starring Steve Kanaly, Michele Scarabelli, Wayne Crawford, Fats Bookholane, Lance Scott and Sandor Smit
Jack and Jessica are looking after a giant tortoise – one that has a lifespan of 150 years. As Jessica discusses Jack’s aesthetic advantages over the tortoise, J.D. drives up demanding to know where TwoDays is. He tells them that the constable wants to talk to him about a murder!
Under the interrogation of J.D., TwoDays tells that he had an argument with Nobuku but that he didn’t kill him. J.D. insists that it was him but Jack steps in to defend TwoDays. J.D. asks TwoDays what route he takes when he goes to the Tambu village and TwoDays tells him that he follows the river. Then J.D. pronounces that they found Nobuku’s hat in a pool of blood down by the river. Jessica is shocked that J.D. is accusing TwoDays when he doesn’t even have a body. Jack says that everyone knows that TwoDays isn’t a violent man but J.D. proclaims that this kind of tribal violence happens all the time. When Jack insists on some real proof, J.D. produces TwoDays’ watch which was found in the same pool of blood. TwoDays tells that he had given the watch to Nobuku, but when he asked for its return that was when they had their “very small battle”.
J.D. says that it’s time to involve the constable. Jack looks at TwoDays and says, “TwoDays, we’re friends… So I’m only going to ask you once and I’ll believe what you’re telling me… Did you do it?” TwoDays looks at him solidly…
“A friend would not need to ask…”
Jessica tries to cover the way her husband just offended TwoDays by saying that they do both believe him. She suggests that they all go to the constable and get this “mess” cleared up.
During the journey to the constable’s, J.D. rants on about how TwoDays is bound to be found guilty and will end up in jail. This affects TwoDays very much and he leaps from the moving vehicle and races into the undergrowth. [Strange how Jessica is missing in this scene. Unlike Jack, who remains quiet during J.D.’s taunting, Jessica would most likely have told him to shut up…] Jack shouts to stop TwoDays from running and J.D. withdraws his gun. TwoDays disappears into the brush and so the armed man has no target.
The constable, with J.D. and Jack in tow, begins a hunt for the accused man. J.D. is obviously revelling in the hunt and the chance to exercise his itchy trigger finger. Jack, however, is not prepared to believe that TwoDays is guilty despite J.D.’s insistance, again, that it’s all just a “tribal thing”. The hunt continues… Elsewhere, Kyle and Nealy are searching down by the river for TwoDays but all they achieve is frightening the wits out of the young girl who asks Kyle if there are any ghosts.
Having had no success, J.D. and his “assistant” (henchman) drops Jack off back at Okavango. It isn’t long before Jessica becomes concerned that the children are late. They begin a search. Eventually they find both Kyle and Nealy. Jack asks Kyle if they found anything. Kyle hesitates but says that they didn’t find anything.
As night draws on, Jack continues searching for TwoDays while Jessica stays at home playing board games with the children. Jack comes into the house exhausted and complaining that they’ve still found nothing.
Later still, and the house is in darkness. A torch light illuminates the gloom and a hand begins filling containers with food. A second torch light enters the darkness and lands on Kyle’s face. Nealy says that she wants to go with Kyle but the boy tells her to stay in the house. Reluctantly, the girl returns to her room. In the main bedroom, Jessica is startled by a noise but Jack suggests it was just Kyle doing a bit of “midnight snacking”. Jessica becomes interested in some tea for herself and suggests that Jack should fetch some – a task for which he will be “rewarded in heaven”, but Jack is far too interested in taking his “reward” right now (he’s obviously no longer as exhausted as he was when he came in from the hunt).
While their parents are distracted, Kyle is searching for something in the bushes and Nealy is wandering around in the dark some distance behind him. Kyle finds TwoDays and gives him the food. TwoDays shows his gratitude but says that Kyle shouldn’t have risked helping him. Kyle asks why TwoDays ran from the jeep. TwoDays tells him that he knows it was the wrong thing to do but now everything has gotten so much worse because he has involved Kyle and Nealy. He tells Kyle that, tomorrow he will go to the constable and try to explain everything. At that moment, both of them hear Nealy’s screaming for help. They race towards her as she shouts “a monster, a monster!”. Kyle investigates the bank of the river. He finds something but as he reaches for it, huge great snapping jaws leap out of the water towards him. In a desperate rush, Kyle runs up an outstretched tree branch to safety. From a safe distance, TwoDays tells him that it was a crocodile and that Kyle should stay where he is until he and Nealy can fetch help.
TwoDays rushes to the house shouting for Jack and Jessica. Both McKenzies run out the doorway at surprising speed. Before TwoDays and Nealy can explain what’s going on, J.D. and his men arrive.
TwoDays leads the men back to the river (presumably Jessica and Nealy stayed back at the house). The crocodile has gone but J.D. finds the remains of Nobuku’s body and Jack finds Kyle still up the tree. It becomes obvious, even to J.D., that it was the crocodile that killed Nobuku.
The following morning, and with the women (Jessica and Nealy) watching from a safe distance, the men begin a search of the riverbed by beating the water with sticks. They soon find the crocodile but, after a struggle, it beats off the seven men that were trying to restrain it. As the men pull back to the shore, J.D. pulls out his gun but Jack quickly knocks him aside. Jack grabs a net and dives into the water after the creature.
With the crocodile secure and safe in the hands of the park rangers, Jessica plays up to her “hero” husband while Jack tells J.D. that the charges against TwoDays are going to be dropped.
Later, over dinner, TwoDays says grace…
“It is easy to laugh at bad times when they are behind us, but we hope that we are better because of them.
We are thankful that we have each other to prevent them from happening again and know that we can rise to our best when things are at their worst.
Finally, we are thankful that we can sit together, know each others faults, and love anyway…”
THE MICHELE SCARABELLI FACTOR
This plays as a great parallel to the previous episode Nothing Is Black And White. In that episode the McKenzie‘s were standing up for the rights of Billy who was being persecuted by Taylor Moore. However, this episode begins with Jessica and Jack questioning their own trust in TwoDays – a man whom Jessica had previously defended against Taylor Moore‘s ignorance.
There’s another mysterious scene in this episode. Jessica suggests that they all go to the constable to prove TwoDays’ innocence but then we only see J.D. and Jack in the jeep with the accused man. Where did she disappear to this time..?
It’s also strange that we have been made to believe that the McKenzies are a close family unit and yet when they are searching for the children, Jack only calls for Kyle and Jessica only calls for Nealy. Interesting.
Another mystery is during the final dinner table scene. Jessica tells the children that they should believe in them more and should have told them what was going on. Kyle says that he did try but that Jack kept cutting him off when he was going on at him about “cowards dying a thousand deaths”. Question? When did this happen?
The best lines in this episode go to Fats Bookholane’s brilliant TwoDays . With his “A friend would not need to ask…” line, he comes across, once more, as a very wise man indeed. However, it is unfortunate that Jack is portrayed as a “modern-day Tarzan” when he dives into the water and single-handedly secures the crocodile while Jessica screams in fear for her “brave husband’s” life. Okavango is a series that can deal with adult topics professionally, compassionately and with a great deal of success for getting the message across – but portraying the “city-guy” Jack as something out of an Edgar Rice Burrough’s novel is just plain daft! When’s he going to beat his chest and call for the elephants? Come back Johnny Weismuller and Ron Ely, all is forgiven..!
As It All Happened Down By The River is ostensibly an “all-guys being the hero” style episode, there is little work for Michele to do as Jessica and there is no real message to be found – except that from TwoDays’ remark about friends shouldn’t need to ask if one of them is guilty, but that’s said in the opening scene. A good action/adventure episode but Okavango is better than that.