Monday, April 20, 2015

Master Keaton Case 4: Immortal Man

Case 4:  Immortal Man



We find Keaton driving through the incredibly snow ridden countryside of Poland where he almost hits an old man.  As Keaton stops the car and runs over to make sure the man is okay he chastises Keaton, telling him he could have easily killed anyone that wasn’t immortal like him.  Keaton is a little confused by this statement but takes the man with him on his way to Krakow, Poland.  The man comments on the lack of a heater in Keaton’s car, it’s a rental, and drinks some Brandy that Keaton offers him.  The old man notices that they are being followed before a blue car tries to run the pair off the road.

As the men in the other car yell at them the old man tells Keaton to keep driving as he makes a Molotov cocktail out of a handkerchief and the bottle of Brandy, throwing it at the pursuing car and sending it crashing into the hillside.  Keaton is shocked at the old man’s actions and the old man states the pursuing men should have had the sense to plan for their future.  “Life is not life if one has not experienced its thrills!” The old man explains.  Keaton finally introduces himself and we find out the name of our cranky old gentleman:  Andrei Seminov.  Andrei says the men chasing them used to be part of the KGB but now work for the Russian Mafia.

A bullet through the windshield interrupts Keaton and Andrei’s conversation and Keaton’s poor rental car is shot full of holes.  As more Mafia men get ready to shoot Andrei and Keaton, Andrei unscrews the gascap on Keaton’s rental car.  “You mentioned to me that you are an agent.  I hope that means that you are accustomed to danger?”  Keaton assures him that he is more than familiar with danger and Andrei says Keaton may just learn something before he throws his lit cigar into the gas tank of Keaton’s car.  The two push the car towards their pursuers and then jump off the roadside into the snow below.

Keaton and Andrei brave the snow covered wilderness they discuss snow.  Keaton remarks that Russia was saved from Hitler and Napoleon by the snow whilst Andrei states a lot of men died to save his mother country, only for the disgusting unwanted snow to cover up all the blood and take all the credit.  Andrei trips in a snow drift, dropping a leather bound book that intrigues Keaton before Andrei quickly snatches it up and apologizes.  Keaton says that the weather is getting worse and shortly the two are overcome by a blizzard.  Andrei trudges on despite the dangers, crowing about his immortality all the while, before succumbing to the cold.  He awakens in an igloo where Keaton has started a fire and explains some science about snow.  Andrei scoffs at science and says he is still alive because of his immortality and Keaton merely chuckles at his statement.  Keaton offers Andrei some chocolate and for once Andrei doesn’t complain.  Andrei states that since Keaton has done so many things for him he is in Keaton’s debt.  Though Keaton refuses any sort of payment Andrei decides that he can tell Keaton a story about treasure; both to pass the time and to repay him for all he has done.

Andrei asks Keaton how much he knows about Nicholas II of Russia.  Nicholas II was the last Emperor of the Russian empire and in 1918 he and his family were executed in Siberia by troops whom had joined Lennon’s Revolutionary Government.  The Romanov family is believed to have accumulated somewhere in the order of 8 BILLION dollars in platinum bars and around 500 tons of gold bars.  The gold was transported East during the wars after the Revolution and is missing even today.  It is rumored the treasure is tucked away somewhere in Siberia or that the Japanese discovered it and used it to build up the country’s economy.  Andrei says these are all ideas of greedy people with poor imaginations and that people just assumed the gold was taken East when it was in fact, taken to the West.

Keaton counters this statement saying it was the middle of World War I and that at that time Germany occupied the middle of Russia.  Nikita Volkonski was a Prince who happened to be one of Nicholas II’s subjects and in the Fall of 1916 he was called by Nicholas II and told of Germany’s rising power and the coming Revolution.  Volkonski was charged with carrying the 500 tons of gold with him to England, where Nicholas II’s cousin, George V, was ruling as King.  Nicholas prepared for two possibilities:  1.)  if the Germans captured Russia he could use is assets to form a new government from within Englad, 2.)  if the Revolutionaries jailed Nicholas they could offer gold to them to secure his release.  Prince Volkonski transported the gold from St. Petersburg to a port before going through the Arctic Ocean to avoid detection by German troops.  Keaton states that at the time the Germans had U-Boats and thus had command of the seas.  Volkonski knew of these dangers but pressed on, ever wary of running into wayward German vessels and being caught.

Andrei says that Volkonski’s ship was not, however, attacked and sunk by the U-Boats.  On the sixth day of their voyage about 250 miles from Norway a lookout spotted another ship approaching theirs.  The fog was so thick that all they could see of the ship was a black shadow.  As the ship was turned to attempt to avoid what appeared to be a U-Boat they struck an iceberg and the ship was split in half.  As the men escaped the sinking ship the U-Boat rose out of the water…only to reveal it was a whale all along.  Volkonski and his men were rescued by a Norwegian fishing boat and taken back to St. Petersburg where Volkonski died.  His wife and son went East to avoid the coming Revolution, the mother died in a blizzard but the son survived and carried the story his father told him of Czar Nicholas II’s treasure with him.  The son, like the other refugees, was sent to China and eventually made it to America.  Keaton wonders how Andrei could possibly know this story but Andrei refuses to answer.

The next morning Keaton and Andrei see that the blizzard has stopped and again begin their trek to the next town.  Unfortunately the Mafia have not been easily chased off, and demand that Andrei pay them back the $100,000 for the phony story he told them about the missing Nicholas II treasure.  Andrei reveals he spent all of the money already and tells Keaton he owes him more than just a story for the chocolate that Keaton gave him.  Before Keaton can react Andrei stands up and demands the Mafia shoot him in recompense for everything.  Andrei is shot through the heart and as the Mafia leave Keaton can only ask why he would do something like that for cheap chocolate.  Andrei tells him that while the chocolate might have been cheap it was also very tasty and Keaton is amazed to find Andrei completely unharmed.  The bullet was lodged in the leather bound book Andrei had been carrying with him.  Andrei says his father protected him, and when Keaton examines the name on the book he discovers that it is the diary of Nikita Volkonski!  Andrei is actually the orphaned son mentioned at the end of his story!  When Keaton asks Andrei to definitely confirm this Andrei simply states that he is the Immortal Man.

As Keaton and Andrei walk through the snow closer to the city Keaton asks what Andrei did with all the money the Mafia gave him.  Andrei laughs and tells Keaton that they can discuss this new story over drinks, though Keaton will have to pay for them as Andrei is short on cash.

Overall while this isn’t a favorite episode of mine I do really enjoy it, if for nothing else than all of the mystery around the treasure of Nicholas II.  To this day the treasure has never been discovered and the idea of it going West is an incredibly interesting theory that I often wonder is based on actual theories.  The Romanov treasure is only one of the many mysteries surrounding the family (another being the possible identity and whereabouts of Anastasia but that’s an entirely different discussion) but this episode does a good job of keeping up the suspense while Andrei relates his tale to Keaton.

One thing that’s always sort of bothered me about this episode is Andrei’s claims of being immortal.  Other than surviving the Civil War and the blizzard which took his mother nothing else really sticks out to make us understand why the man would constantly refer to himself as immortal.  Perhaps though, that’s simply one of those other stories Andrei would be willing to tell Keaton over some drinks, eh?  It’s a shame that we never get anything more with this character but after all, Master Keaton is a mostly episodic series and there are only about five or six characters that will consistently pop up throughout it.

What happens next with Keaton?  Why was he so worried about getting to the next town?  Well…we don’t find that out in the next episode but do you remember how last episode Keaton had a very high possibility of losing his job?  Well, that very thing happens sometime between Case 3 and Case 5!

Keep a very important eye out in the Next Time feature for one of the series recurring characters, and a person incredibly close to Keaton!


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