Recap: Watt O’Hugh, Episode 8: “Sidonia”

[This article contains spoilers for The Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O’Hugh.]

“In one narrow and green Montana valley,” intones Watt O’Hugh, at the beginning of this week’s episode of his eponymous radio drama, “which a 19th century adventurer might reach only by traversing a seemingly endless row of mountain ranges, lay the flush little town known as Sidonia, which was then, as now, hidden in myth and legend.”

And, the 19th-century fugitive gunman might have added, bathed in wealth, teeming with insurrection, starry-eyed with utopianism, and protected by an army of deadlings.

Watt, played with humor and grace by the great Sal Rendino, knows little about this mysterious city, but events that unfurled over past episodes have told him enough to understand that it plays a big part in his destiny, and vice versa. The Sidonian movement will offer Watt either redemption and paradise on Earth, or a chance to defeat a terrible evil.

So it’s fitting that this episode mostly breaks away from Watt’s story to show us daily life in this fantastic, impossible city, from a young child watching an elaborate parade down Main Street, to the movement’s shadowy rulers, Allen Jerome and Darryl Fawley.

We also learn a bit more about J.P. Morgan’s motives, and his strange obsession with Allen Jerome, who absconded with a small bit of Morgan’s fortune some years earlier. It seems that Jerome has found a way to revive Morgan’s long-dead first wife, Mimi. Jerome is baffled by her appeal, her wispy prettiness, but, in a touching final scene set in New York’s 19th-century Greenwich Village, Morgan makes it clear to his mistress that he still loves Mimi above all, and that he would risk his fortune to see her again.

“On the day of her death,” Morgan says mournfully, “we’d been married four months and ten days…. Some people say they can bring the dead back to life. Just for a while. For a hug, a kiss. A long-delayed honeymoon night. That’s all. Some people make that claim.”


Watt O’Hugh, which stars Sal Rendino, Emily Dalton and a full cast, is available on Spotify, AmazonApple Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts.