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  Path Of Destruction

A huge Crablogging machine runs out of control in Mexico when its crew collapse of food poisoning. Virgil and Brains must infiltrate the Crablogger while Penelope tracks down its designer to get the shutdown codes as the Crablogger is on a collision course with the San Martino dam...

In a mobile base in a Mexican forest, Jansen, Franklin and Simms are waiting for a rendezvous. An enormous land vehicle, Crablogger One, approaches. It is composed of two sections, the front of which has two huge robotic arms and also contains the control room from which McColl and Peterson drive it. They stop at the base for the day and Jansen promises to show them around the nearby town of San Martino but Simms remains behind.

He takes them to a restaurant run by Sanchez who he compliments the cooking of. McColl, Peterson and Franklin orders the mysterious 'special' and Jansen has a steak. Maria, the cook, prepares the meal in the less-than-hygienic kitchen while the diners discuss their plans for the next day. The meal arrives and is eaten.

The next morning the men return to their posts and base and on the Crablogger respectively, minus Franklin who has been taken sick. Having sealed their control room, McColl and Peterson drive their vehicle off into the forest. The robot arms grasp trees while blades saw them off. The trees are then lifted into the 'mouth' in the front of the machine where they are ground down. A truck arrives at the rear of the Crablogger for collection of the processed pulp but Peterson collapses leaving McColl to operate the hatch ejecting the logs onto the truck. McColl reports what has happened to base and Jansen orders him to shut the Crablogger down but he passes out before he can manage it.

Left on its own Crablogger One veers off course heading towards San Martino itself. Jansen realizes that they must keep supplying it with Superon fuel and unloading the pulp otherwise the processing machine will jam, explode and destroy everything within 50 miles. He calls International Rescue and John receives his call in Thunderbird 5. After explaining the situation he adds that even if the village is missed, beyond it lies the San Martino dam.

Scott takes off in Thunderbird 1. Brains suggests contacting Jim Lucas of Robotics International, the Crablogger's designer, before joining Virgil aboard Thunderbird 2. In England, Lady Penelope and Parker are settling down for a meal when Jeff sends them on a mission to track down Lucas. Evacuation of San Martino is now complete with only Gutierrez remaining there. The Crablogger smashes its way into the village, completely destroying all of the buildings in its path. Gutierrez escapes in his car and rushes to help at the dam. Thunderbird 1 lands at the base clearing.

Penelope and Parker arrive at Robotics International where it is still the middle of the night. The security guard refuses to tell Penelope where Lucas lives. Parker uses a special torch on him which temporarily hypnotizes him while Penelope finds Lucas' details in the personnel files. The two International Rescue agents escape just as the guard hits the alarm bell.

Thunderbird 2 lands and Scott drives the Mobile Crane from Pod 3 with Virgil and Brains aboard, heading off on the trail of the Crablogger. Meanwhile Penelope and Parker find an injured man at the scene of a car crash, forcing them to stop, help him and call an ambulance. Scott drives the crane up alongside the Crablogger as Virgil and Brains take up positions on the platform. They are lifted up until they are in line with the top of the Crablogger which they jump onto. Virgil begins cutting at the hatch to the control room with a laser.

FAB 1 proceeds on its journey as Penelope hears the ambulance arrive. Gutierrez and Manuel evacuate the area around the dam as the Crablogger approaches. Having arrived at Lucas' house, Parker fails to find an open window and so sets to work on the lock with one of Penelope's hairpins. Virgil and Brains get through into the Crablogger One control room but are unable to shutdown without the necessary codes.

Penelope sneaks up on Lucas who is in bed and, holding a gun to his head, she forces him to recite the shutdown codes into a tape recorder. John reports to Tracy Island that Virgil and Brains have removed McColl and Peterson who are now receiving medical attention. When the recording is complete, Parker transmits it from FAB 1 while Penelope puts Lucas back to sleep with a tranquillizer. The instructions reach Crablogger One but Virgil fears that the time lag of three minutes before the machine stops will not be enough.

Brains enters the codes but the Crablogger is now diverting along a ledge above the basin containing the dam. Scott is worried that the Crablogger will fall off and the explosion caused by its Superon fuel will destroy the dam anyway. He drives up behind the vehicle in a fuel truck while Virgil and Brains take up positions on the roof again. Jansen informs Scott that only the main tank needs draining. The Crablogger finally stops moving forward but the ledge has become dangerously narrow and threatens to collapse.

Virgil and Brains hook up the pipelines from Scott's truck to the main tank and he pumps the Superon out of it. The machine begins to slide over the edge. The last of the fuel is pumped out and as the Crablogger topples Virgil and Brains fly clear using their hover packs. Crablogger One rolls down the mountainside and smashes into the ground causing an big explosion, but only just not big enough to destroy the nearby dam. The next day Lucas reads about the event in the newspaper and he realizes that Penelope's visit was not a dream after all, much to the confusion of his wife.

Verdict: A runaway train story with a twist. The Crablogger ranks among Thunderbirds' all time great supervehicles and the destruction of San Martino really shows off its power. Particularly worthy of note is the plot twist at the end when the shutdown codes have been obtained but the Crablogger still threatens destruction. The Penelope and Parker subplot, however, is a little unecessary and feels as though it has been added as padding.
5/6
Broadcast information: Broadcast on BBC 2 on Tuesday 14th November 2001 at 6:00 pm and on Saturday 18st March 2001 at 3:05 pm.

DVD availability: On Volume 7 and the Complete Box Set.

VHS availability: On the Pod 2 Box Set and the Complete Box Set.