The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 20

Istanbul, September 1918

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Jul 17, 1993 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Istanbul, September 1918
While Indy attempts to arrange a peace treaty between Turkey and France he finds love and betrayal as an undercover spy.

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  • Indy must arrange a peace treaty between Turkey and France!

    Can Indy stop a Turkish plot to assassinate French espionage agents? Viewers may like to note that when the show was re-edited for home video in 1999/2000 this episode 'Istanbul, September 1918' was combined with the unaired episode 'Transylvania, January 1918' to form the TV movie 'Masks of Evil'. As you can see the date order doesn't make sense although my review of 'Northern Italy, June 1918' provides an explanation of why this occurred. All I will say is that as the show moves into Indiana Jones' later years more gaps in continuity will emerge.

    Attempting to arrange a peace treaty between Turkey and France Indiana discovers a plot by the Turkish to assassinate French espionage agents. He is more shocked to find out there's a traitor working with him. Not sure of who to trust Indy finds happiness with an American orphanage worker Molly. But when her life might be put in jeopardy Indy struggles to keep his secret identity and to his mission secure. Can our hero uncover the treachery going on before more lives are lost?

    With paranoia, disappointment and death at every turn 'Istanbul, September 1918' remains a very tense episode of the series. You can tell almost immediately this story won't end happily. One of the most obvious points to make is that by this point in Indiana Jones timeline he's seen as a far more useful and accomplished intelligence officer than in say 'Attack of the Hawkmen'. Indy definitely by this point shows more confidence in his abilities, growth in a character that actor Sean Patrick Flanery found it difficult to portray what with the out of order production storytelling nature of the show. Having said that no amount of luck is on Indy's side this time and like any good script writer Rosemary Anne Sisson piles on impossible odds where he's put in danger more or less the entire running time of the episode. When a traitor is discovered on his team Indy doesn't trust anyone. Trust ends up being the focus of 'Istanbul, September 1918'. He thinks Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Ahmet Levendoglu) is planning an attack on French operatives, not realising he might be innocent. In turn he's deeply offended Indy would offer a peace treaty to him, worried it means Turkey losing it's heritage and values to France. Again it's an issue of trust and Levendoglu plays the role with a lot of dignity and resolve, which in turn allows us see the situation from his point of view.

    It's that a lack of trust can have negative consequences on people. His romance and engagement to Molly (Katherine Butler) is doomed from the beginning. Indy trying to keep his identity of Swedish journalist Nils Anderson from falling apart is the subplot of the episode. But when Molly finds out the truth and comes to the conclusion she was being used due to her connection with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Ottoman Empire, she finds it difficult to trust Indy any more. Butler it must be said brings an integrity but also an uncertainty which creates a more three-dimensional performance. A fortune-teller realises too late that they aren't meant to be together and when both main plot and subplot convene tragedy strikes. The whole theme of a lack of trust causing such terrible events to transpire is every dark, Sisson's script as you can see is full of this. Death comes out of the shadows more than once during this episode. Peter Firth playing the role of Stefan does his best to get the viewer to have an ambiguity in whether the character can be trusted or not and whether Stefan is the traitor but Mike Newell's tight shots gives the game away far too soon which ruins the tension. More on that in a minute. Mention must be made of Zuhal Olcay who does a fine job of portraying Halide Edib but apart from one scene doesn't get much to do. Definitely a case of writing in historical figures without putting more of an effort in making them more central to the plot and therefore more useful in terms of story.

    Director Mike Newell had been directing television for years. His work on 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' came directly before he became famous for 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Newell makes some interesting directing decisions, not all work. He uses a lot of low angle shots which makes everything seem tall in although the location filming also presents the viewer with steep alleyways so that works together well. While it wasn't entirely filmed in Istanbul Newell presents some grand locations like the Imperial Hall of Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque (where some of the action takes place) and the Hotel Pera Palas. He also shoots everything tight, giving rooms a claustrophobic feel to them to help ramp up the tension. This has it's pros and cons. Either due to this or how Newell has staged the scenes a lot of the action feels gritty yet a little clumsy to watch. Action sequences aren't allowed space to breathe much as a result it gives the impression they ran out of time when it came to filming. What should be exciting ends up being disorientating to watch. Also giving the impression they ran out of time to film is a large number of static shots as though Newell didn't get enough coverage so we're treated for instance to a static shot of Indy sleeping. It's quite noticeable.

    'Istanbul, September 1918' is a dark, often fatalistic episode dealing with the effect of trust or lack of trust on people. Everyone in this episode is guilty of this. From Indy and Molly's relationship difficulties to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's lack of faith in what a peace treaty could bring everyone is hurt in some way by the end, in the case of Molly, some more than others. Peace means trust but it seems not everyone can provide it. Sisson also injects a continuity reference to one of her previous scripts 'London, May 1916' which is always nice in such a complicated writing process as in this series. A recommended episode of the show although viewers shouldn't expect a happy resolution. The re-edit of this story at least allowed newly filmed material to address Indy's role in Belgian intelligence following his loved one's death. Perhaps trust has no importance in espionage?moreless
Corey Carrier

Corey Carrier

Young Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 8-10

Sean Patrick Flanery

Sean Patrick Flanery

Young Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 16-20

George Hall

George Hall

Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. at age 93

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions