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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #28
by Sandra Ryan

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Coach Mitchell, Dr Derange, Skullcap.

Synopsis: In the Mexican jungle, explorer Cal van Horne is pursued by Dr Derange and Skullcap, firing lasers from a limousine. As they reach a small airfield, Cal passes a package to the pilot of a small plane which is just lifting off, asking him to 'give this to Erica'. On Derange's orders, Skullcap tries to shoot the plane down, but misses. Cal drives off, but Skullcap launches a missile into the back of his car. Taking him captive, Derange tells him he'll chase the package to the ends of the earth. We soon learn that Erica is a student at Warfield, Cal's niece - and the secret subject of I.Q.'s affections! She receives a parcel in the post - the very same package Dr Derange is after. Inside is a priceless golden statue, adorned with emeralds, with curious turned-out feet.

As I.Q. admires Erica, she admires the statue - but it's packaged with a note from Cal, asking for help. It names the statue as the Emerald Key, and explains that criminals have made several attempts on his life in order to seize it. The note instructs Erica to take the statue to Dr Paul Hineley at the British Museum. The following day, Erica, I.Q. and James do just that; but they almost lose the statue when it's snatched by a rather odd-looking woman, actually Skullcap in disguise. Luckily they manage to retrieve the statue with I.Q.'s grappling device, but the thief escapes. At the Museum, Dr Hineley explains that the Mayans believed the Emerald Key was the means of entering the pyramid of Quetza'ital in the Mexican jungle, and retrieving its legendary jewels. Hineley advises Erica to hang onto the statue, telling her not to worry about Cal, whom he's sure is safe. But before they depart he translates a warning
engraved on the statue, which says: 'The Ram's Horn must remain silent.'

Desperate to help her uncle, Erica wants to go to Mexico - and I.Q. volunteers to go with her. But James spots a secret code hidden at the beginning of each line in Cal's letter, spelling out 'S.C.U.M.'. I.Q.'s beginning to get a little jealous of James solving the clues, but is buoyed when James agrees they should go to Mexico with Erica. However, Dr Derange and Skullcap are in a nearby car listening to their conversation, and resolve to follow them to Mexico. When the gang reaches their destination, a drive along a mountain road is rudely interrupted by Skullcap dangling from Derange's helicopter, attempting to grab the statue from them. He fails again, and the pair retreat to a nearby lair, built into a mountain with a mechanical opening roof. Cal is held prisoner here, and Derange tells him Erica has brought the statue to Mexico, before sending Skullcap out to try and grab it again.

Skullcap makes his next attempt that night, breaking into the girls' hotel room and stealing the statue from the bedside cabinet. He trips over a chair on the way out, waking them. James and I.Q. run in, but Skullcap has Phoebe at gunpoint and says he'll take her with him unless they hand over the statue. They reluctantly agree, and Skullcap escapes with his loot - returning to the mountain lair. He and Derange head out to the pyramid, leaving Cal tied up in case they need him again. But at the hotel, I.Q. soon reveals that the statue Skullcap took was a fake he and James made; he had been keeping the real one safe all along. They still need to save Uncle Cal, however, and I.Q., in fighting talk, suggests they go and confront Derange directly. When Tracy and Phoebe mock his idea, he's humiliated in front of Erica.

At the pyramid, Dr Derange is furious to discover that the Emerald Key doesn't fit the entrance to the pyramid, and soon realises it's a fake. Breaking it against the temple door, he vows to get the real artefact by using Uncle Cal as bait. Back at the hotel, James attempts to console I.Q., who's convinced Erica thinks he's an idiot. But when James suggests he back off a little, I.Q. jumps to the conclusion that James is after Erica for himself, and storms off, saying he'll rescue Uncle Cal without James's help. Skullcap has delivered another letter which Derange has forced Cal to write, inaccurately claiming that he's in the pyramid and asking for help, when he's actually in the mountain. I.Q. and Erica rush off to save him, along with the key - without telling James and the others. When James finds the discarded letter later on, he finds another code, revealing Cal's true location.

At the mountain, Derange has Cal hauled up over a pit of acid, with drips from the ceiling slowly eating away at the rope that's holding him up. Derange says Cal had better hope that nothing goes wrong and that he and Skullcap get back in time to release him. The crooks then head to the pyramid, where they capture I.Q. and Erica and steal the key. Derange opens the pyramid successfully, and goes inside, followed by Skullcap and their captives - surviving a rockfall that's triggered by Derange opening one of the inner passageways. At the mountain, James, Gordo, Tracy and Phoebe arrive just in time to save Cal from the acid pit. The party then rush off to the pyramid to save I.Q. and Erica, and stop Derange.

Inside, James finds the Ram's Horn that's mentioned in the engraving on the statue. When they reach the treasure room, where Derange is busy admiring the gold and gems. James causes a distraction, causing Skullcap to topple into a snake pit, before freeing I.Q. and Erica. James gives I.Q. the Ram's Horn; when he blows it it causes the temple to cave in. The gang escape, as do Skullcap and (reluctantly) Derange. As they leave, Erica thanks I.Q. for what he's done and kisses him on the cheek. James and I.Q. make up after their argument, Cal returns the Emerald Key to the Mexican government, and James modestly admits to an impressed Tracy that he deliberately let I.Q. take the credit by giving him the Ram's Horn, saying: 'Why shouldn't my best friend blow his own horn?'

Review: Getting back to the adventurous roots of the show that made Earthcracker such a classic, this is one of the better Doctor Derange episodes in the run, showing more than a little flair and originality as the secrets of the Mexican jungle are gradually unravelled. With Trevor (mercifully) failing to appear at all for the only occasion in the whole TV series, light relief is provided by the constant banter between the two main villains, back together again following Skullcap's replacement with Jaws in the previous episode. This installment is chock full of blink-and-you'll-miss-em visual highlights: including Skullcap's encounter with some snakes (see 'Highs'), the silent group of Mexicans sitting outside the hotel listening to the gang's conversation (which we're left to presume are Derange's spies), as well as the villains' hilarious 'expedition' costumes, comprising fairly unfashionable variations on their usual colour schemes. Skullcap dresses up as a woman fairly needlessly for the second time in the series, meanwhile (following his brief stint as a waitress in The Eiffel Missile) leading us to wonder whether he rather enjoys doing so. But the real departure for the episode is the focus on James and I.Q.'s friendship, which shows its first ever strong signs of coming apart at the seams. I.Q.'s rage at James may not be justified by the events of this episode, but given their success ratio when it comes to women over the series as a whole, it's entirely understandable. Despite his friend's outburst, however, James goes out of his way to give I.Q. the best possible chance with Erica; and his explanation to Tracy at the end, in which he explicitly calls I.Q. his 'best friend' for possibly the first and only occasion in the series, is rather a nice moment, showing a distinctly more sensitive side to our hero's nature - as well as Tracy's. Overall, this episode is exciting enough, and different enough, to mark it out as among the series's highlights.

Like a true master criminal, Derange is so captivated by the pyramid's treasure that he barely notices when Skullcap topples into a deadly snake pit. Then, when he finally gets round to throwing him a rope, he simply throws the whole coil into the pit without holding onto one end - hardly increasing his henchman's chances of survival!

In comparison to the significant character development for James, I.Q. and Tracy, Erica makes for a fairly bland female lead, and it's difficult to grasp what I.Q. sees in her.

Lines to Remember:
Skullcap, when the fake key doesn't work in the pyramid door: "Maybe it's rusty?" Derange: "Of course it's rusty!" It hasn't been openéd for a millennium!"

Derange: "When I say jump, jump! Skullcap: "So what else is new?"

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q.'s grab-and-reel grappling gun can quickly snatch objects mid-fall - ideal for impressing the ladies.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Aside from Derange's use of a S.C.U.M. helicopter, the organisation isn't exactly high-visibility here. Nonetheless, even Uncle Cal is clued up enough to know that Derange and Skullcap are members, and he writes 'S.C.U.M.' in code down the side of his letter to Erica. Also,
in what we presume is an allusion to Scumlord, James responds to I.Q.'s assertion that Derange is the most dangerous man in the world by saying that in fact, he's only the second most dangerous.

This episode was the basis for the first section of the James Bond Jr Super Nintendo game, which also featured Dr Derange and Skullcap.

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