Well, our son didn’t enjoy this one much at all. Set in an abnormally cold Russian July – it was actually filmed in March 1992 in Prague and St. Petersburg – it is a very talky and very political episode written by Gavin Scott. It’s also one of my favorites. It’s a heartbreaking story that sees Indy squatting with some young revolutionaries while bringing them food from the French embassy. One of them, played by Austrian actress Julia Stemberger in one of only a few English-language roles, has fallen in love with Indy, and her feelings are sadly not reciprocated. Indy’s also balancing his job and friendship, trying to get intelligence on the forthcoming Bolshevik revolution without pressing his friends.
I’ve grown used to watching these hours without the original broadcast bookends with George Hall as Old Indy, and will concede that some of them were pretty silly. But this one had by far my favorite, and I really miss it. The bookend had Indy telling a docent at a museum that one of the pictures at their exhibition on the October Revolution is mislabeled, and this one was taken in July. It began with Indy pointing at a hazy black-and-white photo of a character that we’d meet later and tells the docent that boy had only a minute to live, which gave the hour an almost unbearable air of doom, because we knew that Sergei, a charming deserter who has become Indy’s best friend in Russia, wasn’t going to make it to the end credits.
And then, magically, the original episode ended with a charming bit of whimsy, as Old Indy concluded his story by explaining how so many people had died so pointlessly in the July 1917 riots, and then pointed at another hazy black-and-white blur on the photo. The photographer had captured Indy in his futile run to try and save his friend from the snipers and machine gun nests. “Reckon that must be me,” Indy smiled, before taking his leave.