Poor Gan. This was meant to be his episode and he mostly gets to gurn and grunt. I have the script of the episode they originally intended to show in which an alien took Gan's form so that there were two rampaging about on the Liberator until ours realised where his loyalties lay, and though it gave David Jackson more to do, it doesn't have the complexity of the XK-72 parts of this one.
Gan: all-round nice guy
Yep, this looks bad for Gan and good for all those who believe him to be a woman-hating psychopath who had a limiter installed for excellent reason. He looks downright evil at times, especially when he's cunningly tricking the far too fair-minded Cally into letting him go. However I don't subscribe to this view because:
- Avon says, "It's not my field, but if I am right, then the limiter is feeding scrambled impulses into his brain." And you know Avon is always right. ;-)
- The limiter is what it says: a limiter. I doubt very much that the Federation is able to create a little gizmo that gives people affection, loyalty, empathy, altruism, and kindness when they had none at all before. And psychopaths don't.
- Things Gan does that psychopaths can't do: he's protective of someone weaker (Vila); he heals Jenna's broken arm, he's twice prepared to sacrifice himself for his friends (the second time successfully), he's morally outraged at the thought of using shadow and the Terra Nostra, and he's gregarious (when he has radiation sickness, he drags himself out to be with others).
The owls are not what they seem
I do like that the XK-72 people are not the way they appear at first sight.
Farren seems to be a rigid bureaucrat, but he's willing to bend the rules for Avon.
Kayn says damn Farren's petty rules, he is going across to the ship to give his help--but then refuses to because he supports the Federation as a force for order in the galaxy; after all, they make the space cruisers run on time. He does not act to save Gan until his hands are threatened, but when he uses his surgeon's hands to kill Farren, that gets to him when letting Gan die wouldn't have.
Renor the flirt turns out to have a very strong conscience that makes him stand up to the surgeon he admires and say what he thinks of him. I'm sorry he was killed.
Vila's another that doesn't start as he means to go on. He's not happy about going through the Big Red Swirly Thing in Space and puts up a barrage of objections (I think on the general principle that you never know your luck: someone could listen) but as soon as Jenna says that Gan is dying, it's "All right. Well, let's get on with it." Then when he realises that Kayn and Renor are taking too long, he doesn't ask someone else to do anything, but takes a gun, hides it behind his back, then threatens Kayn with it.
Avon once again affects not to care and even makes a fairly good attempt at escaping to a bolt hole, but on his return backs Vila up. Vila says he would kill Kayn, and Avon says he will if Vila can't, but would either of them actually do it incold blood? I don’t think so.
Avon and Vila in the teleport discussing Kayn and why Vila stays with Blake is a nice scene: for all their bickering, they seem to be more at ease with each other than either is with anyone else.
Blake is the one who makes the threat that Kayn believes--and fears. And I think he'd do it.
Cally does not come out of this episode well. Believing Gan when he'd already been very violent and out of control is stupid, and when she reports to Blake afterwards, she's almost wringing her hands in misery. She has a better showing in the next episode, so the tough guerrilla is still there, but conspicuously absent here.
Big Red Swirly Thing in Space
OK, here's my explanation: it's fast-rotating dark matter which gives off light in the red part of the visible spectrum due to collisions with space dust. Going through the very middle (which is empty due to centripetal force) was therefore the right decision: the gravitational pull would be cancelled out at the centre. However the Liberator has volume and therefore those parts of it further away from the centre would be attracted by strong tidal forces as if it were near a neutron star. I'm not sure how they survived that, but hey.
A bad end
It seems gratuitously cruel to blow up the whole space station with a stray plasma bolt, but B7 is at the darker end of so-called family shows. Much, much worse is the painfully lame 'tinkly bit' (as I call them after the music that usually accompanies them) at the end. It's not the worst, but it's up there with them. Cringe.
Really, it's the XK-72 characters that make this episode: it's very good in parts.