International Rescue take their time appearing in this slick Thunderbirds Series Two episode. ‘Path of Destruction’ combines a gargantuan runaway machine, some very dodgy ethnic cooking, and a literal cliff-hanging moment.

In the mountainous, heavily wooded backwaters of South America, we’re shown a bunch of trucks labelled ‘Superon’ and another one marked ‘Crablogger Base Control.’ Two men are waiting within the truck. The one called Simms checks his watch and comments that someone is late. His buddy, a gruff, professional man named Jansen, responds that “McColl knows what he’s doing.” But Simms doubts that Jansen is taking the “operation” seriously enough. Jansen retorts that he’s “just as keen to get started” as Simms is. This show always excelled at bickering guest characters who have to work together before almost meeting their doom. Then a chap named Franklin, who was out of sight until just now, tells them his programming work is completed, and he reckons that this must be “the biggest thing anyone has ever programmed for.”

They’ve been tracking whatever the “biggest thing” is on a map of the area, and now the flashing LED is right next to ‘base camp.’ Jansen radios Crablogger One and welcomes its drivers to the base. Now we get to see what all the fuss was about. Appropriately Godzillaesque music plays as the big yellow behemoth of a machine arrives, and from a model making perspective it must have eaten about a hundred Airfix kits. Franklin was right…this thing is BIG. “Path of Destruction” pops up as the non-too-subtle title card. After all, big machines have a very poor survival rating in the International Rescue universe. As it nears, Jansen warns the Crablogger crew not to get “too close” to Base control. The driver, a man with a posh English accent who turns out to be the McColl that Jansen mentioned earlier, agrees. McColl then gleefully tells his co-driver “They’ve probably never seen a machine quite like this.”

As the monstrous Crablogger comes to a halt, McColl is told he’s good to “park her” for the night. Jansen then invites the crew to “freshen up” as they’re due to set out to work bright and early the next morning. Jansen quips that McColl should put on his “tuxedo” and that he’ll show them “the sights” of the town. It’s a celebratory night out for everyone but Simms, who opts to stay put and finish the “fix up” before they start work the next day.

A melancholy Spanish guitar plays over the run-down South American town of San Martino. One of those futuristic desert jeeps is parked outside a darkened tavern, and there’s some lovely, detailed set work to enjoy. Two men, one wearing Alan’s yellow striped shirt from ‘Move and You’re Dead,’ chat at a table outside, while a fly curtain flaps in the breeze. Inside the restaurant, a Mexican guitar player (complete with sombrero) plays a low down version of the show’s theme music. Jansen, Franklyn and McColl, plus McColl’s codriver, Peterson, are seated around a table, laughing and drinking. During the business banter, we learn that McColl and Peterson had worked with the Crablogger’s designer, Jim Lucas. Hard-driven entrepreneurs and their lofty ambitions always make great stories for International Rescue to deal with, but they also provide a great grounding in ‘real life’ which it’s good to see again here.

Jansen says how glad he is that they have the “experts” with them on this job. Then the restaurant owner, a cringing Latino stereotype named ‘Sanchez,’ welcomes them profusely and chats away to Jansen, who’s clearly a regular at the eatery. Sanchez is ecstatic that Jansen’s brought some new clientele with him, although Jansen’s tone suggests he’s more than a little repelled by the shameless sucking up. Keen to order his dinner, McColl asks if he can see the menu. Sanchez regrets that there is no menu, but tells him he will prepare something “very spey-shul” and Jansen vouches for that, assuring them that Sanchez really does cook his beef in a “very special way.” Luckily Sanchez takes this as a compliment. Persuaded to try something new, McColl opts for the “special” and wants it “hot and strong and plenty of it!” Peterson and Franklyn make the same choice. However, rather tellingly, Jansen only wants his “usual – thick, and rare and juicy.” Sanchez recaps the fateful order of “three spey-shuls…one steak.” Jansen confirms the order and tells him to hurry up with it.

The more times they say “special” the more ominous it sounds, and a rather uneasy Franklyn wonders just how “special” it actually is, but Peterson tells him that they should be living it up on their first ever trip to South America, and that they should “try anything once.” Viewers may recalls that’s exactly what Scott said in ‘Cry Wolf’ in the moments before the great ‘launch chute, go-cart, chicken coop and garbage can crash’ incident.

To further emphasise you should only ever go for the steak, we’re shown the grotty interior of Sanchez’s kitchen. If you squint you can spot some E. coli setting up a small guest house in one of the filthy pots of crap that litter the preparation surface. A vat of acid would be the best prescription for cleaning up this mess. There’s even a ‘rat’ (actually a live mouse, enormous in this scale!) making itself at home on the table while the harassed ‘chef’ makes dinner for the Crablogger crew. A worn out woman named Maria, she has great sad bags under her eyes and a tragic disposition. She stirs a filthy pot of bubbling mixture as Sanchez bustles in and orders her to “‘urry." She wearily tells him that Mr Jansen and his new guests will “‘ave to wait".

While they all wait, Jansen is scribbling an illustration of the Crablogger’s methods onto the tablecloth. The main concern for the giant machine is the ‘production unit,’ and Simms is in charge of the transporter fleet and ‘liquid gas tanks’ (the Superon fuel) to receive the sixty-odd barrels of “pulp” that the Crablogger produces every thirty minutes, while the Superon tankers will link up with it every three hours. McColl really can’t wait to get started. Peterson just wishes that Jim Lucas was around to see the Crablogger “show its muscles.” Jansen simply wonders where the hell their food is.

Poor, overworked Maria seems to have boiled up a ‘special’ that resembles, at best, a big pile of steaming cow-dung. At least half of it has ended up outside the revoltingly encrusted saucepan. There’s no getting away from the appearance of a big pile of effluent. But, according to her, “it’s ready.” She thrusts it at her husband for approval, “Smell good, yes?” and Sanchez scolds her for talking too much. Yuck. When Sanchez turns up with what only technically counts as, er, food, Jansen cheerfully tells the crew that it’s their chance to get “all the energy” they’ll need for tomorrow’s work. McColl looks incredibly doubtful at the steaming pile of slop which Sanchez plonks under his nose. It looks exactly like a fresh cowpat. Just how hungry do you have to be to tuck into that? Enjoy, guys.

The next morning, the Crablogger’s getting fuelled and the control jeep pulls up alongside her. Jansen gives the order to get “underway.” They’re still tracking the behemoth’s location; currently she’s right beside Base Camp. The operational route is marked out in a long, straight diagonal across the map. Simms is there and comments that he’s worried by how sick Franklin currently is. Jansen says he’ll radio for a “doc” to “fly up and take a look at him” after they get started.

McColl and Peterson board the Crablogger and, with all the fetishization of automation that this show loves so much, the two men are carried into the machine on a series of lifts and chutes. Then the hatch in the roof of their control cabin screws shut, like sealing a vault. With two minutes to go, they slide up the radiation shields over the front windows and switch to ‘Ocular Monitor’ view.

The Crablogger soon lumbers forward into the unsuspecting jungle. McColl and Peterson start to raze the forest, and we see how the Crablogger gets its name. It picks up trees with its ‘claws’ and feeds them into its ‘chest,’ where the wood is pulped and finds its way out the back end. Jansen is very pleased and calls it a “success,” while also wishing that “Lucas” was here to see it. Think this Lucas chap will be important later, then? As the Crablogger thunders on, some viewers may only just have realised that International Rescue are nowhere in sight yet. All that is about to change.

Regular viewers will also not be entirely surprised that Jansen’s declaration of “success” is the cue for everything about it to go – well it rhymes with ‘mittsup.’ It might only be because they had less of the ‘special’ than Franklin, but McColl and Peterson are now starting to feel the ill-effects of their dinner the night before. As McColl reports that the first load of wood pulp is ready for collection, he then orders Jansen to “switch to remote” and they’re both looking worse for wear. Their heads are nodding, the food poisoning taking hold, and I bet they’re really regretting choosing a pale blue uniform colour about now…then Peterson collapses!

As the truck pulls up behind the Crablogger to collect the neatly cut logs, McColl warns Jansen that his colleague has “passed out” and that he doesn’t feel “too good” himself. Jansen instructs McColl to take it off remote and close down the reactor. McColl protests that he can “handle her” but Jansen insists on halting the operation for the day. However, it’s already too late, and McColl collapses as well! There’s no stopping the Crablogger now, and it’s already veering off the designated course – so perhaps McColl fell onto the steering lever. The unstoppable machine bulldozes its way through the rest of the forest, its new course now taking it directly towards the town of San Martino (revenge for serving its crew the “spey-shul?”). The town is also right beside a newly constructed dam.

Jansen realises that they just “can’t stop her!” as he knows McColl couldn’t have switched off the reactor in time and Simms points out the town that lies in her path and there’s a CRASH ZOOM on the location on the map. Jansen tells Simms that they must keep fuelling and unloading the Crablogger or “she’ll blow” and wipe out “everything in a fifty mile radius!” Simm works out that the drivers must have had the “same bug as Franklin” and he asks Jansen what they’re going to do. Jansen knows that only one “outfit” can handle this. Simms scoffs that there’s nothing anyone can do, but luckily Jansen ignores him and radios for International Rescue. Finally!

On Thunderbird Five, John is checking that Jansen has at least “warned the village” and Jansen tells him that they have (but when?) and that one of their transporter vehicles is helping with the evacuation. But he adds that if the Crablogger does get to the village the ‘processing plant’ will definitely jam up! Jansen adds that “anything can happen” and John assures him that they’re on their way. However, Jansen has a final bombshell to drop. He thinks that, with luck, Crablogger will “bypass the village” but that there’s no way it will miss the ‘San Martino Dam!’ D’oh. Fade to black.

On Tracy Island, a faint breeze stirs the palms, and John reports on the Crablogger’s desperate “position.” Jeff immediately sends Scott out and orders Tin-Tin to fetch Virgil and Brains “right away.” Scott boards Thunderbird One, while Virgil and Brains stand in front of Jeff. Tin- Tin has already filled them in on the situation, and Brains’ comment about “a crablogging machine” going out of control suggests that there may be more than one machine like this out there. Goodbye, rainforests. Jeff wants advice on what to do. Brains recommends getting hold of Jim Lucas who designed the Crablogger for “Robotics International in England.” He thinks that Lucas could answer all of Scott’s “danger zone queries.” The problem is that it would take too long to go and meet Lucas, and Virgil points out that it would blow their identity to contact him directly. Not sure why, though, can’t they just call him up with ‘sound only’ selected?

Scott’s all set to go and blasts off. Jeff is already calling Creighton-Ward Manor, where Parker is closing the drapes and Penelope thanks him for making it “so much cosier.” He “quite agrees” and offers her some sherry before he serves her dinner. Then her candlestick starts beeping. Penelope thinks it “may have to be sandwiches instead” and answers the candlestick with her flawlessly manicured nails (real hands!), enquiring in a flirty voice if this is “business or pleasure?” Jeff quips, “Put it this way…it’s always a pleasure doing business with you.” He tells her that they need her to track down Jim Lucas, as they need him for the Crablogger shutdown. Oh, and it’s a “matter of life and death”.

Jeff also figures that as it’s night time in the UK, Lucas probably isn’t at the Robotics “plant” and that she’ll need to find him at home. He emphasises that people’s lives are in danger and that she “must contact him.” Penny assures Jeff that she’ll “be in touch directly” and informs Parker that it’ll be sandwiches after all, and to “get out the Rolls Royce”.

Thunderbird One speeds towards South America, and Scott calls base for any new developments. Jeff explains about the task he’s set Penelope and that Virgil and Brains will be “blasting off” any minute. Now we see Brains arrive in Thunderbird Two’s cockpit, and he says he hopes that Penelope “can find Jim Lucas.” Virgil doesn’t respond, and simply opens the “hangar doors,” and the big green machine rolls out onto the runway without any fanfare at all, just the whine of her motors. Then, Thunderbird Two takes off. Jeff and Tin-Tin are watching from the lounge and Jeff just hopes that the Crablogger can be stopped.

The runaway behemoth continues her relentless rampage towards the town. Fortunately, the place now looks utterly deserted, which is confirmed by Gutierrez, a policeman. Jansen orders him to “clear out” as the Crablogger “will be on top of you any moment!” No kidding, Gutierrez hears it arrive, and the machine bursts right through a wall on the outer edge of the town, causing widespread destruction. Jansen yells at him to get out of there, because if the processors jam up with bricks “they’ll hear the bang a hundred miles away!” Gutierrez says he’ll head over to the dam site to see what he can do there. As he leaves, the Crablogger wreaks further destruction upon San Martino. Inside the behemoth, the drivers are still out cold, and it’s looking like they’re very probably doomed.

Scott has reached the scene and radios Virgil for his ETA. Two is eighteen minutes behind, and Scott figures that just forty-five minutes after that the Crablogger will have reached the dam! The scale here is a bit confusing, but perhaps the Crablogger actually moves pretty slowly? Thunderbird One lands and Jansen spots that he’s arrived. Scott radios base to give them another timescale, as now Virgil will be there in fifteen minutes, and they’ll have just forty-two minutes to stop the Crablogger before it reaches the dam – and they’ll have to cut their way in before they can even try to switch off the reactor. Scott is anxious to have that shut down procedure from Lucas as soon as they’re inside, as “it’s going to be that close.” Everything hangs on Lady P and Parker’s success. There’s a dramatic flourish as Penelope speeds though the UK night in FAB 1. Fade to black.

FAB 1 is now parked outside Robotics International, and Penelope is chatting up the security guard in an attempt to get information from him about Lucas. He refuses to give her personnel details without “written permission,” refusing to budge even when she says that it’s “terribly important.” As she won’t tell him why, he won’t budge an inch. This is not her most secret-spy-type moment. Then she spots the drawer conveniently marked ‘Personnel File’ and after checking one more time that the guard won’t tell her what she wants to know, she claims that she “can’t wait any longer” and promptly signals Parker. Her chauffeur is standing just outside and points something alarmingly death-ray shaped at the hapless guard. It appears to paralyse the poor sod, and Penelope apologises to him before rifling through the file and getting what she came for. She promises it’ll be returned to him and she and Parker leg it back to FAB 1. The guard promptly collapses onto the alarm! Dogs start barking angrily as FAB 1 makes a swift getaway. Yes. Very subtle. Slow clap.

As they drive, Penelope compliments Parker on his “impeccable” aim. Gulp. She reads out the address for Jim Lucas, and tells Parker to hurry as Scott and Virgil are “relying on us.” While they speed towards Lucas, you have to wonder how they got hold of a gizmo that effectively ‘Hoods’ those you point it at. Or did Brains invent it in case the Hood showed up again? We need answers!

Back in South America, Thunderbird Two impresses Jansen as she touches down, and the mobile crane pod vehicle is released. Unusually, Scott is driving the big truck, while Virgil and Brains are squeezed in behind him. Scott checks how much longer they have – Jansen tells him they’ve got just thirty-four minutes before the Crablogger reaches the dam. Scott says Jansen will “be hearing from us” and tells Virgil and Brains to “hold tight” as he speeds after the Crablogger.

Although speed really is vital, Penelope and Parker get a little distracted on their mission. They stop to aid the victim of a nasty car crash – the vehicle is upside down. Is this karma after causing so much roadside destruction in other episodes? It feels as though this scene was included to show a less homicidal side to the usually unstoppable Lady P, although it’s obviously also there to ramp up the tension. Penelope and Parker help the guy who’s been thrown from the vehicle, and she radios for an ambulance while Parker fetches a First Aid kit. Talk about your moral quandaries.

Back at the Crablogger, Scott is in hot pursuit, whilst still looking too ‘cute’ compared to his appearance in series one. Then Virgil spots the Crablogger – “We’re nearly on it!” – and Scott gets them to the right position. Once they’re in the mobile crane’s carriage, Scott gets Virgil and Brains up level with the Crablogger. Following their directions, Scott holds them level with the massive machine until Virgil and Brains (who’s being quite the action man here) hop aboard the roof. Brains tells Scott that Virgil is starting to use the “laser beam” on the “hatchway” but that they’ll need Penelope’s information on the reactor as soon as possible. Scott agrees, adding that they’re getting rather too “close to the dam” for his liking.

At the roadside in the UK, Penelope is chatting to the ambulance on her pink phone, giving them instructions on how to find the accident victim. The man has a concussion and a broken leg, but they’ve made him “comfortable,” and she says she really must head off now on an “urgent appointment.” FAB 1 speeds away as they hear the ambulance siren approach. Penelope utters the deathless line, “Quickly, Parker, to Aylesham!” and they leave the accident victim between two emergency lights, although they don’t really look like they’re switched on.

Back at the Crablogger, Virgil leans on one knee while cutting away at the vault-like hatch. Very nice miniature work here. Scott radios base camp for a time update. There’s just thirteen minutes left before they reach the dam! Jansen hates to think what will happen if the Crablogger crashes before the reactor is shut down. But I think we can probably imagine. Jansen adds that they’re awaiting “confirmation of clearance” of the dam site.

In a shed at the foot of the dam, only one person hasn’t left yet - a dedicated chap called Manuel, who is still trying to get his “papers” together. Gutierrez watches as Jansen radios for Manuel to leave, warning him that when the Crablogger falls into the dam “as it’s gonna do,” it’ll tear the dam apart and no village below it will be “left standing” after the subsequent flood. So he’s got a lot of faith in International Rescue! Jansen tells Manuel to “beat it” and finally he agrees, lamenting that the dam was only two weeks from completion.

Scott is still driving alongside the Crablogger, and Virgil is still hard at work trying to laser his way into it. The two men are still unconscious within the cabin, although Virgil notes that they’re “nearly through” and he “sure hopes” that Penelope and Parker can “come up with the information” they need in time.

At Lucas’s house, Parker reports to Penelope that no doors or windows are unlocked, so to Penelope’s dismay it appears that they might actually have to break in. No one’s thought to just ring up Lucas, then? Really? Or use the doorbell? As men’s lives are at stake, Parker requests the loan of an ‘airpin (sic) from ‘er ladyship. Yes, OK, they have to protect their identity – but how does that tie in to what they did to the poor security guard at the factory?

Virgil is now inside the Crablogger cabin and checks over McColl and Peterson, while Brains informs Scott that they “don’t look too good” and the sooner they’re out of there the better. Scott asks about shutting down the reactor, but Brains sensibly doesn’t dare to touch a thing until he knows the “closedown sequence,” so Scott tells Brains and Virgil to get the two men out of there first, and then they’ll worry about the reactor. The rest all relies on Lady Penelope’s success, and Scott says, “Only she can save the situation now.” Oh dear. The Crablogger rumbles on towards the doomed dam. Fade to black.

At Jim Lucas’s house, Parker keeps watch outside the window while Penelope sends a flashlight beam around a bedroom. It briefly falls on an egg timer on a desk or dressing table, but now Penelope has found Jim Lucas and she’s right back on scary psycho form. Perhaps forgetting that Lucas isn’t actually a secret agent (see Bondson in ‘The Man from MI5’) she shoves a gun barrel against his head and wakes him up. Really great PR for International Rescue! A sleepy and very confused Jim Lucas asks her who she is and what she wants. She replies that who she is, is “not important,” and orders him to keep quite still and “no harm will come to him.” What’s she going to do? Shoot off his kneecaps? Lucas is still half asleep and starts to protest until Penelope shushes him, as they mustn’t “disturb” his wife. He and his wife have separate beds, luckily for Penelope. She tells him to relay the “close down sequence” for the Crablogger he designed. He’s still very confused as she places a recording device next to his head and, as he wishes he knew “what this is all about” she urges him to hurry up, that “men’s lives depend” on her getting this information. There really has to be an easier way then this, Penny. To his credit, Jim Lucas does seem to know the sequence off by heart; or at least we hope so.

On Tracy Island, Tin-Tin supplies Jeff with the usual vat of coffee while he wonders if his “boys” have got the “fellas” from the Crablogger yet. John promptly radios to confirm that that part of the rescue has been successful and that the men have been shipped off to hospital. Tin-Tin dextrously pours Jeff his coffee while he notes that “now they’re waiting” on Penelope. It turns out that John will pass on the instructions from Lucas once Penelope has hold of it.

In England, Jim Lucas is still explaining the shutdown sequence, but the most important part of his technobabble is a final line about a three minute “time lag” following the shutdown sequence, after which the Crablogger, “should, um, stop.” With the instructions completed, Penelope tosses the recording over to Parker who runs off to upload it to John. Penelope wishes Lucas farewell and adds that, “for reasons too complicated to explain” she’s going to send him right back to sleep. She slips a red-cased round into her gun and fires it in the back of the hapless designer’s head. Fortunately, it just seems to be some sort of very low impact knock-out dart, and he nods off to sleep, still wishing that he knew what “this was all about” and how he was “hoping” to get to know her better as she had a “lovely voice.” Then he zonks out.

Parker has been playing the recording over FAB 1’s radio direct to John, who is forwarding it on to Brains and Virgil. In the Crablogger, Virgil hears the “three minute time lag” bit and immediately frowns. “We’ll never make it in time!” he exclaims. They’re very close to the edge of the San Martino dam now, and Scott must have taken the sick men back to base camp, as he’s nowhere in sight. Now the Crablogger demolishes the sign for the ‘San Martino Dam Project’ and it really does seem about to crash. Now that Brains has carried out all of Lucas’s instructions, all he and Virgil can do is wait, so they pull up the shutters and “take a look outside.” What about the radiation? Is that definitely off now? Outside, Brains spots that they’re headed towards “some kind of a ledge.” Oops. The Crablogger grinds along the cusp of the path, but the cliffside under the machine is already crumbling beneath its enormous weight. Things still look very dicey, and the Crablogger’s still stuffed full of highly explosive Superon fuel!

Back at the Crablogger base camp, Scott’s concerned by this very thing, and insists that they empty the Crablogger’s tanks, because otherwise when it goes up it will “bust the walls of the dam!” and tells Virgil and Brains that he’s “coming in” to help drain it right now. Jansen and Simms think he’ll never make it, and point out that the Crablogger is right beside the dam, but Scott insists, “We’re not just gonna sit back and do nothing!” and hotfoots it over to the tanker trucks.

As Crablogger continues her relentless route, more rocks hurtle from the crumbling ledge. A huge boulder completely crushes the little hut which Manuel was so loathe to evacuate earlier. Scott is on his way, and the siren on the tanker sounds just like the ones the useless emergency services use at their other rescue sites. Jansen still believes that they “just haven’t a hope” and Simms notes that there’s only “two minutes to go.” Wow, how fast are those tankers, and how slow is the Crablogger actually going?

Despite the very real threat of a crash and burn situation, Brains and Virgil seem eerily calm. Scott is already nearly with them, and he tells Virgil to get onto the roof of the processing plant to “hook up the pipelines.” Jansen helpfully informs them how to use the fuel release valves, and Scott urges the tanker truck to “come on, baby.” Jansen spots that the Crablogger signal on the map is growing fainter as its reactor closes down. Are they only following its radiation signal, then? What if they lost her! Simms thinks they’re already far too close to the ledge.

The Crablogger continues to roll on, and let’s just take a moment to appreciate what a wonderfully detailed piece of model kit this thing actually is, before it inevitably implodes. Brains warns Virgil to “hold tight” as they climb onto the outside rail just as the machine finally comes to a standstill. However, Jansen does not like “where she’s stopped,” which is right on the very edge of the crumbling ledge over the dam! Scott pulls up in the tanker as Virgil and Brains prepare to hook up the pipelines. The tanker’s trailing pipes extend very slowly, and then start to dangle in front of a full size Virgil and Brains. Once he’s connected them, Virgil gives Scott the OK to “start the pumps” and Scott gives him a thumbs up in response. This is pretty hair-raising, as right now it really seems like the Crablogger’s going to wipe out all three IR members the moment that ledge gives way. As the Crablogger slowly slides off the ledge, Scott frantically counts down the tanker volume. He really starts sweating when it reaches 200 gallons, and the Crablogger tilts at a sharp angle! Virgil warns Brains to be ready to jump, and as the 70 gallon mark is hit, Scott counts down the last few gallons in quick succession. Finally, Virgil shouts, “That’s it!” and as the Crablogger slides all the way off, he yells, “Jump!” Virgil and Brains seem to be wearing the jetpacks which IR supplied to the two men trapped on top of the BT Telecomm tower in ‘Edge of Impact.’ They both get clear as the Crablogger finally tumbles to its doom. The big yellow behemoth crashes spectacularly into the pit beside the dam below, destroying the entire building site, but thankfully leaving the dam itself undamaged.

From their safe vantage point, Brains calls it, “quite a bang” and Scott comments that it “could’ve been a much bigger one.” (That’s what he said…) and Virgil ponders what Jim Lucas will say “when he hears about his Crablogger.”

The next morning, in the UK, the rescue has made the headlines -- and on Christmas Eve, apparently, if you believe the dates in the paper, but that’s a whole other debate we don’t have time for, here! Reading it over breakfast, Jim Lucas is astounded by the news that ‘International Rescue Saves a Thousand Lives’ and as he reads it, and apparently still half asleep, he gasps, “That explains it!” His wife naturally wants to know “what” it explains. Lucas dopily thinks out loud, musing that he “thought it was a dream…that girl in the bedroom…she really was here!” and his wife rounds on him, demanding to know what the hell he means by that! Jim says “never mind” and that it’s “back to the drawing board” so they don’t have to call out International Rescue every time. But that really isn’t a good enough answer.

After he sighs, “What an organisation,” the camera pans back and the music rises over the increasingly irate voice of Lucas’s wife. The poor woman really wants a decent explanation for this “girl in the bedroom” malarkey. Fortunately the scene breaks away to the credits before their argument gets into full swing, although this might well explain their separate bed issues. One theory could be that Jim Lucas stayed home to work on his marriage, and Lady Penelope’s little visit can’t have helped!

This was a strong gag to end this episode on, as so many other ‘humourous final lines’ are pretty cringeworthy. This episode is proof that by Season Two the show had really perfected the iconic setup and destruction story. ‘Path of Destruction’ has it down to a fine art, introducing a likeable, bickering crew in charge of an unstoppable hunk of machinery that they – and the surrounding countryside – inevitably need rescuing from. It gets into trouble without the help of sabotage, too. Only human error is involved this time, and the disaster erupts quite organically, though the mighty Crablogger’s fate is signposted in neon from the first moment we see it.

The episode’s main problem is that we only spend a very short time with the Tracy family. The scenes on Tracy Island usually provided useful expansion for the earlier episodes. ‘Path of Destruction’ gives Penelope all the extra screentime, and while the episode feels far more evenly paced than many others, it also seems to have reduced the Tracys to simple ‘fixers’ who arrive to do their job and are never seen again. Perhaps the writers were relying on our own familiarity with them to fill in the blanks there, and no one is really out of character, at least. However, Scott in particular still seems to be on his bland ‘happy’ medication. It is nice to see a larger role for Brains, though, despite the fact that putting IR’s precious ‘brainbox’ in the path of such danger seems like a mightily bad idea, really.

Despite these minor gripes, the tighter storytelling really makes this a perfect rescue episode, and the build-up and the action is tense and exciting. It looks gorgeous and it’s great fun, and would perhaps be a useful episode with which to introduce newbies to the rest of the series. On this strength alone it deserves a high mark, especially considering the weird and wonderful episodes left to go!


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What the second season of Thunderbirds lost with its haircuts and face changes, it more than made up for in interesting storylines. ‘Path of Destruction’ is a great example of the sort of stories Thunderbirds did best: a cracking plot, an amusing side story, a tense rescue, and a tiny town right in the path of… er… destruction.

Opening on a field of heavy equipment, we know this episode is going to be big on machinery, but what we don’t know is that it’s also going to be heavy on the beans. In fact, it’s the beans that start the rescue ball rolling. But wait, stop, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Tracking back to the field of equipment, which is located somewhere in South America, we learn that Misters Janssen and Sims are awaiting the arrival of the Crablogger 1.

Crablogger 1 is apparently the bastard hybrid son of the Sidewinder and the road building machine from End of the Road – a big yellow behemoth that eats trees for breakfast and excretes them back out after lunch as compact little logs. It’s huge, lumbering, and has its own theme music. As I said, it eats trees by the handful (it does, in fact, have hands), and then flattens whatever terrain it drives over.

Apparently Brazil has totally given up on the Amazon rainforest in 2026, for the Crablogger is given carte blanche to eat as many trees as it likes for however long it likes – because, like many technological marvels in the Thunderbirds universe, this thing is designed never to stop.

Janssen can’t wait for the Crablogger to arrive – it seems he’s hankering for some new company, and has even booked a table at the local restaurant, Sanchos. Janssen’s offsider, Sims, seemingly miffed that Janssen is so excited about the new boys in town, begs off the dinner, which would have to be the single most intelligent decision in this whole entire episode.

The second most intelligent decision in this whole entire episode was Janssen ordering the steak. The Crablogger pilots, perhaps excited at being in a new and exotic locale, opt to try the Sanchos special. Beans. But hey, not just any beans. These are ‘special’ beans – they’re black, glumpy, smoky and seasoned with rat droppings. Ay-yay-yay!

Next day, bright and early, and Franklin (one of Janssen’ local boys, roped in to make up a foursome when Sims piked out of dinner), has already called in sick. (Yes, he had the beans.) But the Crablogger pilots seem to have slower digestive tracts than poor Franklin, as the beans haven’t yet managed to make it to their lower intestines. They clamber aboard, close the radiation shield of the Crablogger (Really? Locked in the cockpit? With those beans?) and set off on Crablogger’s maiden journey.

Unfortunately it isn’t long before the effect of Ma Sanchos’ beans starts making itself felt, and Peterson slides sickly off his chair. McConnell follows shortly after, and lies sweaty and unconscious on the cockpit floor. (At this point, you will excuse me for wondering out loud what is happening in their underwear, given the volatile nature of the dinner they had eaten the night before. Not the most pleasant of topics, I agree, but I do wonder!)

Janssen, who ate the steak and is suffering no ill-effects, realises at this point that the Crablogger screwed. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that the Crablogger is nuclear powered and is headed for the San Martino dam. Not only that, it also carries two enormous tankers of liquid fuel on its trailer, and liquid fuel + atomic pile + water + food poisoning = help!

Janssen opts to call International Rescue, but it’s doubted that even they could save the situation now. To clearly state the situation, which I don’t believe Jeff properly did before he agreed to send in his operatives, IR has to rescue the following, and all in the space of 47 minutes: the Crablogger, the pilots, the town and the dam!

John answers the call (he’s been trying on a new hairstyle in the privacy of Thunderbird Five), and soon Scott, Virgil and Brains are winging their way to San Martino. But there’s one enormous problem standing between IR and success: with the pilots unconscious, nobody knows how to shut the Crablogger off. Brains suggests they call the designer, Jim Lucas (a peculiarly moustachioed man), and Jeff sends Penny to obtain the information. However, owing to privacy issues, Penny has to first steal his address, and then hide her own identity from him. She does this by sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night and sticking a gun in his ear. It works, and while Lucas is titillated by the thought of a strange woman poking a pistol in his ear while his wife sleeps in the bed beside him (he openly admits to this later, the randy bugger), he pretty soon comes up with the information. But, oh no, the Crablogger is nuclear powered, remember? That means that it takes TIME to shut down the reactor – time that Brains, Scott and Virgil are quickly running out of.

Brains and Virgil have cut their way into the Crablogger while Scott keeps pace in his big red truck, but they’re now kind of trapped in there until the reactor shuts down. The Crablogger, meanwhile, is determined to get to that dam and explode, and takes a very dangerous route to do so. Not only are Virgil and Brains stuck inside a berserk machine, but it’s berserking along the edge of a crumbling cliff!

Scott comes up with the (not quite) brilliant idea of siphoning off the liquid fuel as the Crablogger skirts the edge of the cliff, in the hopes that the explosion, when it finally comes (it seems they’ve given up on saving the day, then) isn’t quite as big. Virgil and Brains assist by connecting the fuel hoses to Scott’s fuelsiphoning vehicle (remember that field of heavy machinery at the start?) as he careens along madly behind. It’s hit or miss, literally, and Virgil and Brains only just manage to leap free of the Crablogger before it topples over the edge of the cliff. And the explosion, when it comes, isn’t very big at all. Good thinking, Scott!

All in all, Path of Destruction is a very satisfying drama. It both amuses and astounds, and provides more than enough sweaty, grimy puppet men to keep us, er, interested. And despite the new haircuts, the new faces, the new wardrobes, and, in one particularly disappointing instance, new voice, I still consider this to be one of the best episodes yet. But that’s probably because I like beans.

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