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Chapter 312: Doom of the Dictator

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Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe


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Chapter 311: Stark Treachery N/A



Synopsis

Sensing danger, Flash tells Prince Barin and Roka to wait outside while he alone enters the chamber where Dale and Princess Aura are held captive. The slumbering women stir as he walks in and Dale cries to him. Her warning possibly saves Flash's life. The sword he is carrying touches the booby-trapped rug and takes the brunt of its destructive power. Flash is thrown backwards, badly stunned but otherwise unharmed. Aura tells Barin about the trap and where the control mechanism is. Barin is then able to disable it and the women are free. The group then flee the room. Roka, still disguised in the uniform Kroad gave them, helps divert some real palace guards.

Ming is given the news that Flash Gordon has rescued Dale and Aura. He issues orders for a full-scale search, and a watch on the laboratory in case an attempt is made to rescue Dr Zarkov.

Flash and his friends do indeed head for the lab, but this time Roka's ruse fails. After a scrap, the guards on the door are overcome but they have managed to raise the alarm. Flash drags their unconscious bodies into the lab and Zarkov locks the door. He tells Flash and the others that it will take 2 hours to break the door down, by which time he can have engineered a better defense. Flash and the others take the uniforms from the unconscious guards.

Zarkov explains to Barin how Professor Karm discovered the secret of Ming's power. The power is derived from a strong beam of sunlight reflected from pure Thellinium, a new element which gives the light great properties and permits it to be transformed into other forms of energy. It's the Thellinium which energizes Ming's Death Dust, the fire projectiles and all of Ming's weapons of death and destruction.

Torch reports to Ming that their enemies have barricaded themselves in the laboratory and proposes a mass attack. Ming refuses to countenance such an action, as the intelligent Dr Zarkov in his laboratory potantially holds more power than he himself does in his own kingdom. Ming says Zarkov must be tricked into coming out.

Zarkov, meanwhile, is telling his comrades that while destroying Ming and his palace would be a fairly straightforward exercise, it would means their own deaths also. Flash thinks it would be worthwile, if such a sacrifice were to bring a final end to Ming's reign of terror. Just then, Ming contacts them over the Televisor and warns Zarkov to come out at once or face attack. Zarkov tells Ming that he wouldn't dare attack, since he now controls his power and can use it against him.

"You would not dare," Ming replies.

"I would not hesitate," Zarkov corrects him. "Our mission is not only to save the world, but the universe as well."

"The universe? I am the universe," Ming scoffs. "I'll give you just one hour to surrender. I have another source of power that you know nothing of."

The televisor transmission ends. Flash thinks this is more of Ming's bluffing, but Zarkov is less sure. Flash suggests that if Barin summons some of his ships to attack the palace, then Zarkov can offer the ships the necessary ptoection using whatever means he has available to him in the lab. Although Barin is all for the scheme, Zarkov says this should be a last resort and that he'd rather find out exactly what Ming is up to, knowing how untrustworthy the Emperor is. He tells Flash and Roka that in their Ming uniforms they surely have a chance of getting close enough to Ming to learn his plans. Karm had shown him a secret passage they can use which leads from the lab to the underground caverns. Even Ming is unaware of its existence.

Once they are loose int he palace again, Flash and Roka are stopped by a Guard Captain who briefly questions them. Falling for their bluff, he tasks them to guard the Throne Room itself. This allows Flash to get close enough to hear Ming and Captain Torch discussing the Rocket Ship Z-O which is parked on the Space Court and loaded with Solarite, ready to attack the principle cities of the Earth. Ming thinks it is better to first rid himself of the Earth people here on Mongo.

Flash slips back into the lab just as Ming once again makes contact over the Televisor. Ming wanrs Zarkov that if he doesn't surrender, he will send his Solarite ship to attack Earth at once. Flash warns Zarkov that Ming intends to attack Earth regardless of whether or not they surrender to him. Zarkov wonders if Ming really has the amounts of Solarite which he claims, but Druk says he believes it to be true as it was a project Ming was working on for years. Flash concludes that their only option is to capture the Solarite ship for themselves and use it to attack Ming. Zarkov confirms that the plan has merit, for he can control the defensive mechanism of the Space Court from here in the lab.

Ming gets a little anxious when Torch tells him that he can no longer get through to Zarkov on the televisor.

In the lab, the party begin to leave via the secret tunnel. Druk says he'll stay behind to control the death rays that guard the entrance to the Space Court, for he has been waiting years for the chance to avenge his people whom Ming destroyed. Druk is fully aware that by staying behind, he is likely to be killed when the Z-O ship strikes the palace.

With the way clear, Flash boards the Z-O ship while the others all board Zarkov's rocket ship. The 2 ships take off.

Torch relays to Ming a report that Flash Gordon has stolen the Z-O ship. Ming is furious and demands to know why the guards didn't stop him, but Torch points out that the guards are prevented from entering the Space Court by the death rays. Ming believes Zarkov must be controlling the death rays from the lab, but at least this means that Flash Gordon would not think to use the Z-O ship against the palace for fear of harming his friend. However, word then reaches them that Zarkov has indeed escaped. Ming panics and, with his most trusted men, takes refuge in the palace tower where the auxiliary control room is situated. Ming instructs Torch to tell Captain Sudan, in the palace Guard Room, to transfer control to the tower. Once this is done, Ming will be able to remotely detonate the Z-O ship while it is in the air, before Flash Gordon can turn it against him.

In the Guard Room, Captain Sudan recives the message but decides not to act on it. He instead gets word over the radio to Druk in the lab, who in turn tells Zarkov that Ming and his retinue are now positioned in the tower. Zarkov tells Flash to aim the ship at the tower, this will prevent anybody else in the palace being killed in the attack, Druk included.

Captain Sudan remotely locks the door to the tower, sealing Ming and the others inside. Flash sets the Z-O ship on a course towards the tower, then bails out, parachuting safely to Zarkov's ship which is following close behind.

The Z-O ship hits the tower dead on and there is a huge explosion.

Watching from the safety of their rocket ship, Zarkov comments, "Ming is no more... The world is safe."

"And Arboria is free," adds Dale.

Roka tells Flash, "By destroying Ming, you have saved the universe."

Flash, rather sombre, reflects on his colleague's words. "In his mad ambition, Ming declared that he was the universe."

With a glint in his eye, Zarkov pats Flash on the shoulder and tells him, "Then since you have conquered Ming, I shall radio your father, "Flash Gordon conquers the universe!"

"And saves the Earth!" Dale adds triumphantly.

"What's our course now, Flash?" Zarkov asks him.

"Straight for Arboria," Flash replies, "...And back home."

Zarkov laughs contentedly as the ship cruises away from the ruined palace.

Recap card

Trivia

  • Dale and Aura take a tremendous risk in running across the booby-trapped rug after Barin tells them he has turned the current off. What if he'd got the wrong control? Shouldn't they have tested it was safe first?
  • In the first scene in Ming's Throne Room, the establishing long shot shows Captain Torch entering to see Ming, but as the scene plays out it's actually another soldier coming to deliver the report.
  • Ming seems to take the news of Dale and Aura's rescue with little surprise, and with remarkable tolerance considering he usually rewards failure with punishment or worse.
  • The whole concept behind the laboratory seems contradictory and farcical. Zarkov is supposedly being held a prisoner there to do Ming's work, yet the door is operated from the inside rather than the outside (Flash has to knock on the door in order for Zarkov to let him in). Ming later comments how Zarkov holds the upper hand by having control of his laboratory and all of its resources, conveniently overlooking the fact that it was Ming himself who went to extraordinary lengths to put him there in the first place (and on 3 separate occasions too, if one includes the events of the original 1936 serial). There is suddenly also a secret passage which Karm knew about, so if escape from the lab is so easy, why were scientists like Karm and Druk prisoners for so long?
  • Dr Zarkov uses the term "Z-O Ship" before anybody has mentioned it to him (unless Ming described it thus at the very start of the Televisior conversation, as it appears the conversation is already underway when Flash returns to the lab).
  • There are some curious changes of costume during the course of this chapter. Firstly, Ming gives Zarkov 5 minutes to reach a decision, and apparently uses this time to remove his cloak and change his headgear. Secondly, Sonja finished the previous chapter in her palace gowns. She is first seen in this chapter back in her Arborian cloak and tunic, and then is suddenly back in her palace gown once again when next seen. Then there is Dale. Granted, the long gown she was dressed in by Ming wasn't very practical for running around in so she has every reason to change out of it, but how did she manage to retrieve her old Arborian outfit when she was confined to the lab?
  • Ming, of all people, calls Dr Zarkov a fiend!
  • When Druk calls Dr Zarkov on the radio, the voice that replies is nothing like that of the actor Frank Shannon (who plays Zarkov).
  • When parked in the Space Court, the Z-O Rocket Ship is clearly marked with a large "Z-O" logo on its side, but this logo is missing on the model shots.
  • After Flash bails out of the Z-O ship, it flies on a very long and erratic course yet still manages to perfectly hit the rather small target of the palace tower.
  • Captain Sudan activates the control which locks Ming's party in the tower. Sudan's colleague comments that the group are now trapped, and Sudan replies, "Yes, And there's only one other way of escape for them, but they will be too terrified to think of it!" This comment is never fully explained. It is possible that it was included so as to lay the groundwork for a possible fourth Flash Gordon serial, so that a further return for Ming on the basis that he had escaped from the tower could be explained. Or was Sudan suggesting that Ming could yet escape with his life if he showed uncharacteristic humility and surrendered?
  • The music that plays over the closing scene was also used as the theme music for Buster Crabbe's "Buck Rogers" serial the previous year.

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