Let’s Listen to Limetown is a relisten and recap series for season one of Limetown released every Tuesday and Thursday starting October 9th, 2018, in preparation for its second season release on October 31st, 2018. You can see the full series here.
“Episode 2: Winona”
So, what happens in this episode?
“Episode 2: Winona” focuses on Lia’s meeting with a Limetown survivor, Winona. Lia receives a voicemail explaining how to find her, but when Lia shows up (after having driven halfway across the country to meet her), Winona is nowhere in sight. After waiting an hour, Lia calls her back, and Winona has no knowledge of ever having spoken with Lia. Winona explains that her memory is faulty anymore, and she needs to write things down to remember. Eventually, Lia meets Winona at a different motel, and the two begin to speak. She offers Lia tea, but Lia refuses.
Before Lia can ask any questions, though, Winona explains that Lia must agree to some specific terms. She gives Lia the following parameters that must be agreed to:
- Winona will only speak within a very specific set of parameters. Lia cannot ask what the parameters are.
- Winona can give the information she can give, and no more.
- Winona will speak to no one else, ever
- This is her last message associated with Limetown. Once her information is given and these conditions have been met, she will give Lia information she need to speak to the next survivor.
Lia agrees, saying simply,
“Yes. I have to.”
Lia explains in narration that Winona’s true name, location, and other identifying information are being kept confidential by APR; however, her identity has been adequately checked and verified as someone who lived in Limetown.
With the terms met, Winona starts discussing Limetown with Lia. She explains that she loved living in Limetown, even though her jobs as a janitor and working at a diner weren’t exactly the level of work she was used to. She talks about how wonderful the lack of commerce was–there was no money at all present in Limetown–and talks about the importance that roles played in Limetown. Everyone had a job, and they all believed those jobs were for the greater good.
The way Winona speaks is both incredibly clinical and incredibly cynical. She refers to her husband and her daughter as “a man and a little girl” who lived with her. Meanwhile, she also shows her frustration and boredom with the kind of questions Lia is asking. As Winona explains the town, Lia keeps asking questions about any police force within Limetown, prompted by hearing the houses in Limetown did not have locks on their doors. Winona pointedly asks, “Is that important to you?” and Lia gives her the same level of frustration right back. Lia starts asking rapidfire questions about the town, but Winona asserts they aren’t the right questions.
Winona gets frustrated and puts on a kettle for tea. As it comes to a boil and starts whistling, Winona seems like she’s in pain, putting a hand to her head. Suddenly, Winona launches into a story that at first seems hypothetical. She tells Lia to picture a two men in two different rooms on opposite sides of a building. One man is drawing something on a big piece of paper, and the other man is sitting down. She asks Lia if she can picture it, and Lia says yes. Winona explains that when she worked as a janitor, she saw this over and over–but the person drawing would always be someone different. The man who was sitting, she says, is the man they were all there for (TMTWATF). This is the only way Winona will refer to this man.
One night, when she returns for work, she sees the same thing, except this time, TMTWATF is also drawing on a piece of paper on the wall. Winona watches him and the man in the other room and then realizes their movements and drawings are identical. When she tells her husband about this, he tells her she needs to find a new job–but when she returns, TMTWATF speaks to her telepathically, telling her she’s seen what she needs to see and that she can leave. She runs away, panicked–but then a feeling of calm washes over her.
Lia, determined and tunnel-visioned as she is, dismissively thanks Winona and then asks her more questions that Lia seems to find more important. Winona then leans in and tells Lia her that her daughter’s name was Sylvia. Winona says Sylvia was seven when she left Limetown. The night Winona was telepathically spoken to by TMTWATF, she wakes up, and finds herself compelled to just walk out of Limetown and leave. The day after she left was the panic and she says he–whether “he” is TMTWATF or her husband, she won’t say–saved her by making her leave. Winona tells Lia that she “has what she needs to understand.” Lia suggests that TMTWATF was Oskar Totem, and Winona tells her to leave. Lia tries to talk, but Winona screams at Lia to leave, breaking her mug in the process. Lia leaves, taking a cell phone given to her by Winona, dismissively telling Winona she hopes she finds Sylvia.
In her motel room that night, Lia is threatened by someone banging at her door, almost inhumanly telling her that this is her final warning–she must stop reporting on this story.
Key facts and characters
- Winona: The first survivor of Limetown, Winona was married to a researcher, but worked in the diner and as a janitor. Winona has severe memory issues and is volatile. She observed TMTWATF in an experiment during which he perfectly, simultaneously duplicated a drawing someone was doing in a room across the building. Winona was protected by either TMTWATF or her husband, and found herself waking up and leaving Limetown the day before the panic. Her daughter is named Sylvia. Winona is played by Audrey Martells.
- The Man They Were All There For (TMTWATF): A mysterious figure who seems to have psychic abilities. Winona claims he spoke to her without opening his mouth. He may or may not have saved Winona by convincing her to leave Limetown.
- Sylvia: Winona’s daughter, who was seven years old when The Panic occurred. She is one of the missing people from Limetown.
- The Manic Man: The Manic Man, named as such in the Limetown credits, is the ominous figure who comes to Lia’s hotel as a warning to get her to stop reporting. The Manic Man is played by Edward Kelahan.
- The Diner: The diner is the fourth major facet of Limetown that has been established. We also know of the tunnels, the movie theater, and the houses. Winona worked at the diner during her time at Limetown.
- The Parameters: There are a set of parameters in which the survivors of Limetown are allowed to speak. Lia is not allowed to ask about these parameters.
- The Right Questions: Similarly, there are “right” questions Lia is supposed to ask. Our current list of “wrong” question:
- Whether there were people acting as police in Limetown
- What the rules and regulations inside of Limetown were
- What happened to everyone in Limetown
- How many survivors there are
- Limetown’s motto: “We all have a role, and it’s so important you play your role for the good of us all.”
- The Next Survivor: We now know that there is at least one more survivor of Limetown. Winona suggests that there are many others.
How does it hold up?
In the scope of Limetown‘s full first season, “Episode 2: Winona” is my least favorite. This isn’t to say it’s a bad episode–every episode of Limetown is one of the most gorgeous and fascinating pieces of audio fiction I’ve ever heard–but it’s one of the easiest to nitpick, and it does feel distinctly different from the rest of the episodes.
My main problems with “2: Winona” are twofold: first, Winona’s characterization feels like it breaks the worldbuilding established later on; second, the Manic Man is my least favorite device used in Limetown, and his scene here is my least favorite of his scenes.
The writing and acting for Winona are both fantastic. The performance by Martells makes the eerily clinical, removed, fractured writing of Winona feel organic and deeply human. It’s easy to get wrapped up in her story and forget that it’s fiction, even with the supernatural aspects of her story. The problem with Winona is one of establishing the world of Limetown. Winona–as we’ll see soon–does not behave at all like other Limetown survivors. This is lampshaded a few times by other survivors, but it does make her episode stick out strangely. The way she acts is especially curious given when she left Limetown, as will become clearer in later episodes as well. One could argue that Winona acts this way due to tampering by whoever wants to silence the Limetown story once she escaped, but because nothing is ever made explicit, that’s a hard sell for me.
The Manic Man is a somewhat necessary part of Limetown because he makes the story present, personal, and high-stakes for Lia as our protagonist. The Manic Man is never really explored as a character, but instead, used as a device–and when it comes to devices used to add scares and stakes, I prefer them a bit more subtle than we get with The Manic Man. I am, however, in the minority here; most people loved his inclusion and felt it added some genuine fear and momentum to the story. This is a style choice that listeners are either going to love or hate, and I found myself on the more disappointed side.
Still, “2: Winona” did feel almost as ominous and engaging for me as when I first listened. Something I noticed more on this listen was the meticulous sound design and production work in this episode. There are some editing features that are risky, but pay off beautifully: namely, having the recording on Winona’s voice much closer and more intimate during her story. Getting the close performance during what is essentially a monologue allows the listener to truly steep in the story and her voice instead of being immersed in the idea of her telling Lia the story. Her closeness to the mic and lack of spacious reverb makes it feel like Winona is telling the story to you. It’s a bold choice; once Winona’s story is done, we hear her voice back in the same spacious room as Lia’s, meaning it was clearly recorded differently. For listeners who notice, it could easily break realism, but the intimacy it affords completely pays off.
(An update: If you read this and thought, “What about that thing that’s discussed in episode 4?!” you are right. I still stand by my criticisms of this episode, but don’t worry–I talk about this in the Let’s Listen to Limetown for “Episode 4: DDoS.”)
Mapping out Limetown
- She’s offering Lia something to drink–I have theories on this, but more on that later.
- “Money moves the world. Why would this be different?”
- Winona on leaving Limetown: “The next day was The Panic. He kept me safe, and I don’t know why. I haven’t been able to find anyone since. I tried to listen, but it’s so quiet.” The phrasing here is important.
- Listen, I’m still suspicious about anything regarding the movie theater.
- We know that there are parameters, but if Winona left Limetown–and especially if she left before the panic–who’s setting these parameters? Why does Winona still need to stick to them?
- That feeling of calm that washes over Winona is important. Don’t forget it.
- The same goes about her reaction to that whistling kettle.
- Winona tells Lia that Lia “isn’t a mistake”–somehow, Lia is more involved in this than she realizes.
- Who’s the man who threatened Lia? Who sent him? His instability and volatility are not dissimilar to Winona’s in some ways, but his banging on her door seems hardly even human.
- The next recap will include the mini-episode “A Quick Apology” along with “Episode 3: Napoleon”