Panther Girls of the Kongo, Chapter 9 – River of Death

When we last left Larry and Jean, they were duking it out with Cass and Rand inside the diamond mine. Plus, the joint was on fire! Then, just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, a barrel gets thrown at Larry’s head, sending him tumbling down the mine shaft. Let’s see if he survives in this week’s chapter, River of Death.

After clunking Larry, Cass and Rand make a break for it. Luckily, Larry didn’t actually fall very deep into the shaft. He landed on a ledge just a few feet from the top. It doesn’t take much effort for Jean to extend her rifle so Larry can pull himself out of the pit, safe and sound. Afterward, Larry actually suggests that they might just go find another part of the jungle for Jean to make her wildlife films so they don’t have deal with Cass and Rand’s antics. However, the discussion quickly shifts to concocting a plan to trap one of the claw monsters so they can get some good footage of it. I can’t follow the logic, but whatever

Along with their camera crew, Larry and Jean dig a pit and set a trap for the monster. After they leave, it doesn’t take long for one of the creatures to get snared. It also doesn’t take long for Cass and Rand to find out, so they hurry to try and free the beast. Right at that time, however, our heroes return and the obligatory shooting begins.

Soon, Cass and Rand run off, and our heroes are left with the trapped claw monster. It’s not trapped very well, though, as it manages to reach out of the hole and grab Jean by the leg. It almost pulls her in but Larry manages to free her from its grasp. When it crawls its way out of the hole, Jean quickly grabs her camera to get some footage.

Now, our heroes need to get their film developed. However, they fear Cass and Rand will try and jump them on the way to the village. They are right to fear this as it is precisely what the goons are planning. However, Larry hits on an idea for them to develop the film themselves. It just means getting some chemicals from a nearby trading post. Of course, Cass and Rand learn all this and sneak off to the village to capture Jean while Larry is away. 

Cass and Rand drag the unconscious Jean down to the river. Luckily, this is just when Larry shows up with the chemicals in his canoe. Another fistfight breaks out, and in the confusion, Jean, whose hands are tied, is knocked into the water. She goes under just before we are told to come back next week to find out what happens.

Oh, where to begin? Well, the resolution to the previous week’s cliffhanger is as dopey as they come. We were left thinking that Larry was tumbling hundreds of feet down a mine shaft. I wanted him to have grabbed hold of a rope or something just before being impaled on stalactites at the bottom! Instead, he lands on a ledge no more than six feet from the top. Instead of pulling Larry up with her rifle, Jean should’ve just said, “jump out of the pit yourself, Mr. Big Game Hunter.”

This is definitely one of the weakest installments we’ve seen for this serial. More than any other chapter, it feels like we’re just checking things off a list. Gunfight…check, claw monsters…check, fistfight…check. It seriously feels like the writers have run out of ideas. There’s no logic to any of it. In fact, the most logical thing that happens in this episode is Larry suggesting that they high-tail it out of this troublesome region of the jungle. The Panther Girl just scoffs at him, though, and suggests they try to catch one of the giant crawfish instead. It’s the first time Larry has proven he has two brain cells to rub together and he’s ignored!

One of the things that is so disappointing about this chapter is that it has an awesome title, River of Death, which has nothing to do with what actually happens on screen. I mean there are so many dangerous things to be found in a jungle river. How about some crocodiles? Hippos? Maybe a whirlpool! Nope, sorry. The titular river only shows up in the last minute and half of the episode and the action never leaves the boat dock.

I realize that with a serial such as this, some chapters will be winners and some won’t. This one is really a low point, though. Hopefully it’s not too late to save this serial…or Jean, for that matter. Remember, she’s sinking to the bottom of that not so dangerous river. Join us next time to see what happens in Chapter 10 – Blasted Evidence.

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