Dull, slow, and with more holes than in a sieve. The scenes with Sarkoff drag on endlessly while other - far more entertaining - happenings are left to our imagination. Why not show us Jenna and the others on Liberator being overpowered? That would not necessarily have invalidated the impact of Jenna telling Blake later on about them being dead. [The Amagons could have killed the others after taking them prisoner. And anyway, who's going to believe having half the regular cast wiped out halfway through the Series? :-)]
Plot holes: Blake's group is teleported up to the Liberator without there being anyone at the controls. [If the operator is supposed to have run away swiftly that should have been shown.] How did the Amagons get Zen to obey their instructions? (Judith: Possibly Jenna told Zen to accept their orders, or possibly - as when they first boarded Liberator - Zen would listen to anyone and they only voice-print limited him after that.) How does Vila get rid of his neckband? [He's rid of it in the next episode so somebody must have helped him.] All these things should have been dealt with.
On the positive side, Jenna is very much the heroine, knocking down pirates left and right, while Cally is allowed to play the tough, experienced guerrilla. Her telepathy is used to advantage here. The Federation guards are their usual inefficient selves. Sarkoff is portrayed well as the defeated and disheartened ex president but he's such a bore that the mere sight of him opening his mouth must have set his voters off yawning. (Judith: fascinating how opinions vary. I really like Sarkoff) Difficult to believe him winning a contest for chairman of the Lindor Butterfly Collectors' Society, let alone a national election.
The insufferable Tyce seems to make an unwarranted impression on Blake, while their dislike of her brings Jenna and Cally together [the one good thing to come out of this episode]. A pity we don't get to see the reaction of the rest of the crew to Tyce. [We can make an accurate guess, though. :-)]
Personal appreciation: **
The plotholes outstrip the story. Moreover, as the original script ran much too short, a lot of padding had to be done - all in the wrong places (those endless scenes with Sarkoff). We could have had a scene of Liberator's crew being knocked out by that gas [Avon looks so dashing when he's unconscious :-)]. We could have had lots more of them bickering in that hold. A solution should have been provided to the question of how Vila is going to get rid of his neckband. With the Federation ships only minutes away, something exciting could have been done with Liberator escaping them. So many missed chances here!
What we do get is not all bad. Avon and Vila have their first go as double act. Vila's 'personal investigation' scene is a gem [equal to his 'escaped prisoner' act in SLD]. The women are strong and sensible, making you almost forget Cally's lapse of judgement in the previous episode. [I'm not going to moan over her being held at gunpoint by Tyce - she was expecting a friendly reception.] Again, Jenna is allowed to take command of Liberator in Blake's absence. [She surely knows how to get men to do her bidding - watch that light touch on Avon's arm. :-)]
Gan being prepared to give the order for his own destruction stretches the imagination, but maybe that limiter malfunction has made him suicidal. :-) More improbable is Jenna and Avon both staying in the teleport room, leaving Vila alone at the gun controls on the flight deck. Either of them must know better than to rely on him for carrying out the order for killing Gan. [I know, it's so we can have that delightful 'personal investigation' scene, but that doesn't make it credible.] Can we imagine him really pushing that button?
At last Avon has found time to pay another visit to Liberator's wardrobe room. Green isn't his colour but anything's better than that futuristic sailor top. [Paul Darrow can wear the most ridiculous outfits with style and confidence - a great asset for an actor.] The blue, Arabic-like costumes of the Amagons are impressive but more suited for life in the desert than on a space ship. Like Cally's coat, they seem rather cumbersome to fight in. Jenna's outfit is one of her best (or anyway most comfortable if you don't count those boots). [Judging by all those low-necked outfits, the women of the future must have developed immunity to colds on the chest. :-)]
Cally's dull reflexes - must be the good life on Liberator. :-)
"At the expense of your friends?" Good line but Avon seems not the one to say it. Given the opportunity, he would have done the same thing they're accusing Jenna of: siding with the enemy to save his own life. Since he's no hypocrite, reproaching her for that seems out of character. [Granted, like her he would have been just pretending, in order to get them out of the mess - and coming up with a solid selfish reason, of course. :-)] Also I wouldn't expect him to use the word friends, since he so insistently refuses to regard them as such. But of course it is meant as sting to Jenna, who appears to be betraying HER friends. [One of those finer points that escaped me until someone explained it to me. :-)]
Zen is as uncooperative as ever with the crew, but appears quite happy to carry out the Amagons' orders.
"It's open." "Oh yeah?" Poor Vila, thinking his talent was unique among the crew. :-) Lovely scene, but it begs for a continuation: "Well, if you're such a bloody genius you can remove this neckband for me!"... [No, I don't buy the 'they can use Tarvin's key' solution. That probe Tarvin uses to free Jenna seems to need as much expert guidance as Vila's.] (Judith: It always seemed the obvious solution to me. I never had any problems with that one.)
What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:
- Cut three quarters of the scenes with Sarkoff.
- Explain Zen's uncharacteristic willingness to obey the pirates' instructions.
- Much more crew recriminations while they're imprisoned.
- Answer the question about who's going to take off Vila's neckband.
- Some action with Liberator escaping from those Federation ships.
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