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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: Trek of Doom Indiana Jones
"Trek of Doom"
(Originally TV episode "German East Africa, December 1916)
(0:00-46:08 on the Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life DVD)
Written by Frank Darabont
Story by George Lucas
Directed by Simon Wincer
Bookends directed by Carl Schultz
Original air date: April 1, 1992

Indy becomes 2nd-in-command of a detachment in Africa, sent to cross 2,000 miles for weapons.


Read the "Late November 1916" to "Late December 1916" entries of the It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage Indiana Jones chronology for a summary of this episode


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This episode takes place in German East Africa, late November 1916.


Didja Know?


The title I've used for this episode ("Trek of Doom") is borrowed from the title of the novelization of this episode. This episode originally aired as "German East Africa, December 1916."


Notes from the Old Indy bookends of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles


The opening bookend takes place in a hospital on Staten Island, April 1992. According to the comic book adaptation, it is St. Mary Hospital (now Hoboken University Medical Center) (though that hospital is not on Staten Island, is near it).


In the hospital waiting room, Mike is wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap.


The character of Dr. Jeffers is played by J. Leon Pridgen II. The Indiana Jones Wiki found his resume on his talent agency's site, which lists this character's full name as Dr. Ernest Jeffers.


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The events of this episode are not covered in the journal. The pages jump from August 1916 ("Trenches of Hell") to November 1918 and the end of the war (The Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye). 


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode



Indiana Jones

Dr. Ernest Jeffers


wounded little girl

Remy Baudouin


Sergeant Barthélèmy (dies in this episode)

Major Boucher (dies in this episode)

Major Karl von Regen (aka Kleist, dies in this episode)

Lt. Schwinden (dies in this episode)

Colonel Mathieu

General Tombeur (mentioned only)

Lieutenant Arnaud (dies in this episode)

Captain LaFleur

Ubangi boy (Barthélemy Boganda)

Private Zimu

Private Juba


Zachariah Sloat

Emily Arnaud (mentioned only)

French Army doctors





Didja Notice?


The native soldiers fighting for the Belgians and British are called askaris. Askari is a Swahili word for "soldier" and "police". According to the Trek of Doom novelization of this episode, the equivalent German forces were Batusi (more commonly known as Tutsi), a Bantu-speaking ethnic group of the African Great Lakes region.


At 1:54 on the DVD, Indy wields what appears to be a Nagant M1883 revolver. Major Boucher also appears to have one later in the episode. The Belgian askaris are armed with Belgian Mauser 1889 rifles.


At 2:36 on the DVD, the German Batusi are armed with Mauser Gewehr 1898 rifles. Seconds later, we see some German Batusi loading Wurfgranate 15 grenades on a Grenatenwerfer 16 infantry mortar to fire at the charging Belgian forces. Wurfgranate and Grenatenwerfer are German terms for "grenade" and "grenade launcher", respectively.


The German major who orders his forces to fire on the charging Belgian troops goes unnamed here in the televised episode, but is called "Karl von Regen" in the Trek of Doom novelization and, alternately, "Kleist" in the UK Fantail Books version of the novelization titled River of Death.


   At 2:36 on the DVD, the Germans prep and fire a Maxim MG08 machine gun. Indy turns this gun against them just minutes later. The Trek of Doom novelization identifies the German machine gunner as Lt. Schwinden.    


At 5:11 on the DVD, Major von Regen wields a Mauser C96 handgun just before he is shot down by Sergeant Barthélèmy.


Indy is hit by a bullet but is saved by his locket containing the photo of Princess Sophie he received in 1909 in "The Perils of Cupid". When he opens the locket, it contains a picture of the real life Sophie von Hohenberg, rather than the young actress Amalie Alstrup who portrayed her in that episode.


After his heroics in routing the Germans here, Indy is promoted to captain in this episode at behest of General Tombeur. Lieutenant General Charles Tombeur (1867–1947) was a real world Belgian military officer during WWI.


Colonel Mathieu tells Indy and Remy that a supply ship carrying Vickers machine guns, mortars, and howitzers was to round Cape of Good Hope and arrive on the African east coast at Chinde but the ship ran aground on the west coast at Cape Lopez. In the Trek of Doom novelization, the colonel also adds the weapons are being held at the French garrison at Port-Gentil. Vickers was a British engineering company from 1828-1999. Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. Chinde is town on the coast of Mozambique and Cape Lopez a headland on the coast of Gabon. Port-Gentil is a city near Cape Lopez.


While discussing the lost military materiels, Major Boucher remarks on how useful they would have been when they try to take Tabora. However, in the real world, Tabora had already been taken from the Germans by the aforementioned General Tombeur in September (while this episode takes place in December).


    Sending Major Boucher, Indy, and Remy with a detachment to retrieve the weapons stranded at Cape Lopez, Colonel Mathieu tells them, "We'll get you as far as Bonga. From there, you will proceed on foot to Franceville on the Ogooué River, where you will pick up a boat for the remainder of the trip. Once you have the guns, you will come back the same way." In the Trek of Doom novelization, the colonel adds a crossing of Lake Tanganyika and a steamer boat up the Congo River. These are all actual locations in the Congo region of Africa.

    The map in the novelization also shows the trek starting at the Belgium camp at Kigoma (although Kigoma looks to be in the wrong location, the real Kigoma being on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, not in the middle of Tanzania) and, along the way, passing by Kabalo, Kindu, and the Alima River. These are also actual locations along the route. The map suggests the winding route Indy's detachment takes is about 2,000 miles long (and Indy's letter to T.E. Lawrence later in the episode confirms the distance).


Mungu-kidogo is Swahili for "little god", just as Indy translates here. It seems to be the askaris new nickname for Indy after escaping death by bullet. Remy later mocks the nickname to Indy by calling him "Mango-Gorgonzola".


"Ju-ju" spoken by the askaris to describe Indy's seemingly miraculous escape from death by bullet is a general West African term for "magic" or "charm".


At 13:11 on the DVD, the black-yellow-red tricolor Belgian flag is seen flying over the camp.


Indy's letter to T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia, whom Indy befriended in "My First Adventure") as the Belgian detachment crosses Lake Tanganyika by boat, is dated December 3, 1916.


The steamer that takes the detachment up the river is seen to be named Reine de la Riviere (Queen of the River) at 16:51 on the DVD.


Sergeant Barthélèmy tells Indy that the native boy they find (and he himself) are Ubangi. Ubangi was formerly a province of Zaire in the Congo, now North Ubangi and South Ubangi provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


Writing in his journal, Indy says that as they cross the country, they leave a trail of corpses in their wake, like Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of bread crumbs. Hansel and Gretel is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a young brother and sister who leave a trail of bread crumbs through the woods to find their way home, but are menaced by a child-eating witch in a candy-and-cake house in the forests of Germany.


The Trek of Doom novelization and the comic book adaptation reveal that the town Indy's detachment arrives in and meets Sloat is Franceville.


At 35:51 on the DVD we can see that Sloat's small riverboat is called the Collette.


At 37:21, Remy appears to hold an FN Model 1910 handgun.


At 40:08 on the DVD, the German hospital that Indy's boat passes by appears to be that of Dr. Albert Schweitzer based on the Belgian soldiers' description and the man standing along the dock waving to them, who appears to be Dr. Schweitzer (1875-1965) himself. This hospital, Albert Schweitzer Hospital, actually was located on the Ogooué river, not far from Port Gentil, just as depicted here. It still exists today. Indy will be back there in the following adventure, "Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life". The primitive hospital village seen here were sets built for shooting the two episodes on the bank of the Tana River in Kenya.


The coastline of Port Gentil seen here was actually Lamu, Kenya and the fort Indy and his men check in at is actually Lamu Fort.


At 40:35, the doctor at the Port Gentil hospital says "Excuse moi." This is French for "Excuse me."


At the end of the episode, Sergeant Barthélèmy dies in the French hospital from his gunshot wound and the little orphaned Ubangi boy is given his name, Barthélèmy. Why didn't anybody just ask the boy his name??


    Ironically, viewers of the officially-packaged The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life 90-minute TV movie would never know that the little Ubangi boy would be become a real world historic figure, Barthélemy Boganda, the first president of the Central African Republic, in 1958. The boy's historic status is not revealed in the movie, only in the closing Old Indy bookend of the original 1992 1-hour episode "German East Africa, December 1916" was it revealed on television. Readers of the 1992 Trek of Doom junior novelization and the comic book adaptation would see it there as well.

    However, perhaps it's just as well that viewers not think of Indy's little Barthélemy as the historic figure Boganda, as Boganda's actual early life does not match that seen in this episode.


The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles: Trek of Doom Notes from the novelization of this episode, Trek of Doom by Les Martin

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, July 1992)


Characters appearing in the novel not mentioned in the televised episode


Lt. Marcel 


Didja Notice?


The recap of Indy and Remy's European trench war on page 5 encapsulates "Trenches of Hell" and "Demons of Deception".


Page 6 implies that the European nations involved in the African war promoted their enlisted men to lieutenant (officer rank) when transferring them to Africa in order to maintain European superiority over the largely native (black) troops.


On page 8, Indy commands his men, "Attaque!" This is French for "Attack!"


Page 10 describes Indy as shouting to his askari in Swahili, "On your feet! Forward! Charge!" The actual Swahili words for this would be, "Kwa miguu yako! Mbele! Malipo!"


When Colonel Mathieu explains that the French do not have the transportation to spare to ship the weapons to them, pages 22-23 do a better job of explaining, if tragically, why the British cannot step in to help with that (whereas the televised episode only has the colonel saying, "We simply can't trust the British,"): "Our commanding general prefers not to seek British help. The British already have enough influence in Africa, and even now they are preparing to add the German territory they conquer to their empire. We Belgians must do our own fighting. If we take British help, we will have to take British orders, and we will wind up giving them our spoils of war. We must remember, Major, that we are not fighting here so that the British flag should fly over land won by our blood."


On page 28, Indy looks at the photo in his locket and silently reminisces on his first young love with Princess Sophie. These memories originally took place in "The Perils of Cupid".


The town of Albertville on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika that Boucher mentions on page 41 is a real world one, though now known as Kalemie.


As Lt. Arnaud tells Indy on page 42, Belgium's former king, Leopold, had claimed the Congo as his personal property (from 1885) and basically enslaved the native population (largely producing rubber) for his own enrichment until he was forced to give it up to the Belgian parliament in 1908 due to international pressure.


On page 44, Indy's thoughts of the enemy in the jungle being disease mimic the words of the letter he writes to Lawrence in the episode and the comic book (which we do not read of him doing here).


As stated on page 58, boucher means "butcher" in French.


On page 62, pommes frites is French for "french fries".


On page 93, Indy writes another letter to Lawrence and tells Arnaud that Lawrence is currently with the British army working intelligence in Arabia. This was true at the time.


Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #7 (Dark Horse Comics) Notes from the comic book adaptation of this episode

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles #7
Dark Horse Comics
Script Dan Barry
Pencils by Gordon Purcell
Inks by Ian Akin
Letters by Gail Beckett
Colors by Rachelle Menashe
August 1992


Didja Notice?


On page 2, Indy commands his Askari troops, "Endaaaaa!!" Enda is Swahili for "go".


On page 3, Major von Regen shouts, "Maschinengewehr--feuer!" This is German for "Machine gun--fire!"


On page 5, Remy says, "Mon Dieu!" This is French for "My God!"


On page 6, verteufel is German for "hell".


On page 11, Major Boucher exclaims, "Bon dieu!" This is French for "Good God!"


Memorable Dialog


oh crap, a liberal.mp3

listen to me you little snot.mp3

what idiot thought this one up?.mp3

very big magic.mp3

first captain, now god.mp3

if this was a white child.mp3

Belgians are not here for my people's future.mp3

not fit to command men.mp3

so what's the point?.mp3

I'm sorry I ever met you.mp3 


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