Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 17 ("Lights of London Part 2")

This is the seventeenth in 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.

In our last episode (which is also the first half of this particular storyline), Ruth was lured away from Whitecross by some travelers with a false story involving Abby Grant and an illness at a nearby settlement. The pair whisked her away instead to what's left of London. Ruth learned that roughly 500 people continue living in London and are making it by with limited electricity, hot water, soap, upbeat music, and a one-doctor hospital. She learned that they needed a second doctor (i.e., Ruth) in order to attend to a new fatal disease called the London Sickness.

Did I mention that Charles and Greg managed to track Ruth down towards the end of last week's episode? They were almost taken down by pack of rats, but were rescued by London's resident exile, a guy named Wally (more about him later!). Charles got bit up pretty badly. Here is Ruth's professional assessment:

London is now run by a guy named Manny. He's got things pretty well under control. Manny is working alongside the Doctor and a city planner named Barbara to eventually move the entire population from London (which is overrun by rats and dead bodies and some sort of airborn illness that causes minor scratches to go septic) to the Isle of Wight (which is outside and presumably easier to manage.

Manny has decided to take advantage of Greg's presence to help search for mass-evacuation routes. But before that, he schools Greg and us viewers on why they originally exiled Wally:

In other words, Manny has his thumb held down tightly on London's operations and Wally has the good sense to see that things are dodgy -- what with the periodic exiling of those who ask too many questions! Wally was voted out and now he's trying to get back in away from the rats! Manny said that he can come back, but only if he leaves a message at Whitecross telling them that Greg, Charles, and Ruth are safe.

Actually, Manny is being pretty cagey about allowing Wally back. He admitted to Nessie the Nurse that he would be happy if Wally never made it back alive. That earned him a strong rebuke from Nessie:

This is where things begin to go south. First, the Doctor contracts the London Sickness and quickly dies, leaving Ruth with the impossible choice of having to stay -- after all, who will care for all of these Londoners if she doesn't?

Then Greg learns that Manny has pushed back to move-out date from London. He wants to send Greg and Charles on what appears to be a suicide mission to clear the roads of rats on the way to the Isle of Wight. But Greg realizes that Manny will keep coming up with new excuses for pushing back their move date.

This prompts him to push Charles and Ruth to leave London -- now! Except that Ruth won't leave:

And did I mention that Manny took Wally on a mission to find new stores of petrol? It turns out that it was all a ruse. Manny really planned to rid himself permanently of London's favorite gadfly!:

Nessie eventually convinces Ruth to leave London. The countryside needs Ruth and Nessie herself can manage the hospital. She loads up Ruth's bag with tons of medical supplies and sends her on her way.

Of course, Manny was furious and manages to intercept our bunch before they made it into the tunnels. He gives them an ultimatum: Leave Ruth behind or die!:

Fortunately, Manny only manages to kill his own men off before finding himself killed by Wally. It seems that Wally didn't die, he just fell down unconscious for a bit. This allows Ruth, Greg, and Charles the opportunity to escape from London and to return home!

They invite Wally to join them at Whitecross, but he turns them down. He plans to search the countryside for a new doctor. He will work hard to convince the new doctor to come back with him to London. That's a shame. I rather liked Wally!

This two-part episode was actually pretty good, though I'm still unsure why Manny was so resistant to leaving London. Maybe he liked be in command over the fortifications surrounding the city. But I can't imagine that it's too fun to have command over a city with an atmosphere that promotes rot -- not to mention millions of bodies that randomly explode into flames!

We return next week to a more traditional one-part episode located in Whitecross titled "The Face of the Tiger."

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