(Tanith Lee) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Simple but full of eerie tension and delightfully different from anything we've seen before. The well worn theme of Cally's mind being taken over is used well here, making it both believable and acceptable. The setting being restricted to Liberator [except for the one scene aboard the alien craft] gives a cosy feeling, as does the beautiful lighting. The characters' strong and weak points are nicely shown and mirrored in their ghostly doubles, even if it remains unclear what exactly those doubles are supposed to mean.

The characterisation is spot on, with lots of telling details like Vila fiddling with the ribbons and tripping over that artefact and the fastidiousness with which Avon wipes his hands. Dayna as musician is new but Vila as conjurer is good continuity [Space Fall, The Keeper]. This episode has lovely Vila moments. His reaction when the alien touches his shoulder, just when he's managed to convince himself that nothing's wrong, is priceless. Tarrant is nasty to Cally instead of Vila for a change, and this time Avon interferes promptly. The antagonism between Avon and Tarrant reaches its peak. [Like with Blake and Avon in S2, one expects them to come to blows but they never do.] Tarrant is clever enough to reason out what's going on but not clever enough to deal with it, and downright stupid in not disconnecting Orac. It's clear who the writer likes most - we've never seen Avon more human, heroic and gallant. :-)

One question that is not dealt with here nor in any other episode is what Cally must think about her ability for being taken over by any passing alien. Does it make her feel vulnerable and insecure? Guilty towards her crewmates for bringing them into danger? Like the possibility of Gan's limiter malfunctioning again, Cally's vulnerability never seems to worry the others. (Judith: I don't see her as vulnerable - it's usually clear that the aliens target her because she is the greatest threat. eg. The Web. Other characters, including Jenna, have also been taken over. If Cally wasn't there, another person would be taken. Vila was targeted in Ultraworld and only escaped with Orac's help.)

Personal appreciation: *****

It's nice to have an episode with just the crew [and the alien Cally-look-alike] and no Servalan! I can't make out what the function of the crew's doubles is meant to be but am enjoying the story too much to ponder upon that.

This episode shows how well Jan Chappel was cast as alien, she's great as the corpse risen in her shape. The alien's plea for life is very moving [one almost begins to feel sorry for her]. Her death scene is well done, the golden skull reminiscent of some ancient South American civilisation.

I vividly remember my horror on the first viewing, when Avon invited the alien to make him die. His heroic stand in that scene is a symbolic contrast with Tarrant, Dayna and Vila cowering on the floor (Judith: but his 'heroism' is tempered by the fact that he was relying on the fact that Cally would not let the alien kill him. The others could not have relied on her affections the same way.) More than in the previous episode, we get to see Avon's caring side here when, in the middle of his own grief, he goes to comfort Cally. Later he is unusually sensitive in gauging her reaction to the alien spaceship.

The opening scenes, with the despatching of the dead alien and the presenting of the crew doubles, are a bit long but I love the music. The pumpkin spacecraft is magnificent. And, yes, I do like Dayna's song. :-) Cally's beautiful, spacious cabin seems to have little in common with what we see of the cabins of Blake and Gan in The Web. The pawing-the-ground scene is a joy. Avon's deadpan reaction of "You also talk too much." to Tarrant's bragging is one of his finest put downs. And the demonstratively gallant way in which he helps Dayna up seems solely intended to point out Tarrant's lack of manners.

The crew's grey costumes are dreadfully dull although they do look better under the red lighting. The colour bands matching those of the ghosts is a nice touch. Dayna's suit looks again very uncomfortable to wear. Avon has his second worst outfit of S3 [so of course he'll be wearing it again :-( ]. Fortunately all that dull grey and black-and-white of the regulars' costumes is more than compensated for by the alien's colourful dress. Even that weird collar [a left over from Weapon? :-)] looks in place here.


The Cally of S1 would not have rested until she'd taken revenge on Servalan for massacring her people ["Companions for my people's death"], this Cally just sits mourning in her cabin.

"Your experience with humans haven't been glowing either." Indeed, Tarrant should know, being responsible for some of Vila's worst experiences with humans.

"Vila arrived on his head." But we can see that he didn't. :-) "Dust, debris, rather an old corpse..." seems a strange choice of priorities.

Of course Avon won't feel any static electricity after it's unloaded by Dayna's touch. [This shows how even the most brilliant mind can have gaps in its knowledge. :-)]

"I've made a success of my life!... I win..." Tarrant's reasoning seems a bit illogical here, considering the fact that he's ended up in exactly the same situation as Avon. :-) Tarrant's redeeming trait is that he can apologise nicely. But isn't he easy to manipulate - Avon's smile when Tarrant dashes off after being advised against doing so says it all.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Cut the overlong opening scene and instead show some more 'ground pawing'.

- Give a clear indication about what the crew's doubles are supposed to be.

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