To Bardo and Back

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The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
"To Bardo and Back"
Episode no. H00616-94039
Airdate January 2, 1996
Chief locations Cheyenne, Wyoming 105.32W, 49.13N (1,746 miles)
Vehicle(s) PBY Catalina
Writer(s) Peter Lawrence
Dean Caccamo
Michael Ryan
Guest roles Michael Benyaer (Cowboy)
Frank Welker (Dr. Surd / Cowboy / Rodeo Clown)
George Ball (Announcer)
Megan Cavanagh (Julia)
Chick Vennera (Lorenzo)
Episode sequence Alligators and Okeechobee Vikings <--> The Mummies of Malenque
Other episodes

By watching Jonny practice, Surd learns that the team will be attending a rodeo and uses a mad bull to seriously injure Race. The stakes are increased when Dr. Quest attempts to miraculously repair the damage in Questworld.

Plot Summary


Jonny Quest goes hot in Questworld with Jessie Bannon and Hadji Singh watching to ride a bull in practice for an upcoming rodeo. Jeremiah Surd watches the event inside a rail car facility, and logs into Questworld, where he shatters the bull and taunts Jonny. He then reassembles the pieces into his body with the bull's head and charges Jonny, throwing him against a rock wall. Hadji cannot log him out of Questworld, as Surd has hacked the entire operating system. He tries to help by outfitting Jonny in a giant mecha battle robot, and the two duel until Surd gets the upper hand and prepares to stomp the young Quest.

Act One

Jonny battles Surd

Jonny rolls out of the way and performs a punch kick combo on Surd to throw him against a wall and remove his head casing. Julia pull him out just as Jonny tries to deliver the final blow. He orders Julia to double surveillance on the Quests, and cryptically notes that the rodeo has just begun. Later, the team fly to Cheyenne, Wyoming for their Frontier Days rodeo in the PBY Catalina. Jessie starts the amateur bronco riders off, and is thrown off her horse in a few seconds; Jonny meets a similar end in the competition. Next up is Hadji, whose name cannot be pronounced and is assumed to be a pseudonym. Warned that he is not holding on tight enough before his round, he channels his tranquility to the bronco and settles it to a standstill. He then placidly exits the round to Dr. Quest and Race Bannon's astonishment. It is then Race's turn to vie for the national championship by riding the "Skull Stomper" bull for seven seconds. He's off to a good start when Lorenzo fires a maddening dart into the bull's side, making it berserk. Race rides for the required time as the crowd and announcer are amazed by the bull's sudden ferocity; he dismounts, but the bull intends to charge him.

Race trips

A rodeo clown distracts him but is sent flying; Race throws a metal barrel at the bull to redirect his attention. The bull charges and Race trips up his feet, leading to a savage horning on his back. The bull closes in to massacre Race as Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji try to distract it; the terror ends when the bull is shot with a tranquilizer. Race is hospitalized and comatose, as a vital neural pathway between his neocortex and hypothalamus has been damaged. He proposes linking Race to Questworld and stimulating his senses to revive the pathway. Surd laughs in his base at the irony of Race's apparent paralysis, and Julia is impressed by Dr. Quest's mapping his entire brain for the reactivation procedure. Surd suspects that such a technique, if successful, might also fix his paralysis and logs on to Questworld. Access is denied by new security measures until Surd has Julia transform his representation into a subatomic form. Once he's in, Dr. Quest declares a code blue and notes that Race's vital signs are fading.

Act Two


Jessie speaks to him through Questworld, and he awakes in a river; on one side is a dark, stormy forest and on the other is a grassy knoll with an amber sky and the remains of a Roman style aqueduct. Through the grassy side runs a rainbow colored beam of light. Surd is floating in an azure pool, and Julia tells him that they're somehow off the main Questworld environment. She makes a few modifications and sends Surd directly into Race's mind as the team wonder how they can follow or contact him, and Hadji decides to use meditation. He appears as Race touches the rainbow stream, telling him that he's hovering between life and death in the space known as Bardo. Negativity is amplified to extremes, and if he crosses the river, he moves on to the next life and will be lost forever. Hadji cannot stay, and as Surd watches, he reminds Race not to cross the river. He comes out of his trance and relays the same information to the team as Surd appears to Race at Bardo. He taunts Race, noting that he's there to move him across the river, and transforms into a bull to spark fear within him. Race regains his courage and takes Surd by the horns, tossing him into the river. Surd is dumbfounded by the effects of the river upon him as Race punches him to its edge, causing him to go into an apparent seizure in the real world. He pushes Surd to the other side, where an orb forms around him and prepares to carry him off. Lorenzo cuts the power to Surd's Questworld unit, freeing him from his coming death. An orb then forms around Race, but he hears Jessie's pleas for his life and breaks free, at which point he's pulled out of Questworld. He reunites with the team, seeking a hot bath, a cold drink, and a confirmation whether he won the championship.



Race launches Surd
  • Hadji - "I will never understand the Western need to impose oneself on large and dangerous animals."


  • Surd - "Care to tango, little man?"


  • Jonny - "Oh yeah, Trigger. You're kinda late on your cue."
  • Hadji - "What can I say, my friend? It is only mind over horse matter."


  • Race - "Over here, prime cut! Pick on someone your own size!"


  • Jessie - "You know my dad. He'd rather go trying than not try at all."


  • Julia - "Yes! He's in!"
  • Lorenzo - "Well, ring my bell."


  • Hadji - "Oh, this is very bad, my friends. Race is between this life and a parallel existence. There is a river between these two realities. Anyone crossing that river is lost to us forever."
  • Jonny - "Where do you come up with stuff, Hadji?"


  • Julia - "Oh, Jeremiah. Thank the stars you're alive."
  • Lorenzo - "The stars got nothin' to do with it, Julia."


  • Race - "Feel like I've been to hell and back."
  • Hadji - "In a manner of speaking, you have."


  • Race - "Say, did I actually win the rodeo championship, or was that all just a dream?"


  • In real rodeos, there are always more than one clown in the ring and the requirement is to ride a bull eight seconds, not seven.
  • The heart monitor at the lighthouse is different from the hospital's blue lattice screen, which is erroneously reused during lighthouse sequences.


  • This episode does not feature a Quest Byte.
  • A preview for this episode was uncovered as part of this Youtube commercial archive (at 1 minute 9 seconds in), showing a sequence done in traditional animation rather than QuestWorld CGI. The design of the characters matches those found in an auction character sheet in 2022, and a cel also put up for auction that same year:

It is possible that work by the Lawrence/Takashi crew was already complete on this episode, and it was deemed cheaper to simply have everything rendered in QuestWorld versus finishing the traditional animation. Please download the preview here.

From: Episodes