhile, Richard takes care of Tom Riley in a more direct fashion - by burning down his barn. Tom tries to rescue his horses, but collapses from smoke inhalation and nearly dies. However, Whit and Connie who happened to be meeting nearby rescues Tom and his horses right before the barn collapses. With no one at the meeting to stop him, Dr. Blackgaard is granted a license to open Blackgaard's Castle.
Kids flock to the new Blackgaard's Castle. Among them is Lucy who has grown more attached to Richard more than ever. Richard takes advantage of this by trying to coax her into giving him information about the program, but he doesn't learn very much. Through some other ties, though, Richard figures out how to hack into Whit's End. He uses a modem to start the Applesauce program again. He and Blackgaard run a systems check on the building, but when Applesauce requests a password (which they don't know, of course), Richard quickly breaks the connection and Whit’s End will have to shut down again. To find out why, Eugene and Whit do an inspection of the building. They decide to start with the Imagination Station.
Meanwhile, at the Castle, Lucy overhears Richard and Blackgaard's conversation and learns what they're up to. She rushes to warn Whit while Blackgaard decides to buy himself some time to get the password. He wants to shut Whit's End down. To do so, he gets Richard to short circuits the Imagination Station.
While this happens, Lucy arrives at Whit's End. Eugene and Whit are more perplexed by the strange malfunctions. Whit climbs into the Station while Eugene mans the control booth. Lucy runs into the Bible Room and gets inside the Station to warn Whit. As soon as she gets there, though, Blackgaard sends a power boost through the Imagination Station's circuits. The Station explodes, and Lucy ends up in the hospital.
When Richard finds out that Lucy was hurt, he becomes angry and vows to stop Blackgaard. Before going through with his plan, however, he visits Lucy in the hospital. Lucy calls Richard a coward and tells him to leave. Later, Richard and Blackgaard hack into Applesauce again. Richard tricks Blackgaard by telling him that the password to Applesauce is "destruct". Blackgaard types it in, and Applesauce honors the request by causing chaos at Blackgaard's Castle. The building lights on fire, and Blackgaard is outraged. He pushes an arcade machine on Richard, pinning him to the floor as the flames get closer to him. Blackgaard leaves Richard to die. Whit, learning out what's been happening from Lucy, rescues Richard from the Castle. Richard then gives himself up to the law and confesses to all the criminal activity he has been taking part of. Dr. Blackgaard gets away.
Whit and Connie go on a business trip to Chicago. Whit takes along his laptop computer, and gets into a bus with a nervous young man named Greg Kelly who has a computer identical to Whit's. When the Kelly gets out of the bus, he accidentally takes Whit's computer with him. Whit ends up with the other computer, which turns out to have been stolen from the Department of Defense, and contains several national security secrets.
Whit goes to the agent assigned to this case, Frank Phillips and tells Phillips everything he knows about the computer. Due to Whit's high connections, Phillips believes that Whit is somehow involved in the scandal and vows to keep a close watch over him.
We find out that Greg Kelly is working for Regis Blackgaard. Blackgaard is angry that Kelley grabbed the wrong computer. After he has one of his henchmen "take care of" the Kelley, he devises a scheme to get the government computer from Whit. He has one of his henchmen break into Whit's hotel room and take the computer. But, the henchman can't find it, and kidnaps Connie instead.
Connie is held hostage by the evil doctor, who plans on trading Connie for the government computer. Blackgaard forces Connie to contact Whit and tells him to go to the park with the laptop. Agent Phillips has the computer handcuffed to Whit and places a tracking device on it. But when the arrangement is supposed to take place, Whit mysteriously disappears and somebody flips off the tracking device.
Whit awakes in the sewers underground only to find Richard Maxwell standing over him. Maxwell pulled the sewer grating out from under Whit's feet, knocked him unconscious, and turned off the tracking device. Richard tells Whit that he has a plan to get revenge on Blackgaard, but only if Whit cooperates. Whit has little choice but to accept if he wants to rescue Connie. He and Maxwell turn the tracking device back on and go to Blackgaard's headquarters.
Meanwhile, Blackgaard is nervous about Whit disappearing. He decides to split while the getting's good. However, he is stopped by Whit who demands Connie in place of the computer he has. Blackgaard is not impressed until Maxwell pulls a gun and aims it at Blackgaard. Blackgaard is reduced to begging for his life from Maxwell, who fires at him anyway, despite protests from Whit. Suddenly the tension gives way as everybody realizes all Maxwell carries is a water gun! Extremely embarrassed by the emotional charade he has just put on; Blackgaard angrily lunges past the startled trio and gets away, just as Agent Phillips arrives. He arrests Connie, Richard and Whit, but Maxwell says that he's witnessed Phillips and Blackgaard making secret arrangements for the past few days. Agent Phillips was involved in the whole scheme all along. Phillips draws his gun and takes the computer from Whit. Satisfied, he leaves to meet with Blackgaard.
Later, however, when the two gloating thieves load the computer, pleased with their prize catch, they are aghast to find out that the computer was rigged by Richard and Whit to corrupt all of the files, just as a precaution in case their plan didn't work. Whit and Richard enjoy their victory, but Blackgaard isn't finished with Odyssey yet. Not by a long shot.
Richard Maxwell is back in town, and immediately everyone is on guard, especially Tom Riley and Lucy Cunningham-Schultz. Tom is instantly suspicious of Maxwell, while Lucy just wants to steer clear of him. Richard asks to talk with Whit. In their conversation, Richard reveals the real reason he’s back in town: He wants to apologize to the people he hurt. Whit is happy to hear it, but he clarifies the difference between merely apologizing and asking for forgiveness. The latter means that Richard needs their pardon for what he’s done.
Richard says he wants to ask forgiveness. He starts with Whit, who immediately grants Richard’s request. Richard moves on, asking Connie, Eugene, Lucy, and Tom for forgiveness. Connie forgives Richard almost instantly. Eugene grants him conditional forgiveness. That is, he will accept Richard’s apology with the understanding that they won’t become anything more than acquaintances.
When it comes to Lucy and Tom, however, Richard runs into large and painful brick walls. Lucy is still hurting from the way Richard used her during the Blackgaard/Applesauce fiasco. Tom refuses to trust Richard any further than Tom can throw him. Richard decides to leave town. But just before he boards the bus, Lucy rushes up and tells Richard that she’s done a lot of soul searching and realizes that she, too, must forgive him. Richard thanks her and leaves. Only Tom is left holding his grudge...which he and Whit later bring humbly and earnestly before the Lord.
Philip Glossman returns to town and wants to shut down Tom's farm. He believes that the Edgebiter chemical spill isn't cleaned up and sends his agents to test the stream running through the farm. The mayor contacts someone on the phone, probably Blackgaard, and tells him that the stunt with Tom was never part of the arrangement. The mayor, who wants out of the scheme, resigns from his office. Bernard and Tom decide that they want to take civic action in the community, and Tom runs for mayor. Glossman's results prove positive for harmful chemicals, and he closes the farm.
Tom gets Eugene to run his own tests, because he is doubtful of Glossman's conclusions. While Tom is debating with Bart Rathbone, another candidate, Eugene and Sam, who is filming the test results with a video camera, begin their tests. Sam videotapes Glossman's agents rigging the test results, pouring chemicals into the stream. Glossman denies any activity with the scandal and leaves. With Tom's name cleared, he is unanimously elected for the position of mayor.
Later, Glossman gets off the phone with Blackgaard, who is angry at Tom's election. Glossman assures Blackgaard that he can get Tom out of office. Blackgaard and Glossman aren't about to take their defeat lying down.
Whit leaves town on a mission’s trip to the Middle East. He asks Jason Whittaker, his son, to go to Odyssey and manage the shop. Jason accepts, but first, he must take care of his job as an agent for the National Security Agency. Jason's girlfriend and spy, Tasha Forbes, is captured by a fanatical terrorist group, Red Scorpion, who wants to dump the deadly Ruku Virus into Switzerland's water supply. Red Scorpion sends Jason a video tape, threatening to take over the world with the virus unless certain demands are met. However, Tasha leaves Jason a code on the tape, and Jason figures out where Tasha is: Enterlocken Castle. Jason goes to the castle, but ends up being captured by Mustafa, the leader of the group.
As it turns out, Dr. Blackgaard is in cahoots with Red Scorpion. Blackgaard pretends to be one of Red Scorpion's victims. Red Scorpion needs Tasha to make sure that they have the real Ruku virus. They need Jason to serve as a person to test the virus on. Just as Mustafa is about to inject Jason with the virus, however, Dr. Blackgaard turns on him. Blackgaard was actually working with the European Security Agency all along. He and a few government agents take Mustafa and the rest of Red Scorpion into custody. But, before he can be captured, Mustafa stabs Blackgaard with the syringe containing the Ruku virus. Blackgaard's last words are to Jason: He wants Jason to tell Whit that he's sorry.
Before Jason leaves, he learns from Tasha that Red Scorpion was mistaken about the virus. They believed that they could hold Switzerland hostage by dumping it in the water. However, the virus would actually die the second it was exposed to air. The only way to die from the virus would be to have it injected directly. However, there is a chemical compound called TA-418 that can make the virus unstoppable. Fortunately, no known formula exists for TA-418.
At Whit's End, Jason returns to find a package that has been sent to his father. Tasha shows up and informs Jason that the package contains the complete formula for TA-418. Somehow, the creator of the Ruku virus managed to decode the formula. Mustafa then shows up and holds Tasha hostage. After a tangled web of intrigue and turncoats, Mustafa doesn't get the formula but escapes. However, he finds Blackgaard in his getaway car, who explains that Mustafa's agents were really working for him all along. Blackgaard was only injected with a vitamin compound. He thanks Mustafa for serving his purpose, and then arranges for one of his workers to get Mustafa "accidentally" killed in a car accident.
Jason and Jack Allen learn that Whit once created a gang with a group of kids who called themselves the "Israelites". A gang who did good deeds in secret. Now, all of the kids are adults. Jason and Jack try to find the gang members and manage to track down one: Billy McPherson. Jason and Jack learn that if you want to make a difference, you have to take action.
A wave of vandalism hits Odyssey. Sam suspects the Bones of Wrath of being behind it, but isn't sure. When Whit's End is vandalized, Jack Allen decides to do something about it and makes a phone call. Bart uses the vandalism to criticize Tom Riley. Sam and Lucy's bikes are stolen, but Sam later gets an anonymous message telling him to go to a tree house in the forest. There, he meets Butch, who returns the bikes. Sam asks if the Bones have been vandalizing the town and pressures him to quite the Bones, but Butch just leaves. Sam sighs and begins to take the returned bikes. However, he is suddenly grabbed by someone. He struggles to get away.
Sam's "attackers" are really Jack Allen and Billy McPhearson. Jack tells Sam to take it easy and informs him of his plan. He wants to start up the Israelites again to counteract the crime wave. Sam agrees and approaches Butch, asking him to spy on the Bones for the Israelites. Butch, who is really fed up with everything, accepts. The Israelites perform a few good deeds around town and diffuse some of the Bones' plots. Lucy and Connie suspect that Jack and Sam are responsible for the good deeds and follow Sam around to find out what's going on. Sam catches on. He and Billy meet Lucy and Connie in the woods. Meanwhile, when Bart, who is under pressure from somebody "higher up", hears that the citizens of the town are not as concerned about the vandalism, he orders Rodney to make his crimes more impacting. Rodney concocts a plan that he's sure will send the town reeling.
Sam and Billy ask Lucy and Connie to join the Israelites, and they agree. Butch informs the Israelites that the Bones will soon trash the town's war memorial. The Israelites clean up the vandalism. A bystander witnesses everything, and the story is printed in the newspaper. The "higher up" authority grows tired of Rodney's constant goof-ups and sends another criminal nicknamed "Jellyfish" to take over the operation. Jellyfish quickly finds out that Butch is a spy and has him beaten up. Jack, who never wanted things to get this out of hand, disbands the Israelites.
Jason and Eugene, who have been away for a while, return to Whit's End. Jason wants to open up the tunnel under Whit's End as an exhibit. He asks a state inspector to come and check the tunnel out. Jack feels uncertain about the decision. Eugene finds a strange mineral in the tunnel and sends it to the college for testing. Jason learns about the Israelites and is determined to start them up again. He and Jack have a huge dispute over it. The two inspectors arrive at Whit's End. One is Professor Bovril. The other is Philip Glossman. They believe that the mineral may be harmful and want to use it to gain unlimited access in the tunnel to check for safety. Jason informs them that Tom Riley will never let it happen, but Glossman predicts that Tom will soon have much bigger problems to worry about. Jason calls up Billy and then notices a letter from Jack: his resignation.
Glossman sets up phony evidence against Tom which suggests that Tom was bought out by the Edgebiter Company. While Bart continues to blast Tom, Jellyfish finds out about the Israelites. Richard Maxwell shows up in town and tries to warn Tom. He believes that Regis Blackgaard is behind everything, but Tom, who still holds a grudge, refuses to listen. Glossman makes out recall petitioned the Bones quickly fill it with fake signatures. The city council votes to recall Tom. Bart worriedly announces that the stage is set for "his" arrival.
Edwin Blackgaard scrambles to get out of town when Regis returns. Dr. Regis Blackgaard uses the now-empty Harlequin Theatre as his "headquarters". When Blackgaard announces his intention to run for mayor, Jason is surprised, as he still thought that Blackgaard was dead. He confronts Blackgaard, who records the whole conversation on tape. Meanwhile, Jellyfish and the Bones trash the Israelites' reputation by going around town, vandalizing homes wearing Israelite costumes. Eugene's test results conclude that the mineral is harmless and inert, but Glossman disagrees. He succeeds in closing Whit's End to the public.
Jason manages to convince the authorities into letting employees in Whit's End. Eugene plans to make a program for the Imagination Station which will allow him to search through the history of Whit's End. He hopes to find out why Glossman is so determined to get to the tunnel beneath Whit's End. However, a phone call from Whit distracts him. Eugene scrambles to answer the phone, but doesn't get to it in time. He talks to Jack about an overwhelming sense of loss that he has experienced. First, Whit left. Then, Katrina, his Christian girlfriend, broke up with him because of his lack of faith. And now, Whit's End has been taken away from him, in a sense. Jack challenges Eugene to use the program to search through his life in Odyssey and see how God has been leading him to Jesus. Eugene takes up the challenge and enters an adventure full of flash-backs from previous episodes. Eugene realizes that God has been calling him all this time, and finally accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Eugene searches through Whit's End's history and learns that the tunnel was originally used for the Underground Railroad. He also finds out that a reverend that helped runaway slaves use the tunnel knew of the mineral underground. He talks to the pastor, but, just as he is about to find the answer, the Imagination Station short-circuits. Fortunately, he was able to record everything that he learned in the Station on some floppy disks. Dr. Blackgaard wants the employees at Whit's End off the premises. While some of the Israelites vandalize Whit's End again, Jellyfish, Rodney, and Rusty "kidnap" Lucy, but Richard later rescues her. Later, Glossman forces everyone out of Whit's End, believing it not to be safe. Eugene only has time to grab his floppy disks. Dr. Blackgaard rejoices. Finally, after so long, Whit's End is in his possession.
Bart sacrifices his store to the Bones, who trash it mercilessly. Bart claims that the Israelites vandalized his store, but Rodney knows that the Bones did it. He is infuriated and throws a punch at Jellyfish. Jellyfish calmly informs him that this was always part of the plan. Jellyfish sends the Bones home. Rodney then learns that Jellyfish is keeping records of all of the criminal activity onto a laptop computer and sees an opportunity to take revenge. Rodney recruits Richard to help him get the computer. Richard, seeing a way prove that Blackgaard is behind everything, agrees. Richard goes to Whit's End with Rodney, but Dr. Blackgaard quickly learns that he is there. Rodney runs away, while Jellyfish captures Richard and pushes him out of a moving car. He slips into a coma in the hospital.
In the hospital, Jason and Eugene find Rodney, who confesses to them everything he knows. Tom Riley finally realizes that Richard was sincerely trying to help and forgives him. Jason and Eugene come up with a plan to see what's on the computer. Bernard Walton secretly places an infrared data port in the Dr. Blackaard's office, under the disguise of a harmless, dimwit janitor. They find Professor Bovril’s files instead which lead them to discover the reason for Blackaard's scheming: the element is a catalyst for TA-418. With TA-418, Blackgaard can create the Ruku Virus and take over the world! Surprisingly, the police arrest Jason for threatening Dr. Blackgaard. As it turns out, Blackgaard pieced together his conversation with Jason. Jason is forced to reveal his NSA identity and the police are let in on the entire scheme.
Jason explains his theory about Dr. Blackaard's plans for global domination by using the Ruku virus. The Israelites capture Jellyfish and his computer in Whit's End and force him to admit everything he knows about Dr. Blackaard's schemes. At the hospital, Dr. Blackgaard announces that, because of his declining health, he will withdraw from the election against Tom Riley. Due to the information from Jellyfish, Glossman and Bart Rathbone are confronted and taken into custody. The only one at large is Dr. Blackgaard. In a dramatic confrontation in the tunnel, Jack talks to Blackgaard about his spiritual condition. Dr. Blackgaard refuses to redeem his soul. He believes that it is far too late for him to come to God. He then drops a bombshell: Somewhere along the line, he was exposed to a strain of the Ruku virus. Having nothing to lose, Blackgaard sets off the bomb. Jack and Whit's End are miraculously preserved, but Blackgaard dies in the explosion.
Later, Jack sadly laments about how he wanted to help Dr. Blackgaard change. But a soul so corrupt, so saturated in evil, can only come to one end - one without Jesus. Such a soul is destined for the final conflict . . . and for an eternity without God.
- #342: “Welcome Home, Mr. Blackgaard ”
- #359: “The Merchant of Odyssey”
- #424: “Blackgaard's Revenge, Part 1”
- #425: “Blackgaard's Revenge, Part 2”
Closely Related Episodes
- #19: “Recollections” : Featured the introduction of Whit's End.
- #72: “An Encounter with Mrs. Hooper”: Introduces Richard Maxwell.
- #74: “Connie Goes to Camp, Part 1” & #75: “Connie Goes to Camp, Part 2” : Introduces Connie and Lucy's dispute.
- #79: “Our Best Vacation Ever” : Features the reconstruction of Tom's barn.
- #128: “One Bad Apple”: Features the Edgebiter chemical spill.
- #129: “Not One of Us”: Moves Philip Glossman from city councilman to state secretary.
- #159: “The Homecoming” : Assures Richard Maxwell's conversion to the "good side".
- #160: “A Rathbone of Contention” : Features the construction of the Electric Palace.
- #203: “Double Trouble” : Introduces Edwin Blackgaard.
- #301: “The Good, the Bad and Butch” : Introduces Sam's relationship with Butch.
- #314: “The Underground Railroad, Part 1”, #315: “The Underground Railroad, Part 2” & #316: “The Underground Railroad, Part 3” : Introduces the tunnel at Whit's End.
- #440: “I Slap Floor” : Featured a zany fictional story about Blackgaard.
- This saga was released in an album in 2011.