(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Enjoyable as a whole, but with one glaring deficiency: Avon leaving Orac for Servalan to steal is so out of character that it grates. Granted, it's vital to the plot, but that doesn't make it any more credible. Dayna starts out well as a competent, courageous, resourceful, rather bloodthirsty young woman, although halfway through the episode she's already doing what Avon tells her.

The concept for S3 of making Avon 'nicer' after the departure of Blake is in evidence here. In the Mellanby residence he's behaving like the perfect guest. [But for all we know this may have been his normal behaviour before the trauma of Anna's death and the failure of his bankfraud.] He's also showing a lot of concern for his companions. [And no, I don't buy that he's asking first after Blake because he feels more for him than for the others. He merely expects Blake to get himself into trouble more readily than the others. :-)] A scene where the nice-guy-idea doesn't work is when Avon prevents Dayna from killing the unconscious Sarran with the argument that he no longer poses a threat. Here the writer overlooks a much better reason, that she should not waste her one remaining arrow.

(Judith: I remember my reaction when I first saw that scene. It felt so out of character for Avon. As Marian says, they'd decided that Avon now had to be the 'good' guy and wasn't allowed to kill helpless enemies any more.)

Hal Mellanby mentioning to Avon the need for Dayna (but not Lauren) to leave home is a dead give-away for the development of the story, a sure pointer to who will survive and who will die.

Servalan is consistent in her lack of compassion, the evil glee with which she goads and shoots Mellanby is chilling. A new trait is her misjudging Avon so badly, which serves well to emphasise her own limitless lust for power. Another flaw is her patronising Dayna - insulting your hosts while your safety depends on them isn't good policy, although it may have been intended to provoke Dayna into indiscretions. Leaving Lauren out on her own as easy prey for the Sarrans is a rather easy way for the writer to get rid of her. Why not let Servalan kill her too? And why would the Sarrans want to kill her? In such a society you'd expect a captured young and pretty woman to be forced into marriage - a prize for the tribe's most promising warrior, or even its chief.

The episode's end is superb, especially as it is so unexpected. Just when you're relaxing because they've made it safely back to Liberator, here comes this chap pointing a gun at them. It gets my prize for best cliff-hanger of the entire Series.

Personal appreciation: ***

The thing that ruins the story for me is the plot device of Avon leaving Orac with Mellanby for Servalan to steal it. Nothing could convince me that he would ever be so stupid. [I'm *not* saying that Avon is incapable of errors - he makes many and usual capital ones - just that I can't see him capable of this one.] Orac is his only way back to the Liberator. He knows Servalan is out to get it [she's just told him so]. Even with a blinding headache his instinct for self-preservation would make him hang on to Orac at all times.

I'd liked to have seen more of Cally and Vila. [Yes, I know only two episodes ago I was complaining about not seeing enough of Avon but even of a good thing you can get too much. :-)] And I wish, oh how I wish that after her seduction attempt Avon would have kept his hands around Servalan's throat and strangled her. His leaving her alive is as inexcusable as Blake's refusal to kill Travis. She's already held a gun to his head and revealed her intention to take Orac. Ignoring a threat like that is crass stupidity.

[I remember on the first time watching the seduction scene, wanting to scream to Avon not to trust Servalan. Oh, my relief when he broke off that tender kiss to throw her aside... But if only he'd throttled her first. :-(]

I'm in two minds about the addition of Dayna as a regular cast member. [I'm not referring to Josette Simon, just to the character she's portraying]. The idea to bring in a young high-spirited and trigger-happy girl as counterbalance for Liberator's battered and cynical crew [and to give the dads another beautiful woman to watch after Jenna's departure :-)] wasn't bad, and I do like Dayna. OTOH I think I would have preferred a more mature women, who would have been able to stand up to Avon. [If Sally Knyvette had stayed Jenna could have become such a character, fighting Avon to the teeth about command of the Liberator.]

I like the Red Indian-like natives. As with the Goths, one wonders about their origin. The Galaxy must have an enormous amount of planets where life evolved exactly the way it did on Earth, or else almost every group of Terran settlers did fall back to primitivism. :-)

(Judith: My vote is for - colonies founded before the start of the New Calendar were cut off during major wars back on Earth. Losing contact and supply lines, they had to fall back on local resources and often lost the capacity for industry.)

Avon looks tall and slim in his grey leather outfit and even more gorgeous in Mellanby's black shirt. (Judith: Yes!) Dayna's costumes are nice, but leaving one shoulder bare seems to me rather cold and uncomfortable. Does she design and make them herself [first weaving the fabric], or are they postal-ordered from somewhere? [Maybe Mellanby's ship contains a wardrobe room like Liberator? For all we know that may be a standard feature in spacecraft at that time. :-)] As usual, Servalan's dress and shoes are totally unsuitable for travel. One thing the B7 Universe must have accomplished is the invention of dirt-resistant and self-repairing fabrics - even after a space crash, Servalan's dress remains pristine.

The interior of the sunken spacecraft is very well done, it provides such a cosy feeling of comfort and safety. One of the best sets of the series.


How can that explosion knock out Avon but not Cally and Vila who are much nearer to it? (Judith: Avon obviously has a thin skull. He gets knocked out an impressive number of times during the series.)

Well now, our Avon *has* taken lessons in unarmed combat! [And yes, I like it! The cerebral hero and the action man both equally appeal to me.] Avon beautiful??? Dayna must have led a very sheltered life. He's not even good looking! Attractive, yes - but that's something else entirely. :-)

Why doesn't Avon keep that Sarran's knife? Not only is it a very useful tool when you're marooned on a primitive planet, but by keeping it you can prevent someone else using it to stab you in the back. [All right, it's in character because he's regularly throwing away things that might come in handy, but I still find it stupid.]

"Set the teleport for random pickup..." Can Zen now suddenly operate the teleport or is that done via Orac?

Servalan is making the common error of judging others by her own standards, expecting Avon to be as power-mad as she is. "I'd be dead in a week!" sounds like the most astute assessment Avon ever made. And I like his answer to her accusation of infinite corruption. Avon knows his worth. :-)

How well is that cave entrance on the beach hidden from view? It seems poorly concealed, yet the Sarrans run right past it. Doesn't Avon appear chivalrous, giving his own bracelet to Servalan instead of ordering Dayna to hand over hers? But of course, it's all a ruse. :-)

"Get the bracelet!" Endearing, isn't it, this willingness to rely on the fighting skills of his women companions? :-) But why doesn't Dayna shoot Servalan as soon as Avon has found Orac? She's got plenty of time before they're caught by the teleport.

"What are you doing on *my* ship?" Avon's face is a picture. And how clever of Orac to swiftly shrink itself to the size of a dust-grain to avoid detection! A pity we don't see it happen. :-)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Make Avon use the obvious argument to Dayna when he prevents her from killing the Sarran: "You've only got one arrow left. Spare that for his friends."

- Let Avon take Orac with him to his room and have Servalan steal it from there.

- Let Avon strangle Servalan. [Impossible in view of the rest of the Season, I know. <sigh> But one can dream.]

- Show Avon hiding Orac after they've teleported back to Liberator.

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