Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Season 4 Episode 8

Time Lock

Aired Monday 7:30 PM Nov 12, 1967 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Time Lock
A man from the future sends two androids back in time to kidnap Nelson from Seaview in order to add him to a collection of other famous military figures abducted from various eras of the past.

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  • This is an interesting episode, but irritating, because if they'd fixed the plot holes and inconsistancies, and paid a little more attention to the the psychological/philisophical points, it could have been excellent. The ending bothers me, as well.moreless

    We start with Seaview cruising on the surface. A strange beam of light curves down and connects with the Seaview (actually, it looked as though it came down behind it, but we won't quibble). Inside, in Nelson's lab (it took me a while to recognize it as his lab, because it's shown at a different angle) a little circle of light appears on the floor, expands, and then suddenly a cylindrical machine appears. I say cylindrical, although it has four posts in it; the bottom and top are round. Moments later, two silver-skinned men appear inside, one wearing a purple tunic, the other wearing an unpleasant shade of dark yellowish green. They disembark from the cylinder and head out the door. Up in the Control Room, everyone is clustered around Kowalski, who has picked up some odd reactions on the Sonar. There seems to be some electrical interference that is NOT coming from outside the ship. Nelson orders the duty electrician to investigate, just as the interference begins again. Nelson notices that everyone seems to have frozen. (That happens a lot on this ship.) The ship, however, is still functioning. Purple and Green walk into the Control Room, calling to Admiral Nelson. Crane's eyes slide around, proving that the paralysis is not complete. Nelson reacts as you would expect, but Purple says that he will come with them, and gestures with his hand. There's an odd whistling sound. Kowalski is also moving his eyes as much as he can. Nelson slowly moves forward. Back from the credits, Nelson is still approaching the two alien men. Chip's eyes also move, and Sharkey watches as Nelson passes by and out of the room. A few moments after they leave, the paralysis ends. At this point, if it were me, having seen my superior (whom I respect and like) taken away under alien control, my first reaction would have been to dive out the door after him. Instead, the four men all come together, excitedly discussing what had happened. Crane points out the obvious--that the aliens must have had some power of paralysis. 'Ski links this to the electrical interference. Crane goes to the weapons cabinet (at least this week it's a weapons cabinet) and hands out guns. Chip will stay at the con, while Sharkey organizes a search party--which they wouldn't need if someone had gone after them immediately. Purple, Green, and Nelson come to the lab. At this point, Nelson is no longer helplessly and silently obedient. He learns that the cylinder is a time lock. Purple raises his hand again, and Nelson backs into the cylinder and vanishes. He reappears in a room with another cylinder. This room is filled with figures on pedestals, wearing costumes from various eras of history. A man in pirate costume catches Nelson's eye, and he steps over for a closer look. He touches a hand, and lifts it up; it's limp. Apparently it's warm to the touch, because Nelson addresses the figure as though it should hear him; he doesn't think it's just a statue. Nelson visibly gets himself under control. He calls out into the room, and a voice answers him. Nelson yells back, and the voice mildly observes that there's no need to shout. A door opens to one side, showing a passage. Nelson hesitates, and the voice impatiently tells Nelson not to keep him waiting. Nelson backs away; he's not going anywhere. The pirate suddenly moves. Two other figures--an ancient Roman officer, and an Asian, move in on Nelson. All the other figures remain still.

    On Seaview, Sharkey and 'Ski are searching. Purple and Green, for some reason, have remained on board. Purple gestures at the lab door (Green never makes any such gestures) and the whistling noise is heard again. 'Ski comes up to the door, touches it, and gets a bad shock, although he recovers quickly. Sharkey orders the rest of the party to open fire on the door--which gets Crane's attention, down another corridor. The bullets do not penetrate--in fact, they don't leave a single mark. There seems to be a force field in effect. Crane leaves two men to guard the door, ordering them to kill anyone (except Nelson, of course) who comes out.

    Nelson is escorted into a room filled with various electrical panels. A man, dressed in red, wearing dark glasses (hmmm) sits at a fancily inlaid table, with what looks like four metal wine bottles at the four corners. Nelson assumes, correctly, that this is the source of the voice. The man agrees that he was the one who brought Nelson here. But just where is "here"? "Here" is actually only a few miles, geographically, from where Nelson was before. Timewise, however, he is in the year 2823. The man's name is Alpha. Nothing else; titles are relics of the past--unfortunately. He likes "Admiral". Alpha is very fond of military titles. He has brought Nelson to add to his collection of military men from all across time. (Although Nelson regards himself as a scientist, his title and a pile of other proof indicate that he's no slouch in the military department.) This, to me, is creepily plausible. As Nelson will point out later, human nature doesn't change much over time, and I can easily see some self-centered jerk from the future, having the ability to go back in time, stealing people from their places with no regard whatsoever for their feelings or the effect it will have on history.

    Back on Seaview, they confer in the Control Room. The force field is around the lab. Chip suggests destroying the field with an explosion--but that would tear the hull apart, as well. Sharkey mentions that he used to play street football, in the position of quarterback. Chip irritably suggests that this is not the time for reminiscencing. Chip has been given the thankless task of spelling things out to the audience, which always makes the character look foolish. He could guess that Sharkey has a point to make, and Crane lets him make it. His football team had a motto: If you can't go through 'em, go around 'em. Chip, still playing the irritant, orders Kowlski back to his post; I guess a mere sailor can't contribute anything to the discussion. Crane, who understands Sharkey, has 'Ski wait, however, and tells Sharkey to take what he needs from stores. Sharkey also takes 'Ski. Back in the future (ahem) a man in blue uniform coat and hose (looks kind of 1800s to me) is strapped to an upright board, with a clear helmet like thing over his head, while lights and colors percolate. Nelson asks who the man is, and Alpha replies that the name is no longer important. This makes no sense at all. Earlier he had mentioned Alexander the Great, Stonewall Jackson, Napoleon Bonaparte-and what would be the point of collecting famous men if you didn't have the names? The man was once an Admiral, being "conditioned" to add to his collection. It would be dangerous to leave these military genius fully functional, so he drains away their intelligence (and somehow stores it). The conditioning process over, Alpha commands the man to get up. (If his intelligence has been drained, he shouldn't respond to anything whatsoever. It would have made more sense if Alpha had simply used some device--we've seen them back in Nelson's time--to keep the men under control.) The man, looking very pasty, gets up and slowly walks away. Alpha cheerfully assures Nelson that the man isn't suffering; he feels nothing. Nelson makes no attempt to discuss the legal and moral ethics involved here. By what right does this man steal others from their times and turn them into mindless zombies? Nelson's turn is coming next. Nelson tries punching the pirate, but there's no reaction--as Alpha said, they feel nothing. Nelson would have been better off punching Alpha, and it would have been much more satisifying.

    On the Seaview, Sharkey prepares to take to the air ducts. They're assuming that the force field is only around the door of the lab. Crane warns him to shoot first--no telling how the aliens might react. Chip comes walking up--shouldn't he be at the con? Maybe he's just there to provide moral support.

    In Alpha's lab, Nelson continues to struggle, much to Alpha's scorn. To call Alpha self-centered is a gross understatement. He can't seem to comprehend why Nelson would bother to resist, although I'm sure that he himself wouldn't appreciate having his intelligence drained. He claims that he's doing this as a favor to Nelson, who understandably starts laughing. Usually he keeps his prisoners (he doesn't call them that; I do) for several hours before conditioning them, checking on their backgrounds, since once they're processed, he won't be able to question them directly. (A darned good reason for not doing it at all, if you ask me.) It doesn't occur to him that Nelson would welcome a few hours' respite. Alpha is disappointed that Nelson is not in full uniform (he expects Nelson to perform his day-to-day duties in his Class A's?) It will take a few minutes for his conditioning machine to power back up. Nelson doesn't mind at all.

    Sharkey crawls through the ducts to the lab. Purple and Green are just standing, facing each other like bookends. Sharkey pulls out his gun, kicks out the grate, and jumps into the room. Purple and Green quietly swing around to face him, seemingly unconcerned. Sharkey opens fire, and Purple sways back in reaction to the shot, but remains upright. As always, Sharkey responds to this dismaying situation by shooting some more. (It always takes a lot of shots for the truth to dawn.) Purple raises his hand. Sharkey starts backing away. The guards outside hear the shots and report them, so Crane tries to call Sharkey. (Like the man is going to stop in the middle of a gunfight to answer a call. Yup.) Naturally, he gets no answer. Sharkey keeps backing--although he doesn't seem to be doing so because of Purple's gesture. He warns them back, and finds his gun suddenly isn't working. Crane contines to call as Sharkey backs into the cylinder (by chance, or by gesture?) and vanishes. Out in the corridor by the grate Sharkey entered, Kowalski thinks that perhaps Sharkey's not responding because he's on his way back. (Should have given him a portable communicator.) Crane orders Sharkey to signal by rapping in the duct, but there is no sound. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone that Sharkey may now be a prisoner. Crane tells Chip to do check with the guards.

    In Alpha's lab, the Roman and the Asian (the pirate has disappeared for parts unknown; we won't see him again) are ordered to strap Nelson to the board. An alarm sounds. Alpha touches his table, which activates a screen in the other room, where he sees Sharkey arrive. Nelson yells, yanks away, and runs. Alpha commands him to stop--yeah, right--then orders the others after him, which they slowly do. Sharkey is staring around the room as Nelson rushes in and orders him to cover the door and shoot anyone. Sharkey is no doubt relieved to have an order to follow. Nelson needs time to figure out how the time lock works.

    By the lab door, the guards jump as Chip walks up. There have been no further sounds since the shots. Chip pulls out a quarter and tosses it at the door. Yes, the force field is still on. He yells through the door to Sharkey, but there is no response.

    In the "display" room, the Asian and the Roman slowly march in the door, and Sharkey (his gun working again) opens fire. There is no reaction. Pause here for an aside. These are living men, simply drained of their intelligence. I've already mentioned that they shouldn't be able to respond to commands (let alone remember who they're supposed to be chasing). Living beings would need to consume nourishment and water at judicious intervals, to excrete the byproducts, and to sleep. There is no indication that they do any of these things. And living men certainly would not take bullets to the chest without reaction. These men don't even jerk in response to the bullets' impact, as Purple and Green do. It would have made more sense if Asian and Roman had been gunned down, and then have Alpha activate one of his other figures to nab Sharkey from behind and take the gun.

    On Seaview, Chip returns to Crane and 'Ski to report. 'Ski starts to climb into the duct, and gets yanked back. 'Ski argues the point, but gets sent--reluctantly--to join the guards. Actually, it would have been smart to send 'Ski--or someone--to recconoiter the situation, as long as he was ordered to do nothing more than observe. They could have checked to see if Nelson and Sharkey were prisoners, or dead (or gone). Crane orders their course changed, back to Santa Barbara. The Institute will have equipment that can neutralize the field. Inside the lab, Alpha's image appears in the center of the cylinder. Purple and Green turn to look. Alpha tells them not to send any further specimens through. (He doesn't ask why Sharkey was sent through, although obviously he had not ordered it.) Green suggests that they return home, and Alpha refuses. We finally get an answer to something I was wondering all along--why were they staying, when their mission had been accomplished? Alpha says that he's interested in their weapons of war. (Heads up, everybody!) Purple says that they expect more trouble from the crew, Alpha orders them to keep the crew occupied, and fades out. Apparently without affecting the field, Purple and Green open the door, ignore the shots, and knock out the two guards. They toss in a quick shot of the Seaview cruising underwater--although the last we knew, they were at the surface. They show a nice view of the windows, with a bunch of tiny silhouettes showing. Kowalski seems to have forgotten the way to the lab door--he was clearly turning down another direction when he glanced back and spotted the downed guards. He hastily checks for vital signs. He also checks that the force field is still up (Yup). 'Ski reports that the guards are alive (no sacrificial lambs this time out). Corpsmen are sent for the men, while 'Ski is ordered to check the corridors. (Alone. Can't someone else help? How about Patterson? And notice that, like always, the entire remaining crew seem to be in hiding--no one else is out in the corridors.) Purple and Green somehow get behind Kowalski as he searches. They find a little door up on the wall of the corridor (never seen before) and open it. 'Ski returns and opens fire. Purple reacts but keeps coming. After the three shots, I think I'd get the point and hightail it out of there, but of course 'Ski stands there and gets clobbered. Purple and Green return to the little door (they must know a lot about the Seaview) make some adjustments, and pull a lever. There's a small explosion and we swing into a major lurch. In the Control Room, Patterson (oh, yeah, there he is, manning the helm) reports that the controls are jammed, and they are close to the bottom. (Presumably that little door housed an emergency auxilary control?) Someone (or something) makes a sibilant sound. Perhaps it was supposed to be a tiny blast of steam, but it sounded rather as if Crane had muttered a word they didn't allow on television back then. Crane, lurching about, orders all stop, all back full. There's that sibilant sound again. Chip says that there's too much forward speed, they are still going to coast forward a thousand yards. (Actually, from the outside, it just looks as though they're twisting back and forth, no forward motion.) Chip staggers over to the sonar station and reports a peak ahead at five double-oh. Crane orders them to rig for collision (I wonder what that entails?) They just miss sideswiping some rocks as the crash shield goes up. At this point (still moving forward) Kowalski comes to, in time to see Purple and Green walk away. 'Ski grabs his gun (which he already knows won't work) staggers after them, then reconsiders. (Smart boy.) He lurches across to the open door and resets the lever. (Notice that that little explosion previously didn't cause any damage?) The controls free up, and they haul Seaview's nose upward. They sideswipe another familiar rock outcropping, but this time there's no real lurch. Everyone just stands still, listening the horrible scraping sounds. Crane orders a work party to check the controls. (Presumably they can tell just what controls got messed with.) Kowalski, having saved the day (or at least the moment) passes out again.

    Nelson and Sharkey have been taken prisoner again, this time in another room. Alpha is fascinated by Sharkey's real, old fashioned hand weapon. Nelson would be happy to demonstrate it, but Alpha declines the offer. They've forfeited their right to any consideration. (Just what consideration they'd been offered before is a good question.) They will now have to wait, wondering when their final moment will come. Nelson, very belatedly, asks what he should have asked before--by what authority is he doing all this? He wants to see Alpha's superiors. Alpha claims that he has none. Nor is he a leader himself--only a private citizen, answerable to no one so long as he obeys the law. Since his specimens are not dead, he is not guilty of murder. (Just kidnapping, mental mutilation, interference in historical events....) Sharkey starts to react, and Nelson quiets him. Nelson doesn't believe Alpha, but Alpha claims he is operating on the authority of the "Hobby Act". With only a five-hour work week, no one has much to do, and hobbies are considered crucial. His hobby happens to be toy soldiers. (Which leaves me wondering just what he tells the "authorities" that he's doing. Surely this "Act" would not allow people to cause harm in the course of entertaining themselves.)

    On the Seaview, Chip reports that all is now well. (Except for the little matter of two silver men running rampant.) They could find no reason for the problem but deliberate sabotage. Crane believes that Purple and Green have left the lab, but Chip (playing the fool again) says that he checked the door and it's still closed. (No explanation for what knocked out the guards, though.) Crane sensibly points out that that is no proof. (That's why he's the captain.) Crane orders them to surface. Kowalski awakens again, thinks a bit, holsters his gun, and follows after Purple and Green. They must be wandering all over the place, because he comes up upon them from a different direction. This time, he wisely retreats. Up in the Control Room, Chip reports that the guards are not seriously injured. Crane orders a relief guard, which he should have done before, and Chip gets the fun of anticipating him, making up a bit for his other displays of foolishness. Kowalski, rather than reporting on a mike where anyone could hear, comes to the Control Room and reports that Purple and Green went into...oh, NO...the Circuitry Room! Prepare to lurch! Chip arranges an armed detail. Kowalski, for some reason, waits a bit before mentioning the little detail of bullets not working on these silver guys. Down in the Circuitry Room, Purple and Green start pulling on things, with predictable results. As the lurching commences, Crane orders them to blow ballast. (Hey, wait a minute--he ordered them to the surface--ballast should have already been blown.) Chip reports the ballast is jammed. They're a hundred feet from the bottom, and apparently diving fast--they hit moments later, bouncing off last season's rock outcropping and nosediving into the sand. (I'm all for nostalgia, but Allen overdoes it.) Everyone ends up on the floor. For the first time in three plus season, Damage Control reports BEFORE Crane calls them. As usual, they instantly know the full extent of the damage. They're still watertight, but the air revitalization unit is out. Chip has to point out that they can't survive without air. An alarm reports a fire in the Circuitry Room (not surprising with all those sparks). The armed detail seems to have forgotten where it was going, a two-man fire-control team enter the Circuitry Room and deal with the fire. Purple and Green are nowhere to be seen.

    Sharkey has concluded that Alpha is crazy. He doesn't believe that they're in the future--although obviously they're somewhere. Nelson, busily doing something with the one chair in the room, does believe it. Nelson sets the chair cushion on fire, then quickly puts it out--he just wanted to see if it could be done. Sharkey mentions the fact that all the rooms have no windows, which Nelson had also noted. Nelson comments that human nature doesn't change over the centuries; he can't believe that the "authorities" would condone Alpha's actions. They need to get the attention of the outside world, and perhaps a fire will accomplish that. They start gathering up flammable materials. Alpha is at his table, watching the Seaview--although I'd like to know just how he could get an outside shot of her. Or inside, for that matter. Just how are images being projected? He switches to the lab, where Purple and Green have returned, and orders them to fetch Nelson's full-dress uniform. Having started the fire, Nelson is confident that there will be some sort of automatic alarm. There is, indeed, but also an automatic defense--foam starts dropping from the ceiling. You would think, however, that someone outside would be required to respond, if only to find out why the fire started and confirm that it was under control. Roman and Asian enter the room--and react to the flames. Nelson grabs the belt light Sharkey was carrying and aims it, and sure enough, they react to the light, cringing away. Nelson and Sharkey run past them to the time lock room. Sharkey balks at simply jumping into it, but Nelson now thinks that the lock is automatically set, and they don't need to adjust it. As Sharkey starts to enter, he is shot in the shoulder. Alpha has caught up to them. Nelson aims the light at Alpha, but the dark glasses protect him. Alpha, who has no use for an enlisted man in his collection, aims at Sharkey again. Nelson throws the light, banging Alpha on the head. The gun goes off as he dives for him. The fall knocks off the glasses, and in the course of the fight, Nelson punches Alpha, who steps back and smashes them. Just as Nelson is getting the better of Alpha, Roman and Asian walk in and grab him, hauling him off to the lab. Alpha picks up the gun, but for some reason doesn't finish off Sharkey.

    On the sea bottom, Crane broadcasts the situation. Until the air revitalization has been restored, there is to be no talking, no unnecessary movement--and no smoking. This would seem to be obvious. We learn for the first time that they have a spot on the Seaview specifically for smoking. Purple and Green come to Nelson's cabin--just as Crane comes by. Crane ducks away, rushes back to the Control Room, and orders 'Ski to weld Nelson's door shut. Purple and Green slowly work their way through Nelson's room, finding his Class A uniform. They hear the sound of the welding torch, and both start shouldering the door. Very satisfying to see them stymied.

    Sharkey, who is really reacting to his injury, pulls out his handkerchief, but instead of staunching his wound, carefully spreads it out on the floor. The figure above him, eerily, peers down at him without moving--the first indication that they are capable of independent reactions. (Hold that thought.) On the Seaview, Crane comes through the duct into the lab, finally discovering that Sharkey and Nelson are not there. He carefully examines the time lock, but, remarkably, does not step into it. Sharkey painfully tosses his blood-spotted handkerchief into the time lock. Back on the Seaview, Crane is just about to leave the room when he hears the sound of the machine, and sees the hanky appear. He fishes it out of the cylinder with a wrench. Sharkey has not just sent evidence of his existance; the handkerchief has a message traced on it: "Send Help. Chief." Crane calls the Control Room, and asks what is the most powerful, portable weapon they have. It's the Mark 8--a grenade launcher. Crane orders one sent through the duct. In Nelson's cabin, Purple and Green turn to contemplate the grate--then take the uniform and crawl out. In Alpha's lab, Alpha commends Nelson on finding out that light affects his specimens--and him as well. Alpha's eyes are weak from living in dim lighting for so long. (This explains the lack of windows.) This

    makes no sense whatsoever. Why should draining a person's intelligence affect his vision? And are we to believe that Alpha, who shows no concern for his prisoners as human beings, allowed his own eyes to become weakened so their poor eyes won't be hurt? Especially since they spend the majority of their time up on pedestals, anyway? It would have made far more sense to have it in reverse--that Alpha, for whatever reason, suffered from weak eyes, and being in the dimness caused his specimens' eyes to weaken. (This would also explain why Alpha's eyes need extra protection, which the specimens do not.) Nelson states that Alpha's "hobby" is merely a cover for something else. All of his specimens have been officers, with lots and lots of military strategy, which Alpha now has access to. (Although this point has to be assumed--there was no real indication that the brain drain saved the information.) All this knowledge would give Alpha an edge in a world that had become universally peaceful. Alpha is planning to start a war. I do wish they had gone into this further. Why a war? Is he hoping to take over the world, or at least a piece of it--or is he simply bored with his five-hour work week and looking for some excitement?

    On Seaview, Kowalski hands over the grenade launcher--which just looks like a flare gun (and how many shots would it have?) He reports that there has been no sound from Nelson's cabin, then retreats. Purple and Green are coming through the ducts, and 'Ski either saw or heard them. Springing out from the grate, he calls Crane to warn him. Crane listens at the grate, then enters the cylinder and vanishes.

    Just as Alpha is lowering the head device over Nelson, his alarm sounds again. The screen shows Crane's arrival. He orders Roman and Asian after him. Crane finds Sharkey, barely concious. Sharkey mutters about light as Roman and Asian come in, but Crane is uncomprehending and tries to restrain him. Sharkey finally snatches the light and aims it, then points Crane in the right direction. Crane takes the light, gets past the two men, looks down the corridor and sees the lab. He flashes the light into Alpha's eyes--and the battery dies! Great equipment they use. Alpha grabs for Sharkey's gun, and Crane fires his. Alpha evaporates. You'd have thought that half the room would go with him, but it was a restrained little grenade. Crane releases Nelson, and they run, although I'm not sure what their hurry was.

    This was where it got bad for me. Nelson rigs the time lock to explode, using explosives from Crane's grenade launcher. That was one heck of a lot of explosives from that little gun. What troubles me is all those specimens. Nelson knows that they are alive, stolen from their times, just as he was. Might that have effected history? Isn't it possible that their intelligence could be restored? We've seen a bit of evidence that they are not as mindless as Alpha claimed, which means they stood there, helpless, as the room blew up. (Causing who knows what damage to neighboring buildings and the inhabitents therein.) Apparently Nelson is not certain enough about human behavior to risk meeting with others from the future, to explain what happened, to try to set things back as they should have been. It would have been a lot more satisfying to

    see Alpha get his comeuppance rather than just getting blasted.

    Oh, well. The three return to the Seaview, to come fact to face with Purple and Green. They pretty much ignore them--they're in too much of a hurry to get away from the time lock. The explosion is seen in this time as well as the future, and Purple and Green are left lying on the floor. They were androids, which one could have guess from Alpha's normal complexion. Sharkey is taken to Sickbay. (Sharkey's showing a patch on the back of his shirt, proving that the bullet when clear through. Lucky it didn't damage the time lock.) Obviously repairs have been completed, as Seaview lifts off from the bottom. They've made it through another adventure. Of course, there's always next week....moreless
John Crawford

John Crawford


Guest Star

Terry Becker

Terry Becker

Chief Sharkey

Recurring Role

Del Monroe

Del Monroe


Recurring Role

Paul Trinka

Paul Trinka


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions