Thunderbirds – 28. Path of Destruction

Directed by David Elliott

Teleplay by Donald Robertson

First Broadcast – 9th October 1966

Path of Destruction brings the Thunderbirds format right back to basics. A big, yellow, dangerous machine goes out of control and causes mass destruction – International Rescue have to stop it. That’s what it boils down to and that’s probably why people love this story so much. Maybe it’s too simple and contains much that is highly unlikely and highly unfortunate, but hey – this is Thunderbirds and that’s why we love it. There’s a lot that is imperfect, but suspend your disbelief and enjoy this cracking good story.

The Crablogger is clearly the star of the show this week. Co-stars include a plate of chemical waste and Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward… I hope you won’t need me to point out which is which.

The episode opens by panning across some vehicles parked in a forest clearing. The Superon tankers are a lovely pair of models which also form the basis of the wood pulp transporters which come along later. One Superon tanker appears in Alias Mr. Hackenbacker as a fire truck and another pops up in a brief cameo in the Thunderbird 1965 episode, The Stately Homes Robberies. The model was also adapted to create the Yellow Fox tanker which appeared in Captain Scarlet. The Crablogger Base Control vehicle is certainly an unusual shape. We cut rather abruptly to a completely different close-up of her which now shows the ‘Crablogger Base Control’ sign attached to the side, and a tree on the right of the model rather than the left. This model was later adapted into an ambulance for the Captain Scarlet episode, Winged Assassin.

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Inside the control room, Jansen and Simms await the arrival of someone who is late. They’re both incredibly irritable, with Simms immediately accusing his superior of not appreciating the importance of whatever operation they’re about to carry out. There’s no real explanation given as to why these two are so darn snappy with each other but it’s a rather odd exchange. This episode does suffer a little bit from some clunky dialogue. The enormous computer banks in the background were seen in the Seascape control room in Atlantic Inferno last week. Simms’ control console was used by the captain of the Reaper submarine in Atlantic Inferno also, while Simms himself appeared as the newsreader in the episode. Jansen makes a brief cameo at the SEC conference in Thunderbirds Are Go.

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Sat in the corner minding his own business is Franklin. He’s programming a tape, the biggest tape that’s ever been programmed ever… unfortunately that still doesn’t make it sound all that impressive to us 21st century tape-free viewers. Franklin was last seen as Banino in The Cham-Cham.

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This chap that they’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of is almost here. Exposition dialogue usually suffers from character’s being abnormally specific about something which they everyone knows about already for the benefit of the viewer, but here they’re all being weirdly vague to maintain an air of mystery, which still doesn’t sound much like natural conversation.

Jansen gets in contact with Crablogger One. That’s right, at the very least there are plans in the works to build more than one of these things. The driver asks Jansen to “get the reception committee to stand by.” The phrase ‘reception committee’ is used a lot in Thunderbirds and other Gerry Anderson shows, but it’s one of those things that people don’t actually say very much in real life. “I’ll send out the reception committee to help you bring in the shopping” is a phrase I’d like to hear more often. Anyway, Franklin points out the arrival of the Crablogger… as if we’d miss it.

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Here she is. It’s so big I don’t think there’s a single shot of the whole thing in frame at the same time. This is the front with her huge grabby claws, big flashing headlights, wide open mouth with grinding teeth, and a whacking great chainsaw strapped to the front. The Crablogger is certainly one of the most impressive and “out there” guest vehicles in the whole of Thunderbirds. Let’s take a look at her back end…

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Bringing up the rear is the Crablogger’s  enormous processing plant. It would appear that the foundation for this section of the model was the Australian road construction vehicle seen at the beginning of Atlantic Inferno. The model has been heavily revamped of course, in fact the tracks are the only definite match, and those originally came from a Tiger Joe Tank model. Maybe this rear section and the road construction vehicle are completely different models which happen to use similar parts and were painted with the same tin of yellow paint…

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The title card suggests that things might not go too well here. Music from Pit of Peril highlights the fact that the basic idea for the Crablogger and the Sidewinder are very similar in that they both clear trees… the Sidewinder unfortunately suffered from a severe case of falling over.

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The interior of the W.N.S. Atlantic from Atlantic Inferno has been adapted to create the control room of the Crablogger. Inside sit McColl and Petersen. McColl remarks that they shouldn’t get too close to base control… just in case it scares the willies out of them.

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The Crablogger really is ridiculously massive and terrifying and brilliant. Jansen offers to show McColl and Petersen the sights before they start doing whatever it is they’re going to do tomorrow morning… Simms doesn’t want to come along because he’s a bit boring to be honest.

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The desert jeep which first appeared with caterpillar tracks in The Uninvited makes its final appearance in the Thunderbirds television series here. It does, however, pop up briefly in Thunderbird 6. The team have taken a trip to Sanchos, the liveliest spot in town…

Sitting outside is a puppet originally seen as Patterson in Operation Crash-Dive. He’s wearing Alan’s shirt from Move – And You’re Dead. He’s having a drink with a chum who refuses to look at him. The same puppet in the same shirt is suddenly sat inside the restaurant in the next shot. Playing the guitar in the background appears to be International Rescue agent Jeremiah Tuttle from The Impostors… he’s actually undercover and monitoring the Crablogger operation… McColl looks like he’s plotting something menacing as he just finishes the hilarious tale of unloading the Crablogger. It would appear that the enormous machine was shipped over to South America from, presumably, England where it was developed by Jim Lucas at Robotics International.

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Sanchos, the restaurant owner, has come to take their order from the non-existent menu. Already the rating McColl is planning to leave on Yelp isn’t looking good. Something very special is being cooked up in the kitchen. Jansen says Sanchos cooks his meat in a very special way… which is actually said in a tone suggesting that he knows it’ll give everyone food poisoning… but we won’t assume that because that doesn’t make any sense. So McColl, Petersen, and Franklin order the special while Jansen orders his usual – thick and rare and juicy… he’s referring to a steak before your mind goes anywhere dirty with that.

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The camera pans across this beautifully dressed set. Yes, it’s a disgusting kitchen, but the amount of detail is insanely good. Miniature plates, cutlery, pots, bottles, boxes and more have all been dirtied down and spread out over the table. To add a final touch of filth, a mouse has been released on the set to play the role of a disease-ridden rat.

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Sanchos rushes in to hurry up Maria the… chef. She’s a very unique puppet with a body specially bulked up just for this character. Her costume has had plenty of mucky food smeared over it. She certainly conforms to a stereotype intended for comedy, but as is so often the case in Thunderbirds, one doesn’t really interpret the stereotyping as having any malice behind it.

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Well aware that Sanchos couldn’t care less, Jansen draws out a rough diagram on the tablecloth explaining how the Crablogger operation will run. The Superon tankers and transport trucks will be meeting up with the Crablogger during the journey to keep it running and to collect the processed wood pulp. It’s pretty clever stuff.

The food is ready and Sanchos rushes to serve up. Some glorious sound effects of food squelching and sploshing on to the plates are utilised. The two guys sitting outside are still there. They’re still not looking at each other, and they still haven’t touched their drinks.

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McColl gets a ruddy good look at his dinner.

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Is that even food? Were they really that hungry that they chose to eat a plate of sludge fuming like a chemisty experiment gone wrong?

Very abruptly, we move to the next morning. The Crablogger’s crane is ready for McColl and Petersen to board. The programming for the operation is ready, but Franklin has mysteriously fallen ill and won’t be supervising the operation. The colourful route map is a rather nice painting.

McColl and Petersen watch as a tanker arrives. Petersen was seen as that rather creepy construction worker in Atlantic Inferno last week. McColl features in Thunderbirds Are Go as the Angry Young Man at the SEC conference, the impostor of Martin in Thunderbird 6, and as a member of the press in Alias Mr. Hackenbacker.

There are subtle differences between the two transport trucks, one truck having a much larger window in the rear of the cab than the other.

McColl is lowered down into the control room. Petersen refuses to share the lift with him to help speed things up.

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The hatch is closed and locked… maybe you should keep that unlocked guys… it might help out later… never mind…

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Preparing to leave, McColl and Petersen are sealed into the cabin by the radiation shields, similar to the radiation shields lowered on Ocean Pioneer in Donald Robertson’s previous script, Danger At Ocean DeepPath of Destruction follows the same basic theme as Danger At Ocean Deep – revolutionary atomic machine is left heading towards destruction after the crew are rendered unconscious and International Rescue have to climb aboard to cut a hole in the cabin to release them. That’s quite a few similarities.

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And so the Crablogger sets off magnificently…

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The grabbers move into position menacingly…

McColl requests that the ocular monitor is switched on… to us regular folk that means the camera. The light units on the model look to have been made from slide viewers.

So here’s how it works. One of the grabbers, which looks completely different to the grabbers on the main model, takes hold of a tree. The chainsaw on the front of the vehicle hacks through the tree. Behind the scenes photographs show that this effect was just achieved by Derek Meddings using a regular chainsaw. The trees are then fed into the machine which chops and grinds them all up. Pretty neat. How on earth they manage to keep moving through the dense forest so quickly is a mystery though because the process of chopping down the trees and eating them up takes a bit of time. It makes a lot more sense, however, than the flimsy Sidewinder somehow managing to wrench huge trees, roots and all, out of the ground in Pit of Peril.

Simms and Jansen watch as the Crablogger continues along her pre-programmed route. Jansen wishes Lucas, the designer, had been here to see it. Petersen said something along those lines earlier. I get the feeling Lucas’ absence is going to become vital to the plot later on. But seriously, why isn’t he here? What did he have going on that was so important?

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As trees continue to be fed into the Crablogger, things aren’t looking so good upstairs. Plasticine has been placed over McColl and Petersen’s eyelids to simulate their sudden weariness. But no time to worry about their obvious fatigue right now, the first load of pulp needs to be ejected from the rear. Quite how the pulp made it from the front of the machine to the back I don’t know because the gangway which joins the two sections together isn’t exactly huge.

As the pulp transporter arrives, Petersen fails to reach the lever to release the load, collapsing in his chair. McColl jumps in at the last second, and barrels start to pour out of the machine for the transporter to pick up.

Despite McColl looking like death, he insists on handling the machine all on his lonesome. Jansen orders him to take the machine off remote and shut down the reactor. That’s right, the entire process so far has been automated except for releasing the pulp load, and now shutting down the reactor. Did they really not think that there might be a situation where they might need to shut down the machine remotely? McColl collapses on the floor, narrowly missing the edge of his chair… that’ll show them.

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The Crablogger continues to tear through the forest. But don’t worry, McColl failed to take her off remote so she’ll just continue along her pre-programmed path…

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Or not. So here’s the thing I don’t get about this episode. Why does the Crablogger veer off course towards San Martino? She’s still on remote, and therefore must still be following the programmed route. But this map shows that she’s been taking a gentle curve away from that route for quite some time now. Incidentally, San Martino and Monte Madre are made up places.

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Jansen observes that they have to keep the machine going with fuel to run the reactor even though it’s heading straight for a populated village. That may sound stupid, and it is, but there is something that resembles a good reason for it. The processing unit needs to keep running in order to avoid getting jammed and exploding spectacularly, wiping out everything in a 50 mile radius. So either the village is going to get squished or it’s going to get completely obliterated. But surely if the fuel ran out the processing unit would stop running, therefore stopping it from getting loaded up and jammed any further, thus making it perfectly okay to let the machine shut down of its own accord… but that wouldn’t make very good television so never mind all that, let’s just enjoy the destruction that follows.

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Jansen immediately knows who to call…

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The sight of John Tracy’s reflection on the tape machine is more than a little bit creepy.

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Ever the responsible one, John checks that the village has been warned about their impending doom. Jansen says one of the trucks has been sent to help evacuate… because he’s super helpful like that. He also says that if the machine gets near the village the processing plant will jam “for sure.” And you know what that means – it’ll explode. Except that doesn’t actually happen when the machine does reach the village later, so I don’t really know what the problem is.

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Maybe it’s the fact the Crablogger is on course for a ruddy great dam. Oh good. The little toy truck which previously appeared at London Airport in Trapped In The Sky and at Cape Kennedy in Sun Probe can be spotted. The dam itself previously appeared in the Stingray episode, In Search of the Tajmanon. It will go on to appear in the Captain Scarlet episode, Flight to Atlantica and the Joe 90 episode, Arctic Adventure.

John reports in to Jeff, who is wearing an outfit previously worn by Chip Morrison’s father in Security Hazard. It’s his go-to costume for the rest of the series. Scott immediately hops up to go and launch Thunderbird 1.

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Tin-Tin is ordered to go and get Virgil and Brains. That’s pretty much her main contribution to the episode over and done with.

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Perhaps the sloppiest thing about the second series of Thunderbirds is the fact stock footage from the first series is still used and it stands out a mile. All of the launch sequences were re-shot for Thunderbirds Are Go using the new sets and puppets, so it’s a real shame the time wasn’t taken to also get some new shots for the television series at the same time.

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Brains arrives wearing a shirt that looks like an airport carpet. He points out that they need to contact Jim Lucas for information on how to stop the Crablogger. Virgil points out that it would be a risk to security if they contacted him directly… even though they’ve gotten awfully chummy with people in the past, Lindsey and Wilson in The Uninvited for example. Anyway, we need to give Penelope a subplot so this assignment will do nicely.

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Scott is standing by for blast off. They really did add a whole bunch of stuff to the Thunderbird 1 cockpit for series two didn’t they?

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Meanwhile, Penelope is sitting down for a fancy dinner all by herself like the mad aristocrat that she is. Her outfit was previously worn by her alter-ego, Wanda Lamour, in The Cham-Cham.

Parker fills up Penelope’s glass of sherry and moves it towards her. In the next shot it has suddenly moved onto her place mat. A call can be heard coming in, and Penelope immediately assumes her evening of lonely dining is going to be cut short. She almost sounds relieved.

By twisting the candelabra, Penny starts chatting with Jeff. Is there anything in that house which isn’t a transmitter? Impressive stuff. Jeff being the smooth character that he is declares that it’s always a pleasure to do business with Penny. Seriously, what are those two getting up to? At all costs, she has to contact Jim Lucas and find out the Crablogger’s shut down procedure. I can’t really believe that Jansen doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to turn the machine off. How do you get to be head of a project like that without even knowing the basics?

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The camera zooms in extremely tight on the pull string, but even that isn’t enough to hide the floor puppeteer’s finger which helps Penelope to ring the bell and alert Parker. Sandwiches it is.

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Scott calls in for developments, just to remind us all what’s happening.

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Brains arrives aboard Thunderbird 2. Virgil proceeds to roll her out along the runway with no fanfare at all. The music really does a lot to sell the launch sequences normally so to hear them silent is rather odd.

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Tin-Tin points out that another rescue operation is underway. She sounds utterly bored by the whole thing. I’d probably be bored if I were her too.

The Crablogger continues to trundle along while the evacuation of the village is completed by one of the transporter trucks. The only remaining resident is Gutierrez, whom we assume is the chief of police in San Martino. He is portrayed by the same puppet as Victor Gomez in Move – And You’re Dead. Someone with better eyes and knowledge than me may be able to confirm or rule this out, but the photograph above the ‘Juanito’ label on the wall may be of Associate Producer, John Read. Jansen tells Gutierrez that if the Crablogger gets jammed with bricks and mortar, it’ll explode… even though the whole point of keeping the machine running in the first place was supposedly to avoid the processing plant jamming up.

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The Crablogger comes crashing through the village wall, with individual bricks sent flying spectacularly. Imagine the fun that must have been had by the special effects boys who essentially got to smash their giant yellow toy truck into some building blocks. It really must have felt like that some days.

Gutierrez heads for the dam in his cute little car as the Crablogger chases after him by tearing through homes and businesses. There’s going to be an awfully big law suit after this is over…

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Petersen and McColl continue to sleep through the whole thing. That’s some seriously bad food poisoning to keep them knocked out for that long.

Scott and Virgil have a quick chat. Thunderbird 2 is 18 minutes behind Thunderbird 1. Great, that’s 18 minutes of Scott sitting and doing nothing at the danger zone waiting for Virgil to turn up.

Stock footage of Thunderbird 1 once again shows her touching down with wheels and ‘Thunderbird 1’ written on the belly of the craft. A completely different model with skids touches down next to the Crablogger Base Control vehicle.

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Scott calls in to remind us all how incredibly important it is that Penelope finds Jim Lucas and gets the shut down procedure as soon as possible. There’s quite a bit of this episode which is just padding and characters repeating the current situation to each other a lot.

Footage of FAB 1 originally seen in The Perils of Penelope is played over some very dramatic music to once again reminds us how absolutely vital it is that Penelope does this right and doesn’t waste any time whatsoever…

FAB 1 is parked up outside Robotics International. The puppet-sized perimeter fence complete with the sign is visible in the parking lot at Glenn Field in Thunderbirds Are Go. Penelope is interrogating a poor security guard to gain confidential information about Jim Lucas. I’m slightly curious as to why a company as big as Robotics International must be would keep it’s personnel files in a filing cabinet in the small security office by the front gate…

Using some sort of mysterious ray gun, Parker paralyses the security guard while Penelope snoops around in the filing cabinet. One of the names visible at the front of the drawer is that of supervising art director, Bob Bell. Penelope pulls out a card with the address, “75, Sunnigale Road, Eppington Wood East, Somerset.” Remember that.

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Despite Penelope saying there would be no after effects of the beam, the guard collapses conveniently onto the alarm bell. I would argue that passing out is a reasonably long lasting after effect. The date counter on top of the filing cabinet can later be seen very prominently on Jeff’s desk in Give Or Take A Million.

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Penelope completely fails to read the address written on the card, instead saying that Lucas lives at “20, Hazelmere Gardens, Iresham.” Presumably whoever typed up the card for the earlier live action close-up hadn’t read the script.

Thunderbird 2 is on the scene and somehow Scott manages to make it on board straight away in order to drive the Mobile Crane out of Pod 3. The Mobile Crane is probably the most sensible pod vehicle we ever see in the series. There’s no denying that it’s rather useful and functional, but pod vehicles tend to be highly specialised machines built to do very cool things that no other machine could possibly do. The Mobile Crane just doesn’t have that level of specialty. Yes, it’s a handy piece of kit, but it just isn’t that cool. It’s a shame particularly because this is the last new pod vehicle that Thunderbirds has to offer aside from Thunderbird 6. The Mobile Crane also pops up in the Captain Scarlet episode Seek and Destroy as a standard fire truck.

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Scott, Virgil, and Brains are enjoying a bumpy ride towards the Crablogger. It’s really well done and you do actually believe that they’re traversing some lumpy terrain at high speed… either that or Scott’s a terrible driver.

A shot of FAB 1 driving at high speed is taken from Vault of Death. Parker notices a h’accident at the side of the road, causing Penelope’s compassion to overwhelm her, so they stop to help out… it really has nothing to do with the rest of the plot except that it delays Penelope from doing what she’s supposed to be doing.

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The victim of the crash has been thrown from the car. He’s wearing a shirt previously worn by Johnny Gillespie in Move – And You’re Dead.

The Mobile Crane catches up to the Crablogger. The stumps along the path suggest that the machine is still managing to chop down trees at an incredible rate. I can’t emphasise enough that it’s a bit of a mystery how the Crablogger manages to take hold of trees and chop them up while continuing to move at considerable speed. Virgil and Brains hop out of the back door to board the platform.

The platform rises up as Scott attempts to get Virgil and Brains as close as possible to the Crablogger control cabin. Brains does a timid little hop onto the machine with Virgil there to catch him. It’s pretty adorable actually.

Meanwhile, in the slightly dull subplot to the subplot, Penny and Parker have patched up the injured driver. Using her frightfully pink car phone, Penelope speaks to the police while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. With that over and done with we can get back to the actual subplot.

While Virgil and Brains attempt to enter the Crablogger, Scott learns that they have 13 minutes until the machine hits the dam. The site is currently undergoing evacuation according to Jansen. It’s been awfully good of Jansen to take responsibility for this monumental screw up and ensuring everyone is out of danger.

Over at the dam construction office, Gutierrez is there to forcibly remove the construction manager, Manuel. He was previously seen as General Bron in Edge of Impact. Manuel’s not terribly happy about evacuating because the dam is so very nearly finished. Manuel loves dam.

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As he continues to cut into the control cabin of the Crablogger, Virgil’s hopeful that Penelope is still working on getting the information which they’ll need in the next 10 minutes. Let’s hope she hasn’t wasted time stopping to put a blanket over a random guy by the side of the road or anything like that…

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This is Jim Lucas’ house in Iresham or Somerset or wherever the heck he lives. Next door is the model of Penelope’s ranch house from Atlantic Inferno.

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Parker has been around the building to check for an open window or door but with no success. It’s almost as if the Lucas family don’t want people breaking into their house. But don’t worry, one of Penelope hairpins is going to save the day once again!

Virgil lowers himself through the hole. We quickly cut away to Scott in order to save us the embarrassment of watching Brains jump down there as well. Brains never claims to be an expert in medicine and as such his diagnosis of McColl and Petersen is that they’re not looking too good. It’s a very nice detail but one which I’ve never noticed before – Virgil is checking McColl’s pulse and timing it on his watch… either that or he likes holding hands with random unconscious strangers now. It turns out Brains doesn’t want to be much of an expert of atomic reactors today either, claiming that he shouldn’t even attempt to shut down the Crablogger without Jim Lucas’ instructions… probably wasn’t worth the fuss of bringing Brains along really because he basically doesn’t know anything about anything today.

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And so the Crablogger continues on towards the dam with only Penelope able to save the day now. Fingers crossed!

Parker is standing guard outside of the Lucas’ house… either that or Penelope didn’t invite him inside. She immediately finds Jim Lucas fast asleep in bed and holds a gun to his head. If you want a full size replica of Penelope’s gun, try the Stingray cap gun made by Lone Star.

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Mrs Lucas is asleep in a separate bed on the other side of the room, because in the sixties that’s just how couples slept on television. Not to mention she probably would wake up if she were any closer. You can spot the telephone from the press conference scene in Thunderbirds Are Go on the nightstand.

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Penelope places something that looks like an electric razor on the pillow. It’s actually a recording device for Lucas to speak into and recall the shut down procedure of the Crablogger. I can barely remember my own name when I’ve been woken up so I think he does rather well considering how stressful the situation is. He might have been a bit more co-operative if Penelope had just told him the Crablogger was going out of control and about to blow up a dam, but this works too.

Tin-Tin brings in coffee because she basically has nothing else to do. John calls in to report that McColl and Petersen have been shipped out to hospital. Unfortunately we missed the bit where Brains and Virgil lifted their bodies through the hole in the roof, dragged them over to the Mobile Crane platform, and Scott then carted them back to the Crablogger Base Control vehicle.

With the recording completed, Penelope chucks the crucial information across the room. Parker manages to catch it in a rather cleverly cut together moment. All the same though, she probably shouldn’t be throwing stuff like that.

Penelope loads the gun with a tranquiliser to send our friend Jim back to sleep. Ouch, straight in the chest! Apparently he fancies Penny regardless.

Parker transmits the recording over to the Crablogger via Thunderbird 5. John stands there and clearly doesn’t have a clue what any of it means. Brains efficiently carries out the instructions straight away. How splendid.

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Uh oh. Virgil has his angry face on. He must have just heard the news that the reactor is going to take three minutes to shut down. Surely the reactor can shut down while the handbrake’s on? Never mind, looks like we’ll be taking a dramatic trip to the dam.

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With a bucket load of symbolism, the Crablogger crushes the sign for the San Martino Dam Project. Poor Manuel spent 3 weeks painting that…

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With the reactor closing down, Brains confidently opens up the radiation shield to take a look outside. I mean it might be a good idea to let the radiation levels die down a bit but hey, they’re about to fall into a dam anyway. Speaking of which, if the crew need a shield in front of them while operating the machine, what kind of radiation is being left behind in the forest the Crablogger’s been clearing? Not good.

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The footage on the back projection screen makes it look like the Crablogger isn’t quite pointing in the direction it’s actually going.

The Crablogger starts to thunder down an unstable ledge. Things are about to get tense!

Simms is furiously typing up the accident report form. Scott actually has a smart idea and realises they should probably drain the fuel tanks to reduce the size of the explosion somewhat and potentially save the dam. What’s more, he’s offered to go and do it himself! I like this pro-active Scott. He refuses to sit back and do nothing. Yes sir!

Dust and rock is sent flying all over the place. A poorly parked truck is crushed by a boulder. It’s great to think that this truck model was constructed solely for the purpose of having a rock dropped on it.

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Scott sets off in a Superon tanker which he probably knicked the keys for. Simms and Jansen aren’t feeling too optimistic… all of the Crablogger’s massive design flaws are starting to scream out at them now.

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On Scott’s left are the levers used by Penelope to blow up her mountain in Atlantic Inferno.

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Scott briefs Virgil and Brains on the next part of their mission – to head over to the processing plant and hook up the pipelines. I wouldn’t have thought the crew normally have to go outside every time the machine needs refuelling, so I’m not quite sure why Virgil and Brains have to do it now. Nevertheless, it sounds rather thrilling. Behind Virgil you can spot the control panel for Thunderbird 3’s safety beam from Sun Probe.

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Scott gets really into driving along the lumpy, bumpy road to the Crablogger. It’s so great to see him enjoying himself.

Jansen spots that the Crablogger’s little light is getting fainter on the map, meaning the reactor is closing down. Do they not have a more sophisticated way of monitoring the Crablogger’s reactor than one little light bulb on the wall?

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A lot of time is spent focusing on the Crablogger’s big, chunky, rubber wheels as the ground beneath gets smashed up and falls away. It sure is dramatic and shows off the model’s suspension very nicely.

Virgil and Brains are in position as the machine finally comes to a stop on the most dangerous part of the ledge so far. The ground continues to give way and things really aren’t looking good.

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Scott is here to save the day! He really is! The fuel pipes are sent over painfully slowly, but painful in a good exciting way, not in a Penelope firing a tranquiliser straight into my chest sort of way…

Brains and Virgil reach out and hook up the fuel lines. In close-up, you can get a good look at the logo on the pipe which belongs to Zwicky, a company in Slough which specialised in avation refuelling. Scott gives a simple and rather informal thumbs up to confirm that he is starting the pumps. Now is not the time for casual hand gestures Scott!

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With the lines hooked up, Brains and Virgil are still waiting on board the Crablogger. Oh, I guess they’re going to detach the lines when the tanks are drained. That’s sensible of them.

The fuel indicator slowly ticks down as Scott reads off the meter . The Crablogger’s wheels and tracks slide closer and closer to the edge! Nail biting stuff!

Virgil and Brains aren’t having much fun now. If only they didn’t have to stick around to unhook the pipelines…

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So close!

That’s it! The Crablogger starts to take her tumble! Brains and Virgil use their jetpacks and fly away from the machine as fast as possible… while the pipelines are still hooked up… that not only means they needn’t have bothered waiting around but it also means the Superon tanker is going to get dragged down the cliff with the Crablogger… those silly boys.

It’s finally time for this beautiful piece of model making to get chucked down the mountain. You can clearly spot the wooden base of the model as it falls.

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This thing just keeps on falling! You can really get a good look at all the individual bits of the model.

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Despite the plot trying desperately to steer us away from a big explosion, we’re still lucky enough to get one. That must have been one of the hardest parts about writing Thunderbirds – ensuring that everyone gets saved while also providing the viewer with a dramatic, explosive finale.

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The dam is safe! Just a shame the village got a bit squashed. It’s hard to know who’s to blame for that. Is it Robotics International for their really terribly designed control system? Or Sanchos for his coma inducing special?

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Good work chaps! An excellent bit of teamwork from International Rescue this week with even Scott pulling his weight for once.

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It’s been a while , but this is the same newspaper which can be seen in multiple episodes of Thunderbirds which usually reports the date as being ‘Friday, December 24, 1964’ – someone has, however, blotted out the 1964 date at last. Also, that ‘Boy charged with murder’ headline is more than a little disturbing. I always knew Chip Morrison was a wrong’n.

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It finally hits Jim Lucas that his design for the Crablogger’s reactor control system was completely awful. “It’s back to the drawing board,” he declares… yeah because they’re really going to give you the money to make another one of those…

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Mrs Lucas is incredibly baffled by Jim’s mumblings about a girl in the bedroom. Funnily enough, she’s wearing Penelope’s night gown from Atlantic Inferno. She may even be wearing one of Penelope’s wigs from that same scene in Atlantic Inferno, albeit dyed brunette. Her right eye is pointing considerably lower than her left, which once you see you’ll never be able to unsee.

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Needless to say, Mrs Lucas wants to have a blazing row about Jim having another woman in the bedroom. It’s rather funny really. Unusually, the music from the closing credits is used to play out the final scene before being repeated again in… well in the closing credits of course…

Path of Destruction may have its glaring plot holes but the fundamental idea is classic Thunderbirds. The Crablogger is an impressive piece of model making and design and truly stands out as one of the greatest guest vehicles in the series. Aside from the endless shots of the machine driving past camera there were plenty of other enjoyable moments from this episode. The sequence in Sanchos restaurant is good fun, giving the guest characters a little bit of time to shine. The balance between Penelope’s exploits and those of Scott, Virgil and Brains is just about right, although Penelope possibly could have done with something a bit more exciting to do if the intention was to make her the absolute last hope for the Crablogger.

It’s worth noting that Path of Destruction marks David Elliott’s final contribution to the classic series and indeed the entire Supermarionation canon. He started back at the beginning as an editor on The Adventures of Twizzle and worked his way up to direct Four Feather FallsSupercar, Fireball XL5Stingray, and finally Thunderbirds. There is no doubt that his striking direction of so many episodes of so many Supermarionation series has been crucial to the continuing success of Gerry Anderson’s work to this day. It’s truly wonderful that David Elliott got to return to Slough 49 years later to direct the Thunderbirds 1965 episode, The Stately Homes Robberies.

Next week – the Skythrust, a revolutionary new aircraft, has a very special maiden flight. Lady Penelope is modelling in Francois Lemaire’s fashion show on board the plane. But when hi-jackers take control, only Brains’ latest invention can save the aircraft from an explosive landing. Stay tuned for Alias Mr. Hackenbacker!

2 thoughts on “Thunderbirds – 28. Path of Destruction

  1. Heaven knows why, but this is my son’s favorite episode of the series, by a mile. He has drawn pictures of the Crablogger and built it with Lego/Duplo for all his legit Thunderbirds craft to rescue. (Kayo even gets involved in her ship.) He’s probably watched it more than he has every other episode, combined. Mercifully, he went with Edge of Impact and Dangerous Intruder this morning for a change, because I’m completely sick of this one.

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