Tales of the Gold Monkey 1.20 – A Distant Shout of Thunder

This was a promising episode, but it’s really meatheaded. The problem is that we have a villain with a motivation I can get behind but he’s played with only one note. Lucien is an angry man, native to the islands, who has been agitating against European colonialism for several years. But he doesn’t have lots of support in the community, because the islanders are perfectly happy to have the protection and the benefits of the French government. Lucien fires up his “the gods are angry and demand atonement!” shtick to coincide with Mother Nature having a bad week. Maybe the eclipse, the hailstorm, and the erupting volcano are proof that the god or goddess Pele is mad. Maybe some strange chills and animals acting weird are signs and portents.

One problem is that Jake sees right through this and confronts Lucien with his hypothesis: Lucien is just trying to exploit his dumb neighbors for a political point. The bigger problem is that the show never tells us whether Jake was right. Indeed, Lucien goes to his death in a desperate attempt to satisfy Pele by sacrificing Sarah to the volcano… and then the volcano stops rumbling after Lucien ends up dying himself.

There’s a lot to like, including all the actors looking believably shellshocked by having their set and their backlot given a kick so solid that it looks like a volcano really did go off up the road, and the amusing incorporation of old movie footage – obvious but amusing – showing a much larger Boragora than we’ve ever seen before, all of it being ravaged by high winds and hail. But the villain needed more time and sympathy and a more nuanced portrayal when he wasn’t shouting about atonement. His followers should have included some women among them. Perhaps we’re meant to assume that the women in the region saw through his baloney. At least our son really loved all the volcano stuff, which is the most important part.

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