(by Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Excellent, with a lot of action and the emergence of the baddies. We get a glimpse of higher politics with those Federation worthies Rontane and Bercol diplomatically threatening Supreme Commander Servalan. She is an original character, offsetting the military crew cut with those deep-cut dresses and high heels. Travis's introduction is handled well. Crew interaction is good, showing they can work as a team despite their differences. Vila is his usual blundering self; Blake should have sent him back to Liberator the moment his lock picking work was done. :-)

It seems a bit unconvincing that no-one notices Cally's absence, particularly Jenna who is working the teleport. As leader Blake drops a stitch here, but it is good to see a story in which the hero is allowed to have shortcomings.

There is one irritating inconsistency. Rontane and Bercol moaning about the failure to suppress reports of Blake's deeds indicates a string of attacks. Yet the story sequence as presented contradicts that. In Time Squad we get their first mission, the destruction of the Communications centre on Saurian Major. Straight after that Blake orders Zen to set course for Centero. In the next episode they are brought off course by that Saymon-entity but as soon as they've sorted that out Liberator resumes course for Centero, indicating this being their second target. Nit picking, I know, but it just keeps nagging me. [All right, Centero's at the other side of the galaxy and on their way there they encounter and attack a lot of other Federation installations. Problem solved. :-)]

Personal appreciation: *** The maimed villain out for revenge is very much a cliche. Personally I doubt whether a committed soldier like Travis, to whom getting wounded must be a risk of the job, would really get so obsessed about it. [But maybe what did rile him was it being done by a civilian. :-)]

Vila's resigned look in the teleport bay is a treat. Like Jenna's, his character displays contradictory aspects - compare his competence in distracting the guards with his bungling when trying to prevent the alarm being raised. Somehow, I find his anomalies less grating than Jenna's, although they do not help to define his character.

Gan actually gets something to do here. Avon and Vila blowing off steam after their mission is one of those details that provides a feeling of reality. [Notice how they are the least 'adult' of the group - it's the pure childishness of their bickering that endears them so much to us.]

The scene of Servalan being harassed by the diplomats is a gem. Rontane and Bercol are delightfully suave and deceptively sugary, although compared to Servalan they seem somewhat underdressed. :-)

A pity it had to be Cally to fail in guarding the prisoners. Still the old concept of the weak female at work here, although at least under interrogation she is allowed to be tough.


"Attention please..." The base announcer sounds very polite. And it is helpful of him to announce the robot surveillance so that every invading rebel can timely duck out of sight. :-) But why couldn't Blake and Vila have teleported to the inside of that security gate? (Judith: Force field? That's my usual assumption. Or else they were aware of the use of molecular shift detectors that were mentioned in 'Seek Locate Destroy') The fight between Cally and the guard must be the worst choreographed in the whole series. And the explosion doesn't seem to cause a tenth of the damage intended.

"Are you sure?" Blake's consistent expressing doubt about Avon's expertise gets irritating, particularly since Avon seems careful never to make a promise that he can't deliver. And isn't it a happy coincidence that Avon knows about handling cipher machines? [But how does Blake know that Avon has that knowledge? Did our genius volunteer the information? Well, having access to Federation Intelligence information can make life a lot safer for him. :-)]

"Set in a course for..." Again Blake decides on a mission without consulting the others, and they don't even protest much. [All right, by now they must know that arguing with Blake is futile, but that never stops them on other occasions. :-)] Avon's reaction to Cally's return seems to reveal some rather deep feelings. Does his silence indicate relief that she's back safely or disappointment about Blake not having perished in the attempt? :-)

Blake not killing Travis is stupid. In that kind of war (and Blake is engaged in a war - it isn't a boy scout game) you need to eliminate every enemy you can, if only because if you let him live his next attempt on your life may succeed. Moreover, this is a man responsible for mass murder, with twenty of Blake's friends among his victims. Leaving him free to commit other atrocities seems not only stupid, but also criminally negligent.

"Travis's gun. I'll take that." Blake the schoolmaster again. Why not let Cally keep her trophy? [It's such a handy size to hide among skin-tight clothes. :-)] I wish that at one point in the series she or Jenna would have told him not to be so bloody patronising!

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Let Blake try to kill Travis. (Yes, I know the resident Baddie has to survive, but Blake should have been allowed to try to eliminate him.)

- Throw in some references to those missions of our heroes that caused them to get famous to the point of worrying the president. - More fireworks among the crew. (Not noticing Cally's absence, going back to rescue her -plenty of scope for some entertaining recriminations!)

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