"The Great Journey Begins" (Season 1, Episode 3)

[Contributed by ]

------------------------------------------------------------

Narrator: "The tremendous journey has begun... The Buddha in each of us knows that no scriptures can save a single soul unless that soul makes the effort to achieve enlightenment. What is enlightenment? How is it reached? This the scriptures can answer. This is why the comrades must brave the dangers and difficulties of a great journey to fetch them... Not the least of the difficulties of course come from Monkey himself..."

The great journey has hardly, but Monkey is already moaning. They've only travelled 200 leagues, and the Temple of the Thunder Clap is 108,000 leagues away (contradicting the Emperor's earlier statement that it was 105,000 leagues away). Tripitaka and Monkey struggle over a bit of mental arithmetic until Tripitaka concludes that there are still more than 107,000 leagues to go. "Look at my blisters", he moans, taking off his boot. He wonders why Tripitaka won't simply take a cloud trip to the Temple, "Sometimes I think humans are crazy". To Tripitaka's amusement, Monkey goes on strike. He refuses to go a step further and sits down in the road. As Tripitaka moves off without him, walking the horse, Monkey shouts to him that he'll be eaten by monsters, and that he won't get far and Monkey won't be around to save him. Monkey, knowing that his Master won't get far without his protection, grudgingly puts his boot on and rejoins the group, jumping back in front of Tripitaka just as the calls from a strange crow attract their attention.

Tripitaka notices that in a tree a little distance off, a crow sits in a nest. The crow transforms into a man by flapping its wings and squawking, or by using its arms when in human form. Monkey (already in a bad mood) fires off a stream of insults at the man, such as "It'll never hatch", and, "Are you stuffed?"

Monkey demands to know what he is doing, with a typical "Oi." "Waiting for you", replies the crow. Monkey's further insults and threats and demands for the man (dressed as a priest) to come down amuse the priest, infuriating Monkey even more. The man is wearing black robes, has a goatee, and a black hat with a feather coming out of it. Monkeys says that he'll knock him off, and he swings repeatedly at the tree with his wishing staff, but his blows simply pass through the tree and send Monkey accelerating into a wild spin.

Coming down from his perch, the mysterious man introduces himself to Tripitaka, and recognizes that it is Tripitaka although he hasn't ever met him. He has been sent to warn against certain dangers. He recommends that Monkey and Tripitaka take an alternative route as, "the path is not always shortest because it is straight". The forces of evil will try to stop them because, "The kings of all the hells don't want to relieve human suffering". However, they both agree that Buddha will prevail, after he says it will be a difficult journey, as "Evil everywhere feeds off good." Before he leaves he gives Tripitaka a useful sutra against the illusion of evil, called the PrajnaParamita Sutra, also known as the Heart Sutra. He sees Monkey still spinning and pats him on the back and laughs, "Spinning like the earth". Monkey curses him again, "lousy priest" and tries to hit him with his staff but it passes straight through, and he reappears on top of his tree, saying "Tripitaka, Monkey, still your thoughts".

Narrator: "There is a village on the new path they must take."

There, the locals are living in fear of a monster. A man comes along to a restaurant where the locals are waiting for their meal at the end of a long day with a reward of 1000 gold pieces for anybody who can rid the town of him. They discuss its strength and become despondent. The waitress is serving tea when Monkey approaches and asks him what the monster is that they're talking about. The man tells him "You're a bit on the small side for fighting monsters. Shoo!" and Monkey becomes angry and cockily brushes off their criticism, before putting the luggage down and starts causing havoc with the restaurant tables and the patrons. The patrons tell him it's "against the law to fight" but he retorts "I love to fight," before Tripitaka stops him. Monkey and Tripitaka are shown to the village leader for a more detailed explanation, and an apology is received. The village leader's daughter (Blue Orchid) is married to this monster. Initially, her husband was strong and hardworking, despite not being exactly good-looking, but he soon gave into his animal nature and became greedy and lustful. He also knows magic. These days all he does is eat, drink and fight ("Then you wouldn't say he's all bad then?" says Monkey). The village headman says it is a disgrace to his family. The swine has locked Blue Orchid away in its home and sealed the locks with molten copper. We see a night patrol walking the streets with a torch as Pigsy strides around with his muckrake.

Monkey goes to the house where Blue Orchid is being held and uses brags to the family and Tripitaka that he will break the lock bare fisted, after contradicting the headman and saying that the lock is solid iron. Monkey punches the lock and comically pretends to hurt himself the first time, but then uses his immortal strength to rip the link where the lock has been threaded. They release the girl and she is emotionally reunited with her parents just before the monster's wind announces his return. As the others flee in fear of the Pig monster killing them, Monkey sees the girl break down and feels sorry for her. Monkey, master of 72 transformations, takes on Blue Orchid's costume and waits for the monster to return.

A very amorous monster returns, with Blue Orchid lying face down on the bed. It receives several heavy smacks and elbowings which it interprets as passion as it bends down to embrace its wife. The monster and Blue Orchid roll about on the ground, with Monkey's head on the body, but the monster doesn't notice before it is punched twice more. "You're a pig, that's what you are," Blue Orchid screams, to which the monster replies, "You knew that. This is the pig which loves you." Blue Orchid pulls up her dress. The monster puts his face at her ankles and is almost dreaming when he is kicked in the head with both legs. He says he can't credit such passion, so Monkey reveals himself, shouting "Pigsy!" They've met before, although the monster is slow to react to Monkey's face. It's the former Marshall of the Heavenly hosts - Pigsy! Monkey says he never forgets a snout or a smelly pig and vows to make pork pies. Several weeks of intermittent battle result, including an exchange on top of a cumulus in Heaven. During a lull in the fighting Pigsy sneaks off to his hideout in Cloud Ladder Cave and locks himself in. Monkey follows him and calls him a coward. Pigsy says it is an accident that he is a pig and claims to be an angel, who was kicked out for touching the Star Spirit Vega. Monkey challenges Pigsy to open the door and fight, during which Monkey is stung by Pigsy's muckrake. Pigsy says that Lao Tzu baked his muckrake in his crucible, which explains its power and proves his heavenly origin. Monkey tells Pigsy his head is rock-hard from eating Heavenly Peaches and tells Pigsy to hit him on the head with his muckrake. However Pigsy is reluctant, claiming his muckrake is magically strong and will kill Monkey, saying it causes volcanoes when it is struck against a mountain. Pigsy then whacks Monkey senseless with his muckrake without managing to kill him and then Monkey retaliates, proving the strength of his Magic Wishing Staff. They are totally stoned but agree to be friends and walk off arm in arm making trivial comments about the chirping birds.

After a brief lecture from Tripitaka on two of the Buddha precepts - lust and appetite, Pigsy becomes the third Holy Disciple. Pigsy tells Tripitaka that he is excited by Monkey's promises of good battles and adventures, but he is told that he has misunderstood the objective of the journey. It is a special journey so he must behave.

Narrator: "Pigsy promised, somewhat chastened, but he was afraid he might fail. You may run from tigers, but where can you run from your own fear? Desire is unquenchable... you can only free yourself from it."

It isn't long before Pigsy's new resolution is put to the test. The pilgrims are resting in a forest clearing by a fire at night, after dark and dinner. Tripitaka is meditating while Pigsy is discussing his former heavenly life with Monkey and arguing over the position of the Milky Way and Heaven in the sky, and Pigsy remembers Vega. They then doze off, and in the middle of the night, while Pigsy is sleeping and dreaming, he holds Monkey's hand, when a spider drops down from its web and transforms into a woman, twirling about a couple of times. She invites a very eager Pigsy back to her house to meet her three beautiful daughters, who replaces a branch in Monkey's hand and tiptoes off with the woman, after she tells him not to wake the others. A delighted Pigsy is brought to a house and is introduced to the woman's three shy daughters, Shi-Shi, Ai-Ai and Den-Den, one of whom he touches on the cheek. He is blindfolded and told that eventually he must marry all three because there are no suitable husbands buried in the forest. However, tonight he will choose one of the girls, "Only one?" he grumbles. As he chases the girls, they accelerate around him in a circle, he takes his blindfold to take a sneak peek, but becomes groggy at the sight of the rotating girls and they throw confetti on him, trapping him in their web.

The next morning, Pigsy is found alive, but hanging from a tree inside the web, which is basically a net. The mysterious black robed priest that Tripitaka and Monkey met at the start of the episode, chastises and then releases Pigsy, who falls to the ground, "What a stupid, lustful Pigsy you are,". He tells Pigsy that for the sake of their holy quest Pigsy must try to give up women. Pigsy promises never to look at a girl again, to which the priest simply says, "Do your best."

Again Pigsy promises to control his animal nature. He dances his way back to the campsite, where Monkey and Tripitaka are waiting. Monkey concludes that he must have quit and gone after a girl, but Tripitaka insists on waiting. Tripitaka sees him dancing and says that he will ask where he went. Pigsy gooses the first woman he meets and souvenirs an apple, much to the disgust of Monkey, who claims "that animal is quite impossible."

The group stops overnight to rest and eat. Pigsy complains to the waitress because he wants more rice, but he has eaten the restaurant dry. He is told that he has eaten 37 portions of rice, surpassing the previous record of 2. He says he is hungry after keeping guard all night and then Tripitaka offers him all of his original serving, which he hasn't even touched yet. The pilgrims are resting in the stable, when Pigsy enquires about why Monkey wants to walk all the way to India. Monkey tells Pigsy of the headband and after being told of its origins, he offers to remove it for Monkey. He rubs the area around the ring with a special ointment and then lifts it up, but only succeeds in lifting Monkey up by his neck, much to his agony, waking an amused Tripitaka from his sleep.

By afternoon of the next day the group has come to a halt by a river - The Mighty River of the Flowing Sands. A stone inscription says that the river is 500 leagues across. Crossing is no problem for Pigsy (who can swim) and Monkey (who can cloud fly) but the little priest can't swim and as a mortal can't fly on Monkey's. Pigsy says that "It's difficult travelling with humans," and Monkey head butts him in the face.

A solution presents itself when a water monster wades to the shore and threatens to eat them for daring to cross the river, "Who dares to cross the River of the Flowing Sands?" Monkey has other ideas, "You won't eat anyone, Bogart", and realizes that this monster can help them get across as the monster wanders off. Monkey chases the monster to his underwater cave during an underwater descent, tackling him in the process. The monster breaks loose and heads to his cave.

The monster is a cannibal and his underwater cave is littered with human bones; ribs, skulls, limbs, the lot. He lies down on his sofa and leisurely begins to consult his spell book for a spell, "Now where's the spell against amphibious apes?", when Monkey comes in and disturbs him, which he claims is private property, and whinges about privacy. He offers to carry the priest across the river in his belly "much tastier than rice", when Monkey tells him about their difficulty, at which point Monkey attacks him, but he slips away and puts his arm around him, claiming to be as slippery as an eel. The monster then suggests they give him the fat one (Pigsy), Monkey tells him that he too is needed to look after Tripitaka.

Upon hearing the mention Tripitaka, the monster reveals that he has been waiting for the priest. He is the former Commander of the Heavenly Hosts, expelled to earth for breaking the Jade Emperor's cup - resulting in a drop of the wine of immortality finding its way into the belly of a barbarian named Genghis Khan, who conquered half the world before the wine lost effect.

Sandy says he was told by Kuan Yin to go with them to India, but says after centuries of waiting he may just eat them all instead, putting his arm around Monkey. Monkey quickly points out that the pig is a former Marshal of the Heavenly Hosts who has joined in the hope that he may one day return to Heaven. Perhaps, he suggests, if you join us you can return to heaven too? Sandy wonders if it is possible and wonders for a moment.

The Water Monster, who Tripitaka names Sandy, joins the group, adding that his extraordinary good looks, ability to find food and eat things no-one else will might come in handy. Tripitaka tells him that he can't eat meat and must be a vegetarian, while Pigsy tells him off for claiming that he is the most handsome.

There is still the problem of crossing the river though. Sandy tells them the only way to get to the other side is to swim, and Pigsy tells Sandy that he must be incompetent because he can't get Tripitaka across, and jostling and slapping breaks out before Tripitaka berates them. Simultaneously, the black priest comes to their aid. "Comrades try using that", and he drops a red bottle (or gourd) on Sandy's head. Sandy tells them it is useless in its current state and brushes the others aside, kneeling on his knees before using his arm rolling magic to enlarge it until it comes close to resembling a giant gourd-shaped boat. The entire group safely crosses the river during the sunset, heading northwest to the desert on the other side.

A great gale begins to blow, from a yellow clouded desert geyser. It appears too powerful to be natural. Monkey suspects that only magic could create such a powerful sandstorm and suggests they wait for the storm to die down, so that Tripitaka doesn't get blown off. Tripitaka however, will not accept delays - for the sake of the souls in torment in the 9 hells - and insists that they carry on. Pigsy says Buddha will look after them and wants to go, but Monkey says that it won't happen, so he stops him. Sandy agrees to accompany Tripitaka while Pigsy and Monkey hunker down. In the midst of this storm Pigsy smells cats with his useful snout. A tuft of fur that Monkey catches leads him to the realization that they have walked into a Tiger Ghost ambush.

Tripitaka and Sandy are attacked by the Tiger Ghost general and roughly a dozen tiger soldiers. "I am the spirit of 1000 tigers, general to the Tiger King. Fish-man, surrender." Sandy tells them that meat eating is only for pussy cats and that he should try vegetarianism, before attacking them. Sandy fends the tigers off easily and confidently despite being vision-impaired by the sand. In the confusion of the sand storm, the Tiger Ghost General makes off with Tripitaka after knocking away his staff, while Sandy is still fighting and takes him back to the Tiger King's lair as meat for the table. The Tiger Ghost general throws Tripitaka on the ground and boasts to the Tiger King, who is unimpressed, addressing him as "silly cat" and saying that he is stupid to declare war on all of Heaven. However, he is tempted by the look of Tripitaka and says that they should perhaps kill him and leave him here, hoping that Monkey is stupid and will forget about them and then eat Tripitaka a few days later, much to the amusement of the general. Monkey and Pigsy have seen Sandy as the storm clears and the other tigers flee. The horse is standing around doing nothing. They realize that Tripitaka has been captured, and Monkey asks what Pigsy was doing. He tells him off when he replies that he was answering a call of nature. Sandy has already charged off after the footprints of the tigers, when Monkey sends along Pigsy after him. Monkey flies off ahead in his cloud, and is spotted by the tigers while he is in the air. He turns into a wasp and flies in, much to the alarm of the guards, and the general. He flies into the larder room and lands on Tripitaka's hat. Tripitaka shakes his hat, and Monkey has a headache and changes back into human form, head butting a porcelain pot. He tells Tripitaka off for his carelessness, "Who did you think it was, buzzing on your hat? People are so thoughtless". Tripitaka tells him to unchain him, and Monkey tucks into the food, commenting that Pigsy should have rescued Tripitaka.

Meanwhile, Pigsy and Sandy are at the front of the cave, fighting the guards, whom they outclass and wear down very easily. Pigsy has a close moment when the Tiger Ghost general's blade comes within inches of his throat, but Pigsy holds him off and does a 1-2 counterstrike, and charges into the cave, with the Tiger Ghost General hitting the doorframe with his sword, allowing Sandy a couple of free hits, and he then wounds and kills the Tiger Ghost general with a few ruthless strokes, who lets out a tiger roar as his death rattle.

The soldiers report the attack and death of the Tiger Ghost General to the King, who tells them off for attacking Tripitaka. He is about to abandon his lair and run away, when Monkey charges in and challenges him. Monkey starts picking off the guards. The Tiger King's scent is his best defence. Releasing a poisonous yellow cloud he blinds Monkey. The Tiger King's men attack, "We shall feast on blood tonight!" he shouts, describing the health effects of the cloud on Monkey, including blindness and liver and kidney poisoning. Monkey may be blind but he can still smell and hear. He gropes about and defeats the guards with sequence of rather jerky and ragged swipes, he mortally wounds the Tiger King, and is measuring off his head, when he is stopped from finishing him off by Tripitaka and Sandy, whom he refrains from hitting after Sandy puts his hand on his head plate. Tripitaka says that the king is dying anyway and offers to help him but says that "He who lives by violence will die a violent death." The dying Tiger King has no time for Tripitaka's preaching; his final wish before he crawls off to die is that the world would die with him. He crawls off under the table and transforms into a tiger.

Monkey is distraught and is stopped from punching a window by Sandy. He is becoming disconsolate. Monkey does not know any magic to cure his sight, and is only cured when Tripitaka sits him down and kisses his eyelids.

Sandy finds Pigsy eating stew straight from the pot in the larder room and tells him off, "You're disgusting. You think of nothing but food" and reminds him of the presence of death. Pigsy however is unrepentant, saying that he is aware that the tigers are dead and the food is of no use to them, as Sandy shakes his head in disbelief.

Tripitaka and The Holy Disciples continue on their journey.

Narrator: "The monstrous is only a matter of opinion. To some of us opinions are so precious we will die for them again and again."



Back to the Monkey Summaries page