Nothing in the episode prepares you for the end. Until now they've always managed to get out with their lives, if not with the loot. For about 45 minutes it looks like they'll do so again. It's the sudden disaster that makes the Series stand out so much, the sheer unexpectedness of the final events.
Even if Avon had been less trigger happy, Blake would still have been up for the chop. Arlen and her troopers would have seen to that. The question is, did Arlen know who Blake was before he told her his name? It would add to the irony if she'd just been after some anonymous rebel base without knowing who ran it.
We don't get to hear how Arlen alerted the troopers, but as she declares herself to be a Federation Officer, it's logical to assume that she is responsible for their emergence. Another irony: as Blake decided to trust Arlen, he is ultimately to blame for the troopers' attack.
We see a last but significant bit of character development for Tarrant. "There's no point in both of us dying," he tells Avon, while in Dawn of the Gods he insisted they should all die together. Avon too has changed. Instead of making Orac teleport him to safety in all haste, he is loath to leave Tarrant to his fate. This crisis brings out the best in the two men. Avon's "Goodbye, Tarrant," is very in character in its unsentimentality. Both Cally and Jenna get mentioned. We learn about the latter's fate, although one can doubt whether Blake speaks the truth or is just putting up a tale to see Tarrant's reaction. Vila's distrust of Avon is evident in his insistent enquiries about Tarrant's fate.
Another plothole is that nobody thinks of looking for Tarrant after the crash. Granted, it doesn't seem likely that he could have survived, but they should have checked anyway. Even if it's too far by foot, once they got the flier it could have been done. [But of course that would have ruined the plot. :-)]
The producers did well in opting to have them all die together, the shock effect would have been lost if the Scorpio crew had been killed off gradually over the last five episodes. And I'm infinitely grateful that they didn't give us a gloating Servalan in the last scene. The allusions to a representative of the Federation High Council makes you fear the worst, but thankfully it doesn't come to pass. [The fact that so many fans insist that they remember, on their first viewing, having seen Servalan in that final scene, shows how predictable her appearance had become.]
As we can expect from Chris Boucher, the episode is full of excellent dialogue, especially the confrontation between Blake and Avon, with everything Blake says serving to increase Avon's suspicions. [I'm glad that Blake's last words in the first draft ("Oh Avon. I didn't take any of them on trust... except you... You are my... only friend!") got chopped - much too long and sentimental.] (Judith: you're probably right, but I'd still love to hear it. It's such a perfect summation of the ironies of their relationship.) All in all, the show couldn't have had a more poignant ending. It is the ultimate message of B7: you can't fight against fate and life is never fair.
Although I'd been expecting Avon to shoot Blake at some point all through S2, it took me totally by surprise here.
Blake being so changed that he can't know who to trust anymore - hitherto one of his strongest instincts - is touching. What's left is his ability for evoking loyalty in others and his inability to listen to their advice. Poor Deva, he seems as exasperated by Blake's stubbornness as Avon ever was.
Still, I find it difficult to reconcile this embittered figure with the Blake of S1-2. His guise of bounty-hunter, even as cover, doesn't ring true to me. His callous treatment of Arlen - forcing her to walk on that injured knee - seems not in character (Judith: that jars a bit with me, even though I interpret it as part of his testing). Nor does him refraining from providing medical aid to the seriously wounded Tarrant. [Don't they have a doctor on the base?] Blake's scar is a nice touch - shades of Travis. Pity we don't get to hear how he got it.
Zen's "dying" scene in Terminal did hurt; Slave's farewell speech just irritates. Normally I find Slave's submissiveness amusing, but here it gets annoying to the point where I heave a sigh of relief when he finally falls silent.
I've been moaning about scenes in the dark before (Dawn of the Gods) and here again I find it irritating not to be able to see what is happening inside the hut. Although perfectly visible, the shooting down of the Scorpio crew seems clumsily choreographed, which is enhanced by the slow motion. [Sucker for happy endings that I am, I'm convinced they're all stunned and will survive to fight another day. :-)] Nice to see Vila, with his back to the wall, getting some courage and whacking Arlen. Him then apologising makes him stay in character to the bitter end.
The scene that stands out for me is when, after the shooting, Avon wakes from his trance and begins to take in the situation. It looks so chillingly real. His bleak smile says it all: "This is the final mess Blake's got me into." Avon has always known that Blake would be his death some day, but even in his worst dreams he couldn't have imagined this scenario.
"I would have left Blake where he was." A pity he didn't. :-) [Blake would have died anyway, but it would have made all the difference for the Scorpio crew.]
Those gunships are the nearest thing to flying saucers we get to see in B7. [The alien's craft in Sarcophagus looks more like an oversized pumpkin.]
Why does Blake say: "I wonder if those gunships challenged HIM?"? Usually ships are referred to as HER. Is this an indication that Blake knows the shot down ship is Avon's, that he is in fact talking about Avon? (Judith: or is he just assuming a male pilot?)
"Is staying alive too complicated for you?" Avon's right, one would have expected more sense [from Soolin at least] than to put Vila on guard.
Judging by those Sanskrit-like symbols on the side of the flyer, Gauda Prime has its own alphabet. Or, remembering the symbols on the guard's sheet in Space Fall, is it merely a code used for transport?
Avon taking the controls of the flyer - don't the others have a driving licence or is he the type who doesn't like to have someone else do the driving? :-) The scenes of those four in the flyer provide an appropriate feeling of claustrophobia and doom. Still, when Vila begins to speak about ending up in a hole in the ground, it seems just his usual moaning, there's nothing to forewarn us that he'll be proved right this time. [But then, there's no indication that he believes it himself. :-)]
Avon looking around him in the wood after Scorpio's crash is a nice parallel with him looking around at the troopers in the tracking gallery when he comes out of his daze after shooting Blake.
"Abandon ship." Nice to see the principle of "women and children (Vila) first" having survived the ages. :-)
Regarding the whole of S4, this is my least favourite Season, although it contains quite a few individual episodes that I like. One thing that is too silly for words is the concept that Servalan can get away with her identity change without any disguise. I'd have preferred to see her stay dead after Terminal, but if she had to be resurrected it should have been done in a more believable manner.
Especially towards the end of the Season, Servalan's presence is getting far too predictable. IMO it would have benefited the Series if she'd been allowed to be killed off at the end of Sand. The next three episodes could have worked just as well without her [The end of Gold would have been much more of a surprise if Keiller had been the one to bring off the coup with the Zerok currency.]
Vila's character suffers in that he's partly portrayed as the lazy coward from the previous Seasons and partly as a much tougher guy. I can accept the logic of his circumstances making him a harder man, but here it's simply too erratic to be convincing.
Then there's Avon's supposed decline into madness. Having read most of the transcripts of S4 before I saw the episodes [I didn't remember much from watching them when originally broadcast], I couldn't understand how the Avon-is-mad theory came into the world because his actions are as rational as ever. It was only when I saw Darrow's performance, very different from the Avon of the previous Seasons, that I began to understand the idea. Still, his acting fails to convince me, for despite the shouting and over-the-top gestures, Avon's actions betray his sanity. :-)
And despite Judith's erudite explanation, I still think tele-ergotron sounds silly. [Maybe it's just the way Darrow pronounces it. :-)]
- Reveal more of what happened to Blake since Star One.
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