(James Follett) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Uninspired and ultimately boring. Actually, it goes off on a promising start with that plunge into the black hole and Vila's apparent death, which provides some real tension, but after that it develops into a huge anticlimax. Part of the blame can be laid on the production - the toy-like attack vehicle, comical caliph and all-evil Thaarn looking like a garden gnome all contribute to the feeling of ridicule - but the whole plot lacks credibility.

At least the writer has come up with the best way to get them into the mess. Orac's thirst for knowledge is a clever and acceptable plot device [and should have been used again in Terminal :-)] The neuronic whip is a nice original idea, and the writer makes good use of its limitations when the questioning of Dayna and Tarrant results in a totally wrong picture of Orac despite them keeping strictly to the truth.

As to continuity, Liberator's defence mechanism from Space Fall is resurrected and Vila is again fascinated to the point of being paralysed by some flashing lights. This is consistent with his behaviour in Powerplay, but neither there nor here do we get an explanation for it. The tales about Auron's past we can dismiss as legends with no historical backing.

At the beginning of the story Liberator is going somewhere specific ["Auron is still the reference point"] but we never hear where and her destination seems to have been forgotten by the end. [Probably the Auron-as-reference-point was just brought in by the writer as pointer to the direction of his story, but it seems rather half-baked.] And could the writer not come up with an explanation for the Thaarn's distrust of computers? All this gives the story a feeling of being unfinished. Like Liberator, it seems to veer off course without regaining the right track again.

Personal appreciation: *

The tension of the black hole and Vila's surmised death only works the first time. That's of course true for all such plots but for me the test of a good story is that I want to see or read it again even when knowing how it ends. This is one of the few episodes I never feel the urge to rewatch, not even for Avon's smile. [Despite being partial to his smiles, I'd managed to totally forget about this one. :-)]

One of my pet dislikes are scenes that take place in the near dark, leaving you guessing what precisely is happening, and this episode is full of those. [On the flight deck, outside the ship, in the Thaarn's den and the control room - did the BBC bosses issue an order to save on the electricity bills?] The Thaarn, that Lord of Evil, is such a disappointment when we at last see him that I wish he had been left in the dark. (Judith: I found an interesting irony in him being a bald dwarf.) I can't take that caliph seriously either, he reminds me too much of a major domo in a circus.

Tarrant's hostility to Cally as well as Avon reveals the weakness of the whole concept of S3: IMHO it's utterly inconceivable that either of them would have wanted to put up with him. His only recommendations are his flying skills [which he hasn't yet demonstrated] but with Zen, Liberator only needs a pilot in a crisis and with Blake gone they seem intent on avoiding danger. Besides, both Cally and Avon have proven themselves able pilots.

All that said, this story has one redeeming feature for me: Servalan isn't in it. She was convincing as the scheming Supreme Commander in her command centre but her hunting down the Liberator in person gets ridiculous. Surely Terra's president must have better things to do with her time?

The costumes of the crew are nicely balanced colourwise, with Tarrant in soft green, Vila in orange, Dayna in bright blue, Cally in grey and black, and Avon in his revealing, too tight red trousers. It's sad that those trousers are the only memorable feature of this whole episode.


The crew playing galactic monopoly is fun, but even then they can't resist picking on poor Vila. And why does he always lose? Wouldn't it be in his line to cheat? :-)

Does them having Auron as reference point mean that being their destination? If so, what were they planning to do there? [Try to persuade the Auronar to take Cally back into the flock?] And why is Tarrant so hostile towards Cally, a lead Dayna seems happy to follow. Not exactly the behaviour you may expect of new crewmembers who are only there by the sufferance of the others.

"We all go together!" He doesn't know Avon yet. :-) But however moral, trying to prevent Avon saving himself seems not very bright. Once Avon has got his suit on he can try to get the others into suits too. [Avon always thinking of himself first doesn't mean that he's prepared to sit down and let the others die if he can prevent it.] The sensible thing for Tarrant would have been to follow Avon's example quickly. :-)

"One day I may have to kill you!" Avon doesn't seem impressed. But why doesn't he dump Tarrant after such a personal threat [plus Tarrant preventing him putting on the rescue suit]? Tarrant appropriating Orac's key seems the ideal moment to shoot him. :-)

I hate the way they're all picking on poor Vila. Why doesn't Avon suggest that Tarrant go outside? [He seems the most expendable. :-)]

"It was one of my best subjects at the FSA..." Due to the darkness we can't see Avon's reaction to this but bragging about your cleverness to the enemy seems not a bright move. Tarrant and Avon appear to have lived in different universes since Tarrant has only seen a graphite writing stick in a museum but Avon uses one as a matter of course in Killer. Here also, he seems quite familiar with them.

Why do the men always need an extra layer of clothes to go outside? Are the women of the future more resistant to cold than the men? Compare Dayna's bare arms with Avon's leather top over his warm sweater. Vila also has wrapped up warmly in that brown tunic. [Can that be the reason for their reputation as survivors? :-)]

It's nice to see Cally trick the Thaarn into switching off the energy isolators but how does she know that this will allow them to escape? Psychic powers? Whatever, her timing is excellent. But why doesn't she kill him? (Judith: She pities him - he is ugly and alone.) And why does she tell the others that she didn't see him? (Judith: because she'd have to explain why she didn't kill him and also explain why she felt sympathy for him. She too is alone.) Is she afraid they won't believe her if she tells them how he looks? :-)

"We'll have to leave without her." Yes, it's always Avon who gets to make the tough decisions. And Tarrant doesn't protest here. :-)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Let them find something else inside the 'black hole'.

(Judith: Explain why something that generates that much gravity didn't crush everything inside it. Gravity was not a directional force when I was at school.)

Episode Review Index

Back to B7 Top