Another stranger, Robert Lawson (Matthew Long), pays a visit to the Grange. He stays the night and leaves the next day, but before he goes he clearly notices the petrol tanker in the courtyard (left by Donnie in the previous episode, Revenge).
Overnight, a heavy storm has totally destroyed all of the community’s stores in the cellar. This is serious, as without supplies to see them through the next few months they won’t be able to survive. Everybody agrees to trade the petrol for goods with another local community, Little Barton (the first time they’ve been mentioned).
Greg and Jenny set off in the tanker, but Lawson and his friends are lying in wait. They want the petrol and are prepared to use any means necessary to get it ….
It’s possibly not a surprise that Something of Value is a Terry Nation script since it’s strong on action and low on philosophy. Although that might be a slightly back-handed compliment, it’s still a very decent story and exactly the type of tale needed to slot between some of the more talky, self-contained community stories.
One of the more pleasing aspects of this one is that it pitches Jenny right into the middle of the action. Even in this new world, male chauvinism has been seen to be present and correct – with the girls (especially Jenny) often sidelined. Given this, it does seem slightly surprising that Greg would elect to take Jenny, rather than Paul, but it’s a chance for her to get out and about (and it’s true that when she’s threatened it does matter to Greg, due to their continuing relationship).
Ian McCulloch’s preference was always for episodes like this, so it would be a safe bet that it ranks amongst his favourites. Greg’s central to the action and whilst he’s outnumbered he still manages to win through. It’s not without cost though, as all of their attackers die. He later wonders if “that what life’s worth nowadays. Fifty gallons of petrol? God help us all.”
Something of Value has a straightforward, brutal narrative that indicates clearly how the death has changed the motivations of some people. Now that people are prepared to kill for a tanker of petrol, it shows that danger lurks everywhere. After a few episodes set in and around the Grange, the return to the violent world outside is quite a jolt. Series two would have a similar vibe as the community stories generally (although not always) have a safe feeling, in contrast to those set in other locations.