Our main story, or at least the first introduced, concerns Avon and Villa attempting to get their hands on a translator crystal that will let them decipher Federation communications. Think the enigma machine in space. Luckily Avon just happens to know a guy. Meet Tynus.
Tynus is the commander of Q Base on the planet Fosforon. Luckily for our brave band of rebels he has not one but two crystals. Years ago Avon had the chance to rat Tynus out and have him go to jail alongside him. For once Avon did the decent thing and protected him and he intends to cash in on that favor. Now, there are two things I love about this story. One, it is about time that they start thinking and acting like rebels instead of just bumbling around hoping to trip the Federation up. Having access to secure communications would be a huge boon to any rebellion. Two, the interaction between Avon and Vila is a highlight of the entire series and it is on full display here.
Realizing that they can't just take the crystal without it being missed the three of them hatch a scheme. Tynus informs them that Fosforon has an oxygen rich atmosphere which makes fire an enormous concern. He'll set a fire which will draw everyone out of the section that houses the crystal. While that goes on Avon and Vila will sneak in and make it seem like the crystal is malfunctioning. When the malfunction is discovered the replacement crystal will be put in place and the original can be stolen without anyone noticing. It's actually a clever plan in my opinion. The only downside is that it will take 10 hours to setup. Huh. Nothing suspicious about that at all.
At the same time that these shenanigans are taking place our second story is rolling along full steam. Of course it's predominantly a Blake episode with Cally and Jenna staying in the kitchen, er, on the Liberator. As the landing party is teleporting down a ship is discovered. Not just any ship a 600 year old ghost ship.
Nevermind the master plan, Blake can't stand a mystery. He has Orac do some research and discovers that this particular ship went missing in a region known as the Darkling Zone which is essentially an interstellar Bermuda Triangle. Cally gives some vague warning about life on board before wandering out of the script in confusion. Seriously, they really should have figured out how to write female characters. Sheesh. Anyway, everything is left up to the men. Well, to Blake. I suppose that's close enough.
Q Base decides to get in on the act and sends a recovery team. Disregarding the fact that this is a Federation base, and one that they are currently robbing, Blake teleports down to go all Poirot on this mystery. Where he promptly gets captured by Federation scientists.
Luckily Fed scientists aren't paid enough to care about rebels and they just let Blake chill while they do their best CSI routine.
Since this is B7 we can't take two steps without things going wrong. A single human body is discovered on board and brought to the medical center. The chief surgeon gets everyone out while making a token nod to safety in the form of wearing gloves but no other safety gear. Geez Louise. It's like he WANTS to die. Following the law he checks the EKG for signs of life before dissecting the body. I've got to pause here. We will drug and brainwash millions, exile whole families, murder people by scores, but by golly you better triple check that EKG before you cut up a 600 year old corpse.
Well, of course ole Bob here isn't all the way dead. He's only mostly dead. He jumps up and kills the good doctor before orderlies can rush in and pull him off. Once there is company in the room he goes back to being all the way dead. Apparently he is like super shy y'all. Unfortunately it's too late for the doctor and as we find out too late for anyone else. The space zombie releases a virus that starts sweeping the base. Guys, this is like some Game of Thrones stuff here. Zombies, viruses, ghost ships oh my!
Meanwhile on the other side of the base Tynus realizes that this is the perfect distraction to proceed with their plans. Things go off without a hitch and soon everyone is back celebrating with juice packets. Until Vila proves that he's not as dumb as he lets on. He discovers a secret communique between Tynus and Servelan. Oh no! Whoever did not see that coming!
Avon and Vila hatch a desperate plan to steal the crystal and make it seem like it was destroyed in the fire. Of course Tynus catches them and a fight ensues. It's too bad for him that Avon isn't all brains and no brawn and poor Tynus gets thrown into an open panel and cooked.
Meanwhile things in the medical unit go from bad to worse. Blake and the head scientist, Bellfriar, theorize that an unknown alien race captured the ship, infected a corpse with a virus and then moved it far into Federation space. Blake compares the situation to the use of smallpox infected blankets that were used on Native Americans in early colonial days. Not the finest moment in American history.
With the virus running rampant and the quarantine breached Blake takes the data and teleports back to Liberator to save his own skin. I mean have Orac examine the data. Consulting with Bellfriar they determine that the virus only affects humans that have been in space. The virus isn't designed to wipe out humans, only confine them to Earth. Which honestly doesn't seem like a terrible idea if all you've seen of humans is the Federation. Unfortunately Bellfriar succumbs to the virus before a remedy can be discovered.
With Servelan closing in Blake decides to leave a plague beacon in orbit and retreat. Avon is indignant that they are warning Servelan when this virus could solve all of their problems. Blake argues that it's not worth the risk of the plague escaping Fosforon even though this will likely undo all of their work to get the data crystal.
Overall this was a great episode. That's not to say that it was perfect, but we can't really expect that of anything. The things I enjoyed were the emphasis on actual tactics and the interplay between Avon and Vila. Those two characters just work exceptionally well as foils for each other. And communications are an often overlooked aspect of warfare.
I also enjoyed the side plot concerning the mystery ship and virus. The things I didn't think worked so well we're how the two were connected. I think having Blake randomly teleport down to a different area of the base was foolish. And thy fall into the Star Trek trap a little. We introduce a theory of an obviously advanced alien race in an unexplored section of space. We show that they are antagonistic towards humans. Let's never mention them again. Like, ever.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Avon: There are a quarter of a million volts running through that converter. I make one false move, I'll be so crisped up what's left of me won't fit into a sandwich.
Vila: I'm a vegetarian. Thanks for the offer, though.
Coffee of the Day:
Community Coffee Dark Roast. The blend that started it all. Roasted to deep, dark perfection, this Signature Dark Roast has a rich, bold flavor that has been a family tradition for four generations.
I have to confess, I have an affinity for Community coffee. It's delicious and I prefer to buy products that are made close to home. However, while I like this brew I don't love it like I've loved others. Something about community coffee just doesn't translate to K cups well to me. However, that's not to say it isn't delicious. It's just not my go to brew. Still, check it out. Maybe in loose ground through a percolator though.