Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 8 ("Spoil of War")

This is the eighth a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. Survivors followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Our last episode featured two major development. Our core group of "survivors" (Abby Grant, Jenny Richards, and Greg Preston; along with children John Milton and Lizzie Willoughby) nearly doubled in size with the additions of Tom Price, Emma Cohen, Wendy, and Barney. Additionally, the group settled into a small enclosed estate (later named the Grange), where they hope to start up their new settlement.

The question is whether or not they have the collective skills needed to sustain their new community? Case in point, what's the likelihood that Abby and Jenny can plow a field for potatoes using a pony?

Paul Pitman
Fortunately, their fruitless efforts are being monitored by a traveler named Paul (played by Chris Tranchell). He quickly sits down with the larger group and explains that they are going about everything all wrong. They have the wrong type of horse for plowing. They're wasting their time trying to restart this old tractor. They are trying to farm the wrong portion of their community. Plus, they don't know the first thing about seed-potatoes!

Paul is pretty blunt, but everyone quickly warms to the guy and he pretty seamlessly folds into our new community.

While doing their walkabout of the property, Greg suddenly remembers the quarry from his first adventure. He reminds Abby that he had encountered a man and a woman in a quarry. They had been gathering food, seed, and equipment almost immediately after the Sickness. Unfortunately, the man was severely injured in a tractor accident and Greg had been called in to help them out. The woman later told Greg that the man had died (though we viewers know that Anne coldly abandoned Vic to fend for himself) and they both moved on to new adventures.


For whatever reasons, they decided to send Tom Price and Barney off to the quarry to create an inventory of the stockpile.

That night, our group is visited by a caravan. The vehicle is driven by a secretary named Charmian Wentworth (played by Eileen Helsby). She is traveling with her employer, a business tycoon by the name of Arthur Russell (played by Michael Grover). They are seeking shelter for the night, which is granted.

Charmian Wentworth
This new couple is a bit of a rarity for "Survivors." Up until now, everyone who has survived has been unknown to each other. Arthur and Charmian have proved to be the exception. She was his secretary before the Sickness. And she's carting him around after everyone else that they knew had died off.

They explained that they are traveling to an island cottage that Arthur owns. He plans to fish for survival -- well, he probably plans for Charmian to fish for their survival. Either way, our survivors aren't impressed by Arthur's pompous attitude. Money and prestige don't count for much in this new world.

Arthur Russell
The group becomes anxious when Tom and Barney don't return as scheduled. Greg and Paul load up into Arthur's van and travel to the quarry to see what's holding them up. They discover that our missing pair is pinned down by a gang of hidden thugs who shoot at anything that moves!


Greg sneaks around back and discovers that Tom and Barney aren't being shot at by a group of men. There's only one man in that shack: Vic Thatcher! He's armed with his own weapons, plus he's creating the illusion of more men by using ropes to fire other weapons:


Greg confronts Vic and discovers that his legs had healed badly. Vic cannot walk and he's probably still in a lot of pain. Vic had been mostly delirious when they had originally had met, but had assumed that Greg had whisked Anne away. Greg told him that she had told him that Vic was dead and he'd believed her.


Vic can scarcely believe that he had been abandoned by Anne. He is now consumer with thoughts of revenge.


Greg tells the others that they are not going to raid Vic's stockpile, as these items belong to him. Vic tells them to take as much as they like. Greg tells Vic that he's not going to take anything -- unless Vic himself comes to the Grange with them. He promises to find some sort of work to keep him busy.


The Grange continues to grow! Four new residents within two days! Each offers new skills and new perspectives.

I have been meaning to share second-hand stories of what things are like in the cities -- London in particular. It doesn't sound pretty. We keep hearing from others that they should stay away from the cities. It makes sense. There are too many dead bodies lying around, which can only promote new illnesses and infections. We learned from Tom Price back in Episode 3 that the London was surrounded by a wall of unbearable stench. It was bad enough that he ended up leaving before he got too close.

Paul told us in this story that he went to London to find his father. He found his father's apartment (which was empty), but never did find his father. He told of snipers everywhere. They were shooting at anything that moved, in hopes of snagging anything from food to gold teeth to cigarettes.

London definitely seems like the place to avoid in this post-apocalyptic world!

Next week, we will watch Episode #9 ("Law And Order"). It is one of the more powerful episodes of the series -- and one of the most disappointing episodes. It's the one episode that soured the whole show to Husband Mark. I will tell you why next week.

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