REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
SYNOPSIS 2 by Loretta Miller
COMMENTARY 1 by Loretta Miller
Written by Deborah Schwartz
Directed by Christian I. Nyby, Jr.
Filmed on location in Orlando, FL and Africa.
AIRING AND RATING INFORMATION
2nd RELEASE: 07/23/01
An AA average of 1.3
Competition from Syndicated Action Hours:
The X-Files 2.8
Stargate: SG1 2.7/2.8 (63R Maternal Instinct)
Andromeda (2.3) (14R Harper 2.0)
Xena (2.2/2.3) (127R To Helicon and Back)
BeastMaster (2.1/2.2) (32R Heart Like a Lion)
Earth: Final Conflict (2.0)(23R First of its Kind)
Maximum Exposure (2.0)
The Invisible Man (1.9/2.0) (9R The Value of Secrets)
The Lost World (1.7) (36R Under Pressure)
Baywatch Hawaii (1.6)
Relic Hunter (1.5) (27R Fertile Ground)
The Outer Limits (1.5) (132R Final Appeal Part 2)
Early Edition 1.5
Sheena (1.3/1.4) (21R Marabunta)
Queen of Swords (1.1) (13R Kidnapped)
This synopsis is by Sally Dye .
Two wildlife photographers who have rented a jeep from Cutter contact him by radio because they don't see any animals near Thompson's Creek like he assured them there would be. Also, the jeep has broken down. The transmission is cut off in the middle of their conversation when the men start yelling, "They're everywhere..." and the radio goes dead. Cutter takes off in his truck to see what the problem is. Along the way, Sheena leaps into the back of the truck to see where Cutter is going. They find the jeep but see no sign of the photographers until they open the door and a corpse covered with ants falls out. They look around and see that they are surrounded by a swarm of ants -- the marabunta.
Cutter and Sheena jump into his truck and take off. Sheena says the ants are poisonous. An army of them can engulf and destroy anything and everything. The truck stalls and Sheena says they must get out and run and be sure not to fall down. Cutter falls, though, and hurts his ankle. Ants swarm over him and sting him. Sheena helps him, and they make it to an old mining cabin. They take off their clothes and coat themselves with some sulfur they find there. Sheena tells of the last time she experienced the marabunta. She and Kali escaped across a river, but many villagers died. They put their clothes back on -- just as Cutter was getting used to the "alfresco" feeling. Cutter wonders how long the ants will stay. Sheena replies that they will stay until there is nothing else to eat.
Cutter isn't feeling well and wonders why the ants aren't trying to get into the cabin. Sheena says they will eat what's outside first. Cutter is a little woozy and asks how Sheena became the darak'na. Sheena explains that it was begun about ten years ago to give men a fear of the LaMistas. "Darak'na" means shadow and represents something no one can understand, so they fear it. They find a gaboon viper in a niche in the cabin. Sheena milks it of its venom to make a potion to kill the ants, or at least keep them from coming in.
A man comes to Mendelson to book a flight, since the roads are closed because of the marabunta outbreak. When Mendelson hears that the outbreak is near Thompson's Creek, he leaves, saying he will go get the pilot.
Cutter's pain is getting worse, and he makes Sheena tell him about the unpleasant consequences of the ant poison -- bleeding from the nose and eyes, for example -- if they don't get him to Kali or to a hospital.
Mendelson finds Rashid and they drive into the LaMistas.
Sheena goes into the cabin's basement and finds the other photographer's body. They realize the ants must be in the basement. Sheena barely makes it back up into the cabin, and they use up the ant killer to keep the ants from following. Sheena keeps Cutter from falling asleep, knowing he can't fight the poison unless he's awake. She wonders if they could make it to the river by knocking out a wall and riding it like a sled down the sloping bank. The only problem is a shed that's right in the way. She takes some dynamite they found and plans to blow up the shed.
Mendelson and Rashid go to a competitor of Cutter's, and Mendelson blackmails him into letting them use his helicopter to look for Cutter.
Sheena runs out of the cabin with the dynamite. Cutter sees ants coming out of an old flue and stuffs his shirt up in it to try and stop them.
Sheena lights the fuse on the dynamite and blows up the shed. She sees ants on the roof of the cabin and starts up the generator and pulls electric wires onto the roof to electrocute the ants. She runs back into the cabin and finds Cutter collapsed and bleeding. She tells him to keep talking. Cutter is semi-delirious and thinks she is Amanda, his ex-wife. He begs her not to leave him. Sheena wakes him up, but realizes the poison is drying out his system. Cutter suggests she change into an anteater and make a buffet of the ants, and Sheena says she wishes she could.
They hear the helicopter flying over, but it doesn't stop. They see ants coming through the wall and realize they have to leave now. Cutter pours some kerosene and sets the cabin on fire.
Cutter and Sheena push against the wall and break it loose. They wrap themselves in canvas and throw themselves on the makeshift sled, which slides down the slope to the river's edge. They get into the water and float on a branch. Cutter seems to be unconscious.
Mendelson and Rashid see the smoke from the burning cabin and fly back that way. They see Sheena and Cutter in the river. They lower a ladder and pull them up into the helicopter.
The news reports that the marabunta outbreak is over. Cutter marvels that something that small could be so deadly. Cutter tells Sheena that he hopes he didn't say anything he shouldn't have while he was out of it from the poison. Sheena says he didn't. Cutter laughs and says he guesses that if he had, she would have just left him there. Sheena says no, she wouldn't have left him. She pats him on the shoulder and goes out, with Cutter gazing after her. He whispers, "Yeah, I know."
This synopsis is by Loretta Miller .
Cutter receives a distress call on his radio from two men who have rented a jeep from him to head toward Thompson Creek to photograph animals. The men complain that the jeep has died and the location has no animals anywhere around.
Suddenly a scream over the radio has Cutter’s attention as then the radio goes dead.
Sheena spots Cutter from a high tree limb as he races on past. She jumps into the bed of his truck as asks him what’s wrong. He tells her of the distress call and tells her he’s on the way to Thompson Creek and she offers him a shortcut.
They pull up on the jeep but it looks abandoned. They open the door only to find one of the men completely covered by ants, having been eaten alive. Sheena is alarmed and yells to Cutter to get back into their jeep. As Cutter opens the door and steps inside, his hand is covered with the ants that are biting him.
In seconds, they are virtually surrounded by the ants.
He manages to knock off the pesky little creatures and then head out. As he drives she tells him that it is the Marabunta.
These ants, she tells him, move like a tidal wave engulfing everything. Their stings are poisonous and individually nothing to a human but in an army of them, well… They grab and don’t let go. They get into your eyes, your nose and sting you until you fall down.
As the words sink in, their escape is cut short by a downed tree limb across their path.
Cutter tries his radio but has no luck. Sheena tells him to get out, as she knows of a mining camp nearby that they can seek refuge in. They run as fast as they can only to have Cutter fall, injuring an ankle, and in merely a moment is covered by ants.
Into the small shack, Sheena tells Cutter to strip. He tells her that he can’t feel the bites anymore. Sheena tells him that’s the poison going into his system. While his skin is numb, Sheena can still feel every single bite. Sheena strips, too.
Sheena tells Cutter that 17 years earlier she and Kali had headed to a village when the ground erupted with the Marabunta and they managed to get to the river and swam across. The villagers didn’t make it. No one knows why but every few years, like locusts, when they come out, they wipe the land clean.
They look around and Cutter finds sulfur, which he quickly slaps on his body as he knows it prevents infection. Sheena suggests they put their clothes back on as Cutter wisecracks that he was beginning to enjoy the "el fresco" feeling.
Outside the tiny shack, the ground is "alive".
Sheena tells him that they leave only when there is nothing else to eat and they know that they are in there.
Cutter looks at some kerosene but Sheena tells him that fire will only delay them. He tells Sheena that he is feeling "heartburn". They are grateful that they haven’t tried to get in the shack yet.
They talking as they look thoroughly at what the containers in the shack hold, Sheena reveals to him that the name Darak’na means "shadow" and he says that it makes sense.
Then they find dynamite.
Outside they see a generator, but no lights. Sheena opens a cabinet and jumps back a foot when she sees a snake occupies it.
She quickly grabs the snake and milks its venom into a glass jar nearby. She places the snake back and closes the door. She adds water and some sulfur and has concocted an impromptu ant killer. They use it to patch up the cracks they’ve found in the walls.
A new customer willing to pay "top dollar" for air service to Uhura approaches Mendehlson, back at the office. Mendehlson tells him it’s a two-hour drive but then the man tells him that the rangers have closed the roads. Not willing to let that money walk out the door, Mendehlson offers to get Cutter in Thompson Creek.
Meanwhile, in the shack, Cutter reports that the heartburn has moved up into his throat. Sheena grows quiet and Cutter snaps at her and tells her that his ex-wife did the same thing and it drove him crazy.
Sheena faces him and tells him the awful truth: the poison has dried out his throat making it raw. He’ll survive if she can get him to Kali or a hospital. The poison can be counteracted.
Still Sheena becomes quiet and Cutter knows there is more. "Hey, Amanda," he calls her in a snippy tone. At that moment Sheena had the same qualities as his ex. She didn’t tell him things that were important.
Sheena once again turns to him and tells him matter-of-factly that without treatment, he will begin to bleed from the throat, nose and then the eyes. The latter only if he doesn’t drown in his own blood. She smiles and confidently tells him that they’ll get out of there before that.
They see a trap door in the floor to a basement cellar. Could it be a way out?
Meanwhile, Mendehlson approaches Rashid who has closed the road. Rashid tells him of the Marabunta and that there are many casualties. Mendehlson tells him that Cutter is "out there". Rashid tells Mendehlson to join him in his vehicle and they head for Thompson Creek.
In the shack, Sheena has climbed down into the cellar only to find a find a skeleton covered by the ants. She also spots a roll of canvas, which she hoists up to Cutter.
Once the trap door was closed, they use the last of the "ant killer" on the cracks. Cutter asks about the snake and milking it for more venom. Sheena tells Cutter that it’ll be hours before the snake will be ready to provide more. Cutter collapses, feels "woozy" and Sheena warns him not to fall asleep and to keep talking.
Rashid and Mendehlson race toward Thompson Creek as Rashid tells Mendehlson that it can take months to recover from an attack and Mendehlson blames it on a Napoleonic complex, as the ants will do anything to compensate for their size. He tells him he can relate to that.
Sheena has an idea. They can cross the river beyond IF they knock out the wall of the shack and ride it like a shed, the slope they’re on seems steep enough. But a shed is directly in their path.
Rashid wants to rent a chopper from Sy, a competitor of Cutter’s who would rather have the Marabunta eat him alive. Cutter has cost him business reporting to people that Sy’s casualties have gone down. Sy screams, "I haven’t had ANY casualties". Sy tells Mendehlson that if Cutter dies he has a job with him. Mendehlson tells him that he can keep a chopper in the air, he can just as easily have them fall out of the sky. His threat catches Cy by surprise. Rashid and Mendehlson head for one of Sy’s choppers as Rashid asks Mendehlson why he cares for Cutter when he hasn’t shown it in the past. "He owes me $100".
Cutter rubs sulfur on Sheena and then she jumps out a window to the shed, places the dynamite and makes a dive for it just as an explosion takes out their obstruction. Sheena stands up next to the generator she had seen earlier. She monkeys with it and gets it started. A surge of electricity through the wires fries thousands of the little critters that were crawling on the roof. Back inside, she finds Cutter is now coughing up blood. Rashid and Mendehlson cannot find them but it’s Mendehlson who tells him to "keep looking".
Sheena tells Cutter to keep talking, about anything. He appears delirious as he talks to Sheena as if she is Mandy, his ex. He apologizes for "one screw up" and pleads for her not to leave him. Sheena yells at him to "WAKE UP!" Cutter awakens to find vision is blurred, his eyes are drying out. Cutter suggests that she turn into an anteater and buffet the ants to death. Sheena wishes she could and ironically says she could use a snack. Cutter tells her that he always thought he’d go out John Wayne style, with guns blazing. He never figured on ants. He wonders what the Duke would have done.
Sheena tells him they’re going to wait until sundown as the Marabunta slows down at night. She tells him of wrapping themselves in that canvas, taking out the wall of the shack and use it to slide to the river. Cutter asks for her back-up plan. She tells him she’s got one but it does no good. Sheena suddenly stops, asking Cutter if he hears something. Rashid and Mendehlson overhead and nearby, have spotted Cutter’s jeep. They head for the river.
In the shack, they both hear the chopper and know they have to go now. Sheena cuts up a sheet and Cutter overturns a table saying, "this is for the Duke." With a lighter, they ignite the kerosene and POOF! the room is now ablaze.
Cutter and Sheena pull the boards off the wall of the shack, and wrap up in canvas. They slam themselves against the wall. The wall gives way and they begin their "slide for life". Rashid and Mendehlson spot smoke and head toward it.
Down the steep slope, the "sled" hits a berm and sends Sheena and Cutter flying. They both fall down the hill. Sheena races over to Cutter. He tells her that he’s tired and that he feels "pretty good". Sheena tells him that that’s the poison. They have to get to the water. Sheena helps him into the water and they grab onto a piece of driftwood as the current takes them peacefully down river.
Rashid and Mendehlson spot them in the river and lower a ladder to them. A moment later they are both being hoisted out of the river and to safety. Later, at Cutter’s office, Cutter and Sheena hear a radio report that tells them that the Marabunta outbreak is over. Mendehlson picks up an ant off the counter and looks the tiny body over closely as it walks over a small piece of paper saying, "we don’t care about them until they make us notice them. We eat bear, the bear eats you." He starts a similar third sentence when Sheena and Cutter say, "we got it." Mendehlson takes his ant farm and leaves.
Cutter tells Sheena that he’s still woozy from the poison that they pumped into him and Sheena confirms similar symptoms. While the woozy feeling will disappear soon, she tells him that the itching may take a while.
Cutter asks her that while he was "in and out of it for awhile" he hopes he didn’t say something he shouldn’t have. Sheena states, "not a word." He then says, "well, I guess if I had you would have left me there." Sheena tells him, "I wouldn’t have left you." and leaves. Cutter watches her leave saying, "Yeah, I know."
This synopsis is by Loretta Miller .
Ants. Makes me itch just thinking about it. But, Mendehlson is right. We never think about the pesky little things until they’ve taken crawling on you at a picnic and vying for your sandwich. Never thought much about the pesky things before, truthfully, and now there is a Marabunta? Small bites, big appetite.
I kinda sorta thought that those tourist/photographers were in deep trouble right off the bat when he noted there was no sign of life anywhere only to see a giraffe in a dead run away from them. (Pardon the pun) But WHAT A HORRIBLE WAY TO GO, eh? What seems like a billion ants enjoying a feast of "Human" tartar?
I felt this episode was MacGyver-esque with Sheena milking a snake and mixing the venom and sulfur with water and wha-la: ant poison!
Sheena has to work against time to get them safely away from the ants before the poison kills Cutter and throughout, Cutter has a real battle. His throat becomes raw and his eyes were beginning to dry out.
Sheena’s idea about using the wall of the shack as a sled was a good one. A realistic obstacle was that d*mn*d shed.
Sheena used dynamite they found and took a dive out of harms way right beside the generator that had provided the shack lights five years earlier. One question: why didn’t Sheena just throw the dynamite with a lit fuse rather than nearly sacrificing herself by jumping right into middle of the billion of hungry critters? But, Sheena had to be outside in order to quickly get that generator going and fry the ants that were flowing over the shack’s roof like a fast flowing river. Those hot-wires made contact and they just fell. VICTORY! Good visual!
Back in the shack though, they both still needed to get to the river and the sled was their best bet. They overturn the table, ignite the place and THEN decide it’s best to pull the slats of wood off the wall to free it up?? I thought of MacGyver again here but knew he would have done that the other way around. No sense in igniting the place before the wall is nearly free. What if the wall, for some inexplicable reason, wouldn’t free up? Then our two stars would be toast!
Cutter and Sheena made it to the river, not without some trouble: the sled hit a berm and sent them flying, and Cutter is found covered with ants and appearing to be giving up.
Sheena gets him in the river and they are hoisted to safety a couple minutes later by Mendehlson and Rashid.
Insight on this episode from Cutter about his ex-wife Amanda and the obvious regret that his one screw up led to her leaving him. While Sheena knew he was in and out of consciousness, she listened very carefully. At the end when he is concerned about that he may have said something he shouldn’t have and Sheena assures him that he did not, he breathed easy. He then figures that she would have left him there if he had and she tells him, "I wouldn’t have left you." She leaves and is out of earshot to hear him reply, "Yeah, I know."
I liked this episode. Too bad we couldn’t have had Sheena’s knowledge about the nasty varmints and Cutter’s strength coming together to fight these things to the end. No, we have to have Cutter fall and become the weak victim for Sheena to save. You would think his bravado would rise its ornery head at least once. Sure, maybe physically he would fail, but at least he’d tried. Call it pride, perhaps?
Overall, I liked the episode. It certainly gave me a new perspective on things and reminds me to get a new can of Raid next time I’m at the store!