Elementary, my dear Cally.
I thought this was excellent. OK, so it's a bit of a Blake's 7/Agatha Christie crossover with Avon cast as Hercule Poirot, but on the whole, it worked very well. I was certainly in the dark as to whodunnit right to the final revelation. The numbers/letters thing was perhaps a bit pat, but it was certainly a surprise.
On the other side of the plot, I wasn't so enthralled by the Liberator's race to Destiny. There were so many plot holes in that part of the story that the entire ship could have punched a path through them. See the nits section for more details.
Fortunately, though, most of the focus was on the murder mystery on the Ortega. As I said, I thought this worked really well. The right amount of suspense and red herrings, and some good team work (!) between Avon and Cally. I would have been terribly disappointed if Avon had been the only one to find all the solutions. Cally's revelation about the homing beacon, for instance, just stopped the episode from being Avon Reveals All.
But yes, on the whole, an excellent episode.
In this episode, she proves to be intelligent and resourceful, and another female who does not scream despite ample opportunity to do so. I think even I might have let out a peep in that stock room. But the screaming was left to Sara -- and was later revealed not to be the stereotypical reaction of another hysterical sci-fi female, but a clever ploy to make herself look innocent. It's always nice when a show does manage to avoid an obvious stereotype.
As to Cally, her "I believe you" scene with Sonnheim was excellent, with just the right mix of slyness and coyness to make you wonder whether she did believe him or not. She obviously doesn't pay too much attention to Avon's biting remarks either -- I particularly loved the way she rolled her eyes when he complained about her volunteering them as hostages. I gather the general concensus on the Liberator by now is that Avon's bark is worse than his bite.
Speaking of which, it was interesting to to see Avon do something else than twiddle knobs and snarl a lot. He still does plenty of both, but also gets to strut around with his hands behind his back, putting on a fine display of Holmesian superciliousness. It does add a bit more depth to the character, with the notion that he can be motivated by curiosity as well as greed and self-interest. I suppose that's part of the reason he's still on the Liberator and not living it up on some planet somewhere.
Aside from this, Blake gets to do his noble bit, Vila shows off his general fecklessness, and Gan and Jenna are pretty much wallpaper.
I do have a few nits about the Liberator's trip to Destiny. If it would take the Ortega five months to get back to Destiny at sub-light speed, doesn't that mean they should be pretty much in Destiny's solar system?
Blake embarks on a mission to transport a crucial cargo to a planet, and he doesn't even check to see that it's still in the box before leaving?
On its way to Destiny, the Liberator laboriously ploughs through an asteroid field, nearly depleting its power. Then Blake decides to go back. Next thing we know, the Liberator is back near the Ortega. Um, wouldn't the Liberator have had to laboriously plough through the asteroid field again just in order to go back?
On the props side, it looked a bit as if the doors on the Ortega were made of cardboard or styrofoam -- but then this *is* Blake's 7 and I would expect no less. The interior decor was screaming Seventies modern; my grandmother had an awful lot of furniture that looked like that. But as the Seventies are in these days, I thought the Ortega's recreation room ended up looking rather stylish.
|KENDALL||[Putting neutrotope in the box] Yes, it's enough to tempt anyone. There are men who would betray their companions for a lot less.|
|AVON||[Appearing in doorway] What a very cynical thought, Doctor.|
|CALLY||Remember that Avon and I will be staying. We will regard ourselves as hostages against Blake's return.|
|AVON||Well thank you Cally, what a clever idea.|
|CALLY||[telepathically] Blake will return.|
|AVON||You can bet your life on it, in fact you've just bet both our lives on it.|
|CALLY||We must help these people. [She and Avon hand their teleport bracelets to Blake]|
|AVON||Must we? Personally, I don't care if their whole planet turns into a mushroom.|
|CALLY||My people have a saying, a man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken.|
|AVON||Life expectancy must be fairly short among your people.|
[[I wonder if Avon remembered Cally's saying three and a half years later...]]
|VILA||[Entering with Blake] Where are Cally and Avon?|
|BLAKE||It's a long story.|
|VILA||Well what's in the box?|
|BLAKE||It's an even longer story.|
|VILA||I like stories!|
|CALLY||I agree. So who do you think it is?|
|AVON||Instinct. I discount Dr. Kendall.|
|CALLY||I thought you mistrusted instinct.|
|AVON||I do, so I am probably wrong.|
|ZEN||In one point zero three minutes, it will no longer be possible to operate force wall and main drive simultaneously. Please decide which to close down.|
|JENNA||Without main drive we'll never get out of this.|
|VILA||Without the force wall we'll be smashed to pieces.|
[[Life is never simple on the Liberator]]
|KENDALL||Five four one two four?|
|PASCO||What's it mean?|
|AVON||Absolutely nothing. As a number it has no significance at all, but when I was in the filter plant just now, I noticed one of the instruments. Liquid crystals show a number, and then the confirmation circuit translates those numbers into the written word. Right from the start, we thought that those were numbers. They are not, they are letters.|
|AVON||Rafford was dying. It's difficult to be neat under those
circumstances. [he takes a marker pen and paper and draws] Let's
start with the one and the two... [The letters A R A appear] And
the first letter... [He puts an S in front, everyone looks at SARA]|
[[Tada! Avon Reveals All (er, not to be misinterpreted by the Avon enthusiasts out there ;)]]
|VILA||I don't think I feel very well.|
|GAN||I hope nothing's been broken. [Retrieves box]|
|BLAKE||So do I. [Opens box - empty] It's still on the Ortega. We've got to get back to them.|
|VILA||Now I know I don't feel very well.|
[[But while you're at it, how about whacking Blake for not checking the contents of the box before he left?!]]
|AVON||[after fighting with Sara] You'd better get her out of here, I really rather enjoyed that. [[Ah, so that's why he takes up the black leather later on...]]|
The Ortega crew seems to all have collars made out of that thick material you put under table cloths to protect your table. I'd certainly swear that their collars had the same pattern on them.
JENNA: Zen says it's a Mark Three Galaxy Class cruiser.
BLAKE: Galaxy Class? What, like the Enterprise-D?
[[Well, you knew I wouldn't resist *that*]]
Comments and discussion welcome!
"You'd better get her out of here, I really rather enjoyed that." -- Avon, after fighting Sara in "Mission to Destiny"
My own feeling is that they appeared to be people who had no qualms about letting an entire planet starve to death. That makes them ruthless and potentially extremely dangerous in anyone's book.
I also wonder if Blake was trying to avoid getting into a fight that he might lose. Remember that Liberator's weapons had yet to be tried in an acutal battle. His crew (apart possibly from Jenna) were inexperienced in space combat.
Once these people realised he had the neutrotope, there was no way they were just going to let Liberator go lightly. The energy banks were virtually exhausted after two passages through the asteroid field. Liberator was in no condition to fight or run away.
Is it so surprising that Blake chose to mine the entry lock?
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