Sapphire and Steel reaches its conclusion, which feels far too soon but then I guess I’m comparing it to other longer running British sci-fi shows like Blake’s 7 and, well, Doctor Who, not that there are many shows that can match that episode count! Anyway, this episode has all the creepy atmosphere and question asking that comes with good examples of the series, but it also gives us a lot more of a glimpse into the world where the duo come from, which is certainly rare (and makes it feel more like the end, if nothing else) Let’s take a closer look…
The scene for Sapphire and Steel’s latest investigation is an abandoned roadside café where time has stopped. However, they find that Silver has arrived before them – which is against normal procedure. The interdimensional operatives remain uncertain as to exactly what they are supposed to be investigating. The key may lie in two humans in the café who claim to be from 1948.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Steel, Sapphire, Silver, and a very dangerous little case…
Sapphire (Joanna Lumley) – One of the interdimensional element-based agents that has been mysteriously drawn to this roadside café. She has some control over time, and is used to working with Steel… not that those facts help comfort her in this unusual situation…
Steel (David McCallum) – Often partnered with Sapphire, Steel is also a mysterious “element” that handles problems with time. He is almost immediately aware something is amiss this time, but can’t figure out how…
Silver (David Collings) – Silver is a technician, normally called for when field operatives like Sapphire and Steel are in need of his services, but he instead found himself arriving at the scene first. This is just the first of the confusing twists this case takes…
1948 Man (Edward de Souza) – A man who very much keeps himself to himself, and claims to be from 1948, but all is not as it seems…
1948 Woman (Johanna Kirby) – Johanna is scared, she doesn’t want to touch any of this apparent future technology, but is that the only reason she’s nervous…?
Plus one or two more!
The mysterious 40s couple! … and a pinball machine!
Thankfully after the Assignment 5 nonsense we’re back to a small set, small cast and tonnes of mysterious atmosphere. I do love those early episodes where Sapphire and Steel slowly try to unravel what’s going on, and I enjoyed the return of Silver as well, who once again works well with both of the titular protagonists.
The big revelation that it was a trap all along and the helpless people (bar one) were actually “Transient Beings”, a sort of rival group of mysterious and powerful people to the mysterious organisation that Sapphire and Steel work for, was unexpected and worked really well. After five stories of no real backstory, we got just a little taste, with Sapphire and Steel claiming to have had contact with them in the past but turned them down. They are apparently “fixed” in certain time periods, but these ones weren’t… a lot of unanswered questions (as you’d expect!) but it was all really interesting.
The ending cliffhanger, which is now just the ending full stop, was interesting. Sapphire and Steel fell for the Transient Beings’ trap and were stuck in an endless void of space, floating in a weird café. Not the ending I would have picked (and by the sounds of the documentary in the extras, it wasn’t intended to be the final end) but it does kind of work, in a non-heroic, sad sort of way. It’s not like having things we don’t know being dangled in front of us is anything new with the series!
I enjoyed the “1948 couple” and the fact that while the man was a Transient Being, she was (seemingly) just a regular woman who was forced along for the ride. It made for some interesting scenes in Episode 3 when Steel figures out what’s going on.
It’s Johnny Jack! After about two minutes I had the same expression on my face as Sapphire…
The only real downer was “Johnny Jack”, a Transient Being who was (for some reason) disguised as a travelling musician who’s a bit “odd” and “wacky”. Talking in rhymes occasionally and generally being “cool” and “outsider-y” (which isn’t a word, but whatever). He just annoyed me greatly, and took away from the atmosphere quite a bit.
As far as final shots go, that’s a memorable one!
Sapphire and Steel ends how it began, with a small cast in a small location with plenty of atmosphere and mystery. A little of their history/backstory is given away, but only a little bit, and what was given away only made me more interested in this world… so it’s a shame it’s the last one! Still, if you have to go out, go out on a high, and Sapphire and Steel certainly did.