Sapphire & Steel #20: The Creature's Revenge Part 6

"Things that once ran wild, but at least free. Things that breathed, and ate, and produced their young. Things that swam in the sea. Things that managed to survive, once. Reduced to a few living pieces?!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.22 1981.

IN THIS ONE... The creature's nature is explained, it escapes the wall, and must be lured back in before the capsule is sent back to the future.

REVIEW: The serial's finale has some terrifying moments in it, but its effects requirements often strain the show's tiny budget and hilarity, rather than terror, may ensue. Consider the creature's true self, halfway between a blind fish and a meat teddy bear, squirming its way through the house. Or Steel looking for the proper lure in a kitchen with truly shaky sets. The creature's illusions are much more effective, causing Steel to almost stab an infant, then actually making him choke out Sapphire, who he sees as a disturbing baby doll with bloody lips. On balance, there are more effective moments than laughable ones.

What do we think of the trio's solution? They essentially send the creature back to the future because it's THEIR problem. Pass the buck, and if this a threat to the future, then time elements in that time will surely have to deal with it. Sapphire, perhaps because she's an empath, sits in judgment over the scientists who built the machine. Her stare, pointed at the travelers, is devastating. Lying dead or comatose (another illusion?), she tells Steel to let the creature have its revenge, but on the proper society/time. She's as vengeful as the creature apparently is. We might judge the people of 2500 A.D. too, or at least their worst ambassador Eldrad, who can't summon up the courage or reason to "peep" at another group's bedroom - puritanism oblige - even though he should be fearing for their lives, and whose vegan morality is exposed as something else when he claims animals have no usefulness anyway. It's not about caring about animals, since they don't exist (although he's wrong about that, as the coda suggests). It's again about an inherited morality that makes him squeamish vis-à-vis 20th-century mores. One wonders why he thought he was better suited to time travel than Rothwyn.

Rothwyn does much better, but then, she always did. A moment of flirtation with Silver, the ability to feel guilt about her culture's use of animal DNA, and her motherly instinct are all traits that endear her to us. Not so with her husband. He, at least, might deserve it when Steel harshly suggests they should commit suicide to rid him of a problem. Oh Steel. But as harsh as he is, he's the one who gets the big speech about animals' rights to exist. Do the time elements have a particular relationship to nature and/or the order of things? When Silver reverted to his origin point, we asked what that might be. Here, a restored Silver claims he can't have been wrong because his inability to make mistakes is "built-in". Are they artificial, then? Do they have more in common with the creature than we can understand? And is that the source of their empathy?

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE VORTEX: The creature's illusions reminded me of the film Oculus, in which Amy Pond shows how poorly she would do with the Doctor.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Runs out of money at the end, or perhaps never had the cash to spend in the first place. That, and the rush to the finish, still can't completely sink what amounts to a coherent explanation and some harrowing moments of horror.

STORY REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The story is atypical of the series to date, has a strong visual look, and introduces a fun new character. It could have been at least two episodes shorter, however, and sags quite a lot in the middle.


LondonKdS said...

This is why I dislike using the fanon story titles - in this case and in another one further on they are rather too spoilery, while other ones err on the side of being meaningless or bland.

Hammond himself was quoted in the booklet with my DVDs as regarding this story as the worst of the six, feeling that he allowed his own animal liberationist sympathies to come through too heavy-handedly.

I was amused by seeing your guesses on previous episodes about the thematic role of animals in the story - it's well set up.

Siskoid said...

You're entirely right about the story titles, but the blog is so number heavy already (I number way too many things) that Assignment 3 part 6 would be just as meaningless for the average reader.

Putting a political filter on The Creature's Revenge does make it rather heavy-handed, but taken at face value, it asks some intriguing questions about the protagonists' values.

Anonymous said...

Assignment 3 seems to be regarded as the turkey of the lot (ooh, no pun intended), but I think that speaks to the quality of the series as a whole. I agree with the 'Medium-High' and also agree that this story could have been a little shorter. The mystery of Eldred and Rothwyn's behavior intrigues, Silver is awesome, and the conclusion truly freaked me out.

- Jason


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