'Flash Gordon' vs the aqueducts of Mongo

Ericjohnson2_flashgordon_240 On this week's Flash Gordon, a lake gets stolen, we learn some more about Rankol's secret plot, and someone dies. And it's almost definitely who you think it is.

Spoilers below!

Having found the Imex last episode, Rankol has perfected the technology necessary to opening up Rifts at will, at any location.  The leaders of several cantons are angry with Ming the Mild for not delivering their water rations in a timely fashion. When Vestra, leader of the tribe of Mongo amazons, mentions rumors of there being a water shortage, Ming the Flaccid tells her she should know better than to pay attention to that sort of thing. Impatient and pissy, Ming visits Rankol and Science Chick to check on the progress of the Rift Generator. They're making a few adjustments but Ming the Impatient demands Rankol to test the device now. Science Chick tells Ming the Petulant he should have the honor of activating it and, when he does, a giant rift opens in a lake and begins draining the water into the underground aqueducts they've built. At the very same moment on Earth, Zarkov's alarm goes off and he calls Flash to gather the crew - it's a really big rift. Flash, Baylin, Dale and secret double agent Joe meet Zarkov at Lake Kendell (are they not capable of opening a rift anywhere other than Flash's hometown?) but can't see any sign of the aperture...until Baylin points out the giant whirlpool in the middle of the lake. Realizing what's happening, Team Flash decides they have to try and stop Ming. When Dale points out that this is a much bigger deal than what they're usually up against and suggests telling a governmental agency, Zarkov slaps that idea down. As does Flash, only more gently. They'll go and try to destroy the rift machine and if that doesn't work, they'll return to Earth for back-up. Conveniently, Joe spent 6 months on the bomb squad though I'm sure he'll be less help than he intends with that chip in his head.

Back on Mongo, Ming the Mild is very happy but Rankol is a bit less than enthusiastic. When he points out that the people would notice a missing lake, Ming says the only ones who know about what's happening is Flash et al and Science Chick adds that Joe the Mole said they haven't told anyone ("It's almost like they're on our side," says the Mild One). Ming the Smug cheerily tells Rankol to put the Cobra Troopers on high alert and to gather the monks for a prophecy reading. He's feeling lucky. Using the rift opened in the drained lake, Team Flash arrive on Mongo. Zarkov's modified a device that will help detect anything that's originated on Earth. And there's a whole lot of anything under their feet in the underground reservoir. Baylin warns everyone that they have to leave quickly - they're standing in a restricted zone. No sooner said than two small ships appear and begin to open fire. Baylin takes one out with her gun while Flash inexplicably takes out the other by throwing a giant rock at it. Awesome in its ridiculosity.

Rankol has told Science Chick to further prove her sleeper agent chip works but getting Joe to lure Flash into captivity as it will please The Mild One. He won't be around to share in that victory though as he'll be at the prophecy ceremony with Ming. Team Flash has traveled to the Nascent City marketplace and devised a plan. Baylin, Dale and Zarkov will go to the Tea House to negotiate with the trader for explosives while Flash and Joe will sell a backpack full of stuff Flash brought, mostly consisting of bottled water, to  raise fund. Right after splitting up, Flash turns around and Joe has gone missing. That's because Science Chick has turned on her dog whistle and instructs him to lead Flash to her Cobra Troopers. Flash finally finds Joe after he's been programmed, and the Cobra Troopers find them. On the run, Joe leads Flash down another aisle...and to more Troopers. Flash shoves Joe in one direction while he goes in the other, but he gets stunned by a laser blast and falls to the ground, looking up to find himself surrounded by Troopers.

Ming the Mundane and Rankol meet with the Scorpion Monks who reveal the latest prophecy - "The Water-Bearer is the ruler reborn." Rankol appears rattled while Ming the Bland is psyched, believing he's changed the prophecy in his favor as he has brought water to Mongo. He's so pleased with himself, I'm surprised he didn't whistle a jaunty tune on his way out. After Ming leaves, Rankol sticks around to talk to the lead monk because he's so upset. He'd believed Flash Gordon was the one the prophecy had spoken of, the one to save everyone from Ming the Mercilessly Dull's tyranny. This new development and the way it seems to foretell Ming's continued rule has really shaken Rankol up, especially since it was his scientific breakthroughs that has shaped the was things have become. The lead monk chastises Rankol for loosing his faith and for his ego and hubris. Whether or not it's true, Rankol made himself believe Flash was the one they've been waiting for. Their order serves the prophecy, no matter what it says. But Rankol's world has just been shattered and he's not taking it well. When he returns to the palace, Science Chick informs him that Flash has been captured and Rankol decides to pay him a visit.

The rest of Team Flash has been waiting for Flash and Joe to arrive with the money. To pass time, Baylin joins a game of chance the arms trader is having and has won pretty much all of his money. Angered and embarrassed, he offers to give them what they need in exchange for all his money back. Clearly something has happened to Flash and Joe so Baylin, Dale and Zarkov decide to infiltrate Rankol's lab themselves to blow up the generator. Successfully getting into the palace, they knock out the only guard and take his funky passkey to get in. Dale keeps look out as Baylin and Zarkov begin to set up the charges. Except there's a problem - the generator is being powered by Zirillium, the material responsible for nearly wiping out all of civilization. Not so much with causing that to happen again.

Meanwhile, a Trooper let's Rankol into Flash's cell and is dismissed afterwords. Blaster in hand, Rankol begins to rant at Flash who doesn't quite get why so Rankol starts quoting from the prophecy - "A broken people will receive aid from afar; an innocent will return us to innocence; the Water-bearer is the ruler reborn." Flash asks what the Celetroph Prophecy has to do with him and Rankol angrily replies, "Nothing," adding sadly that hope blinds. Flash can understand since he's was hoping to find his father still alive, something Rankol has helped remedy. Rankol says that there's so much Flash doesn't see and once again admonishes himself for believing Flash was The One. At this point, Flash is over it all and says he doesn't give a damn about the prophecy or anyone on the planet. Resigned to accept his mistake, Rankol raises his laser gun because now Flash knows too much about his secret machinations. Before he can fire, Flash kicks his shoe at him and takes the laser gun as Rankol calls for the guard. Adjusting the setting, Flash fires and knocks him unconscious, tricking the guard into opening the door when he arrives. Shooting the guard as well, Flash makes his escape. Worst. Guards. Ever. When Science Chick arrives with Ming the Petulant shortly after, they find a dead guard and no Flash. Rankol glides up behind them and remarks how Flash must have escaped and killed the guard. Angry, Ming stalks off and decrees that Flash and his friends are to be shot on sight. Science Chick follows and, before leaving himself, Rankol throws the gun he was hiding behind his back into the cell.

While all of this was going on, Ming the Mundane has decided to let Aura become a Prefect. Originally assigning her to the Verdan, Aura requests the Deviate Prefecture instead. When asked why she'd want the position since they kidnapped her and they're not a recognized canton, she says that they should become one because they are gaining sympathy among the people and are outside his influence. If made a canton, and with her as their Prefect, Ming will be able to control them. He agrees. Shortly after, Aura discovers Terak disguised as a slave in the palace during one of Ming's meetings. He has a knife with him, but claims he only wanted the reassurance that he could kill The Mild One if he wanted to. He gets Aura to set up a face to face with their father which doesn't really go well. When Terak asks that they stop killing Deviates, Ming says they can't because of the danger to society they represent and further digs a hole by telling the woeful tale of the son he had that was a deviate. He'd never seen the boy but was told that it was a child of such hideous mutation that none could stand to look at him. Terak is understandably offended and spits at Ming the Inappropriate Storyteller's feet and storms off.

Back at the marketplace, Flash meets up with Dale, Baylin and Zarkov. Joe pops up shortly after, stating he just managed to evade the Cobra Troopers. Flash isn't happy that they can't destroy the generator but that's not something they can worry about at the moment as they need to escape from the city. While looking at the schematics in Rankol's lab, she noticed a way through the unused aqueducts that normally would supply water to all the cantons. Making their way through the tunnels, Zarkov's device detects the water from Lake Kendall in a chamber with a locked door. Dale still has the key from Rankol's lab and notices it has the same symbol on it that the door does. Once inside the chamber, Team Flash gets to work on setting up the charges because if they can't get the lake back and they can't destroy the rift generator, at least Ming won't be able to hoard the water. As Flash and Baylin walk across the bridge to attach the explosives to the reservoir, Joe's chip kicks in. Zarkov's having trouble with the detonator as Joe walks up the steps and grabs Baylin's gun from her hip. Pointing it at Flash and Baylin, he demands they step way from the charges. Everyone's confused but Baylin says he must've been programmed when he was captured. Getting another chip headache leaves Joe distracted long enough for Baylin to kick him in the side and then the gun out of his hand. They tussle a bit and Joe pushes her down a few stairs as Flash comes to her aid. They begin to fight as the gun lands by Dale, who picks it up but can't bring herself to shoot. Joe knocks Flash off the side of the bridge but Flash manages to grab the side of it. As Joe begins stepping on his fingers, Baylin grabs her gun back and shoots him, knocking him on his back and shorting out the chip. He doesn't remember what happened and is hurt but they don't have time to explain. Flash promises they'll fix whatever they did to Joe but they have to blow the charges and get out of there. Only the detonator isn't working. Joe, unable to live with the chip in his head, removes the key from the door and locks everyone out. They repeatedly call to him but he's determined to take one for the team and, in an homage to Joe Morgan a la Terminator 2, he closes his eyes and sets off the explosives, rubble falling about him. Now little Timmy in that far off canton can have a drink of cool, stolen water.

Rankol visits the lead monk again because he still feels lost. The monk asks a few questions that leads Rankol to realize that, though he and Ming brought the water to Mongo, Flash was the one who "poured it" to the people. Flash, the son of Dr. Gordon whom they once looked to for the future. He has passed the second test.

Flash meets with Aura and boy is he ticked (and, for some reason, hotter than usual). He tells her that Joe is dead because of her father and slaps down her offers of condolences. He says to have Terak take credit for bringing water to the people and that from now own, he's going to make sure Ming the Morbidly Boring pays for every drop of blood he spills and water he steals. Shortly after, a holo-video of Terak comes on across the city announcing that he has found fresh water and distributed it to all the cantons equally, further stating that the Deviates are not to be feared. Standing nearby, Aura compliments Terak on his charisma and says it'll take him far. He remarks that Flash will be useful in the future, though Aura says not as much as she will be and it's clear that a powerful alliance has been cemented.

Back on Earth, the remaining members of Team Flash leave remembrances behind at now empty Lake Kendall. Dale blames herself for telling him about Mongo but Flash tells her that it's Ming the Mild's fault. But really, it's Joe's fault for being stupid. So, the next time you find out a secret world exists, don't try to tell your boss and certainly don't go there by yourself to take pictures and get proof or this could happen to you. And that's one to grow on. *cue jingle*

So Joe is dead now. I'd feel bad for him but, every time I do, I think about how he brought it upon himself. Do you agree or am I just being heartless? Now that we know a little more about Rankol's Secret Machinations, what do you think his endgame is? Common sense says it's to make Flash the new ruler but I get the feeling it's more complicated than that. Also, I'm really digging the terrible twosome of Aura and Terak and I'm glad she's finally able to show how formidable she really is. But is this really on the up and up or will one betray the other? And, by the way, lake water isn't cleanest so I'm hoping there's some purification system in those aqueducts. I don't think they have Pepto on Mongo.

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