Episode 22

The Challenge

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The Robinson’s camp is breached by a twelve-year-old boy carrying a spear called Quano (played by a young Kurt Russell). He says he is preparing to undergo a series of challenges intended to test whether he has the courage and strength necessary to be a worthy successor to his father, known as The Leader, back on his home planet.

Quano sees Will holding a watering can to tend to a flower garden and derides him for doing what he calls ‘women’s work’. When Will collects geological samples for his rock collection Quano accuses him of being ‘unmanly’. Will responds by saying he’ll take brains over brawn any day.

Quano soon challenges Will to compete in a series of contests to determine who is the stronger and more skilled. Eventually Will accepts the challenge. Smith overhears Quano and his father planning for the upcoming event. Quano’s father says that if Quano loses the victor and all witnesses must be destroyed.

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Dr Smith’s medical bag finally makes another appearance. It was last seen 21 episodes ago in the pilot.

Smith then employs various means, including training Will to exhaustion so he will have no energy left for the challenge, designed to ensure Will loses. A series of physical challenges between the two boys then begins. The result is a tie with one event to go. Fearing his son may lose, Quano’s father proposes he and Professor Robinson compete against each other in place of their sons for the final event.

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A fair fight? Not likely given the size difference. Both boys were supposed to be twelve years of age in the story. Billy Mummy was in fact that age though he looked several years younger. Kurt Russell on the other hand was two weeks short of his 15th birthday.

The final challenge involves the use of Volta blades (electrified fencing). Smith watches on while all the time using a stethoscope to monitor his racing heartbeat. Professor Robinson comes out on top (no surprise for someone who played ZORRO for three seasons. (1957 -1959). When Quano’s father congratulates Professor Robinson on his victory, John responds – “Thank you. But don’t ask me to do it again.”

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Taking on Zorro in a sword fighting contest? Not one of your smarter ideas Quano’s Dad.

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Fifteen years after playing spear-carrying Quano, Kurt Russell stamped his name indelibly in action movie folklore with his sublime performance as the underplayed anti-hero Snake Pliskin in John Carpenter’s seminal masterpiece  (‘I’ve held back for many a year from using this type of language to describe this movie but the time for holding back has now passed’ he says while pulling in a deep breath and absurdly lifting his heels to rise up ever so slightly in a bid to emphasize his own impossibly overblown words) ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.