Written by Terry Nation.
Directed by Pennant Roberts.
Airdate: 13 February 1978.
The Liberator encounters a space freighter flying in circles with its pilot dead, the controls sabotaged, and the crew unconscious from tranquilizer gas. While the Liberator races to deliver the freighter's valuable cargo, Avon and Cally stay on board the freighter to help with repairs...and solve a murder.
This episode has the following tropes:
- Absence of Evidence: Sonheim appears to have murdered Mandrian after being caught committing sabotage, but Avon points out there's no sign of the cutting tool used to commit the sabotage.
- Asteroid Thicket: The Liberator encounters a meteor shower too large to fly around without wasting valuable time. As usual the meteors are clustered together and bounce off the Liberator's hull like hail off a tin roof.
- Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: Sonheim.
- Bottle Episode: The action takes place either on the Ortega or the Liberator.
- Challenge SeekerAvon: Personally, I don't care if their whole planet turns into a mushroom. I shall stay because I don't like an unsolved mystery.
- Closed Circle: The investigators and suspects are all trapped on a spacecraft that's flying around in circles until they can get it fixed.
- Crime After Crime: The murderer only intended to knock everyone out and smash the controls, so all the murders were Sara adapting to circumstances (though apparently her co-conspirators intended to Leave No Witnesses).
- Rafford had shut the ventilators on the flight deck, so was unaffected by the knockout gas.
- Dortmunn was killed to provide a fake suspect, but she didn't have the opportunity to get his corpse into the life rocket.
- Mandrian found the homing beacon in her bag, and caught Sara trying to sabotage the ship.
- Death in the Clouds: Though with a spaceship instead of an airplane.
- Dissonant Serenity: Even after being exposed as the killer with nowhere to run to on a spaceship, Sara is calm and confident. Avon realises that means another spacecraft is coming to pick her up, which is why she set the controls so they'd fly in circles.
- Drop the Hammer: The murder weapon.
- Fakeout Escape: Sara killed Dortmunn, hid his body and fired off a life rocket to make it look like he was the murderer.
- Good Is Not Nice:
- Blake booby-traps the airlock hatch, destroying the vessel coming to pick up Sara (and her as well). One doubts he had much sympathy for anyone willing to let an entire planet choke under fungus for their own greed.
- Avon shows that he Would Hit a Girl (and enjoy it too).
- Greed: Avon says from the beginning that this is the motive. He turns out to be right, even though the Federation would also have a plausible motive to stop the neurotope reaching its destination. Destiny had been resisting pressure to join the Federation, and had already bankrupted themselves buying the neurotope.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: The first victim wrote a Dying Clue in his own blood, the numbers 54124. Avon eventually realises it's not a cryptic clue but an attempt to write the killer's name: SARA.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Sara somehow conceals a Ray Gun with a large radiator dish on her person.
- Hypocritical HumorDr Kendall: Yes, it's enough to tempt anyone. There are men who would betray their companions for a lot less.Avon: What a very cynical thought, Doctor.
- Idiot Ball:
- Everyone leans over to look at Avon writing out the vital clue...and turns their back on the murderer, who has time to get her hands on a weapon.
- Avon and Cally hand over their guns to Blake before he leaves, presumably so they can't be jumped and have their guns taken off them. The problem is there are already firearms on board the ship — Sara uses one and Cally uses another for the Playing Possum scene.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: After a violent struggle with Sara, Avon tells the others, "You better get her out of here, I really rather enjoyed that."
- In Vino Veritas: While passing out from the knockout gas, Cally just says one word telepathically. "Alone..."
- Ironic Echo: Avon would repeat Cally's "a man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken" in Season 4, by which time it had become Harsher in Hindsight.
- It's the Only Way
- With their spaceship crippled, Blake offers to take the neurotope to Destiny on their behalf. They are naturally reluctant to trust a stranger, but their own ship would arrive too late.
- While piloting through the meteor shower, the power starts to fade. Zen gives them a choice between Diverting Power to the drive units or the forcewall. Blake chooses the drive units and charges on through.
- Knockout Gas: Sonovapour
- Ludicrous PrecisionBlake: I want everything in the data banks concerning Galaxy Class cruisers.Zen: Complete data is extensive.Blake: Good. How long before we're in teleport range?Zen: That will depend on speed as yet unspecified.Blake: [smiling at Jenna] Standard by Four?Zen: Sixteen point one four zero nine zero one minutes.Jenna: [grinning] Approximately speaking, of course.Zen: It is estimated that you will require one hundred and twenty eight hours to assimilate all available data on Galaxy Class cruisers.Blake: [perturbed] Mark Three?
- Mood Motif
- MacGuffin: The neurotope will be used to kill a fungus that is devastating the agricultural planet Destiny. Unfortunately the element it contains is so rare it's one of the most valuable objects in the galaxy.
- Murderer P.O.V.
- Nuclear Candle: For some reason Cally needs a torch to search a well-lit storeroom. The lack of Chiaroscuro ruins the shock effect of her stumbling on a corpse there.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: This episode has nothing to do with Blake's struggle against the Federation. It's a murder mystery IN SPACE!
- Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Cally finds two of these!
- Playing Possum: Sara locks herself on the flight deck until help arrives. She hears screams and gunfire, and smugly opens the door to see her crewmates lying on the floor. Then Avon jumps her, as everyone was just playing dead.
- Plot Hole:
- Dr Kendall sends Sara to get the neurotope, giving her a chance to remove it from the box. Yet he'd earlier stated that he was the only one who had the key and combination to the safe.
- How does Liberator get back in time for a Big Damn Heroes through a meteorite storm without power for the forcewall?
- The Radio Dies First: Someone sabotaged the communication circuits before committing the murder.
- Red Herring:
- Sondheim is an all-too-obvious suspect — creepy, hostile, and gets found near two corpses (in the last case, holding the murder weapon!).
- Also Mandrian, up until he gets killed.
- Screaming Woman: Sara on 'discovering' Rafford's corpse.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Played with; Sara rips off her bracelet just before they teleport over to the Liberator. She is then killed because Blake rigged a Booby Trap on the entry hatch so the Ortega and the ship picking Sara up were destroyed.
- The Snark Knight: Avon gets some great snark off Cally.Cally: Remember that Avon and I will be staying. We will regard ourselves as hostages against Blake's return.Cally: [telepathically] Blake will return.Avon: You can bet your life on it, in fact you've just bet both our lives on it.
Cally: My people have a saying, a man who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken.Avon: Life expectancy must be fairly short among your people.
- See Harsher in Hindsight...
Avon: Cally thinks that the death of the pilot Rafford was an accident.Others: An accident?Cally: A misfortune.Avon: [smirk] It certainly was for him.Vila: Mock if you like, but I can always sense danger.Gan: Yes, even when there isn't any...
- And finally...
- Someone Else's Problem:Sara: I'll kill the first one that puts his head outside this door. [flees]Avon: Well, she's one of your crew, you'd better get after her.
- Summation Gathering: By Avon in all his hammy glory.
- Thanks for the Mammary: Paul Darrow (Avon) grabbing hold of Beth Morris (Sara). Maybe that's why she elbows him in the groin?
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: During the meteor storm the box holding the neurotope slides off a table and crashes to the floor. When Blake opens the box to check that it's undamaged, the box is empty. Meaning it's still back on the Ortega with the murderer.