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"The Zarn"

Episode 19

Airdate: 1975/09/13
Writer: Dick Morgan
Director: Bob Lally

Holly is back at the cave baking bread in the kiln, while Dad and Will climb the side of a treeless ridge. Reaching the top, they view the Mist Marsh beyond; Will is amazed at the size of the foggy expanse. By noting the approximate speed at which they walked, and the duration of their journey, Dad calculates that the Mist Marsh is about one kilometre from High Bluff. Will scans the Marsh with his binoculars and notes from its spookiness that it is no surprise that the Pakuni will not venture near it. Dad assures his son that they will probe its edges tomorrow, since they must be getting back soon -- Holly is preparing an elaborate dinner, and they would not want to keep her waiting. They are about to climb down the ridge when Spot comes running up the hill, wounded from an attack. In the heat of the kill, Grumpy charges after the coelophysis, forcing Will and Dad to take cover in the Mist Marsh.

The Marshall men wander through a dim, eerie, foggy field of dead trees when they hear a tinkling suspiciously like wind chimes. Will somehow has the feeling that they are not alone; Dad is certain that they are not, and boldly charges ahead. Will nervously catches up with his father, where Dad points out what he sees as lights forming some sort of structure. Dad urges them to get a closer look, whereupon they see that the lights take the shape of a jet-like spacecraft. Will has a strong feeling that the craft is alien to the Land, and pleads in fear to his father for them to flee while they can. Dad is surprised at his son's terrified reaction, noting that he has seen him confront a 5-ton tyrannosaurus with just a stick. Will insists he can feel something picking through his brain, like someone indexing through a card file; Dad offers to let his son wait back at the edge of the Marsh, but Will refuses to leave his father here alone. Will admits to his spineless, whiny behavior, but after Dad argues that the craft may not be there tomorrow, they both press on to examine the object. The nearly invisible structure proves to be solid, sounding like a quietly running jet engine but devoid of any heat. As the Marshall men feel the surface for an opening, we catch a view of a human figure also made of lights, accompanied by the sound of tinkling chimes. Dad finds an entrance, so the men go aboard; the creature of lights has spotted them, and heads their way.

Dad and Will wander the halls, holding their hands out to keep from running into the sides of the invisible maze. Chaotic organ music accompanies their exploration, providing a mood which is surreal, fantastic and bizarre. Dad hopes to find something amid the tiny lights that may yield a clue to what the structure is or where it came from; Will, however, is still preoccupied with his fears. Behind them down the hall, an upright coffin-shaped capsule appears and opens, out of which steps a woman wearing an orange dress and a silk scarf. The capsule is suddenly gone, and the woman calls out in an astonished, weak voice for the Marshall mens' help. Surprised, they turn around, whereupon Dad asks the woman her name, but baffled by her surroundings, she instead describes what had happened. She depicts walking down a street when great thunder and lightning occurred; pressed by Dad, she reveals that her last location was 4th street in Indianapolis. Dad is amazed at the coincidence -- he grew up on that street -- but his and Will's attention is focused on the woman, who is about to faint. They catch her from falling and walk her out of the craft. Upon stepping outside, she asks where she is, but Dad simply assures her that they will take her somewhere safe.

Holly checks on dinner and impatiently fiddles with the table settings; night has fallen by the time Dad and Will finally return. Holly makes clear that she was worried about them, griping that dinner is nearly ruined. When Dad introduces their new guest Sharon, his daughter rudely replies, "where did you find her?"; she apologizes to their guest after Dad gently voices his surprise at her attitude. Sharon is understanding, pointing out the fact that Dad explained to her that they have all fallen through time doorways. When Holly asks their guest where she originally came from, Dad enthusiastically cuts in about he and Sharon growing up on the very same street! Will sarcastically comments to his sister about the coincidence, but Dad does not seem to notice his son's suspicion. Dad even points out that they went to the same high school (Fillmore High), and since he is energetic and happy to have company his own age, he is naturally very hungry for dinner.

After their meal, Dad and Sharon sit around the table, with Dad carrying on about the Fillmore High School faculty. Sharon listens to Dad's rambling very attentively, responding to the boring stories with smiles and laughs. When Holly asks her father if he would like any more dessert, he politely says "no, thank you" but pays little attention to his daughter. When asked about girls' vice principal when she attended Fillmore High, Dad barely blinks an eye when Sharon's answer matches his unspoken own. Instead, he responds to the coincidence by commenting "it's a small world", too wrapped up in his newfound company to think twice about Sharon's answers. On the other hand, when Holly joins her brother sitting just outside their cave entrance, Will voices his disbelief in Sharon's claims about her background. Holly points out that Sharon knew names of people Dad had not yet mentioned, but Will likens the situation to someone reading out of Dad's old yearbook.

The next morning, Holly is surprised to find Sharon up bright and early; their guest informs Holly that Dad and Will have gone to fetch some water. Sharon has volunteered to make eggs for breakfast, and when confronted by Holly about perfectly predicting how everyone likes their eggs, Sharon innocently laughs it off as "just a good guess". Holly volunteers to set the table, but finds that their guest has already done it. Later, while the women wash clothes in large earthenware tub, Sharon playfully recalls a moment from her childhood when a neighborhood dog soiled her fancy dress with its muddy paws; Holly is perplexed, noting that the exact same thing happened to her, and this time Sharon finds the coincidence a little more awkward. The Marshall's guest is revealed to be even more peculiar when she dispassionately denies feeling hot, while Holly sweats profusely in the stifling midday temperature.

After Dad and Will get back, Holly reports privately to her brother that their guest is "weird"; she goes on to mention about her not sweating in the heat, and that she keeps recalling personal memories that happened to Holly herself. Will agrees that Sharon's recollections are too much of a coincidence, but voices the greater concern that due to loneliness for older company, Dad does not seem to notice anything suspicious. Though Will volunteers to have a talk with their father about it, Holly believes that getting Dad to see the light will not be easy.

After the evening meal, Will approaches his father, who is busy studying a cloth map that he has begun to prepare. (It is not explicitly introduced in this episode as the map, but since it appears to be the one that they work on throughout the 2nd season, we should be safe at making this assumption.) Will gently confronts his father about the coincidences with Sharon, making the point that she simply appears "too good to be true", but Dad fails to see his son's perspective, instead insisting that things he has in common with Sharon are to be expected since they lived on the same street and went to the same high school. Dad goes on to call Sharon a marvelous person, and ends up lecturing his son about how the whole family needs her company. As Dad leaves his son, he retains his blinded, cheerful perspective; Will sinks down and sighs for not having gotten through to his father.

During the night, while everyone lay asleep, the human figure invisible aside from a surface of little sparkles strolls through the jungle. The creature stops at the edge of the clearing along High Bluff; inside the cave, Sharon awakens and rises out of bed, wearing the empty expression of a zombie. She climbs down from the cave to join the creature, but Dad faintly hears her leave, awakening to find her gone. He steps out of the cave to see Sharon escorted through the jungle by the being; though he calls out to the woman, she does not respond. Will then awakens to find both Dad and Sharon gone, so he wakes up his sister to inform her of what has happened.

As the creature escorts the woman through the jungle, Dad cautiously follows them from a distance. The kids try to follow their father as well, but when they feel their minds being probed with greater intensity as they continue, the nauseating disorientation and overall fear forces them to return to their cave. Dad follows Sharon and the creature over the ridge and through the Mist Marsh; when they are about to board the spacecraft, Dad shouts out for Sharon to stop. He demands that the creature let the woman go; the being simply identifies himself as "Zarn". When Dad repeats his demand, Zarn insists that Sharon is not being held captive. Zarn's sparkles turn red when Dad gets emotional, so the being requests that Dad thinking calmly and "softly". Zarn insists that Sharon is his research assistant, and upon Dad's request, elaborates on her purpose. Since Zarn is very sensitive to other's emotions, Sharon is used on various planets to study any humanoids that radiate "emotional heat" that he cannot tolerate. Dad doesn't buy the Zarn's explanation, arguing that Sharon is one of his own kind and belongs with the Marshalls. Zarn admits he held hopes that out of the 31,000 human species in the universe, the Marshall family might be different, but resigns himself to concluding that humans are all alike: "You human beings, you wander about beating the bushes with your sticks, smashing all that fail to answer your questions, and throwing yourselves prostrate before your own ignorance." Dad considers Zarn's comments irrelevant to the issue that Sharon belongs with her own kind; Zarn retorts with fact that humans kill their own species. Dad insists that not all humans act in such ways, so Zarn makes the excuse that Sharon is "too sophisticated" for the Marshalls. Dad announces that he will take Sharon, commanding the Zarn to step aside; the creature demonstrates his powers by levitating a rock through telekinesis, and warns Dad to reconsider his demand. Sharon herself asks Dad to leave, arguing that she is not of the Marshall's planet. The Zarn propels the levitating rock at Dad, which barely misses his head, but Dad continues to hold his ground and react emotionally intensely, forcing the Zarn to let Dad "take her, if you can." Dad informs Sharon that she will go back to High Bluff with him, but she runs off into the Mist Marsh, where she stops, and then explodes. Dad runs over to rummage through smoking remains of a robot, while Zarn laughs mockingly, taunting Dad with sound clips of conversations extracted from his memory. The Zarn bids Rick Marshall goodbye and disappears, leaving Dad holding a mechanical hand from Sharon's remains.

Back at the cave, Dad shows his kids the hand; Holly lets out an "I told you so" about Sharon's hands being cold. Dad finally admits that he was blinded from Sharon's quirks by the loneliness he felt for another adult to talk to. Though he has lost a potential adult companion, he is grateful for having his family, since he shows is by thanking his children for being "real".

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