(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Simple and relying too much on coincidence. Liberator's advanced medical unit containing not a single medicine to counter radiation sickness is as improbable as Ensor having them in plenty (and still effective after forty years - or did he make regular trips to a civilised planet to renew his stock?). There's an abundance of maps: Servalan already having one, and Ensor conveniently leaving another for her to find. And how fortunate that the alien Liberator contains Tariel cells for Orac to manipulate. :-)

Where did Zen get those pictures of the crew on Cephlon? An explanation should have been nice. [Strong outside cameras? Then why are they never used again? Could have been a great help in tracking Vila in City, for example.]

Ensor senior is a worthy addition to the list of strong guest characters in B7. A man who gets on better with his pets than people. Makes you wonder what happened to Mrs. Ensor. :-) Him being colour-blind is a nice detail but seems to have no bearing on the plot, leaving one wondering whether it was initially meant to be and the idea got lost along the way.

A pattern is established with Avon again selecting Vila to accompany him. And poor Vila is in his stride: hitting his head, getting his foot wet [at that point in the story some light relief was overdue :-)] and finally blocking Avon's line of fire. And Avon insisting he's fine when he obviously isn't is the beginning of the gradually toughening up of his character.

Travis getting his obligatory three seconds of gloating works well here - for a moment it really looks like he's going to fulfil his ambition. If only Avon had been allowed to blow off Travis's head, sparing us the recasting of the character in S2. :-) [But, to be fair, the producers probably didn't know at this point that Stephen Greif would not be available for the next season.]

On seeing this episode the first time, I was expecting the beach scene to end with Jenna and Gan being too sick to work the teleport and the others being potentially marooned before they remembered Orac's capacity for manipulating the controls and used that to bring them up. A missed chance here. But the cliffhanger is good 'How-the-hell-are-they-going-to-get-out-of-this-one?' stuff.

Personal appreciation: **

This one simply fails to grip me. The end with the prediction of Liberator's destruction has an impact, but before that nothing really can make me sit up and notice. Those treks through the tunnels should be exciting, yet it's all very predictable. There are some good scenes, notably Avon and Vila discussing death, but for a race against time most of the story is too dull and slow. No fireworks among the crew; them all being so passive doesn't feel right. [Yes, they're ill, but discomfort never stops that bunch sniping. :-)] They're all good actors, yet here they fail to convey the impression of people facing the prospect of dying. They don't even manage to look convincingly ill. [Compare Avon's uninspired performance here with him being in the grip of that plague in Children of Auron or the torture scene in Moloch. Seems like sometime between this and the beginning of S3, Paul Darrow did a course in Suffering Convincingly. :-)]

Nice to see Avon shooting Travis, something Blake should have been doing seven episodes earlier. A pity he didn't take a better aim. [Blame the wind, it must have blown his charge off course because from that angle he'd never been able to hit Travis's arm if that shot had been going in a straight line. :-)] Of course Blake prevents him from finishing the job. [Makes Avon as stupid for obeying him as Blake for insisting they leave Travis alive.]

After Jenna's scream in Project Avalon it was only a question of time: here it is Cally's turn and equally out of character. Naturally she'll shout for help, but that panicky yell is not something to be expected from such a tough fighter. And Servalan is uncommonly shaky after her encounter with the phibians. As soon as she's away from headquarters it is difficult to remember that she is the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation. Must be that white suit, so very convenient for crawling through tunnels. :-) [But maybe the Federation has achieved the invention of anti-dirt fibres?]

At least the dreariness of the story is alleviated a bit by Jenna's bright red top. Also we get to see what Vila is wearing under his patchwork jacket and what colour of socks he favours. :-)

Considering how unco-operative Zen has been for most of the time, the last thing they need is another computer with a mind of its own. :-) Orac delivers promptly, predicting what looks like Liberator's destruction. Blake should have listened to the others and turned it off! [But when does he ever listen to the others? :-)] Cally agreeing with Vila is a first. Avon throwing that key away feels out of character, even if he doesn't yet seem very enchanted by his new toy.

And what is the last thing we hear in the last episode of S1? Yes, <deep sigh> Jenna yelling "Blake!"


Gan taking a pill is an instant reminder of Breakdown and makes you desperately hope that his limiter won't start malfunctioning again. :-)

"Avon, I want you to listen to this." Still the schoolmaster addressing a pupil. You'd expect Avon to be miffed about hearing his name mentioned last in Blake's report on their mission. "Vila, Jenna, Gan and Avon..." seems a peculiar choice of order for Blake. [And Avon must be feeling really bad if he doesn't notice or comment. :-)]

"Die? I can't die!" Vila at his best.

It being a known fact that those power cells have a lifetime of forty years, why did Ensor wait to the very last minute before getting them replaced? And why does Orac let Cally and Blake waste time at that force barrier? Doesn't it know that every minute counts for Ensor?

"The girl will go first." Flattering for Cally, as she looks at least thirty.

"Sometimes he shows distinct signs of intelligence." Great line. A pity Vila can't hear it. [But maybe Gan tells him later? :-)]

"Let me do it my way, Cally!" Oh yes, no need to listen to a trained guerrilla fighter who incidentally also happens to be your most ardent follower. It is to B7's advantage that its leading character is not presented as flawless, but at times like these you'd really want to kick him. :-)

(Judith: the bug that stands out like a sore thumb to me is that Blake and Cally pass through the surface force barrier in a few seconds, but when they want to teleport out later, Ensor tells them that the barrier will take five hours to dissipate, so they have to leave by the tunnels.)

Regarding the whole of S1, although it has its share of not-so-good stories, there's a consistency in the characters we'll never see again. The result of the stories all being done by the same writer. The combination of Terry Nation as writer and Chris Boucher as script editor turned out to be fortunate, with Terry being good at plots and Chris able to produce excellent dialogue. The engagement of guest writers for the next season, although a necessity, was not conductive to maintaining the characters acting in character.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- More emphasis on the crew facing death, as it is they take it much too calmly.

- Let Travis be killed, making place for a new Baddie in S2.

- Use Orac to teleport them back to Liberator

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