Probably the funniest thing about "Something Old, Something New" isn't the episode itself, but reading fan comments. On the AIO's Facebook page, Elijah Hall writes, "Why must Mitch get married to someone other than Connie?"; Mamie Carlstrom writes, "This is such a sad episode for Mitch fans everywhere"; and Timothy Reynolds writes: "AIO, you'll probably have a riot on your hands unless you change that relationship!" No other episode has elicited such a powerful response from fans in years. And those were just the comments that were made after the first part aired..."Something Old, Something New" symbolizes what this past season has been about: disappointment. Ever since Eugene and Katrina got married, fans have been asking, "When are they going to have kids?" The writers gave their answer in "To Mend And Repair": never! And, ever since Mitch appeared in "Green Eyes and Yellow Tulips", fans have been asking, "When are Connie and Mitch going to get married"? We now have the answer to that one, too: never! Obviously, these are not the answers we wanted, or even expected, and I can't help but feel just a tad bit disappointed.
Although I hadn't desperately awaited Mitch's return, I didn't believe Mitch was completely out of the picture, despite the fact Kathy Buchanan gave fans an ultimatum: go out and kill every species of feline (or else wait until their extinction). Having killed 192 cats myself, I truly believed that there was still a chance Connie and Mitch could still end up together.* Mitch shouldn't be introduced, get killed, come back to life, get kidnapped, move away, propose, move further away, come back to Odyssey and announce he's engaged to someone else, just to finally be taken away altogether. Should he?
Interestingly, the first lesson Connie Kendall learned in Adventures in Odyssey was "contentment". In "Connie Comes to Town", little Bobby Novak wanted desperately to leave Odyssey and move to California, but Connie convinced both Bobby and herself that Odyssey was a very nice place to be. Almost 25 years later, Connie seems to be paying the price for that decision; we quickly realize that she may be stuck behind that counter forever, single and depressed.
Whit mentions in today's show, "I'm glad God has you here, Connie. Not in Budapest, or California, or all the other places we have in the world". The thing is, having Connie behind the counter week after week is a little, well, boring. I'm less disappointed with the fact that Mitch and Connie will never end up together as I'm with the fact Connie has barely moved an inch in 25 years. Mitch's introduction was a good opportunity for her to do something. In other words, I'd much rather see Connie have a male counterpart than simply be part of the counter.
However, the episode redeems itself by having a poignant and relatable theme--"regret". By the ending of the episode, I could easily sympathize with Connie because I felt totally surprised by Mitch's announcement. The reveal hurt the audience in the same way, and as easily, as it hurt Connie. And there's no better way to communicate a theme than to make the audience really feel it.
You see, because of our romance novels and television shows, many have grown up to believe that people who love each other, and seem like a good fit together, eventually end up together, regardless of the many bumps along the way. Many falsely believe first-time relationships start smoothly and end in lifelong happiness. Connie's experience of loving someone deeply, and for a long time, and wondering "what if?" afterwards, is totally relatable to those who have loved and lost.
As for negative criticisms, I found the episode's story's set-up awfully chaotic. There were just one too many coincidences and unbelievable plot points. Even Penny, at one point, shouts out "I'm having trouble keeping up with these plot twists!" Let's summarize: Connie just happens to be taking wedding pictures with Wooton, and those pictures just happen to get sent out to everyone because of a well-timed computer virus, and they also just happen to reach Mitch at the exact same time he's in Odyssey, and Mitch just happens to be investigating the very same store Penny Wise works at, and, meanwhile, Matthew and Emily just happened to be investigating Mitch and his fiancée. I don't mind a bit of preposterousness, but couldn't the set-up of the episode have been a little more believable?
Additional annoyances include 1) the computer virus, which disappears after serving its short purpose; 2) Steve Burns, who, during his first face-to-face meeting with Connie, sounded like he was being recorded in a totally different room; and 3) Mr. I-want-to-party John Avery Whittaker, who unhelpfully says, "A party might by fun Connie, everyone is excited by the idea of celebrating". Really Whit? Connie is legitimately stressing out and you're rallying behind Wooton's party idea?
"Something Old, Something New" has several fun moments. It features an impressively large cast with a mish-mash of old and new characters. You could tell the actors were all having a blast in the recording room. By the end, however, the episode ends up being more of a downer than a lighthearted comedy. We're left, ironically, learning an important lesson about "regret" even though thousands of fans are now staring longingly at their Mitch posters and wondering "what if"...
*No cats were harmed in the writing of this joke.