Story: I love whodunits and the idea for this one is nice [and no, I did not guess who'd dunit the first time I saw it :-)], but plotwise it has a lot of holes. There's Dr. Kendall stating that only he has the key and code to the safe where the neutrotope is kept and then sending Sara to fetch it. And can't the Liberator take the Ortega in tow? If not, why not let a few of its crew go with Blake to keep an eye on that precious neutrotope. (Judith: the horribly prosaic answer is probably that the Ortega sequences were filmed at Ealing and the Liberator sequences on different dates in London. It cost extra to use guest actors for both sessions. Mind you, as real world considerations don't count <grin> we can still berate Kendall for not insisting on going along in person to look after the neutrotope.) And the biggest question: why does none of the Ortega crew suspect Blake and his companions of killing their pilot? They only have Blake's word for finding them as he says.
Apart from all that, how does Liberator gets back through the meteorite storm so quickly without the force field and low on power? A smaller blunder is (near the end) Cally and Avon agreeing to complete the repairs in order to get the ship on the move, yet when Blake teleports to the Ortega they are idling about with the others in the crew room instead of working in the cockpit.
Still, there is a lot in this story to enjoy, like the characterisation of the Ortega crew. It is difficult to flesh out such a large group and here that is done very well. There is some real suspense with Cally searching that dark storeroom and Sonheim going after her. She is presented as a tough, intelligent and resourceful woman, who doesn't scream when stumbling upon a body. Avon is prepared to listen to her, and he gives her due for the theory about the closed ventilator.
Yet we are presented with a screaming woman, and a nice twist that is. :-)
Personal appreciation: **** I like this episode mostly for the Avon-Cally scenes. They work so well together; he seems much more relaxed in her presence than in that of the others. Note how he touches her arm for a moment when the alarm goes. Avon clearly enjoys playing the clever detective, then ruins his performance by turning his back to the suspect at the critical moment. [Clearly he's not yet aware that there's a trick for Hiding Bulky Objects On Your Body While Wearing Skin Tight Outfits. But he'll learn. :-)]
It is good to see Cally contributing to solving the mystery, much more satisfactory than if it had been Avon's one-man-show. Cally is also the one who doesn't give up hope at the end, proposing to finish the repairs on the drive so they won't be sitting ducks. Avon being too preoccupied with his repair work to look at Cally's discovery is one of those true-to-life things that make the series so watchable. And we actually hear him admitting that he might be wrong. That must be a first! [Of course, Blake isn't there to hear him say it :-)]
"I shall stay because I don't like an unsolved mystery." Well, he can't admit that he likes to keep Cally company, can he? :-) Seriously, his curiosity forms a nice additional character trait, betraying him as much more human than he wants the world to believe. But how I wish he would have discarded that horrible futuristic sailor outfit. It spoils half the fun of watching him! :-( [Perhaps it would have looked better with one of those dark high-collared sweaters under it.]
Cally's heels are as high as Jenna's. Sensible footwear for women seems not available on Liberator. :-) (Judith: actually Cally does find better footwear before too long)
Avon doesn't protest when Blake invites him to come with him to the Ortega. Curiosity? [Or is it because Blake is asking him very nicely? :-)]
"Alone..." Blake is very impatient with Cally here, sign of his single-mindedness - can't concentrate on more than one issue at a time. [All right, at this point he needs all his concentration on staying awake himself, so I'm just bitching :-)]
"...Jammed the main controls on a circular flight pattern." How does Cally know that? Her specialisation is in communications. [But maybe that includes a course on navigation systems?]
"Thank you, Cally..." is very mild for Avon, and judging by her look of indulgent patience, she isn't taking his jibing very seriously.
Why do Avon and Cally agree to hand over their guns and teleport bracelets? They're not staying for a tea party but a murder enquiry. [All right, at this stage they're convinced that the murderer has fled, but I can't see Avon relinquishing those items even when visiting a peaceful tea party.]
"What a very cynical thought." Look who's talking! :-)
When Sara threatens to shoot the first one entering the corridor, Avon displays a death wish in doing just that. Seems rather out of character for someone having his own wellbeing so at heart. [Shame about being tricked by her?]
"Better get her out of here. I really rather enjoyed that!" Who can blame him, after that whack in the groin she deals him? Judging by his tone he's rather surprised about his feeling of satisfaction - the reaction of a man not used to fighting. But why did he go for her himself, instead of leaving it to the Ortega crew? Not trusting them to do it right? And why, after having gone through all the trouble of getting a bracelet on her, does he let go of Sara just before they are teleported?
Blake attaching that bomb to the Ortega's entry hatch seems a bit callous, although it is possible Zen has recognised the approaching ship as a Federation vessel. The Ortega crew seem to take the destruction of their ship very tamely. Shouldn't they be clamouring for compensation? [Well, there is Liberator's strong room... :-)]
With the action centred on the Ortega, those left aboard Liberator get little to do - the disadvantage of having such a large regular cast. [The BBC might have spared itself a few actors' salaries by reducing their number. Basically, Avon's and Vila's characters are very similar; it would have been easy to merge them. (One can expect a technical genius with criminal tendencies to concentrate on locking devices.) Gan's character could have been axed altogether. Mind, I'm glad they did not think of it, but the show would have been viable with just Blake, Jenna and Avon to get on each other's nerves, and Cally as the alien for the mind take-overs. :-) For one thing, it would have meant a more prominent role for the women... No, B7 without Vila really doesn't bear thinking about!
What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:
- Explain about Sara being able to open Kendall's safe. (She could be his secretary, with Kendall simply forgetting to mention the fact that she too has the key and code.)
- Shown us how Liberator manages to go back unscathed through that meteorite storm without the force wall.
- Give Sara a less bulky weapon or provided her costume with a large pocket to hide it in.
- Made the Ortega crew be more suspicious of Blake & Co.
- Put in a comment about Sara's hobby of weightlifting, to explain her being able to get that body on top of that locker.
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