'GOING FOR THE GOLD'
by Doug Molitor
Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Goldie Finger, Barbella.
Synopsis: James and his Warfield classmates have traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to take part in an international high school athletics tournament. But while James is lifting weights at a local gym, he's attacked by Barbella, who tries to choke him, before throwing gym equipment in his direction! James rolls some dumbbells her way, causing her to topple backwards into the steam room - which he locks her in. Her clothes shrunken, she smashes her way through the outer wall of the gym and escapes, cursing James. Later, Milbanks gives James a grilling for a damage at the gym, and suggests it would be best if he returned to England with him. But Coach Mitchell asks Mr Milbanks to reconsider, since James is their best chance to win the tournament. Milbanks grudgingly agrees.
Meanwhile, I.Q. is becoming increasingly depressed with his lack of athletics ability, despite a show of support from Gordo, Tracy and Phoebe. It's only made worse when Trevor turns up to taunt I.Q. and take photographs of his failures for the front page of the Warfield Gazette. But I.Q. isn't the only one suffering: James has sustained a swollen ankle from his fight with Barbella, and Coach Mitchell considers dropping him from the tournament. But James says if he goes home he'll never find out what S.C.U.M. is up to. At their nearby hideout, Goldie Finger is annoyed that Barbella went after James, alerting him to their presence. She explains her latest plan to Goldie; next door to the stadium where the tournament is being held is the Columbus Museum, which is displaying Christopher Columbus's golden treasures celebrating the 500th anniversary of his voyage. Goldie wants to steal the entire lot.
Back at the stadium, James's injury suddenly dissipates somewhat as he spots the local running champion, Innes, running around the track. She's quickly won over by his charm and agrees to head to the beach with him for a break. However, things quickly turn sour when they're attacked by Barbella again, this time wielding a crossbow. The rest of the gang also head out for a break and decide to visit the Columbus Museum. They comment on the high security surrounding the exhibits - but Goldie is there too, working out a way to get past the security. At the beach, I.Q. tests out his new 'lighter-than-helium' gas, which is so light that an average-sized balloon full of it can carry a ship's anchor off into the stratosphere. Goldie Finger watches his demonstration, and steals the canister of gas when he's not looking, planning on using it against James and the others. But when the anchor falls back to earth, it hits Barbella on the head just as she has James and Innes cornered - followed by a beach hut falling on her too.
At their hideout, Goldie demonstrates the hyper-helium on Barbella - it inflates her clothes so she floats to the ceiling like a balloon. She has put the gas in mini-canisters which can be activated by remote. The crooks stitch these into personalised jackets which they donate anonymously to the Warfield athletics team. At the gym, Trevor tries to bribe James's friends into dishing the dirt about his injury for a Warfield Gazette report - so they throw dirty clothes at him until he goes away. Coach Mitchell arrives with the donated jackets, and Innes offers to take James's to him personally when she meets him for a drive later on. But Barbella follows them, ready to activate the remote. She trails them to the fortress of Alhambra, then waits for James to walk into the open - before setting off the canister remotely. James's jacket inflates and he begins to float off into the sky - but manages to hold on to a loose brick at the top of the fort.
He shouts to Innes to fetch I.Q.'s telescopic vaulting pole from the car, and uses it to puncture his jacket by pushing himself into the branches of a nearby tree. As James returns to the ground, Barbella runs off angrily. He finds the golden mini-canister in his jacket and realises Goldie Finger must be behind the plan, and after the Columbus treasure. They head back to town in the car, but Barbella is hanging off the top, and rips the roof from the car with her bare hands. James loses her by driving through a very low archway, sending her flying. Back at the stadium, James and Innes tell Coach Mitchell and I.Q. what's been going on. I.Q. realises it must have been Goldie who took his hyper-helium. Trevor overhears part of the conversation and tries to get the scoop, but ends up falling over instead.
After days of training the tournament is about to begin, but just before his first event James spots Barbella and Goldie making a quick exit from the stadium, heading towards the museum. Barbella makes quick work of the two security guards outside the exhibition, throwing them across the room, while Goldie fills up a huge sackful of golden treasure. They chain up James and wrap the fire hose round the guards, before escaping with the sack, making a getaway in their golden bus. Using I.Q.'s hyper-helium, they turn the bus into a hot air balloon, and it drifts off over the rooftops. As it glides over the stadium, James, who has escaped and been hanging on the back of the bus, swings in through the window. Spotting him, Barbella grabs the nearest thing to throw - the sack of gold! James ducks and it flies out of the window, into the stadium below. Barbella then tries to shove James out of the window, but I.Q. finally proves he's better at athletics than he thought - throwing a javelin and hitting the balloon-bus, deflating it. Goldie and Barbella get away, but the treasure is saved, I.Q. gets kisses from the girls, and James bids goodbye to Innes.
Review: There's not a great deal of substance to the plot in this episode, which is basically a straightforward robbery attempt, padded out by Barbella's repeated (and borderline comic) attempts on James's life. The museum robbery itself is a pretty mundane affair, and one wonders why the crooks didn't simply just wait out the athletics competition and complete their plan when James had gone home. There are also some fairly glaring inconsistencies: during the struggle on the beach, the beach hut collapses on Barbella for no discernible reason; and a fairly major geographical error (see 'Blunders & Bloopers') makes one wonder why the writer would bother crowbarring in an appearance of a famous landmark if it meant redrawing the map of Spain in order to achieve it. But the good news is that the lack of storyline does free up a bit of space for some characterisation. I.Q. in particular gets a slightly more complex treatment than usual, as he suffers from a lack of self-esteem over his seeming inability to participate in sports. Goldie and Barbella are also more interesting here, coming across very much as equals in a relationship that hasn't always been so clear-cut in other episodes.
Highs: Barbella's sledgehammer methodology when it comes to pursuing James is a refreshing change from the other, more Machiavellian villains in the series - she simply throws heavy objects at him.
Lows: Trevor's ineptitude at throwing the hammer is such that he manages to propel himself into the air and land alongside the hammer.
Lines to Remember: Goldie, as Barbella throws priceless trinkets at James: "Barbella, you idiot! Not the gold!" James: "That's alright, I'm worth it!"
Goldie to Barbella, as their plan falls to pieces: "Now see what you've done, you moronic mound of muscles!" Barbella: "Me? Ha, this is all your fault Goldie, you greedy, gold-digging gargoyle!"
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. has invented a telescopic vaulting pole for use in the high jump, and a discus with a boomerang twist. More worrying still is his 'hyper-helium' gas, which does a great deal more harm than good.
Blunders & Bloopers: The script would have us believe that the fortress of Alhambra is on the outskirts of Barcelona. In actual fact it's in Andalusia, in the very south of Spain - whereas Barcelona is located in the northeastern extremity, at the opposite end of the country.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface?: Yes - Goldie states during the robbery that Scumlord will be proud of her.
Notes: This is the first of two consecutive episodes to feature Barbella. Her status as female Arnie wannabe is confirmed here, as she uses the line: 'Hasta la vista, baby', from Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
The Warfield Gazette would feature more prominently in the later episode, Rubies Aren't Forever - by which point Trevor would have been promoted to editor.