(Ben Steed) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Fairly straightforward and entertaining. The energy-mass transformer is an original idea, although its scale is a bit unfeasible. Liberator chasing Servalan instead of the other way round is a novelty. Zen's timeshift declaration sounds like pure technobabble to me.

This isn't the first time we see Servalan go on a secret mission, but here we are to believe that the President of the Terran Federation can afford to leave her empire and stay incommunicado for a month or more - she's asking to be deposed. In true Ben Steed fashion, Servalan is presented as a basically stupid woman, travelling straight into a trap with only a pair of mutoids for protection. Cally, Avon and Dayna are also uncommonly dim, delaying the change of the teleport wavelength and forgetting to check for surveillance devices.

Ben Steed gets none of the characters right. In Harvest he paired Tarrant and Cally while on all other occasions Tarrant chooses Dayna, and here he pairs Avon and Dayna. This is more acceptable because Dayna volunteers and Cally is busy with converting the teleport, but it still shows Steed's lack of acquaintance with the characters. Another example is when Liberator is on the brink of crashing, and Avon tells Tarrant what to do. Pilots are trained for emergencies; Tarrant, who is consistently portrayed as an excellent pilot, wouldn't need Avon's advice on how to save the ship. Tarrant threatening to shoot Vila does tie in with his behaviour in City, though.

The only character who comes out well in this episode is Vila, showing his genius for adapting to whatever circumstances he finds himself in. In accordance with his changed role in season 3, Avon again takes part in the rescue landing party. It's a delightful irony, of the kind B7 excels in, that with Blake no longer there to force him into heroic acts, Avon now finds himself in the position of having to jump into them voluntarily.

Colonel Astrid having been brought down by his own computer-invention is along Ben Steed's line of "Nature good, machines bad." The fact that Steed uses this theme in all three of his B7 episodes seems to designate him as a man of limited ideas.

Personal appreciation: ***

This being a Ben Steed script, we have the customary maltreatment of women. The difference with Harvest is that here the men who are doing it are portrayed as unmitigated Nasties and the message of "Women like to be treated rough" is absent. And I like the way Doran is made to look a nice guy and then turns out to be a kind of Jack the Ripper.

Here it is the man who eats the apple, and the woman who warns him against it - a nice twist of the Adam and Eve theme and, if we accept that women are usually more cautious than men, a far more likely scenario of what happened in Paradise. :-) [My apologies for being irreverent. And I realise that I'm reading more in this scene than the writer intended, but in view of Steed's take on women I just couldn't resist.]

Good to see Servalan keep her dignity when she walks in front of her captors as if she's leading them, instead of the other way round. And it feels satisfactory to see Vila stand up to Tarrant for once. I always enjoy seeing Avon do a bit of fighting. When tortured he suffers exquisitely, although the instant healing of his wrist when he's released ruins the effect a bit. The Baddies could have made him tell all by threatening to hurt Dayna, but in Steed's macho outlook being tortured is the man's prerogative. [And aren't we grateful for that? :-)]

We Dutch have a saying: "Laughing is good for your health," which gives a high therapeutic value to this episode - the sight of Moloch never fails to have me rolling on the floor. [Can we blame the actors for not being able to keep a straight face during their scenes with him?]

This is the point where Avon begins experimenting with his hairstyle. It's still in a tentative stage here, not until the next episode will the rot set in seriously. Vila and Tarrant look good in the Federation uniforms. Servalan's dress, with a cleavage down to her waist, seems a bit too much but as always she wears it with style and confidence. Even the supposedly isolationist Sardoans partake in the galaxy-wide fashion of skin-tight suits for women.


"Why don't we just blast her out of existence?" Dayna's right. A pity Vila didn't kill Servalan. That would have been ironic justice, with Dayna, Cally, Avon and Tarrant all lined up for the job.

"Yes, I object!" But of course nobody listens to poor Vila! He makes a perfect somersault on the flight deck - a stuntman's work? I love how he manages to fall asleep on those uncomfortable looking flight seats.

"Maybe we should go now..." Yes. (But of course they don't.)

How can the technically advanced Sardoans have been conquered so easily by a handful of Federation rogues?

"I want to kill Servalan!" A pity that Tarrant will forget this when he gets the chance in Sand.

Why doesn't Servalan shoot the guard instead of bashing him on the head with that big rock?

Why would the Baddies want to preserve Colonel Astrid's dignity by providing him with a loincloth?

"Yes, that's how I reasoned you would look." A true sign of Avon's genius, or else he's mocking Moloch. :-)

What Could Have Been Done to Improve It:

- Give a more credible image of a future man.

- Let Vila shoot Servalan.

- Remind Paul Darrow that Avon's wrist is supposed to hurt after the torture.

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