Sapphire & Steel #16: The Creature's Revenge Part 2

"A man, a woman, and a baby. It's hardly an invasion force."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.8 1981.

IN THIS ONE... The family's baby grows into an adult in a few minutes. Steel blocks the lift.

REVIEW: Revising what I think is going on... again. It's very much Sapphire & Steel's whole deal. With the twin revelation that the family's child has grown up at an accelerated rate (watch of the naked bum, you won't see THAT on Doctor Who) and Sapphire's feeling that time itself, via a "time crystal", is the threat, attacking from the inside, it now looks like we can relegate the concept of exploited animals to the status of theme. Animal spirits aren't involved, but rather time itself turning back the clock on animal products so objects and foodstuffs "live" again. The theme stands because this time creature - and it looks like a stone fetus, perhaps because it's about to be "born" - is being exploited by the time travelers. As it gains sentience, it would resent that fact. Perhaps its true nature was unknown when they harnessed its energies. And are the other "study groups" (rural and provincial) not responding because their own time crystals have acted up? (If so, Sapphire and Steel missed the boat).

But then, they're not particularly effective in this adventure. They've yet to meet the guest cast, though each side has sensed the other, and Steel spends most of this episode tooling around an elevator shaft (with way too much echo; somebody's gone crazy at the reverb switch), blocking access to the 8th floor and roof as if we'd had any indication there was anyone else in the building. The production is just buying time, finding the time travelers more interesting without our heroes' interference, it seems. Left to their own devices and no one to bounce off of, the time elements get frustrated with one another. Steel is particularly antagonistic, perhaps stinging from having been terrified by a pillow. That's no excuse for his behavior, of course.

As for the family, there's a particularly harrowing moment when the mother finds a swan in the baby's crib and proceeds to wring its neck. Obviously this is an illusion, so what is she really wringing? Turns out to be a pillow, but the sequence lets you fear it might be the baby(!). Rothwyn is still more sensitive than her husband Eldred, a mirror of Sapphire's own empathic powers. And so in their marital strife we can see the time elements' own dysfunctional relationship. Eldred has none of Steel's urgency, however, and would rather believe Rothwyn is being hysterical. In that sense, he seems to have perfectly captured the old-fashioned spirit of the 20th century, bravo. He's setting himself up to become a victim, that one.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE VORTEX: Is the "creature" a nascent Chronovore (The Time Monster)?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Worry that the baby would cry every episode has been dispelled, but the Sapphire and Steel's bits feel rather padded.



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