General Winter

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The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
"General Winter"
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Episode no. H00616-94043
Airdate March 26, 1997
Chief locations Sea of Okhotsk, North Pacific 149.13E, 53.01N (3,958 miles from Anchorage, Alaska)
Vehicle(s) Dragonfly Jet
Snow Caterpillar
Writer(s) Lance Falk
Guest roles Quinton Flynn (Sonar Man / Guard)
Rob Paulsen (Soldier 1)
Frank Welker (Professor Erikson)
Clancy Brown (Colonel Nikolai / Guard)
Matthew Arkin (Petrov / Sentry 1)
Gregg Berger (Captain Rossanov / Guard)
Mark Hamill (General Vostok / Guard)
Episode sequence The Haunted Sonata <--> Night of the Zinja
Other episodes

Communist visionary General Vostok returns, seeking to harness the power of winter itself. With the power of ice, he forces Dr. Quest to build the perfect weapon; can Jonny infiltrate his base and escape Vostok's chilling grip?

Plot Summary

Teaser

Vostok makes his entrance

A Russian submarine surfaces in frigid waters, expecting to make port soon. As soon as it rises above the water, the submarine detects a jet coming in on an intercept course at Mach one. Captain Rossanov tries to communicate with base, but all transmitting equipment is down. A futuristic jet flies ahead of the sub and drops what appears to be a depth charge; it explodes, causing the water around it to instantly turn to ice. The submarine is frozen in the mix, and Rossanov emerges to find sleds approaching with guns. Leading them is General Vostok, a renegade commander to be shot on sight by the Russian military. Vostok acknowledges him and threatens to destroy the submarine and kill the crew if they do not surrender. Rossanov relents, and the men are loaded onto a prison craft as the submarine is prepared for a Trojan horse mission. Vostok gets a call from one of his men, who notifies him that Dr. Benton Quest will be flying over the Arctic circle in the Dragonfly Jet momentarily.

Act One

The caterpillar escapes the failing jet

The submarine surfaces in a base; Vostok makes his presence known and soldiers fire upon the deck. He tosses a freeze bomb, encasing the entire inside of the complex in ice. Noting that it will "thaw soon enough", he declares that he has the power of "General Winter", an element which saved Russia from conquest in the past. A phone call alerts him that the Dragonfly Jet is near; he orders his men to bring it down. Aboard the jet, which has departed from Anchorage, Alaska, Jonny is practicing karate while Hadji studies up on war strategy. Dr. Quest and Race pilot on a route to meet up with Professor Erikson. As they pass through the Aurora Borealis, Vostok's advanced jet fighter launches a freeze bomb which covers the Dragonfly in ice. Race takes it down for a rough landing, but the team run out of turf and bail in the Snow Caterpillar before the Dragonfly meets its end at the bottom of a cliff. The team prepare to trek long, hard miles as Race deduces that they were brought down intentionally. They hear snow machines and lie low; Vostok finds the Dragonfly wreckage and initially thinks they were killed before seeing the tracks of the caterpillar.

Jonny and Bandit begin their journey

He takes off, failing to notice that the team have been hanging above the wreckage covertly; they set the Snow Caterpillar to drive until it runs out of gas. They survey the wreckage of the Dragonfly, but are interrupted by machine gun fire. The team take shelter in a cave, where Race sets up a rope which he pulls to trip up the five henchmen. One shoots at the ice ceiling by accident, crushing him and a couple others. They continue the defense by unleashing a second cascade of ice, but Jonny loses his footing and is concealed behind a cave-in. The team find themselves surrounded by Colonel Nikolai, and Jonny convinces his father to let him stay and try to save them later. Benton tells Vostok that his son and Bandit were lost in the ice, to which Vostok is pleased. The enemies ride off with their hostages, and Jonny and Bandit emerge to begin a long trek due north.

Act Two

Dr. Quest deploys the real ice gun

At the submarine base, Race and Hadji are thrown into a locked room with metal cuffs. Benton is taken to Professor Erikson, who was forced to invite him and has been told to perfect his Bifrost Effect into a superweapon for Vostok. He revolts on the spot, and Vostok dispatches him. The cold general orders Benton to create a projectile version of the freeze bombs by morning or Hadji will be killed. Outside, Bandit finds an entrance to the base, and Jonny opens it with a frozen switch. Inside, he sneaks behind several sentries to find Race and Hadji's cell. He helps them escape and knock out their two guards; they head down a hallway, and Race plans to free Benton and flee. Vostok appears and taunts Race, who shoots a pressurized pipe, distracting Vostok and his guards long enough to tell Jonny and Hadji to evacuate. Race knocks out the two guards and begins a one-on-one battle with Vostok. Meanwhile, Benton puts the finishing touches on the ice gun and tries to activate it; Colonel Nikolai moves to stop him. Dr. Quest then picks up a flashlight object and reveals that the huge machine is a decoy; he uses the real ice gun to freeze the brittle floor and remove the guards to a lower floor.

"Destiny will not permit it!"

In the main chamber, Race shoots a rope to unhinge scaffolding containing guards above; he grabs on and is raised high into the air, where he leaps off onto a steel beam. Vostok has the same idea, and meets him wielding a metal pipe. The duel concludes on the edge of a platform; Vostok rushes Race, who drops down and allows the general to run off the edge. As his gunmen surround Race, the submarine base prisoners from the Russian army arrive and cause them all to throw down their arms. Vostok makes a break for it, and the team flee as well to avoid the oncoming wrath of Vostok's submarine fleet. Faced with a desperate situation and limited speed, the team's submarine takes a near hit from Vostok's torpedoes. Benton is struck with inspiration, and rigs a hybrid version of the freeze bomb to drop in their wake; they'll only have a minute to clear the explosion. The bomb goes off as planned as Nikolai readies the final torpedo assault. Despite his warning, Vostok launches them anyway; they're frozen in close proximity to the submarines. As Vostok refuses to believe this turn of events, the torpedoes explode and destroy his submarine, killing him. Rossanov's sub cannot outrun the ice; the team suggest surfacing, and they barely manage to break the ocean's surface before being frozen at a majestic angle. Helicopters pick them up, and the Russian soldiers state that they'll have to dig out the rest of Vostok's fleet.

Notes

Quotes

  • Vostok - "What you see is Mother Russia's greatest military leader. This cold is nicknamed "General Winter". It thwarted the conquests of Napoleon and later froze the Third Reich in its tracks. And now, the cold serves our needs as well."

~

  • Jonny - "Oh man, the Dragonfly!"
  • Race - "Good thing we have a low deductible."

~

  • Hadji - "These cuffs would challenge Houdini himself."

~

  • Vostok - "It is over."
  • Race - "Take your best shot."
  • Vostok - "Help me!"
  • Race - "Yeah, sure."

~

  • Jonny - "Good idea freeing Vostok's prisoners."
  • Hadji - "Strategy, Jonny. The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
  • Jonny - "Maybe I need to do a little more reading."

~

  • Vostok - "History favors the bold!"
  • Nikolai - "You have finished us all."
  • Vostok - "Destiny will not permit it!"

Goofs

  • For a person who wants the Quests alive, Vostok strangely greenlights the use of an advanced weaponry and direct machine gun fire.

Trivia

  • Yes, that's Mark Hamill, famed portrayer of Luke Skywalker and talented voice actor who vocalized the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Hadji is probably reading "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, although there are several other war strategy books which could be candidates.
  • The Quest Byte features Jonny descending by rope to snatch a book which Iris claims holds the key to happiness. Mirroring the famous scene from the Mission Impossible movie, Jonny avoids lasers and opens the book to find a mirror and his own reflection.

Lance Falk Behind-the-Scenes #9

Subj: Behind the scenes # 9
From: LFMOA

Hi Everyone,

As I've mentioned, this is the episode I'm the most proud of out of "my" nine scripts. I'm fond of it for a number of reasons.

A. The animation is especially good. Our Season's best, I think. Mook really outdid themselves on this one. The Overseas director is Kenichi Shimizu. I love his work and instincts. He also helmed the animation work on my best SWAT Kats episode: "Unlikely Alloys". In fact, I was so happy with both, I sent him a Jonny Quest watch. Hopefully, I can work with him in the future.

B. I was more involved in every step of production than before (or since). For a few previous shows ("Bangalore Falcon" and "Edge of Yesterday") Producer Davis Doi was letting me tag along during all his post-Production duties. Taking me to "Producer's School" you could say. I assisted him in looking over the raw animation and asking for changes, working with all aspects of sound FX and music, editing, and so on. This period was the most fun I've EVER had in this business. By the time General Winter had come along, Davis was comfortable enough with my instincts to let me get my hands further into the Post work (all while keeping a watchful eye on me, natch'). It was a ball helping to shape that episode from idea to final delivery. In short, GW is more "me" than any other episode.

C. I think it's simply my best overall writing for the show. It works best for me. It has my cleanest, quickest, clearest storytelling, best lines, and action sequences. For once, I was smart enough to write lean so I didn't have to cut out much material in subsequent drafts. It also came easier than any of the others. It practically wrote itself. It's my "work to top" in the future and the one I run when I want to show off.

Okay, let's hit those Factoids:

1. This episode marked the return (and demise) of Vostok. I love this character. Mark Hamill did an outstanding job with his voice and brought him so much energy. He was easier to write this time around because I had Mark's Vostok voice in my head from "Rock of Rages". I killed him for a few reasons. Mainly because I wanted him gone so no one else would come along after me and mis-handle him. "I killed him to save him" you might say. He was also conceived as a Political type bad guy and his politically-slanted comments kept being censored from him (don't ask me why). I saw no point in using him if this unique motivational trait wasn't allowed. Shaun Mclaughlin used him in one of the JQ comic books. The story is called "Countdown to Chaos" and it was an "almost sold" episode idea. Lastly, it's Quest tradition for their enemies to perish in battle! (Zin notwithstanding) It's a thing about the JQ series I like. Our heroes are a lot more effective than most because they take out their enemies. How many times has the Joker broke out of Arkham now? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Batman show and could never see killing the Joker, but I'm glad JQ has a different approach. It's refreshing.

Lastly, I was pretty touched when Mark Hamill said "Oh no. You killed off Vostok! I liked this guy"

2. True, I crashed the Dragonfly, but fear not. Dr. Quest has a spare. Don't forget that I was the one who brought it back in the series. I LOVE that jet. It's still my most wanted desk toy.

3. There are a few "cheated" inaccuracies in the story about sub operation, pressure depths and so on. I hope you'll forgive me for doing what I had to in order to get the story to work to maximum effect. ("Undersea Urgency" is LOADED with scientific cheats!). I strive for accuracy (as you know) but if it gets in the way of "cool", well, cool's gonna win out every time (as it should in this series).

4. My favorite moment was censored out. After Vostok's "General Winter" speech in the frozen sub base, he says, "Colonel, Order your men to secure the base". He then used an index finger to casually tip over one of the frozen-solid guards. There is an off-screen shattering sound. Vostok looks down and laughs cruelly, "You will find little resistance".

5. The term General Winter is a very real one. It's an affectionate nickname. Russia's fierce weather has indeed thwarted many an invasion. I gave two examples, Napoleon and Hitler, but there are MANY others.

6. The working title was "Cold War". I liked it but someone found the Political connotations too offensive (for some reason) so we were forced to change it. I'm fine with the back-up title though. It has a nice poetic ring to it, don't you think? Davis suggested it and I liked it right away. Our other Producer Larry Houston put the name "Cold War" on a theater marquee in "Thoughtscape", that sneaky guy!

7. Professor Erikson was taken from the Classic JQ episode "House of the Seven Gargoyles" There he invented an anti-gravity process called "Erikon". I figure if he's smart enough to beat gravity, he's smart enough to invent quantum freeze technology. Erikon is an expensive and unstable process and therefore not in wide use in the Quest universe. It's how their hoverboards work, in case you were wondering.

8. Yep. I killed poor Erikson off. As in "Rock of Rages", Vostok was given a dart gun (arrgghhhhh!) But you'll notice that the Quest family didn't bring him with them when they abandoned the base did they? If Vostok used a dart gun, you can bet it was a POISON dart gun.

9. The Freeze effect is called "The Bifrost Effect". A reference to both Norse mythology and Gunter Erikson's Norwegian origins. It works by sending out a wave effect which instantly halts all molecular motion to absolute zero. Objects become so cold that a layer of ice forms due to condensation. (yeah, I actually think this stuff through)

10. Character actor Gregg Burger voiced Captain Rossanov. I had Jonathan Frakes in mind when I wrote it, but was delighted with Gregg's work. He really got into it.

11. Similarly, I asked for Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5's G'Kar) for Nikolai. When he proved unavailable, we brought in Clancy Brown, who knocked us out. Clancy was recently seen in Starship Troopers as Sgt/Prvt. Zim (but I'll always think of him as the bad guy, the Kurgan, in the first Highlander film!) Clancy is also the voice of Lex Luthor on the nifty Superman toon. His last line to Vostok was "You've killed us all". Well, days after recording, someone freaked out and wanted "killed" changed to "doomed" or "finished" so rather than bring Clancy back for one word (which we WOULD have had to do) we just cast him in another episode ("More than Zero") So, when he came in for that part, we had him redo the one GW line. He's great in MTZ, so it worked out fine for all concerned. As a nice postscript, we did get Andreas Katsulas for my last episode "The Robot Spies".

12. Not a real factoid, but a last thought on Vostok: He does NOT see himself as a villain. He really believes Communism is the correct path for humanity. When the Iron Curtain collapsed, he kind of snapped and decided his great destiny was to show the world the error of it's ways. A cut line in "Rock of Rages" explains this a bit. When the Golem is first ordered to get the Quests, Benton pleads to spare the youngsters. Vostok replies: "Sadly, the innocent must sometimes perish when great destinies are to be forged. Regrettable, but historically inevitable, yes?" A nice character bit but understandably expendable (and a bit awkward, I admit). Vostok sees himself as a Caesar or Alexander the Great doing destiny's work. He thinks God won't let him die until he remakes Earth in a Communist mold. Vostok REALLY believes in this stuff.

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