(Robert Holmes) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Not bad. The well-worn tactic of splitting up the story in two different action lines should, theoretically, give all regular characters something to do. In practice here, it still leaves out the women. Jenna is reduced to sounding board for Blake's brilliance while Cally's sole contribution is the use of her psychic powers to sense something wrong with the derelict spacecraft. And even that is in vain, since she can't determine the danger and stop it.

The idea of the 'greatest living authority on viruses' burying himself on a communication base with no apparent scope for his speciality is so improbable that the writer resorts to letting Tynus comment on it. [A known trick to forestall questions but it would have been better if he had come up with a reason. :-)] The autopsy scene is suitably gruesome but the body coming to life turns it into cheap horror.

Avon being involved in a fraud with Tynus is credible here but gives cause for questions later. If it was *the* bank fraud, why wasn't Tynus arrested. If this concerns an earlier fraud, why was he allowed near a banking computer? [Of course, at this moment we do not yet know about his surveillance by Bartholomew, nor did the writer. :-)]

Bellfriar wasting time by embarking on a lecture about the working of the virus instead of giving the formula first is a variant on the 'gloating baddie' theme. [Instead of killing the hero, the Baddie takes time for a last long gloat, enabling the back up team to arrive in the nick of time. Here this is neatly turned on its head with Bellfriar wasting the chance to reveal the life-saving formula.] The end is unsatisfactory: nice though it is to see Blake retaining his Noble Streak, the obvious thing to do would have been to put out the plague warning *after* Servalan had landed. (Judith: But Servalan would not have stayed there. She'd have left to try and find herself a doctor and taken the plague with her.)

Personal appreciation: ***

Abandoned spaceships form one of my favourite subjects. A pity we get only a verbal report of the search (saving the costs for building a set), which reduces the suspense. The sight of a decomposing body never puts me off, but I can imagine it not being to everyone's taste. :-)

Interaction between Avon and Vila is perfect but Blake is made much too clever about things outside his field. I can imagine him being interested, and thus knowledgeable, about spacecraft history, but outshining the greatest living authority on viruses seems downright ridiculous. [One genius among the crew is enough, and at least Avon's specialities are all more or less of a technical nature.]

Up until now I got the impression that Avon had 'gone astray' only once but here we get a reference to a previous crime. [His talking about *a* fraud indicates that there were more than one.] Despite Avon persistently referring to Tynus as his friend, one doesn't get the feeling that they've ever been very close. Tynus seems more alarmed than glad to see him and Avon doesn't hesitate to bring up his blackmail threat, the need for which he's obviously anticipated. So they were probably just comrades in crime.

This episode gets the prize for most outrageous and impractical costumes. It is absolutely amazing what the designers got away with. I suppose one must be grateful that they restricted their bizarre experiments to the guest cast. Jenna is pleasantly decorative in white and blue [to compensate for her lack of participation in the action? :-)]. Although nice, Cally's dark red dress is a waste of time and material since she's hardly long enough in the picture for us to notice what she's wearing. Blake dons his wide sleeves again and Vila has retrieved his dull grey from Pressure Point but thankfully not the yellow band. Avon's tight leather gives him trouble running, something that was less noticeable in Redemption. His costume must have some cleverly hidden pockets, large enough for carrying that cutter. But no pocket calculator - he's doing his sums with pen and paper. But it may be a sign of his genius that he's able to do them in the old fashioned way. :-)


"I don't like mysteries." I thought that was Avon's line?

"Blake sent us..." What, Avon openly admitting to being led? :-) Seriously, I can't hear Avon saying that under any circumstances.

Is the Fosforon base forbidden ground for women? We don't see any female staff. And is that the reason why Avon took Vila with him, instead of Cally who would have been of more use. :-) [All right, he probably expected to need Vila to open some locks for him, and as it turned out, Vila saved their necks by discovering Tynus's betrayal. But Avon should not have forgotten Survival Rule Number One: Never put Vila on watch. :-)]

"I'm a vegetarian..." Nice line but can we take him seriously?

Wouldn't it cause suspicion on the base to see Tynus carrying those food packages? Or is he known for a hearty appetite?

Why is Avon panting so much while he's working to extract that crystal? Nerves getting frayed? :-)

Why does Tynus not get crisped up when he's electrocuted? And why doesn't Avon keep Tynus's gun? Seems just the right size to fit into that pocket he took the cutter from. :-)

How do Blake, Avon and Vila escape catching the plague?

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Give an acceptable reason for Bellfriar's presence on Fosforon. [For instance him being exiled there because of his lack of respect for his Federation masters.]

- Find more to do for Jenna and Cally.

- Show us Tynus getting crisped up. :-)

- Find an explanation for the Liberator crew not catching the plague.

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