The Phantom Empire, Chapter 10: “The Rebellion”

That’s right, I’m finally back! After having to write many pages several weeks for school, I am back on my bullshit covering the last three installments of The Phantom Empire. As an apology for my extreme lateness, part 11 will come out on Thursday and part 12 will come out next Monday, with a retrospective post later down the line. It’s been so long that I had to look up what happened in the last Phantom Empire. Apparently, the queen triggered an “infrared ray” that is slowly killing the children, while Gene waits outside. Let’s see what thrills we have in store for us from there. 

It’s been so long that I’m not even skipping the theme music. I’m having a great time.

Chapter Ten is called “The Rebellion,” and the thing that has been repeatedly talked about since Episode 3 will finally happen! 

“Murania is an underground country of peace and plenty whose isolation is threatened by surface men. Queen Tika, determined to protect her kingdom at any cost, sends Autry’s airplane into a disastrous spin. Gene Autry, survives the crash, only to be captured by a vicious party of research scientists.” The comma after Gene Autry is in the original text, I’ll have to trace down Otto Brower and Breezy Eason’s descendants and see if they can fix it. 

“Prof. Beetson, who seeks Murania’s radium, intends to force from Autry a route to the buried world. Frankie and Betsy, captured and taken to Murania, escape their guards and try to open the outer gates.” Oh, good, we get to watch them suffocate again. 

This episode opens in the best possible way- with an establishing shot of a robot. The queen and her henchman are yet again explaining the “radium ray” that will kill the kids and sound an alarm. For the first time, there seems to be an editing mistake, as the queen is cut off mid-sentence. Maybe it’s a problem with the version I’m watching on Youtube. 

Pete and Oscar, our lovable comic side characters, are at the entrance to the horse parking lot with Gene. They try to open it by saying “magic words,” but then they can’t think of any magic words so they don’t say any. They’re perfect. 

The kids trip the infrared ray as usual, but instead of watching them suffocate and die like we did last time, Frankie is able to pull the lever that opens the horse parking lot while he is in the throes of suffocation, which makes Oscar think he literally has magic powers.

Pete stands too close to the horse parking lot for some reason. I love the actor’s commitment to completely embodying Pete and Oscar even when it probably isn’t in the script.

The kids fall unconscious, and the queen orders them taken to the Radium Reviving Chamber and then to the “lowest dungeon” once they’re revived, so they can really enjoy their dungeoning. 

Gene, Pete, and Oscar have a fast-motion chase with some Muranians. They’re somehow able to barricade a door by just leaning against it. 

They have found themselves in the room of my dreams- the robot room. Some robots while away the hours doing menial labor, while others are simply parts, scattered on the ground.

Oscar: Portrait of a Serial Killer

The Muranians finally break through the door to observe the robots’ synchronized dance routine. 

Gene is captured and taken to the queen, but Pete and Oscar are nowhere to be found. That is, until one of the robots knocks the Muranians unconscious! 

This moment is obviously great visually, but it also confirms that Pete and Oscar are somehow more competent than Gene.

This is what I have been waiting for since I first watched the condensed serial. Pete and Oscar are now disguised as robots, and they are going to bumble their way to victory! A hilarious detail is that they’re both apparently trapped in the suits and they can’t get out.

Pete and Oscar have shenanigans on the elevator for like a full minute as it bounces up and down to wacky sound effects. This episode is the best.

This goes on for so long and it’s so good.

I had to include this part.

Watching over three hours of a singing cowboy serial and spending hours writing about it has all been worth it for this episode. There’s nothing to describe, it’s just Pete and Oscar walking and stumbling around for several glorious minutes. 

Eventually, some Muranians come upon them bumbling around and say that they’ll have to be “broken up” because they’re getting worn out. Luckily, before anything terrible could occur, they just sort of walk away and the scene ends. 

It’s gong o’clock, as Gene and Queen Tika meet… yet again. Gene refuses to tell the queen who the revolutionaries are (if you forget, they’re led by the Queen’s assistant Argo), so he is imprisoned, even though he has escaped repeatedly. Argo sees this and begins to plot rebellion… yet again. 

Before Gene is imprisoned, the queen shows him the infrared ray robot, but in a twist I did not see coming, the robot goes wild! I thought for a few minutes this episode would be boring, but it’s great. 

I’ve talked about the titles being misleading beforehand, but it’s great that the episode titled “The Rebellion” is not about Argo’s rebellion and instead is about Pete and Oscar taking back Murania. They knock out several Muranians with their raw strength, but the Queen politely tells them to stop, and they do stop after seeing on the view-screen that Frankie and Betsy are still alive. There is honestly no reason why they don’t knock her out too, but the plot has to keep going. There is also no reason for Gene to tell the queen that Argo is a revolutionary, but he blurts it out also to keep the plot moving.

now kiss

On the view-screen, the Queen and Gene watch Argo taking the kids into the Revolutionary Chamber. The queen convinces Gene to work together to stop Argo and save Frankie and Betsy, because “she is of royal blood.” This blood-based promise convinces Gene, and this is the second good premise in one episode! Since most of the episodes are wheel-spinning interrupted with robots, having two good ideas in one is frankly incredible. Great job, Breezy. 

The Queen declares Argo is wanted, but dead, which is a bit harsh for someone our protagonist just allied himself with. When Argo hears this, he declares death to the queen! Argo and his robots march to the palace, and the robots make a truly horrific clattering tin-can sound that requires turning the volume down. I love them.

We haven’t talked in a while, so I’ll just remind you all about how good Argo’s hat is.

Gene rescues the kids, because after making a big show of imprisoning them in the revolutionary room, Argo left the room unguarded and the door unlocked.

You might think there would be emotion here, but don’t worry, it’s shot from far enough away that no one actually has to act or anything.

It would be great if Gene said that he was going to get them out, but only because they could go to Radio Ranch and do the 2:00 broadcast, not because their lives would be spared. Unfortunately, this does not happen.

Our trusty crew have to slip through a fight to get to the elevator and escape, so they hide behind Pete and Oscar. The way that Pete and Oscar jog is great. 

Apparently, Argo and the revolutionaries storm the palace, which is visualized by them pushing open a door. 

Argo takes power over the queen and becomes king, declaring death to Gene Autry, even though he was working with Gene Autry two episodes ago. This episode is very flimsily plotted because it devotes so much time to robot action. Naturally, it’s a perfect episode.

Happy Memorial Day to our fallen soldiers

Gene heroically sacrifices himself to the Muranians so that Pete, Oscar, and the kids can escape. The heroic sacrifice is mainly “walking to the side and not saying anything or even having a facial expression.” Gene is knocked unconscious and placed on a conveyor belt which is narrowly approaching a robot with a blowtorch! The flame from the blowtorch passes over his face, and see you next week! 

Final Thoughts
This one was hard to joke about- both because I’m out of practice, and because I loved it! There is nothing more I wanted than to see Pete and Oscar disguised as robots for the whole episode. The rebellion finally happens, and Gene’s switch from allying with Argo to allying with Tika totally works. Sure, there’s no emotion or character growth, but that’s par for the course on Phantom Empire, so I’ll go all out and give this an A.