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"The Pylon Express"

Episode 25

Airdate: 1975/10/25
Writer: Theodore Sturgeon
Director: Gordon Wiles

Ta, Sa, and Cha-Ka dance and chant as they circle around a pylon under the pre-dawn moonlit sky. The noise awakens Dad and Will, who both step out of their cave to hear it more clearly. When Dad realizes that it must be the Pakuni, Will points out the three moons that are nearly in conjunction and wonders if their alignment is the reason for the Pakuni's ritual. Since it doesn't sound too far away, Will eagerly suggests they check it out; Dad feels that a little exercise would be good for them before breakfast, so they go back inside their cave to finished getting dressed. Will calls to his sister, but she barely mumbles in her slumber; since they plan to be back very soon, Dad asks his son to let Holly sleep.

As the Marshall men approach the chanting Pakuni, Dad mentions that ahead lies the pylon with no key. Meanwhile, the small center moon which orbits fast enough to notice with the naked eye is about to line up with the larger outer two. Will and Dad hide behind ferns to witness the Pakuni performing a ritualistic chant and dance around the keyless pylon. Ta looks up to see the three moons in conjunction; at that very moment, the sun begins to rise above the horizon. Ta stops his fellow Pakuni clansmen when he hears the pylon door start to dematerialize; he then picks up a squash from a pile of the vegetables he has placed in front of the door and tosses it inside, which causes canned and packaged groceries to fall out onto the ground. Will is amazed at the event, while Dad is simply baffled; within a moment, more groceries come through, including an entire shopping cart. Will is convinced that a time doorway lies within, so he and Dad come out from their hiding place to investigate the pylon and the goods. By this time, the smallest moon is past its alignment with the other two. Ta defends the Pakuni's goods when Will excitedly grabs them, but Dad advises his disappointed son that they concern themselves with the pylon. Since peering through the entrance of the pylon reveals nothing, Dad decides to step inside; Will climbs in after him when he does not answer his son's calls. Cha-Ka yells for Will not to go inside, but his warning does no good since Ta tosses in another squash, closing the pylon. The little Paku pleads with Ta to help him find out where the Marshalls went, but Ta flatly refuses, being solely concerned with their jackpot of groceries.

Back in High Bluff Cave, Holly steps out to calling for her father, but when she gets no answer, she goes back in to get her shoes on. She assumes that Dad and Will have gone to gather strawberries for breakfast, so she does her part by setting the table. Out in the jungle, the foolish Pakuni carry the loaded shopping cart; when Cha-Ka complains about its weight and pleads to go find Will and Holly, Ta and Sa respond by piling the groceries high into Cha-Ka's arms. Holly waits back at the cave, puzzled why Dad and Will went off without telling her. As Cha-Ka and Sa walk ahead carrying armloads of groceries, Ta suddenly discovers that the shopping cart rolls on wheels, so he calls for his clansmen to come see what he has found. Holly struggles with deciding whether to go out searching for her family or stay put; meanwhile, Cha-Ka and Sa struggle to lug Ta sitting in the shopping cart. (The Pakuni now treat their altar with the stolen dinosaur egg shown in "The Test" as their homebase; this is most likely due to the fact that Krofft didn't keep the Pakuni Enclosure set for the 2nd season). After Ta is brought in his "royal carriage" to their home base, he still refuses to let Cha-Ka fetch Holly, demanding that he and Sa get the rest of the groceries. Holly stands outside the cave trying to sun-signal Dad and Will, but becomes even more worried when she gets no reply.

As Holly searches through the jungle for her family, she runs across junior wandering around (did Junior travel across the crevasse? Holly is still in the Pakuni's territory, which is reachable from the Lost City area only by walking across the fallen slab that bridges the chasm). After she shoos Junior away she rests on a log, and while pondering her next move, Cha-Ka unintentionally startles her from behind. When Holly asks Cha-Ka if he has seen Dad and Will, the little Paku lowers his head and says "me nanda" ("I'm sorry"). Holly gets Cha-Ka to reveal that they went inside the "Moongiver" pylon, so she has Cha-Ka lead the way to it. Unfortunately, when they get there, she is unable to open it, since the pylon has no key. Cha-Ka informs her that Ta has the power to call upon the Moongiver to open the pylon, so they rush on over to the Pakuni's home base.

Ta and Sa are busy examining their booty; Sa can smell through a candy bar wrapper, but gets nowhere licking it. Ta tells Holly to leave as soon as she arrives, ignoring her pleas to open the pylon to release her family. Upon seeing the candy bar in Sa's hand, Holly snatches it, opens it, and quickly eats a piece (she does let Sa have the rest). After rummaging through the Pakuni's groceries, she realizes that it must have come from a time doorway in a pylon. Cha-Ka confirms that it came from the very same pylon that Dad and Will are in -- the Moongiver. Holly again pleads with Ta to lead the Pakuni in performing the ritual dance that opens the pylon, but after Ta looks up in the sky and takes a look at the moons, he stubbornly continues to deny her requests. Holly offers to give him gifts in exchange for the favor, but Ta even refuses to accept her signal mirror and clairvoyant pendant. He orders Holly to return to her cave until he decides what kind of payment he will charge for his services. As she heads home discouraged, Cha-Ka offers to go with her. When they get back to High Bluff Cave, Holly thanks Cha-Ka for keeping her company. She offers to make him dinner, which he gladly accepts. After thinking about it, she lets Cha-Ka know that she is not worried, since she will take the same course of action that she believes her father would.

While Holly is preparing dinner, Ta and Sa arrive; Ta consults with Cha-Ka, since Cha-Ka will be his spokesman. Cha-Ka announces to Holly that Ta has made his decision; when Holly asks what it is, Ta sweeps out his arms and exclaims "odumani" (everything) greedily. Holly realizes she has no other choice, so the Pakuni begin gathering up the Marshall's belongings.

Holly, Cha-Ka and Sa lug the shopping cart full of the Marshall's stuff through the jungle; they arrive just in time at the pylon since Ta sees the smallest moon approaching the other two. Ta calls upon Cha-Ka and Sa to join him in the ritual dance, and after only one round of dancing and chanting around the pylon, the door begins to dematerialize. At Ta's order, Holly steps in to the dark pylon; she calls out to her family, but they do not answer. Ta closes the pylon by tossing in a squash, but the Pakuni are surprised when it promptly reopens. Out of the entrance step Dad and Will; Upon glancing at his watch, Dad informs Will that they were only in the pylon for 10 minutes. Will urges his father that they get back to the cave to inform Holly that they can use the pylon to return home. However, before they head back, Will points out all their stuff loaded into the Pakuni's shopping cart. Dad realizes that something must have happened to Holly, so he orders Ta over to explain what is going on.

Inside the pylon, Holly wanders over to the crystal matrix table in the center; the door quickly seals, and a column of spiralling lights descends upon her. After briefly twirling around her, the lights raise back up; the pylon door opens to reveal that it has stopped at the top of a snowy mountain ridge. Holly is frightened, unsure of what is happening, and calls out in vain for her father. The pylon stops next at the Lost City at the height of the Altrusian Empire. The plaza is populated with various obelisks and rectangular pillars; buildings are set into the mountainside above. An Altrusian wearing an orange metallic tunic strolls along at the other end of the plaza; Holly calls out to him, thinking it could be Enik, but before the Altrusian can answer, the pylon leaves. At the next stop, a purple and green jungle, a small "robot" bounces into the pylon with Holly. The "robot" is a pathetic sight: a gaudy hexagonal box, embellished with glitter, trimmed with fuzzy red stuff, and having four Slinkies for legs. Holly introduces herself to the box and asks if it has seen her family, but the tacky thing only makes a "boing" sound at her. The pylon next stops at a similar green-and-purple jungle, whereupon the tacky looking box bounces out the door. Holly at first thinks that they are back in the Land of the Lost, but she stops short of stepping out when she sees "Holly don't" written in the sand. The box explodes (due to lethal radiation?), and the pylon moves on to its next destination. The next locale is a reddish desert planet, with a huge, snake-like machine shaped like the neck and head of the spaceships in "War of the Worlds" vaporizing and sucking up debris. The flattened funnel head of the alien machine probes the pylon, shooting out lightning-like electrical beams at it. Holly runs back to the matrix table, urging the pylon to make a quick escape. The final stop is at a park in modern-day Earth, where kids can be seen playing outside. Holly is tempted to step out right then, but wants to do what her father would do. She realizes that Dad would not leave her behind, so she decides to pass up the chance to get back home. Some bell-bottomed kids are playing frisbee close by, and one of them tosses the frisbee to Holly in the pylon before it closes.

Outside the pylon, the Pakuni perform their dance and chant; Will and Dad are growing very impatient for it to open. Finally, the door opens, and out steps Holly; she quickly hugs her father and sheds tears of relief. Will grabs the shopping cart full of their stuff, and they all head back to their cave at High Bluff.

While eating dinner, the family discusses their adventures. Will points out the bizarre time difference, how a few minutes inside the pylon equated to a day and a half in the Land of the Lost. Dad explains how Ta "opened" the pylons: he simply watched for when the three moons lined up side by side. The pylon opened independently of the Pakuni's ritual, but Ta had previously seen it happen, and used that knowledge to his advantage. Unfortunately, the proper alignment of all three moons only happens once every three or four years. Holly thanks Dad and Will for leaving the "Holly don't" warning for her, but Will informs her that they wrote no such message. Dad wraps things up with the positive note that they can return home to Earth during the next conjunction of the moons.

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