UFOwatch: The Man Who Came Back

written by: Terrence Feely
directed by David Lane

Commander Craig Collins turns up 8 weeks after it was believed he was killed during a UFO attack on SID- but it seems he has changed.

If you’ve watched this many episodes of the series the outcome to `The Man Who Came Back` is not going to be a massive surprise especially as Derren Nesbitt, guesting as Collins, spends most scenes grinning maniacally as if to say `I am evil, you know`. However it is the skill with which director David Lane brings Terence Felly’s well written episode home that makes it stand out despite the predictability.
"Evil? Taken over by aliens? Me? You're joking Eddie!!"

It’s been a few weeks since someone tried to kill Straker even though you suspect the queue of potential attackers who have not been taken over by aliens is lengthening. This week it’s the aliens turn to have another go but thanks to Lane and a forensic script from Terence Feely proceedings seem fresher than they are. Crazy grin aside, Nesbitt makes for an effective villain as he tries to dispose of anyone that stands in the way of his goal. When you think about it, the idea that he’s had his brain altered to kill his best mate is a powerful one though perhaps slightly undermined by the fact he’s never been seen or mentioned before. There is a notable tension in his dealings with people after his return especially in the rivalry for Col Lake’s affections which appears to be the initial crux of the matter.

There is some stretching of credulity for the sake of drama. It’s difficult to believe for example that nobody except three people would know the intricate workings of SID and that they are all such senior officers. Also, that Dr Jackson’s isolation experiments would be unknown to everyone or for that matter that Collins’ recent brain surgery would pass unnoticed by medical tests. The episode might also benefit from more interaction between Straker and Collins if only to emphasise their friendship.

The most effective parts take place in the claustrophobic Moonbase including a very well played scene where Dr Grey has the air sucked out of his sleeping quarters by Collins. This includes a few moments where the sound is cut and thanks to actor Gary Raymond’s convincing convulsions it is almost too much to watch. Lane frames Collins from odd angles at vital moments while Feely’s narrative provides some interesting sequences that keep jangling the nerve ends.

Visually there are some excellent touches including a shot of a spinning UFO from side on and a vista of the repair craft above the Earth shot through the open hatch of the mother ship. The final confrontation with both Straker and Collins floating in space is surprisingly effective as Lane attempts some accuracy- slow movement- yet manages to retain dramatic flair as well. Where it not for the fact that a character being controlled by aliens is becoming a repeatedly used plot device, this episode would be one of the best and even so it packs a stylish punch.

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