The Web

review by Ariana

Well, this should be short. I'm afraid it is again a "second" impression since I saw it on UK Gold some time ago, but at least this should prompt some comment.

So this is where the production values missing in the previous episodes went to. A location that doesn't involve a quarry, aliens in interesting costumes, sets that don't wobble. I'd be impressed if the episode had been more interesting.

Not that it wasn't an acceptable little story. I liked the idea of the Decimas and the way they had evolved after they were created. Given the power to reproduce by natural means, it makes sense for them to evolve and move away from their creators.

I also enjoyed Blake's dilemma over whether to free his ship or save the Decimas. This gave further fuel to my impression that he is a Decent Bloke... as well as a potential ancestor/descendant for Captain Janeway. There was no doubt that he would try and do something to stop their destruction.

What was especially interesting is the way the Decimas won in the end. Although Blake stopped Novara from destroying them, they make it into the compound by chance. They then proceed to wreak a remarkable amount of havok, killing Novara and Geela in a pretty hideous manner. Blake might have done the Right Thing in wanting to save them, but Avon is equally justified in wondering whether they deserved to be saved.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, the struggle to free the Liberator with Zen's haphasard assistance was also relatively interesting to follow. However, I thought Cally and Jenna were each possessed for way too long at the beginning of the episode. I find most possession stories annoying, and this definitely entered that category. It's also a great pity that the very first thing we see Cally do after her engaging entrance last week is get possessed. So much for the capable warrior.

On the whole, although I found the episode watchable (just as well, since I had to watch it twice), I thought parts of it went on for too long. My boyfriend, the self-proclaimed B7 fan, wanted to switch over halfway through to see the football scores. On the whole, it just wasn't very good.

On to my regularly-scheduled features:

Character stuff:

Cally fared abysmally, as I said above. One of the reasons I dislike possession stories -- aside from the fact most of the ones I've seen were rubbish :) -- is the notion that a character's personality and behaviour can be simply taken over by someone else's. In Cally's case, we weren't even given an opportunity to see her own personality and behaviour before she's walking around being someone else. Jenna's unexplained hostility towards Cally annoyed me too; if it just turns out to "feminine jealousy", I'll be very cross. I did like the bit where Cally tries to accompany Blake to the surface, though, especially the shrug she gives Avon and Gan as she leaves the teleport room.

I gather this is an episode which fans of Blake and Avon enjoy nonetheless, and I can sort of see why. I'm sure there have been twenty years of speculation on every scene they're in, so I'll spare myself the trouble of rehashing what I'm the last of many to notice. I'd hate to be categorised as an <enter name here> type of fan when I've barely started watching the show! Suffice it to say that much has no doubt been made of the scene where Avon saves Blake from the bomb, and the way that Blake later refers to Avon as a "friend" when he's talking to Saymon.

Not exactly character stuff, but I had to put it somewhere. Zen and the Liberator's abilities are revealed more extensively in this episode. I love the idea of the self-repairing ship; beats Blake sending Avon down to modify the deflector shields or eject the warp core every time something goes wrong. Zen's unhelpfulness is also intriguing: it adds further mystery to the ship and makes the lives of those on board just that much harder. The fact that the crew don't know their ship is illustrated by Avon blowing up his experiment and Vila trying to fire without activating the "neutron flare shields". However, I do think the Liberator could do with a plain old-fashioned window.

As to the others: Vila gets clobbered, Jenna gets possessed and Gan becomes a wits-sharpener for Avon. Well, a little bit more than that happens, but that's pretty much the gist of it.

Nitpicks and Preposterous Props:

I actually liked most of the production values in this episode (though I'll stop short at suggesting that there is some connection between the improved production values and my relative lack of enjoyment of the episode). The Decimas' costumes were particularly effective. The base wasn't bad either, though it did give a slight impression of a series of tents planted in the clearing -- didn't the Decimas have a knife handy? :) One thing I didn't really understand was why Blake was so impressed with the effect of the regenerating enzyme when the Liberator has a blotter that will do the same job?

The thing in the tank was pretty awful. It was too obvious that a man was simply poking his head through a piece of cardboard. Also, the exterior of the Liberator still looks pretty bad, even wrapped in strung out cotton wool. Mind you, the shot of the ship flying through space probably wins as the worst shot in the episode. It's only marginally better than the credits.

For some reason, I thought the container Avon was poking around in so industriously looked like one of those freezers where they keep ice-cream in shops. I think that was just me free-associating with things you have to bend into, though.

Dialogue Gems:

JENNAIt wasn't what she was doing. It was the way she was. If you looked into her eyes it wasn't her looking back at you.
GANAvon says that's because she's an alien.
VILAEveryone's an alien to him.

ZENThe navigation computers have completed a theoretical projection of Liberator's position.
ZENThis star system is largely uncharted.
VILAOh, that's marvelous. We're not sure where we are, but if they were sure they wouldn't know where it was anyway.

GANWhat are you trying to do?
AVONBypass the detector comp and use another of the systems to receive the signal.
GANCan it be done?
AVONOf course. It's just a matter of finding the link. Some of this technology is a little more advanced to that which I'm used. I'm having to guess at some of it.
GANWhat about the automatic repair system?
AVONOh, it'll do the job. Eventually. It's very methodical. (Begins linking wires to Liberator systems). It starts at the beginning and it works its way through. It's slow. You should appreciate that problem.

[[This last bit has been construed by some as Avon being nasty to Gan. Well, yes, but if I was trying to do something fiddly and someone asked me that many questions, I'd probably turn nasty too. Not that Avon needs any excuses to be nasty.]]

AVONThere's always a market for technology like this.
GANI don't think Blake would agree to that.
AVONThere will come a time when he won't be making the decisions. (Avon smiles)

[[With hindsight, that's pretty ominous]]

CALLY(Touching her temple) It has left her. Blake, that could've been one of the Lost.
BLAKEWell, don't be mystical Cally. Explain.

[[Couldn't agree with him more!]]

BLAKENo, there's more. They've got a carrier beam which projects fungicide which'll clear a way through the web for us. It doesn't work without this power.
AVONAh well, if it's between the creatures and us there's no argument. Even your irrational conscience should be able to cope with that. (Pause as he knows jolly well Blake doesn't see it that way) What do you want to do?

AVONBiological machines will never replace the real thing. They're far too unpredictable.
BLAKEAt least the Decimas stand a chance now. You can't separate living creatures. Being alive involves them together.
AVONI couldn't agree with you less.


Blake is sleeping on the job again. This time, we get to see a glimpse of some sleeping quarters, no doubt making this precious research material for fanfic writers. We also get to see Blake with an open shirt. My mother told me never to trust a man without hair on his chest, which doesn't bode well for the Fearless Leader. ;)

While I'm back on satorial comments -- evidently a new leitmotiv of mine -- I'd just like to say that this week's wardrobe made Vila look like an Eskimo, and Avon look as if he has a computer console around his neck. Still, at least Jenna has given the pink Levi's a rest.

Comments and discussion welcome!


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