Here we have the second part of 'Travels With Father', originally aired as one of four 90-minute TV movies produced after the shows cancellation to form a three year third season. This second part also represents the last new episode of 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' to air on television.
Good God, the unthinkable has occurred! With Miss Seymour ill in bed recovering from a fever and with mother away for the weekend Henry Senior and Junior have to spend some quality time together! Father and son forced to spend the weekend together? Could it get any worse? After much debate it is decided to take a trip to Athens, which as Henry says holds philosophical and historical importance. But their weekend away doesn't go quite according to plan when their guide rejects them, have their clothes eaten by a crowd of hungry sheep, get a ride from Aristotle and his disagreeing donkey Plato and finally fight for their lives stranded below an ancient Greek monastery. They have their wits. They have their intelligence. They might be able to survive a nasty fall if they can stop arguing!
At this point in the shows three-season run you have to wonder if anyone was actually watching. 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' while critically acclaimed was far from a ratings winner. The show was cancelled at the end of the second season but George Lucas managed to produce four TV movies, which aired between 1994-1996 but was it ultimately worth it? As a viewer who might be watching at the time you also have to wonder why end the show with a story featuring the less popular 8-10 year old Indiana Jones. I mean, people who were sticking around to watch were probably more comfortable with Sean Patrick Flanery in the role than Corey Carrier so it's an odd choice. The first thing that strikes you is that the episode is heavy on lighthearted humour. Henry and Indy go from one misadventure to another while still managing to squabble over the philosophy of life but the humour here is welcome. Whether its running naked out of the water to chase after sheep who are eating their clothes, having an intellectually conflicting conversation with a man who thinks he's the famous Aristotle (his donkey friend Plato always disagrees) or struggling to understand when philosophy should be complex or used in simplicity the episode never bores. Carrier and Lloyd Owens are terrific, conveying an arguing father/son relationship while making us never forget that deep down they still care about each other. They don't agree with each other most of the time but they have more similarities than they think and that is what brings them together. This is no more evident than in the finale when they become trapped or stranded in a wooden carriage suspended high above a cliff. Realising that the people of the monastery might not rescue them and realising that they might indeed plunge to their deaths father and son work together to escape using Aristotle's teachings as well as their own intellect to a find a way out of the slowly snapping carriage. It's not just an accomplishment that they manage to survive but it shows that in the most dangerous of situations there is a strong bond between Henry and Indy. It's brought up again in the film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'. Henry's journey to Athens is driven by a desire to not only educate a son who he feels is ignorant of life but it's also a desire to find philosophical answers to his own life. The rejection of his views by the driver Aristotle and the subsequent incident in the carriage makes him realise humanity's need for guidance or perfection is a flaw in itself. As Henry says early on we are all mortal. Humanity should push itself for the greater good but also should accept its limitations. Ultimately it's the ability to think but also to feel for someone that makes us better humans.
I'm not sure if many will think (or for that matter feel) that this is an exciting conclusion to Young Indy's adventures. As with most episodes it features very little action adventure but dig deeper and this episode is a hidden gem. With it's thought provoking writing, excellent acting, stunning location work, great sense of humour but above all it's own humanity this second part of 'Travels With Father' is not only a worth while end to a highly underrated, ambitious show but a fitting legacy to the Indiana Jones universe. Now if only George Lucas would fill in those missing years of Indy's life!