Well, MY hunch was right on the money…this arc is like a vacuum cleaner. It both sucks AND blows. This annoying old Crankshaft nimrod has (sigh) found his (sigh) Starbuck Jones (sigh) decoder ring, which as fate would have it just happened to be in his attic with the rest of his (sigh) SJ junk. Who’d a thunk it, eh? I thought that perhaps it was safely tucked away in a vault somewhere, or maybe a landfill, resting comfortably among some half-eaten fifty year old hot dogs or something.
IMO it’s time for Batiuk to start killing off a lot of these useless, unpopular and un-cared-about characters of his. Not like with Lisa either, I mean REALLY kill them off. And the beauty of it is they could be SJ-related deaths too. Like Pam and Jeff. Jeff can’t find the ring and suddenly has a childhood flashback where he remembers his demonic hellbeast of a mother forcing him to swallow the stupid ring whole. Then he develops excruciating stomach pains, is rushed to the hospital and dies during an emergency ring-ectomy. After the obligatory funeral strip we cut to Pam, who falls down the attic stairs while disposing of Jeff’s old SJ garbage and also dies. Then we cut to Crankshaft, who becomes so despondent when Pam doesn’t visit that he dies too. The big punchline would be that the secret message was from Chester The Chiseler, who was offering one million dollars for the exact issues Jeff had. The last panel would have Pam lying dead at the bottom of the stairs with SJ #165 draped over her face. See, it sticks with the SJ theme AND kills off three hated characters in one fell swoop. You’d have SJ covers, funerals, childhood traumas, medical emergencies, old people and death, all in one tidy package. And if he’s (ha) reading this, he can use that idea, no charge.