Mind Over Matter
The mole market is under session in the City in the Sea and is lasting until sunrise on this particular occasion, so Jack and Hannah mosey on over to examine the wares. Hannah is excited about this venture, though Jack reminds her that the council gets first dibs on the wares, so the only goods sold to the public are what the council doesn't want.
The two of them visit a stall belonging to
Ferris, housing all manner of knick knacks, including a plastic flamingo that he
claims was used by the ancients for luring prey while hunting. He shows Jack to
a stall where he can find engine parts, giving Hannah a chance to explore the
stall herself, finding a box of ancient documents and blueprints. One in
particular catches her eye, detailing the termination of "Cybercore
Ferris returns and does not approve of her looking at those files, claiming they aren't for sale and tries to snatch it off her. A momentary distraction from a passing guard draws his attention just long enough for Hannah to scoot away unseen with the document, though not without hastily saying goodbye to Jack, which prompts suspicion from him.
The next morning, Jack and Hannah had
planned to meet up at a particular spot in the wilderness, but Hannah has
apparently decided not to turn up. Choosing to just head on his way, Jack ends
up bumbling into the path of an irritable mack!
It gives chase while Jack reverses his way out of there, though the turbulent landscape and dense jungle don't allow for any convenient escape routes. The mechanic is at least mildly familiar with the area and begins aiming towards the river, knowing the mack won't follow him across...
... only to find out that the river has dried up! He only discovers now that the mack is just violently protective of its limited water supply, and once he gets back onto the riverbank it doesn't pursue him any further. Jack is perturbed by this radical change to its habitat.
Meanwhile, Ferris returns to the mines so he can get back to work...
Only to find Hannah Dundee waiting for him. She claims she found this place by following him back from the marketplace, but she's not interested in trivialities like that - she wants to discuss the document she "borrowed." The laboratory of Cybercore Corporation, the company discussed in its text, had to be sealed off due to something immeasurably dangerous taking place inside, and this document was left behind as a warning to future generations. Given how Ferris states the document is property of Scharnhorst, that can only mean she has found the lab, though Ferris refuses to comment; if she wants to argue about it, speak to Scharnhorst, and he leaves to his post with the document in hand. Hannah sneaks after him.
Jack investigates the river and its mysterious drying-up, and discovers that a huge dam has been built so a digging site can be made.
Ferris returns to the digging site where the lab is being unearth, and, naturally, Scharnhorst is on the scene complaining that the excavation is taking too long. Ferris explains that they're working on unstable ground and for safety purposes they should be building supports for the building, though Scharnhorst is more interested in getting results, and quickly.
Before Fessenden and Scharnhorst take a
visit inside the lab, Ferris hands over the Cybercore document; unbeknownst to
the three of them, Hannah has witnessed the whole thing, though she's captured
by a guard. Jack, meanwhile, sneaks his way into the digging site and shanghais
a passing guard, knocking him out and stealing his uniform.
Inside the lab, Fessenden soon discovers the very thing they were looking for - the RXB14, Cybercore's prototype tunnelling robot! Designed to withstand all manner of environmental hazards, Scharnhorst monologues on how much power she would have with one of these at her command while Fessenden locates the remote control and starts trying to figure out how it works.
A guard arrives at the door with Hannah in tow; she explains that as Wasssoon ambassador she has full privileges to visiting excavation sites, and
tries to enlighten Scharnhorst about how the lab was sealed and they should
respect the ancients' warnings. Scharnhorst doesn't have the
patience for this conversation and has her escorted out.
Another guard chooses to escort Hannah and takes her down into a darkened alley - it's Jack! She explains the situation regarding the lab so he now knows they have good reason to be snooping around.
Fessenden, meanwhile, finally gets the robot to activate, triggering its drilling arms, and is ecstatic at this breakthrough; however, the robot doesn't quite obey his commands and nearly mows him down while it ploughs through the lab wall.
Jack and Hannah investigate the other parts of the lab and eventually stumble upon a goldmine - a storage chamber filled to the walls with tunnelling robots! The two wonder why Scharnhorst would need these things; after all, she has the moles when she has stuff dug up. Ferris appears on an overpass, shocked and dismayed at this sight - machines can never replace the moles! The robot Fessenden activated suddenly bursts in through the wall, its optic flashing...
Which acts as a start-up command for all the other robots! Like all good automated tools, they go on a rampage and try to mow down everything in sight, including Jack, Hannah and the walls. One of them damages the columns supporting the overpass, leaving Ferris dangling over a ledge above a herd of bloodthirsty robots!
While figuring out how to stop these destructive droids, Hannah suggests they disable the original robot in hopes that will deactivate the rest. After some mild acrobatic dodging skills, Jack accomplishes that by ramming a girder through its optic. Ferris falls to the ground, but Hannah's plan succeeds and the robots are disabled. The mole is enraged after this incident, upset that Scharnhorst planned to replace him with a disobedient drilling machine, and vows to never let that happen.
Scharnhorst and her cronies arrive, scaring Ferris off, and they don't see what's wrong with replacing the moles with robots, hinting that they might even slaughter the moles just to have them out of the way. At that very moment, another robot initiates its flashing light sequence, and all the robots are activated again!
Fessenden suggests they deactivate the robots using their on-board control panels, but when they're armed with frickin' drills for arms that can hardly be achieved safely. They flee the lab, locking the door behind them (for all the good that does) and pray for someone to destroy the lab.
Ferris and his fellow moles have prepared for such a demand, and destroy the supports keeping the building intact, causing it to crumple into a heap. Scharnhorst is beyond pissed at the moles but remains confident - the robots are gone, but the technology still remains, and her guards begin digging.
Not if Jack has something to say about it! He makes his way up the elevator and intends to demolish the dam, which Scharnhorst is not at all happy about... until the robots burrow out of the rubble and start trying to murder everyone again, at which point she's quite keen to hightail it out of there.
Taking Hannah and the Cadillac, he uproots the supports and unleashes the wave, sweeping away the mining site and refilling the river once more, though not without drenching Scharnhorst, just for that final touch of victory.
After a job well done, Jack and Hannah visit the river, now the watering hole of many breeds of beast and slither like it once was. They speak about how Scharnhorst just wants technology no matter what, even if it means changing the moles' way of life and tampering with the habitat. Civilisation should learn from history's mistakes, and it's their job to make sure that is enforced.
Written by Laura Phillips and Dennise Fordham. Neither of them appear particularly notable judging by what little info there is about them online. Dennise was a story editor for the show, while Laura wrote some episodes of Fraggle Rock. Exciting stuff.
Ferris looks totally different from his appearance in the comic book, though even a lot of the main characters were modified for the cartoon. More details to come if I ever bother making a comic comparison page!
There's a few instances where Jack, when he's still meant to be wearing his guard uniform (even though it doesn't really matter by that point) is drawn or coloured in his regular attire.
Man, I miss being this nitpicky.
This episode is rife with amusing facial expressions.
Fessenden wins this round.