Indiana Jones (Sean Patrick Flanery) finds himself honing in his spycraft in this week’s instalment that was broadcast as a tv movie on 21 November, 1999, but it was comprised of two episodes previously aired.
Austria, March 1917
Written by Frank Darabont from series creator George Lucas, this episode originally aired on 21 September, 1992.
Indy returns to Austria, where he first fell in love as a boy, to try to help the Hapsburg royalty and try to bring a quicker end to the war Along the way he meets up with two of the royal family, Sixtus (Benedict Taylor) and Xavier (Matthew Walt) who plan to reach their sister to help negotiate a way to get Austria out of its alliance with Germany, bringing the war to an end.
Undercover and under his fedora, Indy and the royal pair soon begin to realise that their perceptions of one another are wrong, and do their best to work together.
As they seek to carry out their mission they are menaced by Joss Ackland as The Prussian – this actor can always turn in an intimidating performance, even if he doesn’t say a word.
Screen legend Christopher Lee also makes an appearance as Count Ottokar Graf Czernin who serves the royal family, particularly, Emperor Karl I of Austria (Patrick Ryecart) and Xavier and Sixtus’ sister, Empress Zita (Jennifer Ehle).
The scenes with the family lay out politics, history and plans layering the adventure story with real facts, and theoretically educating the viewer.
Indy’s misfortune with trains in the series continues and there’s a brilliant sequence to close out this half of the movie.
There’s also a great line lift from Star Wars in this one.
Petrograd, July 1917
Gavin Scott pens this episode from a story by Lucas that sees Indy in Russia infiltrating a group of Bolsheviks. He lives with them, shares their lives, and soon begins to empathise with them, even as one of the young women, Rosa (Julia Stemberger) in the group begins to fall in love with him.
He is working not only as a spy but also as a translator and providing analysis on the Russian situation.
He sees Lenin (Roger Sloman) speak and keeps funnelling information to the allies, but as chaos and revolution blossom everywhere in Russia, and with his new friends in the middle of it, Indy will be tested – his loyalty to his friends, or his duty to the service?
The episode shows that Indy has grown a little arrogant in his abilities, and thinks he can outshine all the others in his work area. And while his confidence will remain, that arrogance will be shaken loose.
The pacing, the story and the performances make this one of my favourites as it puts Indy in a precarious position between friends and duty. It’s a very well made episode, and Flanery has settled very nicely into the role.
Next week the young adventurer finds himself involved in Espionage Escapades…