UFO watch (Episode 16 – Kill Straker!)

16 - kill straker!

Written by Donald James
Directed by Alan Perry

A lunar module, piloted by Captain Craig and Colonel Foster, is about to land back on the Moon when a UFO is spotted close by.  Straker orders an emergency re-entry, but it’s too late – unknown to SHADO the UFO has intercepted the craft.  But the module is not destroyed, instead the aliens (sounding rather like the Mysterons) subject Craig and Foster to a psychedelic light show and a subliminal message – “Kill Straker!”.

Straker and Freeman arrive at Moonbase to debrief Foster and this is where the fun starts.  When you consider the plans of Craig and Foster, it has to be said that they go about things in very different ways.  Craig favours the direct route, dropping into Straker’s bedroom at night with an empty hypodermic syringe (Craig planned to inject him with air).

Foster plays the longer game.  At first he doesn’t seem to be affected too badly, he’s annoyed about Straker’s override of the lunar module, which put both Foster and Craig’s lives in danger, that would be a natural reaction though.  But he gradually grows more argumentative and begins to question all of Straker’s orders – which raises an interesting issue.  The aliens instruction was “Kill Straker!” not “Kill Straker!  But first criticise his management skills”.

You have to admit that some of Foster’s points do make make sense.  Straker is pushing for a huge investment – he wants another four Moonbases set up over the next ten years as he forecasts increased UFO activity.  Foster asks what evidence he has to back this up, and Straker doesn’t have any – it’s just a feeling.  The question of finance was covered in the episode Conflict, where Straker and Henderson butted heads over the subject.  Straker could be right and there could be more UFO’s heading to Earth, but equally there might not be. Foster accuses Straker of empire building and this is an area that maybe could have been explored a little further in another story.

Freeman returns to Earth and is called to see Henderson. Foster has advised Henderson that Straker is unstable and needs to be removed from duty immediately. Straker, who is still on Moonbase, confronts Foster and the two face off before Foster is eventually overpowered and returned to SHADO HQ.

Foster’s brainwashing is revealed, but how to snap him out of it? As ever, Straker favours the direct mode, goading him beyond breaking point, as he tells Foster:

“I think you said it pretty well yourself. You told me you were going to push for a change of command. A change of command. Ten years. I’ve given ten years of sweat and sacrifice to get SHADO running the way I want it. I won’t let some young punk like you mess things up. You’re a threat Foster, a trouble maker, Now, I can’t fire you and I can’t shelve you, so……”

As Straker later admits, if Foster was going to kill, then it would have been then, under such heavy provocation.  Foster comes close, and the two come to blows, but Foster can’t kill him.  Once Straker has established this, then he’s happy to have him back on the team and tells him that he’ll listen to any reasonable arguments about the Moonbases, provided they do things his way!

Kill Straker! is a very decent episode with some good Moonbase action, the chance to see Straker in pyjamas and a stand up fight between Straker and Foster that looked very real, probably with good reason.  At 44:20 into the episode, Straker hits Foster several times and really drew blood.  Billington instinctively wiped it away, and a mark on Bishop’s white jacket can be seen shortly afterwards.

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