It's an interesting point: sometimes I can watch a program with a sizeable nit in the premise and overlook it easily in the enjoyment of the storyline. Other times, the nit keeps nagging at me. This episode, exciting and beautifully shot, was one of those. I suppose that they thought the phrase 200 YEARS OLD was a nice round figure guaranteed to grab the attention. However, no matter how you look at it, it's just not feasible. There are only two ways that it could have worked. Dr. Ames could also have been around two hundred years old--but in that case, he would also have been affected by the lack of serum. Or, Karyl Simms could have been the actual discoverer of the serum, with Ames as her assistant--but Ames makes it clear at the end that she was his guinea pig. It would have been effective--and much more plausible--if she had been presented as being over 100 years old. It's reasonable to suppose that Ames had located a woman over the age of 100 for his experiments, but not too much older than that.
The episode starts pretty abruptly. A ship out on a foggy night is suddenly snatched below the surface by what looks like another giant Man 'o War. It's a very effective scene--in fact, you're left wondering how anyone could have possibly survived it.
Dr. Ames, the obsessed scientist, is an incredibly arrogant man, but his arrogance is matched by his foolishness. Throughout the episode, he makes one mistake after another. He starts out by refusing to tell Nelson the truth about how his ship was sunk, fearing that Nelson would not risk the Seaview. Surely the combination of an incredible scientific discovery AND a dangerous creature that should be dealt with would have brought Nelson at flank speed--and they would have been better prepared to deal with the situation.
The ship's crew is hauled back on board, except possibly for a handful of non-essentials who were on shore leave. We're treated to a fully detailed dive sequence--they hadn't shown that for a while.
It's not until the Seaview is well underway that Kowalski and Riley finally get around to stowing their guests' luggage. You'd think that that would have been dealt with before they ever left port. The scene with 'Ski and Riley is designed to inform the viewers about Ames' experiment. Unfortunately, it also makes it very obvious how the episode is going to end.
Ames has informed Nelson about his experiments--a special serum, vita-synthesis, derived from sea elements that will not only retain youth, but restore it. Nelson is understandably skeptical--especially since Ames doesn't bother to tell him that he has living proof right on board. I wish that they had allowed more discussion of the matter. Nelson could have brought up the population hazards that would arise if people stopped dying--while continuing to reproduce. It would also have been interesting to know just how Ames was going to present his discovery. Was he going to play God and decide just who would be allowed a shot at immortality, or would he simply sell the stuff to the highest bidder? Ames gives another display of his foolishness here: rather than have copies of his vitally important notes safely locked away somewhere--not to mention a supply of the serum--he's kept it all stored on his ship, which could easily have been damaged or sunk by something other than a giant man 'o war.
Well before they reach the sunken research vessel, they start seeing a number of other sunken ships. Wouldn't you think that there would have been reports of so many ships vanishing from this vicinity? The man 'o war hits them with a massive electrical charge before they can spot it, leaving the ship temporarily discombobulated. Crane has already suspected that Ames was lying about how his ship was sunk, and he now demands to know the truth. Ames, who seems to think that he's in command of the ship, says that he'll tell them later--but the answer suddenly looms up in front of them.
Ames insists that they overlook the little matter of the man 'o war, and proceed immediately to his ship. Crane has no intention of having another confrontation with the thing while his ship is damaged. They're going home. Ames still won't tell them the real reason he's in such a hurry, which quite possibly would have made them reconsider.
Ames speaks with Karyl, who has been hiding in her cabin. Karyl is given very little to do in this episode, but she does pretty well with what she has. It's understandable that a woman (any person, actually) miraculously restored to youth, health, and beauty would be frantic to maintain it, at any cost. It would be interesting to know if she cared about Ames the way Ames cares for her, or if she simply stayed with him as the source of her miracle.
Ames heads out to the ship on his own--another prime piece of foolishness. It's not likely that he could have gotten away from the ship without being noticed, but if he had, they would have been heading back to Santa Barbara, leaving him there to run out of air. He gets cornered by the man 'o war, and of course the Seaview's crew has to go to the trouble of rescuing him.
Crane heads out in the Flying Sub and promptly gets himself into trouble, trapped on the sea bed with chemicals seeping out of the ship's batteries. The distraction does enable Ames to get back to the Seaview, where of course he immediately wants them to try again to retrieve his stuff. Having become a dyed-in-the-wool Lee Crane fan, I was outraged by his casual statement that Crane was expendable--and rather irritated at Nelson for not telling him where to get off, even if he did make it clear that rescuing Crane was his priority.
Ames speaks with Karyl again, who is now clearly showing signs of ageing, and is even more frantically demanding. Ames heads down to the Missile Room, and orders Patterson at gunpoint to prepare a torpedo for immediate launch, although to do so would kill Crane. I liked Patterson's unflappable courage at this point, steadfastly refusing to endanger his captain, even with the threat of death. Ames clobbers him and sets about the business on his own. Unable to see to aim, however, he has to rely on Nelson to tell him when to fire, threatening to blow the ship up if Nelson won't cooperate. Nelson has already come up with a plan for dealing with the man 'o war, and he hastily gets underway. He drives the man 'o war off by reflecting its own electrical discharge back on it--but he does not tell Ames that it is now clear for firing the torpedo. Crane, who has been wrestling with a jammed escape hatch, finally gets it open and makes his way out. His scuba gear apparently did not come with a radio transmitter, and he fails to hear Nelson warn him not to come in via the Missile Room. Crane, who's looking very exhausted at this point, confronts Ames, who wants him to head right back out to his ship. The man 'o war recovers sufficiently to attack them again, and Crane uses the resulting lurch to disarm both Ames and the warhead Ames had turned on. He also fires off the torpedo, killing the man 'o war.
After all he's put them through, Ames still thinks that he can get them to go after his stuff--but an urgent call from Karyl makes him realize that she has reached the point of no return. He finally confesses the truth to Nelson, including the fact that he's made the mistake of falling in love with his guinea pig. He bursts into Karyl's cabin. The camera lingers a long moment on her shocking transformation before she stumbles into his arms and presumably dies. The scene cuts off very abruptly, leaving Seaview heading back for home.
Apparently the loss of Karyl makes Ames give up completely on his discovery, which doesn't seem in keeping with his cold arrogance. Of course, neither did falling in love in the first place.