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Volume 7675a

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ X
Review by Charles Mento

Joe Lara as Tarzan
Lists of Credits are Featured in ERBzine 7670

“It’s not an animal.”
“Well, it sure isn’t a man.”
“Tarzan, be careful, I smell death in your future.”
“Tarzan must die and you will help me kill him.”

The “as always” opening preview happens. It tries to make us believe Themba might be fighting Tarzan but I don’t fall for it. Do I?

In this series anything seems to go so…

Themba wonders if the tracks they are following is Aroo (a lion?), their old friend due to a scarce food in the jungle of late. He wonders, if it is leopard. Tarzan tells him the tracks are not the tracks of an animal. Tarzan seems to know what is going on and rages at Themba to leave after Themba refuses the first time Tarzan asks him to leave. Themba frustrates, “Why are you always being so mysterious?”

NOTE: Is Tarzan supposed to come off mysterious? Dr. Strange, Doctor Who, even Steed from THE AVENGERS tv series and/or even CONAN I can understand? But Tarzan? He’s pretty direct. Is he that way in the novels?

Themba leaves. It must be said that Lara looks even more muscled and yet lean in this episode and looks fantastic.

A large bird flies (eagle? Falcon?) and Tarzan sees lions laying around on each other. As usual Tarzan wears high boots. He finds blood on a rock. Above, in the trees, is a dead gorilla. Themba and Tarzan “bury” him with rocks over his body. His name was Bola and Themba tells us he never saw such a thing: his whole throat was clawed out. Tarzan knew him as a friend.

Tarzan knows someone is seeking revenge against him.

NOTE: Okay, this lead me to wonder about the word “Ape” or “Apes” and the differences from “gorilla” or “gorillas.”

Key Difference: Apes are a type of primates, which when further broken down into results in gorillas. Gorillas are a subcategory of Apes. Gorillas are considered as the largest ape and part of the Genus, Gorilla. Let’s look at the bigger picture first. In an attempt to make things easier, scientists use a classification system in order to distinguish different species. Apes belong to the Animalia kingdom, Chordata Phylum, Mammalia Class, Primates Order and Hominoidea Superfamily. Primates were originally divided into two types: Old World and New World monkeys, Apes belong to the Old World tailless category. They are native to Africa and Southeast Asia.

Apes include all of the members of the Hominoidea superfamily, excluding the Humans. Now apes can further be divided into two branches: Greater Apes and Lesser Apes. Greater Apes include the orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees, while Lesser apes include various different species of gibbons. Lesser apes are also highly arboreal and bipedal on the ground. They have lighter bodies and smaller social groups than great apes. The classification of greater apes means that the apes in this category have a more complex brain and higher intelligence.

The term ‘ape’ is believed to be derived from the old English word ‘apa’, which was believed to the onomatopoetic imitation of animal chatter. Now the most common classification of apes includes being tailless. If a primate does not have a tail, it is commonly classified as an ape.

Apes are usually larger in size and have uneven proportion of hands to legs. Apes have longer hands and a stronger upper body. This is commonly to be able to swing from branch to branch. Apes can stand on their hind legs for a decent period of time but prefer to travel on both, their hands and legs. Apes are considered to have a more developed brain, and the ability to understand many things. Gorillas are considered as the largest ape and part of the Genus, Gorilla. These are ground-dwelling creatures that heavily depend on an herbivorous diet and can be found most commonly in the forests of Central Africa. Gorillas are considered as the next closest living relatives to humans after the chimpanzees, with DNA being 95–99% similar.  The closest relatives of gorillas are chimpanzees and humans, all of the Homininae having diverged from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago. Gorillas can weigh upto 180 kg (397 lb) and can even go upto 270 kg (600 lb) in captivity, although considered as obese. The male gorillas are known as silverbacks because of the silver hair on their back that goes up to their hips. Gorillas' natural habitats cover tropical or subtropical forests in Africa.

Although their range covers a small percentage of Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 2,200–4,300 metres (7,200–14,100 ft). Unlike chimpanzees and orangutans, gorillas sleep in nests on the ground rather than the trees. Gorillas live in troops of one adult male and multiple females, and most of their day is divided between resting, traveling and foraging for food. Gorillas face threat from leopards. They are considered as intelligent beings with many gorillas in captivity being taught how to use sign language. Even in natural habitat, gorillas can be seen using tools such as using a stick as if to gauge the depth of water whilst crossing a swamp, using a tree stump as a bridge, etc.

Okay back to our regularly schedule program:

Tarzan thinks he knows who it is and if it is him, he not only wants revenge, he’s come back from the dead.

Themba says, “That’s impossible,” obviously not thinking about things he’s already seen in previous episodes.

Something with what looks like an iron claw watches Tarzan who finds manmade boot prints and a spear is thrown at Tarzan with a blue and silvery pendant on it. When Tarzan examines it, it burns a symbol into his hand. He drops it and it turns into a snake. Great. More magical mumbo jumbo instead of a straight forward adventure seems forthcoming?

An African man named Zimpala, whose name we do not yet find out, picks up the snake and tells it, “Well done,” and in what might be an unplanned move, had to back his head away from the snake which seems to want to bite him?

Zimpala is wearing the iron claw.

Again, the locations are brilliant but one can’t help but wonder if we’ve seen this waterfall, rock canyon and rock cave in other episodes. Tarzan goes into darkness in the cave and a voice of a man (?) tells him to trust his other senses and trust in himself, believe in himself. Does Tarzan really need to hear this from someone else other than himself?

It says to take one more step, the light will find his eyes and the darkness will control him. WHAT?

The cave gets lighter as he goes on. Senge, a man who is in a stone throne, reveals himself when his throne chair turns to face Tarzan, who knows him and says it is an honor to stand in his presence. Senge has horns sprouting out his head. Tarzan asks why Senge must always test him. Senge asks what he has learned. Sigh.

In Europe, Tarzan learned that not all answers are in books.

The symbol is of the Galano tribe, known to Tarzan as the Ancient Ones, who possess great powers. Each half of the eye interprets the serpent differently, the right good, the left side evil.

The Ancient Ones’ men ruled and knew only evil but the women grew tired of having sons killed in battle. Under the great Princess Maklo, the women revolted. When the men tried to gain control, Maklo escaped into the lost jungle with a handful of women. Tarzan jumps to the conclusion that the Galano are now peaceful and Senge doesn’t contradict him. He feels his past has come back to haunt him and Senge (is he Asian?) agrees.

Senge tells him the man that filled Tarzan up with hate has come back. Tarzan tells explains that with “my own hands,” he killed “him”  but Senge tells him the body may die but vengeance lives on. “It lives in you, too, Tarzan.”   “Yes.”

Tarzan must return to the place of his great pain: the place where Kala fell. He must if he wants to find out which side of the eye controls him. What?

“Tarzan, be careful. I smell death in your future.”

Zimpala moves through a grove of trees and passes through a portal of some kind to more impressive locations. The locations here outdo themselves and the show. It looks stunning, though some shots look superimposed as if Zimpala is superimposed over background like in the older LAND OF THE LOST TV show. Zimpala sees a huge hippo with birds on its back.

He returns to Maklo in a village and they discuss their love and more seriously the fact that he has to go back and she does not want him to and knows he does not have to go back. He tells her that her try will not work and that he is more powerful than she is. “Tarzan must die and you will help me kill him.”

Tarzan stops someone tracking him and it’s Themba. Lara plays his anger well here and the actor playing Themba also excels here in their confrontation. Themba is worried about him and this alleviates Tarzan’s anger somewhat but not totally.

Tarzan explains this is where Kala was killed, the she ape that raised him. When he kneels down, Lara pushes his hair behind his ears but in close up its back over his ears. Themba sensed Tarzan was in danger so followed him, leaving Themba’s village (which we do see this time and it’s empty).

The killer of Kala was Kalanga, son of King Mobone. He shot her with a poison arrow. Tarzan explains he hunted Kalanga for two days, not letting him rest or eat. When he fell from exhaustion, he drove his knife into his heart (I thought it was with his hands). Tarzan calls Senge, when telling Themba of this, “the old goat man.” He thinks the old goat man was wrong and that there is nothing here but pain.

Tarzan knows what he has to do and seems to leave. Themba walks into a woman named Nehri from the Galano tribe. She has a spear. She and another woman with a spear force him to come with them. He doesn’t seem fearful of them and seems to go without a fight.

Soon, he is tied to stake near water. When a croc rears up to attack him, Nehri waves her hand and makes it vanish in a blue smoke or light. Maklo tries to make the women release Themba but they listen only to Zimpala, even if reluctantly. Maklo saved Zimpala and nursed him back to life. She seems surprised he betrays her. Did they forget their earlier conversation? Did she? Was that a filler scene added later to extend the running time of the episode but before this scene? It’s almost as if they never had that conversation. From it, she should know that he was willing to betray her and/or go against her wishes. Here, in this scene, she’s almost shocked, “How dare you?!”

He claims now that she has taught him the secret of her magic, he no longer needs her. He seemed, in that earlier scene, to really love her even though revealing he was stronger than she was. Here, he seems to tell her he loved only her power and now it is his. She claims the power belongs to all of them. He makes the croc reappears and orders her to make it disappear but she cannot. He did this to prove to her she no longer has any power.

The croc, filmed up close, looks real and is pretty scary for once. It’s also only briefly shot by the camera, quick edits.

Zimpala, a very tall man and worthy adversary for Tarzan, makes the croc vanish again and tells the other women to make sure the prisoner does not escape.

Returning to Senge’s cave, Tarzan finds Zimpala in his throne instead and they fight. He tries to use the claw on Tarzan but Tarzan resists. Separating in the fight, Zimpala fires a dart from his wrist band/covering into Tarzan’s left shoulder.  Tarzan pulls it out and tries to follow but rocks start to fall from the cave ceiling. Pointed stalactites also fall at him. He sees Zimpala’s face and it is behind a rock wall and he sees through a hole in the rock wall. The face changes to some kind of monster (a demon? An ape, a white furred ape?) that fires blasts at him. Tarzan jumps out of the cave into the lake/river from a huge height. This must be the fourth time we’ve seen such a jump off a cliff and/or waterfall area. It’s getting old but it always looks great and adds to the action so…

…so far this episode delivers on the action and conflict. It’s also more coherent than last episode and most of the episodes before it.

The problem with this series might also be its strength.

Whereas with the Wolf show and sometimes with the Ely show, you always knew what you were going to get and with little surprise though both of those shows had their exceptions and surprise episodes that went against the grain and it worked for those shows, more with the Ely show than with the Wolf show but both feel like total successes.

Here, this show could start out with a terrific episode and the feeling is at any moment it can go south on a totally different tangent for better or worse.

It does make the show unpredictable and a lot of the time that’s good and works but sometimes it turns into an illusionary trippy mess. While enjoying the first half of this episode, I’m wary it could change at any second, any minute and go into one of those magical incomprehensible illogical confused messes of HUH? I don’t really expect this one to do that. But the thing is, with this show, one never really knows! Is that a good thing? It certainly is unique in all of the TARZAN medium, perhaps even including the novels and comics. Taking turns for the better is fine but for the worse? Not sure.

Tarzan sits to rest but Zimpala is there smelling a flower, telling Tarzan that he can easily kill him but chooses not to. He goes on to explain a man like Tarzan has no fear of death.

“The suffering for you will be in not knowing when it will come or who else will have to die with you.”

Tarzan now knows he is not Kalanga but his brother. This brother, Zimpala, came after Tarzan who left him wounded, dying at the mercy of a lion. Tarzan remembers. He says he did not leave Zimpala; Tarzan claims Zimpala ran. They confront each other about the murders of someone they cared about. “This war stops here,” Tarzan claims. Zimpala will not hear of that.

The lion ripped off his hand and then the Galanos found him and saved his life. Zimpala says Tarzan hunted his brother down like a lion stalks a kudo (?). He threatens to do the same to Tarzan.

As Tarzan washes his face and hands near the water, Senge appears and tells him he is one with Kalanga. They go over the same revenge story again.

Senge tells Tarzan, “Revenge can never be sweet, Tarzan. It always breeds more hatred.”

“What should I do?”

“You must forgive.”

“You must forgive yourself,” Senge goes on to explain when Tarzan says he has no hatred in his heart for Zimpala.

Tarzan tries to follow Zimpala through the portal but cannot, it seems. Instead, he falls into quicksand and yells for Bokale (the subtitles read Bokale but it sounds like Tarzan is saying Bokai). IMDB says Bolgani appears in this episode. It says one of the other women is played by Noxolo Maqashalala.

Tarzan is definitely yelling for Bolgani.

Okay, more later…

Nehri feeds Themba while telling him that there are no more Galano men. She won’t let Zimpala hurt Themba.

Zimpala overhears them talking and rather enjoys threatening them both in an almost flamboyant way and the performance by the actor balances evil and threat with this. He’s just become the best villain so far in this series.

Bolgani frees Tarzan from the quicksand using a vine. Tarzan ape talks with Bolgani and they also touch heads.

Nehri makes him a big meal to keep him busy while she cuts Themba free. She will tell him Themba escaped.

Themba leaves through the portal but Zimpala catches Nehri in the act. She screams.

A lion, at first, seems to be hunting Themba but it’s the beast version of Zimpala. This makes Themba fall back and hit his head on a rock.

Tarzan relives Kala’s death. Zimpala laughs. He acts like the Joker in BATMAN, pick which version. Suddenly, after Tarzan stares at him, there’s a rough edit and suddenly Tarzan is with his bow and arrow on his shoulder and looking for Zimpala. What happened?

Tarzan fires his arrow into Zimpala’s shoulder. He smells blood on the arrow and then licks it? He sees the beast being. Wounded, Zimpala hides behind some kind of forcefield of power to hide from Tarzan. Maklo comes upon him and worries, hoping to help heal him or something. She tells him that there are some things he does not know about what she is doing. Or something. He wonders how Tarzan’s arrow can draw blood. He shouldn’t have the power over him.

She knows he is a good man but the hatred in his heart might destroy him if he doesn’t let it go. He wants to be free to love her. The hate, he insists, is in Tarzan. He makes her believe him with his honest plea and she will give him Tarzan.

Not sure which side Maklo is on and the script makes it work. She leads Tarzan through the portal so that he can save Themba, who is now on the stake again and being menaced by the croc at close quarters this time. Tarzan vs Croc. The fight is brief, thank goodness and Tarzan seems to let it live and sends it on its way. Zimpala has taken away Nehri’s power but…why couldn’t she just physically untie Themba?

Tarzan runs to the stake. Themba asks, “How was the water?” Hilariously.

Being a bad shot, Zimpala fires a dart at Tarzan and hits the stake.

Before he can unite Themba, Tarzan is attacked by Zimpala who issues a Xena like battle cry (not sure if it’s embarrassing or chilling? It IS a bit over the top). As Tarzan vs Zimpala in a good fight in which Tarzan seems to be losing at times, Nehri does untie Themba. ZImpala turns into his beast form to fight Tarzan.

Tarzan, being choked from Zimpala who sits on him straddling him, stabs him with the broken spearhead that broke during the fight. It has no effect thanks to Maklo but she then waves her hand and it bloodies Zimpala.

Tarzan moves to finish him off but then “sees” Kala’s death and does not kill Zimpala, showing mercy. Zimpala asks him to kill him and finish it but Tarzan says it is time for forgiveness. Maklo joins Zimpala who asks her to forgive him. She shushes him. Does she forgive him? She says yes. It also looks as if Zimpala will NOT die from his wound.

The mark on Tarzan’s hand vanishes.

Tarzan sits in the rain (I think near Kala’s grave). It’s an effective scene. Not sure if this is present day or a flashback in Tarzan’s mind. He hears Senge’s voice over about forgiveness.

This was a more straight forward adventure and yet had some overtones of supernatural with the lost jungle, the Ancient Ones and their powers, the portal, the firing of fire from Zimpala’s fingers, and the beast form of Zimpala. I am guessing that some of Tarzan’s power dissipated some of Zimpala’s powers and/or Maklo stopped Zimpala’s powers, too as she implied.

It’s not a perfect episode but up to now, at this point, it does seem to be the best episode, even better than La’s first episode.

It has a nice message of forgiveness, too, and for once Zimpala is more human (well, not totally) enemy for Tarzan to face and though the traditional “revenge against Tarzan” plot is something we’ve seen before on all Tarzan iterations, here, it works as well as or better than the others.

The actor playing Zimpala takes it seriously but at times, has some fun with it and makes for a memorable villain who stands out among all Tarzan villains. For me, this episode works well. The mystical aspects are still there but are mostly downplayed and the ending rather than have one of those “everyone laughs” ending that were so prevalent in Wolf’s show (and in some of Ely’s episodes, too) is avoided to give us a solemn, sad scene to end on: Tarzan mourning in the rain.

Pretty darn good. Lara is very effective in this episode as are all the guest cast and the actor playing Themba.


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