Sapphire & Steel #33: The Trap Part 3

"Got a kiss for Jolly Jack / And all the children on his back?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.26 1982.

A clownish performer joins the group, Silver steals his tambourine and the car, and Sapphire realizes her team in is mortal danger.

REVIEW: It's lovely how the show keeps swinging you from the ominous to the innocuous and back again. Take the new arrival, for example. What a strange figure. A clown with little doll-people stuck to his jacket, refusing to answer questions except with his Jolly Jack rhymes... Is this the Enemy itself? He cuts a strange and creepy figure, like something out of a dark fairy tale. But as the episode unfolds, he's revealed to be just a performer in some circus troupe, a tambourine man who's wandered off the turnpike from 1957. His story is a strange one, but he seems generally clueless about the temporal anomaly, just like the 1948 couple or 1925's old man. And then, the pendulum swings back again and they're all (all? maybe not the woman) part of the trap that's being sprung on the time elements. Glowing eyes and zombie glaze. And Sapphire says they're just like them, but answer to a higher power.

A higher power? Is Time or the Enemy greater than whatever intelligence normally assigns them to fix space-time? Is it just her way of admitting defeat? And were these strangers play-acting all along, or are they merely possessed by some force? The woman wants to come clean, but doesn't know who to trust, perhaps because she senses the time elements are akin to whatever's controlling her lover. It may be that nothing and no one we've seen is real, that it's all part of the trap. The Enemy has gone on the offensive, and apparently spawned its own agents. Had there been more assignments, I wonder if they would have exploited these counter-agents more. Perhaps they have in the audio series. Something I'll have to check on.

Of course, despite the revelation that it's all counting down to the time elements' imminent deaths, there's a lot of exploring-type stuff before we get there. Interrogations, disassembly of a tambourine to prove its back story is fake, secretly moving the car, Silver walking to the time barrier, and so on. Slower moments to keep running time up, not all of which we need to see in such detail. I wonder how much atmosphere would be lost if these stories were told in more compact form?

- It's got its slow bits which would certainly affect REwatchability, but the tension between what's apparent and what's real is a delight.



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