Updated: December 23 2020 09:43
A Protectorate attack on a Federation group holed up in an abandoned cinema will have devastating consequences
CRAIG AND RUTH have been harried and pursued by a Protectorate patrol after their escape from the mine. With few weapons remaining, they head into an old, abandoned cinema on the outskirts of a village. Before they can be overrun, their attackers are forced to retreat under fire by the arrival of Jenny Richards, who has travelled south following her escape from Pritchard's Scottish encampment. Having travelled to Retworth, Abby Grant is attempting to convince Robert Malcolm that she can be trusted to seek a reconciliation with her son Peter. He uses extreme measures to test her loyalty, before deciding to trust her sufficiently to allow her to work in the kitchens preparing food. Knowing that a larger Protectorate force will return, Jenny, Ruth and Craig decide to make a stand where they are, with Jenny urging the villages to support them in the resistance to Protectorate tyranny. Peter rebuffs all of his mother’s efforts to reach out to him, while she prepares the soup to feed Malcolm’s departing soldiers. At the cinema, the trio enjoy the unexpected treat of watching an old B-movie, ahead of the expected assault on their position. When many of Malcolm's men fall ill with food poisoning, the odds suddenly shift back in favour of Jenny and her compatriots. But when the defenders decide to change tactics, the costs of this clash will prove to be incalculable for some of the combatants...
WITH THE STORM clouds of all-out civil war now fast looming, Fade Out delivers a fantastic eve-of-battle story. It puts into sharp relief some of the decisive personal and philosophical conflicts that define the imminent showdown, and highlights the terrible price that this struggle for survival demands from these combatants.
Roland Moore's perceptive script also offers some thought-provoking reflections about the decision of some to remain "neutral", and to be a non-combatant, whilst a fight about the future of the society in which you live is raging all around you. In addition, Moore makes time, amidst the pace and tension of a fast moving script, to allow his protagonists to "take a breath" and enjoy a moment together away from the stress and tension of impending battle.
It's an edge-of-the-seat sequence, brilliantly performed by Carolyn Seymour and Hywel Morgan
It remains an action driven story, which brings centre stage the brooding conflict between the exasperated Abby and the petulant, distant Peter, as she makes desperate bids to reconnect with her son.
As Malcolm tests Abby's declarations of loyalty, his interrogation shifts in the direction of horrific (and what turns out to be psychological) torture, It's an edge-of-the-seat sequence, brilliantly performed by Carolyn Seymour and Hywel Morgan, which demonstrates just how far Malcolm is prepared go in pursuit of his aims.
Assigning Abby to the role of cook would not seem to be without risk, but the way that the food poisoning plot plays out is satisfyingly effective. It's a plot device that ensures that the raid on the rebels' position is very up-close and personal (involving the key players) rather than a shoot-out between anonymous militias.
A key drive of the story is to bring that fateful triangle of Abby, Peter and Robert together in a situation in which all possible outcomes are calamitous, and from which there is no possibility of them all emerging unscathed. It does this brilliantly through a series of horrendous events which end in the tragic demise of Craig, killed by Peter Grant on the instructions of Robert Malcolm.
George Watkins has delivered consistently fantastic performances, as Craig has been put through the wringer and evolved from the "wild child" of The Trapping Pit, to the brave and committed militia leader seen here. Craig has never enjoyed an easy ride, and his death is suitably bloody and traumatic, made all the more shocking by the fact that Abby is present to watch Peter slit his throat without compunction.
No less central to the plot is Jenny's return to England after her group's escape from the clutches of Pritchard. Jenny is now a formidable political leader in her own right, and again shows her talents as a persuasive rabble-rouser, as she appeals to a diffident local community to throw their weight behind the struggle against the Protectorate. It's exactly the role that Abby would have stepped up to accept, were she not so preoccupied with her pursuit of Peter, and that Greg would have grudgingly taken on were he still around.
Jenny is now a formidable political leader in her own right, and a persuasive rabble-rouser
The night before the raid, comes that hugely evocative moment when the defenders of the cinema sit down to watch an old movie, albeit a pretty hokey one. It provides a reflective "beat" in which these characters can enjoy a brief, intimate interlude, sharing one of the everyday pleasures of the old world now seemingly lost forever, before the life-or-death pressures of their current predicament intrude once more.
The episode ends with Jenny declaring a pledge that would have been unthinkable before Abby had left the Federation's ranks in order to commit herself entirely to the struggle to win back Peter: that the next time the old friends meet, only one of them will walk away. In the context of the showdown with the Protectorate that now seems unavoidable, it leaves open an appalling possibility that the closing episode will confront directly.
THE INTOXICATING JOY of watching a movie, especially a rubbish one, is so beautifully communicated here precisely because off how dire the situation is.
Alasdair Stuart, SciFiBulletin
ABBY CONTINUES TO try and reach out to her errant son Peter (Joel James Davison), appealing to his better nature with memories of childhood, while he remains in the thrall of the charismatic Malcolm.
Ian McArdell, Indie Mac User
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