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Land of the Lost
Season 1, Episode 4
Air date September 28, 1974
Written by Larry Niven
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Episode Guide
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Original Series, Season 1, Episode 3: "Dopey"
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Original Series, Season 1, Episode 5: "Tag-Team"

"Downstream," written by Larry Niven, is episode 4 of Season 1 of the original Land of the Lost TV series.

PlotEdit

The Marshalls are lashing together logs to form a raft, planning to take the swamp to the river, and to follow the current until they reach the ocean, hoping to find other people. They pole the raft past Dopey , as Holly says "Bye Dopey! I'll miss you!" Next, they pass Grumpy , and Holly calls out "Bye Grumpy!" As Grumpy chases the raft downstream, Will struggles to leave him behind.

The river takes them past sparkling, glowing green rock formations, and they hear a waterfall ahead. Their only hope is a daring maneuver to throw their gear into a cave, and leap after it. The gear and the children go first, and Rick barely makes it as the raft is lost.

As they explore an elaborate network of caves the family hears a voice singing "Dixieland," badly. In a huge cavern filled with Crystals they find a miner, apparently human, in Civil War gear. He threatens the family with a cannon, telling them to come down "hands high, and faces smiling." He introduces himself as Jefferson Davis Collie III , a Confederate artilleryman. Marshall praises his "antique" cannon, and Collie is confused by this, telling them that "Sarah" served nobly at the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg.

Collie tells them the river doesn't end, but goes underground; he won't tell them more about where it comes out. He distrusts the Marshalls, worried that they intend to steal the crystals he is mining, but does offer to share his food with them.

In the next scene, we see Rick and Will working with shovels, helping to mine crystals. The crystals are apparently like the ones the Marshalls have seen in the Sleestak caves, but larger and brighter. Meanwhile, Holly finds a Sleestak skull, a crossbow, and a new-looking bolt, and shows her discoveries to Rick and Will.

Collie overhears their concern that Sleestak might be in the area, and shows them how blue crystals should not be handled because "they'll make you sick," "yeller" (yellow) ones are safe, and yellow and green crystals touched together cause a short-lived but blinding light (although note that the crystal he calls "yeller" appears to be red, and the red/green crystal combination is used to give light elsewhere in the series).

Collie shows them what their "dinner" is to be -- a giant mushroom, and some sort of enormous armored fish (presumably to be eaten raw). Marshall asks Collie if he recognizes the Sleestak skulls. Collie replies that he does, and that he has shot and eaten several of them, calling them the "biggest dang Yankees you ever saw." He tells them the Sleestak taste a bit like lobster, but also not like lobster -- and that the Sleestak no longer bother him. Despite Rick's questions, Collie still refuses to tell him the way to the river, finally admitting that he doesn't want the Marshalls to leave, because he's lonely.

As Rick cries "this place is dangerous!" the Sleestak attack. Collie fires his cannon at them and they flee.

The Marshalls are bored with mining and go on strike, refusing to dig any more crystals until Collie tells them how to get out of the caves. Collie refuses to tell them anything, and Marshall tells Will that he suspects Collie has been eating too many cave-mushrooms. It seems impossible that he could have actually survived in the Land of the Lost for over 100 years. (It has apparently not occurred to Rick that Collie might have been brought directly to their "present" from his own time, and experienced only a few years of subjective time).

Holly asks Collie for water, and he tries to give her some of his fermented mushroom and fish juice to "wet her whistle" instead, telling her that it will put "hair on her chest." She complains that she doesn't want a wet whistle or a hairy chest, but and he reluctantly agrees to go get her some.

When Will asks him if he is going to take the cannon with him, Collie reveals that he could, but Sarah is out of ammunition, at least until he can make more gunpowder out of the base ingredients such as saltpeter. As he heads off in search of water, the Marshall's quietly follow him, hoping to learn how he navigates through the cave system.

As they find Collie filling a water-skin from the underground river, the Sleestak attack. Collie and the Marshalls drive back the Sleestack with the red/green crystal combination, but the light fades quickly. Will picks up two more crystals from Collie's supply (probably the red/yellow crystal combination), and Collie realizes that the color combination is unstable, telling Will to "get rid of them!" Will throws them at the Sleestak, and the crystals explode. Again they only deter the Sleestak for a moment. Will urges them all to wade into the underground river.

The Sleestak will not follow as the group wades along the dark underground river, and the river emerges into daylight. Recognizing Dopey, the baffled Marshall family realizes that they are back where they started. Rick hypothesizes that the Land of the Lost is a "closed universe, like a locked room in space".

Collie decides he does not like the swamp, and wants to return to Sarah. Rick tells him to "just follow the river downstream".

CastEdit

TriviaEdit

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