(Allan Prior) reviewed by Marian de Haan

Story: Simple but credible and with, IMO, one of the best Avon moments, when he manages to give instructions to Zen without his captors noticing. For the rest it is all rather predictable and not very original. From our first look at that volcano, we know that someone is going to fall into the crater. It's also clear from the onset that Dayna and Tarrant are walking into a trap, the only surprise is that it takes so long before they end up in Federation hands. Servalan's appearance is a sure indication that the natives won't live to tell the tale. The message is crude but clear: pacifism works only as long as the other parties are willing to respect it. And the threat of the bomb is rather an own goal.

The interplay of Avon, Cally and Vila feels exactly right. Dayna gets the chance to play with a homemade explosive. Tarrant isn't half as impressive or menacing as in Powerplay, it looks like the writer didn't want to bother much with his character. Avon fares better, he does the sensible thing in returning to Liberator as soon as he's spotted Servalan - although it's a bit too obvious that the writer's sole reason for making him go down to the planet is to provide him with a gun for the flight deck fight.

Avon's comment about the futility of the search makes clear that Blake is not expected back. Jenna seems to be forgotten already.

We get some nice scene transitions. The dialogue between Cally, Vila and Avon about Dayna being beautiful is followed by a shot of Dayna's face. Likewise, after Hower's question "Who exactly are your enemies?" the camera turns to Servalan. A grating blooper is the retreat of the full attack fleet, complete with the three ships destroyed by Liberator.

Personal appreciation: *****

This is my all time favourite, despite the boring bits with the Pyroans. I've always had a soft spot for volcanoes and love a good eruption [from a distance, of course. :-)]. Avon outwitting Mori with his 'guided tour' of Liberator's computers while giving Zen instructions for the attack is a treat. And he suffers so beautifully when he's shot. :-) Good to see Vila for once keeping his wits and bluffing off Servalan. The scenes of Avon, Vila and Cally on the flight deck give a reassuring feeling of continuity. Vila's tender care for the wounded Avon is in sharp contrast with the casual way he disregards the absent others - indicating he judges Avon essential for his survival but not the others. :-)

The Pyroans are so dull it is almost a relief when they're blown into oblivion. Killing your own son for not towing the party line seems a bit excessive. The (veteran?) commander of Servalan's attack fleet looks refreshingly different from the usual eager sleek young officers. Mori, too, isn't exactly the standard decorative aide. He even dares to stand up to Servalan [not to the point of suicide, of course :-)] and his desire for Liberator gives his character some depth.

The dialogue about the beam approach detector leaves me as baffled as Vila, making me wonder if it was part of a scene that was cut out with this bit being overlooked.

Avon has one of his best outfits IMHO [my favourite after the Silver Alpha] and it looks better here with the black sweater than with the white one in Rumours of Death. Vila's costume seems to suggest he's planning to take some judo lessons. [Not a bad idea - with Tarrant around he should learn self-defence!] Tarrant's buccaneer style shirt and top seem apt for a mercenary. [Interesting to see such primitive string fastenings being still around that far in the future.] Cally in blue is unusual but it suits her well. Sweet pink and white are not colours one easily associates with Dayna's character but she does look good in them. Pity she had to succumb to Liberator's fashion of high-heeled boots but maybe the wardrobe room had nothing else on offer in her size. Servalan for once has a high cut dress. The shoulder strips don't exactly flatter her but she's worn worse. The Pyroan fashion vaguely resembles Dr. Bellfriar's costume in Killer. And doesn't that house robot look cute? :-)


Whose idea is it to want a base? We never heard of the idea again after Blake brought it up in Horizon. Is Avon in search of a place to dump Tarrant on, or does Tarrant have dreams of leaving Avon in charge of a base while he goes off playing with Liberator? :-) Or was it Vila, in search of a hiding place for when he's wanted for a dangerous job? Did Cally revive the idea, wanting to continue Blake's work? Or was it the suggestion of Dayna, who knows the habitants of the planet? And why are they called Pyroans instead of Obsidianians or something like that? [Did the volcanic activity give the writer subconscious associations with a funeral pyre?] (Judith: 'pyro' means 'fire' as in words like pyromaniac. I assume that they have the name becasue of the proximity of the volcano - though you can always assume it to be the name of their city/culture/etc. You'd call me English, not 'Earthian'.)

Avon seems already thoroughly fed up with the search for Blake. And to me it doesn't look like he's missing him much. :-) Vila's rambling about buying his Delta grade because he didn't want to be a space captain must be the worst lie of the whole Series. Neither Cally nor Avon seems impressed. [And it's contradicting Vila's statement in Shadow that he grew up as a Delta.] Nor does it do anything for our understanding of the Federation grading system.

"I was a Space Captain - a *long* time ago." Pity Tarrant looks not old enough for having passed his Federation Space Academy exams yet. <evil grin> "You still sound like one." Yes, diplomacy isn't Tarrant's forte. [But that is something none of them excels in.] :-)

"There's not a volcano alive..." My favourite quote [although it's a close run with the This-is-stupid-when-did-that-ever-stop-us? from Star One].

Why kill Milus and his brother? [I know, it's so Avon can find their bodies and deduce Federation involvement. :-)] Does it never occur to Servalan that killing all your allies may prove counter-productive in the long run? Behind his rock, Avon seems to have the ideal vantagepoint for shooting Servalan in the back. Alas, he does the sensible thing and teleports up to Liberator. Shame! :-)

Servalan's ship looks like the front part of a crocodile. (Judith: or a dead pelican) [Someone in the BBC Special Effects department must have had a sense of humour.] Do the mutoids have their old headgear from Project Avalon back or is this a variation? [I'm too lazy to check.]

Usually Vila is the distrustful one, so why is he so quick here in operating the teleport? And isn't it convenient that Avon has left his gun within reach? I love the scene where he takes on the attack fleet on his own. A pity the shootout with the troopers on the flight deck is not executed more convincingly.

This is the only episode where Cally's telepathic messages fail to come through. And don't children of Auron learn to count at school? There are four troopers, not three!

How does Servalan know that they haven't found Blake yet? Is she searching for him too? Or has she captured him???

Considering his usual obtrusiveness, Orac seems very happy to co-operate with his new masters. [Unless he's feeding them false information but I don't think that was the writer's intention.]

"A mess!" "Never mind, we're still here." Vila at his most callous, proving himself to be as much a selfish bastard as Avon! :-)

"What do you want to do?" Blake would have ordered Tarrant to look for Cally or - more likely - gone down himself to do it. Avon leaves the choice up to Tarrant. [I love the way Avon often relies on other people's consciences to do the right thing - good character writing.] Does Tarrant's slight hesitation indicate that he regards this as Avon testing his loyalty?

"Get them!" Always nice to see a man being prepared to leave the action to a woman. :-)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Let us in on the secret of what Cally and Avon are talking about in the "That wasn't the reason" exchange.

- A better choreography of the flight deck fight scene.

- Have Servalan's fleet retreat with the right number of ships.

(Judith: not have that silly bit near the start where the running men fade out and reappear closer to the camera.)

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