The Shortest Day of the Year
"The Put-Back" Plot Summary:
100 A.D., Kuba, Africa. A shaman performs a winter solstice ritual, praying for the regeneration of the land. An idol sends a golden glow over the faithful in the Temple of Woot. Nearly two millennia later, Sydney Fox receives a visit from her hunky old friend Ross Crawford, a prominent archaeologist and writer. Problem is, he's become a very "old friend" -- he's aging at an alarming rate. Ross believes that he erred in "liberating" an idol from the Temple of Woot, and begs Sydney to find a way to put it back before the next winter solstice, so that the gods don't punish the Africans as well as himself for his transgression.
Because the Temple is located in a tiny African country with political turmoil and closed borders, Sydney and Nigel sneak in pretending to be missionaries. After escaping from armed guards, they find that their contact, Fritz, has been murdered. Fritz's partner Abdullah offers to help them find the hidden Temple, sneaking them past the guards and getting them fake visas. But in a struggle with the local militia, Nigel loses the notes Ross gave them.
Though she manages to find the Temple of Woot on the day of the solstice ritual, Sydney has no guide past its booby-traps and must rely on her intuition to unlock the culture's traditions. Abdullah turns on the archaeologists because he wants the idol for himself, but in his greed he leads army members straight into one of the booby-traps. Sydney and Nigel barely make it inside the alcove in time, but they replace the idol before the shaman enters to perform the winter ritual. As the idol sends its glow over the faithful, Ross finds his youth and energy restored, much to Claudia's pleasure.
To a returning Sydney, Ross offers a miniature 12th-century crossbow. To Claudia, he offers a date. Sydney nearly shoots her old friend with his gift as he exits with her assistant.
Sydney may have lost Ross Crawford's notes, but fortunately she's seen a lot of movies. She knew that the penitent should kneel in the temple to avoid having their heads blown off, like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. She also knew to haggle over a ridiculously-priced item that she didn't want in order to escape from guards, like in Life of Brian. She even knew to choose Door Number Two when Door Number One led to death by crushing, and we never learned what awful fate lay behind Door Number Three.
It was fun to see Sydney and Nigel reversing their usual roles in order to replace a lost relic, though one wonders who paid the bill for this expedition -- maybe that cad Ross, who never explained why he couldn't go with them to replace the stolen idol himself. Sydney didn't seem all that upset to see him go off with Claudia, and no wonder. Nigel's a much better partner, and their chemistry's stronger than ever, even if she did have to drag him singlehandedly into the back of a truck and protect him from his own clumsiness.
Best exchange, while plotting one more daring escape:
"Could be tight, Nige."
"Always is, Syd."
I'm betting we see that crossbow on a regular basis.
Relic Hunter Reviews