Simple and straightforward with some tension, but it has one glaring flaw: having that limiter sticking out of Gan's head invalidates the need for a neuro surgeon (and thus the whole plotline). Surely anyone of them is capable of replacing those few burnt out parts? [How much brain is there to damage anyway? :-)] Having Avon say that you have to get inside the head first doesn't work as we can see it's not true. (Judith: I always assumed the bit on top connected to other bits inside - after all, without connections to various parts of the brain, the limiter can't operate)
There are good bits, like the antagonism between Farron and Kayn. [In the B7 universe there are no persons getting on with each other. :-)] At first Kayn appears to be the good guy in contrast to Farron's bureaucracy. It is only later that we get to recognise Kayn as the real villain. And a truly nasty character he is, sitting calmly twiddling his thumbs while his patient is dying.
Zen shutting down just when they need him most has become routine by now but it's new to see Avon panic. Jenna is at her best, insisting they get help for Gan never mind the danger. Here we have the daring smuggler, able to stand up to any man [except Blake :-)]. Love her cutting repartees to Renor - a pity she's so seldom allowed to put Avon in his place like that! She knows her technical stuff too ("Nothing wrong with the conductors."). In contrast we see the first sign of the deterioration of Cally's character: her protest against restraining Gan and later the incredible stupidity of releasing him. [All right, she looks suitably chastened while owing up to Blake, but the harm's done.] Vila being quietly heroic (although stupid) in confronting Kayn and Renor on his own is charming but feels out of character.
That second plasma bolt missing them when it comes at them at exactly the same angle as the first one is unconvincing. Again we're expected to believe something we're told (Vila: "Missed!") that is contradicted by what we see. I know that with the lack of time they had we must be grateful the series didn't turn out worse, but this is either laziness or plain disregard of the audience. (Judith: plus the cost of producing special effects. The first season SFX budget was probably used up by this point.)
Even the end is unconvincing. It begins well, with Avon alone on the flight deck keeping watch [and mourning his destroyed bolthole?] while the others celebrate Gan's recovery. But it's totally ruined by that forced laughter, the first time in B7 that a joke at the end doesn't work. [Trial and Children of Auron immediately spring to mind]. (Judith: I couldn't agree more.)
Personal appreciation: **
Seeing that bunch of outspoken individualists sticking together to save a crewmember should have been fun, yet from the first close up of Gan's contorted face I could only wish they wouldn't bother. But the thought of a regular dying still being inconceivable :-), it was inevitable that he'd pull through. A pity, as the story would have had much more impact if, after all their trouble, he didn't make it in the end. [And I'd have loved to see Blake carrying out his threat to Kayn. :-)]
Cally leaning on Avon when she gets up after sedating Gan is a nice touch. Looks like it wasn't intended, just the actress losing her balance, but such details make the interaction more real.
There are entertaining moments, like Blake and Vila discussing Avon's reason for not disclosing his bolthole, and Avon finally deciding to quit. [But it's a foregone conclusion he won't - he's too good a character to dump. :-)] His insincere smile when he's telling Farron he has to go back to get his things is a treat, as is Blake's threat to destroy Kayn's hands - the chillingly casual way he says it.
Unfortunately none of that can make up for the awfulness of the rest. Watching Gan pulling faces is so painful that I have to close my eyes even when fast-forwarding. :-) And those endless shots of him clenching his fists... Yawn.
Usually I am blind to bad special effects and unconvincing props but those medical gadgets are grating even to me. [Maybe it's just the sheer boredom of watching this episode that makes me aware of them.] The cast display top class acting in managing to go through that scene with straight faces. :-)
Jenna calling out for Blake every time something goes wrong is getting ever more annoying. Another recurring irritation is the way our heroes never worry about strangers walking away with their teleport bracelets. Liberator's autorepair can probably supply new ones, but shouldn't they fear that someone studying them will work out the teleport secret? Especially here, with this highly advanced research centre, it seems stupid to let them keep those bracelets. [Or are the things teleported back automatically after a certain amount of time?]
Outside the limits of this episode, one wonders about the consequences of the Station's destruction. It seems unlikely that the Federation will own up and apologise. You'd expect them to accuse Blake ("Even neutrals are not safe from those terrorists!") and they might well have been believed. [This could have been used in the next episode: Sarkoff refusing to have anything to do with "the man who blew up a neutral space laboratory".]
Avon seems uncharacteristically reckless in proposing to go through that unspecified danger zone. Of course, the only alternative being visiting those hostile-to-humans Epinals may have something to do with it. Or maybe we can put it down to scientific curiosity. :-)
"All right, Avon. That's enough!" Blake as schoolmaster again. And it's working, Avon immediately lets go of Jenna. Blake encourages him to surpass himself in getting the auxillary computers working again. Getting the best out of people (especially Avon who loses heart rather easily) is one of Blake's strengths. Note how Avon never claims he can do something unless he's absolutly certain that he can.
"Now you're just being modest." Great put-down! When provoked Blake can be as nasty as Avon, who seems to have touched a very raw nerve here. :-) Despite his denial to Cally, Blake is obviously very angry with him. Hurt feelings because he'd never thought Avon capable of walking out on them? :-) [And worry about where he's going to find another computer wizard?]
Thirty hours is an awfully long time for flying Liberator manually through that vortex. I know Jenna is tough, but... Well, maybe they take it in turns. At the beginning of the episode, why is Gan flying the ship on manual when the automatics can handle it? Nothing better to do?
It's not very clever of Blake to call Avon by his name in the presence of Kayn. [By now our heroes seem to have established their reputation galaxy wide: their names are known even to the residents of a neutral space laboratory. The Federation must have distributed the 'Wanted' posters far and wide. :-)]
Looks like Jenna would like to kick Renor real hard but she's suffering him for her beloved leader. :-) [Must sometimes make her want to kick Blake too.]
"Avon must stay for his own reasons." Can Blake really be so arrogant as to think that the others are staying because of his persuasion powers? Of course they're all staying for their own reasons, even if it's a negative one like having nowhere else to go.
Another case of self-delusion: how can Farron guarantee Avon's safety on the station with Kayn knowing his identity? And where did Avon stash his spare bracelet? We see him take only one.
Those Federation ships are still three hours away when Farron orders his men to fetch Avon, yet there's only 45 minutes left when he returns to Liberator. Has it taken so long to find him, or took it all that time before someone heard his request for teleport? And why do they leave Vila alone to watch the operation. The two doctors could have easily overpowered him and held him hostage until the arrival of the pursuit ships. [I know Vila's valour has been above average these last two episodes :-) but it's still stupid.]
Jenna is the pilot, so why does Blake insist on taking her place in flying Liberator away from the station?
"Welcome back." Said to Gan but not to Avon. :-) Can they really be so glad to have Gan back with that limiter still in his head, ready to malfunction again? Must feel like living with a bomb that can go off at any moment. And if Kayn had succeeded to remove that limiter, how safe would they have felt then? They can't be sure that the only occasion for Gan to get violent is when a guard kills his woman.
What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:
- Let Gan die.
- Have the limiter not sticking out of Gan's skull.
- Spare us Gan's face-pulling and fist-clenching scenes.
- Show us Avon taking the extra bracelet.
- Show that second plasma bolt missing them.
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