Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Land of the Lost: Season Three (Episode Three: The Orb)



Season One: Part One, Two, and Three.
Season Two: Part One and Two.
Season Three: Part One and Two.  

Episode 3: “The Orb”

The Sleestak Leader has run out of patience with the Marshalls. Thinking that they’re the only obstacle between the Sleestaks and Valley Domination (the Land of the Lost is mostly referred to as the Valley this season), he asks the Library of Skulls how to get rid of them. The skulls instruct the Leader to find an artifact called the Sacred Orb. When placed on the surface, it will absorb all light and allow the Sleestaks to rule in darkness. Unfortunately for the Sleestaks, the Orb is located in the hole where the God of the Pit from Season One lives.

Meanwhile, Will and Cha-Ka are hanging out with Enik and talking about morality. I mentioned last week that this reality’s Enik is extremely focused on logic. This is the episode I was thinking of. In “Survival Kit,” the Marshalls were only able to convince him to help them by pointing out that doing so was in his best interest. That may have sparked the conversation they’re having here.

Their conversation is interrupted when they discover a pylon that neither Will nor Enik has ever seen before. They both know the area well, so Will postulates that perhaps the pylon was invisible before. That doesn’t sound “logical” to Enik, but he’s willing to concede that the Valley is a strange place. Will goes inside to check out the pylon and finds that it’s empty. While he’s inside though, Sleestaks jump out and capture Enik and Cha-Ka, dragging them off to the Lost City. Will emerges from the pylon and thinks that his friends have bailed on him, so he goes off to find them, not realizing that he’s turned invisible himself. It’s never explained why there’s an Invisibility Pylon and I can’t figure it out myself. As much as I enjoy finding plausible excuses to tighten up someone else’s sloppy writing, I’m stumped on this one.

After the break: more nonsensical writing, Morality vs Logic, and the God in the Pit.


The Sleestaks keep Enik captive, but let Cha-Ka go to deliver a message to the Marshalls. Either the humans go into the Pit to retrieve the Orb or Enik will have to. Meanwhile, Will’s returned to the temple and learned that he’s invisible (he can see himself, but no one else can). He leads Jack and Holly back to the pylon – hoping to use it to become visible again – but it’s no longer there.

When they return home, Cha-Ka’s there to tell them about Enik. They discuss helping him, but realize that he’d never do the same for them. Unlike Spock’s “good of the many” reasoning, Enik’s logic is completely self-serving. Regardless, the Marshalls’ morality dictates that they have to help their jerk friend. And since Will just so happens to be invisible, he’s in a great position to do it. Jack loans him a knife and gives him three hours to rescue Enik before Jack comes looking for him.

Will sneaks into the Lost City, but he doesn’t know that the pylon’s effect is starting to wear off and he’s sporadically becoming visible again. He’s still invisible though when he arrives at the Pit and talks to Enik, who’s not being all that closely guarded at the moment. Enik protests that the rescue isn’t logical, but Will brushes that aside and tries to free the Altrusian anyway. Enik objects again, but this time on the grounds that the Sleestaks whole plan needs to be stopped, not just the part where Enik’s a captive. The Orb needs to be found and… well, he never gets around to revealing the final part of his plan. Does he want to destroy it? Hide it somewhere else? He doesn’t say. At least, not where we can hear. We do cut back to Jack, Holly, and Cha-Ka a few times as they wait for Will and mount their own rescue attempt, so Enik and Will could very well have finalized their plans during that.

There’s a nice moment when Will observes that if the Orb absorbs all light, it will eventually destroy the Sleestaks as well and Enik agrees. The Sleestaks, he says, are too stupid to realize that though and he feels responsible for protecting them from their own foolishness. It’s nice because it shows that while usually a selfish prick, Enik does feel compassion for his de-evolved kin.

Enik calls for the Sleestak Leader and tells him that the humans aren’t coming, but that he knows another way to retrieve the Orb. He claims that he’s got some Mystic Altrusian Rope in his chambers that will do the trick. The Leader sends someone to get it and Enik orders one end tied to a rock at the edge of the Pit. Then Will, still invisible, climbs down. Enik explains that the rope has gone taut because it’s searching for the Orb.

Will finds the Orb easily, but he disturbs the pit god by removing it from its place. Up top, the Sleestak Leader declares that since Enik’s rope has angered the god, Enik needs to be sacrificed to appease it. But it’s just at that moment that Will starts up the rope again, halting the offering.

Will’s smart enough though not to give the Orb to the Leader right away. Without talking, he holds it out over the pit so that none of the Sleestaks can reach it. Enik explains that they have to let him go before the Orb will be delivered to them. The Sleestaks let him go and – for some reason – Will puts the Orb in the Sleestak Leader’s hands. Since we still don’t know what Enik plans to do with the Orb, this could either be really stupid or just part of the scheme.

As it turns out, it’s both. Will suddenly turns visible, so we don’t know exactly how Enik’s plan was supposed to have played out, but just before the Sleestaks see Will, the Leader declares that he now has the power to destroy the Marshalls. The now-visible Will accuses Enik of tricking him into betraying his family, which is where I get lost on what Will thought he was doing. Enik clearly said earlier that the Orb had the power to absorb all light and destroy all life in the Valley. How did Will not understand that that included the Marshalls? What did Enik tell him that made giving the Orb to the Sleestak Leader seem like a good idea?

Enik doesn’t deny Will’s accusation, by the way. He just spouts more crap about his “best interest” and “logic,” etc. But even looking at this from Enik's point of view, giving the Orb to the Sleestak Leader is still a sucky plan. Like with the Invisibility Pylon, it defies explanation. I hate being stuck with the explanation that the writers just blew it, but that's the only one I have.

Will’s still fading in and out of visibility, so he takes advantage of an invisible period to snatch the Orb from the Leader’s hands and hurl it into the pit, smashing it. It sounds like a Christmas ornament breaking, but that’s fair since it looks like a Christmas ornament too. Will becomes visible again right after that and is captured. The Sleestaks are about to toss him into the pit, but Jack and the others show up and there’s about to be a fight when Enik puts a stop to it. He declares that since the Orb is destroyed, no good can come from the Marshalls and Sleestaks destroying each other.

This is interesting and exciting because it highlights another difference between Rick and Jack. When Rick was around, he was never a threat to the Sleestaks. It was always taken for granted that the Sleestaks would win in any confrontation. Jack leads Holly and Cha-Ka into the pit cavern like they’re going to war and Enik’s reaction acknowledges the possibility of their doing a lot of damage if not actually winning. Whatever the usual value of Enik’s logic, he’s right this time and everyone agrees to go their separate ways.

Will’s still got hurt feelings about being tricked though and grumbles that Enik will never understand human morality. Enik disagrees, saying that he saw it in action when Will risked his life to save the Altrusian. But his understanding it doesn’t mean that he agrees with it.

As the Marshalls debrief later over breakfast, Holly asks Will what the pit monster looks like. Yet more proof that this is an alternate reality since the real Holly came face-to-face with the creature in Season One’s “Elsewhen.”

1 comment:

Wings said...

Still liking your alternate reality take on it, and agreeing that sometimes this season, the writers just dropped the orb (so to speak) many a time.

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