Sapphire & Steel #9: The Railway Station Part 3

"What's the use of worrying, it never was worthwhile, so pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile!"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.7 1979.

IN THIS ONE... The ghosts are summoned via their tune and attack Tully. Sapphire gets snagged in a submarine hallucination.

One of the thrills of this series is that every episode, the viewer is forced to assess what he or she really knows about the evolving situation. That's certainly how I've approached these reviews, which might better be called REACTIONS, because how can you adequately review each installment without knowing what comes next? It's like every chapter brings with it a new overarching interpretation. Well, since the episodes were broadcast separately, the points made or themes explored by any one episode are still legitimate, even if the viewer was going on incomplete information when thinking about them. In Part 2, Hammond made me think of soldiers going to war as the "already dead", but in Part 3, things come to light that redirect the ghosts' malaise to another source. So the OVERALL story/Assignment makes a different point, but along the way, Part 2 had something to say about war as a dishonest enterprise. And guess what, I'm only 3 episodes in. It might be that this idea will feature again!

As things stand now, it seems it isn't the station that's haunted - it's Tully! He's the target of the ghosts' incursion, even having to fend off ghostly grenades and gunfire. Can these cause real harm? Perhaps it's enough that they make you FEEL like they could. The ghosts' modus operandi to date has been to make the living experience the past, what it was like to send boys to their deaths, what it was like to die out there, what it was like to be under fire. And yet, these manifestations seem to want to enter the physical world. When Steel is made to experience a plane crash, he is momentarily replaced, in the FLESH, by a young pilot. Only his telepathic contact with Sapphire remains as the tether that allows her to spool back time and bring him back. The idea seems to be that the living would die in the past, switched with the dead, and that the dead would rise, although perhaps as simple vessels for the Enemy. We've been told these aren't actually the dead or their souls, only temporal echoes. Will these boys be used by the Enemy, just as they were used by the military meat grinder?

But the big question now is what role did Tully play in these kids' lives. It's a mystery to everyone but Tully himself. He knows. It's why he wants to help them so much. He seeks redemption, and the Enemy will want to use that to gain a foothold in our reality. He's reluctant to help Steel because the time element has told him he want to destroy the ghosts. And perhaps there's some dread there too. He knows the ghosts' song, the one they whistle, and can sing it to help draw them out (this is not unlike the nursery rhyme bait from the previous story). Not coincidentally, the song is about denying the horrors of war. Don't worry and smile, which is certainly dissonant. Sapphire isn't too keen on Steel's plan either, and for the first time, they disagree with one another. We should be feeling very apprehensive by this point; Steel even lets out a little squeal of fear at one point, so we should understand the gravity of the situation (no, that's not a plane crash joke).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The story gets deeper and deeper (no, that's not a submarine joke) with every broadcast installment. Things seem to get desperate much faster than in the previous Assignment, with more episodes to go in total, too!



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