(Simon Masters) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Action packed and so well produced that you don't notice the flaws. The writer manages to give all crewmembers a fair share in the action. Seeking allies to join forces for producing the antidote to the pylene 50 drug is the kind of practical plan one can expect from Avon.

Avon as diplomat is a first [and he isn't doing half as badly as Vila thinks :-)] but why invite the warlords to the Xenon base? Wasn't there any neutral territory where they could have met? And why is Zukan allowed to install his equipment without any checks - they've only got his word that it's what he says. Usually Avon is more suspicious and if he lapses, Tarrant is there to challenge him. Here they don't even think of placing a guard on their guests, leaving Zukan and Finn free to roam the base at night.

Zukan's character is given some depth in him having nightmares about the people he's killed, but that doesn't prevent him from sacrificing some more of his followers. Under these circumstances it's a miracle that he has any followers left. Finn is a suitable sinister character, and also destined to see his dedication to his chief rewarded by death.

Of course Servalan is there - boringly predictable. A pity the producers forewent their last chance for killing her off instead of leaving her fate undecided. [IMO at this point Servalan/Sleer's character had been too milked out to maintain credibility in a fifth season.] Servalan double-crossing Zukan is no surprise. As by this time the Federation's reputation for treachery must have reached the farthest parts of the galaxy, it seems strange that Zukan would still want to do business with them.

Soolin being so friendly to Zeeona, apparently without ulterior motive, indicates that deep down inside the cold calculating sharpshooter lives a nice girl. Still, to risk the failure of the alliance by helping Zeeona defy her father seems too sentimental for Soolin.

What happens to Orac? We hear nothing more about it after it gets damaged in the explosion. It seems to be left behind when the crew teleport up to Scorpio. As it is present and in working order in the next episode, one assumes that someone salvaged and repaired it, but some elaboration would have been welcome.

The end is rather ambiguous, it being not clear whether Zeeona is planning a suicide mission - and if so, whether Avon knows her intentions. Tarrant crying is almost as bad as Servalan crying in Sand and not at all in character, as we didn't see him cry over his brother's death. (Judith: I've always read Avon's reaction as showing that he knew what she was going to do. Read Love and Honour in the Hermit Library - it has a very good take on Zeeona's actions)

Personal appreciation: *****

I love this one except for the tedious scenes on the escalators, which I always fast forward through. Already high, the tension reaches a peak when the base is sabotaged and Orac gets out of action. Even Tarrant falling in love again so soon after Sand can't mar this episode for me, and at least this time he chooses a more suitable partner. Servalan's presence is bearable because of her giving the treacherous Zukan and Finn their come-uppance. A pity she couldn't have perished in the act, now that would have been a satisfactory ending!

I like how Avon, despite being almost a head smaller than his guests, manages to remain the centre of attention. He and Soolin again form a gorgeous pair. Nice to see that Soolin isn't at all afraid to anger Avon. She seems totally unimpressed by his threat to sacrifice her for Zukan's goodwill. [Which doesn't tackle the question of why she would want to help Zeeona and Tarrant. She doesn't seem that concerned for Tarrant's feelings at other times and he still deserves a clobbering for his remarks about her being jealous in Assassin.] Soolin apparently changing sides, and Avon for a moment thinking she means it, is great stuff!

One big irritation to me is that footage in different colour that has been inserted in the planet scenes. It stands out so much it's grating. I'd gladly have settled for longer close ups of Avon and Soolin. :-) Another annoyance is the endless repeat of "A radioactive airborne virus"; how many times does the writer thinks that has to be said for us to get the message? (Judith: I get irritated by the concept of a radioactive virus - it's feels like bad science.)

Isn't it remarkable how many different designs in spacecraft we see in the Series? Considering that the planes and cars of our own time are all the same basic design, one would expect there to be a basic design for spacecraft too. (Judith: no air resistance to impose a universal constraint.)

Those warlords seem a vain bunch, some of their attires must be decidedly unpractical. The Scorpio flight suits are by far the best S4 costumes, both Avon and Soolin look great in them. A pity they weren't chosen as the standard costume for I think the others would have looked good in them too. [Well, some of the S4 garb is so bad that anything would be an improvement.] It's such a difference to see Avon with a bare throat for a change. I love Zeeona's wig. Zukan's isn't bad either. :-) Servalan's gown isn't flattering. [Apparently it had a jacket with it that was so awful that Jacqueline Pierce refused to wear it - which means it must have been horrible indeed.]


Why would the Federation want to eliminate those drugged people, do the troopers need target practice?

All six warlords are men, but as Zeeona could study and become a biogenetic engineer, women don't seem to be that much oppressed in their part of the galaxy. Or maybe that kind of career is only open to the daughter of a warlord?

What is that game Vila, Soolin and Dayna are playing when Zukan comes to enquire about his daughter?

"Now, Tarrant!" Doesn't Avon look like a harassed father here? :-) I love the way he shoves Tarrant aside. A pity we didn't see the rest of that - I can't imagine Tarrant suffering that kind of treatment in silence.

"I shall be honoured..." Avon really is stretching his role as diplomat here. :-)

"Zukan 32 hours behind you." So they're underway for more than a day and must both have had a good sleep as they look very awake. Why are they both at the controls, you'd expect them to take it in turn. [But maybe they're almost there and are already preparing for touchdown.]

Why are those two troopers on Betafarl somersaulting when they go on the attack? It makes for a nice picture but seems to have no practical use.

Why not just shoot Avon? I suppose the troopers have some kind of protracted and nasty torture for him in mind, but by delaying the order to kill him they do give him the chance to escape.

"Power on, Dayna." Can't he do it himself?

How does Zeeona get that helmet over her hair? :-)

Why not let Tarrant go with Zeeona to hold her hand? Is Avon expecting a suicide mission from her?

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Make better work of the escalator scenes at the beginning.

- Give Zeeona a less controversial wig. [Actually, I like the thing, but I get the impression that no-one else does. :-)] (Judith: I like it too!)

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