I first heard about Limetown while I was on vacation two weeks ago. The series, the first work from Two-Up Productions, was described by The Mary Sue as the lovechild of the NPR true crime broadcast Serial and The X-Files, and well, considering I love both those things, I was eager to check it out. However, between a variety of real-life interferences and my inability to pause the Hamilton soundtrack, I only ended up tuning in over the weekend. I started Saturday morning on my way to work, and I was so hooked I finished it the same day.
Some spoilers below the jump.
Limetown is a work of fiction, but is not told as such. It’s presented in much the same way as Serial, in that it follows an investigative journalist as she digs into a cold-case mystery. And while Serial dug into a murder case where the verdict had been called into question, Limetown focuses on the mass disappearance of the inhabitants of a fictional gated research community, Limetown, in Tennessee. Roughly a decade ago, the story goes, the brightest minds from a variety of scientific fields converged on the built-to-purpose Limetown facility. No one outside knew what went on inside, and no one went in or out. Except one night, the town nearby received a panicked and garbled 911 call from one of the inhabitants, pleading for emergency help. First responders rushed to the scene to discover chaos behind the fences and an armed guard keeping local forces out. For days there was a standoff, and then the private security forces just left, and when the locals went into Limetown to see what had happened, they found… no one. Of the several hundred people who had inhabited Limetown, no trace was found—not even bodies.
Our protagonist is Lia Haddock, an investigative journalist for the fictional APR radio company whose interest in the mystery of Limetown is both professional and personal: her uncle was among the disappeared. As she digs into the mystery, she’s contacted by a number of people who claim to be survivors of the facility, including one of the lead researchers, Max Finlayson, and discovers that at least part of the secret work being done at Limetown was on an experimental device that facilitates telepathy. At the same time, she finds that she’s opened a Pandora’s Box; whoever was behind the Limetown disappearance is systematically tracking down and killing the witnesses she’s spoken to, and has on multiple occasions threatened Lia and her family as well.
Limetown is incredibly well put together, Whether their production values are impressively high or they’re just doing amazing work with limited means, the quality of the sound editing was downright cinematic. There are a variety of talented voice actors, combined with realistic sound effects and background noise. The writing is compelling, tense, and downright spooky at times, as we learn more and more about the mysterious goings-on at the Limetown facility and what happened during the panic that preceded the inhabitants’ disappearance.
Lia is an interesting character in that she’s pretty reckless and pretty unapologetic about it; she seems at first to be a cool, collected, somewhat distant voice on the matter of Limetown, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s not afraid to take huge risks. Or, well, she is afraid, but she takes the risks anyway, which makes her even more interesting to me – we don’t get female characters with this brand of Gryffindorish bullheadedness very often. The other characters are also compelling, but once I realized they were dying off like women in Supernatural, I stopped feeling particularly attached to them.
There’s no mention so far of the race of the characters involved, or any mention of characters being any variation of LGBTQ+. On one hand, I obviously hope that the show rectifies this before it’s done; surely the opportunity to join the Limetown community was not only offered to straight, white, cis people. In the meantime, though, that does offer us as listeners the opportunity to fancast the characters as diversely as we want to.
The only thing that I found a little jarring so far is that, in the most recent episode, Lia plays her final call from Max against the express wishes of her producers. It did make for a tense and frightening sign-off, since the Max who was so jovial during their interview is now hoarsely terrified. However, this is the second time she’s played a clip that she’d been forbidden by her superiors to share, and it seems both hasty and sloppy, and unprofessional. On one hand I get that, under quite literally mortal threat, Lia is desperate to share everything she can with the public so that her efforts are not in vain. However, Lia is supposed to be an employee of APR, an organization presumably as reputable as the real NPR, and not only that, an employee trusted enough to put together and host her own show. If she was a real journalist, I’d be worried that she’d lose her job or at least the assignment for acting so rashly twice. I guess we’ll see what the ramifications are when the next episode is released.
Limetown consists so far of four full-length (half-hourish) episodes as well as two short interludes, so it’s a quick listen if you want to try it out. The team promises a total of seven episodes, which I presume doesn’t count the one- and two-minute clips, so we still have about an hour and a half left in which to find out what exactly happened in Limetown. (If you do check it out, be forewarned that it contains several tense and terrifying moments as well as an instance of violent animal death.) The one thing I’ve been unable to find is a posting schedule for these last few episodes; going back and looking at the releases of the available episodes, I wasn’t able to see a discernable pattern. I can’t wait to see what happens next, though; will Lia’s editor’s fascination with the extraterrestrial theory turn out to be a Chekhov’s Gun for the ending? Will we learn more about the caves below Limetown? Will we ever find out who is pulling the strings, or meet the people who are hunting Lia and the survivors? I look forward to finding out. In the meantime, if you like it, check out their website and consider donating to help them keep doing this cool thing!