The episode leaps into the action with a man tearing through jungle, carrying what looks like a bag on a stick. He's being followed by a giant lizard. Coming to the edge of a pool, he fills his clothing with rocks, then proceeds to blow up the bag--the stick is a hollow tube. Before the lizard can reach him, he jumps into the pool, breathing from the bag, and sinks into the depths.
It's funny how the nitpicking mind works. I can accept the idea of a tropical area in what will turn out to be Antarctica, and I can accept giant lizards running around. What catches my eye is that this man, who will turn out to have been lost for nine months, is remarkably clean-shaven. Why didn't they show him with a beard? And, while there are trace amounts of oxygen in a person's exhalations, there won't be enough to breathe much. This man, armed with light clothing, rocks, and a bagful of bad air, presumably descended some four thousand feet, and then ascended the same distance, completely unaffected by the changing pressure. And the ship that rescued him must have been right on top of him when he popped up, because a soaking wet man is not going to last any too long in the Antarctic.
That out of the way...the scene jumps to a photo darkroom, where a young woman is developing photographs. Captain Crane taps on the open sliding door of the house and calls her name, Carol. Carol yells at him to come in. Clearly, they know each other well. Carol has apparently been angling for a job as underwater photographer on board the Seaview, but that's not why Crane has shown up. Jason Kemp has been found, alive, after being lost for nine months in Antarctica. There is no word of Carol's father and two others, who were lost at the same time. Kemp had been found by an icebreaker and flown to the U.S, and he is currently at Bethesda Hospital in Washington. Nelson is already there with him, and Crane is to escort Carol there.
Kemp seems to have no memory of the past nine months, although he remembers his girlfriend, Carol. Carol's father, Professor Denning of the Denning Institute, Kemp, and two men from the Nelson Institute had gone down in a diving bell, which snapped its cable and vanished. Kemp does remember the events leading up to the accident, but anything past that just gets him agitated. Nelson learns that, while being flown to the States, Kemp had made a tape recording. Nelson goes off to listen to it. Kemp had presumably been ill from shock and exposure--he babbles of a tropical oasis, noises, and monsters. Nelson reflects that Kemp was found lightly dressed--he could not have lasted much more than a day, much less nine months. He also has the appearance of a man just returned from the tropics. Discussing the situation with Kemp's doctor, Nelson cites instances of warm areas found in cold climates. The doctor gives Nelson the air bag that Kemp had been found with--it seems to have been made of some animal tissue. Nelson calls up the International Science Academy to speak with Dr. Ernst Zieglar--a zoologist who specializes in palentology. Zieglar somehow identifies the tissue as coming from the esophagus of an Edaphosaurus. Fossils only involve bone and shell, not soft tissues, so I'd really like to know how he made such a precise identification. He tests a sample of the tissue in his "atomic clock". The results indicate that the animal in question, extinct for millions of years, was alive only a year ago. The possibility of his machine being broken never occurs to him.
Presumably back in Santa Barbara, Seaview prepares for an expedition, hoisting a diving bell on board. Carol Denning and Jason Kemp will be going along--Kemp left the hospital when they made it clear that the expedition would not be postponed. Crane turns his quarters over to Carol. This apparently was simply to emphasize the possible relationship between Carol and Crane, because they surely had guest quarters on board. Just a couple episodes ago they had three visitors, including a woman. Kemp very pointedly thanks Crane for looking after "my girl" during his absence. Chip Morton, who's present, comments on this after Kemp goes below, and nearly gets his head bitten off by Crane--possibly because he vocalized what Crane himself was thinking.
Some time later (there's no clear indication of the passage of time) O'Brien spots an odd reading, which Morton confirms--but there should be no peaks in the area they're passing through. Sonar picks up an obstruction, and they scrape by it with damage to Port Section 3. There's a nice touch here--Nelson takes Carol's hand, with a reassuring look. The look instantly turns serious when she turns her head aside. Crane reports a two degree error in the N6A--the inertial navigator. They cannot continue if it's nonfunctional. Crane wants to return to the Falklands for repairs. Carol doesn't want to delay, but Crane points out that his first duty is to the safety of his ship and crew. Kemp "for once" agrees with Crane. (This comment leads me to wonder if there had been some "incidents" between Crane and Kemp during the journey--or perhaps way back when.) Nelson, who designed the inertial navigator, goes off to take a look at it, and quickly corrects the problem.
They reach the point where the diving bell went down. The water temperature is an astonishing 59 degrees F.--and even warmer further down. Kemp recalls that it was so when they went down before. Nelson, with an odd edge to his voice, comments that Kemp seems to be regaining his memory, but Kemp points out that his memory prior to the dive was fine. Seaview's diving bell is rigged. Kemp doesn't want to use the bell, but they have no idea how far down they will have to go--it might be below Seaview's crush depth. The diving team assembles in the Missile Room--Nelson, Crane, Carol and Kemp. David Hedison, in order to match the preexisting footage, is rigged out in a white suit and boots, with a scarf around his neck. This wouldn't have looked so out of the ordinary if Nelson had been similarly dressed, but he's wearing his standard sub uniform. Crane is to handle the bell's communications--which could easily have been done by any crewman, without putting the captain at risk. The bell is sent down. Kemp is looking very anxious as they head down towards 4,000 feet--which is where his memory seems to stop. Later on the Props Department would have a proper roll of cable for the diving bell, but for this early episode, it's quite obvious that it's a large roll of garden hose. (The metal segments attaching one length to another give it away.) At four thousand feet, having experienced no currents whatsoever, the bell is suddenly seized by a very powerful one. As they frantically start hauling the bell up, the cable snaps. The bell's occupants tumble all over each other (that must have been fun to film). The bell is pushed into a small cave and bobs up to the surface of a pool. Nelson hops out, revealing that the water is waist deep. (The tunnel the bell rose through must be very sharply defined, because Nelson stands right next to the bell.) I thought that Nelson and Crane were being gallant in carrying Carol to shore, but apparently she had been stunned by the rough ride, because she flops to the ground once they're on land. The men also sprawl out for a rest. Nearby, the camera focuses on a very large clawed footprint.
After Crane cleans and dries the gun, they start taking stock of the situation. Nelson thinks that the area is heated by constant volcanic action, and the bell was caught up in a thermal current. Carol wanders off, and finds the footprint. The group splits. Carol somehow ends up with Crane, rather than her erstwhile boyfriend. After finding another footprint, Carol moves on ahead, and quickly finds the source of the footprints. I loved the tone of her voice as she almost squeaks "Lee...." Crane comes up beside her, speedily assesses the situation, and opts to hightail it out of there. After passing through a stretch of jungle, they reach a rather barren, flat area, and Carol's hair promptly turns lighter. (Jill St. John, star of "The Lost World", is a redhead, not a brunette.) She and Crane manage to hide alongside a rock wall, as the lizard comes after them. Carol screams right in Crane's ear, which can't have been too comfortable. A second lizard (different type) has also shown up, and they decide to fight over who gets to have lunch. The fight sequence is quite extensive. Carol ends up wrapped in Crane's arms, but still screams at intervals, when she's not hiding her face in his armpit. The lizards end up rolling off the edge of a cliff. Nelson and Kemp immediately run up. (Presumably they had been keeping a prudent distance during the battle.) Nelson and Kemp had found what looks to be an old campsite, and they head back to it. Carol rejects Kemp's tacit offer of support and comfort. (After being in Crane's arms, can you blame her?) Kemp obviously blames Crane, giving him a long, hard look before turning away.
On their way to the campsite, Crane thinks that he spotted something moving--something that looked human. Rather than splitting the group again (and spoiling the ensuing footage) Nelson agrees to let Crane search on his own. What Crane spotted was a native girl (who looks remarkably like what Star Trek's Green Orion Slave Girl would have looked like filmed in black and white). The chase leads through a network of webbing. The girl cautiously makes her way past a giant spider; Crane simply shoots it. The girl must have dawdled after getting clear of the web; when Crane exits, he seems to catch up instantly, although she had been well ahead of him. Crane drags her along with him. At the campsite, we get the first clear indication that something is fishy with Kemp--spotting a compass lying in the sand, he scoops it up, glances around furtively, and goes off to bury it. Crane arrives and presents his catch of the day. Scientist Nelson casually glances over her, notes the high cheekbones and "characteristic eyefolds" and immediately identifies her as Amerind. ("Native American" was a phrase long in the future.) He speculates that a canoeful of natives from South America had gotten swept into the area, perhaps centuries ago. The girl spots Kemp, and with a cry, moves toward him. Kemp promptly shoots at her, Nelson yanking her aside just in time. Crane jumps for Kemp, but they're all interrupted by the arrival of more natives, all male, all distinctly unfriendly. A big, noisy party seems to be going on at the natives' home complex. The group are shoved into a cave, which is braced shut with a framework of wood. Kemp suddenly starts to remember things (although no one comments on it). The altar they passed is for a ceremony to the fire god, which takes place at noon of the longest day--today, in less than half an hour. Considering that Kemp had only been there nine months, it would be interesting to know just how he learned about the timing of this ceremony. Nelson notes the fact that Kemp had been trying to delay them all along--including sabotaging the inertial navigator. (I'd like to know just when he managed that, and why Nelson didn't call him on it at the time.) Nelson deduces that Prof. Denning must have still been alive when Kemp escaped, and Kemp had tried to delay them until after the ceremony--which Denning would presumably have a starring role in. At this point, Denning himself emerges from a small tunnel--filthy and overgrown. (Just how did Kemp shave, I'd like to know? Or did he have a naturally light beard?) Denning, who doesn't seem too surprised to see anyone, is full of quiet fury against Kemp. He states that a girl had fallen in love with Kemp and Kemp used her to escape. He had also used the two Nelson Institute men, leading them into a trap and slipping away as they were caught and killed. Kemp makes no attempt at explanations, simply squirming under their combined contempt. Kemp's behavior is inexplicable. Why hadn't he simply reported that he was the sole survivor of the expedition? If he had done so, there would have been no hurry in getting a look at the place. It doesn't seem likely that he really was suffering from partial amnesia, because he was trying to delay them from the start. The girl arrives at the cave entrance with a tray of food, calling to Kemp, whom she addresses as Daa-tu (or something like that). Nelson, setting aside his feelings, urges Kemp to communicate with her. The guard shoves her away before Kemp can accomplish much. Nelson abruptly reveals a nifty gadget hidden in his boot--a blowgun and paralyzing dart. (Shades of James Bond--or Maxwell Smart.) He hits the guard, but the effect only lasts 30 seconds. The girl takes a lot of persuading, (and Carol has an odd look on her face during Kemp's efforts) but finally pulls away the barricade. Naturally, the safer pathway is blocked off by angry natives, so they're forced to the dangerous path, along a river of lava. Viewers who had never seen "The Lost World" would be startled at a sudden shot of a group of strangers, including a man with a white hat. Most of the footage at this point integrated a little better than that. Carefully making their way along a narrow ledge, Nelson, at the rear, sets fire to a bridge, preventing their pursuers from pursuing any further. The girl brings them to a more open area. The lava flow is suddenly above them, blocked off by a rather low wall, with a pool of water below it. The girl abruptly takes her leave of "Daa-tu" and runs back the way they came. Considering her betrayal of her own people, it was a remarkably brave (or stupid) thing to do. Or perhaps she recalled how Kemp had shot at her and decided to bring them to a nasty fate, because after she left, yet another lizard appears, hoisted out of the pool (you can see the strings clearly). Nelson suggests breaking the dam and letting the lava flow onto the lizard, but leaves the actual attempt to Crane. Crane is quickly pinned down as he ascends to the dam, and calls for some distraction. Kemp, with no hesitation, dashes forward. It was fairly obvious that Kemp was not going to last to the end of the episode, the only question being if he got killed during some display of self-centeredness, or in a state of atonement. Atonement it was, and boy, was it quick! The scene was actually fairly realistic--quite unpleasantly so. Crane manages to break the dam (in the movie, he required assistance, his helper also atoning) and the lizard sinks beneath the onslaught of lava. Hastening past, the group finds a short tunnel with snow at the end, and immediately commence rubbing their arms with the cold. Nelson says that the mountain will explode when the lava hits the ice (why, I have no idea; you'd think it would simply melt the ice until the cold eventually overcame the heat). They hurry down the tunnel. Crane tucks his hands behind his back, which momentarily gives him the look of a man out for a casual stroll. With remarkably astute timing, the Seaview broaches. Chip Morton spots the group shivering on the shore and calls for a rescue party. The group, well bundled up, stand up in the conning tower, watching as the Antarctic Hot Spot vanishes in a series of explosions. Denning complains that there's nothing to show for it. Nelson points out that they have their lives. No one mentions that the native colony no longer have theirs--including the girl who saved them.