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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #15
by Benjamin Pollack

Featuring: James, 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 others. 

At 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 rumours.

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 pieces.

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.

Review: Of 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 instalment.

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.

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 Tomorrow!'

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.

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.

The 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 floor.

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