Powerplay

Written by:
Terry Nation
Directed by: David Maloney
Episode Length: 50'34
Original UK Transmission Date: 14/1/1980
Original UK Ratings: 9.4m
Original UK Chart Position: 37

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Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Josette Simon (Dayna) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Michael Sheard (Klegg), Doyne Byrd (Harmon), John Hollis (Lom), Michael Crane (Mall), Primi Townsend (Zee), Julia Vidler (Barr), Catherine Chase (Nurse) and Helen Blatch (Receptionist).

Crew: Max Faulkner (Fight Co-Ordinator), Edwina Craze (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Shuna Young (Director's Assistant), Antony Root (Assistant Floor Manager), Peter Chapman (Film Cameraman), Ian Sansom (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Malcolm Johnson (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Steve Drewett/Jim Francis (Visual Effects Designers), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), Doug Burd (Graphic Designer), Dee Robson (Costume Designer), Sheelagh J. Wells (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Gerry Scott (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).

Trivia: The opening reprise from Aftermath is reshot and contains different timing and reactions.

Story: Avon and Dayna return to the Liberator to find it controlled by the Federation's "Death Squad". However, Zen is still only obeying the orders of the crew. Asked at gunpoint to reveal himself to Zen, Avon is knocked unconscious by Tarrant, who realises his identity and doesn't want him to give himself away. Eventually Tarrant reveals he is a Federation rebel like Avon, and that it is he who has been killing off the Federation guards covertly. With three of them left, they are disposed of by Avon, Tarrant and Dayna. Vila and Cally are teleported aboard the exact second they were due for life extinction in the organ bank where they were captured, and Avon commands Zen to recognise Dayna and Tarrant's commands.

Tarrant: Del Tarrant had trained as a Federation Space Captain, yet had been on the Federation wanted list "for quite a while" after running contraband and "getting myself mixed up in other people's wars." After being damaged in the alien conflict he was picked up by a Federation ship. When that too crashed he stole a Federation uniform and got his life capsule aboard the Liberator. There he used the rank of his uniform to command Section Leader Klegg, who had already taken over the ship.

Vila/Cally/Servalan: Vila has crash-landed on the neutral planet Chenga, breaking his right arm. He and Servalan are both picked up by a ship that operates as an organ bank for spare part surgery. There they meet Cally, who is wearing a regen mask in order to restore her facial tissue. Servalan vows to restore the Terran Federation (referred to as such for the first time here) and bribes the owners of the bank to let her go and get her a rescue ship.

Blake/Jenna: Blake reported to Zen that he was on the way to planet Epheron, a planet in the system of Coritol, with several primitive lifeforms. Jenna, meanwhile, received superficial injuries from her life capsule malfunctions, though is now on a neutral cargo carrier in transit to Morphamel. She informs Zen that she does not require priority treatment.


Viewpoint:
"Promising. Quite promising."

In a real sense this is the second part of a two-part story, further tying up the loose ends of the previous season. It's also a step up, because, while Terry Nation has a curiously linear approach to scriptwriting, the actual plot in this one is very good. It's not revealed until over half an hour in that Tarrant is on Avon's side, and this keeps the suspense going. This also helps to show Avon's resourcefulness, even if his ultimate plan - knock the guards out - lacks finesse.

The secondary plot fares less well, and is just a supporting feature with Vila, Cally and Servalan in an organ donor's hospital. The sitcom sensibilities of such a set-up, particularly Servalan returning to say goodbye to them, are countered by Vila's "Wonderful. We were worried about you. Your welfare really concerns us." Speaking of Vila, his opening scene shows the talent of Michael Keating. Such obvious humour could be cheesy under anyone else's control, but with Michael it's hilarious. Talking of his injuries he notes "It's alright… if you don't count the agony." Mind you, He's not alone in the snappy lines department, with Avon noting "that's a difficult way to commit suicide" over a man with a knife in his back. I also loved him telling Vila that he had the option of being a spare part in the hospital, or a spare part on the Liberator, and informing Dayna "This one is Vila. I should really introduce him now, he's at his best when he's unconscious."

No classic, but an above-average script and the new crew fully introduced make for a satisfying view.