Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Freedom of Information written by Eddie Robson and directed by Edward Salt

What’s it about: They're saying it isn't a war. The Draconians have taken over the Braxiatel Collection, but they claim they come in peace. Insurrectionary acts are easily being quelled - but the Draconian's new head of state on the Collection is troubled by a missing academic. Is Bernice Summerfield one of the revolutionaries, undermining the peaceful campaign? Where is she hiding, and who is protecting her? And if she's nowhere to be found, why does he keep hearing her voice? Meanwhile, an unlikely peace broker struggles to cut a deal on the Mim Sphere. But how can Hass, the Collection's gardener, convince the Mim to back down when they think he's one of the enemy?

Archeological Adventuress: Brax wants to know if she is going to make trouble figuring that their dynamic is for her to rail against whatever he thinks is best. Benny is not trying to defend the Draconians but she doesn’t want anybody else to die and she is desperate to get Adrian to stop his defiance before it costs him his life. She knows he’s suffering more than most but he’s not the only person suffering and I love how Benny is a good enough friend to be able to tell somebody in pain what they need to hear. Blowing up shuttle crafts aren’t really her style. Bernice has a gun in her quarters for protection but it is a dangerous business, the very idea of a woman armed is repellent to Draconians. I love Bernice’s approach to revolution, not taking up arms but teaching the troops that have been bred to think that women belong at home that there is a different way. She doesn’t need to murder anybody, just show them that their way of life is flawed. Ideology on Draconia is dangerous and uniformity of belief is the cornerstone of their society and she has been slowly chipping away at their casual sexism. It’s the most serious resistance she could have stirred up.

Jason (bloody) Kane: You have to wonder if Jason has a death wish when he tells the Draconians that they should reclaim the racist nickname that the universe has for them and talk to their buddies like ‘You, a dragon!’ They consider Jason pathetically subordinate to his wife and that he commands no respect from her whatsoever. He plays the part of an unimportant man but it is a strategy to suggest he knows nothing and the only way to get him to talk is not to get him to betray Benny but to offer him the head of somebody he hates.

Insane Genius: Doggles seems to be the one person who is happy to have Brax back on the Collection and even tells him he was hurt about him leaving him out of the business with the Cybermen. Bernice calls him ‘Irving Braxiatel, the Kickback Kid!’ because the Draconians are leaving him well alone and she’s convinced he has an angle on this war. Jason thinks if you cut him open there would be the name bastard running through him like a stick of rock. As soon as we learn that the Collection will retain its sovereignty and sit within Draconian space with their protection and Braxiatel will take charge again with Bev out of the way you know that this whole war has been orchestrated by Braxiatel to return himself and his Collection to a seat of power. He set Bernice up as a distraction inside Kothar’s head whilst he sent Hass to the Mim Sphere to wipe out them out. Clever, clever bastard. Why is he so determined to keep the Collection safe and within his clutches?

Food Stains: He’s such a vile lump of sleaze you can’t help but admire Doggles’ consistency of character! Doggles just loves telling the story of when Benny gave in to the love virus and jumped in his pants when Jason was away. He doesn’t seem to be afraid of anybody from his former employer to the invading warriors and he happily tells Kothar that he will never understand Benny because he doesn’t know how to treat women. He tries to be chivalrous with Benny and protect her honour but she steps in and tries to save him from his own twattery! Its Kothar’s job to stay calm but Doggles considers it something of a hobby.

Standout Performance: Lisa Bowerman has great fun as the disembodied head inside Kothar’s head commenting wryly on all the members of the Collection that he interrogates.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Ah yes, Benny. You would, wouldn’t you?’ – Doggles sums up his feelings on Bernice in the most succinct way he possibly can!
‘If it wasn’t for you all those specimens would have been destroyed forever’ ‘Yes…if it wasn’t for me…’

Great Ideas: Hass collects specimens of plant life wherever he visits for reasons of study, hybridisation and in case they happen to go extinct. But we learn that he has another reason for collecting them, knowing that the Mim Sphere will be gone within a day. One of Kothar’s men was found dead the day Bernice disappeared and they have reason to believe that she might be involved. The Draconians are trying to convince themselves that there is a resistance on the Collection because they are twiddling their thumbs waiting for the war to start. The Mim consider the Draconians the aggressors because they have attacked their own people as well as theirs. We learn here that if Hass opened up his protection suit the radiation that leaked out could poison everybody in the vicinity in a matter of seconds. The Mim torture him and dismantle Joseph to learn the secrets of the Draconians, thinking that they have sent them to the Sphere in order to allow their enemies access. Their visit to extend the hand of peace could be the very catalyst that begins the war. The Bernice that is taunting Kothar inside his mind suggests that if she is dead she might be some kind of ghost…except she isn’t. The Harvey virus is a smart virus that causes you to hallucinate and can be used to target particular species and hallucinate certain things. The Scotch that was confiscated from Doggles was loaded with the stuff and specifically targeting the Draconians with an obsession with Bernice.

Audio Landscape: Walking on gravel, Hass’s survival suit, a spaceship screaming overhead, pouring Brandy, Draconians on parade in the grounds of the Collection, the modulated Mim voices, hosing down the lawn where the Draconian shuttle is blown up, Hass opening his environmental suit and unleashing his radiation, clashing swords.

Standout Scene: We know that Hass has caused the destruction of the Mim Sphere but he remains button lipped to Bernice who thinks it was a weapon of mass destruction that has been detonated. Lots of tears to come, me thinks.

Result: And with one sudden, devastating move the war is over before it ever really begun which should come as a disappointment to those expecting fireworks but the consequences of this act of genocide will act as a cornerstone for the series. Braxiatel continues to shine and his machiavellian plotting of this war to put him back in a position of power has been the work of a dark genius. The way he pulls everybody’s strings invisibly is quite unnerving and the moment you realise how he has achieved his greatest wish here is absolutely chilling. What can his endgame possibly be? Bernice is left completely in the dark and even more heartache is just around the corner – there are no two ways about it the Braxiatel Collection is no longer a safe place for her to be and the people she has considered her friends are abusing that trust and committing terrible acts. The Freedom of Information is a talky story that isn’t as carefully crafted as The Judas Gift but the consequences of this war leave so many interesting possibilities hanging it is a fascinating experience despite itself. Suddenly the range feels claustrophobic and dangerous and that is a great feeling: 8/10

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