Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Land of the Lost: Season Three (Episode Ten: Timestop)
Season One: Part One, Two, and Three.
Season Two: Part One and Two.
Season Three: Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine.
Episode 10: “Timestop”
The earthquakes are continuing in the Land of the Lost and this time they’ve opened a new door in the Marshalls’ temple. Will and Holly are the only ones home when it happens, so they go inside to investigate and find a series of caves. Eventually, they discover a mysterious room containing a small crystal that's set into a metal plaque.
Getting out with it involves some complications, but the short version is that they escape and show the device to Jack and Cha-Ka who've returned home. Jack agrees that the object is worth investigating. Anything so elaborate had to have been created by intelligent life and therefore could be a device for escaping the Valley. They also agree that it looks Altrusian in design, so they decide to take it to Enik to see what he might know about it.
Enik does indeed know what it is: the Key to the Temporal Regulator. With it, he says, the operator can run time backwards and forwards as he chooses. Naturally, he and the Marshalls both want it. The Marshalls hope to rewind time to the moment they entered the Land of the Lost and then step back through the portal before it closes. This is an awful theory and doesn’t take into account that Jack came through separately from Will and Holly or that they all fell – not stepped – through the portal. Still, the Marshalls never have been ones to overthink things whenever a possible escape route presents itself.
After the break: the trouble with time travel.
Enik also wants to use the Key to return to his own time and warn the Altrusians about the disaster that devolves them into the Sleestaks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the first time it’s mentioned that a specific event caused the creation of the Sleestaks. Up until now, I got the impression that they’d just slowly slid into brutality through their own pettiness, but that may have been an assumption on Enik’s part that he later tested and found to be false.
Enik’s technology allows him to trap Jack and Will in his cave until they agree to hand over the Key, though they rather stupidly stand still and give him plenty of time to operate his controls instead of just booking it home. Enik’s no smarter. Jack agrees to give him the Key and Enik releases them before actually getting his hands on it. Jack hands the metal base to Enik, but slips the crystal part out and runs away with Will. Sneak.
When they get home, they put it on a chain, but realize that they have no idea where the Temporal Regulator is. They assume it’s in a pylon, but lament that it’ll take forever to find it. While Will and Jack are discussing it, Holly’s holding the Key and realizes that a small knob on the side of the crystal always points in the same direction.
As Enik gathers the Sleestaks for an assault on the Marshalls, the family and Cha-Ka follow the Key to some geyser beds. They’ve been here before and Jack’s even timed the main geyser – which he’s imaginatively named Old Faithful – so that he knows when it erupts. As he explains this to the kids, we get what’s actually a cool geology lesson. I must not have been paying attention in science class or else I’d forgotten how geyser’s work, but I know now. It's the second science lesson of the episode since in an earlier conversation Jack explained how compasses work. I kind of like that and wonder if it would've continued had the show lasted another season. It's a cool way to learn science.
As the Marshalls are trying to figure out where to go next (the Key’s just spinning around in circles, so they know they’re close), Torchie suddenly attacks and scatters the family. Cha-Ka tries to escape by running towards the geyser across a thin layer of earth that covers the deep mud of the geyser field. The fire-breathing dimetrodon chases him though and falls through the crust, destroying it and stranding Cha-Ka right next to Old Faithful. Jack estimates that they have less than an hour to figure out how to rescue him before the geyser blows again and kills him.
As the Marshalls try to figure out what to do, there are a couple of sweet moments between them and Cha-Ka. They yell encouragement for him not to be afraid and Cha-Ka assures them that he’s not. He knows that they’ll save him. Philip Paley plays it scared though, so it’s not reckless bravado, but his faith in his friends feels very genuine.
Jack isn’t as positive. They’re running out of time and he’s got no ideas for getting Cha-Ka across the scalding mud. Holly offers the only possible solution: find the Time Regulator and use it to rewind to just before Cha-Ka ran out onto the geyser field.
They take another look at the Key, which is now pointing in one direction again. There’s also a steady hum that Jack tries to explain with some mumbo jumbo about a “time constant” and some presentation about black holes he once saw at a planetarium. It makes no sense, but it doesn’t really have to. He and Will follow the Key while Holly stays behind to keep Cha-Ka company.
They find the pylon disguised by branches and dirt, but when they go inside they realize that they can’t use the Key without the metal plaque that Enik has. Naturally Enik shows up right then, having left his Sleestak companions outside the pylon to keep the Marshalls from running away.
Jack offers to make another deal with Enik. If Enik loans him the plaque, he’ll give both it and the Key to Enik when he’s done rescuing Cha-Ka. Will volunteers to act as hostage and ensure Jack’s honesty, so Enik – not seeing the glaring hole in this deal – agrees. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that Jack and Will don’t see it either. They seem to really believe that once they turn back time, everyone will remember the pact. Like I said, the Marshalls aren’t exactly famous for thinking these things through.
And Enik? He’s just an idiot. After explaining that only those in the pylon will be shielded from the Regulator’s effects, he leaves Jack alone to carry out his plan.
But then again, nothing really makes sense from this point. Jack rewinds time to just before Torchie’s attack and Holly and Will – who haven’t been shielded from the Regulator and have no way of remembering a plan they haven’t made yet – yell for Cha-Ka to run towards them instead of into the field.
Jack watches this on a monitor in the pylon. Once he’s sure of Cha-Ka’s safety, he runs out to rejoin his family, succumbing to the Regulator's effects in the process. When Will asks him how he got the metal plaque, Jack has no idea. And sure enough, Enik and the Sleestaks realize that they don’t have the plaque anymore, but don’t know how it went missing. Enik decides he must have dropped it. Not exactly his finest hour.
The Marshalls find the Regulator Pylon again and get ready to go inside, but Torchie attacks again. The family hides behind the pylon and Torchie blasts it with his fiery breath, fusing the door shut forever. Not needing the Key anymore, they leave it outside the pylon and head back home to the temple.
And I really thought they were going to make it this time.