By by Ellynne Grant

After seeing this episode, I had to find some excuse for what happened or lose all sympathy for Avon and start rooting for Servalan to beat him. The simplest answer, that Avon was obviously still recovering from Dorian's attempt to dump all of his personality problems on the crew and that Avon's misogyny was really Dorian's misogyny, didn't occur to me till later. This is all a little twisted, and anyone who feels Power is inexcuseable may skip the following excuse.

1) Start with Gunn-sar's abuse. Suppose the stupid, abusive barbarian thing is an act? The Hommiks have just captured a man who may very likely be an associate of Dorian. Nina is the person with the most experience with Dorian and possibly other off-worlders. She pulls the slave act so she will be ignored while making her observations. Gunn-sar acts rude and loud to further draw attention away from her and towards himself. Nina's actions are actually signals telling Gunn-sar what questions to ask and what conclusions she draws. Finally, she (wrongly) decides Avon is an enemy and gives Gunn-sar a signal to lure Avon into a duel.

How does Gunn-sar do this? By threatening Nina. He assumed -- out of his own cultural prejudices -- that any man would automatically stop another man from striking a woman, even if the woman was an extremely low status slave and the man he would have to fight had immediate power over his life and death. This implies a culture in which woman had considerable status and in which abuse was not normally tolerated.

2) So what about Nina's line about being a woman? Our first impression of that is a relatively late 20th century context with implications about Nina's sexuality. What if, in her language (I assume those translators mentioned in season 1 are still online somewhere and that not all aliens speak English -- and, even if they did, dialect changes) the phrase "I'm a woman" meant "I'm a woman"? What if these people seperated human females into two groups, women and Seska?

3) And what do we know about the Seska? It makes much more sense for them to have been the ruling cast in this society before being overthrown in a popular revolt, rather than a seperate tribe. They may have limited implanting to girls or young women they considered "worthy." Then an interesting turn of phrase Pella used caught my attention. She spoke of the captured Seska as "us" and "Seska" until she spoke of them having children. Then they were "them." Whether she was lying or telling Vila the truth, she didn't consider women who had children as her kind.

What if the Seska used lower status women as surrogate mothers? What if they didn't stop there? Cato was an educated male who was not part of the overall warrior culture. What if the only males ruling Seska allowed to be educated were surgically or otherwise adjusted to limit their ability to father children? Or to father them without artificial aid? Kind of makes you see why all nonSeska might see the gene bank or whatever it was called as a symbol of Seska control and want to bomb it.

3) Pella lied to Vila.

There is just no way her version of Hommik child abandonment works. Infanticide of all female children is a great way to become extinct. Hoping someone who admits they don't usually find the children in time will come along, raise the survivors, arm them with a deadly weapon you can't use, train them to use it, and give them every reason to hate you and believing that this will be an easier way to ensure the next generation is born than raising them yourselves. . . . someone with the IQ of lettuce could come up with a better idea.

What is important is that, when meeting a man, Pella believed she could gain sympathy and support with her story of abused women. Although the only men she would have known (besides Dorian), like Gunn-sar when he tried to provoke Avon, she assumed abuse would turn him against the Hommiks.

4) What other reasons might the Hommiks have for revolting against the Seska? We already have Seska exploitation of nonimplanted women and a possible program of ruthless eugenics. What about Dorian? He admits to being a total sicko who will do anything, no matter how revoltingly depraved, for entertainment. Soolin hadn't been overly abused by him and didn't realize what a sick puppy he was (not that she may not have realized he was sick). So, who was he mistreating?

Another important question: have the Seska ever taken live, Hommik prisoners?

Soolin might have searched a few "off-limits" areas after Dorian's death, found some Hommiks and released them. If Nina knew any of them or if she had ever had a son captured by the Seska, she might have been more than ready to assume the worst about Avon.

5) Oh, yes, Nina's part in all this. Assume Nina, Gunn-sar, and Cato represented three of the four adult types in Seska/Hommik society, an umimplanted woman, a normal man, and a possibly surigically tampered with, educated man.

Nina may have bought the Seska party line until she reached a point where she had to interact with Dorian. He sickened her. Eventually, she began to question all Seska society and began working with forces wanting to overthrow them. She kept up the pretense right until the end in her record keeping (possibly throwing in lines meant to demoralize her side). Her line about "mere women" obviously didn't reflect the Seska view of themselves. She was either referring to the Seska's future without their implants (demoralizing speech) or was making a reference to nonSeska which remained unclear because she was cut off.

6) The Hommik initially in charge may have been an extremist (see French Revolution: Reign of Terror for information on the type) whose dislike of Seska may have spilled over into other excesses. Mistreatment of Seska prisoners, especially once their implants were removed, could have triggered a backlash. Gunn-sar's removal of him in combat may have been a much saner act than he makes it sound when he is trying to play stupid barbarian. His other fights may also have been saner.

7) What Cato told Avon: mostly the truth except for how he tries to keep Gunn-sar and Nina out of it. Gunn-sar would have known whether the young men were being trained as lookouts or not. If nothing else, it would only need one person asking "Hey, how's the lookout job?" and them replying "Huh?" for the deception to be made known. The Seska seem to have controlled technology to maintain their power. For a previous servant to use it is bad enough -- Pella killed him instantly even though it alienated her one ally in enemy territory -- but for a male who wasn't even part of the educated caste was intolerable. Pella obviously didn't buy Cato's story. She concentrated her efforts on killing Gunn-sar after this (proving Gunn-sar's stupid act may have been based on rational fears of what the Seska would do if they learned there was more to him than bluster and physical force (something they didn't respect).

8) Avon's kissing Pella. Avon's sympathy and trust in Pella had been rapidly diminishing. He began to realize she saw all nonSeska as subhuman and might easily decide to kill him or throw him to the wolves if it improved her chances or if she simply decided he was a problem (uppity male comes to mind). He deliberately triggered a confrontation in circumstances he thought he could survive, playing on Pella's prejudices against his gender.

In other words, he gambled she would use energy (hopefully already diminished with everything going on) to 'teach him a lesson' for overstepping his bounds, something he could survive, and that would hopefully leave her too weak for a more lethal attack. He was deliberately going for her contempt.

9) With Cato's death, Nina realizes she had been wrong about Avon -- and that this error has led to the deaths of her friend and her husband. She allows him to escape. She also concedes this territory. The war is over.

10) Side issue: Kate. I like the argument that Kate may have been Nina's daughter, even if by a surragate mother. If so, who was this little test tube baby's father? Kate, Cato. Hmm.

If Nina had lost children in the war and had learned how a son had been tortured by Dorian just that morning, she may have wanted Kate's survival very badly at this point and let her go. Tragically ironic how that worked out.

Whew. Ok, I admit the textual basis for the above is a tad weak, but consider the alternative: taking Power at face value.


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Last changed on 25th of September 1999