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Recap / Thomas The Tank Engine S 1 E 19 The Flying Kipper

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Air date: December 11th, 1984

One night in winter, after his day's work is done, Henry is told by his driver that they'll be leaving early in the morning to pull "The Flying Kipper", a train that carries fish from the harbour to the mainland. The driver tells Henry that his special coal is working so well that if he pulls the Flying Kipper nicely the Fat Controller will let him pull the express, a thought that makes Henry very happy.

Early next morning, Henry arrives at the quay ready to pick up the Flying Kipper. Everything goes very smoothly and Henry leaves the harbour without a hitch. After getting the vans to come along quickly and quietly, Henry quickly begins to enjoy his journey marvelling at the countryside as the sun rises.

Soon Henry comes to a yellow signal indicating caution. Henry's driver initially prepares to stop, until he sees the home signal is down meaning that the line ahead is clear. With that, the driver allows Henry to continue at full speed. What Henry and his crew don't know however, is that the points from the main line had been frozen to a siding and the signal, which should have been set at "danger", had been forced down by snow.


In the siding is a goods train which had pulled in to let Henry and the Flying Kipper pass and the engine's crew is enjoying cocoa in the brakevan. However the crew notices that it's nearly time for Henry to pass by, so the crew leaves to return to their engine. Their escape comes just in time, as Henry comes flying down the siding at full speed and, unable to stop, crashes straight into the train causing a massive wreck which completely destroys the brakevan and causes Henry to derail.

A few hours later, the clean-up effort is underway. Henry's driver and fireman had jumped clear before the crash, but Henry is left on his side dazed. The Fat Controller comes to talk to Henry and kindly reassures him that the accident wasn't his fault, but was caused by the weather. He then tells Henry that he is going to be sent to Crewe, an excellent place for sick engines. As well as repairing him, they will also give him a brand new shape and a larger firebox. As a result, Henry will feel much better and won't need special coal anymore.


A few weeks later, Henry returns from Crewe. Although he enjoyed his time there, he is happy to return to the Island of Sodor. A lot of people wait at the station to welcome him home and see him in his new shape. When he rides through, he looks so splendid and strong that the crowd gives him three cheers much to Henry's gratitude. A lot of children are now often late for school as they want to wait to see Henry ride by and often see him pulling the express. He is able to pull it so well that Gordon feels jealous, but that's another story.

Tropes featured in the episode:

  • Another Story for Another Time: The narration does this after mentioning Gordon's jealousy towards Henry for doing so well with the Express.
  • Disneyfication: In the book version Henry The Green Engine, the crew in the brakevan don't escape in time and Henry's crash sends them shooting into the air (albeit comically, with the guard complaining about his lost cocoa afterwards).
    • Fridge Horror: While the narrator says "they got out just in time" after the driver said "Come on fireman, back to our engine", nothing is said about the guard's fate (whose post is in the brakevan), although it's likely he escorted both men back to their engine as he's seen getting up with the driver.
  • Emergency Transformation: Henry.
  • Leitmotif: Probably the most variations of one in an episode. The Flying Kipper theme starts off as a Triumphant Reprise of Henry's theme, and then turns into a Dark Reprise as he's led into his accident with the brakevan. The Softer and Slower Cover of Henry's theme plays following his crash, and then the original version following his rebuild.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Henry gets one during his time at Crewe.
  • Mood Whiplash: As Henry pulls his train through the wintry countryside, it has such a magical, almost "Christmassy" atmosphere to it. Then a yellow caution signal appears followed by a green clear signal. It was okay just until the music turns threatening for an impending disaster. Ice and snow have fouled the signals and points taking Henry straight into the back of a goods train.
  • Shown Their Work: Not many people outside of the railway industry would know what a "home signal" is.
    • The headlamps carried by Henry show the correct indication for a fast perishables train.


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