(Chris Boucher) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Solid and believable except for the coincidence of Avon choosing the very day of Sula's coup to go chasing after Servalan [although him saving Servalan's skin is suitably ironic]. Servalan's character seems dragged in here, this story would have worked just as well without her. Sula's planning of the coup seems poor, one would expect Security's best agent to think of blocking the communication channels - it's Greenlee's message rather than Avon's interference that makes the enterprise fail. Avon removing his teleport bracelet is a cheap plot device for providing Servalan with her moment of gloating, and not in character IMHO. (Judith: I can believe him wanting to die at that point, after killing Anna.)

Avon's "Of all the things I knew myself to be I never recognised the fool," is one of his best moments, revealing his ability for cool and critical assessment even when his world crumbles around him. His survival instinct taking over in that moment of crisis when Anna draws her gun feels totally in character. Tarrant is the clever and ruthless character from Powerplay again [the one I prefer]. Cally persisting in her aversion to Shrinker's capture is a straight continuity from the previous episode, but I can't help thinking that the Cally from Time Squad would have wanted to execute him personally. Nice to see her and Dayna do some fighting. Vila forgetting to check the teleport co-ordinates is delightfully in character.

The beginning, with the tired and bedraggled Avon in the cell being threatened by Shrinker, is the strongest part of the story. Sadly from there on it spirals downwards into sentimentality. And how is it possible that both Avon and Tarrant know the obscure quote? Or is it meant as a quote from a future work? :-) (Judith: It's not that obscure a quote, I recognised it - though I had to look up who originally said it.)

Personal appreciation: ***

I don't like love stories and this has far too much melodrama for my taste. I can't stand Anna and I honestly can't imagine Avon falling for a type like her. [The problem here is probably that I had already formed my own image of the mysterious woman Avon loved so deeply - one that clashes strongly with the Anna presented here.] A case of wrong casting IMO, for despite her ruthlessly shooting her unsuspecting husband in the back, Anna/Sula fails to convince as the feared Bartholomew.

That said, there's a lot to enjoy. The chemistry between Darrow and Bryans (Shrinker) is almost sizzling. Their confrontation in the cell looks uncannily real, with a haggard Avon, still defiant after five days of torture, getting really scared when Shrinker produces that probe. Those close ups of Avon licking his lips in fear, Shrinker doing the same in anticipation, reveal excellent acting. Another strong scene is that of Vila, Dayna and Tarrant taunting Shrinker. And it's good to see Servalan down on her luck for once [but I can't help regretting that the rebels didn't shoot her on sight :-)].

Greenlee and Forres are amusing and give a human face to the security forces of the Terran President, although I find it hard to imagine them being so relaxed at the time of a major summit. Nice to see that for all its oppressiveness, the Federation allows its soldiers a generous head of hair. [I hate those crew-cuts that make even the most decent bloke look like a criminal.]

Shrinker's change from confident torturer to frightened captive is a joy to watch. Like in 'City', Liberator's crew is at its best here, working as a team. This episode has a wealth of humour woven through it, urgently needed in such a grim tale. The whole interaction between Greenlee and Forres, Avon's "Orac's main drawback", Vila's "Cheers, Orac", Tarrant's "Probably forgot to salute" are all gems.

Avon dons his Volcano outfit again and although I like it better with the black sweater it does make him look very slim. He does seem much thinner now compared to the first two seasons [which makes one wonder whether this is due to more flattering costumes or if Darrow lost some weight between S2 and S3]. Dayna for once is allowed a suit that looks comfortable to wear and the bright red serves to alleviate the sombre mood of the story, as does Cally's two tone blue costume. All those pirate-like outfits Tarrant drags up from Liberator's wardrobe room seem much too flamboyant for a competent and ruthless ex-Federation officer's taste, although they stress the swashbuckling aspect of his character. Servalan has her worst dress ever, IMO it makes her look like a cheap prostitute. [But I'm renowned for my lack of dress sense so anyone disagreeing with me need not feel slighted.] Is that depressing grey of Sula and Chesku meant to indicate the state of the Federation? :-)


Doesn't that coloured band on the prison overall look like a barcode? Why do we only get a glimpse of Avon's bare feet? Is it coincidence that we don't ever see him stand on them or was the camera kept away deliberately because Darrow was wearing warm socks during the recording? :-)

In those flashbacks Anna seems very insincere to me. Avon must have been totally besotted not to notice. :-) [And that's exactly my theory: Avon's love for Anna is just an infatuation and the real tragedy is that she was allegedly killed before he got the time to grow tired of her, which he would have done pretty soon.]

Why doesn't Shrinker grab the gun Avon throws him and shoot Avon before he can teleport out? Everyone assuming Bartholomew to be a man is a nice ploy, the same will happen in Assassin.

"Don't we get a say in this?" Poor Vila, as if anyone ever asks his consent! For once he *is* quick in operating the teleport, but does he get any thanks? :-)

"Get the men together..." Are there no women among Sula's rebels? Why does she go to the cellar on her own? Wanting a quiet gloat over her defeated enemy?

"It's an old wall..." sounds much too melodramatic for Servalan IMO.

"No, there's no one else..." Not a nice thing to say where Cally can hear it. :-) And keeping your word may be honourable, it isn't wise when you're dealing with a treacherous and murderous mega-criminal like Servalan, as she immediately shows by repaying Avon's deed with trying to kill him.

We see Avon drinking twice in this episode, a sure sign that things are not well. :-)

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It

- Leave Servalan out.

- Cast another actress in the role of Anna/Sula.

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