While making a stop in Jakarta on their way to a scientific conference in Sydney; Tintin, Haddock and Calculus happen to run into the former two's friend Piotr Skut, the Estonian pilot from Tintin The Red Sea Sharks
. He is currently the personal pilot of eccentric aircraft tycoon Lazlo Carreidas, the "the man who never laughs", whom he introduces to the rest. After Calculus inadvertently makes Carreidas laugh, the latter insists on giving them a lift to Sydney on his private jet, which they accept.
Unfortunately for all involved, the plane ends up being hijacked by the jet's crew (all of whom were substitutes for the regular crew who were all involved in "accidents") and Carreidas' assistant Spalding. They land on an abandoned volcanic island in the South Pacific and are held at gunpoint by armed gunmen who, to Tintin's horror, apparently kill Snowy. They are greeted by none other than Tintin's nemesis Rastapopoulos and The Dragon
Allan. Having lost most of his fortune in his previous scheme, Rastapopoulos plans on stealing the money in Carreidas' Swiss Bank Account
. To do this he hired the services of Dr. Krollspell
, who has developed an experimental Truth Serum
. Rastapopoulos and Krollspell take Carreidas away while the rest are held prisoner in a bunker. Eventually they escape with the help of Snowy, who turns out to be alive.
Alas, Krollspell's serum doesn't work as advertised. Instead of answering Rastapopoulos questions about the bank account, Carreidas instead starts rattling off every misdeed he did in his life. Rastapopoulos tries to hit Krollspell only to jab himself with the needle, causing him and Carreidas to bicker about who is the most evil. Rastapopoulos, Krollspell and the uncooperative Carreidas are found, Bound and Gagged
by Tintin and the others who attempt to leave. However, they are intercepted by Allan, after which Rastapopoulos escapes and orders Allan and his Mooks to find them while Krollspell, knowing that Rastapopoulos planned on double crossing him thanks to the serum follows Tintin's group. Then things get weird...
Tintin suddenly starts hearing a "voice" directing them to a secret entrance ancient temple to evade their captors. There, they find a strange man named Mik Kanrokitoff, a writer for a space magazine. Apparently the island was visited in the past by Ancient Astronauts
worshipped as gods by the natives. Mik himself possesses a device that allows him to communicate telepathically and mantains contact with the aforementioned race. While discussing this, Rastapopoulos' men set off explosives hoping to breach the temple which causes the volcano to awaken. Tintin and his friends are rescued by an honest-to-god Flying Saucer
. They are then hypnotized into forgetting everything that happened. Meanwhile Rastapopoulos and his men try their luck by leaving the island via dinghy. However, they are also picked up by the Saucer with their fate unknown.
Tintin's group (apart from Krollspell who was found in Cairo equally amnesic) then gives an interview claiming they don't remember a thing (apart from Snowy who, of course, cannot talk). Calculus however, shows a mysterious item he found in his pocket (which he had picked up inside the volcano) and claims that according to material analysis is made of a material not found on Earth.
The story ends with Tintin, Haddock, and Calculus boarding a flight to the Sydney conference.
- Absentee Actor: Thomson and Thompson are completely absent from the story.
- Actually That's My Assistant: Haddock mistakes Carreidas' dapper right-hand man Spalding for the billionaire himself, under the impression that the actual Carreidas was a homeless man.
- Analogy Backfire: Rastapopulos tells Tintin he will crush him like he crushes a spider. However he proves unable to stamp on the spider.
- Ancient Astronauts
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Of all Carreidas' unethical practices, the one that gets the Captain riled up is the fact that he cheats at Battleship.
- Berserk Button: Don't hit Calculus in the face, for he will give you a thrashing that you won't forget!
- Captain Haddock is about to tell Calculus to stop acting the goat, but wisely changes his words on seeing his Death Glare.
- Tintin attacks several mooks when he thinks Snowy has been shot.
- Cataclysm Climax
- Chekhov's Volcano
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Implied with Carreidas, who has over ten million dollars in a secret bank account.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: Haddock dumps Carreidas' "chlorophyl fortified" soft drink in a plant pot. The plant dies instantly.
- The Dog Bites Back: Implied to be Spalding's primary motive for kidnapping his boss, as well as the money.
- East Indies: Where the action takes place, complete with volcanoes, a jungle island, and a Komodo dragon.
- Eviler Than Thou / Evil Versus Evil: Rastapopoulos and Carreidas. After Rastapopoulos also gets stabbed with the serum that makes him confess his misdeeds, they get into an Escalating War argument about which of them is more evil.
- Evil Is Petty: The evil boasts of Rastapopoulos and Carreidas consists mainly of cruel pranks and petty theft. Alan also jabs a hat down on Haddock's eyes, then laughs at how Tintin has to lead him everywhere.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: After Tintin insults him, Rastapopoulos threatens to crush our hero "like this spider!" Said spider repeatedly avoids his boot.
- Far-East Asian Terrorists: Rastapopoulos mooks are a group of Sondonesian nationalists, whose cause he's promised to help. Turns out he's planted bombs under their ships.
- Funetik Aksent: Allan after his teeth get knocked out.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Kanrokitoff sends a telepathic message to Tintin after he races back into the erupting volcano to save Calculus. Apparently Tintin's response was rather rude, telling Kanrokitoff to "Go to..."
- Kick the Dog: The introduction of Skut's co-pilot has him stepping on Snowy's tail and complaining about the mongrel getting underfoot. This is our first indication he's a villain.
- The villains trying to shoot Snowy.
- Gag Nose: Allan notes the similarity between Rastapopoulos's nose and that of a proboscis monkey.
- Gainax Ending
- Heel-Face Turn: Krollspell once he discovers the fate in store for them.
- I Don't Pay You to Think
- Island of Mystery
- Man Child: While under Truth Serum, Rastapopolous starts crying when Carreidas insists that he's eviller.
- Meaningful Punny Name: Carreidas is a homophone for "Carré d'as", a four-ace hand in poker. The Carreidas company logo even has the four symbols in it.
- Mind Control: Mik Ezdanitoff is able to do this.
- Must Make Him Laugh: Calculus is able to make Carreidas laugh despite being known as The Man Who Never Laughs, which is why he invites them onto his private jet.
- Never My Fault: Rastapopulos starts ranting during his Humiliation Conga that he never hurt a fly.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Laszlo Carreidas was widely inspired by French industrial mogul Marcel Dassault.
- Non-Indicative Name: The book is named after a flight which the protagonists didn't take.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: Spalding. Could also count as I Am Very British.
- Playing Possum: Rastapopulos pretends to pass out to give Allan and his mooks time to catch up. Haddock gets him going with a thorn stuck in a tender place.
- Poke the Poodle: Allan kicking round Carreidas' hat and jamming it over Haddock's eyes.
- Punny Name:
- Mik Ezdanitoff. His last name references the phrase Is dat niet tof? ("Isn't that swell?") in Dutch. Hergé would often used words and expressions from the Marol dialect, Flemish spoken in Brussels.
- Dr. Krollspell's name is also Flemish. The word krollspell sounds like krulspeld ("curler pin").
- Roman à Clef: Sondonesia for Indonesia, whose residents also speak a variant of Bahasa.
- Secret Underground Passage: Which is given away when Carreidas' hat gets stuck under the door.
- Skewed Priorities: Carreidas obsession with his hat (it's a pre-war Brosse and Clackwell!). At the end when his new plane, secretary and two of the crew have vanished he says what really upsets him is losing his hat.
- They Have the Scent: Averted; Snowy sniff's Carreidas hat so the heroes can find where he's being held prisoner, but just goes straight to Haddock, who'd been made to wear the hat.
- Victory Guided Amnesia
- Villain Decay: Infamously done to Rastapopoulos who spends the entire book wearing a pink shirt and Stetson hat and on the receiving end of slapstick comedy. Hergé claims the latter naturally followed the former: he just couldn't take him seriously after putting him in that outfit.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Due to this being the penultimate book, we never find out what became of Rastapopoulos and his men after they were taken away by the saucer. Among Herge's notes for Tintin Tintin And Alph Art, it was discovered that he had at least considered the idea of bringing Rastapopoulos back by revealing that the Ennadine Akass character had been nothing more than another of his disguises. Nothing in the partially-completed script confirms this, however.
- It is not clear what happens to the two guards outside Rastapopoulos' bunker, who are left Bound and Gagged by Tintin and Haddock. It gets darker when you consider there was a volcanic eruption soon after. It is possible they were found by the others and left the island with the other Sondonesians.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Under the truth serum, Rastapopoulos boasts that he plans to kill off all his minions, including Dr Krollspell, who is understandably alarmed and willing to help Tintin after that point.
- Your Other Left: Tintin to a blindfolded captain, when Rastapopoulos has caught them on the island.