Well, I was wondering what the point of this show was going to be with a new ship and no clear purpose. Then this episode gave the crew one by…well, that would be telling.
See, the Federation is expanding again at a pretty good rate, difficult to understand given the way the military had been nearly completely obliterated following that alien invasion. But it’s happening, and Avon for one would like to find a place to settle down as a base. That brings the Scorpio to Helotrix, the planet that most recently fell to the Federation. How did that happen? Well, the teleporter was working, so Avon figures he can send some people down to look around and find out. There is a resistance group down there, and they have an inside man.
OK, this is not a bad plan. Sure, Vila has what might be a better one (just keep running), but Avon decides to send some people down to take a look around and find out what’s what.
He chooses Tarrant and Dayna.
OK, he doesn’t exactly have a huge selection of people to send down. He probably doesn’t trust the others, so he won’t go himself. Soolin is new, so who knows what she’ll do? Vila is a coward. Orac can’t move on his own. All he really has left is Tarrant and Dayna.
The problem is Tarrant and Dayna, especially Tarrant, are far more idealistic. Dayna is understandable: she’s led a rather sheltered life until she joined the crew. But Tarrant, man, that guy just causes trouble because he always has to be fighting the Federation, so of course he’ll join the resistance group. And of course he’ll ignore Avon’s calls to come back. And of course, Vila will compare him to Blake, a fact Avon doesn’t disagree with, but at the same time, he does point out he didn’t think much of Blake to begin with.
So, what’s the issue here? It turns out the resistance’s inside man is really a double agent, feeding them intelligence to get them to do something stupid. Tarrant and Dayna learn there’s a new Federation leader named Sleer, but no one has seen this person. They also find the new weapon is some kind of pacification gas, but the Dr. Strangelove-lookin’ inventor gives them an antidote.
Oh, and during the escape, where there’s a number of hand-to-hand fighting scenes done with this era’s bad fight choreography, Tarrant and Dayne manage to spot the mysterious Sleer.
Wait, she’s still alive?
No, they don’t explain how, and yes, the show does address how unlikely that situation is since she was on the Liberator when it, you know, more or less exploded.
OK, it more fell apart than exploded, but you get the idea.
Bottom line is, the pacification gas didn’t work, Servalan executed the scientist for talking and the spy for attempted blackmail of her, and Avon has a purpose: he will see her dead.
I guess I’ll see if he manages to pull that off or not. This was a pretty good episode for all the countermovements and espionage by characters I probably won’t see again, but it does set up something long term for this final season that may or may not pull off a victory.