Sapphire and Steel – Assignment 2 Review

Sapphire and Steel A2

Sapphire and Steel moves onward with a far better second story. It may be a tad overly long at 8 episodes in length, but you can’t fault the world building and the mystery at the story’s heart keeping it going along, nor can you fault the great final part of the story. Let’s take a closer look!


In an abandoned railway station, ghost hunter George Tully conducts an investigation. His solitary task is interrupted by the two interdimensional operators, who have an investigation of their own. A sinister, growing force known as the Darkness is feeding on the resentment of the dead, using as a focus Private Sam Pearce, the apparition of a World War I soldier shot and killed eleven minutes after the armistice. The Darkness soon recruits other resentful shades from the past who also died unfairly as a result of a coming or completed conflict. It is up to Sapphire and Steel to decide if the life of one living human is worth the price of the danger presented to Reality.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

SandS A2 3

Our three living cast members!

Sapphire (Joanna Lumley) – One of two mysterious elemental entities that arrive in the abandoned railway station to find out what is behind the odd apparitions and goings on. She has a kind soul to her, unlike…

Steel (David McCallum) – Steel is another elemental entity that has arrived to figure out and stop whatever is behind the strange occurrences in the old abandoned railway station. He has a rather cold and harsh personality…

George Tully (Gerald James) – Amateur “Ghost Hunter” who has been staking out the abandoned railway station for some time, and doesn’t take kindly to the new arrivals…

Private Sam Pearce (Tom Kelly) – Sam was unfortunately killed eleven minutes after World War I ended, and resents his death because of this reason. “The Darkness” exploits his resentment for its own ends, without Sam knowing his true fate…

Plus one or two more!

The Good:

SandS A2 2

Poor Tully… *sniff sniff* *wipes tear away*

Once again what we don’t know really gives the story a good feel, with Sapphire and Steel still being unknown beings to us the viewer, and the formless enemy they face just being a mysterious “force”. It works really well! The last few episodes really keep your focus, with more unfortunate ghosts appearing and Steel getting ever more pissy about being toyed with.

Say what you will about the ghosts, but it’s George Tully I felt sorry for in the end. For the whole 8 episodes he’s just a nice middle-aged man who happened to get himself caught up in all this other-dimensional nonsense, and then the ending happens… Steel bargains with “The Darkness” to free all the spirits it had captured in exchange for one man who’s still living and is a few years away from his predetermined death. The apparent contradiction would give The Darkness more of a meal. Poor old Tully is of course who Steel meant, and throughout the last two episodes he’s completely frightened of the Darkness and wants to go home, but instead Steel keeps him around. Right at the end he asks Steel if they’re “winning” and Steel coldly responds “yes, now go back to the bridge” and then we hear a scream, and that’s that. The problem is solved, but at the expense of a completely innocent man’s life. Powerful stuff, really. Doctor Who taught me to expect some ending where Tully was alright in the end, but nope. Steel just gave up his life to end the problem, and then moved on…

I did like the idea of a mysterious entity that was feeding on the spirits of people who were unfairly killed. Steel being confused because “soldiers know they could die when they go to war, so it shouldn’t cause this” added a nice little hint of Sapphire and Steel once again being something we just don’t understand. There is no explanation, just a few little lines that show they know more than any of us.

The ghosts themselves were mostly just standing around, but “Private Pearce” was a treat. He started off just a regular spooky person walking around, but we got his life story, complete with tragic end, and then we see him be quite… evil, I suppose, is his dealings with Steel (not that Steel didn’t deserve it, really…) It was a fun premise and well acted.

The Bad:

SandS A2 4

A gloating ghost!

Very few Doctor Who serials went over 6 or 7 episodes, and some of those go on too long. This being 8 episodes was definitely too long, some of the first four episodes really drag on. I understand the argument of world building and slow drips of story leading to a pay off, but you can’t tell me that some of the first few episodes couldn’t have been cut down. Make it a 6 parter like Assignment 1 and it would be a lot better, in my opinion.

Overall Thoughts:

SandS A2 1

At least I made good on my promise to have a proper picture of Steel this time round!

Assignment 2 is a great improvement over 1. No annoying child actors, the plot is more dark and interesting, plus it had a rather harsh and unexpected ending that certainly stuck in my head for a while afterwards. I’m glad I heard about this being most people’s favourite story, because I needed a good reason to continue on with the series after an average start might have made me put it off for a while. I hope this is a sign of things to come, rather than a one-off…

4 Star Watch

3 thoughts on “Sapphire and Steel – Assignment 2 Review

  1. Richard Vargas June 13, 2020 / 12:12 pm

    I was a small kid when i saw the series with my grandma and mom and most of what i remembered about it was the glowing blue eyes of Sapphire… spotlights moving over walls and a palpable sense of dread even though i couldn’t understand what was happening…

    After its initial run came to an end in my country I never had any contact with it again except on the very ocasional moment someone half whispered the name “Sapphire and Steel”.

    On ‘84 I became hooked on Dr Who with the first 3 (and only) Tom Baker seasons my local tv station ran through over and over again for a while and between the years going by and me hoarding on anything Dr Who I could find my sense of dread faded under the same premise you had with The Good Doctor… somehow, in the end everything will be alright and the innocent will be saved…

    Last week I was thrilled to find the entire Sapphire and Steel series online by a mere chance and I immediately swam through the first assignment.

    The intro… the music, the time corridor, its frame melting while a vast and ominous entity states the rules under which the elementals, used as operatives to fix issues with time and the fabric of the multiverse realities may be used (excluding the foreboding transuranic heavy elementals due to their threat to organized life on the physical plane).

    And when you see our heroes appear you can quickly get a feel at their particular characteristics: Steel is a cold, practical and harsh elemental with little regard for human emotions on the grand scheme of things and Sapphire, a veritable metaphysical antennae of a woman who compensates Steel’s cold and practical stance with a kind and understanding approach to those humans mixed between situations they can’t begin to understand. As Steel states, Sapphire is the human resources department of the team.

    In the first assignment we see them save the day, restore time and save the children’s parents and we even see Steel softening to the children a bit. I felt this series could go hand in hand with Dr Who as a spin off and i was delighted.

    And then came assignment 2.

    I also swam through it but this time the sense of dread I felt as a Kid came back when Sapphire states there is an entity, a Darkness using the ghosts as tools to permeate itself on this dimension… even worse, it’s feeding off the ghosts. Victims becoming victims even in the afterlife for a malevolent thing feeding of their energy…

    I kept waiting for that moment when you know everything will be fine… even when Steel bargained with the all powerful Darkness invading everything and closing all means of escape and threatening with ending Sapphire’s existence like a candle being blown… even as Steel tells a disheartened Sapphire, without any opening to discussion that the only means to stop this “Thing” is to sacrifice the one living and innocent (and scared to death) bystander to the Darkness since his death at this very moment, predetermined as a fixed point several years into the future, would create a paradox of such epic proportions on the fabric of time that would force the Darkness back to the time corridor, free the innocent Ghosts and free Both Sapphire and Steel (and this reality from being devoured by it).

    Even at the very last moments when Steel lies to the old man about being ready to leave and that they are winning against the Darkness i had hope… somehow Steel would save him.

    I felt crushed and horrified as the innocent old man screams off camera as the Darkness kills him while Steel graba Sapphire and both leave the now re-stablished station without darkness nor ghosts to plague it.

    I remembered that in the first assignment they discuss the fact that to fix another issue with reality Sapphire and Steel has to sink a boat… along all it’s passengers…

    To my horrified delight I was lessoned why this series isn’t even close to being a Dr Who Spin-Off… Sapphire and Steel are not human. They don’t get even close and in the case of Steel, this an operative that will balance the safety of an entire reality over a few human lives. As horrendous as it may be, this Reality and its balance with the rest of the multiverse must be maintained… no matter the cost.

    And we are to see it happen however we may feel a out it.

    And that, from a narrative standpoint, is a magnificent thing.

    I know how the series end already… and all I wish of for someone to pick it up and continue it with today’s quality standards but with the same amazing narrative and magnificent metaphysical approach to the threats concerning this dimension.

    I for one am Dying to meet the Transuranics…

    Liked by 2 people

    • David Hogan June 13, 2020 / 12:24 pm

      Nice post, very fun to read your history with the show. I’m surprised this show has never seen a reboot or relaunch by now, as well. Still, you never know what’ll happen in the future!


  2. David Powell November 10, 2020 / 9:38 pm

    I had to read this blog. I felt cheated, you see bcs I had recorded the episodes from Forces TV who made the mistake of sticking too many adverts in the time, meaning the final episode went over the time it was recorded. I knew it was incomplete as there was no end title sequence. What happened to Tully was so awful, I’d liked to have thought that Sapphire would have moved time back and retrieved poor Tully, thus depriving the Darkness of his sacrifice. I now read that this was not the case. Of course this is fiction, and Tully did not exist in reality, but I do feel sympathetic to some characters, especially Tully.

    Liked by 2 people

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