This episode opens on the Liberator, imagine that, where the crew is sitting around moping about how quiet and boring it is. Because inviting action and drama is such a good plan. Of course this doesn't last and soon they find themselves under attack. Except this isn't just any attack. We soon realize that this is a trap involving multiple squadrons of pursuit ships. Liberator barely escapes through a cloud of ionized particles. Briefly. While Blake and his crew are busy congratulating themselves on their daring escape we learn that they are being chased by a pursuit ship armed with a detector screen similar to what Avon built during Trial. A detector screen that for some reason has quit working and Avon just hasn't found the time to fix. You'd think that he would consider that a priority.
Shortly after escaping they receive a coded message from Travis. He tells them that he is on the planet Exbar holding a woman named Inga hostage. Blake tells the crew that she is his cousin. Remember that fact for later. Not wanting anyone else to jump into a trap he demands to go down alone. Because that's how an action hero does things! It should be mentioned that Exbar is apparently another penal planet similar to Cygnus Alpha. I guess the Federation just has a thing for penal colonies. How very British. What's odd is that this prison people can seem to visit as Blake has been there many years ago.
Elsewhere at Federation HQ we see Servelan casually have the commander he almost captured/destroyed the Liberator killed. Poor dude doesn't even get a name. Which I feel was a bit of a waste since he actually set a very good trap. Next we get treated to a verbal sparring session between Servelan and a council member named Joban. As much as I feel British actors of this time period over acted, a biproduct of classical stage training, this is the kind of scene the Brits do better than anyone. It's such a quiet, polite conversation that is just fraught with tension. And Servelan is allowed to be the kind of strong female character that Cally and Jenna are denied so often. She gets to be bold, fearless and absolutely evil. And my gosh you can't help but love her.
The thrust of their conversation is the councils concerns over Blake. Namely the fact that is still breathing. Word of his exploits have gotten out to the populace and that is worrying people. And it has to be said that as much as I lambast Blake's crew for being terrible rebels here is an aspect that they are excelling at. Propaganda. Merely by thumbing their nose at the Feds and surviving they have begun to create ripple effects. And this scares Joban. One of the interesting things to me is his reaction. He doesn't mention a fear losing power. His fear is that order will be lost. Not to say that he isn't an evil villain. It's just a commentary on how no one views themselves as the villain of their story.
Somewhat mollified Joban leaves and Servelan receives her own coded message to go to Exbar. Commandeering her late space captains ship she sets out to see what this is all about.
Meanwhile the Liberator, badly damaged, arrives at Exbar and Blake prepares to teleport down to meet his uncle Ushton. Cally warns him that the air is thin and cold. Blake says the hell with that and immediately starts doing hill sprints. He finds Ushton who doesn't even recognize him. Clearly they weren't close when Blake was growing up.
Luckily for Blake Avon has teleported down after he refused to help initially. When Jenna wonders aloud why the change of heart Cally makes some cryptic response about how he feels responsible. Avon quickly realized that Blake is in trouble, he is currently caught in a bear trap, and leaves Vila to watch Ushton. Of course Vila falls asleep, Avon is captured and everyone loses their teleport bracelets.
Travis questions Ushton who he thinks is the weakest out of Blakes crew. Obviously it's Vila and I'm choosing to believe Travis is playing some kind of game here. He's been chasing this crew for awhile now and should have a dossier on every one of them. Nonetheless he questions Vila about how to use the teleport bracelets, it's not hard, by holding a gun hand to his head and yelling "what is the word" until Vila cracks.
Vila shouts out teleport until Cally and Jenna try to teleport him up. Of course it's one of the Crimos Molok who is currently wearing said bracelet. He quickly takes the two ladies hostage, there's that word again, and orders them to show him the flight deck. His plan is ridiculously flawed however. If the plan is to take over the ship there are two more bracelets down on the planet. He can start bringing others up to help things along. Instead he bebops around until the writers remember that Jenna and Cally are more than just eye candy. Between the two of them they teleport him into space where some truly dreadful special effects show him exploding.
Travis throws Vila back in the cell with Blake and Avon and then promptly cuts their oxygen supply. Avon reveals that Servelan is on her way. How does he know that? Because he is the one that called her. His hope was that she'd beat them there and take care of Travis. Unfortunately she must have been stuck in traffic.
Ushton finally remembers that he is supposed to be Blake's uncle and maybe he should try to rescue him. Something Inga has been pushing for all along. Luring the crimos outside Ushton knocks out Travis and turns the oxygen back on to the room. Now, at this point any rational man would stick a knife in Travis to make sure he stays down. He's kidnapped your daughter, threatened you and tried to kill your nephew who came to rescue said daughter. Maybe you'd be justified in slitting a throat in this case. Nope. Not Ushton. That's not the Exbar way. Let's just roll him down a hill. A small hill. Nothing too tall. He might get bruised.
Of course Travis doesn't stay down and a running battle takes place. Ushton kills all of the remaining crimos while Blake and Avon can't seem to hit Travis to save their lives. Literally. Eventually Avon gets hit and Travis gets the drop on them until Ushton rides to the rescue again.
Now, at this point it's pretty clear that this Travis fella has to go. If for no other reason than to get revenge for Gan. Oh yeah, we've completely forgotten about him by now. Instead we just leave him with his hands tied free to wander around. Blake invites Ushton and Inga to come with them but they decline because this is B7 and a bigger crew couldn't possibly be a good thing. Before they go Blake promises to come back for Inga and they share a nice romantic kiss. Wait! What!? Isn't that his cousin?
With that they bail just in time to escape before Servelan shows up. Surely she'll kill Travis. Nope. She decides that she wants him out running around chasing Blake. Why will no one just off this dude already? Sheesh!
This is a very solid episode despite a few things that detract from its execution. The over acting in places can be a little distracting. It's understandle though when you remember that the majority of the actors in this show are classically trained stage actors. A certain amount of overacting, or what an American audience would consider over acting, is necessary due to the nature of theater. On the small screen however it can be a little jarring. My only real complaint is how they treat Jenna and Cally's characters. They are completely underused. And not just from the perspective that they are neglecting female characters but also from the perspective that they are two very capable crew members who's talents are not being utilized. Something Blake can't afford to do.
On the positive side the interplay between Avon and Vila is top notch as usual. I'm not sure exactly when the writers realized how perfectly these two paired but I'm glad that they did. There is a reason these two remain fan favorites.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Coffee of the Day:
Today's episode is brought to you via the powers of caffeine derived from Community Coffee Dark Roast.
Cally:Are you dying?
Vila: I'm thinking about it.