'NEVER LOSE HOPE'
by Benjamin Pollack
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell.
On a visit to a department
store to purchase new sneakers, James and Gordo are attacked by a crook
in a clown outfit, who squirts acid from the flower on his suit and
burns a hole in one of their parcels! The pair run for it, using some
mustard from a fast food outlet to slip him up on the floor, sending
him careering into a bin. He chases them up an escalator but at the
top, James reverses the direction, sending the clown flying backwards
and allowing them to escape. Back at Warfield, Gordo describes their
adventures to I.Q., who notes that it's the third time this week
someone has tried to capture James. James is extremely cool about the
affair, acting as if nothing unusual has happened. I.Q. has time to
showcase a couple of inventions to protect James in the future before
their science lesson.
Mr Milbanks informs them that,
since Mr Pollack retired last week, they now have a new teacher, Miss
Hope Eternal, who quickly becomes popular with the boys due to her good
looks - not to mention her considerable skill at humiliating Trevor.
The girls aren't so trusting; Tracy and Phoebe seem jealous of the
attention Miss Eternal generates. She seems particularly interested in
James, with whom her behaviour borders on the flirtatious, and says
she's heard a lot about his... schoolwork. She also announces that
they'll be visiting the planetarium on a field trip later in the week.
Later, in the corridor, Gordo overhears Milbanks talking about the new
teacher with Coach Mitchell - apparently she's done extensive research
in brainwave analysis. Mitchell says that her father was kidnapped by
agents of S.C.U.M. last year, and Gordo rushes to tell the
planetarium, the field trip is going well until James notices a dark,
clown-shaped shadow creeping up on Miss Eternal, who is standing at the
back of the room. A laser blast hits the projector and the room goes
dark; James finds I.Q. lying on the floor having been knocked over by
someone who took Miss Eternal. James pursues the car they left in by
booster-powered skateboard, until he finally tracks them to a
dilapidated building full of creaking stairs and bats. Ascending the
stairs, he arrives on the roof just on time to see a helicopter blast
off, containing the clown who attacked him previously and Miss Eternal.
On the ground, he finds her shoe, complete with the numbers (10, 2, 4)
drawn out in the dirt. Back at Warfield, he discusses the numbers'
significance with I.Q., who thinks they could be map coordinates.
They locate the grid reference on a globe and find the coordinates
point to a small island in the Pacific. Coach Mitchell soon reveals
that S.C.U.M. had a laboratory there, and that this is where Hope
Eternal's father was doing experiments for them. 007 went there and
'cleaned them out'; James wonders if Hope may be forced to continue her
father's experiments in the old lab. James sweet-talks Phoebe into
getting himself, I.Q. and Gordo on a flight on her father's jet, but he
refuses to let her come, so she books them in the cargo hold instead.
As the plane flies over the island in question, I.Q. is disturbed when
he realises that James and Gordo intend them to parachute from the
plane. He reluctantly goes along with it despite his fear of heights,
and the three land successfully on the island.
On the beach, they see a scary-looking statue, complete with writing
which translates 'Evil Dwells Here', but James is still
characteristically cool about the situation. None of them notices a
camera hidden in the eye of the statue, however.The crew begin to trek
across the island, using the laser ring to cut through tricky foliage
and maintaining contact with Warfield via Phoebe and Tracy, who are
using Coach Mitchell's radio to keep in touch - without his permission.
Before long, James, I.Q. and Gordo are in danger when they
inadvertently walk into some quicksand. It looks as if time's run out
for the trio when both the laser ring and rocket watch are rendered
useless by the quicksand. Luckily, a tree trunk falls into the
quicksand just in time, allowing them to escape - but was it really
luck? The trunk looks like it has been sawn, not broken naturally. They
move quickly towards the mountain base, where the S.C.U.M. laboratory
used to be.
When they reach the top, they find the clown's orange helicopter parked
outside a ramshackle building. James contacts Tracy and Phoebe and
updates them on the situation, and the three go on into the building.
As they walk into one of the rooms, electronic metal rods fly down from
the ceiling, trapping them in a cage. Soon, Miss Eternal enters, and
while Gordo and I.Q. are relieved to see her, James has already guessed
the truth - that she is the one who lured them here, and even had to
rescue them from the quicksand. She soon explains that her father was
kidnapped by S.C.U.M. and forced against his will to do brainwave
experiments for them as part of a plan to turn world leaders into
zombies, and that he was never a S.C.U.M. agent, contrary to the
When 007 invaded the island lab, he killed all of the personnel there,
including her father. As revenge, Hope Eternal now plans to use her
father's brainwave scrambler to destroy 007's nephew as revenge. The
clown comes in, out of costume, and reveals himself to be her
assistant; the pair then tie James to the machine and prepare to erase
his mind. However, a suitable distraction comes when Tracy and Phoebe,
who have heard what is going on over the radio, begin to shout and
scream, making Miss Eternal think somebody else is in the room. James
clicks his heels and the booster rockets in his shoes send the machine
haywire. He traps Eternal and her goon at the control panel using the
ceiling bars, and unplugs the device, saving them before it blows to
Back at Warfield, Miss Eternal is furious that James got away, but soon
has a change of heart when she is reunited with her father. Mr Mitchell
explains that Hope's father had to go underground and pretend to be
dead, since if S.C.U.M. knew he were still alive they may have
kidnapped or hurt Hope in order to force him to continue the
experiments. Now the truth is revealed, Miss Eternal is devastated at
what she's done and profusely apologises to James. 'Perhaps the teacher
has learned a lesson,' he quips, somewhat inappropriately.
all the episodes of James Bond Jr, there are perhaps three or four episodes that
really stand out conceptually. This is one of them. For the first time,
James does not merely find himself coincidentally in the way of an evil
scheme - he is, rather, the object of one. Of course, the entire
S.C.U.M. leadership would happily see James dead, but strangely they
only ever pursue him when he interferes in their plans; they never go
after him as an end in itself (until the comic story Homeward Bound, that
is). And, while arguably ultimately responsible for Hope Eternal's
psychosis, S.C.U.M. are not the villains here - she is - and to see
S.C.U.M.'s plans from the perspective of a damaged victim, rather than
the villains themselves, adds an entirely new dimension to the story
that suddenly brings an unexpected depth to an often simplistic series.
Now, while I will go to lengths to defend this episode in terms of its
conceptual originality, there are sadly as many failures as successes
here. Like his uncle, Bond Jr has always been a tad egotistical - but
in this episode the trait is taken a step too far. He laughs off the
initial attacks on his person that begin the episode, flirts
outrageously with danger throughout, emotionally manipulates Phoebe
into getting him a plane by making her think he's interested in her,
and continually makes light of the situation having foiled Miss
Eternal's plans. ('Nothing to it!' he grins as he swings around the
power cord of the unplugged machine, thus saving his captors' lives.)
Also, while forgiveness is
indeed a laudable act to encourage in a show aimed at youngsters, James
is far too quick off the mark here; as far as he is concerned, Miss
Eternal must suffer the indignity only of a bad one-liner. The ending,
indeed, is an utter cop-out - we see the reunion between father and
daughter, but do not learn whether Hope faces any consequences as a
result of her actions. If 007 had killed her
father it does not justify her attempt to murder his nephew, and she is
still bitter about her defeat right up until the moment her father
walks on - 'what a pleasant scene,' she mumbles sarcastically, 'just
take me out of here' - proving that her actions were initially without
remorse. In reality, her father's sudden appearance would not negate
what she had done, but clearly this is the implication here as
everybody laughs good-naturedly about the mix-up. Evidently, the
show's creators decided that leaving the story unfinished was
preferable to upsetting the audience by dwelling on any harsher
realities. Still, there's enough to intrigue and engage in this singularly complex and mature episode (arguably, the most
Bond-like of the series, with the ideas of death and revenge playing an
unusually large role) to make it an enjoyable and exceptional
Highs: Miss Eternal's unnamed assistant appears to be a
circus escapee. The clown image is often used to sinister
effect in film and television, and until Hope herself shows her true
colours, he makes for an extremely menacing villain - especially since
he's previously unknown to us.
Lows: James's treatment of Phoebe in this episode is nothing
short of shoddy; he butters her up by calling her 'beautiful' for his
own ends when we all know full well she makes his skin crawl.
Lines to Forget: Trevor introduces his favourite
subect - himself: 'Trevor Noseworthy the Fourth. Leader of
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. adjusts James's sneakers so
that they now contain booster rockets - click your heels once to turn
on, twice to turn off, and click them three times and say 'there's no
place like home' to instantly transport you back to Warfield Academy.
OK, scrub that last one. His watch (now grey instead of yellow) shoots
out rocket flares, and I.Q. also provides him with an adjusted Warfield
class ring that shoots out a powerful laser beam. His miniature radio
can transmit all the way across the world without any time delay; and
finally, another pencil-sized booster rocket can be used to plug into a
skateboard, giving it extra speed and fuel for two miles.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: In this unusual episode, S.C.U.M.
is not the direct antagonist; instead it's someone who has been wronged
by them - Miss Eternal. Despite being visually absent, however,
S.C.U.M.'s role in the episode is vital.
Loco Parenthesis: It's
fair to say that Miss Eternal's take on the pedagogical duty of care -
luring one of her teenage pupils to a deserted island in a bid to try
and fry his brain - leaves even Coach Mitchell's slapdash approach
entirely in the shade.
Transatlantic Translation: Class
rings like the one featured in this episode ('Gadgets &
Gizmos') are not a common feature of UK educational establishments.
Notes: As with the rest of the series, 007 of course does not
appear in this episode - but his part in the action is, like
S.C.U.M.'s, very important. Although we are only told he 'cleared out'
S.C.U.M.'s island base, the implication of mass slaughter is quite
apparent, and raises the issue of justified killing, an important theme
throughout the episode that often isn't addressed in even the Bond
films - for instance, was 007 any more justified in killing a 'good
man' because he was surrounded by bad ones? Of course, this specific
question becomes largely null and void when we discover that Mr Eternal
is still alive and well. But examining the morality of a massacre, even
of crooks, helps to further the adult feel of the episode.
scene in which James meddles with the control on the escalators to send
his clown assailant plummeting in the opposite direction is cut in some
airings, presumably to prevent kids from being encouraged to try it
themselves at the local department store. There's therefore a quick
fade directly into the titles from Gordo's line, 'That's given him the
slip', after the clown slips on the mustard James has squirted on the