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"Timestop"

Episode 40

Airdate: 1976/11/13
Writer: Tom Swale
Director: Joe Scanlan

Will and Holly are preparing dinner when a brief tremor shakes the area. Though Holly doesn't take the quake very seriously (strange, she freaked out from quakes twice before [Split Personality] [After-Shock]), once they hear a noise outside, they jump to their feet to investigate. Upon stepping outside, they find that the tremor had opened the other previously sealed Temple door. Will takes a peek to discover a passageway into the mountain, so he calls for them to explore it with torches. Though Holly feels they should wait until Uncle Jack and Cha-Ka return, Will feels they should check it out immediately to avoid being surprised later by any hostiles within. After lighting their torches, Will speculates that the passage may lead out of the Land; Holly, however, is worried that will only lead to Sleestak. As they make their way in, Holly feels nervous, then fusses upon sighting a colony of bats. Another small tremor strikes; this one closes the door.

Uncle Jack and Cha-Ka return to the compound, but Holly and Will are nowhere to be found. Down the passageway, the kids discover a humming archway whose sides give off light; Will decides to take advantage of the archway and extinguishes their torches to conserve them. They pass through the archway to reach a cluster of small glowing crystal boulders, and among them Will finds a hexagonal crystal, set standing upright on a metal plaque. (Recycled music plays [The Possession] from a scene when Cha-Ka approaches a pylon matrix table and becomes hypnotized. While this is neat music, it uses the "Cha-Ka" theme, which, for die-hard Land of the Lost fans, is out of place here.) They brush off the plaque to find engraved writing, but their examination is interrupted by a wandering Sleestak. Will tries to fend off the Sleestak with his unlit torch, but the creature effortlessly snips it in half with its pincers. He orders his sister to flee immediately, but of course she doesn't run until the Sleestak nearly grabs her. They retreat by way of the glowing archway, but the Sleestak stays behind; its light prevents the creature from travelling through. While the kids rest for a moment on the other side, they observe that the archway will keep the Sleestak on the other side. Will hypothesizes that the plaque is an ancient Altrusian civilization relic, so he and Holly excitedly rush back to show their uncle.

The kids reach the stone Temple door, but find it shut, so they yell out for Uncle Jack and Cha-Ka. Cha-Ka is goofing around with his favorite instrument, the recorder, but luckily Uncle Jack hears something and asks the Paku to stop. They hear Will and Holly's calls behind the massive door, so in no time Jack pries it open with a log located conveniently within reach. After the kids step out, they tell their story how the door opened and what lies down the passage. Will asks Uncle Jack about the contraption he has built, which is a tripod with a black rock suspended in the center. Jack identifies the device as a compass; the rock is a piece of magnetite. He goes on to explain that it doesn't point to a magnetic pole as expected, forcing him to conclude that the Land has no nickel-iron core. Just then Will reveals the plaque that they found; Jack also speculates that it is an Altrusian relic. Jack feels that the writing should be deciphered, so upon Will's recommendation, they seek out Enik to translate.

In time doorway chamber, Enik identifies the object as the Key to the Temporal Regulator. He explains that "no relic from Altrusia's past could hold more hope for me. With this crystal, it is possible to unlock the measured flow of time; run it forward, or backward, as the Regulator's possessor chooses." Uncle Jack quickly realizes that they could use the Key to run time backward to the moment they entered the Land. When they reached that moment, they could step through the open time doorway and return to the world from which they came. Enik stresses that he can now return to his own time, to warn his people of the impending social breakdown leading to their devolution into Sleestak. Enik demands the Key, but the Marshall men refuse to forfeit it, though Jack makes clear his desire to avoid a "contest of wills". Enik makes the proposal that he will allow the men to leave if they hand over the Temporal Regulator Key; using the matrix table, the Altrusian transmutes the only exit from the chamber into solid rock. Uncle Jack rushes over to try his hand at the matrix table, but has no luck in making anything happen. Enik stands sternly with his arms crossed in stubbornness, noting that for him the transmuting procedure is simple, but that it would take the Marshalls eons to learn.

Jack announces that he will forfeit the Key, so Enik returns the exit to its normal state. When Jack hands over the plaque, however, he holds it upside down, and detaches the crystal at the last moment. By the time Enik discovers that the crystal had been removed, Will and Jack are far down the passage; they ignore the Altrusian's commands to return. In his anger over being deceived, Enik vows to use the aid of many Sleestak to forcibly repossess the Temporal Regulator Crystal. (How is Enik going to convince to the Sleestak Leader to help him when his need for the Temporal Regulator is to travel back in time to prevent the Sleestak from evolving?)

Back at the Temple, the Marshalls ponder the location of the Temporal Regulator; without Enik's help, their chances look dim, though Jack believes it lies inside a pylon. While Holly plays with the Crystal, letting it dangle from its fine chain, she notices that, like their compass should, it stays aligned in one direction. When she shows the phenomenon to Jack and Will, they realize that the crystal acts as a guide, pointing toward the Temporal Regulator. Uncle Jack announces that they will set out to find it, and asks Cha-Ka and Holly to fill the canteens and round up their knapsacks. Jack speaks with Will about the problem of Enik pursuing them to get the Crystal, Will adds that the Altrusian has been searching for it for 1000 years. (This is an incorrect statement! Enik had arrived in the Land relatively recently [The Stranger], since the Marshalls had to show him the existence of the Lost City. Later [Fair Trade] his own time was defined as 1000 years before the present, but he has not been trying to get back during that entire time.) Uncle Jack warns that Enik may have the help of the Sleestak, though Will believes that they can handle it, since they have "licked 'em before". (Why do both the Marshalls and Enik fail to realize that they could simply share the Key? After everyone enters the pylon, they could rewind to the moment of the Marshall's entrance, giving the family the chance to pass through the open time doorway. If they could not safely access the open time doorway then, they could forward to the moment of the horizontal alignment of the moons [The Pylon Express]. Enik could then rewind to his time of entry, and if he wished, bring the Key with him as he returned to his own world.)

While Enik and the Sleestak march sternly down a passage, the Marshalls trek through the jungle using the Crystal as their guide. Will realizes that they are heading toward the geyser beds, and when they reach the beds, the Crystal begins to twirl erratically. Jack notes that Old Faithful blows exactly on the hour; he had previously set his watch by its eruptions (no way!). Glancing at his watch, he predicts it will erupt in 9 seconds, which it does in a spectacular display. Dusk is approaching, so Uncle Jack proposes that they set up camp, but Torchy arrives and sets off a panic. Jack orders everyone to scatter in hopes of confusing the beast, so Cha-Ka foolishly runs out toward the geyser bed. Torchy chases the Paku toward the interior of the bed, where the crust is cracked and fragile. The fire-breathing beast's weight breaks the crust, and it quickly sinks completely into the boiling mud. Cha-Ka is left stranded on a small raft of earth; the Marshalls have less than hour to save him before the next eruption.

The sun has set, so Holly builds a fire; She calls out to Cha-Ka to try to keep his hopes up. Jack and Will return from the jungle, to conclude that there is nothing they can do in time to save Cha-Ka. Holly wishes that they could only find the Temporal Regulator so they could rewind time to before the Paku got stranded and yell to him to run the other way. Holly notices while dangling the Crystal, they hear a faraway, constant chime. Uncle Jack speculates nonsensically on the origins of the sound; his outrageous explanation is best described by a direct quotation: "In a planetarium once, I heard the same kind of bleep, coming from what they call these black holes in the universe. There's no accounting for them. And I'll bet just as the speed of light is a constant, that pulsation is some kind of a time constant... see, it's stronger this way." Now guided by the Crystal's chime intensity rather than by its orientation, Jack and Will continue searching for the Temporal Regulator. Upon Uncle Jack's request, Holly stays behind, to keep the fire going and to keep Cha-Ka's spirits up.

Will and Jack continue trekking until the chime begins to weaken; they back up until the volume is at a maximum. At first they see no sign of the Regulator, but then discover a pylon obscured by a thick coat of vines. Jack turns the pylon key to open the structure, whereupon he and Will step inside and extinguish their torches. To their disappointment, however, Uncle Jack discovers that the plaque is required to fit properly into the matrix table. Enik suddenly steps into the pylon, and announces that they are surrounded by a legion of Sleestak. As we view the Sleestak surrounding the pylon in the jungle, the Altrusian offers the men escape from their doom in exchange for the Key. Uncle Jack argues that they need to save Cha-Ka, but Enik is not concerned with the Paku's life. Jack proposes to Enik a deal: if the Altrusian allows them to use the plaque to turn back time to save Cha-Ka, Jack will allow Enik to use the Key first to return to his own time. The Altrusian does not trust Jack Marshall, so Will offers to be taken hostage as an assurance of the Key's return. (Why doesn't Enik trust the Marshalls? What use would they have for the Key once they could return to their own time?)

Will steps out into the jungle, allowing himself to be captured by the Sleestak. In the pylon, Jack inserts the plaque, and then the crystal, into the receptacle in the center of the matrix table. Enik explains the simple instructions for its use; while turning the Key, a vision appropriate to the user's concerns appears on the pylon wall. Before stepping out of the pylon, Enik warns Jack that they Key user alone in the Land will be shielded from the consequences of the Regulator's use.

Jack begins to adjust the Temporal Regulator, but realizes that he is turning the Key in the wrong direction. He stops the accelerated flow of forward time just before Cha-Ka is sprayed by the erupting geyser. As Jack turns the Key in the opposite direction, we see the ejected material from the geyser get sucked back into the ground. Images of dinosaurs walking backward are shown, as well as Will walking away from his Sleestak captors. The moons travel backward, the set sun rises once again; we finally reach the point where Torchy sank in the boiling mud. The fire-lizard surfaces from his infernal grave; it steps back into the jungle, as does Cha-Ka in the other direction. Jack allows time to begin flowing normally at that point; outside, Will and Holly warn Cha-Ka against fleeing toward the geyser beds. Jack steps out of the pylon with the Key, and calling out to the family to regroup with him.

For the moment, they have managed to lose Torchy, but the beast still lurks in the jungle nearby. Will notices the plaque attached to the crystal in Jack's hand, though they are all at a loss to explain how it got there. (If future memory was not retained during the rewinding of time, was Will and Holly's warning to Cha-Ka just a fortunate turn of events?) In the Lost City's tunnels, Enik halts the marching Sleestak to confess that he has suddenly lost possession of the plaque. At first he assumes that he must have dropped it, but the Sleestak Leader voices his feeling that he had experienced the march before. Enik admits that he holds the same sensation; back in the jungle, the Marshalls all experience deja vu as well. Will urges that they seek out the pylon; just then they rediscover the resonating chime from the Key. Jack again speculates that it is some kind of "time beam", so they head in the direction that increases the signal strength. Soon they find the vine-obscured pylon, exciting Holly about the realization of their long-awaited chance to go home. Before they can open the pylon, Torchy reappears; Uncle Jack orders the family behind the pylon, which shields them against Torchy's fire breath. Soon the dim-witted dinosaur gives up, and trods away into the jungle. Once the coast is clear, they head around the pylon's front, but discover that Torchy's breath had fused the pylon key to the surface and destroyed it. Holly whines that they will never get home, but Uncle Jack tries to cheer her up, saying that they'll never quit trying. With the sun setting, and Cha-Ka smelling the Sleestak approaching, they decide to get headed back to the Temple. Uncle Jack abandons the Temporal Regulator Key by the pylon, since it is no longer of use to anyone.

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