(Chris Boucher) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Enjoyable and so fast paced that it gallops right over the plot holes. Logical and coherent plot lines aren't Chris Boucher's forte, but he can cram so much action and superb dialogue into a story that you don't even begin to notice the incongruities. Still, I find the concept of the location of the single control centre of the Federation being kept totally secret impractical as well as unfeasible. If some rogues stumbled on it by accident and decided to use it for a nice piece of blackmail ["Pay us 500 million Credits or we'll blow up Star One!"], the Federation would be left without the possibility of sending troops to recapture it. And has no-one thought of the possibility of Aliens getting hold of it? Really, I can't see anyone in Military Command or the High Council being prepared to leave the Federation open to such a risk. Not to mention the practical problems of keeping the secret - the people engaged to brainwash the builders have to be brainwashed in their turn, then the brainwashers who'd brainwashed them would have to be... You get my meaning. :-)

Another improbability is the time scale: Star one is beyond the edge of the galaxy, so far out they haven't a prayer when something goes wrong, according to Jenna - yet the Federation fleet can reach it in less than four hours. Also the story fails to explain how Travis came in contact with the Andromedans and why they co-operate with him when clearly they don't need him. Did they get the location from Travis? In that case how long did it take Travis (and Liberator) to get there, since the Andromedans have been on Star One for at least sixty days (assuming they are responsible for the malfunctioning of the weather control programs)? And why do they start only now on the deactivating of the minefield? [Surely with all the knowledge of the technicians they duplicated it can't have taken them sixty days to work out how to do it? :-)] How did they get past the minefield? Or were they part of the original scout ship that caused the Federation to build the minefield? If so, where have they been hiding all that time?

(Judith: Maybe the Galactic 8th Fleet was out that way on manoeuvres? I suppose it is possible that Travis was either involved in, or became aware of, the original contact with the Andromedans - the hypothetical contact the inspired the construction of the minefield. I think he gave them the location immediately after Servalan turned down his suggestion that they take control of Star One and the Federation themselves. As to when he contacted them, my gut feeling says after 'Gambit', when Blake refused to kill him and Servalan treated him like trash. I think he decided then that he might just say to hell with the entire human race.)

As usual in a Chris Boucher script, crew interaction is great. Yet Cally's reluctance for crossing the galaxy's boundary feels out of character. It's understandable for Jenna and Vila, who have as much regard for their own safety as Avon, but Cally is too much the fearless adventurer for that. Her pausing for a moment to consider the consequences of their intended action fits in well. [Someone had to, at this point, and it would have been totally incredible from one of the others. :-)] Regrettably Boucher then opts to shy away from the unequivocal answer, instead turning the whole issue into a Blake ego-trip.

Yes, people will get killed, *but* the Federation is thoroughly evil. Remember them planting false memories about abuse into the minds of three innocent children just to frame Blake. Remember the typical efficiency with which the settlers on Saurian Major were crushed. Remember the bomb set to kill Albian's entire population. Remember the President running the drug-pushing Terra Nostra. Blake is right in fighting such a regime, and it would have done his character justice if the writer had allowed him to bring up those arguments, instead of the lame motivation that he has to continue in order to prove that he's right.

(Judith: Encore!)

Fortunately the well-written scenes of Blake subtly gaining information from Stott, while pretending to know what's going on, bring him back in character. A pity we don't get an answer to the question about the eye patch. :-)

Servalan is at her best, proving her worth as Supreme Commander and grabbing the chance for a coup when it occurs. Durkim seems a decent chap, showing that not all Federation Officers are from the Travis mould.

The Andromedan fleet is a masterpiece of camouflage. [Well, if they can shift their own shape, why not also that of their spacecraft?] A very cunning disguise aimed at making every human dismiss them as bits of debris from the pantry of an old wrecked spacecraft instead of a mighty alien war fleet. [And executed so well by the BBC that we're all falling for it. :-)]

Personal appreciation: *****

Never mind the plot holes, slow start and war fleet of kitchen utensils - this is fabulous stuff! All that delicious dialogue: Avon's "wading in blood" speech [of course he doesn't mean a word of it - he's just making the most of the fact that for once his shipmates seem prepared to take him seriously :-)], Avon and Travis outside the complex, Blake taking charge of the situation in his confrontation with Stott, Vila's reaction to the appearance of the alien fleet... I love it all!

Blake is again steamrollering over the feelings of the others when he so casually promises Liberator to Avon. His "Assuming the others go along with it." seems thrown in almost as an afterthought. [And why do Jenna and Vila direct their dirty looks solely at Avon here? :-)] This consistent disregard of the rights of his crew is the one trait I really dislike in Blake, although it does a lot for deepening his character.

True to the Series' form, this episode is full of ironies. Blake has to abandon his plan to blow up Star One because of the alien invasion. [In the B7 universe, choices are never simple. :-)] And he's painfully confronted by the consequences of his decision not to kill Travis when he had the chance. Avon goes all gung-ho trigger-happy and ends up heroically risking his life for the good of mankind. Blake at last gets round to shooting Travis, but he still needs Avon to finish the job. A fitting end for Travis [but I wish it had happened thirteen episodes earlier :-)]. Avon shoots a few aliens too, saving Blake's life in the process - the completion of his transformation into the action hero of the next seasons.

Maybe this is just hindsight, but that last interchange between Blake and Avon feels too much like a goodbye. They are not supposed to know that Blake isn't coming back but the fact that the actors know it comes over strongly, diminishing that potential powerful scene. Avon's blank face after Blake's declaration of trust is open for any interpretation. Mine is that he takes it with the scepticism it deserves. [Remember Horizon? :-)] "I've always relied on your sense of honour to not let me down," would have been a more accurate declaration IMHO.

(Judith: and I, of course, read it totally differently. I see Avon's reaction as, "You bastard, why wait until now to tell me?")

Lurena doesn't scream when coming upon her murdered companions. A pity she wasn't chosen as replacement for Jenna. Avon would have got on with her, he already treats her the same way as he does Cally in The Web and Jenna in Breakdown. [Avon violently grabbing a woman is a sure sign of acceptance. :-)]

Jenna giving the alarm to Servalan is a reminder of the decisive personality we saw in some of the S1 episodes. A pity she wasn't killed on screen. That would have made high dramatics! [Maybe Sally Knyvette had not yet decided to leave, or the producers wanted to keep open the option of having her return later. However, it seems a missed chance.] But even without Jenna's demise it's a magnificent finale. I always find myself holding my breath waiting for the "Fire!" command. :-)

Durkim's uniform differs from everything we've seen Federation Officers wear before. Maybe every rank has its own design, instead of just some insignia on the shoulder? Cally looks incredibly thin in that green leather suit. Avon has dug up his S1 silver parka again [one of his best outfits IMHO]. Those heels make him about two inches taller than he is. [I suppose the aim was to bring him up to Blake's height but it's unnecessary, Avon being capable of standing up to him equally well on flat soles. :-)] Blake's green leather jacket seems to have become increasingly tighter during the episodes and it now looks ready to burst at the seams. Vila has exchanged his jester outfit for the brown suit from Gambit. [Does he think of this as his 'lucky' suit, after the heist? :-)] Jenna will be best remembered for her ever perfectly groomed hair - even when she's fighting not a single strand gets out of place.


"You really hate me, don't you?" No, he doesn't. If he did Blake would have been dumped on a rebel base long ago. But this is one of those moments where it looks like Avon has finally gone too far. You can see Blake fighting the urge to lay his hands around Avon's neck and squeeze. [All through these two Seasons I've been waiting for one of them provoking the other into murder. After that "Go back to your position" scene in Redemption it seemed almost inevitable. :-)]

Is there something in Star One's atmosphere that holds back the ageing process? Lurena and her fellow technicians look remarkable young after thirty years service. :-) But Durkim doesn't sound as if it was thirty years ago since he saw Lurena, so Travis was probably lying to Blake in Pressure Point. [Or the writer had forgotten about that - or hoped that the viewers wouldn't remember. :-)] (I always assume that Travis was lying. It's extra cruel to Blake to say, you're not just late, you're thirty years late. Besides, it matches in better with Provine and Docholli) And how are they going to be replaced when they finally die. Or was the Federation supposed to have built a new and better Control Centre by that time, rendering Star One obsolete? :-)

If Avon had not been distracted by that landslide he would have walked into the trap too. Why did no-one think of leaving someone outside?

"She's my mother." I suppose Blake is being sarcastic here, but it seems a daft answer to give to someone whose confidence you want to win. Or is Blake supposed to have already figured out he's dealing with Aliens? What a genius! ;-)

(Judith: Well, that line once inspired me to write an extremely silly story in which Cally actually was Blake's mother! It's in the Gilbert and Servalan Songbook)

"Talk or scream, Travis!" Avon at his most ruthless. Yet with his "Be informative and I may let you die." he shows himself more merciful than Blake, who in Gambit denied Travis the mercy of death <very evil grin>.

Why don't they try to reactivate the deactivated part of the minefield? [Must be child's play for Avon and Orac. :-)] The Federation is faced by an alien invasion but Orac sees no cause for alarm. Glad to know that even a super computer can be fallible. :-)

"Jenna, let's run..." And leave the others to their fate. Why is it that Avon gets all the flak for being a selfish bastard? :-)

"The Final Act." Considering the frequency with which this phrase turns up, I wonder if it was initially meant to be the episode's title. If so, it seems a good choice - I think I would have preferred it to Star One.

It looks like Blake gets shot in the back. Yet Lurena is treating the wound in his chest, which means that the blast must have gone right through him.

(Judith: If Travis used a projectile weapon, the exit wound would be larger than the entry one. Sadly for Lurena, I don't think it was a projectile weapon... Maybe she was scared to move him and just blotted at what she could see?)

Watch how Avon is happy to let Cally bring the explosives out. Does he reckon that she can run faster than he, being probably more used to high heels? :-) When the bombs do go off, it seems but a small explosion, not enough to destroy the whole complex. But perhaps it would have had more impact indoors.

"Why not?" Surely he can do better? What about: "A victory of those aliens will not be beneficiary to my life expectancy."?

"Avon, this is stupid!" "When did that ever stop us?" Sums up the Series succinctly. :-)

Regarding the whole of S2, the employment of different writers has not been conducive to continuity and played havoc with the characterisation. IMO the gap in quality between stories is greater than in S1. Chris Boucher himself has contributed both strong and weak scripts. [That's the drawback for a script editor: there's no one to edit and correct *his* scripts. :-)]

The reduction in the participation of the female characters may be due to the fact that the character guidelines for Blake, Avon and Vila were more detailed and defined than for the other characters, causing the guest writers to concentrate on the men. [Something most writers tend to do anyway. I'm guilty of that myself. :-)] Paradoxically, in the five episodes until his demise Gan gets more to do than in the entire S1 - fighting in Redemption, contradicting Blake in Shadow, joining the landing party in Weapon, taking the initiative in Horizon and dying heroically in Pressure Point. Finally, in the non-human crew department, Orac has taken over the role of computer with a mind of its own, leaving Zen more reliable but less interesting.

An unfortunate decision IMO was the recasting of the Travis character when it became clear that Stephen Greif wasn't available for continuation of his role. For me Greif is Travis and I've never been able to adjust to Brian Croucher's version. This hasn't got anything to do with Croucher's acting ability but all with his physique, which I find totally wrong for that kind of character. His face is much too smooth compared to Greif's, which gives the impression of intense suffering. The eye patch doesn't 'fit' Croucher. With Greif it becomes part of his face, it blends in, while on Croucher it just looks very silly. [All IMHO of course.]

There's also, I think, a difference in interpretation of the role: Greif portrays Travis as subtly menacing, Croucher makes him a more straightforward, loud mouthed thug. I'm not saying that Croucher hasn't his moments - notably Trial and Star One - but I wish the producers had created the role of a new villain for him.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Explain how the Andromedans came in contact with Travis etc.

- Give Blake a better justification for his fight.

- Mention the camouflage of the Andromedan fleet. [Zen: You are looking at a fleet of high technology space cruisers... :-)]

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