EPISODE 29 Ė "INFERNO"
"One explosion could start a chain reaction that would turn the whole valley into a blazing inferno."
"Our next act of retaliation will be to destroy the complex at Nahama. Nahama will be destroyed."
An SKR4 recovery rocket, containing explosives, is sent into space and tracked by the Euro Space Tracker Station but is destroyed by a meteoroid and replicated by the Mysterons. Meanwhile, Spectrum learns of the latest target: a desalinisation plant at the foothills of the Andes mountains, which takes water from the Pacific Ocean and irrigates hundreds of square miles of land around it. Captains Ochre and Magenta are sent to guard the north and south entries to the complex whilst Captains Scarlet and Blue set up a vantage point inside an ancient Aztec temple overlooking the entire area. During the night, Captain Black infiltrates the temple and places a transmitting beacon inside a gigantic stone idol of an Aztec sun god, which draws the still orbiting Mysteron SKR4 rocket towards it. Can Spectrum stop the bomb-laden rocket from colliding with the temple and destroying the complex?
Either the Mysterons are capable of diverting and controlling meteoroids or else it was a complete coincidence that the rock was on a collision course with the rocket. Both of these explanations are endurably silly.
Captain Black again shows off his ability to teleport himself away from a dodgy situation when heís in danger of being discovered by a waking Captain Blue. Yes, I spelt "waking" correctly. You dirty minded lot.
Captain Scarlet only gets one act of minor heroism in the episode, leaping at Captain Blue and knocking him out of the path of a statue as itís about to collapse on him. A cynical mind would say that it was just an excuse to lie on top of him. Fortunately, I possess such a cynical mind.
Since Captain Black is seen within the complex area we are led to infer that either Captain Ochre or Captain Magenta werenít keeping a very tight vigil at their outposts as heíd have had to have crept passed them at the bottom of the area to have wandered all the way to the temple at the top. He also manages to effortlessly get by the sleeping Captain Blue and climb up the face of the stone idol to plant the beacon inside it.
The Angelsí attack on the Aztec temple is pitiful, really. Theyíre firing at it for ages, knocking the whole thing down, yet canít manage to destroy the small and very fragile looking transmitter. And by the time it gets to something like 30 seconds left before impact, I canít imagine that it would have made much difference if theyíd managed to destroy the transmitter anyway, as by then a collision course would have been certain. Which, in fact, is sort of what happens, as the idol containing the transmitter is eventually destroyed but the rocket plummets into the area anyway. Why didnít the Angels attempt to destroy the rocket whilst it was still in the air?
The rocket plummets into the ruins of the temple, causing a landslide that crushes the liquid oxygen tanks of the complex, causing massive explosions that turn the desalinisation plant into the inferno of the title. So the Mysterons win again! Hooray for them.
Spectrum: 24 Mysterons: 5
The two men working in the tracker station spend their screen time swapping exposition that they should already be aware of.
MAJOR MORAN: "Those men up there have a tricky assignment but a live rocket with a faulty destruct system must be eliminated! Itís a menace to the communications satellite system."
OTHER CHAP: "Theyíve got enough explosive aboard to take care of five rockets, sir."
Itís also strange that the control room in which they are sitting doesnít appear to have any doors (!). Did they sit down one day and have the tracking station built around them or what?
BLUE: "Well, this is really something."
SCARLET: "YesÖ itís been here for over 800 years."
And, again, the recovery rocket looks vaguely naughty, especially when zooming down through the atmosphere. You know, because all long, rounded objects with red ends are naughty. Though it is funny that the camera keeps going for long close ups on it as if to emphasis the fact that it looks a bit phallic. I think they were taking the piss, to be honest.
No jokes. Aside from the rocket which looks like a cock.
"Well, the Mysterons have won this roundÖ but the fight isnít over yet," says Captain Scarlet in his reliably stoic tones as he watches the complex go up in flames before his eyes.
GREEN: "Will Captains Scarlet, Blue, Magenta and Ochre report to the Control immediately?"
"The latter two of you will be patronised thoroughly by the former, who, after all, are better men then you will ever beÖ"
Despite the fact that Ochre and Magenta are sent to the complex, we never actually see them on duty. Theyíre seen briefly at Cloudbase, and Magenta has a short radio conversation with Captain Scarlet at the complex itself, but the action is always focussed on Scarlet and Blue (as per usual). They do help to triangulate the bearing of the transmission device but that happens off-screen too. Captain Ochre doesnít even get any lines, which is a shame after his leading role in the last episode (not to mention his equally central role in the next one).
The Angels are also on hand to destroy some awe-inspiring historical architecture, which is just their thing, really.
The two astronauts are killed when the rocket is destroyed at the beginning but weíre never sure if the meteoroid thing was a coincidence or not. The Nahama complex is in the process of being evacuated at the beginning of the episode so no casualties result in its complete decimation at the conclusion, which makes for a rather dull Mysteron victory. Why do they only seem to ever win by accident or when the victory doesnít really matter all that much?
Nothing lost, unless Scarlet and Blue had to leave their sleeping bags and lunchboxes behind in the temple.
No car crashes.
The rocket gives us a largish explosion at the beginning. The Angel attack on the temple results in thirteen explosions of varying size and the destruction of the Nahama complex gives us eleven pretty impressive and fiery bangs. Itís quite nice when the effects team were allowed to really get their teeth into something like this. It does occur to me though that Thunderbirds had far more explosions in it overall, where a rocket could detonate and explode five times before it had completely gone.
Blue, waking up from his kip, calls out "Paul? Paul!" I think heís afraid of the dark, or of bats, or of not being felt up first thing in the morning. Itís hard to say which.
The Colonelís not pleased. Iím not surprised, really. Iíd be annoyed too if four of my best men and three Angels couldnít protect one bloody desalinisation complex. Itís enough to make a man sick.
Thereís a lot of music cribbed from Thunderbirds here, noticeably the authoritative ditty trumping during the first scene and a snatch of the "desert" theme later on (the full length version of which is my favourite piece of Barry Gray music).
As well as co-writing the script for this episode, Shane "Scott Tracy" Rimmer provides the voice of one of the astronauts on the SKR4 recovery rocket.
That hoary old mistake of somebody calling a rock floating in space a "meteorite" crops up again (since, as we all know, itís only a meteorite if it falls through the atmosphere and lands on the planetís surface, and a meteor if it enters the atmosphere and burns up). Since these people are astronauts youíd expect them to know a thing like that. Iíve got no confidence in them and so they deserved to die, quite frankly. On a similar note, the Colonel giving the location of the complex as "at the foot of the Andes mountains" doesnít help much as the Andean mountain range is over 4400 miles long; I hope he wasnít going to leave the four officers to find it on their own as part of an unholy Spectrum training exercise.
The DVD subtitles misspell Nahama as "Najama". Unless the latter is how itís meant to be spelt. I donít think it is, though.
Captain Scarlet decides that the best place to put two sleeping bags is at the foot of a giant, scary Aztec stone idol. That would just creep me out. And it must be said that the puppetry to convince us that Captain Black is climbing the idol is less than impressive (he seems to be floating). The same canít be said for the cave interior sets, though, which are top notch. Supermarionation shows seem to be particularly good at creating ancient looking statues and underground locales and temples and the like.
Iím not quite sure why the chaps at the Euro Space Tracking Station immediately call up Spectrum to air their concerns about the mysteriousness surrounding the SKR4 as they only think that something odd has happened to the astronauts Ė surely theyíd be more likely to ring up their immediate superiors and get further instructions from them? Itíd be like if a policeman realised that a co-worker had locked himself in the gym and then telephoned MI5 to deal with it.
Rhapsody and Symphony Angels are the ones flying around Nahama with Destiny despite the fact that the stock footage of the Angel launch depicted Harmony and Melody getting into their planes.
The main problem with this episode is the fact that the Mysterons feel the need to plant a device sending out a signal for the replicated SKR4 vehicle to home in on Ė since the vehicle is now "them" why canít they just pilot it normally like every other replicated vehicle? It doesnít make much sense that they blew it up in the first place anyway, since that means they had to replicate the bombs too. Wouldnít it have been better if theyíd not destroyed the original SKR4 and its astronauts and just planted the beacon in the temple anyway, making the real rocket home in on it? Would have made more sense and cranked up the tension some more if we knew some human lives were at stake, the astronauts growing more and more anxious as they plummet to their deaths. As it is itís difficult to care much about what happens to the plant.
It really is a hilarious moment when, after the Angel attack on the temple, Scarlet states that the statue is the one thing left standing, whereupon we cut to this huge mound of smoking rubble with the completely unmarked statue sitting rather comically in the middle of it all. And when itís eventually toppled over, its backside lets out an explosion. No, really. It does. Flames and everything. Again, they were really taking the piss with this one.
Itís not as good as I remembered it, with most of the episode taken up with scenes of Scarlet and Blue standing around and not doing much. The lack of any immediately life threatening situation knocks the drama down a bit as well. However, Iím still rather fond of this episode for reasons I canít quite pinpoint. Itís not hugely exciting but, yíknow, itís fairly enjoyable.
Smirk. Giggle. Titter. etc. etc.
A rather nice model shot.
"Hi, viewers! Youíve just joined me as Iím about to launch an attempt to reclaim my forefinger from the jaws of the South American fruit bat! Keep watching!"
"Life can get pretty boring around here, canít it, Captain Ochre?"
"YeahÖ fancy another game of chess?"