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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Land of the Lost: Downstream Land of the Lost
TV episode
Written by Larry Niven
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Original airdate: September
28, 1974

The Marshalls meet a confederate soldier from the U.S. civil war who is mining crystals which have unusual properties.

Read the complete story summary by Nels Olsen

Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode

Rick Marshall
Will Marshall
Holly Marshall
Jefferson Davis Collie III
Sarah (Collie's cannon)

Didja Know?

The actor who plays Jefferson Davis Collie III in this episode is Walker Edmiston, who also plays the Altrusian Enik in later episodes.

Didja Notice?

As the episode opens, the Marshalls have their raft on the river shore and tied off on a pylon. Which pylon is it? Is it the one they found in "Cha-Ka"? That is the only one we've seen them find in the chronology so far, but that doesn't mean they didn't find another in between episodes.

At 1:37 on the DVD, a small gap can be seen between the ground and the bottom of the pylon set piece.
pylon at edge of swamp

Why is Grumpy chasing the Marshalls' raft along the shore of the river when Dopey is standing right there next to him, easy pickin's?
Grumpy and Dopey

When the Marshalls are forced to abandon their raft and jump off into a side tunnel in the river canyon, what is the light source that allows them to proceed through the tunnel? They don't use a torch or flashlight or even a lighter! Maybe there are micro-sized power crystals imbedded as flecks in the rock that provide illumination (though the Marshalls do not comment on any crystals or light source until they stumble upon Collie's cave where he mines the larger crystals we become familiar with as the series progresses).

When the Marshalls discover Collie, he is singing "Dixie", a blackface minstrel song of the 1850s which became one of the candidate songs for the anthem of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

Collie introduces himself as Jefferson Davis Collie III, a confederate soldier (of the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865). In U.S. history, Jefferson Davis was the name of the president of the Confederate States of America, which tried to break off from the United States and become its own country.

Collie calls his cannon "Sarah". Is the name that of his former wife or sweetheart? The name was used by the writer presumably as a reference to the first wife of Confederate president Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), Sarah Knox Taylor (1814-1835), who died of malaria long before the Civil War.

Collie says that Sarah served nobly at the Battle of Bull Run and Antietam and Gettysburg. These were three major battles of the U.S. Civil War.

Rick tells Collie that he and his family are just trying to get back to their home in California. This is the first we learn that the Marshalls are from California.

Collie remarks there's "some mighty strange folks in California". This may be a refernce by the writer to the modern joke that many of the residents of California are crazy, loony, strange, etc. according to more conservative areas of the country.

The Marshalls don't seem to buy that Collie is actually a Civil War veteran...they think he's just crazy. Given that there are species from multiple time periods (including themselves) why would they doubt Collie's origin? He certainly seems to look and act as if he is from an earlier time than their own 1970's.

Rick says the crystals they're mining for Collie are just like the ones they've found in all the other caves, "...but brighter. I wonder why?" What other caves? The Marshalls have not encountered crystals in any episodes up until now. Have they done some exploring and found some things in between episodes?

At 10:52 on the DVD, a Sleestak crossbow bolt strikes near Holly. She doesn't seem quite sure if it was fired at her or was just laying there all along. But why did the shooter, presumably a Sleestak, stop shooting at her?

Will asks why the crystals glow as they do, are they radioactive? Collie later says blue crystals will make you sick. Why? Is it because they radioactive? In "Album", Will and Holly hold a blue crystal which causes them to see a hallucination of their mother. Is this what he meant?

At one point, Rick refers to the Sleestak as "big insects" instead of lizards or reptiles. And Collie says they taste like lobster. Just what are the Sleestak?

Collie speaks of or demonstrates some of the characteristics of the crystals: blue ones can make you "sick"; red and green, when combined will create a bright light and adding a yellow one to them will create a light "bright enough to blind you...but it don't last long." Later, at the river's edge, Will picks up a combination of crystals that, as the Sleestak are attacking, Collie says, "Not that, boy, get rid of 'em!" We don't see what combination Will had, but when he tosses them towards the Sleestak, it causes a small explosion; in the later episode "The Search", it is a combination of red and yellow that produces an explosive effect.

Collie says the Sleestak don't bother him much anymore (apparently since he blew a few of them away with Sarah). So what makes them return just minutes after he says this? Was it the sound of him and Rick arguing with each other? Did the Sleestak who shot at Holly in the tunnels earlier report back to the others about a new human presence?

What is this weird "you" spoken at about 14:56 on the DVD? Spooky! Listen: you

Does Collie actually say "God damn you" on a children's program?! Listen: slimy, green, long legged.wav

Collie sounds like my former landlady.

Collie fires his last available shot from Sarah at the Sleestak. He tells the Marshalls he has to mix up some more "ammunition", saying, "I have to filter the saltpeter and it takes time." Saltpeter is potassium nitrate, a chemical compound used in gunpowder and other products.

At 20:03 and later on the DVD, one of the Sleestak that attacks the Marshalls and Collie at the river's edge seems to have a lower eyelid partially covering its eyes. Was it just a problem with the costume at the time? Was it intended to represent some kind of nictitating membrane of the eye to protect from the light?

At about 21:22 on the DVD, when Rick heaves himself out of the swamp, the shoreline set jigglies a bit under his weight and continues to has the other actors pulls themselves out of the water.

As he realizes the river has somehow circles around and brought them back to the swamp where they started, Rick speculates that the Land of the Lost is a "closed a...a locked room in space." This idea is presented to them again in "Hurricane" and "Circle" (not mention my story "Doubleback").

Rick tells Collie to follow the river to get back to his cavern. But, as seen earlier in the episode, the river seems to narrow into a canyon that has no real shoreline, so Collie would not be able to reach his home cave without a raft. Did the Marshalls help him build a raft after the end of this episode and tell where to jump off to get back to his cave?

Unanswered Questions

Did Collie know the term "Sleestak" before the Marshalls used it to describe the lizard/insect-like underground dwellers? It's unclear. He uses the term, but only after Rick has already used it to describe them. If he knew it beforehand, how? Has he been on the surface of the Land previously to see the "Beware of Sleestak" graffitti outside the Lost City? Is it possible he actually met Private Konik (of the U.S. Revolutionary War) who named the creatures Sleestak after Major Joshua Sleestak (as revealed in "Follow That Dinosaur")?

Easter Eggs

All three disks of season one in the DVD boxed set have hidden easter eggs. On the disk one easter egg, Gerrold says that the character of Jefferson Davis Collie III was named after a guy his sister dated, who really was a 3rd generation descendent of Jefferson Davis (president of the Confederate States of America).

Memorable Dialog

strange river.wav
faces smilin'.wav
strange folks.wav
river don't end.wav
do you know how long it's been.wav
big insects.wav
tasted like lobster.wav
slimy, green, long legged.wav
Witchie-Poo or Collie?.wav
you better listen.wav
hairy chest.wav
Tyrannosaurus rex.wav
begins and ends.wav
big tyrannosauruses.wav

People, Places and Things (Provided by Michael Taylor)

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