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.
“A Statement from American Public Radio”
So, what happens in Season 1?
“Episode 1: What We Know”
Lia Haddock, a reporter for APR, explains that ten years ago, the citizens of Limetown–a town made up of some of the best scientific minds in the world–went completely missing. There is a panic in which the residents called 911, but the police weren’t allowed in. We know that Oskar Totem was the creator of Limetown, and that he was burned at the stake in the town square. We know that Limetown was funded by an investor named R. B. Villard, who has since gone missing. We know that Limetown was named for the limestone caves on which it was built.
“Episode 2: Winona”
Lia is contacted by the first survivor of Limetown who goes by Winona, though this isn’t her real name. Winona tells Lia that The Man They Were All There For (TMTWATF) was a telepath who could transmit thoughts and feeling to people in Limetown. He tells her to leave Limetown, which is how she escaped. Winona has a daughter named Sylvia. At the end of the episode, Lia is visisted by The Manic Man, who threatens her.
“Episode 3: Napoleon”
Lia is contacted by the second survivor of Limetown, Warren Chambers, or as Lia calls him, The Reverend. The Reverend tells Lia that his job in Limetown was to help test a piece of tech that could transmit thoughts and emotions between people telepathically. His test subjects were pigs–namely, Napoleon, the first pig on which the tech worked. While the tech was successful, The Reverend killed Napoleon out of mercy after a traumatic event, and felt Napoleon’s death. After recording the interview, The Reverend was killed by a drunk driver.
“Episode 4: DDoS”
Lia is contacted by the third survivor of Limetown and its head researcher, Max Finlayson. Max Finlayson was also the subject of Signals, a sci-fi novel-turned-TV-movie about a fictionalized version of Limetown in which he fell in love with a Lovecraftian alien. Max explains that the tech was a way for people to transmit thoughts and feelings between people using a combination of the tech and a supplement. He tells Lia that he thinks Oskar Totem sold out Limetown to some outside agency. After their interview, Max calls Lia while being attacked and says, “Goodbye, Dorothy.”
“Episode 5: Scarecrow”
Lia is contacted by the fourth survivor of Limetown, Deirdre Wells–Max Finlayson’s ex-wife. Deirdre explains that she was the cause of The Panic. Everyone in Limetown either had the tech or didn’t, and the schism between the two was causing intense frustrations and resentment. Deirdre didn’t initially have the tech, but was implanted on Max’s sudden recommendation. When those without the tech found out she’d gotten it, they revolted, which led to The Panic. After The Panic, Deirdre was scanned and taken out of Limetown by armed guards. Deirdre also tells Lia that TMTWATF was her uncle, Emile Haddock.
“Episode 6: Cost-Benefit Analysis”
Lia is contacted by the fifth survivor of Limetown, and Limetown’s mole, Lenore Dougal. Lenore did Limetown’s logistics, but she also worked for an outside agency external to R. B. Villard, though she does not know who was at the head of the agency. Via Lenore, the agency gave Oskar Totem a deal to sell out Limetown, which he did take, but too late. Oskar Totem was still killed, but Lenore worked the logistics to extract Totem’s notes, the residents of Limetown who had the tech implanted, and Sylvia from Limetown. All other citizens were killed and their bodies disposed of. Before taking a suicide pill, Lenore tells Lia that there are other Limetowns, and experiments are being done. Lia is captured, presumably by the agency Lenore used to work for.
Key facts and characters
- Lia Haddock: Lia Haddock is the protagonist of Limetown, an investigative journalist with APR looking into the story of Limetown. Lia struggles with sympathy early on, but eventually comes to understand the gravity of her situation, and perseveres. At the end of the first season, she is captured. Lia is one of the two protagonists of Limetown, the prequel novel to the podcast. Lia is played by Annie Sage Whitehurst.
- Limetown: Named for the limestone caves on which it was built, Limetown was a town of great scientific minds and their families. Limetown was a prolonged experiment of a test group implanted with the tech and treated with the supplement, plus a control group. Now, ten years after The Panic, Limetown is falling apart due to dry rot.
- The limestone caves: The caves running under Limetown were how Lenore Dougal’s agency extracted the survivors from Limetown after The Panic.
- Dr. Emile Haddock: Dr. Emile Haddock is Lia’s uncle, who Lia only met as a child. Emile Haddock is The Man They Were All There For, the telepath whose powers were integral to the development of the tech. Emile Haddock is the other protagonist of Limetown, the prequel novel to the podcast.
- Terry Hilkens: Terry Hilkens is a local reporter in Tennessee who has been covering the Limetown story for a decade. Terry Hilken is played by Roger Wayne.
- R. B. Villard: R. B. Villard is the investor who owns Realore, the company that owned Limetown and employed all of its citizens. He has gone into hiding. R. B. Villard is played by Leer Leary.
- Oskar Totem: Oskar Totem was the head researcher in Limetown who not only conducted the main research project, but also created the feeling of Limetown itself. Oskar Totem was burned at the stake and killed during The Panic. Oskar Totem is played by Brian Linden.
- Winona: Winona is the first survivor of Limetown. She was spoken to telepathically by Emile, and witnessed some of the experiments he was involved in. She has a daughter named Sylvia.
- Sylvia: Winona’s daughter, who was seven years old when The Panic occurred. She is one of the missing people from Limetown, and was personally saved by Lenore Dougal.
- The Manic Man: The Manic Man, named as such in the Limetown credits, is the ominous figure who threatens Lia and her family throughout her reporting. The Manic Man is played by Edward Kelahan.
- The Reverend, Warren Chambers: The Reverend was the second Limetown survivor, a large animal veterinarian who worked with pigs. He successfully transmitted and received emotions using the tech with Napoleon. He died a few days after his interview with Lia. The Reverend is played by Christopher Harrod.
- Napoleon: Named for the Animal Farm character, Napoleon was the first pig on whom the implant worked. The pig bonded with The Reverend, but after an event left him constantly afraid, he calmly accepted his execution.
- The implant: The first part of being able to read others’ thoughts and feelings. The implant is a piece of biomedical engineering implanted directly in the subject’s brain. It synthesizes emotions into tones.
- The supplement: The medication used to regulate the implant. It helps take those tones and makes them understood as specific emotions by the subject.
- The tones: The data made readable by the brain. Emotions are heard in the subject’s brain as clear, single, synthesized notes.
- Max Finlayson: Max Finlayson is one of the head researchers in Limetown. He developed the tech that would become the implant. Max Finlayson is either dead or missing. Max Finlayson is played by Daniel Damiano.
- Mark Green: Lia’s producer at APR who’s obsessed with Signals. Mark Green is played by Nathaniel Kent.
- Signals: Signals was a novel and TV movie that tried to tell the story of Limetown. In Signals, Max Finlayson falls in love with an alien of pure energy, forming a love triangle between Max, the alien, and Max’s wife, “Deidre Finlayson.” The movie ends with Lovecraftian horrors killing Oskar Totem.
- The scar: The implant leaves a visible scar behind the left ear of those who have it.
- Frank Banner: Frank Banner was the first human test subject for the implant, chosen for his kindness, calmness, and belief in the cause.
- The hummingbird folder: The hummingbird folder contained the deal for Oskar Totem from Lenore Dougal’s agency. The contents of the folder were read by Max Finlayson, who then insisted Deirdre Wells receive the tech so she would be saved if Oskar sold Limetown out.
- Dorothy: In his call to Lia, Max says, “Goodbye, Dorothy.” This is a reference to Max’s nickname for Deirdre, “Dorothy.”
- Scarecrow: “Scarecrow” is Deirdre’s nickname for Max.
- Deirdre Wells: Deirdre Wells is the ex-wife of Max Finlayson. When Deirdre gets the tech, she accidentally becomes the tipping point for the Old School that sets off the events leading to The Panic. Deirdre Wells is played by Keilly McQuail.
- The Old School: The citizens of Limetown who did not receive the tech, who then rebelled against the other citizens of Limetown and started The Panic.
- Gina Purri: Gina Purri is the Vice President of APR. She tells Lia not to do any more in-person interviews, and Lia does not listen. Gina Purri is played by Ann Gulian.
- Spence Harris: Spence Harris is a member of the Old School. An activisit for any cause even outside of Limetown, his frustration with who is chosen to receive the text boils over when he finds out Deirdre has the implant.
- The Panic: The Panic was an event set off by Spence Harris seeing that Deirdre Wells received the tech. In The Panic, The Old School rioted, assaulted the citizens with the tech, and eventually murdered Oskar Totem by burning him alive.
- Helen Muller: A woman in Limetown who drummed up some of the turmoil during The Panic. Over a megaphone, she tells the citizens that Oskar must die so they feel death over and over.
- I HAVE HEARD THE FUTURE: The slogan on the pin Oskar gives the residents in Limetown a reference to the 1939 World’s Fair exhibit from General Motors: “I Have Seen the Future.”
- Lenore Dougal: Lenore Dougal was a citizen of Limetown and a mole within the city. She planted a deal from an outside agency for Oscar Totem to sell out the tech, his research, and Emile Haddock. Lenore was the logician who planned the extraction of the survivors of Limetown. Lenore Dougal was played by Lenore Wolf.
How does it hold up?
Limetown remains one of the best pieces of audio I’ve ever heard.
I’ve listened to Limetown about twice a year since it was released, and while I do find occasional issues I take with it, I’m more often just captivated by what a stunning story, environment, and cast of characters the Limetown team has created. Few audio dramas feel as comprehensively excellent as Limetown does: its production, writing, acting, editing, and concept work so well, so cohesively, and with so few stumbles.
There’s a reason Limetown was the reason so many people–myself included–started listening to audio drama on a wider scale. Even now, Limetown feels like an example of what audio drama can be when every step of the process is cared for.
Limetown isn’t perfect, but with how much it does in so few episodes, it certainly feel as close as I expect we’ll ever get. There are some problems throughout the series, but they feel so minor compared to the rest of the podcast that it’s hard to linger on them for long.
The Right Questions
So, what questions do we still have going into Season 2?
- Where is R. B. Villard? By the start of Lia’s reporting, Villard is missing. Did Lenore’s agency already kill him? Is he hiding somewhere? What happened of Realore, his company?
- Where is Lia Haddock? Is Lia even still alive? At the end of the first season, Lia is taken away by the agency. Did she survive? What do they want with her?
- What is Lia’s tie to Limetown? We know that Lia is emotionally tied to Limetown–her connection to her uncle–but what else makes her this almost Chosen One?
- Where is Emile Haddock? We know that Emile is alive, so where has he been all of these years?
- What is Terry Hilkens’s involvement in Limetown? Why was Terry Hilkens contacted by Winona, and why did he pass off the contact to Lia?
- What does Lia’s mother know about Limetown? When threatened, Lia’s mother says, “Is it time?” What does she know about Limetown, and how does she know?
- Where is Sylvia? In the recording of their interview, Lenore says, “Sylvia, if you’re listening, it’s time.” Sylvia is presumably alive, but where is she? Who has she been living with? What has her life been like since Limetown?
- What happened to Winona and Deirdre? We know that Warren Chambers is dead, but what about these two survivors of Limetown?
- Where is Max Finlayson? Was Max truly killed, or did he escape like he’d hoped to?
- How advanced has the tech become? We know that Lenore’s agency has continued testing on the tech. How advanced has it become in the last ten years? What has been refined about it? What features have been added?
- Where are the other survivors? We’ve heard from so few of the Limetown survivors. Where are they located now? Did they hear Lia’s reporting? What were their responses?
- What about the other Limetowns? Lenore Dougal says Limetown was not an isolated incident. What happened in the other Limetowns? What about those survivors?
- Who is the Manic Man? What affiliation does the Manic Man have to Limetown, Lenore’s agency, or anything else?
- Was Lia part of the test? The survivors of Limetown all offered her a drink or some food. Was this the supplement?
- What was the deal with that movie theater? I’ll die on this hill.