(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan

Story: This one must have looked good on paper. In fact, there's not much wrong with the story line in itself - it's just that there's not enough story to fill fifty minutes. I always fast forward through that endless They-must-come misery and even then it seems slow.

There is consistency in Avon keeping up the good work of protecting Blake - that wonderful dash to get him away from the bomb. The conversation leaves something to desire, though. Is Blake's "I'm not surprised." just an allusion to Avon's quick reaction, or is there some deeper meaning? The exchange at the end seems totally obscure. Sloppy writing or was there a more coherent dialogue of which parts were edited out? [Something hard to believe, as the episode seems to underrun as it is, but possible considering the missed chances in Bounty. :-)] Or is it a deliberate attempt to show them being so antagonistic that they don't want to be seen agreeing on something about which they are in total agreement (that living creatures can't/shouldn't replace machines)?

Personal appreciation: ** The few bits of crew interaction - good though they are - can't alleviate the sheer boredom. Again, there are some details that give the action a lifelike feel, like a distracted Avon shoving Gan out of the way in the teleport bay and Cally's shrug after Blake is teleported. Avon looking at Blake for advice when ordered to drop his gun is also a nice detail, indicating that despite his stance of independence he is prepared to take Blake's lead in a crisis. That scene of them 'under cover' is priceless, Blake's raised eyebrow and Avon's resigned "What do you want to do?".

But there's Avon's horrible outfit, his worst costume of S1. [I mean that grey top with the row of keyboard-buttons on his chest - must be an example of the costume designer's warped humour. :-)]

The theme of genetic engineering is interesting in itself, but seems to fall flat here. I can't feel any sympathy for the shrieking creatures, nor for the pale twins. And that head in the fish-tank would be disgusting if it wasn't so ridiculous.

Observations: Who would want to live like Saymon and the other 'Lost' - surely death must be preferable to existing as just a head in a tank of fluid? And why does he have those rudimentary limbs when they are of no use to him?

"Now, Avon!" Here we have proof of Blake's true profession: he's a schoolmaster, that bullying tone indicates years of trying to keep tiresome youngsters in check <evil grin>. [Invaluable practice, in view of the bunch he's landed with here. :-)]

Avon looks fetchingly bemused when Cally is expressing an interest in his work. This must be the only occasion when we see him lost for words.

With Blake away Jenna is firmly in charge. You can debate whether her decision not to tell him about the pursuit ships is wise (Avon clearly thinks not, as he has no compunction about informing him the moment he gets the chance), at least she doesn't hesitate to make decisions.

Why does Blake choose Avon to bring the flutonic cells down? Gan seems much more suited for the task of messenger boy. :-) And why does Avon comply? We don't even hear him grumble. Scientific curiosity? He must be a quick dresser, when he tells Blake the cells will be loaded in two minutes he hasn't changed into his outdoor gear yet.

Mission accomplished, why do they remain so long in the laboratory watching the Decimas demolish the place? With the threat of those pursuit ships every minute counts, so once Blake has activated the fungicide beam you'd expect them to return to Liberator pronto. Are they mesmerised by the spectre, or is it the notion that they will never in their life see anything like it again? :-)

Avon looks much better/younger in the outdoor scenes than under the harsh studio lights of the flight deck, something that isn't noticeable in Blake.

Costumes: Avon must have chosen his with his eyes firmly closed, proof that he isn't vain about his appearance. :-) Vila goes for the jester's patchwork style rather than his later plain, unobtrusive garments suitable for a successful pickpocket. I love Cally's green suit with the rainbow decoration. Jenna is still in what must be her most colourful creation. Blake's costume leaves no impression apart from the macrame sleeves. [Must have been in vogue on Liberator since Gan's costume has them too. :-)] I don't know whether it is due to 'acting the part', but it seems to me that Avon would still manage to look elegant in sackcloth while Blake appears shabbily dressed in whatever he wears.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Cut out three-quarters of that They-must-come tedium.

- Bring in more action. Just an example: Cally gets possessed again while Blake and Avon are in the laboratory, she forces Vila to teleport her down into the wood, Jenna decides not to tell Blake in the hope they'll get away before he misses her, Gan's conscience makes him tell Blake anyway; while the pursuit ships approach Liberator, Blake and a very reluctant Avon begin a frantic search for Cally who is set upon by some other group of Decimas... Or let Gan get possessed, or Vila, or both... Or have Jenna make a tour of the wardrobe room, trying out the various costumes. :-) *Anything* would have been better that that They-must-come nonsense!

- Burn Avon's top.

- Give us some witty interchanges between Avon and Vila.

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