The episode opens with more background material on Arthur Dent, specifically how the "remarkably unremarkable" human from Earth had an effect on the war between the G'Gugvuntts and Vl'Hurgs, and will now have further significance on the planet Brontitall, where the Heart of Gold has just arrived. Zaphod and Ford discuss their arrival in a cave with Eddie the Computer, noting the cold. Eddie calculates, after they, and Arthur and Marvin, have departed the ship, that they are thirteen miles above ground level, despite there not being any mountains on the planet.
The quartet begin to explore the cave. Very soon, Arthur falls out of the cave mouth. Zaphod nearly falls as well, but catches the lip of the cave mouth, then discovers for himself that they are "miles up in the air". Ford talks to Zaphod while the latter dangles.
Meanwhile, Arthur has managed to fall onto a large passing bird. The bird reveals that the "cave" is actually a mile-long marble sculpture of a plastic cup, hanging in the sky, part of a larger statue. The bird flies Arthur to the main statue, which is known as "Arthur Dent Throwing the Nutrimatic Cup". Arthur then reveals himself to be the very person that the statue is modelled after, and the bird flies into the statue's right ear, where the rest of his kind live. Arthur meets them, and their leader, the Wise Old Bird, and learns a few things about the past of Brontitall. For example, the statue was built in Arthur's honour after his argument with the Nutrimatic Machine inspired them to rid themselves of the "blight of the robots". There is one thing the birds refuse to speak of, however, and the Wise Old Bird tells Arthur, "if you want to know, you will have to descend to the ground...."
The Guide mentions how little is still considered to be unspeakable in the galaxy, except for the rudest word in existence: "Belgium". Zaphod uses this word to finally convince Ford to attempt a rescue, still dangling from the lip of the mile-long cup. The attempt fails, and both of them fall out of the cup, and onto another passing bird.
On the surface, Arthur encounters a Footwarrior, who has declared the planet of Brontitall to be the property of the Dolmansaxlil Galactic Shoe Corporation. Fleeing the Footwarrior, Arthur takes refuge in a trench with an archaeologist named Lintilla, who tells Arthur that she's on Brontitall to discover why the Footwarriors are all limping due to blisters, as the episode ends.
Cast and Characters
- The Book and Narrator - Peter Jones
- Arthur Dent - Simon Jones
- Ford Prefect - Geoffrey McGivern
- Zaphod Beeblebrox - Mark Wing-Davey
- Eddie the Computer - David Tate
- Marvin the Paranoid Android - Stephen Moore
- Bird One - Ronald Baddiley
- Bird Two and Footwarrior - John Baddely
- Wise Old Bird - John Le Mesurier
- Lintilla - Rula Lenska
- Announcer (uncredited) - John Marsh