No, I didn’t just mistype Age of Innocence. I’m writing about the episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles called “Tales of Innocence.” In this roughly 90 minute episode, a young Indiana Jones meets a young Ernest Hemingway (called “Ernie” in this show), a young Lowell Thomas (the writer known for popularizing the story of Lawrence of Arabia), and an older Edith Wharton. The episode as a whole is a little hard to follow, but the act concerning Edith Wharton (and to some degree Lowell Thomas) was quite enjoyable.
The year is 1918, and Indiana Jones is serving as an undercover agent in the French Foreign Legion (a branch of the French military composed of foreign nationals). He is trying to figure out who is stealing weapons from a Moroccan armory. (Kind of tame in comparison to his film journeys, I know.) While stationed in Morocco, Indy is assigned to be the escort for Edith Wharton as she takes a break from France to get a taste of Africa.
Immediately the two hit it off. Wharton doesn’t like to travel alone in a horse-drawn carriage, so she invites Indy aboard. Almost immediately, Jones reveals his true identity (Henry Jones Jr.), how he came up with his nickname, and that most people call him “Indy.” Wharton puts herself at Jones’ level by telling him to address her by her first name.
The two talk through a scene change about relationships. Indy does most of the talking, while Edith listens and offers the occasional bit of wisdom. He tells her about a time when he wanted to marry a gal, but she turned him down because she didn’t want to give up her independence. (Sound familiar?) Eventually, the conversation leads to talking about the more physical side of things. He mostly hints at it, which causes Wharton to bluntly say, “You mean sex?”
As the two prepare to meet the ruler of Morocco (or maybe he’s just a lesser government head. This was unclear to me), Lowell Thomas shows up saying he’d like to write a story on Wharton. He tells her that she’ll get final approval of what he puts out, but she doesn’t seem concerned in the least.
The three get together with the government official from Morocco (he seems like he’s the big cheese, but I may be wrong), where they are treated with dinner and a belly dancing performance. The Moroccan leader apologizes to Wharton if the dancing shocked her, but she assures him that she rather enjoyed it.
Wharton is portrayed as very open minded and comforting. While she is dressed well, she doesn’t seem at all snooty.
From here, Indy solves the case and all is well with the government. Jones and Wharton meet up at a fountain where they talk about how they wish their fling could last forever. (They had a fling going on? Must have been offscreen.) They decide that it can’t continue as they are on two separate paths in life.
Scene change and Wharton is loading up her carriage to go back to France. Thomas says he won’t write that article after all, to which Wharton replies that she never thought he would anyway. Before the episode ends, Wharton and Jones share a passionate kiss. She hops on her carriage and the credits roll.
This was a neat story. The first time watching it, I was a bit confused. I didn’t realize that Edith Wharton had divorced her husband five years prior to the year this episode took place. (She apparently grew tired of his chronic depression.) Even if she hadn't divorced him, Indiana Jones is clearly better. Sure, he wasn't yet Harrison Ford, but he would be eventually.
[If you'd like to watch this, go check it out on Netflix, but skip to the last 30 minutes or so.]