starring Steve Kanaly, Michele Scarabelli, Wayne Crawford, Fats Bookholane, Lance Scott and Sandor Smit
Jack and Jessica are visiting a nearby village when they stop to marvel at the way the men have the task of shearing sheep down to an artform. At that moment, though, the small power generator that they were using gives up the ghost and explodes. Using his high skill of technical knowledge as he watches the cloud of black smoke and the explosive fire, Jack concludes that “It looks like a gonner to me…”. Jessica wishes that there was some way they could help them.
Back at Okavango, Kyle is enjoying a stroll whilst listening to his walkman but he’s stopped when he spies a large tarpaulin near to some farm machinery. He stops his music and walks over. Beneath the cloth he finds a delapidated single- prop aeroplane.
Meanwhile, Jack and TwoDays are tidying up the animals when one decides to take a disliking to them. Narrowly avoiding a painful jab in a delicate area, Jack is propelled over the fence where he impacts with the ground. Hearing the commotion, Jessica rushes from the food that she’s preparing to her husband’s side. Jack complains that “I’m a lawyer – not Jungle Jim… I don’t belong in this place.” Then J.D. turns up and agrees with him. J.D. is “escorting” some of the Tambu away from his property and Jessica admires the fabric of their clothes. TwoDays tells her that the Tambu women make the cloth themselves. Jessica has an idea to help the Tambu.
The following day, Jessica approaches the Tambu women with the idea of selling their cloth. The women say that they only make the cloth for their families. Jessica continues by explaining that they could sell the cloth at the local shops and make money to pay for a new generator and other things that they require. The women agree but when Jessica drives off with Jack, a group of Tambu men begin talking together.
Back at the aeroplane, TwoDays and Kyle are making great progress. TwoDays tells Kyle that if they get it running properly, he’ll teach the boy how to fly. Kyle is excited by the prospect.
In the meantime, Jessica has come up with a huge success story. After a short time, the fabrics have amassed an impressive amount of money. While she’s sorting out the accounts, Jessica becomes aware of Jack’s self-pity concerning his inability to do anything at Okavango. The woman suddenly remarks at how little money she’s managed to sell the cloths for. She insists that the trading post conned her into selling the fabrics for too little. Jack then says that she needs a demonstration of how to best hold out for a better price. Jessica challenges him into trying for a better price and Jack accepts the challenge.
Later, Jessica is waiting outside the trading post. She sees Jack come from within with a bunch of money clutched in his hands. Jessica seems to be very impressed with what he’s achieved. With his ego boosted, Jack drives the jeep away. As he does so, Jessica turns around and sees the shop keeper standing in the doorway. Secretly, she gives him the “thumbs up” signal. Clearly this was a plan to make Jack feel less useless.
After handing the money to the Tambu women with Jessica, Jack visits Kyle who is still working on the aeroplane. There is friction in the air between father and son but, reluctantly, Kyle accepts Jack’s offer of help with the engine. The “help” doesn’t go as planned and when Jack makes a mistake, Kyle calls him a “jerk”. Jack tells him that he’s had enough of Kyle’s attitude and orders him to put the ‘plane away. He storms off.
When Jessica next visits the Tambu, she’s witness to a loud argument between the men and the women. Threateningly, the men chase her away from their land as they wave large wooden sticks in the air and shout at her. Quickly, Jessica drives away. Later, she discusses the situation with Jack and Jack tells her that the Tambu must want to keep their lives the way they are. Feeling like a “nosey do- gooder”, Jessica is rightly confused as to why the women earning a little bit of money should threaten their way of life. At the same time, Jack brings up the subject of Kyle and Jessica comforts him by telling Jack that it isn’t his fault. She comments at how they always seem to have to find things out the hard way.
The following morning sees the Tambu women arriving at Okavango . Jessica’s friend tells her that they are there to make cloth because the village must have a new generator. Jessica asks about their husbands but is told that they are still angry but that “angry does not make right”. Although she hides her feelings, Jessica is impressed.
Jack hears the sounds of Kyle working on an engine and assumes he’s working on the aeroplane. He storms angrily outside but the boy is working on the jeep – ensuring it doesn’t fail again. When Jack asks why he isn’t working on the ‘plane, Kyle tells him that he wouldn’t because Jack forbade him from doing so. Jack lends a hand with the jeep and when he solves the engine’s problem by means of something he’d read in a book, he and his son begin to regain some friendship.
Back at Okavango , the Tambu men arrive carrying the babies and children. The women immediately stop working and gather up their things. After heated discussions, they go to join their husbands one by one. Disappointed in what she sees, Jessica can only watch them leave. TwoDays approaches and she asks what’s going on. TwoDays explains that the men are thankful for Jessica’s help and have agreed to sell the remainder of the wool together with the fabrics in order to buy a new generator. Jessica asks about all of the shouting. He explains that this was mainly a matter of saving face – the Tambu pride. He goes on to explain that the women have agreed not to sell any more cloths – unless something special is needed. In return, the men have agreed to help out the women more.
Jessica tells Jack that he was right all along and that some things can’t be changed quickly – they must take their natural course.
THE MICHELE SCARABELLI FACTOR
Jessica McKenzie is a marvellous character. While most of the other characters are strictly defined to limits, Jessica has more facets than you could count. One such facet is seen in this episode. At first she is overjoyed that her idea of selling the cloths is really going to work and she is very impressed with what she has managed to achieve. However, as soon as she realises that her husband is feeling depressed, she orchestrates a brilliant plan to make him feel needed. Even though this plan involves her no longer being seen as the key person responsible for helping the Tambu. What a wonderful woman…
Also, it is starting to become clear that Jack is having severe problems with his life and a lot of this (his argument with his son) stems from a time before Okavango. He seems very much his own man with so little time for others that it makes it very puzzling that he’s been able to bring up a son and is now married to the beautiful, compassionate and infinitely caring Jessica. This is underlined when Jack and Jessica are discussing the Tambu. Jack says that they can’t blame the Tambu for worrying about their families and that he wishes they could get their family “straightened away” – when it’s perfectly plain to anyone that Jessica already has the McKenzie family cared for and the only one causing waves is Jack. Here again, Jessica serves to make Jack feel good by assuring him that, given time, Kyle will “come around”, thus making Jack feel better about himself. Maybe telling Jack to “give” an inch would have been better advice..?
Weavers and Shakers has a very interesting story which highlights how the men of the Tambu dominate the women (until Jessica arrives). This is told in a very straight-forward light and, although we’re given very little background into the Tambu people, comes to a satisfying conclusion. Satisfying in that there’s no way one person (in this instance Jessica) would have been able to change around the whole history of the Tambu. There is also the interesting parallel of Jack and Jessica‘s relationship. It seems odd that Jessica is willing to stand up for the rights of the Tambu women but is clearly not willing to stand up for her own rights as a woman if those rights in some way conflict with Jack.
This is a most interesting story which requires further viewing.