Season Four Episode 7- Assassin
(1981) Writer: Rod Beacham / Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot
The Scorpio crew intercept a message from Servalan revealing she has hired a notorious assassin to despatch them. Seeing this as an opportunity Avon leads them on a dangerous mission that goes badly wrong.
`Assassin` continues the general upwards trajectory of the season with Rod Beacham’s script inspiring a story of deception and trust. It could be better; almost as soon as we meet Piri, the rather too traumatised girl supposedly prisoner of Cancer the unfortunately named assassin, seasoned TV watchers will know who she is.
|"Are you William Hartnell?" "No I am not. Chesterton, mmm."|
While the big reveal is easy to predict there is at least plenty to enjoy. The episode has a different look and feel with Middle Eastern influences in the costumes and Star Wars style wipes across the screen between early scene changes; shame they give up on it half way, though the montage of Avon and co creeping around the ship is effective. The dark black interior of Cancer’s ship is very effective; director David Sullivan Proudfoot is good on atmosphere but less strong when it comes to the action which has a look of being overly choreographed.
The plot hinges on Avon’s recklessness in wanting to kill Servalan, even if this seems at odds with their last encounter! Beacham’s script provides rounded arguments and the scenes between the regulars, as last week, are convincingly played. There are some anomalies though- for example the old man Neebrox says he saw the slave being taken into the assassin’s ship so what did he see? Also the person who we are supposed to think is Cancer is rather too convincing for someone who hours ago was a prisoner; why does he not take this chance to escape?
Cancer’s plan also relies on her wanting to get everyone together rather than pick them off one by one as she has ample opportunity to do and indeed as she does with Neebrox and the slave. Caroline Holdaway’s overwrought acting is either just miscasting or if it’s meant to be in character then surely one of the crew would grow suspicious. Thankfully Beacham does include a strand where it is Soolin who realises something amiss about Piri though the scene where she has to sit down and think to reach the conclusion is extremely contrived if not patronising. Piri does bring out the ongoing rivalry between Avon and Tarrant which simmers nicely and draws the best from both Paul Darrow and Steven Pacey.