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"Elsewhen"

Episode 15

Airdate: 1974/12/14
Writer: D. C. Fontana
Director: Dennis Steinmetz

The Marshalls walk carefully through the tunnels of the Lost City; Will notes that the Sleestak Pit lies just ahead. He is concerned about the silence from the God of the Pit, and the fact that they haven't run into any Sleestak; Dad suggests that they may be hunting, but urges them on to Enik's cave. When they arrive in the chamber, their Altrusian friend is not around, but the Marshalls apparently are unconcerned with that fact. Dad informs Will that he believes he has learned how to use the time doorway: "it's just a matter of finding the right combination of colors as they come up in sequence, and the correct sequence will produce a time doorway that will get us home", he explains. The kids are excited as Dad begins to fiddle with the matrix; his first efforts light up the crystals in the matrix and in the walls. Holly points out a mist appearing in the alcove, whereupon Dad confirms that he has indeed opened a time doorway. Will is excited to walk right on in, but Dad advises that they throw a rock through it first. The time portal remains black and unresponsive, leading Will to note that when Enik opened the doorway, one could see what lay on the other side. Dad concludes that it currently opens into empty space, so they will just have to keep trying other combinations. Holly gripes that the experimenting could go on indefinitely, which starts an argument with Will, but Dad reminds them that they must stick together if they want to get home. Will watches his father closely as he keeps trying to work the matrix, but Holly wanders off, feeling excluded and bored.

Holly walks out onto the Lost City plaza, but is chased back into the passage by an angry Big Alice. Back inside the mazy tunnels, she forgets how to reach Enik's cave; while trying to find her way back, she stumbles into a previously unknown chamber. The room has an archway that leads to a pylon key on the wall; after Holly peers into more passage below and examines the key, she promptly exits the chamber to tell Dad about her find.

Back in the time doorway chamber, Dad continues trying more combinations, but comments on how the number of possible combinations is nearly endless. Finally he notices that his daughter is missing, and advises Will that they had better go look for her. They meet up with Holly in the maze of tunnels, whereupon she immediately starts to tell them what she has found. She tries explaining how she wandered out to the plaza, which led to her discovery, but ends up getting accused by Will of teasing Big Alice. After Dad stifles his childrens' argument, Holly simply leads them by the hand to the new chamber; meanwhile, back in Enik's cave, a woman walks out of the time doorway's mist.

Holly shows her family the large room she had found. Will asks his sister if she explored the passage below, and though she admits she hadn't, she points out the pylon key on the wall. Dad hypothesizes that they "key" could be a symbol to mark the location of time doorways, and suggests that they go down to investigate. Holly whines that the cavern below is dark, so Dad pulls out his lighter, assuring her that it will give them adequate light. (No way! Not only would it be extremely wasteful to use the lighter, the small flame it gives off would result in dismally poor illumination for any chamber or passage large enough to walk around in. Even worse, before using the lighter, they would be wandering about in complete darkness; we are forced to assume that numerous crystals embedded in the walls are normally frequent enough to provide minimal light.) They walk down a stairs for what Dad approximates as 50 metres to finally reach another chamber that contains another pylon key. Holly notices a cold draft, but Will refutes the claim as impossible; Dad sides with his daughter since he feels it, too. They round a corner to find a hole in the wall (actually the window from the set of their own High Bluff cave; the doorway that leads off to somewhere unspecified in their cave is sloppily blocked off here with a large round boulder). Dad looks through the hole, but sees only a black void; Will tosses a rock through to crudely measure its depth but the Marshalls never hear the stone hit bottom. When Dad urges that they explore it, Holly asks how she can help, but Will cruelly instructs her to stay out of the way. She then wanders off, feeling discouraged and unwanted. As Will takes out a rope from their pack and begins tying it to a large stalagmite across the hole, the shadow of a Sleestak can be seen around the corner.

Holly wanders back to Enik's cave, where she sits down against the clear pedestal of the matrix table. She grumbles to herself about being treated like a baby, and when she asks metaphorically, "when are they going to trust me?", a woman answers gently that they will when she is older. Surprised, Holly turns around to see that a beautiful lady has emerged from the time doorway; she has long, flowing blonde hair, wears a long, light green dress, and wears a pendant around her neck.

When Holly asks they lady where she had come from, the woman simply replies "from the doorway" with a seductive smile. Holly is curious to know how the doorway works, but the lady only replies that she "can't explain the unexplainable". The woman does explain why she has come: she goes on to tell Holly that she must talk to her about her family. The lady tries to get Holly to understand that her father and brother still see her as the baby of the family, and cannot help but try to protect her. Holly is suspicious that the woman knows about Will and Dad; though the lady remarks that Holly's family is much like her own, the little girl is remains wary that the woman knows too much about them. Holly demands that the woman identify herself, and when the lady introduces herself as "Ronnie", Holly has a bewildered look on her face. As Ronnie reaches out to brush back Holly's bangs from her eyes, the little girl asks about a scar on the lady's arm. Ronnie carefully chooses her words to remain vague, simply replying that she got it long ago while helping her own brother out of difficult situation. Holly bemoans the fact that her brother doesn't trust her, nor does he believe that she can even take care of herself. Ronnie gently reminds Holly that she hasn't been acting grown-up just recently; Holly makes the excuse that her family didn't want her around, but Ronnie stresses that she left them when they may have needed her most. The woman warns Holly that they are dealing with the unknown, something especially dangerous here. She advises the little girl to go back to help her family when they need it, as they are there when Holly needs them, and goes on to stress that growing up means being responsible. Holly decides that she had best go, but before the little girl leaves, Ronnie offers her a gift. From out of a pocket in her dress, she pulls out two pendants, similar to the one she wears herself; Ronnie explains that they allow communication over long distances. The blue stone of the pendant picks up the wearer's emotional and physical vibrations; resting upon the wearers chest, it picks up the heartbeat, which provides a carrier signal for transmission to the other pendants. When Holly thanks Ronnie for the gift, the woman asks in return that the little girl do two things: beware of Sleestak in the lower caves, and overcome her fear of heights. Holly whines that she simply cannot get over her fear, so Ronnie stresses that whatever happens, to remember to look at the Earth. The little girl whimpers that her father says otherwise, so Ronnie makes the plea for Holly to trust her. Ronnie gives Holly a kiss on the cheek as she bids her goodbye, and when Holly looks back to ask about the doorway, the lady is gone.

Down in the lower cave, Dad and Will are discouraged, since neither of them can fit through the other end of the hole. Dad brings up the fact that Holly could probably fit through, when just then she returns, excited about telling them who she met. She delays that for now, asking Will what is wrong, and then offers to be lowered through, despite her fear of heights. Dad is hesitant to let her explore the hole, believing it to be too dangerous; Holly points out that if she does not go, they will never know what lies beyond. She argues that it may lead to a time doorway home, so Dad agrees to let her do it; when Dad and Will recheck the rope, Holly asks them to wear the pendants. She explains that they work like "walkie-talkies", and that they were given to her by a lady; with a look of concern, Dad asks about where she met this woman. Holly briefly states that she met Ronnie in Enik's cave, and that it is critical that they all wear their pendants. Will and Dad strangely accept the explanation as-is, so Holly confidently takes charge of the exploration of the hole. She suggests taking some crystals with her to allow her to signal her father and brother, so Dad instructs her to use long-flash-short-flash for "trouble", and three short flashes for "ok". After Holly crawls through, Will and Dad proceed to lower her down by letting out slack, and at first all seems well, since Holly signals with three quick flashes. Will wonders if the hole indeed leads to anywhere at all, but Dad simply notes that they are already almost out of rope. The situation turns to danger when Will spots Sleestak closing in on them; after warning Dad, he picks up a rock to hurl at them, but one of the Sleestak grabs him from behind. During the ensuing struggle, the Sleestak overpower Will and Dad; with the rope let loose, Holly falls down into the blackness. The rope finally pulls tight once all the slack has fed through, leaving Holly breathing hard in fear as she dangles alone in the dark void. The crystals were dropped when Holly fell with the loose rope, so she cannot signal them; she tries to contact them by shouting, but Will and Dad are dragged off. Holly quite convincingly grapples with her terrifying fear (something that unfortunately is lacking in 2nd and 3rd season episodes). She then remembers the pendant, and upon peering into it, sees the vision of Will and Dad sitting down with their hands behind their backs, held prisoner within the Sleestak pit chamber. The men conclude that they are to be sacrificed to the god. Will worries about the his sister's fate should they not get out alive; Dad simply holds a sad, resigned face. Holly recalls Ronnie's words about being there for her family in times of need; boldly deciding that she must be the one to save them, she begins the long climb up the rope. Back in the Sleestak pit room, in a terrified voice, Will expresses his confusion over why the Sleestak have not yet thrown them in; Dad reminds his son that their captors follow strict ritual. As Holly ascends the rope, she suddenly witnesses in awe a bizarre, unexplained vision of an upside-down view of the Land. (The meaning of this vision remains one of the greatest unsolved puzzles of the show. Watching this episode as a child, I assumed the pit was some sort of extra-dimensional hole, and that Holly was somehow actually "hanging" outside. This interpretation is plausible when one considers the fact the Land is a very small universe with a highly curved space, finite and closed in at least one direction [see Downstream, Hurricane]. As a kid, I also interpreted the horizontal line across the vision as the shore of a still lake; the "upside down" view could then be explained as a reflection. Careful inspection of the paused video image reveals the picture to be a fully upside down, colorfully painted view of the crevasse, with the horizontal line being the fallen slab that bridges both sides. The portion of the image with rocky buttes in front of a low sun was also briefly shown in the "Stone Soup" episode, so we have some reason to believe that the vision is of the same universe.)

Holly's fear of heights quickly sets in; she is terrified from feeling "high above" the world. Again, however, she remembers Ronnie's words, this time about her advice to "look at the earth". Though she trembles in fear, Holly draws all her courage and looks up as she continues to scale the rope. Dad reminds Will that even if they get their hands untied, they still have all the Sleestak guarding them to deal with; meanwhile, the God of the Pit bellows a deep roar. Holly finally reaches the top of her rope and climbs out of the hole in the wall of the lower cavern, where she looks once again into her clairvoyant pendant. Seeing that Will and Dad are in trouble, she rushes off to seek counseling from Ronnie in Enik's cave.

Holly reports her family's predicament to the mysterious woman, who explains that the Sleestak plan to sacrifice them to their god in the pit. When Ronnie tells Holly that she can save her family, the little girl makes excuses that the Sleestak are too big to deal with. The woman reminds Holly that just a while ago she wanted to be part of the action with Will and Dad, that now she must go to answer their need. The little girl asks for Ronnie's help, but the woman unfortunately cannot do so; Holly must find the courage within, and figure out a way to save them herself. The little girl is scared, but promises to try. Holly's back is turned momentarily to pick up a rope coiled on the floor, and the next thing she knows, Ronnie has vanished once again.

As the time for their sacrifice draws near, Dad and Will quietly discuss possible plans to escape. Dad valiantly offers to try to distract the pit god, allowing Will a chance to escape, but Will insists their best chance is to fight the thing together. Holly has arrived just outside the doorway to the pit room, where she peeks around the corner to see her family guarded by the Sleestak. At first she does not know what to do, but comes up with an idea to make use of her crystals. When Holly steps into the doorway, Dad commands her to run for her life; she defies her father's wishes, and in the commotion hurls the crystals to the ground. Unfortunately they explode right next to Will and Dad, where the resulting force from the violent blast hurls the men into the pit; luckily however, the blast also stunned the Sleestak, forcing the green giants to collapse unconscious. Holly ties the rope around a pillar near the pit's edge to rescue her family; meanwhile, down in the pit, Dad composes himself after the fall. Will does not respond to his father's calls, so Dad breaks his hands free of the bindings, cuts the bindings off Will's wrists, and desperately shakes his unconscious son. A rope is then lowered down, with Holly climbing down it, but her father harshly scolds her for not escaping while she had the chance. Dad commands Holly to climb back up the rope and flee, but she refuses to leave them, insisting she is here to help. She proposes that they make a sling in the rope to raise Will up, but points out that Dad must climb up first, since only he is strong enough to pull Will out. Dad is in no mood to argue, so he follows his daughter's plan. After Dad climbs out, he calls for Holly to hurry; one of the stunned Sleestak is starting to revive. Will regains consciousness, bemoaning a sprained ankle, and becomes surprised to find his sister down in the pit with him. Holly confidently asserts that she is there to help, and assures her brother that Dad is up above, ready to pull him out. Will says he won't leave his sister down in the pit, but Holly insists that she will be alright, and calls to Dad to pull Will out. The Sleestak god approaches, though we only see a shapeless shadow; while Dad hoists her brother up, Holly boldly charges at the monster. Dramatic music plays as she runs at it with arms flailing; she manages to fend it off for the moment, but in the process her wrist is cut. She stares at the wound as she backs away from the beast; just then the rope is lowered for her. Dad calls out desperately for his daughter to hurry on up, since the Sleestak are reviving. She makes it out just in time for the whole family to escape just as the Sleestak make it back on their feet. Dad helps his son hop down the passage, and after a ways, they stop to let Will rest where Dad feels it is safe for the moment. After Will assures his father that his leg is not too seriously hurt, Dad notices the large bleeding cut on his daughter's wrist. Holly insists that it is only a scratch, but excuses herself to hurry off and get something she had "left in Enik's cave". Dad is busy tending to Will's leg, so he reluctantly agrees to let Holly run off for a moment.

Holly excitedly rushes into Enik's chamber, calling Ronnie's name. She tells the woman that after getting her wrist cut, she figured it out: Ronnie is Holly herself, only from the future. She came back through the time doorway to help her younger self, using her own secret childhood name to keep her identity protected. Holly excitedly asks if Ronnie's return through the time doorway is a guarantee that their family will get home, but Ronnie can only say that they can get home, and that they must find out how to do it themselves. The woman informs the little girl that she must be leaving now, prompting Holly to point out that she hasn't gotten time yet to know her older self. Ronnie assures Holly that she will know herself in time, and that she should cherish her family while she can, since they will not always be with her. Holly wanders the room to ponder her need to know if their family has a future, and as you would expect, Ronnie sneaks off and passes through the time doorway before Holly can notice. Holly then answers the question herself, realizing that their own will to go on gives her family a future.

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