Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 4 Episode 13

Deadly Amphibians

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Dec 17, 1967 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • This is quite an exciting episode, and the amphibians are well done (with Matheson's distinct voice perfect for the arrogant leader), but it has some problems and contradictions, and they missed the chance for some good philisophical arguments.

    It starts with a bang, literally--moments into the show, the Seaview is rocked by an explosion (although, in view of later events, I'd like to know just what blew up and why). A really prime lurch, with plenty of sparks, smoke, and hurtling bodies. Once things ease up a bit, Crane calls for Damage Control. Two hulls are damaged and taking on water, with two generators disabled. They can't figure out just what hit them, or even if it's a natural phenomemon or something else. Crane suggests taking out the FS1 to scout the area, but they are hit again before they can even start making preparations. Outside, two splendidly gruesome looking bipeds float near the sea bed, one of them handling a strange implement that is clearly a gun of some sort. Seaview lurches about some more, then drops straight down to the bottom. The amphibians appear to be doing a victory dance as the scene freezes for the credits (a rather endearing touch).

    Seaview is sitting on a large rock outcropping, her front section (one third of it, we'll find shortly) hanging off one end. Inside, Damage Control reports that one of the hulls in now in full flood, and the main generator is blown completely. Repairs will take two hours. After Chip checks on the situation outside (with the front hanging over the edge, they have room to launch) Nelson approves sending out the FS1. Crane takes both Sharkey and Kowalski along. None of them know just what they're looking for, but Crane notes that the hits had felt like a pressure impact, like depth charges. The amphibians spot the FS1, aim their gun, and let fly. The FS1 goes lurching about; this time the water itself is all churned up. Seaview is also affected, although not as much. Patterson gets a sonar reading--whatever it is, it's coming from 20 degrees to starboard--just about where the FS1 is. Nelson grabs for the microphone. Crane, still being tossed back and forth in his seat (the other two, foolishly, had unfastened their seat belts--you see what that gets you?) manages to answer. The FS1 had nearly been torn apart; they've lost 60 percent of their maneuverability. Nelson orders them back immediately. The amphibians shoot again, and Nelson calls again--this time Crane's a bit preoccupied. In a classic shot we haven't seen for a while, the FS1 flips sideways, smacks a rock, and settles. Nelson continues to call, and there is no response. Seaview is still 30 minutes away from achieving emergency power; Nelson orders it done in fifteen. Back in the FS1, Crane (the belted one) is the first to recover, and goes to aid Sharkey and 'Ski. Once up, Sharkey immediately sets to on the repairs, while Crane tries to call in. As usual, the radio is out. As he tries calling again, Crane spots one of the amphibians up against the window. He turns to get Sharkey and 'Ski's attention, and naturally the creature immediately ducks out of sight. Crane is quite certain that he did see something, although Sharkey clearly thinks it was mostly imagination and a few shadows. Sharkey thinks that they can bring up emergency power, but Kowalski spotted another problem--one of the mechanical claws had partially opened and jammed, trapping them in place. Kowalski (despite having been the groggiest of the three) volunteers to go outside and free it. Once outside (I told you he was groggy) 'Ski seems to forget what he was doing. The front of the FS1 would only be a few feet from the escape hatch, yet we see 'Ski swimming and swimming and swimming, and the FS1 isn't even at the edge of the screen. 'Ski spots an amphibian, and calls in to Crane, who is assisting Sharkey with the repairs. Not very sensibly, Crane tells 'Ski to keep going, rather than come back inside and maybe fetch a weapon or two (in point of fact, 'Ski is not even carrying a wrench). Sharkey suggests that he go out, but Crane wants to get the sub repaired ASAP. 'Ski spots another amphibian (under the circumstances, it's understandable that 'Ski reports there being a lot more than just two) closing in on him. He manages to report the situation before they grab him and haul him off. Crane orders the cutoff switch for the circuits turned on (or something like that) over Sharkey's protests. It sparks heavily, and I was expecting to hear Sharkey say something like "I told you so", but apparently it does work. They hear noises from below, like tiny impacts. They look down at the emergency hatch (just how much pressure is in the interior to keep the water from spilling in?). An amphibian pops up as the men stare. (It's staring too, but in the other direction.)

    Back on the Seaview, the temporary repairs are completed, but they only have one third power. They bring the Seaview up and start immediately for the FS1. Meanwhile, the amphibian has hauled himself up (with neither man making a grab for a weapon) and stands goggling at them. (It can't help goggling; the eyes are made for it.) Crane and Sharkey confer. Crane thinks it is an amphibious mutation (quite a reasonable guess) and suggests trying to communicate. The amphibian (called Proto in the credits, although he never identifies himself) suddenly speaks up, in perfect English. They will communicate, but in the form of commands. They are amphibians (wouldn't you think they would have a specific name for themselves?) that had taken an different evolutionary path than humans, ten times further in the past. They have been living within the Earth. (Does this mean that inside the Earth's crust, it's full of water?) They have learned English in the course of their studies of the lower land-based animals. (Again, in view of later events, I would like to know just how they managed that.) Proto arrogantly considers them as an inferior species. (I wonder if he's learned the language of other animals, or if he's found other species with submarines, nuclear power, and the like.) This "superior" species apparently hasn't learned anything in the way of psychology; they should have made a pretence of friendship, rather than instantly getting everyone's back up. Sharkey (whose back tends to get up faster than others) starts to attack, and is knocked back with a tiny little red box. Proto wants to make use of the nuclear power in the Seaview. With the punch that tiny box provides, you'd think they'd have plenty of power on their own. Crane misses the opportunity to point this out, along with the question of why Proto needs something invented by "animals". Proto wants to harness the nuclear power to their sonic cannon (ah, that's what it is!) It will not only be used as a weapon, but to blast a passage through the earth, freeing the rest of the amphibians. (This begs the questions: if Proto and friend can get out, why not the rest of them? Why can't the cannon be used as is? How could they make any studies of the outside world, if they're trapped below? And on, and on.) With their expanded power, they will be able to rule the seas. ("And tomorrow, the world!") Crane, of course, is not going to cooperate. Proto hits him with the little red box. You will SO cooperate! It doesn't occur to Proto that Crane will sacrifice himself and his ship to prevent Proto's nefarious plans. (Then again, what does an animal know of sacrifice?) Quick shot of the Seaview, as Nelson tries calling again, then back to the FS1, where the second amphibian crawls up. Proto addresses him in English. It would have been cool if they'd used an amphibious language; Proto's gestures would have been enough to get the message across to the audience. Proto is somehow aware that the "great ship" is on her way. (Nice accolade for an inferior species, but I suppose he meant "great" in terms of "big".) On the Seaview, Patterson suddenly picks up an odd pattern on the sonar. Checking an outside monitor, they spot what looks like a metal top sitting in the sand. Chip thinks it looks like a mine. (Military thinking.) Nelson is interrupted by Patterson, who reports an odd sound, which he puts on the speakers. (It's the sort of sound you associate with outer space.) Nelson quickly orders all stop, having identified the top as a sonic pressure mine. (The amphibians apparently went all out for sonics.) What they are hearing is the waves it sends out, and disrupting the waves would set off the mine. Now a steady, churning beat commences. (I've heard this sound on other shows; it never fails to tense me up.) Nelson has them move away--slowly--but the Seaview starts shuddering. Full stop. Maybe they're hung up on something? Chip says not. They try again, and again start shuddering. Apparently the mine is somehow keeping them from retreating. Nelson (who else?) must go out and disarm the alien mine by hand. (How much danger pay do you suppose he gets?) Back on the FS1, the second amphibian, as per orders, is examining the ship, poking around with the buttons. (Not a good idea if you don't know what you're doing.) Crane and Sharkey revive, glance at each other, and spring. The amphibian fights back, and very well; it seems far stronger than the men. (Apparently it didn't come equipped with a little red box.) Crane finally yanks out a wire (causing who knows what amount of damage) and jolts the amphibian with it. They hear outside noises again, and Sharkey grabs a stun gun. They open the hatch and find Kowalski coming up, coughing. The amphibian wakes up and slips headfirst down the hole. Sharkey gets them underway, while Crane assists 'Ski, who says that he broke away from the amphibians, but not before seeing a cave system, communications, and a sonic gun. (This makes the report of their being trapped under the crust sound strange.) 'Ski knows that they are trying to take over the world, and must be stopped. Back on the Seaview, Nelson, Patterson, and Nameless prep for the dive. They take a deflector shield, although how this enables them to get close without setting off the mind, I do not know. It's the same dinky little shield they've used before, that wouldn't protect one man, let alone three. They need to remove the trigger mechanism. (I guess Nelson goes on the theory that mechanics are the same the world over; me, I'd be leery of messing with something created by an alien species.) Chip reports more activity on the sonar, and plays the Voice of Doom, suggesting that it's too late, and they'd better not go. (And then what?) The FS1 gets underway. On his way back from dire peril, Kowalski apparently stopped long enough to complete the job he went out for; the claw has been unjammed. The radio, however (as if we didn't know) has been burnt out. Sonor picks them up, and Chip tries to warn them away, but in vain. The three divers approach the mine, all of them at least half exposed. The pressure close in makes the shield buck. Chip reports the situation to Nelson; they only have 2-3 minutes before the FS1 will come close enough to activate the mine; Nelson had better come in. (Voice of Doom again.) Nelson reaches through a hole in the shield and unfastens a cap. Chip reports the intensity is almost off the scale. (Does he mean the mine, or their nerves?) Nelson reaches into the mine and, with frightening nonchalance, rips out a piece, which he identifies as a sonic capacitator. A light flashes on the mine, and a whining sound commences. The three men take off, dropping the shield. The Seaview lurches violently.

    Chip, trying to stay on his feet, yells frantically into the mike. Nelson answers calmly. All three are right back at the mine, capacitator in hand. Only the detonator fuse went off (leading one to wonder what the heck the whole mine would have done). In spite of the massive explosion, the mine seems untouched, so just what the heck DID blow up? Nelson sends the other divers on ahead, while he gets the shield. (Doesn't that seem like a job for the underlings?) Having distanced himself, you just KNOW something's gonna happen, and it does--one of the amphibians attacks him, ripping his air hose loose. Nelson somehow manages without this little item, wrestling around with the amphibian until he's able to retrieve the dropped capacitator and jam it into his opponent, who promptly collapses. Nelson carries him off to the Seaview. Once inside, he observes that it looks more fish than human, but it must have a good brain. (Compare this with Proto's arrogance.) Under the circumstances, Nelson makes a rather stupid assumption and orders the amphibian taken to the brig, rather than a water-filled tank. How can he be so sure that it can remain in an air environment? Up in the Control room, the FS1 has docked. Chip somehow knows at a glance that Kowalski needs the Sickbay. Nelson arrives, and Crane starts to report, a little taken aback to learn that Nelson knows of the amphibians. Upon learning of the sonic cannon, and what it's to be used for, Nelson orders torpedos prepped to destroy the cannon and the partial passage through the crust. He himself heads for his lab to cobble together a neutralizer. (That's our Nelson!)Down in Sickbay, Kowalski goes to bunk under protest; he wants to help stop the amphibians. Sharkey assures him that it will all be fixed up before he gets out of Sickbay; as evidenced by hearing Crane's command to ready torpedoes. The medic looks in the cabinet for a sedative, but has to go elsewhere to find one--shouldn't such things be right on hand? Kowalski is looking exhausted, but as the medic leaves, his body suddenly heaves up, as though convulsing. He then gets up and starts looking around. The medic comes back, as Kowalski sags against a table. It's hard to say if this was a real reaction, or a put-on for the medic. The medic leads 'Ski back to the bunks. 'Ski first cooperates, then suddenly throws the medic across a table. The medic tries to reason with him, but it's no go. After a short, intense struggle, the medic grabs a stool and breaks it on 'Ski, causing him to collapse. He then grabs some medical tape and fastens 'Ski's wrists. At this point, he should have reported to Security. Instead, he squats beside 'Ski, who insists that something just "came over me". The medic sensibly realizes that it could come over him again, and refuses to untie him until he's been sedated. As he turns away to get the sedative, 'Ski throws him a really frightening look, and we're not surprised when he knocks the medic flat, before ripping off the tape. Down in the Missile Room, the torpedoes are loaded, and Sharkey reports in. Crane gives him coordinates, and Sharkey sets the controls and stands by. Kowalski slips into the room, and moves off to the side. For some reason that I cannot fathom, the dreaded Circuitry Room went completely unnoticed in this episode. 'Ski makes up for it a bit by opening a panel and revealing similar circuitry, which he switches around, then stands and watches. Sharkey sets off torpedoes 1 and 3, which results in a heavy burst of sparks and lurching that knocks all the men to the floor. Even Kowalski is knocked back into the panel, although he quickly recovers and walks steadily through the lurching room. A rip in Kowalski's uniform finally shows the reason for his behavior. He hasn't been hypnotized or such, he's (gulp!) turning into one of them! Scaly hide is showing through. (Most convenient for their purposes that it didn't start to show in his face or hands.) Seaview finally stablilizes, and Crane calls down to find out what the heck happened. Kowalski sets the escape hatch to filling up. Crane orders a Damage Control party to the Missile Room, reports to Nelson, and heads down, leaving the con to Chip. Kowalski lets in Proto (so just what were those "things" that he had to do? Dealing with Kowalski?) Proto examines Kowalski's back, reporting that he's responding well to the conversion process. (Just why would they want to convert an "animal"?) He asks if the reactor's power can be brought to the Missile Room, which 'Ski affirms. They can bring in the cannon through the main hatch (probably the place where they launched the mini-subs, before they became obsolete). Proto states that they will bring in the cannon, but not until Kowalski frees the other amphibian. Sharkey wakes up during the discussion, and has the supreme good sense to keep still. Proto asks who can connect the nuclear power to the sonic cannon (what, this superior being can't do it himself?) and 'Ski answers that (natch!) Admiral Nelson can do it. (Hold onto that thought.) The two leave the Missile Room, and Sharkey jumps up and grabs for a mike, only to find it broken. There should, in fact, be another mike attached to the escape hatch, but he overlooks this, shakes Patterson awake, and heads out on the run. Down at the brig, the prisoner is shaking the bars, and the guard angrily threatens him with a gun (rather poor behavior, really). Kowalski strolls up and offers to take over the watch. The guard says that 'Ski is not authorized, and 'Ski claims that the Chief said so. (As with similar situations, the guard does not question why the Chief would not have relayed this news to him.) 'Ski makes the mistake of commenting on the guard's caution, which results in reminding the guard of the need for such caution. He demands 'Ski's authorization. 'Ski gets peeved, but the guard stands his ground. 'Ski pretends to call the Chief, and the guard doesn't notice that this mike call does not "broadcast". 'Ski hands the mike to the guard and decks him. The guard should have winged him when he had the chance, but it is rather hard to shoot a colleague. In the ensuing struggle, 'Ski knocks the man into the brig door, and the prisoner promptly throttles him, knocking him (hopefully) out. 'Ski grabs the key and opens the door. In the lab, Nelson is testing his device, which seems to respond as he wants it to. Proto scornfully comments from the door that it's very good for a "primitive" effort. (Just because it's a whole lot bigger than his little red box, I suppose.) Said box paralyzes Nelson just as he's about to activate his own device in Proto's direction. Proto tells Nelson what he needs done--and adds that Nelson will be a valuable member of their amphibian community. (There he goes again, turning a primitive, lower animal into one of "them".) Proto explains that their's is a superior technology (they just haven't split the atom yet, that's all.) He controls both the Seaview (oh, really?) and Nelson (maybe). Nelson acts as though he can't breathe, which might or might not have been a ploy. Proto turns down the red box. Nelson asks him what he wants. Nelson's knowledge. (Everybody wants Nelson.) The cannon will open up the ocean floor and free the other people. Nelson points out that such blasting could destroy the world (and how about those people trapped below?) but Proto loftily states that they will risk it. (Oh, how nice.) Nelson snaps on his device, and we find that his primitive gadget does work very well--Proto goes staggering back, and dives out the door. Nelson reports to the Control Room. Crane has gone down to the Missile Room. Nelson tells Chip that they've been invaded, and to meet him in the Pressure Room corridor. Chip, as usual, forgets to leave someone in charge as he rushes out. Nelson heads out with his device (which seems somewhat heavy, but that's primitive gadgetry for you). Kowalski and the second amphibian reach the Missile Room, where they prepare to tie up the remaining men (still unconcious) and haul them out of the way for when the cannon comes aboard. (Hey, what happened to the Damage Control party?) Crane comes in, and Kowalski acts as though nothing has happened. Um, there's that little matter of explosives and failed torpedoes? And what about the men lying on the floor? Kowalski still tries to brazen it out, while rubbing at the side of his head. (Hmmm.) Crane suddenly remembers that 'Ski is supposed to be in Sickbay. Kowalski suddenly erupts--the men had tried to interfere with "us". "Us" being the amphibians, and he's becoming one of them. Crane orders him back to Sickbay, thinking that he's deranged, and Kowalski simply turns his back. Crane stares for a long moment, and then, incredibly, just steps past Kowalski and heads for the door. 'Ski yells, and the second amphibian pops out of hiding, and quickly subdues Crane, just as Proto enters the room. They prepare to bring in the cannon. Outside the Pressure Room, Sharkey and Patterson meet up with Chip and report that Kowalski is one of "them". Nelson arrives and tells them about the sonic cannon, which Chip points out (it's part of his job description, to point things out) that such a blast would rip a hole in the Seaview. (Couldn't they just aim the thing through the main hatch?) Nelson plans a two-sided attack (hold that thought, too), with Chip and Sharkey going through the main door to the Missile Room, armed with the neutralizer, while Nelson and Patterson swim out from the Pressure Room and come in through the escape hatch. They will mobilize at 1500 hours. In the Missile Room, Proto is telling Crane that resistance is futile (although not in those words). Crane, who has always found resistance useful before, keeps it up here. (If Proto would start considering them intelligent beings, he wouldn't be so surprised at their defiance.) Crane appeals to Kowalski, but it's no use. Apart from the brief head-rubbing gesture, Kowalski has shown no sign of resistance to what's happened to him. He likes what he's turning into. Crane could have pointed out that Proto regards them as animals, so Kowalski would probably be considered a second-class citizen, at best. He could have said that Proto was just using 'Ski to get what he wanted. Instead, all he did was bleat, "fight it, man!" Chip and Sharkey arrive at the hatchway, and, totally forgetting that they were supposed to attack simultaneously, start rattling the door and alerting everyone inside. (Should have used the air ducts.) Proto aims his red box at the door, and the two men stagger back. (Chip, that's what the neutralizer is for.) Chip sends Sharkey for some MX12 explosive to get through the door. Down in the Pressure Room, we can see that Chip and Sharkey really rushed things--Nelson and Patterson aren't even fully suited up. Nelson tells Patterson that they will split up as soon as they enter the room, and attack whatever's closest to them--an amphibian, or the cannon. They jump out through the hole. Down in the Missile Room, Kowalski has (all by himself, without Nelson!) attached the appropriate cables to the cannon; it's ready to go. Crane points out (Chip not being inside yet) that the cannon will destroy the ship, but Kowalski doesn't care. It doesn't occur to him that he hasn't converted fully yet; he doesn't seem to have gills, and he could very easily get killed or trapped inside the wrecked sub. Kowalski aims the cannon down at the floor and preps it, but leaves the honors to Proto. Crane still tries to appeal to Kowalski. Suddenly, the hatch wheel blows off the Missile Room door, and Chip and Sharkey rush in. Chip has the neutralizer, but Proto activates his red box first. (Or he seems to.) Chip and Sharkey promptly collapse. Everyone then looks to the escape hatch, which is bubbling up with water. (Kind of hard to make a stealthy entrance that way.) Proto starts to activate the cannon, and Crane rolls over the cable, making it spark. (And hold that thought.) We can suddenly observe that the second amphibian, for no reason that we can see, is lying unconcious or dead behind Crane and the other men. One must presume that Chip got off a blast of neutralizer before being knocked down, but we didn't see it, and in a few moments, that presumption will not make much sense. The cannon itself sparks, and then suddenly there is a big explosion in front of it. (Not enough to cause any visible damage, however.) The whole room seems to erupt in sparks, as Seaview swings into another lurch.

    As Nelson comes out the escape hatch, Crane yells a warning. Nelson grabs up his neutralizer as Proto activates his red box. This is presumably what happened with Proto and Chip, but this time, it is a standoff, as the two sway back and forth. Eventually, however, primitive human technology wins out, as Proto staggers, straightens up, then collapses. Nelson aims at him again (that's not nice, shooting a creature when he's down) and Proto (and his cannon) disappear in a burst. Somehow, no one is mowed down by flying debris, and we never do see what happened to the second amphibian.

    At some point further on, with the Seaview calm, Crane orders torpedoes fired at the opening in the sea bed. The resulting explosion looks remarkably like the one at the beginning. (Could that explosion have been Proto breaking OUT of the crust?) Nelson comments on Crane having shorted out the cable by rolling on it, so that only the firing mechanism blew. (It's rather disquieting to think that a cable, designed for channeling massive amounts of energy, could be shorted out by a quick roll of one medium-sized man, isn't it?) Crane comments on the irony of Proto being killed by the very weapon he was going to use against the world. (Excuse me, Crane, but it sure looked like it was NELSON'S device that put paid to Proto.) Nelson muses on whether the world isn't well balanced for such justice. (Only on television, I'm afraid.) At this point, Kowalski pops into the Control Room, perfectly fine, which makes no sense at all. Firstly, it could not have been very long after Proto's destruction that they closed off the passageway (after all, who knew how many more might come through?) Kowalski blithely states that Doc had told him the conversion had reversed itself. Just like that. Why would it reverse, having once started? We're talking about a major biochemical alteration, here. It almost sounds as though Kowalski only THOUGHT he was converting, and the scales were a form of stigmata. That would have been interesting, but it doesn't fit in with Proto's plan to convert Nelson as well. Kowalski shows no signs of remorse or embarassment, either. It would have made far more sense for Doc to report that he was working on reversing the process, and things looked hopeful. Of course, the reason for the miracle was simply so that Kowalski could pass on the silly joke about there being fish on the menu that night (which, for a sea-faring vessel, should not be surprising). If they had to have it, they could have put it in reverse--Crane and Nelson visiting Kowalski in Sickbay, and asking him if he wanted fish for dinner. Under the circumstances, I think that would have been more effective.

    But it was fun. And watching Nelson win out over that arrogant fishhead was SO satisfying.