(Robert Holmes) reviewed by Marian de Haan


Fast paced, with a good amount of action and no less than three storylines: the rebels preparing their attacks, the Federation officials hunting them while setting up their puppet ruler, and the Scorpio crew trying to find out what's going on. It must be attributed to the skill of the writer that the plot remains clear [something he didn't bring off in Gambit]. *But* this isn't a story about Our Heroes! The focus is on the guest characters while the regulars are relegated to the sideline. The scenes between Avon, Vila and Soolin take up less than ten minutes and hardly contribute to the plot. Dayna and Tarrant fare slightly better in the latter, but do not get much more screen time. That leaves about half of the episode to the guest characters.

At least in the bit that we get to see, the regulars are in character. Here it's Tarrant's turn to bring his shipmates into danger by deciding to stay on the planet to warn Hunda despite Soolin's message that Scorpio has been spotted. Vila's distrust of Tarrant hasn't abated since Volcano. [Understandable, as Tarrant hasn't done anything to reassure him :-)] Orac being lazy is new, but entirely believable. Although a plot device, the Scorpio teleport equipment malfunctioning is quite credible.

We get some good examples of the machinations of the Federation. Them putting a carefully raised native in charge is in accordance with what we see in Horizon. Hunda seems rather quick to take Tarrant's word for Leitz being a traitor. And what made Hunda trust Leitz in the first place? Did he never hear of double agents?

The premise that Servalan thinks she can get away with killing everyone who knew her is stupid. Her preference for murder rather than putting on a decent disguise may be in accordance with her homicidal reputation, yet it must be clear to everyone with a modest intelligence that such a scheme will be utterly unsustainable. Here we have the same kind of disregard for the audience that was displayed in S2 with the expectation that the change of actor for Travis would go by unnoticed. Like it would have benefited the Series if they'd dumped Travis and created a new villain for Brian Croucher to play, S4 would have been more credible with a new Baddie to cross the path of the Scorpio crew.

Servalan killing Forbus is an obvious plot device to round off the story, but it seems illogical as she could have easily kept him under her thumb by reducing his drug supply, which in fact she tells him she'll do just before killing him.

Personal Appreciation: **

This story concentrates too much on the guest characters for my taste. I watch B7 for the main characters, and when they put in so little appearance, I simply lose interest, no matter how good the plot. Mind, I like well written guest parts - and we get an abundance of those - but IMO they should be there to support the regulars, not the other way round.

The main attraction of other Robert Holmes plots, the excellent Avon-Vila dialogue, is almost absent here, though the pitiful few pieces we get are gems. Holmes choosing names as colonel Quute seems very puerile to me. And that cigar feels like the worst anachronism of the whole Series.

I like Orac bringing the crew into danger out of laziness. In the B7 universe even computers have their bad character traits. After the perfection of Liberator, it's almost a relief to see the crew now having to work hard to keep their spacecraft operational. [A pity we don't get to see where they get their food, and how they're paying for it. As in the previous episode they had food left for less than three weeks, one must assume that they've been foraging somewhere since then.] I'm not usually noticing the music, but the tune that accompanies the marshland fight scenes stays in my mind.

<sigh> Why did we have to get Servalan back? Her going down with Liberator in what she thought was her moment of triumph was so very ironic and in tune with the tone of the Series, that it feels wrong to have that illusion shattered. And with that dress and make up she's now become a figure from a pantomime. That said, it feels good to see her give Leitz his come-uppance. Why do these Federation officers yet again have different uniforms. Did every planet have its own fashion for them? After the impractical coats from Weapon we now have the ridiculous shoulderpads. <Shudder!>

Where did that Helot get hold of Avon's old black leather? And why does Tarrant borrow it from him? Where does Dayna's Helotrix costume come from? Why do they feel the need to change - their own clothes don't stand out that much. And where do they hide their own clothes? Why, when Scorpio's obviously in a hurry to get away, do they waste time on changing back into their original costumes? And why didn't they take the other sets with them, surely a spare set comes in useful now Liberator's wardrobe room is no longer there? (Judith: I suspect there must have been some costume problem between studio and location filming, but I've no idea what.)


The General looks much too young to have reached that rank on merit alone - friends in high places? That elaborate dinner in the tracer room seems a bit out of place. Surely the base must have a mess room? Quute's fine bone china cup proves that even in outer space Federation Officers will not be deprived of the luxuries of home. :-)

Vila's "The five of us - and trooper Orac here..." is reminiscent of Avon's "Five and *him*!" from Space Fall. Avon as leader-by-default gets back everything he ever gave Blake. Nice touch of irony.

What is that green substance Soolin has in her hand when she's saying: "It's a well known opinion." - a piece of candy?

"So Tarrant, this is your big moment..." sounds like Avon's talking to a new recruit who's never been on a mission before. [Didn't Robert Holmes know that Tarrant had been in the previous Season?] And can Avon really be dim enough to expect him to obey the order of not getting involved?

"Young, brave, handsome." Yes, those *are* three excellent reasons for not liking Tarrant. :-) [Actually, he's not my definition of handsome, but tastes differ.]

In S3 Servalan was president yet here she's referred to as Supreme Empress. Shoddy writing or did she upgrade herself before her trip to Terminal? Sleer is much too recognisable as Servalan. Why not give her a veil? That would have spared the production team the price of a few kilos of make up.

"That's a search formation." Clever of Soolin to recognise that - but where did she learn such things?

"But then, he never was very bright!" Is Avon saying here what I think he is? Is this his way of admitting that he's doing a stupid thing?

Nice to see Dayna fight so well with the General. A pity she couldn't deal the same way with Servalan. And why didn't Dayna immediately go for her?

"I need to kill her myself!" Nice exit line; a pity it's one of those new year's resolutions that gets forgotten the day after.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Bring in a new villain instead of Servalan/Sleer.

- More screen time for the regulars.

- Leave out the cigar.

- Spare us the confusion of Tarrant and Dayna's costume changes.

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