When Matthew MaGill died alone in the woods on the Florida-Georgia border, he left behind a box filled with the artifacts of an incredible life: from Broadway in the 1970’s, to a 747 hijacking, to the culture of drugs and luxury cars in 1980s Florida. A series of coincidences leads reporter Eric Mennel to the box, sending him on a 5 year search to understand the truth about its owner. But as Mennel learns who Matthew MaGill really was, he is confronted with questions about his own life, his own mistakes, and his own family secrets.
It’s not possible to predict where each new episode is headed and each delights with the candor and delight of being caught off guard in a great way. You’re witnessing people discover that parts of their lives they may have disregarded or put on a shelf, are actually delightful and exciting to share. Actress Jenny O’Hara is one of the great surprises, telling stories of her marriage to MaGill and laying the groundwork to his path of eventual doom.
The series takes a turn when Mennel imposes his own deus ex machina to correct his perceived deadend in this story (though I feel like the interviews alone are compelling as a series). He pulls the lens back a hundred yards and examines why we dive into other peoples’ stories in the first place. He makes his own personal discovery through the story of Matthew MaGill and diverts into his own journey of reconciliation. It’s a beautiful left turn that pulls the listener in closer and underlines the profound power of art.