(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Overall not bad, with a strong start, and the first half brimming with action and excitement. Things slow down though when it gets to the disposal of the bomb. Moreover, the countdown plot does not provide much tension - it's a given they'll finish the job just in time.

Blake is his old, rational self again but Avon is uncharacteristically co-operative, being already dressed for action and having acquired the necessary data before asking Blake what they're actually after. :-) Vila is blundering as usual, to the extend of getting told off by Blake himself. The evil of the Federation is shown in its most chilling form and Provine is portrayed well as the ruthless officer who is totally committed to his task of wiping out a whole population.

For a Terry Nation episode, this one has an unusual flaw: the women don't get anything to do except sitting at the teleport - oh yes, and Cally is dispatched to fetch the thermal suits. Well, at least they divide the teleport work equally: Cally setting the co-ordinates and Jenna flipping the switches. :-) The only female rebel doesn't get a much better treatment, being the one to be knocked down by Provine.

One could argue Blake wanting to keep Jenna, as the pilot, aboard to stand ready for emergencies, but why forego the services of his most experienced combatant? Taking Cally with him, and keeping Vila in reserve to call when they come upon a locked door (and teleporting him back to the ship the moment his job's done) would be the logical thing to do.

Again, we learn something new about Avon's expertise: above all his other skills he's also a bomb disposal expert. [He must have done an awful lot of job rotation. :-) I suppose his skill in decoding Federation ciphers is meant to tie in with him having 'handled' cipher machines.] At last his main reason (apart from coveting the Liberator) for staying with Blake is revealed: revenge on the Federation for Anna's death. And how typical of Avon to keep his own agenda secret from the others! :-) (Judith: And just to show how views differ, I think one of his main reasons for staying is a grudging respect for Blake.)

This episode's end is utterly predictable, with Avon finishing the job in the nick of time. All in all, a rather simple story with the revelation of Avon's tragic past overshadowing the much more interesting (IMO) hunt for Provine.

Personal Appreciation: ***

Like with Redemption, I had forgotten the good bits of this episode. The only things I remembered were the slow pace of the scenes in the polar complex, the static acting there and the simplicity of the bomb. [Any idiot who can handle an electric drill must be able to defuse it - why couldn't they have let Avon poke inside it with a probe? :-)]. All that sloshing through the icy water gets rather tedious and the dialogue between Avon and Grant is far too melodramatic for my taste. Blake does shine, though, especially in the chilling scene where he's interrogating a dying Provine. No niceties here, the information he needs is vital so he'll use any means to get it.

It's certainly a change to see Avon and Blake working so well together - there isn't a moment of real friction between them in this whole episode, even Blake's attempt to pry information out of Avon doesn't result in any fireworks. [Yes, them *not* getting on is part of the attraction of the Series, but I still find it refreshing to see them in harmony for once.] Considering his words in Killer, Avon playing the hero and risking his life to save people he doesn't know is a wonderful irony. I've got mixed feelings about the Anna story, though. This tantalising glimpse into Avon's past raises more questions about his fraud than it answers.

Grant irritates me from the moment he pulls off his balaclava and opens his mouth. [One of those gut-feelings that are difficult to reason out.] I suppose it's a combination of his accent, his physique and his manner. His hostility towards Avon doesn't help too, but I disliked him already before that was revealed. (Judith: Maybe it's the way he patronises Ralli?)

It's a pity we don't see Blake's reaction when the countdown goes to zero. Does he call for teleport? Does he allow Vila to do so? Nothing new in the costume department but I like the colourful sets for the Albian headquarters, they're a nice contrast with the usually cheap drabness of tunnels and corridors.


We haven't seen Avon doing Blake's will without argument since Mission to Destiny, so why is he suddenly so co-operative? Atoning for his warning to Servalan in Hostage? Or can it be a side effect of the treatment for the wound he received in the previous episode? [In that case it's a pity for the others that he didn't get wounded more often. :-)]

"Men fresh from a battle..." Blake at his best, good to see him again capable of rational thoughts. His instinct is standing him to good use in guessing about Provine's actions.

Avon needs reading glasses - when he's holding up those schematics of the bomb his arms are barely long enough. :-) It's fun to see him volunteer for the disposal job, but why does he do it? Wanting to show off to Grant? Compassion with the Albians? Does he judge the task less dangerous than accompanying Blake in his search for Provine? :-) Or is he afraid that Blake will try it himself, blowing them all sky high?

What does Grant need a gun for? Are they expecting the polar installation to be manned? [And in allowing him the gun Avon is, in a way, doing the same that Blake has been doing consistently to Avon: forcing his trust upon him. ;-)]

In its casing, that bomb looks like a cousin of Orac. :-) For a moment I really expected it to start spewing out acid comments.

"Some people found me..." Avon must be lying, it's unlikely that a member of the drugged populace of an Earth dome would take the initiative to hide and care for a wounded stranger. He probably wants to protect the friend/acquaintance who hid him. (Judith: I reckon some people have ways of dodging the drugs else thieves would not exist. Maybe there's a black market in pure food and water.) His confession about shooting the visa-seller proves he was lying in Cygnus Alpha when he told Jenna he didn't know if he could kill someone. [The logical and prudent thing to do; you don't want to reveal your strength to a potential enemy. :-)]

Avon's irritating habit of tossing things away (guns, tools and now their teleport bracelets) may be a nice consistency in the Series, it's a stupid move here. If they can't do the job in time, they need their bracelets quickly. If they do succeed, they'll still be in a hurry to leave that fragile building before it collapses on top of them.

Good for Blake to play the hero in staying after the deadline, but he should have let poor Vila return to Liberator. I'm beginning to feel increasingly sorry for Vila, who always gets bullied into dangerous situations while all he wants is a quiet life. :-) (Judith: for a discussion on this topic, see Why Blake stayed on Albian).

Avon usually manages to get his priorities right, so why does he waste time trying to lift that beam off Grant? He'll have all the time in the world for that after he's defused the bomb.

What makes Grant think that Avon is staying just for *him*? Has he forgotten the six million souls on the planet who'll be wiped out when that bomb goes off? [Oh, how I like the irony of Avon risking his life for the faceless multitudes. Never again will we see him that unselfish. :-)]

(Judith: Ah ha! You missed my favourite glitch - but then I didn't spot it until another fan pointed out the obvious - Avon does not need to search for the last missing pin as he could have left the drill in position!)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Discard Avon's red leather top and also find something more cheerful than that dull grey to wear for Vila.

- Choose another actor for Grant's role (or make him drop that accent).

- Give a twist to the predictable end, for example the teller hits zero while Avon is still dismantling the bomb. But nothing happens and it turns out to be a dud. :-)

- Show Blake's reaction to the countdown reaching zero.

- Find a more convincing way for defusing the bomb.

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