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EPISODE 20: TARZAN AND THE SHADOW OF ANGER
There is NO “Next on Tarzan” or “This week on Tarzan” but there ARE scenes to the upcoming episode.
A tribal ritual is going on where Tarzan encourages a young African boy (for what we do not yet know). There are men who wear masks who are also dancing. A brunette woman witnesses a masks man bungee jump off a huge wooden structure. She blames Tarzan who checked if the man was still alive (and he apparently is as Tarzan seems jovial). The woman slaps Tarzan, “How dare you do this.”
I feel as if this were Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan, he would have hit her back.
The girl has an accent of some kind (French? Latino? Spanish?). The chief tells her she has disrespected their ways. Tarzan tells him she will not return and forcibly removes her. She has an umbrella. She leaves.
The boy gathers up books. They are the woman’s. She’s a teacher that the boy seemingly likes. Soon, the boy is blindfolded and being tested to identify herbs and roots by smell and touch. His name is Kwebe. Tarzan returns and the children or teenagers greet him. Kwebe does, too. The chief and Tarzan tell him that sometimes the journey is from within. Oddly, Kwebe has sandals but the other teenagers do not.
Oh, here we go.
To learn the boy must do the jump and wear his courage proudly for everyone to see. He wants to, maybe, after his lessons.
The idea of the boy liking the teacher and her lessons seems to upset Tarzan.
Kwebe’s voice seems dubbed, either by someone else or by the actual actor later on?
Men are singing as they work. There is a fire raging that seems controlled but set by someone for something. Huh? Tarzan sees all of this and crumbles the plans of the woman who is making room for a school house as men build the structure. Tarzan says these tribes (note the plural) have lived here for generations without destroying the brush. They debate over the barbaric rituals that have children participate. Tarzan tells her that Kwebe has to earn his place in the Makosi tribe. She tells him he should try civilized thinking some time. He says, “I have.” Kwebe watched them debating.
Kwebe runs after Tarzan to give him the headband that will protect him on his journey. When Tarzan tells him he is not going anywhere, Kwebe tells him that he is angry with the teacher and he will soon go in search of his bad spirits. Tarzan tells the boy that his visions are for his people but the boy asks him if he is one of them, thinking Tarzan is. One of the jungle like he is and his people are. The boy wants to learn from the female teacher.
The teacher is Beatrice Dubois.
Kwebe wants to read stories like Tarzan can. Tarzan tells him his Elders will tell him all the stories he needs to know. I don’t understand why Tarzan is so against the boy learning to read!! It’s annoying.
Kwebe refers to Mandu (the chief?) saying you can never have enough to study. He says knowledge is a friend.
Tarzan says, “Kwebe, even a friend can become an enemy.” I’m not sure why Tarzan is being such a jerk.
He’s even more of a jerk when the boy puts a headband on his head “for your journey within.” Tarzan tries to hold back a mocking smile but doesn’t. “Thank you,” he says. BUT as soon as the boy runs off Tarzan shakes his head in mockery, looks skyward, and makes a face. Then, this idiot takes the headband, which and feathers and bones, off. He looks upset. WHY is he being such an idiot and a mocking fool who hasn’t learned a thing from all his experience. Here, he seems to be mocking BOTH the practical knowledge of the teacher AND the boy AND even worse: he seems NOT to believe the “journey from within” and the jungle “magic” and the danger of ignoring that, too. This makes him most unlikable and…worse: WHAT does he believe in now? We do not seem to know.
Next, a quick flash shows someone throwing the bones down. Is that Tarzan who’s dismantled the headpiece? We soon see it is the boy at night. He is doing a ritual with more bones (if these are bones or maybe they are roots or herbs?) and two very old looking bowls containing more herbs and / or roots or ashes of some kind?
Tarzan is sleeping at night in his cave (why is he in a cave as a home in this series?). It is thundering and lightning outside.
The chief warns Kwebe that the “You’d better be careful, Kwebe. The eye of the plant sees more wisely than you do. The spirits give you the gift of vision. But medicine you must study.”
In the middle of that, Kwebe asks what he means. AND…so do we.
The chief seems to be smiling and the delivery implies he thinks this is funny in a jovial light way and mood. Is this a direction problem or does the chief NOT believe in any of this either? What IS happening here.
So far the best acting and delivery is the boy’s and HIS lines feel dubbed in!
Maybe the chief means tribal medicine? Maybe he means the tribal spirit lessons? Maybe he is also FOR the teacher teaching the boy? Thing is the dialog is so cryptic and the delivery out of sync with what is going on or what we think might be going on, this episode has, within ten minutes, become a mess.
We barely know what anyone believes and the one person that we know believes in nothing, it would seem is the one that should believe in both ways: Tarzan.
He gets up and leaves, telling the boy that the blood of a leaf is much stronger than he believes. “So is Tarzan,” the boy says after the man is gone. Sigh.
The boy goes outside in the thunder, lightning and soon, rain. He seems to be having a wardrobe malfunction which might be why he is being shot by the camera men from the waist up. He uses an already burning controlled fire and does more of the ritual. This makes a light come out of Tarzan, makes the ape man get up yelling, all the while see Beatrice playing the piano. The scene really doesn’t work but approaches working as it almost wants to be a horror movie along the lines of the twisted and weird, incomprehensible WRONG TURN.
In another stretched out series of scenes, the sun rises, we see a huge bird, and the large, very clean stone walled room of the teacher Beatrice while Tarzan rises, confused and almost primal.
Beatrice, for some reason, bangs out a musical horror soundtrack on the piano but is interrupted by Themba (who on the subtitles she calls Timba). They hug. Huh? We haven’t seen them interact so far. Much.
Something from its POV, in the meantime is stalking…well, something but the implication is it is stalking Beatrice…and taking its fat time!
Beatrice hasn’t had a good turn out (for the school?). She is European. Themba encouraged her to come here and she seems glad for it, while complaining about being here!? She calls Tarzan the crazy man in a loin cloth who is discouraging her and her students. Instead of asking why, Themba just mentions that Tarzan is a little suspicious of Western Motives. She is from Paris (Themba calls I Paree).
At times, the dialog seems as if these two are not addressing what the other is saying.
HOW am I going to make it through the rest of this episode?
A suffering Tarzan wanders through the woods or forest.
Tarzan shows up, angry, at the tribal work. The natives sing while they work. He suddenly holds his stomach and seems to say, “It burns,” while seeing a burning footprint. No one around hears his low moaning and groaning.
He touches the footprint and it burns his hand. Commercial. Gosh.
Kwebe explains to the chief (or is this a medicine man?) that he thinks he made a mistake. He wanted Tarzan to see his anger for the teacher but misjudged Tarzan’s anger and the anger is getting bigger. The man will not help the boy fix this and despite the boy telling him he does not know how to fix it, the man walks off, telling him, “Then, you still have much more to learn.”
Is that bug on Beatrice’s window? Can this episode get anything right?
Tarzan spies on Beatrice. He appears at her door and she opens it. He tells her soon Kwebe will become the Mokosi diviner. If she takes him, the tribe loses its next doctor. I can’t go on describing their conversation. It narrows down to the fact that Tarzan thinks by the “counselor” teaching the boy that his ways are wrong, she weakens him and his survival in the jungle, things that he needs that she feels are unnecessary. He also believes Themba is weakened by the education and that Themba could not survive in the jungle any longer.
He reveals he knows she prays and this makes her figure out he’s been spying on her. He doesn’t deny it.
She goes into the woods and finds the boy. They talk about the rain. He reveals that when the gods are angry the gods hold back the rain and then his people have a ritual, seemingly for rain. She thought they didn’t have a rain dance. He doesn’t deny it but then tells her the above. What?
He is collecting roots for his medicine.
She tells the boy that in Europe he does not have to search for roots and berries to make medicine and that he would study in a classroom. He told her that she thinks everything they do is wrong. Okay, so BOTH of them are going back on their previous behavior and dialog?
She asks his name and when he gives it, she can’t pronounce it. She tells him her name, Miss Dubois. Is this a flashback? They are meeting for the first time?
The red vision POV thing watches the boy asks the chief/medicine man to help him AGAIN. He can’t find Tarzan’s anger and needs his help to stop it.
Tarzan comes to them. The man is named Mandu. The boy asks Mandu, “Don’t tell him I did it.” So, now the boy wants the man to lie.
Tarzan asks if the creature comes from Mandu.
Mandu tells him that he cannot destroy the creature because it is his anger and to kill it would mean to kill himself and that it teaches him about himself. Tarzan snaps that he knows himself but Mandu says he can still learn more.
When Tarzan blames him for teaching the teacher’s ways but yet banishes her from the jungle, Mandu claims he teaches Tarzan ways of the jungle. Tarzan THEN blames him for being just like her.
Blimey, what the heck? Maybe it’s just me being very picky or not understanding what they are trying to convey but does anyone else NOT see a problem with ALL of this, every line, every scene, every character and their motivation? It’s all confusing, claptrappy, and horrid. None of it makes any sense.
Kwebe tells Mandu, after Tarzan leaves, that he burned the medicine in the fire to try to stop the anger by doing that.
Beatrice returns to her room to find it wrecked and savaged. Tarzan’s face is there and it morphs into a creature. Something throws the girl across the room into the wall.
Outside, the suffering Tarzan comes into the room and he, too, is attacked and downed. He sees a semi invisible (think PREDATOR) body move over him and leave.
Commercial. Not sure I mentioned this before but should have: at each commercial break, the image turns into what looks like an aging book and then shows the logo of the series (over the cover of a thick leather bound old book) with a brief bit of the theme music, an energized fan fare. Upon return from the ad break, the image is a new one with the book look This turns back into the regular view of the episode.
Beatrice is in bed but soon wakes up after a guarding (?) Tarzan leaves. He was sitting near her bed. She goes outside and finds Tarzan pouting but soon Bogani, the gorilla, draws him out of it and they play. They play fight. She smiles.
They spot her and Tarzan stops the gorilla from…doing something? This seems to want to be a profound moment but fails somehow, probably because of the rest of the episode before it. It just doesn’t work at all.
“I only left you when I saw it was safe.” How did he know that it was safe?
She blames him for throwing her against the wall. She claims she saw him and saw the rage in his eyes.
She goes to Themba to tell him she is leaving. He is wearing a full outfit under his loin cloth? Since they first met, all she ever did was ask him about Africa. He tells her to open her mind and maybe she can learn something from the people out there. She tells him Tarzan attacked her. She mentions that it was “last night.” The attack we saw was during the day.
Themba goes to confront Tarzan and they have their most heated debate. He is not sure it was him or it was not him. He is not saying Beatrice is lying, or does not know if she is. What?
Themba says, “You are too afraid of change to live your life.”
“Spoken like a Westerner.”
Themba goes on to say that he holds his family traditions close to his heart but “Development and change will happen whether you like it or not. But if we stop ourselves from adapting, we might as well just die.”
Themba calls is reality and not giving up. Tarzan calls it giving up and a reality that Themba is helping to create. Themba asks if Tarzan would like to attack him now.
Themba leaves. Tarzan has another attack. I know this episode is trying to confront the issue of Tarzan’s confusion over jungle vs civilized education and world but it’s doing it so very badly while trying to be profound. In there somewhere is a good premise and idea or ideas but…the execution is poor IMO.
On the plus side, Lara’s abs and the rest of him, too, look fantastic. Lara is in the best shape of the series and seems to get better and better in physicality and look, seemingly leaner now more than before. In every episode, he looks great and to me, looks like Tarzan.
Tarzan drinks from water. Tarzan is seen kneeling and looking sick in his face. This Tarzan (there might be two?) gets up after snarling. His hand seems to be that of a creature with claws OR he’s holding a hand glove with claws like the leopard men of an earlier episode or of TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN.
Kwebe shows up at what he thinks is the school, “This is the school, isn’t it?” It is. He tells Beatrice that he has a problem counting his numbers and it is causing problems when he makes his medicine. Wait, hang on, does Kwebe have…an Australian accent?
He picks up chalk and a chalk board and holds them out to her.
Two tree stumps hold up a board that serves as a desk for Kwebe as he does a math lesson? Tarzan is outside running.
Kwebe tells Beatrice he is not going to jump until Mandu lets her come to watch. She thinks that going will make it seem as if she is supporting his decision to jump. He thinks jumping will make him stronger. He thinks it will help stop Tarzan’s anger.
Their friendly (sort of) debate is stopped when the creature comes inside to attack them. She shields the boy with herself.
Tarzan arrives and battles with the semi invisible shadow creature but is knocked away. As it attack the girl and boy again, he arms his bow with an arrow. It grabs the boy’s leg. Tarzan aims at the monster which turns, “Kill me and you kill yourself.”
It drags Kwebe (and a near or total wardrobe malfunction). The boy is, at first, shot from a close up for his face.
Tarzan shoots it (in the head? In the stomach? In the back?). It drags Kwebe outside. “Tarzan! Tarzan, help me, please!”
The real Tarzan has a wound on his stomach. Beatrice tends to it and apologizes for accusing him of attacking her. Mandu comes, “You have the skill of a leopard, yet lack the patience.” No, Tarzan has patience. What is he talking about?
He tells Tarzan he must search within and “It never goes beyond the inner self.”
And, “What happens around us comes from the inside.”
Tarzan stalks creature, sees footprint of fire. Themba senses something and btw he’s back in his usual attire of darker vest and shorts under loin cloth. Huh?
Beatrice seems to sense something too or is she just reacting to a roar from the creature and/or Tarzan?
BTW, what is Themba working on? He seems to be building huts. He also was cutting up wood with an axe earlier in the episode. Where is he? Is he at the village of Mandu and Kwebe? Or is he at his EMPTY village? We’re never really given perspective. He seems to be wandering in from his own story? He runs to Beatrice who tells him which way Kwebe was taken and the two of them run out together.
Tarzan follows more footprints of fire. Tarzan has voice overs in his head: the monster, Beatrice, Themba, Kwebe.
In a cave, Tarzan confronts the beast while fire blocks him from Kwebe. The monster’s face seems like something we have seen before in another monster episode. Tarzan tells it it is already dead. Kwebe apologizes for this happening but Tarzan tells him he did nothing wrong. Tarzan throws the beast into one of the fires and then spits red light at it from his own mouth.
In a pretty good spectacular physical effect, the monster burns up and tries to walk toward Tarzan but falls and is gone, all the while burning.
The fires gone, Beatrice runs to the boy, who is still shot from the waist up as she hugs him, on a lower level than he is. When Tarzan approaches the boy, the boy had his hands over his front! When the boy promises that he will not do anymore lessons with Miss Dubois again, Tarzan tells him he needs to follow what is in his heart.
The boy is now blaming HER for his mistake?! When he earlier told her that the mistake was his math? AND blamed himself when talking to Mandu. The same Mandu that, at first, offered NO help and then offered to help and THEN did nothing anyway? Gosh.
Kwebe then asks Tarzan if he can still do numbers and piano, maybe. Since when does Tarzan tells natives what to do and they MUST listen?
Kwebe also says, “I think I’m ready to jump.”
At his ritual jump, before jumping, Kwebe thanks Mandu for making him fix his mistake. Only…he didn’t. He just left you to try to do it and you didn’t fix the mistake. Tarzan did. Unless we didn’t see something like the boy redoing his ritual after the beast returned? No, that’s not what the episode showed. It showed Tarzan defeating the monster in a fire.
BTW, the attractions at the start of his episode edited together clips in such a way as to make us think that Tarzan fired an arrow into his double, the second Tarzan’s stomach. False advertising.
Beatrice doesn’t think she should be at the ritual but Tarzan tells her, “Here is good.” Does that mean yes, she should be there and you agree that she should be there? What?
Themba gives Tarzan a Wisdom Mask (Okallefelle). It is wisdom beyond book learning, sharing the African and the European soul. The owl. With it, Tarzan climbs the tower (to go to the boy?). Mandu tells Beatrice that the math has helped Kwebe with his medicine studies and asks that she will give him another lesson. She will.
Kwebe jumps. Tarzan jumps and his mask falls off when he hits bottom. Joyfully (it feels false), Tarzan takes off Kwebe’s mask and shakes his arms in a joyful moment. Gosh.
As you might tell from above, this episode has its issues and its good points, mostly issues that detract from the good. The premise is good, in a way. In another way, this probably should have come much earlier in the series or maybe it was made earlier as it resembles some of the earlier “search for yourself” episodes of that time, though ALL of those are superior to this. It also tries to reiterate the “Tarzan is of two worlds and he never balanced those two worlds” while also trying to do a tribe vs educated teacher plot. It’s perhaps too much to do all at once.
I could go over why every character is flawed and diluted and delusion here but I won’t. Maybe. None of them seem stable in their views and/or traditions and none seem open to the other POV. There’s also a semi good semi action story here of Tarzan vs his double, an evil version of himself created by a boy who was in over his head in tribal magic but that, too, doesn’t feel right or is used for best effect.
All the premises here seem wasted. The idea of a boy conflicted about his education from tribe and civilization is also a good one and played against Tarzan’s confusion about such things might have made a good script or maybe if Tarzan was sure he had come to such a balance already, an even better episode as he tries to counsel the boy instead of the boy trying to “fix” him.
In short, this may not be the worst episode but it sure rank down there with the worst ones and is probably one of the worst “spiritual” episodes so maybe I am wrong and it IS the worst.
There was a cross in Beatrice’s room but most of the ideas of religious conflict was put aside, though there is the mention of her prayer being like some of the tribal rituals and routines.
In short, far too many ideas here and none of them are satisfyingly executed in the script. Visually, the show looks good here but it’s looked better in other episodes, too.
I’m sure this could have rescued somehow but I fail to see how other than the suggestions above. No one is sure in their won beliefs and maybe that is the point. Tarzan is completely off balance here: telling others what to do, coming off a bully and a mocking oaf to BOTH Beatrice and Kwebe, not seemingly believing either and trying to impart knowledge on both and from a nasty motive.
Themba, too, is trying to defend advances as if they are a good thing and inevitable and Tarzan is right: he has given up and yet he’s seen trying to be a productive member of Africa. Yet, we know he’s failed. His entire tribe has vanishes and he left them years ago and he has NO idea how to find them. He never will in this season and the next season seemingly had plans to revive this plot with him finding out what happened and/or finding his mother and the tribe altogether? Though the next season was to have another actor playing Tarzan at the late stages of planning, who is to say that they would have kept the actor OR Themba himself and/or that sub plot of his lost mother and tribe. Gosh.
Beatrice seems unsure of herself, too. She thinks the tribal ritual of boys jumping off towers (gosh, wouldn’t it have made the episode memorable if Kwebe died bungie jumping off the tower!?) is a bad one. She also makes it clear there are other things they believe that she feels is unnecessary. Yet, later on, she seems okay with it and with staying.
Mandu wants the boy to fix his own mistakes, yet at one point he tells the boy THEY will find a way. Yet he does nothing to help at all. In the entire episode.
Kwebe is also off kilter. He does a ritual he’s not prepared to do. His math is off and he seems to know this. As a child, he can be forgiven more than the others but while he takes the blame for what he’s done, at one point he blames teacher or maybe he’s just trying to be approved of by Tarzan, not that Tarzan has given us or the boy any reason for him and us to feel Tarzan deserves to be even be liked, let alone called a good friend. Tarzan himself seemed to be driven by his need to be right for his own choices and cast them upon everyone else: Mandu, Kwebe, Beatrice, and even Themba. He even tries to tell Bogani what to do.
The other idea of a savage side of Tarzan has been explored in other episodes and while those have been wildly bad, this is worse as it does not commit. What was this monster? Kwebe inspired? Just Tarzan’s anger personified. I guess we do not need everything spelled out and that’s a good thing but is anything spelled out here or clarified?
Thus, watching this is like trying to solve a puzzle that has no real answer or answers. At times, it feels as if the episode is trying to tell things out of order, non linear as it may be but it’s not that clever to do so and may not even be trying to do even that.
All in all, the weakest episode of the lot so far. The past episodes, strong and weak should have informed this one of how to do such a story or stories. There are far too many things it is trying to say and it botches all of them.
It’s also striking in that it comes just after an episode that has a beast attacking women and how different that episode is from this one in approach and which one works better might be a matter of taste…or not but DUNALI works far better IMO. This is filled with unbalanced characters and unbalance motives and a beast that has almost no real reason to be in existence. It’s said to be Tarzan’s anger and I get that Tarzan is a savage man and has a savage side but if they were trying to convey he had to beat his anger, they did a poor job of that as well as everything else with every character and almost every scene.
For some reason, I kept thinking of the original THE WICKER MAN and a few other horror movies but mostly THE WICKER MAN with its main character getting …well in a lot of trouble by investigating and confronting an ancient ritual that makes no sense to him. There are major differences of course but some of this has that feel of Western “civilization” pressing against ancient customs and traditions with both being wrong. Here, ultimately, it seems both are right but that’s TARZAN for you.
In addition past Tarzans have resisted civilization and mistrusted them but then other Tarzans have helped bring civilized medicine to the tribes against their witch doctors and medicine magic men. The difference is those Tarzan movies and TV shows took one side or the other and stayed with that. This seems to play it both ways, having Tarzan want to believe and reject both and while that might work, it takes really crafty writing and dialog to do that and I’m afraid this is NOT the script that has either of those things.
It also tries to present Tarzan as primal, which sort of works but also as villain, which sort of doesn’t as it just makes him unlikable as he’s difficult to almost everyone he meets in the first half of this. To be fair, Lara as a villainous or savage Tarzan seems to be quite scary and formidable. I wonder if he played Tarzan like that every episode, how the series might have gone, with Tarzan almost villainous in his own series?
There are a few good moments, though. I particularly like Beatrice trying to teach herself to pronounce Kwebe’s name correctly. And some of Themba vs Tarzan works but mostly not. Also, once again, they are so close seemingly about to kiss!?
After the drinking from the water scene, Lara looks as if he has no make up on and to his credit, he plays the suffering and tormented Tarzan well with or without make up but to go without is a brave thing---don’t worry, he still looks good anyway! Some of that actually works well. I also like his sitting watch over Beatrice and the Bible and cross scenes resonate (one shot has Lara in the same shot as the cross and with his long hair, the iconography of Jesus is obvious but well framed).
And at one point, Tarzan seemed wounded on his right side of his stomach but later on in the forest/jungle as he stalks the creature to save Kwebe, it looks as if he is wounded on his left side. Maybe there were two wounds? If so the other one is hardly noticeable? In the last scene where he jumps off the tower after Kwebe does, the wound is back on his right side. This also happened in TARZAN IN MANHATTAN and in another episode of EPIC.
The fight in the cave with fire threatening everyone actually does work and the stunts in the fire and the monster’s death really do work, too. The stunt of the dive off the tower, all three times, works, too.
I also like that, signifying that she’s changed, Beatrice watches Kwebe dive off the tower, where on the first look at the first diver at the start of the episode, she turned away and/or blocked her sight of the dive.
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