Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Ark II: "The Slaves" (September 18, 1976)
In “The Slaves,” the Ark II team catches wind of a nearby village using slavery, a “miserable and immoral practice,” and Jonah sets out to observe.
Unfortunately, he is captured by the forces of Baron Vargas (Michael Kermoyan), a tyrant who deploys magic tricks to keep the slaves from attempting escape, banding together, or asserting their rights.
When Jonah stands up to Vargas, the devious Baron stages a fire and light show in which he appears to transform Jonah into a rooster. In truth, Jonah is simply put in prison, abducted in a cloud of smoke, out of the eyes of the crowd.
Other than that touch, this episode, directed by Hollingsworth Morse, hammers home the worthy point that fear stems from ignorance, and that knowledge can overcome ignorance, and thus fear.
The villager slaves are all superstitious and terrified, but Jonah and his team pull back the curtain, to use a Wizard of Oz metaphor, to reveal the truth about the manipulative Vargas. It’s a worthwhile point, especially because so many tyrants in today’s world use ignorant beliefs (usually of a religious nature) to hold back their populations.
It would have been great if the makers of Ark II had provided a bit more detail about these adventurers, and why they became involved with the Ark II mission, and what skills, precisely, they bring to the table. It would have been neat to get an episode where they check back in at home base, as well. I'd love to see the society they hail from, and what it is like.
I also got to wondering, perhaps because this episode is a little dull: is Ark II the only vehicle in the fleet? Is there also an Ark III or Ark IV out there, patrolling a different area of the post-apocalyptic terrain?