If you've listened to "Chapter I" of the all-new, addicting S-Town podcast from the team behind This American Life and Serial, then you're already familiar with what's instantly become known as "John B. McLemore's maze." The maze, which McLemore alludes to in epic detail in the first episode of the season, may be hard to picture, but photos of John McLemore's maze help illustrate the scene. Having made their way to the internet thanks to some epic sleuthing, the images of John B. McLemore's maze, which — spoilers! — become all-the-more important as the series unfolds, maps of the maze detail just how intricate and fascinating McLemore's mysterious piece of work is.
For those unfamiliar with the background behind the story, Serial senior producer Julie Snyder explained the origin of the S-Town story to Vulture.com:
Production of S-Town began when a man reached out to This American Life bitterly complaining about his small Alabama town. He wanted a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who had allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. Brian agreed to look into it. But then someone else ended up dead, and another story began to unfold — about a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure and the mysteries of one man’s life.
That man was, of course, John B. McLemore, who convinced S-Town's host Brian Reed to make his way to "Sh*ttown," Alabama (otherwise known as Woodstock). When Reed arrives in Woodstock, that was only the beginning. (If you haven't finished the podcast yet, stop here, because spoilers for Season 1 of S-Town are discussed below.)
Here are the images the internet deduced belonged to McLemore's maze:
As the only planted maze in the state of Alabama, McLemore planted the maze in a forest on his property. He told Reed in "Chapter I" of S-Town:
I love my home. I don't know why. You [know] — I've lived here all my life. My mom's lived here all her life. My dad's lived here most of his life, and Grandpa Miller's lived here all his life. Places like that should be important. I'm lookin' out over a yard — we['ve] got a rose garden here that's 300-f*cking-feet long. I plant[ed] a hedge maze out here. It's the only one in the state. You can go to Google maps and enter 33.202465,_87...
At that point, Reed cuts McLemore off to enter the coordinates himself. As he does, he tells listeners that he's going to hide some of the coordinates as McLemore continued, more to himself than anything, that what he should really do is bring Reed to the center of the maze. When Reed pulls up the maze on his computer, you can hear the awe in his voice. "That's your yard? Oh my god." Then the voice over begins. Reed described the maze as hidden "there in the middle of the woods," a "huge labyrinth made of concentric circles of hedges with a path weaving through."
That's when McLemore takes back over, saying that what the Google Maps image doesn't show is the little gates on the edges offering up 64 possible solutions and outcomes to the maze. At the time S-Town was recorded, McLemore said it wasn't yet high enough to get lost in.
Of course, there's no way to confirm whether or not this is in fact McLemore's maze. Because Reed hid some of the coordinates to protect McLemore's privacy, the coordinates audiences put into Google Maps are still fairly suspect. However, that doesn't shake the interest in whatever Reed saw. McLemore and S-Town are captivating, brilliant, and budding with pure mystery. Much like the maze itself, there's no telling what the "outcome" will be.