Season Three Episode 2- Power Play
(1980) Writer: Terry Nation / Director: David Maloney
As Avon and Dayna try to get the Liberator back from the Federation death squad now controlling it they discover their commander Tarrant is not who he seems. Meanwhile both Vila and Cally find themselves in danger.
The triple headed tale brings the crew back together effectively and just about works as a coherent episode despite uneven coverage of the three different scenarios. There are spears and Viking helmets involved (again- is this a running theme?), growling Federation guards and even the totally expected appearance of Servalan but matters still play out with enough interest.
|Summary execution for not doing homework soon became part of Mr Bronson's free school|
The most attention is spent on the Liberator itself as Avon and Dayna try to take the ship from a squad of growling Federation soldiers. Even if you know the twist, this still works rather well. You don’t guess that Tarrant is not really a Federation officer for some time though the decision to show guards nodding with familiarity to the unknown assailant that keeps picking them off does rather give too much of a clue. It might have been better just to show the bodies so as to suggest there is something else on board. In his debut episode, Steven Pacey is rather good in officious mode but whether he can become a character we like is harder to tell. Like last week, Avon is very much in the lead and is given some witty lines to accompany his newly acquired heroic status.
Director, an uncredited David Maloney makes good use of limited sets and builds a sense of anticipation over what will happen next. Paul Darrow and Josette Simon have already built a rapport that is maintained here. Guesting Michael Sheard rather over plays his part though not as much as one of his henchmen whose approach becomes unintentionally amusing.
Vila meanwhile is injured on a woodland planet where in succession he meets a couple of spear carrying Viking helmet wearing natives and then a couple of glamorous silly helmet wearing women carrying portable vacuum cleaners. These are the “high techs” whom Vila is easily persuaded to accompany into a hospital that turns out to have a sinister purpose. This turns out to be where Cally has been headed and the ship taking her there has also picked up Servalan. More might have been made of this than the somewhat bland sequences of Vila in the woods. Servalan discovering she is no longer as important as she thinks she is seems a particularly amusing seam to mine but it’s all rushed through rather quickly. Even the frisson of excitement when it seems that Dame Judi Dench might be playing one of the nurses turns out to be a false alarm; it’s just someone who looks like her.
|"Are you absolutely sure you're not Dame Judi Dench?"|
Overall, these other scenarios are nowhere near as interesting as what’s going on in the Liberator. The revelation at the end as to the real purpose of the hospital is a little late and it’s rather unfair that the crew just leave and don’t bother about the people being unwittingly harnessed for their organs. If Blake was still around he’d have led a raid on the place. As it is, John Hollis and his mate will have to keep hiding forever.
The real purpose of the episode is to slot the cast back into place and we can now see how its new and old constituents gel.