Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Land of the Lost: Season Two (Part Two)

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

Episode 8: “The Pylon Express”

I don’t recall seeing this in earlier episodes, but apparently the smallest of the Land of the Lost’s three moons moves faster than the others. It’s possible that this is a new phenomenon, because at one point Rick notes that he’s been watching the moons “for the last week,” but he doesn’t clarify if he’s talking about the fast one in particular or just that all three are coming into alignment. He says that he’s been “wondering when that little one was going to be able to line up with the other two.”

Whatever he means, tonight’s the night that it happens. Rick and Will are having this conversation because some chanting by the Paku has woken them up. Figuring that a jog before breakfast would be nice anyway, they go to investigate, leaving Holly asleep in the cave. They discover Cha-Ka and his family dancing around one of the pylons. Just before sunrise, the littlest moon lines up with the other two (though it’s already passed between them several times that night) and stops. The sun rises quickly (abnormally so for our world, but then we know that it’s not a real sun from “One of Our Pylons is Missing”) and when it does, the pylon opens. Ta tosses a butternut squash into it and is rewarded with a shopping cart full of groceries in return.

Even though the sun’s up, the little moon continues to move, going in and out of alignment and making it difficult to figure out exactly what affect it has on the pylon. Figuring that the pylon must contain a time portal to their world, Rick and Will go into it to investigate, and the pylon closes behind them.

After the break: Lots more about this and other episodes, and we finish the season with a bunch more knowledge about the Land of the Lost and a solid theory for fitting Season Three into continuity.

Meanwhile, Holly’s awakened and is getting worried about her missing family. She tries signaling with her mirror-necklace, but gets no response, so she sets out to try to track them down. Along the way she runs into Junior the allosaurus from “The Test.” He’ll continue to be a recurring character for the rest of the season, making cameos like this one.

Holly eventually runs into Cha-Ka who explains what happened to Rick and Will. He says that Ta has the ability to open the pylon that Rick and Will disappeared into, so Holly begs Ta to help. Ta’s always a big jerk, so he says that he’ll only open the pylon in exchange for everything in the Marshall’s cave. Feeling she has no other choice, Holly agrees.

The next night, when the little moon again lines up with the others, Ta gets the Paku dancing around the pylon and the door opens. Holly goes inside and disappears, but a few seconds later Rick and Will emerge, marveling about their trip and how it only felt like ten minutes to them. Seeing Ta with all their stuff piled up outside the pylon, they figure out that something’s very wrong.

Inside the pylon, Holly discovers that it’s some kind of transportation system that opens portals in various places. One of them is the ancient Altrusian civilization that eventually becomes the Lost City. She sees an Altrusian walking through it and wonders if it’s Enik, but the door closes before she can be sure. If it is Enik, it’s got to be a different version of him from another time because our Enik’s still trapped in the Land of the Lost.

At another stop, a goofy (in a fun, charming way) robot-like creature bounces into the pylon and rides with Holly for a bit. She tries to talk to it, but it doesn’t communicate with her and gets off at the next stop. We can’t tell if the robot meant to enter the pylon or if it did so accidentally, but I like to think that it’s some kind of inter-dimensional traveler and that there are other aliens who know what the pylon’s for and use it as a mundane way of getting around. Of course, that doesn’t explain why the robot disembarks on a hostile planet that blows him up.

At first, Holly thinks that the hostile planet might be Earth (I don’t know why, because it has glowing, purple plants), but she’s prevented from getting out by a message scrawled into the dirt outside the pylon: “Holly don’t.” Figuring that her dad and Will must have left it, she stays inside and sees the little robot guy destroyed. Why did the robot guy get out on such a dangerous planet if he’s an experienced pylon-traveler? My theory is that he’s actually a deadly bounty hunter on a mission, but his prey got the drop on him. Works for me anyway.

A couple of stops later, the door opens to reveal a park on twentieth century Earth. Holly doesn’t see her family there though and realizes that they wouldn’t have gotten off without her. So she follows their example and lets the pylon close and take her back to the Land of the Lost.

She’s reunited with Rick and Will who explain what they’ve learned from Ta. The pylon only opens when the moons line up, which only occurs every three or four years (though it obviously happens multiple times during the event). Ta has no real control over it, but was using his knowledge of how it worked to scam the Marshalls and the other Paku. The Marshalls get their stuff back and are encouraged by knowing that in another few years, they’ll get another chance to go home. (Of course, if my Season Two is Really Lost Episodes from Season One theory is true, they won't have to wait that long.)

One of the mysteries from this episode is left unsolved for now. Rick and Will both deny having written the “Holly Don’t” note, so we don't know who did.

Episode 9: “Nice Day”

This is a low-key episode without a lot of action and no real development. It’s almost a day-in-the-life kind of story. Will tries to teach Cha-Ka to fish, Rick sets some traps, while Holly spends the day making cakes for that night’s dinner. The only danger occurs when Holly’s accidentally poisoned by a carnivorous plant and falls unconscious. In a repeat of the last episode, Ta offers to help for a price. Rick agrees, thinking that Ta knows more about the healing properties of the local plants than he does, but Ta’s again exposed as a fraud. Holly is healed, but it’s because the plant venom is temporary, not due to Ta’s witchdoctory.

Episode 10: “Baby Sitter”

Rick and Will are still working on their mapping project and have to hike overnight to complete the next section. Holly doesn’t want to go, complaining that she wants to finish a dress she’s been working on.

I need to interject here that the kids’ acting has improved a lot since the show started. They’re not ready for Shakespeare or anything, but Holly showed some real emotion when she escaped the Pylon Express. And when Will tells her here that her dress is useless because “the prom’s been called off this year,” he’s gently regretful and sad about it instead of just mocking and teasing her like he usually does.

At any rate, Holly convinces Rick that she’s old enough to stay behind on her own as long as she stays near the cave. Before they leave though, Will does tease Holly with spooky stories about the Zarn. But what he doesn’t know is that the Zarn is actually eavesdropping from the Mist Marsh at the moment. I don’t know if the Zarn is always listening in on the Marshalls or if he just happens to be right then, but he’s still pissed at them for wrecking his spaceship and he decides to pay Holly a visit.

The Zarn is still a great villain. He’s mad and immature (though he constantly brags about the “million years of evolution” that created him) and you get the feeling that he’s just screwing around with Holly because he’s bored. On the way to the cave, he messes with Grumpy the T-Rex too.

Meanwhile, Cha-Ka’s grown tired of Ta’s constant bullying and is visiting Holly for a break. When Ta comes to retrieve his little slave, the invisible Zarn irritates the situation by hitting Ta with a melon and making it look like Cha-Ka did it. Ta gets furious, making Cha-Ka afraid to go home. Holly tells Cha-Ka that he can stay at the cave for a while, but that he’ll eventually have to face Ta and get him to back down. Wanting to help, she tries to teach Cha-Ka to fight.

She soon has to follow her own advice though when the Zarn grows even more obnoxious, even entering and vandalizing the cave. Though she can’t see him, she scolds and taunts him until he appears, expressing admiration at her wit. She actually does get off a pretty good zinger in the scene.

During their now-civil conversation, Holly suggests that as long as the Zarn’s going to mess around, he should do something constructive like help Cha-Ka gain enough courage to face Ta. The Zarn’s skeptical that that would help. He thinks that Cha-Ka is so small and weak that even if he did temporarily get the upper hand on Ta, it wouldn’t last long and their relationship would soon return to normal.

Though the conversation ends with Holly getting angry enough to drive away the Zarn with her emotions, she apparently gives him something to think about. When Cha-Ka and Ta do eventually face each other, the Zarn chips in to help Cha-Ka win and make it look like it was all Cha-Ka’s doing. Holly and the Zarn have another discussion and Holly accuses the Zarn of actually being a good whateverheis deep down inside. The Zarn denies it, but he’s not convincing.

I’m a sucker for a good villain-turned-nice-guy story and this one’s well played. He’s still a credible menace for the future, but he’s much less malevolent now and the path is open for him to become a friend to the Marshall’s (or Holly at least) should the writers choose to go there.

Unfortunately, he was totally right about Cha-Ka and Ta’s relationship. Cha-Ka temporarily has Ta serving him, but he pushes it too far and Ta rebels, retaking his position as the Alpha Paku.

Episode 11: “The Musician”

Holly’s trying to teach Cha-Ka to play a recorder she’s made, but he’s not picking it up. She gets frustrated, but Rick helps her calm down, explaining that Cha-Ka’s too far behind on the evolutionary scale to expect him to learn as quickly as she can.

Rick then explains that he and Will are going to explore a temple that Holly and Will discovered by the Lost City. I don’t remember when they did that, but it might have been during “The Test” when they were trying to steal Big Alice’s egg. I don’t recall their making a big deal of it at the time, but maybe they did. The temple ruins do look awfully familiar when they get there and I think that’s the episode I remember them from.

The family and Cha-Ka avoids Big Alice and Junior to enter the temple. They decide that it can’t be Sleestak architecture and its scale is too big to be Pakuni, but they can’t figure out who made it. They find what looks to be a door and it has a panel above it with a human handprint. The print is smaller than Rick’s hand, but when he lifts Holly up to it, hers just fits. She feels a tingle when she touches it, but it doesn’t do anything else .

They look around for more evidence that the temple may have been built by humans and Will discovers first a pylon-shaped pillar and then a stone tablet with strange markings on it. As they try to decipher the markings, Cha-Ka climbs up to the handprint and puts his hand in it, opening the door.

Behind the door is a room with what looks like one of the matrix tables from the pylons, only without any crystals in it. Rick warns the kids not to touch it, but without their seeming to do anything, a ring appears on the table. Cha-Ka picks it up first, but Holly snatches it out of his hand (rude!) and puts it on. To no surprise, she can’t take it off again.

Will finds another room with strange statues in it, some of them human-shaped. While they’re in there, Cha-Ka plays with the table and it lights up for him. Outside, strange lights appear in the sky. By the time Cha-Ka calls the Marshalls back in to see the table though, it’s gone quiet again.

Noticing that it’s getting late – and that they are in Sleestak territory – Rick suggests that they get home and resume their explorations the next day. After they leave though, the table goes active again and other lights appear that are similar to the ones from inside the transporter pylon in “The Pylon Express.” When the lights fade, a red, humanoid-shaped being appears and follows the group, walking right past Big Alice and Junior who’ve just returned to the Lost City. In fact, the dinosaurs are frightened of it.

Back at the cave, Rick tries to pull the ring off Holly’s finger, but can’t. Cha-Ka is disturbed by a disembodied, childlike voice calling his name. Out in the jungle, Ta and Sa hear the same voice calling them and are frightened by the red shape. They also notice the strange lights in the sky and go to the cave to tell Rick what they’ve seen. Holly also hears someone calling her name just before she goes into a trance and announces, “The Builder is coming.” She also proclaims that the Builder wants his ring and that they have to return it to the temple.

As the six of them head back to the ruins, the Paku continue to hear their names called on the wind. Will trips and screws up his knee so that he can’t walk without help. He insists that the others go on without him and since Holly’s getting weaker, they do. The red shape appears to Will and he tries to prevent it from following his family. The shape tells him – in a different, deeper voice than what’s been calling their names – that Will has already proven himself. “It is not your time,” he says, just before knocking Will unconscious.

Cha-Ka helps Rick carry Holly until the red shape appears and tells Rick that it’s not his time either. He’s also already proven himself and gets to be knocked out. Holly goes down about the same time; then the child’s voice tells the Pakuni that they’ve all failed. Ta and Sa run away, but Cha-Ka keeps trying to pull Holly towards the temple in spite of the red shape’s continuing to judge him.

Then the child’s voice jumps in again, reminding Cha-Ka about the ring. Cha-Ka’s able to remove it from Holly’s finger now and holds it out to no one. It disappears and the red shape steps into view, shrinking and morphing into the figure of a young human boy. He looks a lot like Cha-Ka, but I couldn’t find anything online about Cha-Ka actor Philip Paley’s playing both parts. After a brief contact, the ring materializes on Cha-Ka’s finger and the boy walks away. The lights also disappear from the sky.

Later, back at the cave, the Marshalls talk about what’s happened and what they were told. “If it’s not our time,” Will wonders, “whose time is it?” Cut to the jungle where Cha-Ka is now flawlessly playing Holly’s recorder.

There’s lots of world-development in this one, but I’m not sure how much I understand of it. Obviously Cha-Ka has been tested and allowed to pass to the next step in his species’ evolution, but exactly how did that happen? The red shape is obviously the Builder, but the two voices seem to be working against each other some. Does the Builder have two voices or are there two separate beings at work? The childlike voice is sort of helpful to the characters, as if it’s trying to encourage evolution, while the deeper voice is judgmental. My guess is that they’re both aspects of the Builder, who somehow personifies (or at least manages) evolution in the Land of the Lost. He simultaneously encourages evolution and prevents it from happening prematurely.

The human temple is another mystery. Since the Lost City is the ruins of the Altrusian civilization, displaced in time and space to the Land of the Lost, I suppose it’s not a stretch to also have the ruins of a human civilization there too. But what do those ruins have to do with helping the Paku through the evolutionary process? I have a couple of theories.

One is that the humans who built the temple were ancient enough to have had contact with species that were struggling to transition from ape to human. Yet these humans must have been advanced enough to be able to shepherd those species through the process. And now the technology hidden in their ruins is carrying on that mission in the Land of the Lost.

A better theory though is that humans didn’t build the temple at all. Perhaps it was humanoid aliens who helped humanity evolve. That’s certainly not a new idea and it better explains the technology in the episode. In fact, if that pylon-shaped pillar was important, it may explain the Land of the Lost itself. Could the entire world be some kind of alien experiment? It makes sense. That would also add importance to the name Builder. He may not just be building evolutionary progress; he could have built the Land of the Lost too.

While deciding what to include in the new world, the aliens decided to continue their relationship with the developing creatures. So they brought some of them, as well as the system they’d developed for encouraging evolution. The only problem I see with this theory is that it isn’t really supported by the show itself. The Marsalls decide that humans built the temple and the way the show usually works, we’re supposed to accept that.

Of course, they could learn more in future episodes and change their theory, but according to one online source I read, the temple is never mentioned again and we’ll never know for sure. If that’s the case though, it also means that the alien theory can’t be disproved, so I think I’m going to stick with it as my operating theory for the Land of the Lost’s origins.

Episode 12: “Split Personality”

An earthquake hits the Land of the Lost and as the Marshalls are cleaning up after it, Will (in another new shirt) sees the shimmering image of a girl’s face floating in the air. It continues appearing until they can all see it and realize that it looks like Holly. As more and more of the ghostly image takes shape, it begins trying to merge with Holly. That doesn’t hurt Holly, but it does let the image speak through her, repeating desperately that she wants them to “Help Will and Daddy.”

Holly realizes that her doppelganger is wearing clothes that were lost when the Marshalls went over the falls that brought them to the Land of the Lost. That - and additional ramblings by the ghost - lead the Marshalls to believe that there’s another set of Marshalls somewhere in need of assistance. Because of Holly’s connection to her other self, she’s able to intuitively lead Rick and Will in the right direction.

They find a cave they’ve never seen before, but the entrance to it is covered with debris. As Rick and Will dig through, Holly loses touch with her other self and begins to panic. And I’ve got to say that it’s seriously the finest acting on the show so far. Kathy Coleman’s performance is heart-breakingly real.

Because of Holly’s condition, Rick and Will go into the cave alone and find other versions of themselves frozen and stuck halfway into a rock wall, also wearing clothes that were lost when they went over the falls. Rick postulates that these Marshalls are from another dimension that’s somehow started grinding against ours because of the earthquake. He and Will follow the instructions Holly gathered from her visions and their doubles disappear.

Later, the Marshalls speculate about what could have caused their doubles’ accident and whether or not they’re now free. Though no one has any real answers, the concept of alternate realities is firmly established, which could lead to a possible interpretation of Season Three that helps fit it into continuity. I’ll have to watch the Season Three premiere before I make up my mind, but is it possible that that whole season is the adventures of an alternate reality Marshall family?

Episode 13: “Blackout”

This is a worthy season finale. It’s a sequel to “The Longest Day,” the episode where a pylon broke and kept the sun from setting. As you may recall, the Sleestaks were very upset by that because it kept them from hunting the sacred (and nocturnal) Altrusian moth. In this episode, we learn the reason for the moth’s importance: consuming it is necessary to the Sleestaks’ reproductive process. If they don’t have it, their race will die out.

Conversely, the Sleestaks figure that if they have a ton of the moths, then they’ll be super-fertile and can produce enough young to build a mighty empire. To that end they purposely break the pylon again so that the sun never rises. That way they can hunt all the moths that they want for as long as they want. What they don’t realize is that the moths are sensitive to cold and need to warm up during the day as they sleep. By keeping the sun down, they’re killing the moths. As well as endangering the rest of the Land of the Lost.

This reveals some more information about how the Land of the Lost works. Though the world receives its energy from the underground, glowing red stone in “One of Our Pylons is Missing,” that energy is apparently distributed in ways that are similar to those in our world. The sun isn’t just a figurehead. It may be fed by the stone and controlled by the pylons, but it also actually produces the light and heat that the Land of the Lost needs to survive.

The Marshalls realize that something’s wrong when their homemade alarm clock goes off, but it’s still dark outside. Rick notices that the smallest moon (he’s calling it Speedy now) isn’t moving and immediately connects the problem with the events of “The Longest Day.” He and Holly go to repair the pylon, leaving Will to guard the cave.

Rick notices that one of the crystals in the pylon’s matrix table is missing, leading him to determine that it’s not a malfunction, but sabotage. Unfortunately, none of the replacement crystals that he and Holly brought with them will get it going again. And while they’re trying to fix it, the Sleestaks attack. Fortunately, Rick and Holly are able to escape.

Meanwhile, Enik is also concerned about the lasting darkness and goes to the Library of Skulls to convince the Sleestak Council that they’re plan will lead to extinction of both the moths and their own race. Unfortunately, the Council is distrusting of their Dwarf Brother of Strange Ways and deny him the opportunity to consult with the Library Skulls and prove his case.

Kicked out of the Library, Enik goes to the Marshall’s cave and asks for Rick’s help. Under the Sleestak tradition of Altrusian Grace, the Sleestaks owe Rick a favor for helping them during “The Longest Day.” Enik proposes that Rick call in his favor by demanding to ask a question of the Skulls. Under Altrusian Grace, Rick’s also allowed to have a counselor at the meeting; a role that Enik is willing to fill. If Rick asks the Skulls about the future of the Sleestak race, Enik is confident that the Skulls will reveal the folly of the Sleestaks’ current plan.

Rick doesn’t quite trust Enik, but having no better ideas, he agrees. When he asks the Skulls about the Sleestaks future though, the Skulls’ answer is vague and open to interpretation. But Enik tricks the Skulls into allowing another question and councils Rick to ask about “the second pylon.” Sure enough, the Skulls reveal the existence of another clock pylon, guarded by three Sleestaks.

Altrusian Grace demands that Rick and Enik be allowed to leave unharmed, so they head into the jungle, using Rick’s knowledge of the pylon locations (remember all that mapping he and Will have been doing?) to find the guarded one. Enik distracts the guards long enough for Rick to sneak in and fix the pylon. When the sun abruptly rises, the sensitive-eyed Sleestaks retreat back to the Lost City. That gives Rick the chance to remove the keys from both clock pylons and prevent the Sleestaks from tampering with them again.

With Season Two finished, I’m surprised that I like it even better than Season One. It has a couple of goofy episodes, but no more than the first season and there’s just as much world-development. I especially liked the addition of the Zarn and we not only got to know the Paku a lot better; we also learned some significant things about the origin of the Land of the Lost and how it operates. And I’m very pleased that my Lost Episodes theory held up the entire season. Now if my Alternate Reality theory works for Season Tree, this whole project could end up being a rewarding experience.


Sleestak said...

I saw the land the robot was destroyed in as an alternate reality where the Zarn lifted off, increasing the gravity in the LotL to the point where waves crush a lot of things. The 'Holly Don't' message is probably for alternate Holly who likewise entered the pylon. Family didn't want her coming back to a land that was being destroyed.

Michael May said...

Those are both brilliant theories, but I especially like the "Holly Don't" one. I'm adopting that.

Wings1295 said...

All great theories, and love your reviews of the episodes! Also love you working season two into season one, so we still have the season one finale as THE finale!

And yeah, I think taking season three as an alternate reality is preferable to anything else!

Wings1295 said...

Good luck when you do review season three. Tell me, do you drink?


Michael May said...

Ha! I may start.

Patternwalker said...

Very cool episode reviews. This was definitely one of my all time favorite shows as a kid. I Netflixed the first 2 seasons a couple of years ago and still enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. :D

Patternwalker said...

Very cool episode reviews. This was definitely one of my all time favorite shows as a kid. I Netflixed the first 2 seasons a couple of years ago and still enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. :D

Sweet One said...

I thought of season two as possible "lost episodes", too, that take place after "hurricane" and before "Cirlce."

Anonymous said...

In "The Musician," the young boy was played by Phil Paley. It was his sister that was dressed up in the Cha-ka suit when they touch hands in that scene.

Michael May said...

Ah! Thanks for clearing that up!


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