Yet again we ended with a cliff-hanger created by character clumsiness/silliness. Previously we have had Dinah sliding off a perfectly good tree-bridge and Jack being attacked by an eagle while climbing the tower. Not to mention all the high-drama accidents mid-episode like Philip nearly falling from the plank, both Jack and Lucy-Ann (separately) falling down slopes and so on.
Well, obviously Jack’s not going to fall to his death, as that would rather spoil the programme. But now he will be trapped inside the castle, at least until the other children replace the plank.
THE BAD GUYS REVEAL A LITTLE MORE (BUT NOT MUCH!)
Allie’s American friend, who we now know is in charge of the spying operation at the castle, meets up with his boss. He’s wanting out as his underlings are useless (he seems quite justified here). The only way out, though, is at the wrong end of a gun so sensibly he chooses to stay in. All we know about the boss at this stage is that he’s a whispering man.
It turns out that Sam is ferrying supplies to the spies (try saying that ten times fast) at the castle, so it’s no wonder he’s been so keen to keep Tassie away from the place. He admits, though, that he has no idea who has hired him. He just delivers.
He hangs around later as well and has a chat with the spies, it’s not clear how much he knows about their doings.
Jack then overhears the spies discussing how they also don’t know who they’re working for, but discuss a fair bit about their audio/visual spying methods.
SECRETS ARE THE ORDER OF THE DAY
The children try very hard to persuade Aunt Jane to let them join Jack at the castle. She’s not at all happy with any of it – until they stuff her up with a load of nonsense about SRTs. SRTs are (apparently) survival trips into the wilderness that they go on from school all the time. Often alone, Philip stresses. But mostly in small groups, Dinah says very firmly to ensure that she’s not left out.
Aunt Jane calls Allie to check this out but clearly doesn’t mention the phony SRTs as Allie says they can go, because ‘she trusts Philip’. This is after Philip has struck the rather low blow of Dad would have let us go.
Sam is also keeping secrets. He seems to have Tassie’s mother believing that all his income comes from his ‘rag and bone’ trade, but she questions this as a week’s worth of scrap metal has hardly netted anything. She also wants to know how long he is planning to stay – after all he said he’d be around for three months and it’s been four and a half. From this I’m not sure if they knew each other before he turned up.
THE TRENTS ARE NOT SHOWING US THEIR BEST SIDES
Well Lucy-Ann has always been rather annoying and this episode is no exception. When they arrive at the castle she’s first to see the plank is not at the window. Before the others have even cleared the wall she’s wailing Where’s the plank? The plank’s gone! It’s right at her flippin’ feet!
There she is, looking up, and then three small paces forward the plank is just lying there!
She then repeatedly whines about not being scared but not wanting to explore the cellars. In the book Lucy-Ann is so good-natured and kind that her being the most afraid of the group isn’t a problem. This Lucy-Ann however has no redeeming qualities!
Jack’s problems are more in the careless vein. He leaves a camera film box lying out in the castle courtyard for the spies to find. Now Jack and the other clearly suspect there are other people around the castle, and while they don’t yet know they are bad guys, book Jack would be more careful (and environmentally conscious!)
And later, once he’s shown the others to the cellar he disappears to find Kiki. Why? He knows how to get in and out of the cellar so obviously has to be out of the way to allow the others to be trapped but it makes no sense for him to go hunting for Kiki who is more than capable of flying away from any dangers.
AND SO FOR THE MAIN DRAMAS
After getting safely into the castle, (almost surprising that they didn’t squeeze in another near-fall) and shouting JAAACCKK at the top of their voices, Dinah doesn’t believe Jack about the spies. She thinks he’s dreamed it all – well the part where they tried to climb up to Jack’s hide and were attacked by the eagle is rather far fetched. And really, it is a miracle the two groups have never run into each other so far, as neither lot have been particularly discreet.
On a side-note I can’t work out where Jack’s hide is. It is reached via a long metal ladder (which looks more modern than the rest of the ruins) and has a good view of the nest. Why didn’t the boys go there the first time instead of climbing the ivy-covered tower?
From the pictures you can see there’s at least one stone wall and a wooden one too – and his ‘hide’ is really just a screen stuck in the middle of the space.
Anyway, the only way for Jack to prove there are spies is to lead the others right into their den. And so he does – then abandoning them as I’ve said above to hunt for Kiki. And dun-dun-dun would you believe it? The spies are on their way back just as the kids are heading underground.
Philip then creates even more drama by a) getting into a suit of armor in around ten seconds, without any noise and b) scares the girls so much that Lucy-Ann accidentally hits the trapdoor-shutting axe.
Unfortunately all three are too dumb to work out what she’s done and have to wait for Jack to rescue them. Except maybe it’s not Jack, maybe it’s the spies…
SOME RANDOM OTHER THOUGHTS FROM THE EPISODE
One plus is that the cellar has a big old-fashioned four-poster bed. It’s always nice when details from a book are kept, even if they’re not all that important. On the other hand, it bugs me when other details are abandoned or changed for no reason. Jack refers to Kiki as a good boy in this episode, for example. It’s clear all through the books that Kiki is a female.
Then there’s Philip suddenly being called Phil, ugh. That’s probably worse than Lucy-Ann getting shortened to Lucy.
And lastly, the MOD seem to be full-on role playing while testing their new machine, which just look odd, and a bit of a waste of budget (unless it’s stock footage from somewhere I suppose!)
So another episode where not an awful lot happens. A few secrets are revealed, I suppose, but the only real ‘event’ is the girls and Philip getting trapped down in the cellar, and that happens in the last few minutes.