austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Into the blue / Following through

Ace Drummond Chapter Ten, ``The Mountain Of Jade'', opens with the discovery that Ace Drummond is not dead.

He fell off the roof after the henchman's gunshot, and breaks a canopy, but he tells the irritated locals that he had to jump, but they keep making a fuss like they want him for wanton destruction and whatnot. Drummond says if they just get Henry Kee who's with the Mongolian Secret Service he'll clear up everything, suggesting that maybe Kee was correct to not trust his secret identity to a person who couldn't keep it secret for ten minutes. The locals don't speak English anyway, so they go to the High Lama while Drummond sees four men carrying a sedan chair, with a woman's dress caught in the door, the other way. The Lama's indisposed, and Chang Ho can't get Drummond out of trouble with the locals, so Drummond just tosses a bag of what I guess is gold to pay for the damages. Maybe it's not gold; the scene turns into a street fight that Drummond escapes by running around a lot.

Kee and Drummond follow the trail while Kai Shek tries to fool the audience into thinking he's The Dragon. The Dragon's henchmen fly a plane and drop cute little bombs on Kee and Drummond's car until it blows up in the same shot of a car exploding from a couple episodes back, but Our Heroes jumped out into the bushes. The Henchmen land and Kee surrenders, reporting they'd killed Drummond. As he leads them to the body, Drummond pops out of the bushes with a gun held on the henchmen. Tying them up would somehow take too long, so Kee just cuffs their legs together. When they henchmen try to flee they fall over each other, reflecting Mongolia's failure to win any international three-legged races of consequence.

Kee and Drummond, in the henchmen's plane, spot the sedan chair and realize it's going to the Hall of Dead Kings, where Dr Trainor was kept captive before. Isn't it always the last place you look, even if it's the obvious place to start looking, and you haven't really looked hard? As Kee and Drummond approach these henchmen come out to look at the plane and wonder if it's The Dragon, giving Dr and Peggy Trainor the chance to escape again through, wait for it, a secret passage. Wyckoff, the other ``archaeologist'' from a couple chapters back tells them to go stop Drummond, as ``The Dragon Commands'', and with that command the henchmen realize this must be The Dragon, whom they've never seen before. They admire his cleverness in hiding as an archaeologist, even though it seems too early in the serial for that kind of discovery.

Now things get moving: Wyckoff smooths out the dirt so he can follow the Trainors' secret passage. The henchmen see the sedan chair being carried back and even though it was supposed to be returned to the monastery they're not worried that Ace Drummond might be hiding inside ready to hold a gun on them. The fools.

Someone in the distance is firing on Kee and Drummond, so Drummond gives a gun to Kee and says ``keep firing, make him think we're both still here'', then sneaks away from the sedan chair, a plan which could only fail if the person shooting at them should look anywhere near them. Drummond somehow manages to capture various henchmen and follows the trail into the Hall of Dead Kings, where the secret passage baffles everyone.

Not for long: Drummond finds the secret passage. Meanwhile the Trainors have found a cliff-face path and a gap ``a thousand feet down'' with only a log across it. That kind of peril would make me go one person at a time across the log, but they're maybe running out of film and go together. Wyckoff follows, and tosses the log down the cliff when he's across, putting a lot of faith in the existence of another end of this mountain path. Drummond grabs onto some vines to swing across the gap, and we clearly and unmistakably see him falling down the cliff, so there's obviously no way he's gotten out of this cliffhanger, or cliff-failure-to-hanger.

While the ``mountain of jade'' drives things here, it's no more prominent this episode than any other, unless the mountain everybody's been on is supposed to be the jade in which case why are they all trying to chase the Trainors instead of looking around?

Trivia: The Wright Brothers' gliders of 1900 and 1901 were designed with no tails; the brothers believed wing warping and the forward-mounted elevator were enough for control. Source: First Flight: The Wright Brothers And The Invention Of The Airplane, T A Heppenheimer.

Currently Reading: Great Science Fiction Stories, Editor Cordelia Titcomb Smith.


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