OK, hold on…those bounty hunter guys? Are they deliberately dressed like I that? They look like they might be, shall we say, Middle Eastern in ways that probably wouldn’t fly today. That’s a bit disappointing at best.
It’s little moments like that that exist to remind people like me how old this show even is.
Actually, this episode works in an interesting way since it looks like it’s almost two different episodes grafted into one. In the first episode, that takes up much of the first half, Blake and Cally are on a planet’s surface, looking to find the retired President Sarkoff. He used to run a planet, and it would be very inconvenient for the Federation if he went back there and took the place over again. He’s currently essentially a prisoner alongside a young woman named Tyce.
This half of the episode, if it is indeed half, does a lot of things right. It remembers Cally is telepathic, allowing her to silently send recon messages to Blake without alerting the guards on patrol all over the place. It has Blake get in to see Sarkoff where the old man assumes Blake is an assassin there to kill him, and Sarkoff doesn’t seem to mind. Heck, Sarkoff was expecting it. He sees politics as something of a game, and it has rules and courtesies that he expects others like Tyce and Blake to follow. He also collects 20th century stuff, stuff Blake doesn’t recognize and that Sarkoff seems to have only a vague understanding of, though he doesn’t see it that way. Most notably, he has an old car that has a crank in the front, a lot of phonograph records, and a collection of working firearms. Blake can basically recognize the guns.
As it is, Sarkoff has no interest in going back, but Tyce does, and eventually, Blake gets the old man, dressing in a rather stylish future ensemble complete with a rakish hat, to move when he smashes one of the man’s old records. From there, it’s mostly an escape from the Federation troops, and in the end, it turns out (not all that surprisingly, truth be told) that Tyce is Sarkoff’s daughter.
But then there’s the other plot, where the Liberator finds another ship in distress and goes to investigate. Communications with Blake are spotty, and Gan goes over alone to check it out, telling Vila to blow the ship up if he doesn’t come back within a certain amount of time. The whole thing turns out to be a trick set up by bounty hunters. Gan is captured first, then Jenna and Avon, and finally Vila who has to go down and try to deal with them by himself. About all we know about Vila is he failed miserably. But there’s a twist: Jenna used to smuggle stuff with the lead Bounty Hunter Tarvin. So, while the other members of the crew–including Blake, Cally, Sarkoff, and Tyce when they beam in–get fitted with explosive collars, she is more or less allowed to run free as long as she behaves herself. She even helped Tarvin’s people capture Blake, so she may not be…wait, no she didn’t betray anyone. It’s like I noted before: Jenna seems to be the most personally loyal to Blake.
By the by, Zen is kinda useless here as he can only say what happens on the bridge, so everyone disappearing in other sections of the ship aren’t something he can keep an eye on.
That Jenna loyalty thing, however, does play a hand in how the others see her. While Avon works the door for the cell the crew are locked up in (Sarkoff and Tyce are being held on the bridge), and while Vila works to get Blake’s collar off, Jenna comes to see them with a guard. Sure, she taunts them a bit, but the audience showed she already took one guard down by herself, so she never really betrayed anyone. The important thing here is Blake is the only member of the captives to think she may just be playing a game with Tarvin. As such, when he gets loose, the two of them team up to go free the Liberator.
The episode ends with a nice merging of the plots. Sarkoff, who was cynical at best, does come through when Tarvin threatens Tyce. And then when Tarvin is distracted for a mere moment when Blake and Jenna show up, Sarkoff shoots and kills Tarvin with one of his old handguns, a weapon Tarvin didn’t quite recognize and failed to see the danger of.
Serves him right.
So, all that got Sarkoff back in a way to help the resistance, and for that, well, two disparate episodes actually worked well together to create a satisfying story.