(Terry Nation) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Another murder mystery and a good one, even Avon isn't clever enough to solve it. :-) Like the previous episode, Avon's activities do overshadow the adventures of Vila and Cally. Both Blake and Jenna are mentioned and there's no indication yet that they won't be back. Tarrant is totally convincing as the ruthless, unscrupulous but clever Federation Officer who can outwit even Avon. His character becomes even nastier when we learn that he's been stabbing his companions in the back. Section Leader Klegg is oozing menace from every pore, a very impressive performance. The amount of his troopers is confusing. Avon mentions four but in reality there are five.

The noble primitives being men and the perfidious high-tecs women seems to be more a case of unfortunate casting than deliberate sexism; we can assume both factions to consist of men and women, otherwise they would have become extinct very soon. The concept of people being killed for organ-donation is all too imaginable, and made extra horrific here by the 'kindness' of the nurses and the highly organised, clinical way in which it is executed.

Nice to see Vila becoming inventive when he's with his back to the wall, although his pretending to have backup is doomed to fail. Him meeting Cally so soon is acceptable, their life rockets wouldn't have drifted that far apart. The Chengan ship picking up Servalan from Sarran indicates that the planets must be near to each other. [Although it isn't mentioned, we can assume that Servalan found a transmitter in Mellanby's home to put out a distress call.] On Sarran the Chengan ship seems to land away from the sandy beach but it probably needs firm ground for a safe touchdown.

In a Terry Nation script, a woman is allowed to kill with her bare hands, and Dayna makes a good job of dealing with Klegg while Avon and Tarrant look on with approval.

The weakest part of the story is the end, when Avon not only allows Tarrant to stay, but even gives him control over Zen, thus giving Tarrant the perfect chance to take Liberator and run. Crucial for the continuation of the Series, but hard to credit. Sorely missed here is a scene of Cally, Vila and Avon discussing whether to let Dayna and Tarrant stay. [Well, one hopes that Avon does discuss it with them. :-)]

(Judith: Paul Darrow felt the same way. He said that he could only make it work in his own mind by having Avon assume that he could kill Tarrant and Dayna at any time as he was smarter than they were. Or words to that general effect.)

Personal appreciation: ****

Nice to have Avon playing the detective again, although this time he does not solve the mystery. :-) With the rash, bragging, bullying and sometimes not very bright Tarrant of later episodes in mind, I had forgotten how clever, calculating and callous he is here. This nasty character could have given Avon a hell of a time. Instead of an irritating but mostly dependable crewmember, Del Tarrant could have become the enemy aboard Liberator, with Avon and him circling around each other, both weary of a knife in the back while at the same time waiting for a chance to do the stabbing. :-)

Tarrant looks every bit the Federation Officer in that uniform and I can well believe in him as a young ambitious Captain fresh out of the Space Academy. The problem that the part was originally written for an older actor reveals itself the moment that he casts off his Federation Officer's disguise. To me Steven Pacey simply looks too young for the experienced mercenary he's supposed to portray. [Yet again, I'm not commenting on the acting, solely on the casting.] It's a pity Tarrant's background stays in the dark, especially his reason for deserting [the most despicable crime for an officer and Tarrant seems to fit so well in the military society]. The fact that he chose a career as mercenary instead of joining a rebel group indicates a wish to become rich quickly, rather than a dawning realisation of the evil of the Federation. :-)

This is very much the kind of story I like: a plot with few holes, a nice mystery, suspense, action. The quibble that, apart from the fact that most of the action takes place on spacecraft, there isn't any science fiction present, I leave to others, as that is not something which bothers me. Provided it would have been done with these actors portraying these characters, I think I would have enjoyed the Series just as well if it was set in another time. [Preferably the Middle Ages - all the lovely costumes of that period. :-)] And IMO it would have worked equally well, because the characters are drawn so strong and lifelike that they can fit into any period of history. [And the fight against oppression is something of all times.]


I can't help wondering how S3 would have looked with an older actor in the role of Tarrant, as was the original idea. [Or with a different character. Durkim would have been a good candidate, IMHO, or even the insufferable Carnell. Imagine him and Avon trying to get the better of each other... But no, even Liberator wouldn't have been large enough to contain two egos that size. :-)]

Spare a thought for poor Vila, ending up wounded on a hostile planet while Avon got kissed by a curious maiden in a cosy cave. [And our Vila doesn't suffer half as beautifully as Avon can. ;-)] Isn't it sweet of Dayna to zip up Avon's jacket again after Klegg's body search? [Well, who else can have done it?] But it makes one wonder what she did to satisfy her curiosity before that. :-) Nice to see Avon successfully picking a lock again. How can Klegg's men overpower Dayna when she's sitting in a locked cabin with a gun aimed at the door?

"He speaks our language." Doesn't everyone in the B7 Universe?

"You'll get all the credit you deserve!" Now that's a promise he's intending to keep. :-)

Why does Avon tell Tarrant about the 'considerable' wealth in Liberator's strongroom? Wouldn't it have been wiser to pretend Harmon's loot to be the only valuables aboard? [And instruct Zen at the first opportunity to leave that door closed to everyone but himself.]

Nice to see Servalan deprived of power for once - and Cally rubbing it in. :-) Do we detect a hint of jealousy in Servalan's "Your friend Avon."? Does she know something we don't? Of course Servalan can't resist gloating when Vila and Cally seem about to be killed. A pity the Chengans didn't use her for spare parts.

Avon looks murderous when he's caught on returning to Dayna's cabin. Tarrant's "even bet" remark doesn't seem to go down well too. :-) Talking where they can be overheard by the enemy shows that even clever men can do stupid things. Does Tarrant's "You'd better come up with something fast!" mean that he can't do that himself? And does he know about Avon's dirty dealing with Klegg? From Tarrant's expression when he's disarmed it seems quite possible that they had arranged something else.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Show how Klegg and his men trick Dayna into opening the door and overpower her.

- Make Avon tone down his declaration about the 'considerable' wealth aboard the Liberator.

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