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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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Sapphire & Steel: The Trap (Part 4) Sapphire & Steel
Assignment Six
"The Trap" Part 4
TV episode
Written by: P.J. Hammond
Directed by: David Foster
Original air date: August 31, 1982

 

Sapphire and Steel...fail.

 

Read the episode summary at the Sci Fi Freak Site or Watch it at Shout Factory

 

Didja Know?

 

This was the final episode of the TV series, with a shocking twist that left viewers hanging. The adventures of Sapphire and Steel continued much later in 2005 with the Big Finish Productions audio series, with new actors and a vague reference to the pair's rescue by Silver. (See Unanswered Questions below.)

 

Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode

 

Silver

cafe man

Johnny Jack

old man

Sapphire

Steel

cafe woman

 

Didja Notice?

 

Sapphire and Steel have an odd conversation at the beginning of the episode about the "higher power" that the three men at the cafe seem to work for. Steel reveals to Sapphire that "they" (whoever "they" are) once asked him to work for "them" and Sapphire says the same. Both of them chose not to work for "them". The pair go on to speculate that "they" now resent the success the two of them have had and their "independence" and are now trying to get rid of them. What kind of "independence" are they referring to? Various episodes and the opening titles of every episode seem to indicate that the pair (as well as the Specialists such as Silver and Lead) are assigned by some higher power themselves.

 

Sapphire, Steel, and Silver speculate that the agents sent to kill them are transient beings, able to change shape and move about anywhere, but only in the past. Yet, they now seem to have moved into the future of the service station.

 

   Twin Peaks note: At 8:13 on the DVD, the three transient beings begin to hear a slightly electrical-like noise that seems to indicate to them it is time to move against Sapphire, Steel, and Silver. In Twin Peaks, electricity is associated with the beings of the Black Lodge.

    At 8:24, as Silver interrogates the cafe woman (who seems to be an actual human from 1948), the electrical clicking sound is heard by us, the viewers (but not by our three "good" agents), whenever she speaks to them, as if she is being fed the words to say from on high. Silver then discovers two small devices attached to her upper chest, seemingly controlling her.

 

At 10:53 in the episode a small trash can with a Conoco logo on it is seen in the garage. Conoco is an American oil brand.

 

The cafe man and Johnny Jack tell Silver they're going to send him back a couple hundred million years. Silver stammers that that's the Triassic period, a time period in which he couldn't survive. The Triassic period existed from 251.9 million years ago to 201.3 million years ago.

 

Silver manages to make a reproduction of the time-box with his duplicating abilities, so there are now two time-boxes; according to the cafe woman, the box is capable of showing one the future or the past. When Sapphire looks into Silver's reproduction, she sees a field of stars and says, "Space. Hours will become days and months and years will become thousands of years. There is nothing but space." Possibly, she has seen her (and Steel's) own future, trapped inside the cafe, now itself floating through space, as seen at the end of the episode; she seems to admit this herself to Steel at the very end of the episode: "I saw the future. It was our future."

 

    At 20:10 on the DVD, the cafe woman is sitting in another cafe, not the service station cafe. Presumably, this is the cafe she said she first met the man at in 1948.

    Bottles of HP Sauce are seen on the cafe tables. 

 

The woman is dressed in all black, including hat, veil, and gloves. Possibly dressed for Sapphire and Steel's funeral? (Though she does not seem to be at all upset at their loss).

 

Twin Peaks note: After he and Sapphire enter the cafe where the man and woman are sitting, Steel asks, haltingly, "What year is this?" This is also the final line of dialog in season three of Twin Peaks, spoken by Agent Cooper. The man tells Steel it's 1948.

 

Steel asks for the year twice, in the same two ways the cafe woman and Silver did in "The Trap" Part 2: "What year is this?" and "...could you tell me what year this is?"

 

The "time-box" the man opens on the table appears to be just a miniature chess set rather than a time-box. Shortly after, Steel opens their duplicate "time-box" and it turns out to also be merely a miniature chess set. Twin Peaks note: Chess is a key element in the second season of Twin Peaks.

 

At 23:10 on the DVD, the vending box on the wall in the cafe is for Rennies. Rennie is a UK product for heartburn and indigestion relief.

 

Twin Peaks note: At 23:54 on the DVD, Steel opens the cafe doors to the outside and discovers only a field of stars there. This is similar to Agent Cooper climbing up through a hatch in the ceiling of the purple room in the season three Twin Peaks episode "Call for Help", where he winds up on the "roof" of the purple room which seems to be floating in space.

 

Unanswered Questions

 

    Are Sapphire and Steel trapped in space inside the cafe for eternity? This episode was the end of the fourth season of the TV series and it was not renewed, leaving the cliffhanger unresolved. Creator P.J. Hammond stated in interviews that vague plans had existed for further adventures. This seems to be confirmed in Joanna Lumley's (Sapphire) 1989 autobiography Stare Back and Smile, though David Collings (Silver) and she had both said at the time they were not interested in returning for further seasons, which may be why this ending was written in the first place.

 

    Unlike all the other assignments depicted in the TV series, the four episodes of "The Trap" have the opening preamble mentioning Mercury instead of Lead as one of the medium atomic weights available. This is not explained, and Mercury is not mentioned in any of the four chapters proper. An interview with series creator P.J. Hammond (now archived at the Internet Archive) has the following exchange:

 

RS: Interestingly, the final adventure's title sequence differed from the previous five's - Lead being replaced by Mercury. Was this due to two title sequence voice-over's being recorded, and a mistake being made with the broadcast version, or were there tentative plans to introduce Mercury as a character?

P.J. Hammond: I really can't answer that! You're very clever to have noticed the character change - I hadn't. I think this must have been a producer's whim. Mercury, like most of the other characters mentioned, could well have made an appearance, had the series continued.

 

    Mercury was mentioned in passing in "The Man Without a Face" Part 4 and later in the audio adventure "Zero" Part 1. One might argue that Mercury was inserted into the preamble of this "final" assignment as a hint that this character would be in part responsible for resolving the cliffhanger if the TV show had continued. 

    

Where is Silver? When Steel is called by Sapphire to come to her near the roadway, he is with Silver. When he arrives at Sapphire's location he is alone. Silver is also no where in sight when Sapphire and Steel are seen trapped in the cafe in space at the end of the episode. Was he left in reserve by Steel to rescue them if things went wrong? Much later, in 2005-2008, Big Finish Productions recorded further adventures of Sapphire and Steel taking place after our current episode. In the "Cruel Immortality" audio adventure only vague reference is given to the pair's rescue (now played by Susannah Harker and David Warner) by Silver.

 

Memorable Dialog

 

they asked me to work for them once.mp3

the Triassic Period.mp3

what year is this?.mp3

this is the trap.mp3

this place is nowhere.mp3

I saw the future.mp3

 

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