Conflict is a good episode for both Ed Bishop and Michael Billington. Straker gets to lock horns with James Henderson (Grant Taylor), who as President of the International Astrophysical Commission is responsible for approving the funding level for SHADO. And in the interests of good drama, Straker is always pushing for more whilst Henderson is always trying to cut back.
This conflict is at the heart of the episode. Straker believes that the various items of space junk orbiting the Earth are a hazard to SHADO spacecraft and wants them removed. Henderson doesn’t agree and won’t release the funds.
This is one of several key episodes that examines the conflict between Straker and Henderson and both Ed Bishop and Grant Taylor are excellent at portraying two totally single-minded individuals who both believe they are always right.
Shortly after their meeting, a SHADO lunar module is destroyed on reentry. Straker is rightly convinced that the aliens were responsible – they have infiltrated the space junk with limpet mines. But their ultimate aim strikes somewhat more closer to home.
Michael Billington gets another solid episode as Foster disobeys the ban on lunar flights to test a hunch. It nearly gets him killed, but he proves to his satisfaction that there is alien involvement. But Henderson isn’t convinced and after he thinks that Straker has left SHADO HQ undefended and in imminent danger of a UFO attack he attempts to remove him from command.
I’ve said it before, but the modelwork (particularly the lunar shots) are absolutely breathtaking. Derek Meddings would later design the miniatures for the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker and some of the shots here wouldn’t have looked out of place in that film.
This isn’t an action-packed episode but the spat between Straker and Henderson is strong enough to drive the episode and makes it one of the stronger entries in the early part of the series.