Fitzhugh hopes to show Barry the giant circus in the afternoon but it has moved on. Barry feels deprived but doesn't show it. Hearing circus pipe-organ calliope music they head toward it--into a giant bear which has a leash on him but is loose! Carlos, a giant man, takes the bear away. Carlos's nephew, Pepe, who was supposed to be watching the bear, Willie, sends up a balloon. This balloon distracts Barry and Mr. Fitzhugh who are caught unaware when Pepe lets the air out from another balloon onto them, bowling them over. Chipper gets away but Pepe lowers a box onto Fitzhugh and Barry. Barry yells, "Mr. Fitzhugh!" Pepe scoops them up and carries them away.
Chipper goes back to camp, alerting the others, who were experimenting with gun powder from the firecracker they managed to steal. Mark and Steve go to scout it out and view Pepe showing off Fitzhugh and Barry to his Uncle Carlos and aide Luigi near a giant truck and broken down carnival equipment. He plans to sell them to the general circus who deal with government officials--greasing their palms--it is illegal to keep little people. Carlos allows Pepe to eat and puts Fitz and Barry into a wire cage away from Willie the bear who almost got them out of the box when it was lower. At night, the others arrive. Pepe feeds the two bread and jam, telling Barry he will be their friend. Fitz scoffs at this. Barry identifies with Pepe, seeing how mean his uncle is--and tells Fitz he would do the same thing if in Pepe's place. Fitz touches Barry's head and tells him he doubts Barry would. The men climb up but knock over an already fallen organ pipe. The girls hit pots and pans with sticks to divert the giant gypsies. To delay the departure, the men hide three spark plugs from the truck which Luigi was working on. They regroup and Steve says, "Sooner or later, even giants have to go to sleep." Steve hears a noise and goes off to investigate. Carlos with Willie, finds all the others and puts them with Fitzhugh and Barry. Val tells Carlos, who wants to know where the spark plugs are, "Why don't you go and have an accident." Carlos only laughs. Luigi ties Mark to a stake. Carlos throws hoops at him. Steve asks Pepe for help--for him to call the police but Pepe runs off, afraid.
When Mark is nicked in the head by one hoop thrown, Steve angrily tosses the hatchet at Carlos's face. "It means we have another little pest around." Carlos now levels a threat: show yourself or the last hoop will finish Mark. Mark yells for Steve not to come out. Steve is about to when a police siren sounds. The giant men put the others in the organ pipes and Luigi plays as Steve watches helplessly. The policeman (Sparks) arrives and looks around. Fitzhugh tries banging on the pipes or yelling but Luigi plays the organ music loudly. The policeman leaves. Steve tells Pepe to go get him back. Pepe, scared of his uncle, refuses---and drops a giant rag on top of Steve!
Steve falls, "Pepe! Get this thing off of me!" Pepe does, "I wouldn't have hurt you." Steve gives Pepe the spark plugs and tells him to keep the other two giants busy. Pepe tells them he found one. He climbs up and gets Barry and Mark out of their loose pipe by tilting it. Before they can pull the others out through the slots, Luigi finds another spark plug. Dan suggests they pull Fitzhugh out first but the giant men find the other spark plug. Barry, Steve, and Mark climb down and hide in the giant boy's balloon box. Pepe puts them in the back of the truck where the cage will be that holds Dan, Val, Betty, and Fitzhugh. Whispering to them, he promises to help them get away. The truck, bear cage attached, starts off. Fitzhugh doesn't think Steve did the right thing by trusting Pepe. After a ride, the truck pulls off the highway, not far from a giant circus and amusement park from which music can be heard. Carlos leaves to go make the deal with the circus people and get the money first--he wants to back out if he can. He insists Pepe go with him! Val, listening with the others on the back of the truck, says, "And the next time you hear that pleasant voice, he'll be turning us over to the man at the circus!"
Luigi has Willie guarding the back of the truck. A yell from Fitzhugh causes Luigi to threaten them with Willie. The three who are free use a net, ropes, and a balloon with a box to make something only Steve knows what it is. Barry soon catches on, "A balloon!" Val asks, "A balloon?" Fitzhugh and Valerie are doubtful it will work--there are inherent problems in the plan. To inflate it, they use a helium tank but the lever on it, screeches "like a banshee" according to Steve. To cover for it, Dan, Val, and Fitzhugh scream and yell for the giant to get help for a sick Betty--all a scam by the foursome. Steve turns the noisy valve as the yell. Luigi is not compassionate--telling them she will get water at the circus. He tells them he will give one or two of them to Willie unless they are quiet. Everyone piles into the balloon except Steve who starts a fire (they're always starting fires!) in the cage using scraps of paper. Carlos returns and gets Luigi to tear the canvass off the truck back. The balloon rises; Steve hops in last; the canvass comes off. The balloon rises above the truck, smoke, and giants. Carlos runs to the front of the truck for his rifle, yelling for it. He fires at the balloon twice, hitting the sturdy box. Betty screams as the bullet hits the box.
Much to Pepe's happiness, the balloon escapes despite another shot by Carlos. Steve and Dan figure out how to control the balloon which drifts with the wind---of which there is a great deal of. Steve tells Fitzhugh to hold on and that, even though they are 20 miles away from their camp, they will walk back to find it. After a wind blown, wild ride, Steve orders Dan to let out some more of the air and they land in a clearing, using Mark's suggestion to crush the balloon so it wouldn't drag them. It appears that morning is coming on the horizon. Val leans against the box after getting out of it, "I never thought I'd be so happy to be back on giant ground." Mark tells Steve they could have used that valve on the truck to fix some of their spaceship. Steve laughs, "You want to go back and get it?" They all walk toward where their camp should be.
REVIEW: This episode is one of the first, the first air-order-wise and the first after DOUBLE CROSS, production order wise, to give giants more normal Earth sounding names. SABOTAGE would return to using more alien sounding names. TERROR GO ROUND is a good episode, not liked by other fans, but one which has each rescue plan fail only to have a new one take its place, making it extremely realistic. Batanides and Ruskin have played various villains and even IMF guest heros across all seven of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE's years. They are very good here--treating the humans as less than human, not really people. When Pepe drops the rag over Steve, it is humiliating and dehumanizing, making a full grown man helpless to cry out for a little boy to remove the rag. Barry's understanding of Pepe offers a brief social comparison. Steve and Mark's friendship seems to be growing--although this only makes sense in production order (this is the 16th episode made; the fifth aired). A pet theory of mine is that the writers may have seen how much they actually came across as hating each other in previous produced episodes. They may have begun to make them save each other more often (BRAINWASH, ON A CLEAR NIGHT YOU CAN SEE THE EARTH, TERROR GO ROUND) and express more care for each other. In ON A CLEAR NIGHT, mark would not obey Steve's orders that meant destroying Steve himself. Fitzhugh still wears his tie here. Val has her hair tied up in a bandanna and looks as lovely as she does with her hair down. She and Betty wear "new" clothes which have not been seen, air-order wise, in the first four episodes, evidence that TERROR GO ROUND, was aired out of order. The first to feature these less officious more relaxing type clothes (perhaps out of their old Spindrift luggage), production order wise, is GHOST TOWN and then BRAINWASH. The rest of the produced first season after BRAINWASH had these clothes. 85 percent of the music is new--except for a short piece from THE LOST ONES (as Steve, Mark, and Barry climb the rope down from the pipe organ) and the dog attack music from THE CRASH--actually music used in the space warp scenes in THE CRASH. The balloon ride is exciting and the episode gives each character some part to play in the action. The jungle sound effects--that 20th Century Fox staple of exotic birds is used for one of the last times during the daytime scenes. It was used in WEIRD WORLD, THE TRAP, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, THE LOST ONES, BRAINWASH, and TERROR GO ROUND. Night sounds included crickets and other insect sounds. While the night sounds would pretty much remain the same, the day time scenes would be using normal bird chirps, not tropical birds. The mixing of earlier produced episodes with later produced episodes made the jungle sounds seem schizophrenic, sounding like a park one episode and maybe like a jungle the next. Writer Charles Bennett worked for Alfred Hitchcock at one time. The stock footage of the carnival looks more like an amusement park with various rides like lifting Swings, roller coasters, Paratrooper Rides, and game booths. Stefan Arngrim was given a giant spark plug from this episode by the crew of LAND OF THE GIANTS as a gift. In the second season THE DEADLY DART, Mark was accused of killing giants, the first among them a "carnie operator who had once held them captive"---I believe this victim (not of Mark's but of the real killer SID Sergeant Barker) to be Carlos. TERROR GO ROUND promised and delivered a different type feel for this one adventure and it is highly enjoyable.