Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 4 Episode 1

Fires of Death

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

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

Write A Review
out of 10
12 votes
  • An exciting, suspenseful episode. Excellent choice to open the final season, although having Crane stuck in Sickbay for more than half the episode was disappointing.

    What a way to hurl us into the new season--a volcano is popping it's lid. This naturally translates to a major Seaview lurch, with all the frills. There's a civilian being tossed about along with the crew, and the astute viewer will deduce that he's there because of the volcano. We learn a little further on that he's Dr. Turner, presumably a volcanologist, although it's never mentioned. The volcano in question is due to erupt big time in three hours, and, because of it's position and the explosive force building up, is set to cause major damage to the Southern Hemisphere (which is probably still recovering from having the sky on fire a while back.) Captain Crane, as always concerned for his ship, fears that the Seaview won't take another hit. Nelson disagrees, and is promptly proven right as they struggle through another shock wave, setting practically all the control panels sparking. Dr. Turner has a bad shake in his hand, which seems reasonable under the circumstances, but he quickly excuses himself to the lab, as the others prepare for yet another shock. Crane fears that this one will split the Seaview.

    Turner's hasty exit has already roused our suspicions, and he cranks it up another notch as he carefully locks the lab hatch before going about his business. Trying to control his shaking, he opens a metal case and extracts a good-sized, whitish-opaque rock that is glowing. He sets the rock into the top of a machine. Back in the control room, Nelson needs Turner's knowlege to put them on the right course. They send Kowalski down to fetch him, but Turner isn't answering the door. His machine is full on, he's gripping two handles attached to it, and the camera pans up to show that he's changed to a ancient-looking man. (Quite a good make-up job, too.)

    Following the credits, Seaview is once again in the grip of a shock wave. Morton is certain that the next one will be their last--which is what Crane said about this one. (Rule of thumb: it's always the next one that will kill us--never this one.) All they can do is hang tight and wait for Turner's assistance. Kowalski reports the locked hatch, and Crane advises cutting through the door. While Kowalski prepares to do so, the machine in the lab powers down. The opaque rock has become a pile of ashes. Kowalski lights the cutting torch, and Turner immediately opens the door, looking his previous self. He casually claims not to have heard Kowalski call him, and Kowalski doesn't ask why not, or why he didn't hear him banging on the hatch, either. Calling Nelson on the communications mike next to the lab, he informs him that they are now one mile from the entrance to the center of the volcano. (And just how does he know that, after all the shaking and spinning around, I'd like to know?) Turner requests the use of the Flying Sub, and asks that his "damping device" be installed aboard. He calculates that, once inside, he'll have two hours to prevent the eruption. (We all know he's got another agenda, but as yet we don't know what.)

    The damping device just seems to be a large cylinder. Kowalski and Sharkey install it. Kowalski has become rather leery of Dr. Turner (after three seasons on Seaview, he's probably developed a nose for such things). Sharkey brushes it off; after all, Turner is probably the world's greatest expert on the subject at hand. Upstairs, there's some technobabble tossed around about a "heat refractor" that Turner has been working on for ten years. We will learn later that exposure to the refractor apparently makes one's clothing (and one's self?) resistant to high temperatures. Turner's previous estimation of two hours has now been scaled back to an hour and forty-five minutes--and it actually sounds like that's the total amount of time left, including the time it will take to reach the volcano and get inside. (BTW, there's no explanation as to how they know that there is access to the inside of the volcano.) Turner and Nelson get underway. As they approach the side of the volcano, the time is now an hour and thirty minutes. (We will find that they pack an incredible amount of activity into ninety minutes.) They have a really cool shot of the Flying Sub rising through water tinged with red light. They emerge into a "dry" cavern (that looks anything but) and apparently edge the sub up onto the floor. Turner now opens his big cylinder--to reveal a gold-skinned man, dressed rather like a common seaman. Nelson is not only shocked, he's outraged, thinking that Turner is playing some sort of joke, claiming that this "android" is his damping device. Turner informs him that the man is, in fact, a real man. Turner had altered his molecular structure--about a century ago. The man, called Adam, is indestructible and all-powerful. More so than Turner, apparently, but he's completely under Turner's influence. Turner is not using Adam to stop the volcano's eruption, but to start it. It's not clear if Nelson believes him at this point, but he doesn't have to--he springs for the radio. Adam quickly disables both Nelson and the radio, but not before Nelson gets out one quick distress call.

    Turner, it seems, is an alchemist. He says that alchemy is "the ability to change one element into another". (Actually, the term "process" rather than "ability" is closer to the mark.) He had learned to change the molecular structure of matter five centuries previously, picking up immortality in the process. He has been mining this same volcano during those five centuries for what he calls "elixir stones". (I'd like to know how he found out about those stones in the first place, and how he mined them using fifteenth-century technology. And did he ever look in any other volcanos?) We now come to his agenda: he wants to cause a partial eruption, so as to bring up more of his stones. Nelson remains remarkably calm in the face of all these revelations--but then, he's been on the Seaview three seasons, too. He points out that there is no such thing as a "partial" eruption. Turner then shows the corrupting influence of immortality--he has not the slightest interest in the millions of lives at risk, only in his own. Adam knocks Nelson out, then wipes out the radio with what amounts to a wave of his hand, as Turner disables the sub. The two go about their business, Turner donning a hood with a clear face shield, which doesn't seem like much for wandering around inside a volcano. As I said before, we don't learn until later about the suits being treated for heat.

    Back at the Seaview, unable to raise FS1, Crane prepares to send out a diving team. It's dangerous, but better to risk a small team than the entire Seaview. We quickly jump back to FS1, where Nelson has awakened. He takes a quick look around, arms himself, pulls on a shield hood and exits. He quickly finds another cavern with a lava pool bubbling away. (Quite a good effect.) He finds Turner and Adam, along with two small cylinder things that are presumably detonators of some sort. Turner sends Adam after Nelson. Nelson starts shooting, but the bullets seem to bounce off--although Adam reels slightly after each hit. Nelson then takes aim at one of the cylinders, setting off a fair-sized explosion that causes the whole cavern to react. Turner throws the other cylinder into the lava. Nelson wastes a lot of time and bullets firing at a man that he already knows is not harmed by bullets. He would have been better off running--Adam doesn't seem to be very fast. Adam knocks Nelson out again. He and Turner retreat to FS1. The explosion is due in two minutes. Nelson wakes up quickly, but finds his foot trapped by a rock. (Penelope's perils had nothing on Nelson for jacking up the tension.) Nelson stretches out for his gun...just a little more...then grabs it and fires at the rock at his foot. Remarkably, he's not harmed by any of the flying fragments, although they do show him walking lame for a while.

    Back at Seaview, Sharkey, Kowalski, and a third man (nameless in the credits; Kowalski called him something that sounded like "Brink") prepare for their dive by standing under the heat refractor. Now we know what it's for. (Actually, knowing Turner now, it's likely that the refractor is some variation on his rearrangements of molecular structure. Whatever it is, it seems rather dangerous for live beings to expose themselves to it.) Back in the cavern, Nelson is still wandering about--that's a long two minutes. The pops and rumbles from the lava pool area get louder, and finally the explosion occurs, setting off yet another shock wave, and yet another Seaview lurch. This is another bad one. In the course of it, Crane spots a crewman down, being menaced by a live wire. After dragging him to safety, Crane promptly gets himself knocked out. The divers, who have been cushioned by the water inside the divers' lock, go on their way once things subside. Crane has been sent to Sickbay with a probably concussion. I think that this may be the first time I've seen a medical corpsman in Sickbay--the doctor has been called to another emergency in Engineering.

    The explosion has also knocked Nelson out again. (Poor man, it just isn't his day. Lucky his head is harder than Crane's.) Turner assumes that he's dead, as he's not in the vicinity of the lava pool. Adam shows a hint of independent thought here, preparing to go look for Nelson before Turner calls him back. The rumblings are worse than ever, but the explosion was just not enough to bring up any of the elixir stones. Turner will need something stronger, and he thinks he can find it on Seaview. Returning to FS1, they spot the divers before the divers spot them. (The water, at this point, appears to be boiling; that treatment really works!) They also spot Nelson, who is staying unconcious longer this time. Turner sends Adam to deal with him, while he takes on the divers. He claims that Nelson had been injured during their initial approach, which is why he had called for help. Once in the cavern, Turner had been knocked out by the shaking, and woke to find Nelson gone, lost in the cavern. Sharkey is skeptical; Nelson wouldn't be so foolish. Turner goes on to say that the recent explosion was the failure of his "damping device"--he's going to need something stronger. Sharkey is still suspicious, and openly says so. He'll return to the Seaview with Turner, and leave the other two to look for Nelson. Kowalski and Brink change into dry clothes that have also been heat treated, which seems a waste of valuable time. Adam wastes even more time: in the time it takes Turner to suit up and the other two to suit down, Adam has not gotten very far with Nelson. He only reaches the lava pool moments before Kowalski and Brink, and instead of heaving Nelson in immediately, decides to find another spot, which gives them time to confront him. Adam doesn't do well away from Turner. When they tell him to drop Nelson, he should have done so right into the pool--what could they do to him, after all? Kowalski, surprisingly, proves quicker on the uptake than Nelson had been. Seeing that the bullets only make Adam reel slightly, he quickly tells Brink to aim at his head, and the impact is sufficient to knock him down and out. They grab Nelson and run.

    Nelson, finally awake, explains matters in FS1. Kowalski and Brink are amazed, but put it aside--they need to stop the volcano and Turner. This would normally be a job for Crane (it seems funny that Nelson made a point of this) but as he's not available, they'll have to make do. They are to rig up the laser to make it portable, then drill a hole next to the lava pool, down into the throat of the volcano. Nelson, meanwhile, will pop back over to the Seaview and throw together a nuclear implosion device. (Don't you just love the man?) Having reached Seaview himself, Turner takes Morton to the lab. His nameless machine can be used in place of the failed damping device. He casually asks Morton to take hold of the two handles, there's a good fellow. Morton obliges, and Turner switches it on. Morton reacts as though there's an electric current running through him. Even without the elixir stone, the machine is potent. Turner places the unresisting Morton into his reserve cannister (marked "Reserve"). He then turns his machine on again, this time apparently causing something to happen within the cylinder. It's easy to guess what's going on. Nelson returns, and immediately spits out a long list of supplies to Sharkey, who takes it in without a blink. Nelson doesn't mention that Turner is an official Bad Guy. No mention of Security, either; he just goes down to the lab himself. Confronted by Nelson, Turner smugly opens the cylinder. As feared, Morton has turned golden, and his will is gone. Morton and Turner together force Nelson to grip the handles, then Turner sends Morton to the Missile room to collect the center charge of a warhead. Strong-minded Nelson, who also had an idea of what was happening, resists longer than Morton, and is able to kick at the thick cables attached to the machine, shutting it down. He has difficulty in detaching himself from the handles, but finally does so and swings at Turner. Sparks are flying from the machine as he knocks Turner out. Nelson calls the Master-at-Arms to find Morton and stop him, and, belatedly, calls Security to the lab. Nelson points out to Turner that he needs a controlled explosion, not a full eruption that the warhead charge would cause. This seems to impress Turner momentarily, but he becomes confident that his altered body can survive. He suggests that he and Nelson could work together, offering him immortality, but Nelson brushes this off. (They missed an opportunity for a good philosophical discussion here, but then, they're running out of time.)

    Once Security arrives, Nelson heads to the Reacter room to put together his implosion device. Morton's new powers apparently include clairvoyance; he miraculously knows that Turner is in difficulties and is right there to take out the guards. They head to the Missile room.

    Back at the cavern, Adam is up and about again, watching as Kowalski and Brink set up the laser (a difficult job with the increased shaking). Adam knocks the laser down with a rock, and grabs up another. Kowalski wastes no time, now; they head back to FS1 to repair the laser. A heavier shake-up seals off the entrance to the lava pool just as they pass through it. As if they didn't have enough to worry about....

    Patterson reports from the Missile room that Morton is on his way there, impervious to all attempts to stop him. Nelson merely orders them to keep trying. (Oddly, Morton does not reel in reaction to the shots.) Having reached the sealed Missile room, Morton uses "pure energy" (i.e, a wave of the hand) to burn through the hatch, and then knocks out the men. (That makes about nine knock outs, so far.) Nelson, in the Reactor room, leaves Sharkey with the partially finished device (is that fast, or what?) He also thoughtfully leaves Sharkey a diagram to follow, which he seems to have dashed off while running through the corridors. He finds a groggy Patterson in the Missile room, with Turner, Morton, and a piece of warhead missing.

    While fixing the laser, Kowalski realizes that they won't have enough energy to blast through the blocked-up entrance, deal with Adam, and drill the necessary hole. He decides to take FS1 down further into the volcano, and drill the hole UP--but they see the sub has been disabled. Before they can hot-wire it, Morton comes in, quite a stunning sight. Turner follows him. Kowalski notices that he's looking odd, and Turner brusquely states that he's running out of time. This, while it will lead to an effective climax, doesn't really make sense in the context of the show. Turner had just revitalized himself less than three hours previously; why should he be aging already? If he needs the rocks that frequently, he would have to live in that volcano and constantly stimulate it in order to harvest enough stones to keep him going five hundred years. He wouldn't have time for anything else at all. Perhaps, as he got older, he would need them more and more frequently, like being addicted to a drug. (This, again, could have led to some interesting dialogue with Nelson; it's a shame they didn't have room for it.) Turner's not paying much attention to the second man, and gets what he deserves; Brink quietly (and bravely) sets off the laser, dropping Morton in his tracks. Kowalski is horrified, but Brink quickly assures him that it was on the low setting. Nelson and Sharkey are on their way, and Kowalski and Brink go on theirs, with Turner becoming increasingly agitated, aging faster all the time. He promises Kowalski whatever he wants, but at present, he's not a good advertisement for immortality. Brink finally straps him down in the co-pilot's seat. Nelson and Sharkey find FS1, and their men, gone, but there's no time to worry about it now. They've armed themselves with laser pistols, this time, and blast through the rocks. Kowalski and Brink are becoming exhausted and overheated; the suits are starting to break down. Turner, staring and shaking, is completely fixated on the fact that he will die without his stones, although he makes no further attempt to persuade the others to help him.

    For the first time in ages (so it seems) we get a time notification: ten minutes until the eruption. It's been a very long eighty minutes. Nelson and Sharkey approach the lava pool. The others are not there, the hole has not been drilled, and...Adam pops up yet again. Last call, though. Laser pistols are much more effective, and Adam staggers into the pool. Guess there are some limits to indestructability, just as there are limits to Turner's immortality. Down below, FS1 has reached the point they needed to reach, but they're lurching about too much to get a fix. Above, Nelson settles for tossing his device into the pool. Now it's a question of escaping the effects of it. On cue, FS1 suddenly surfaces in the lava pool. That is one tough little sub! They manage to get close enough to the edge of the pool to open the hatch. Turner, probably completely senile at this point and with nothing left in his mind but the thought of the stones, leaps out and staggers away. The others leave him to his fate. As Kowalski forces the sub back down through the lava, Morton starts to stir. Flesh tones are starting to show through the gold. Apparently Adam's form of immortality also required constant maintenance, as well.

    There was a real shocker in this episode. Brink, the "nameless crewman" (who really should have been credited) is still alive at the end of the show! I was expecting him to get killed off at some point or other. Of course, if Kowalski and Brink took on Crane's role between them, it makes sense.

    Crane's up and about at the end, in time to observe the sucess of Nelson's plugging job. (Of course, he was diagnosed by a corpsman, so perhaps the concussion wasn't as bad as it seemed.) Morton is also back to normal, with no aftereffects from his ordeal.

    Quite a nail-biting episode, with complication piling on complication, leading to an (well, almost) explosive climax.