The Secret of the Moai

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The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
"The Secret of the Moai"
Episode no. H00616-94046
Airdate September 24, 1996
Chief locations Easter Island, Pacific Ocean 189.05W, 27.31S (5,750)
Vehicle(s) PBY Catalina
Writer(s) John Pelinski
Michael Ryan (additional material)
Guest roles Michael Benyaer (Thug #1)
Frank Welker (Surd / Primate)
Megan Cavanagh (Julia)
Chick Vennera (Lorenzo / Thug #2)
Michael Stanton (Additional voices)
Episode sequence In the Darkness of the Moon <--> Expedition to Khumbu
Other episodes

Thousands of years ago, the missing link between apes and humans was engineered by aliens possessing auditory DNA-altering technology. When Dr. Quest locates an alien ship in Easter Island, Surd experiments in devolution.

Plot Summary


On prehistoric Easter Island, several humanoid apes emerge from a cave and hear a loud rumbling. An object descends from the sky, prompting two of them to run back to the cave; the third sees a strange, alien creature emerge from a perfect orb spaceship. Later, the alien straps the ape down to an operation table and hits a strange device with many discs mounted on the ceiling of the craft. It emits radiation, warping the ape to what appears to be a predecessor or bearded form of homo sapiens. Just then, the island's volcano erupts, and the lava flow engulfs the orb and hardens over it, trapping the two for eternity.

Act One

Jonny locates the bones

Dr. Benton Quest and the team are in Easter Island to investigate a strange lava flow. After taking pictures of the Moai, Jonny Quest helps Dr. Quest set up a vibroseis cannon, which collects sonar data and relays it to Hadji Singh's computer. He finds what appears to be a small, circular cave with bones inside it. As Race Bannon and Jessie fly in on the PBY Catalina, Dr. Quest radios and asks Race to pick up a couple drill bits in Easter Island's only habited town. Jessie makes a smooth landing, and soon the operation is underway. Hadji has been analyzing the cave, and finds that it is a perfect sphere—four times Pi times the radius cubed, with perfection tracked to the two millionth digit of Pi. Dr. Quest agrees that only zero gravity could afford construction of such a sphere, and as the drill is raised out, Jonny volunteers to search. Inside he finds the skeletons of the alien and the ape; the alien is holding a rongorongo made from metal. They exhume the bones topside, where Dr. Quest is perplexed by both their structures. Jonny and Jessie suggest scanning the bones into Questworld and reconstructing them from there. They are amazed at the huge space for the brain within the alien's skull, as well as its large nasal cavity and lack of ears; the alien seems to have triple-helix DNA.

The team discover the sound properties

Dr. Quest suggests the nasal cavity may be a sound chamber, and Jonny's fooling with the bones proves it as contact strikes a distinct musical note. The team believe that the ape is the missing link in human evolution; that the alien presumably was responsible for making the jump. To test the alien's apparent evolution for harmonic applications, Dr. Quest rigs a keyboard to the rest of his equipment and a speaker, and plays the note made by the bones. The bones resonate, as do the huge moai statues across the island. Once the vibrations stop, Jessie finds that the normally yellow grass on the island has been altered around the statues, and Dr. Quest finds that the DNA is unique. He concludes that the alien possessed a sound-based DNA altering technology, a similar conclusion to Jeremiah Surd's, who has been watching the entire ordeal. He postulates that the technology might work on humans, and that he could possibly be restored. He orders Lorenzo and Julia to take him there to steal the technology. Meanwhile, Dr. Quest has become aware of the serious moral ramifications of technology capable of altering humans in real time, and decides to hide the research until the mechanics of the technology can be truly understood. That night, several of Surd's henchmen parachute in and approach the camp with guns ready.

Act Two

Dr. Quest and Race are transformed

As a henchman prepares to kill Jonny, he's reprimanded by his officer and told to wait. The next day, Hadji finds that Surd is hacking Questworld and stealing the DNA technology files; Jonny and Jessie volunteer to go hot in cyberspace to defeat him, but Race and Dr. Quest go in their stead. They find a digital recreation of Easter Island, and Surd tells them that he's about to reverse their genetics to that of primates as an experiment of the powers. Race deploys a laser gun, but Surd evades him with each shot, and eventually Dr. Quest and Race turn into primates in Questworld. As the team outside try to help, they are held prisoner by Surd's team, one of which whom prepares to pull Benton and Race out of Questworld, transferring their ape psyches to their bodies forever. Hadji protests but the guard shoots out the Quests' computers, pulling Race and Benton out of Questworld. Enraged in a primal state, they overpower and knock out all of Surd's troops before turning on Jonny and Jessie, who plead with them to recognize them as their progeny. Race and Benton are confused, and retreat to the grass in a docile state. Jessie produces a laptop with a portable Questworld unit, but Hadji notes that they have no way of using the technology with trashed computers. Jonny disagrees, arguing that if the alien's bones and the statues were musical, the rongorongo must consist of musical notes, not words. Hadji feeds the notes into the computer, and the tones emanate from the Moai. Surd lands in a Chinook, and Jonny tells him to turn around. They watch helplessly as another alien ship descends from the sky, beaming Surd, his helicopter, and his guards out of existence and reversing his damage. Jonny rushes to Benton's side, but neither can remember anything about the incident, and the computer files for the past three days are erased. Surd and his crew are in the Nazca plains of Peru without any memory either. Dr. Quest packs up base as Jonny doubts they'll ever learn anything about the moai.



  • Hadji - "Similar to those found in chiroptera and cetaceans!"
  • Jonny - "That's bats and whales to you, Jess!"
  • Jessie - "Oh really? Duh!!"


  • Race - "Ready for good ol' country-fried rock?"
  • Hadji - "I believe the phrase is, ready to rock and roll!"
  • Race - "Hey, cut me some slack, Hadji."


  • Race - "You got it, Benton. Never open a can of worms until you're ready to go fishing."


  • Jonny - "They'll have the minds of primates!"
  • Guard - "Won't be much of a stretch for Bannon. Now back off!"


  • Hadji - "Often one need only to ask the question correctly to obtain the desired answer."


  • Hadji - "As Jonny would say, this is too strange for school."


  • Apes and creatures like it were not native to Easter Island as depicted in prehistory.
  • Bodies in a sealed environment would mummify rather than be completely stripped to skeletons.
  • Hadji is able to test the grass DNA before ever obtaining a sample.
  • Why does Dr. Quest need the keyboard if he synthesizes notes with the laptop? He never touches the instrument.


  • This episode does not feature a Quest Byte.

From: Episodes