Early in the season, it seemed that The Guest Book had skipped an episode. Either they labeled it wrong or it just got mixed around, but the eighth episode turned out to be “Story Five” and, boy, the writers were not scared to pull any punches.
“Story Five” was the most shocking of the episodes in season one. It was full of racism, nervous jokes and moments where I gasped, “I can’t believe they went there.” To make the episode even better, the main characters were played by Affion Crockett and America’s sweetheart, Jenna Fischer.
Fischer plays a medical researcher, Laurie Gallif, who is working to find ways to help Alzheimer’s patients regain their memories. Because her patient, Edgar Barns (Orson Bean), has no family, Laurie has to dig through his personal belongings to learn about him. In the end, Laurie borrows an old truck, buys clothes from the 1950s and hires a male nurse (Crockett) should things go medically south for Edgar.
She decides to take Edgar to Froggy Cottage after discovering it resembles his former home. Once in the cottage, Edgar thinks Laurie is his wife, Beatrice, and the nurse is Willy the handyman.
To stay true to her experiment, Laurie sleeps in the same bed as Edgar. That’s when he tries to sleep with her and to get him off, Laurie says she’s on her period. That’s when the true Edgar starts to emerge and goes off on a racist and misogynistic rant.
The next day, Edgar continues to spout off more awful things at Laurie, but it doesn’t bother her because it means he’s remembering. It’s not until Edgar emerges in his KKK cloak that Laurie learns she’s in too deep. Edgar comes out in the white garb ready to go to his Sunday meeting. After lying and telling him it’s canceled, Edgar then writes in the Guest Book some supplies he needs to burn down a specific church.
And it doesn’t stop there. After Laurie and the nurse do some Googling, they both learn that Edgar has already burned down the church which resulted in the death of Willy his Handyman. Of course, the nurse freaks out because it means not only is Edgar a racist KKK member, but also a murderer.
After he slaps Laurie for not listening to him, Edgar grabs the keys to the truck to go to church. He turns the truck on while it’s still in the shed and sits there with the windows down. Laurie and the nurse see Edgar intaking the fumes and instead of getting him out, they let him die by carbon monoxide poisoning.
When I said that they pulled no punches, I meant it. You rarely see episodes like this on TV anymore and this one left me speechless. The only way this episode worked so flawlessly was because of Fischer and Crockett’s acting. Without them, the episode might have crashed and burned.