(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


A bit meagre to fill fifty minutes. A lot of time is spend on stalking through woods and talking in trees. The story seems to drag like the much-too-long slow motion scene when the ships are approaching each other. But we do get some insight into Travis' character. His mutoids provide an example of the Federation's perversity in changing humans into machines. Them needing blood plasma is a nice gory detail - even without the mutoid mentioning vampires we would have got the message. [A pity the effect is ruined by that green plasma. :-)] One wonders, though, with the high level of robotic engineering displayed in the next episode, why they didn't go for mass-producing robots? There must be a lot of work involved in changing humans into mutoids, but maybe that's still cheaper than producing a robot?

Here Liberator's vulnerabilities are exposed. Firing the neutron blasters drains the power banks inordinately quickly. It must have taken a large fleet to drive her into that star system, though. In space it isn't just a choice of right or left or forward or backward, you can go up or down as well. Lots of scope for escaping pursuers, especially for a prey that can go a lot faster then its hunters.

Blake wasting time - in the middle of a battle for life or death - discussing his proposal to ram Travis' ship is silly. In situations where there's ample time for discussion we see him often simply announce his decisions, yet now, with plasma bolts battering Liberator's force wall, he relinquishes command to head a committee meeting. And using that display pad - surely Avon and Cally are intelligent enough to get the message without visuals? [I know that's for the benefit of the viewers, but it still seems stupid!] Why ask only those two, don't the others count? And why choose Cally - his most ardent follower who would have agreed anyway - instead of the more critical Jenna? [One can imagine the latter having to say something about that when they're alone. :-)]

Personal appreciation:

*** The planet is suitably bleak and those grave markers give a sense of real horror but the story of the race lost through their own lust for violence doesn't grip me at all. Nor can I muster any empathy with Sinofar and Giroc. Maybe it is the casting, reflecting the modern European vision equalling young and beautiful with wise and good. I wonder if the more traditionalist conception of the wise old woman keeping the still impetuous youngster in check would have worked better here?

As always, the flight deck scenes are the most enjoyable. Vila 'complimenting' Avon and standing up to him when they come breast to breast - and Avon showing himself amused by it when no-one's watching. Seems like Vila has passed the test. :-)

Avon dithering so long before agreeing while it's clear that Blake's idea is their only option is not his most glorious moment! However, he's back to his usual cold logic when he decides to get some sleep while he can. I love his speech about not seeing the necessity of getting irrational to prove that you care. Sums up his attitude to life succinctly. Another memorable moment is that very faint, almost fond smile and head shake on seeing Blake having Travis at his mercy and knowing he won't be able to kill him.

Travis is unnecessarily mean to that mutoid, which sets him down as a really nasty bloke. We usually see him as the Federation officer just obeying orders; here we get a glimpse of his true character. Judging by his eagerness for the duel, he's not lacking in self-confidence or courage, though.

Jenna seems to get caught much too easily, but at least she puts up a real fight later, although it still looks like things would have been bleak for her if that mutoid wasn't weakened by lack of serum.


Why does Blake blame Vila, who's on teleport duty, for not noticing the pursuit ships? Isn't that Zen's task? (Did they forget to instruct Zen?) And where are Avon and Cally? When the others leave the flight deck we see Avon sitting down at his usual position, yet at the alarm he comes running from the corridor. Cally, who we also saw at the flight deck, enters from another corridor. Is this a question of 'when the cat's away...'? :-) Shouldn't one of them have stayed on watch there?

"My crew are with me by their own choice." "Really?" Avon likes to bemoan his fate as much as Vila. :-) Yet he can take his share of the loot and leave whenever he wishes. [Don't tell me that both he and Jenna didn't stash as much treasure in their cabins as they could hide there. Granted, he's staying because he wants Liberator, and reckons it's just a question of outliving Blake, who'll get himself killed sooner or later. :-)]

"Could you operate this ship properly?..." Vila reproaches Avon for caring only about himself, but his own worries seem not to go further than his own safety either. And what is he worrying about? Zen can operate the ship, and Avon was already making a very good job of piloting her in Time Squad.

Blake's anorak has the right camouflage colour, but Jenna's stands out a mile. How fortunate that they were still dressed for planet hopping - one can imagine it getting cold up in that tree at night. :-)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Bring in some more action.

- Spare us the improbability of Blake leaving command of Liberator to Jenna during a vital space battle to hold a war conference with half of his crew. (Just shouting: "We're going to ram him - anyone who's got a better idea, let's hear it now!" would have done the trick.)

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