(Rod Beacham) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Fast paced and entertaining, although that brooch turning into a walking poisonous crab or whatever stretches credibility. For the rest, it's unpretentious fun with lots of details that make the show such a joy to watch. Everyone assuming Cancer to be a man works well here, as does Piri's helpless-little-girl act. Despite the change of clothes and hairdo, the actress is less convincing as the ruthless killer. The writer manages to make Servalan fit in perfectly, but the supposedly clever Cancer seems a bit too trusting in allowing Servalan to control her ship. After all, there's nothing to prevent Servalan from using that control to kill Cancer in order not to have to pay her fee.

Avon being nice to Nebrox when he needs him is in character. Apparently he's less a man of his word than he proclaimed in Rumours of Death, as he needs to be prodded by Nebrox before he "remembers" his promise. Avon's survival instinct fails again when "Cancer" can creep up behind him to bash him on the head.

Avon choosing Vila to accompany him to the planet despite one of the others being more useful in a crisis is consistent with Hostage. Vila objecting to killing Cancer seems odd - he's never squeamish about killing provided it's done out of his sight. [Maybe that's what's worrying him here, that they'll do the deed under his eyes? :-)] Dayna and Soolin get their share of the action. Dayna being prevented from killing Servalan is done in a plausible manner. After Soolin's decisiveness in the previous episode, her character is further developed here, with her being the one to figure it all out and save Avon's life. [Yes, her sitting down to think it over is a plot device to give that crab the chance to sneak up on her. :-)] Soolin's practical streak is shown in her no-nonsense way of dealing with hysterical women and we get a glimpse of her compassionate side in her conversation with Nebrox.

This episode stands out for having a joke at the end that works.

Personal appreciation: ****

I love this one. The idea of Avon being sold as slave is fun. We get one of the rare moments in S4 that Tarrant's hostility towards Avon pops up again. [I like the fireworks between them as much as the quarrels between Avon and Blake. Much more entertaining than when Tarrant is meekly following orders.] Also amusing to see Piri bring out Tarrant's gallant streak. He seems totally charmed by her helpless-little-girl act while that merely annoys Avon and Soolin. Avon even resorts to grabbing her roughly, which brings back happy memories of S1-2 (Cally, Jenna, Lurena).

Details I particularly like are Avon's reaction to the mangon, his softly spoken but menacing "Benos." before he shoots the fellow and Vila not noticing [or not wanting to tell the others] that Avon has lost his bracelet. Also Piri giving herself away by not knowing about the mangon.

On my first viewing I was completely taken in by Piri, and by the fake Cancer's performance. Her death scene seems a bit over the top, but it is supposed to be very painful and not every actor can manage beautiful suffering. :-) Avon's fake innocence when he's asking the slavers for food and shelter is amusing. But why does he put up a fight, it seems to me that he's already convinced the slavers. Not that I'm complaining, mind. I love to see Avon playing the action hero, and the fight scenes in this episode are very well choreographed. It seems a bit careless of him to lose his bracelet, though. And he really should have given more attention to that red patch on the dead Nebrox's hand. :-)

The music while they're searching Cancer's ship enhances the tension. In the earlier seasons I hardly noticed the background music, which makes me wonder whether the music has improved or the stories are less engrossing? :-)

This is a good episode for noticing how grey the Scorpio interior is. With the costumes equally grey, S4 could really have been done as well in black and white. Nice to see the crew in new costumes, although these are lacking in colour as much as the previous. Did they go shopping for them, or have the men taken Dorian's spares and is Dayna's suit a castaway from Soolin? Soolin's new outfit is an improvement and Avon's is great IMO. Grey isn't Vila's colour but at least this jacket doesn't make him a walking target. Tarrant never got noted for much dress sense and this isn't worse than some of his S3 costumes. I like Dayna's golden-and-purple collar. She's showing as much breast as was permitted at that time - the producers must have been desperate to catch the attention of the male viewers. :-) At least the bidding agents are permitted some colour in their pseudo Ancient Egyptian outfits. I love Verlis's silver wig. Servalan in a plain dress seems out of character, especially for S4, and it comes almost as a relief that the jacket she dons for her visit to Domo sports a few feathers. :-) Where did Nebrox get his change of clothes? [Are they Avon's "Sunday gear", which he keeps aboard Scorpio in case they'll run into a VIP he wants to meet in style? :-) A pity we didn't get to see Avon in them - he'd have worn them with flamboyance.] I know it's just the light but when Avon closes his eyes, it looks like he's wearing golden eye shadow.


Servalan must be kicking herself for not having made Dayna reveal the location of the base when she had her at her mercy in Animals. In that case she could have sent Cancer straight to Xenon for the job, instead of relying on them to pick up and rightly interpret her message.

"Servalan has altogether lived too long." Yes!

Tarrant the pilot and mercenary has never heard of Domo, but Soolin has. A pity we don't hear more of her life before she settled in with Dorian.

"My hero." This sounds almost affectionate. :-) Why does Avon go himself down to the planet instead of sending Tarrant like he did in Traitor and Headhunter? [Not that I mind - it's fun seeing Avon being sold as a slave. :-)]

"I'll cover you." And then he takes a tea break while Tarrant is beaten up by "Cancer". Amusing to see that even someone as verbally fluent as Avon is daunted by the task of having to explain "that terrible noise".

Tarrant's the pilot, but Avon seems to know the pre flight routine of Cancer's ship by heart.

Servalan once again misjudges Avon with her assumption that he's taken in by Piri's pretty face, as it was Piri's *acting* that deceived him. :-)

It's deeply satisfying to see Piri get a dose of her own pet's vermin, but why does Avon tell Servalan that she's dead? Fooling Servalan into believing that Piri still had the upper hand would have saved them precious time.

Interesting to see that, in the last scene, Soolin is standing while Avon and Tarrant are lying down on the recliners looking as if they'll need a long time to get over their adventure. Now what was it Avon said in Power about men being always stronger? :-)

"I don't want to be pessimistic, but in the circumstances..." No sentimentality, no last-minute confessions or declarations of undying friendship. This calm, stiff-upper-lip acceptance of fate is what gives the show such a delightful British feel to me.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Explain the science that makes the brooch-crab come to life.

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