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The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Season 2 Episode 2

Trenches Of Hell, Part 1 (Somme, Early August 1916)

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Sep 28, 1992 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
19 votes

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Episode Summary

Trenches Of Hell, Part 1 (Somme, Early August 1916)
As a young soldier in the Belgian Army, Indy learns the savagery of warfare while participating in the Battle of the Somme and amongst all the turmoil, Indy wonders if he won't live to see the war end.

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  • Indy tries to survive the horrors of World War 1!

    This might be one of the series most scariest episodes. 'Somme, Early August 1916' is the first segment of what would later be renamed 'Trenches of Hell'. It's notable in that it's a two-parter shot and aired in chronological order, which I think for many viewers must of come as a great relief. This means I can now for once refer to this story as Part 1 with the second part actually continuing on from the first. Cool!

    Having lost many men in a recent conflict Indy has been left in charge of his infantry unit, a role he is reluctant to have. Tensions rise further when the French are put in charge of the unit. Indy learns first hand the horrors of warfare including gas attacks, deadly snipers and flame-thrower carrying soldiers. Can Indy and the two units work together to battle their way through World War One? As he soon realises winning is not an option, in what is known as The Great War he can only hope for survival!

    A lot of 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' had already been shot by the time the first part 'Somme, Early August 1916' was aired. A World War One two-parter was produced and whether it was their intention or not was later aired by the network near the beginning of Season 2. The series had been put on hold at the end of Season 1 with the remaining stories integrated into the second season. Airing the WW1 two-parter near the beginning of Season 2 was I believe a conscious decision by the network to help improve declining ratings, as it's extremely action packed. At the end of the season it didn't help the show get another year. Quite frankly it wasn't necessary when it was shown as both parts succeed thanks to fantastic acting, strong direction and a quality script that both shocks as well as surprises in equal measure. It turns out that after leaving London our hero Indy has been involved in a horrible battle off screen that has left his Infantry unit decimated. No doubt this is referring to another adventure we would have seen had the series continued. Left in charge the troops don't trust him, especially the psychotic Jacques. We're never told exactly what this guy's problem is. The French army are put in charge of Indy's unit much to their annoyance. For the Belgian soldiers it's embarrassing that they need help, for French's Infantry unit their leader Andre is reluctant to take over as he's essentially babysitting them. Tensions between both units are the least of their problems as they soon realise how terrifying an experience The Great War could be. Many people lost their lives during World War One and no one at that point knew enough about armed conflict to avoid tactical traps laid out by the other side. Their surroundings ended up being as much of a danger as their enemy. But that's why this episode is one of the series highlights. It not only portrays World War One as a terrifying conflict but shows it in a realistic manner. Bar a bit of humour it's mostly a grim experience for the viewer. There are no winners by the end of the story and all hope is lost. Trying to capture a tower/guard placement ends up being an absolute nightmare. A gas attack causes chaos, as one man can't find his mask. As he slowly dies he mercifully pleads to Indy to let him use his mask, which he of course cannot allow. It's scary to watch and also shows the reality of what happened at the time. It doesn't stop there. When the fighting stops all that is left is smoke. There's an eerie silence, as the soldiers know something's not right. They see the light of flames in the distance approaching them slowly out of the smoke. Total fear grips them again when the approaching objects turn out to be enemy soldiers with flamethrowers. It's the image of the unknown, mutant-like enemy coming out of smoke shooting fire that resonates the most. Fear of the enemy is the key here. The enemy seem to know their surroundings better; therefore their tactics are better. When attacked by soldiers carrying flamethrowers the soldiers are forced to run. Indy is pushed to the limit and it's only a meeting with the soon to be famous poets Siegfried Sassoon as well as Robert Graves that challenges Indy's view of what he's fighting for. It's a nice idea having Indy meet these poets and listening to their perspective on the war. Like a lot of people fighting at the time they know war is in the end futile. Practically no one except Indy and maybe a few others survive taking the tower, leading to Indy getting captured and which then leads onto the second part of this story. However, don't worry, as viewers might like to know that Remy did survive the attack. Well, that's good, isn't it?

    The acting in this episode is generally very good. Jonathan Phillips creates a hateful person in the role of Jacques who ultimately saves Indy's life to then lose his own. Special mention should also go to Richard Ridings who plays the put upon Andre. Ridings makes you feel his frustration of not fulfilling his dream of the war ending. He's a man that wants his life back. It's quite sad. 'Somme, Early August 1916' is an unrelentingly grim and nightmarish presentation of The Great War. Writer Jonathan Hensleigh and director Simon Wincer create fear but also chaos out of the unknown. Its strengths as an episode is it's ability to shock but also educate, leaving the viewer more informed about one of histories most pointless wars.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


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • During the Battle of the Somme, poet Robert Graves (whom Indy meets while on leave from the Front), was so badly wounded that he was expected to die and was, in fact, officially reported to have died from his wounds.

    • In May, 1915, English poet and author Siegfried Sassoon, joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a commissioned officer and was sent to France in November, where he met fellow poet Robert Graves. Over the course of the war, his poetry transitioned from a Romantic perspective to a much more realistic style, designed to convey the horror of the war. In spite of his opinion of the war, he fought bravely, once capturing an entire German trench in the Hindenburg Line. Depression over the horrors and miseries of the war pushed him more and more to take a stance against the war.

    • The Battle Of The Somme lasted from July until November, 1916. It was one of the bloodiest battles in the War, with over 1.5 million casualties. One important military development of this conflict was the debut of the tank in modern warfare.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (3)

    • The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.

    • This episode and its companion documentaries are included on Volume 2 Disc 1 of the DVD collection, they include:
      -The Somme - Storm of Steel
      -Siegfried Sassoon - A War Poet's Journey
      -Robert Graves and the White Goddess
      -I am France - The Myth of Charles de Gaulle

    • Part 1 of the video Trenches of Hell with Germany, Mid-August 1916 (2).