In this episode of the Filmation bicentennial era TV series Ark II, the moving “repository of scientific knowledge”—the Ark II — cruises Sector 18, Area 93 and finds an “old battleground” there. Captain Jonah’s stated mission is to make sure that “nothing dangerous still exists” there.
Jonah visits the village to tell the village leader of Jewel’s abduction, and responds that machines are “just tools” and that “good and bad exist in the men” who use them. This opinion doesn’t sway the leader, but when he and Samuel and Adam are also captured by the scavengers, Jonah and Ruth deploy a pre-apocalypse tank to help free the captives from a mountainside jail.
Like all Ark II episodes featured thus far, “The Tank” is heavily moralistic and didactic in tone, but again the series was oriented towards children and these social messages were part of the Filmation formula. What I appreciate so much about the program is what Ruth notes explicitly in this episode: “We don’t carry weapons. We don’t believe in them.” Instead, the Ark II team again uses that defensive weapon I mentioned last week: a hand-held light device which momentarily blinds enemies, a nice variation on the ideas of phasers set to stun, you might say. It’s nice to see, each week, that the Ark II crew lives up to its values and don’t carry guns.
In terms of visuals, the opening of “The Tank” is a little intense for kids. A group of male scavengers snatch a protesting, wriggling, screaming woman, Jewel. This abduction looks and plays like a moment more appropriate to The Road Warrior (1982) than a children’s TV series. The implication, at least at this point, is that Jewel is going to be physically assaulted. Like I said, tough stuff for a kid’s program of the 1970s.