Season Two: Exploring JOURNEY TO SHANGRI-LA



    Journey To Shangri-La is one of those episodes where you can't let the plot destroy your enjoyment of the abysmal animation techniques. I have several fun captures from it already on my site and I always find something new to laugh at when I watch it.
    However, laughs aside, there are notable moments within this episode that suggest something more than just another airy fairy nonsense tale. The relationships between characters are very significant too - as are the actions of a few people.

    Right from the start you know that this story is off at a half cock. When british explorer Andrew tells the Holograms about the magical music of Shangri-La and that he believes the place really exists, he entices the girls to come along to see if they can find it too! The whole thing is ludicrous, but also highly amusing at times. The Holograms as a team across the snow are fun to listen to - Shana complaining about the walking "rest...did he say rest?!"  for example. The bonds between the Holograms are fairly clear here. They are a closeknit group and I much prefer them when they are shown to be, because it adds strength to them as characters.
    Why they should be hunting in Tibetan mountains for a lost city is beyond my ken, however.

    Well, being a Misfit fan, there is no way I can leave this out.
    People call the Misfits selfish and materialistic, and it's true that the only reason they even go to Tibet is to try and grab the music before Jem. Equally, when Jem and the Holograms take time out from their own trek to help them after a climb goes wrong, the Misfits simply scramble up and then say "see-ya!", leaving them to flounder themselves.
    However, all of this is swept aside by one important event. Whilst a villager, LaiSenn is trying to show them the way to Shangri-La, the girls slip down an embankment and wind up in a heap at the bottom. During this time, LaiSenn is trapped beneath a bush of poisonous thorns. Though she tells the Misfits not to touch them, because they are poisoned, Pizzazz and Roxy set in to rescue her, becoming scratched into the bargain. The poison takes effect almost immediately, yet these two Misfits risk their own lives to save a complete stranger. It can be said that they rescued her because they needed her to find Shangri-La. This is true, and I won't deny it. But at no point is there mention made of this fact. Stormer says that they have to help her, Pizzazz agrees and drags Roxy in to assist.
    If it were true that the Misfits were merely individuals out for themselves, then Jetta and Stormer would have fled into the snow the moment the Yeti appeared on the scene, for they are obviously terrified of him. However, their instinctive action is to protect Pizzazz and Roxy from the perceived threat. Misfit solidarity in the animated proof. And once they are back at the village and begging the help of the Holograms, there is even a moment where you see Jetta nursing Roxy. Despite rivalries, in a matter of crisis all barriers are broken down.

    One of the most amusing parts of this episode is the yeti, who clearly has a mad passion for Pizzazz. Yes, you read it right. During the rendition of "You Oughta See The View", he is following the band and looking all goofy and happy as he does so. Then, when Roxy and Pizzazz are stricken in the snow, it is Pizzazz who the yeti makes for, obviously wanting to help her.
    The yeti is also important for Jem and the Holograms, in that Jem has a brief encounter with him too. Let's face it, old Yeti is a flirt, because he's quite at home with Jem until Andrew comes and scares him off. The Yeti's most important role, however, is carrying the two stricken Misfits back to camp so that they can be tended.
    Another important thing to note about the Yeti - when delerious, Pizzazz murmurs to him " that you?" Hilarious as it might seem for Pizzazz to associate large, white and furry with her father, it also holds a deeper meaning. Pizzazz's first instinct when she is unwell or vulnerable is for her father - whatever anyone says, even miles from America in Tibet, Pizzazz is still thinking of Harvey.

    Right from the moment they meet, the old woman in the village says that Jem is false, and that she will not find the way to Shangri-La. I've said it many a time and I will say it again - she is entirely right. Jerrica when Jem is false - not only does she look different, but she acts differently too and is not really herself. Once Jem converts herself to her Jerrica form, the old woman says "now I see you as you truly are!" But it;s my belief that she sees more than just the holographic form - noone else can tell that Jem is false unless they know the secret. I'm sure that she sees that Jem is not acting to her real personality, and that is the reason for her reluctance.
    I am sadly disappointed in Jem here. There is every opportunity for her to be the good heroine and to make a real stand for herself as the star of this series. I don't like her, but even I would have been forced to concede that Jem is responsible for selflessly saving the lives of the Misfits....
    Except for one thing.
    Jem's explanation to the old woman for why she must go to Shangri-La is to find a cure for the Misfits' poisoning. But once she reaches Shangri-La she tells a different story - that their music needed a new sound, and that they hoped that the music of Shangri-La would help them do that. I actually wonder if there is a conflict of emotions within her at this point. Part of her wants to genuinely help the Misfits heal, but she is not concerned (or selfless) enough to discard any idea of going to Shangri-La for her own ends too. My belief is that noone can reach Shangri-La for selfish means, and whilst the Holograms are able to enter under the reasoning of rescuing the Misfits (one of the reasons that Jem gives to the gatekeeper), they also utilise what they learn there for their own commercial ends.
    The Misfits, however, cannot enter Shangri-La because their only reason for going there is to find the music to boost their own sales. Whilst I'm glad that Jem and co entered Shangri-La and were able to save the Misfits - Kimber's words "I can't wait for our fans to hear this great new music!" makes me sad. Oh well. At least the Misfits survived. And, whatever Jem's other motives for doing it, at least she did do it in part to save their lives.

    Without the character interaction and the odd funny remark this episode would be one to throw to the dogs. But, surprisingly, it's a very enjoyable episode, once you get your brain around the fact that most of the basic story is highly improbable and does not happen on your average rock star's calendar. It is only one of three episodes where Roxy and Jetta seem to put aside any differences too (the others being The Jazz Singer and The Stingers Hit Town). And Jem gets chatted up by a yeti. Yes. Definitely worth the popcorn!

    Episode rating: 7/10.


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