(Trevor Hoyle) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Simple but enjoyable although rather slow-paced and too shallow to be taken seriously. A man-eating artificial brain should be cause for horror but here the concept merely causes mild amusement. Another flaw is that we don't get an explanation for Cally's teleporting to the Ultra. Is her mind supposed to be taken over again or did she develop an unresistable curiosity about the artificial planet? (Judith: I assume some kind of hypnosis as appeared to happen to Vila later on.) Also the nature of the Ultra remains unclear. Are they humans, mutoids, upgraded menials? They have a strong similarity with the Altas from Redemption - is blue the colour for servants of artificial intelligences like green is for monsters?

We all have our off days but even so Avon, with his famed instinct for survival, failing to sense that zombie sneaking up on him defies belief. Like in Rumours, Tarrant shines here, reasoning things out [usually Avon's task], and generally being intelligent and competent. Him stopping to think is a first. Avon seems dim in comparison, making one wonder whether the Ultra did a secret mind-swop on them. Avon's scientific curiosity - the best excuse for making him do stupid things - pops up again. Cally gets hardly anything to do, although it's her teleporting over to the planet that necessitates the rescue operation. Vila spouting those awful jokes works well, the fun being not in the jokes but in the way they're used. Dayna again reveals a genius for hiding bulky object in skin-tight clothes.

A pity that the idea of Tarrant having swopped the mind tubes was not followed up. A missed chance of huge proportions. :-)

Personal appreciation: ***

Despite the boring bits of Dayna and Tarrant running through all those tunnels, I quite like it. For one thing, Servalan's not there [we see far too much of her in S3, IMO]. I love the interplay between Vila and Orac - Vila's reaction when Orac starts analysing his tap-on-the-head joke is pure bliss! Poor Vila experiencing that staying aboard Liberator can be every bit as frightening as going with the others is fun, and it's great to have him saving the day [with Orac's help]. Avon looks gorgeous when asleep [those eyelashes!] and his smile at Vila at the end always makes my heart melt. :-)

I'm fond of the 'nicer', responsible Avon of S3. Like Blake in S1-2, it's now Tarrant's task to make him do the 'right' thing. Here it takes Tarrant very little argument to convince him of the need to go to Cally's rescue. And, like in Children of Auron, Avon not only sanctions the rescue operation but takes part in it himself. [Doesn't he trust Tarrant and Dayna to be able to do it on their own? :-)]

The blue-veined Ultra are suitably bland and it's amusing to see them to the very end refusing to believe that something can go wrong with the core. I'm in two minds about that core looking like a real brain. It seems fitting since it's supposed to be organic and feeding on corpses but the design seems rather impractical.

The end of the story feels a bit rushed, although not as badly as in Dawn of the Gods. I know this episode is perceived as boring by most viewers [Avon's yawning working infectious? :-)] but I find a lot to enjoy in it.

Avon's brown outfit isn't his most inspiring, but I like it anyway. Vila, also in brown here, usually looks good in whatever he wears. The black sweater [borrowed from Avon? :-)] suits Tarrant. His green top, reminding of Blake's favourite outfits, is Tarrant's simplest ever. Cally has one of her worst costumes. Dayna's black-and-red isn't bad, though hardly memorable.


The Ultra give Avon credit for attempting to steal a rather larger amount of money than Vila does in Space Fall.

"For a supposedly intelligent species they are remarkably stupid." Yes, they are! :-) And Avon seems far too trusting despite his assertion that he takes nothing on trust.

"Dayna, we seem to have lost Tarrant. You'd better find him." It's always nice to see Avon willing to let the women do their share. :-) And even nicer to see Dayna rescue Tarrant. They must have an extraordinary sense of direction to find their way through those tunnels.

Isn't Tarrant the gallant knight, refusing to take advantage of the Ultra's wish to study the bonding ceremony? :-) Why does he react so strangely after shooting the Ultra? Compare this with him stabbing his unsuspecting enemies in the back in Powerplay.

That must be a giant dock to hold Liberator. And, considering the scale, those iron bars keeping Liberator in place must be very thick, so why is the ship able to break loose so easily?

How does Tarrant know which memory tubes are those of Avon and Cally. Where does he learn the procedure for reversing the brain-sucking process. And why is the de-brained Cally able to walk while Avon is not?

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Give a reason for Cally teleporting to Ultraworld.

- Cut down the time used for running through tunnels.

- Make Tarrant swop the mind tubes.

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