(Allan Prior) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Not bad but rather average and paying not enough attention to detail. A lot of things remain unexplained. Are the Goths supposed to be aliens or descendants of Terran colonists who have reverted back to primitivism? Why did Lurgen go to Goth? How and why did he leave (or was he killed)? What was his objective in giving his brain-print to the royal personage? If he wanted to be rid of it, couldn't he better have simply destroyed it? How does a brain-print look like and what use do the Goths have for it? [A kind of amulet?] For whom is that message from Travis's ship? What does it say? Wouldn't the fact that the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation seems to devote all her time on the pursuit of personal matters have raised some eyebrows in the High Council? Questions the p\lot brings forth and then ignores.

(Judith: most of these are Maguffins - plot devices to give the characters something to chase. However, I agree that they irritate.)

The story concentrates on Jenna and to a lesser extend Vila and Blake, leaving Avon and Cally are almost out. Jenna gets some of her original character back, manipulating the charl in a truly delightful manner. Poor Vila sneezing at the wrong moment is in character although hardly original. Him playing the fool is a nice continuity, but him being so rude to the old prisoner feels out of character, as does Blake's lack of pity for the man. Avon not caring about the transmission from Travis's ship also feels wrong - even when you're about to kill your enemy you'd want to know what he's been up to. ["All knowledge is valuable."] So why doesn't he tell Zen to register and decode the message?

This episode focuses strongly on the women, portraying Tara as an interesting character but her brothers as the stereotype buffoons. Tara is Jenna's real adversary, Gola merely an irritation. Servalan gets tricked by Travis but shows spirit in her dealing with Gola. Cally gets her own over Avon. All Gola and Rod get is death. [But they're allowed a good fight first. :-)]

The end seems much too rushed, with Cally contacting the landing party just when they're ready. I wonder if the original script had a scene here, later dropped, of pursuit ships approaching them. That would tie in with Avon's uneasiness earlier on, and explain his remark at the end about leaving in another few seconds.

Personal appreciation: **

Despite there being a lot to enjoy, I seldom watch this episode, usually fast forwarding straight to Star One - purely because Avon isn't there to keep my attention. [Obsessed, me???] Still, I love those tents and the quasi-medieval music, and I have a weakness for hairy primitives. :-) The in-fight between the royals is entertaining. Jenna is at her best, her face when the charl announces his pair-bonding decision is a treat - wouldn't she like to kick him where it hurts! Her interplay with Tara is also amusing, clearly they see through each other while it all goes right over Gola's head. The actor playing the fool gives a memorable performance. [Excellent casting; where did they find him?]

And for once poor Travis gets the better of Servalan [can't have the women gain an overall victory, can we, Mr Prior? :-)] although I find it rather unconvincing. I also would have liked to get an explanation for Travis and Servalan being on speaking terms again.

(Judith: I think Servalan thought that she still controlled him. Travis was playing his own game by this time - it is evident in retrospect that he was aleady talking with the Andromedans by this point. Travis knew about Lurgan and Goth - he needed a ship, and the knowledge would have given him something to bargain with.)

The tents look very comfortable but the life expectancy among the royals seems fairly short, and the dungeons appear decidedly uncomfortable. Of course, you can't have two primitives contending for a throne without a hand-to-hand-fight. Despite the weapons being original, this is a pretty average fight - and it does contain my pet peeve:

<rant mode on> Why is it that when primitives get into a fight, there always has to be a table-load of food being swept away and spoilt? It's one of those things that keep cropping up in history films (just check the average Robin Hood or Ivanhoe movie). Whenever you see a table set with dishes you know there'll be a fight during which the food will land on the floor. IMO that is totally beside reality. In primitive societies it costs too much time and trouble to grow, hunt for and prepare food to let it be wasted in a brawl. <rant mode off>

(Judith: It's a varient of the 'apple-cart' law. If there is a car chase and there is a fruit stand by the road, you know it will get knocked over.)

It's a long time since we saw Servalan in fur, she must have thought it would impress the locals here. :-) Vila wears one of his best outfits - very foresightful of him to choose something jester-like. That cap suits him too. Avon is not only bare-necked, but even has a partly open jacket, a sure sign that he'll be staying on Liberator for the whole episode. [I wonder if Paul Darrow had it written into his contract that he would be allowed to dress up warmly for location work?] I've never before noticed that Jenna has brown eyes. That dress is a great improvement on her bodysuit. A pity Liberator's wardrobe room contains a duplicate of the suit for the next episode.


Why is Avon suddenly so bad tempered? He was co-operative in Countdown and even compassionate in Voice from the Past. Moreover, he has just pulled off the greatest swindle of his life, which one would expect to bring him in a good mood. Did the strain of being nice get too much for him? :-) [Or did Blake get the story of the casino-scam out of Vila and has he given Avon the dressing down of his life?]

Actually, Avon's proposal for taking over Star One sounds sensible, although I can understand Blake dismissing it. It's not only the chance of power corrupting him, there's also the threat of real criminals finding it and using it to hold the Federation to ransom.

That Goth guard makes it very easy for Blake to knock him down - it's not only the Federation troopers that are inept. Blake has his usual luck in stumbling on someone prepared to help him, Avon his usual misfortune when another of his initiatives fails (Travis not being aboard the destroyed ship). [Life isn't fair! :-)]

"And where the hell were you?" They're surely back to normal <grin>. Avon looks beautifully insulted when Blake reminds him of his alerting Servalan in Hostage.

It's fascinating to see Avon giving in to Cally so meekly. But it is ironic that if Cally had not stopped him destroying the second ship, Blake would have been able to bring off his impersonation of Travis on Star One and stop the Andromedans from deactivating the defence system. Moreover, Blake would not have been shot, Liberator would not have had to be abandoned and Blake would not have gone missing. That would have prevented Avon's search for him in Terminal which led to Liberator's destruction, Cally's death and ultimately the shooting at Gauda Prime. So it's all Cally's fault <evil grin>.

"Is Jenna all right?" "Only pair-bonding with the chief." "Good." Are we to assume that Blake doesn't know the meaning of the word? :-) And why do Vila and Jenna wait for Tara to tell them to take the bracelets? Shouldn't that have been the uppermost thought in their minds? Or is she hypnotising them as she did Jenna earlier on?

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Explain the questions brought up by the plot.

- Give Avon more to do. [Debatable, I know, but it would improve the episode for me. :-)]

- Make someone run to clear the table before the fight between Gola and Rod starts.

- Bring in some pursuit ships at the end to explain Avon's hurry to get away.

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