"I'd have done better to stay at home with Jenny and the kids" - Greg



Agnes waits for Greg at their planned rendezvous, but he is somewhere else
entirely on the trail of Dr. Stephen Adams. Seeing the smoke from a camp fire
Greg goes to investigate.


The fire has been made by a man who introduces himself as Ed Mason.
He tells Greg that he has been waiting for him to arrive and had spotted
him travelling that way. Mason comments that Greg is so well armed that
he looks ready for war.


Mason tells Greg that his friends are in hiding because they were nervous of
him as they don't carry any weapons. They show themselves.


Mason tells Greg to help himself to their gear if he wants to as they can't stop him.
He asks after the left stirrup on Greg's saddle and offers to check it out. Greg has being
having problems with the stirrup but declines. Mason goes on to offer him a cup of
coffee and a chat and Greg reluctantly accepts.


Mason tells him that he is a sheep shearer by trade and became stranded here (he
is an Australian) after the death. Since then he and his men have been roaming
the countryside doing odd jobs for different communities to get by. He explains
that they don't want to be tied down. Greg tells him his views on federating the
disparate communities and the need for co-operation and organisation. Mason
asks Greg if he is the balloon man who is travelling the country documenting the
country's settlements. Greg tells them that he is one of them referring to the late
Lars Carlsson as the other.


A concerned Agnes returns to Sloton Spencer and is greeted by Pet. She explains
that Greg didn't turn up. Pet suggests she wait at Sloton for Greg to arrive.


Greg tells Mason about Carlsson's list of places, crops and professions and
also about his trip to Norway. Greg tells him that he is currently searching
for a Dr. Stephen Adams.


Mason offers to help him show where the community might be on a map. One of
Mason's men, Dave, comes over and casually stabs Greg in the side. It transpires
that Mason is not what he said he is and always intended to kill Greg.


Greg appears to be dead. Mason's men remove his coat, boots and weapons and
carry him to the river and throw his body in.


Greg's body floats away down river. Mason finds Carlsson's notes but had
not expected them to be written in Norwegian, which he and his men
can't read. One of the men refers to Mason's boss, 'The Captain', who will
not be pleased about Mason having 'killed the goose who laid the golden
egg'. Mason elects to track down Agnes, who he already knows is at
Sloton Spencer, so that she can translate her father's notes for him.


Dave and another member of the group, Chris, rush off to remove Greg's watch from
his body before they set off to Sloton. Mason fires a shot in the air to stop them in
their tracks. He insists that the prize should belong to Dave as he killed Greg. He
reminds them that the Captain wants to put a stop to this sort of bickering amongst
his men. Chris reluctantly rides back to Mason.


Dave finds Greg's body and attempts to remove the watch but is attacked by Greg
who has recovered. They fight each other in the river.


Greg is eventually the victor. He makes for the riverbank.


Some time later Greg appropriates Dave's horse, that has been left for him by
Mason and the others, who decided not to wait for him to catch up. Greg is
clearly in a very bad way.



At Sloton Spencer John and Lizzie are feeding the chickens whilst Jack and
Agnes are talking in a nearby field where they are planting lettuces.


John and Lizzie come to tell Jack and Agnes that Greg is coming. They watch a man
in Greg's clothes on his horse riding towards the settlement with two other men.


Mason and the others arrive and he tries to allay their suspicions about his arrival
there on Greg's horse and in his clothes. He tells them that Greg has been attacked
and that they have sent him back to their place to look after him.


Mason goes on to explain that Greg asked them to come to Sloton to tell them
what happened and that he offered him his coat for the journey. John and Lizzie
notice the hole made by the knife in Greg's coat


Mason produces Carlsson's notes explaining that Greg had entrusted their return
to him. Jack and Pet are still suspicious of him.


Greg wakes to find himself in a house at the community he believes Adams
to be with. The men by his bedside explain that he was lucky as the knife missed
his lung. Greg tells them that it feels like it hit everything else. They introduce
themselves as John Powell and Jim Irving.


Greg asks them about Adams but they claim not to know him. Greg learns that
the settlement is Cawston Farm as he had thought. He is sure that Adams was
at this community. They tell him that there has ever only been the two of them
there since the death and advise him to get some rest.


Greg gets out of bed and checks out his surroundings.


Meanwhile at Sloton, Mason and his men have made themselves at home.


Irvine tells Greg that Adams is a figment of his imagination. Greg asks how he knew
that the knife just missed his lung. He thinks Adams may have checked him over whilst
he was unconscious.


Greg thinks Irvine makes a slip when he mentions that the balloon man had been
Norwegian as he hadn't stated his nationality. He goes on to ask whether Greg
misses his wife, Jenny, and his children, John and Lizzie. Irvine explains that he
knows all these things because Greg talks non-stop in his sleep.


At Sloton, Mason is becoming impatient because Agnes has been in hiding since
he arrived. He warns that she better turn up soon or she could become as indisposed
as Greg.


Mason is no longer bothering to keep up the charade. It is clear that he
only came to Sloton so Agnes would translate her father's notes.


Greg manages to break out of his room and finds a disturbing burnt pile of human
remains. Powell orders him back to his room.


Greg escapes again. This time through the window of his room. He makes his
way to the locked hut where he believes Dr. Adams is being held. He calls out
to him but is interrupted by Powell and Irvine.


Greg fights them both. They are determined that Greg should not enter the building,
but Greg overpowers them both.


Greg runs into the building calling for Dr. Adams. Adams is in the room at the top of the
stairs but he tells Greg to keep away.


When Greg gets nearer he sees to his horror that Adams is seriously ill and has sores all
over his face. Adams tells him not to come any nearer as he has smallpox.


Mason's men find Agnes and she is brought before him. She tells them that she doesn't
believe Greg is at their camp.


He tells her they need her to translate her father's notes and that their boss, the
Captain has similar ideas to her father. The Captain apparently believes in
discipline and strength.


Mason puts the dog on the table and grabs it hard hurting the animal to prove his intent.
Agnes and the children call out for him to stop and he relents.


Mason tells them that the Captain also believes that you have to be cruel to be
kind. Mason relates that he himself believes that sometimes you have to be
very cruel.


Adams tells Greg his grim tale of how a disease took hold of their settlement because they
had wanted to put Agnes's father's plans into action and exchange personnel with different
skills. One of these men was infected and the disease spread throughout his community.
Many people became ill and died. The symptoms are akin to smallpox but it can't be
smallpox as people in the community who had been vaccinated against it had died.


They tried everything to stop the disease including burning the dead bodies but
it was relentless. They had a hard time surviving as they needed food and therefore
still needed to trade. As far as he knows the disease didn't spread beyond their
settlement. They even killed someone who tried to leave. Adams relates how
Powell and Irvine are immune to the disease and that he hopes that once he is
dead that they can make it on their own without taint or suspicion.


Greg asks what his chances are. Adams tells him he will know in the morning and
that if he shakes, shivers, vomits or bleeds from his nose then he has the disease
and has a week to live. Greg leaves the building and Adams tells him that he
hopes he doesn't see him again.


Greg wakes the next morning and feels fit and is relieved that he is not shaking
or shivering. He gets out of the bed.


Greg leaves the building and makes for his horse which he starts to saddle up.
He suddenly vomits and realises he has become infected with the disease.


A mournful Greg returns to the building housing Adams. Adams tells him that he
must face up to the prospect of dying. He tells Greg that he was lucky that he didn't
die when he was stabbed the previous day. Greg replies that he doesn't feel lucky.


He tries to convince Greg that he shouldn't indulge in self pity and that the others
who had died had made that their rule. They discuss whether the 'way you go'
matters and the line 'nothing became his life so much as the leaving of it'. Greg
tells him that he is afraid of death. Adams advises him to think of how he wants
to die and pray for it. He thinks a soldier's death would have appealed to Greg.
Greg agrees.


Greg is bitter that he has spent the last few months chasing round the country and
wishes that he had stayed at home with Jenny and the kids. He also regrets that
there are lots of things that he will have never have the chance of doing. He is
particularly distressed that he can't remember a single moment of gentle
tenderness with Jenny nor telling her that he loved her. He first thought of this
when he was in Norway and had hoped to make up for it when he saw her
again. Adams assures him that it sounds as if Jenny knew he loved her.


Greg begins to talk about paying a visit to Mason and his friends to deliberately
infect them. Adams tried to warn against the idea, asking him to think about
everyone else they would come into contact and all the people who would die,
good or bad. He also warns that they wouldn't have their discipline. Greg suggests
bringing them back to the settlement so that Powell and Irvine could guard them
whilst they were sick. Adams feels that they have been through enough, but
eventually relents and tells him to go and ask them if they will go along with his
plan. He also offers Greg his gun, telling him he will not use it on himself as he
wants to enjoy his death, to taste and experience it. Greg leaves the building
with a new purpose.


Back at Sloton, Mason is threatening Agnes once more and again she
refuses to translate the notes. She produces Greg's watch revealing
that she has been searching for him. Instead of Greg she found Dave's
naked body floating in the river. Mason tells her that now she's let the
cat out of the bag they will be ready to face Greg knowing that he will
arrive in Dave's clothes and on Dave's horse.


Greg arrives at Sloton. Using some simple subterfuge, Greg overpowers
Tilley and dresses in his jacket and lies on Dave's horse as if dead so that
Chris will investigate. He then attacks Chris and ties him up, leaving him
with Tilley.


Greg arrives at the house and Mason brings Agnes out. He tells Mason that
he is interested in working for the Captain. Agnes interrupts and Greg tells
her to shut up.


He tells her that he doesn't like Mason and his men but that he is willing to
put up with them and the Captain to get what he wants.


Agnes calls to the others to come out so that he can tell them face-to-face about his
intentions. He calls John stupid and useless. Pet shouts out that Mason and his
men are not interested in people.


Greg retorts that Adams and his community had been interested in people and
now there are only three of them. He states that the Captain and people like
him are the real way forward, people who can set things straight.


Jack makes a move towards Greg and the children scream from the doorway as
Greg aims a shot at him.



Greg shoots Jack in the arm. Pet and Agnes rush to his aid. Greg describes Jack's
actions as typical, a pointless gesture. He tells them that none of them have a
hope in hell of surviving by themselves.


Mason agrees to take Greg with them to see the Captain. Mason catches up
with his men and tells them that he doesn't trust Greg and believes that he
was trying to con them off the place to save his friends. Mason decides
to play him along for a bit.


Back at the house Pet asks Greg if he hasn't even got a message for his wife.
He replies that she should tell Jenny "I love her" and that he's following in
the footsteps of Paul.


He tells Agnes that he has a special Norwegian goodbye for her and
says "Jeg har kopashuk".


Whilst Greg, Mason and the others ride off into the distance, Agnes tells Pet
and Jack that when Greg spoke Norwegian he didn't say goodbye only that
he had small pox.


Mason, Greg and his men stop on route to the Captain's settlement, when they
see it in the valley below them. Greg gets a nosebleed and realises that he
only has a few days to live. He smiles. They press on to the settlement.



Episode Review


The Last Laugh is quite rightly one of the most talked about episodes of Survivors. Ian McCulloch's third script for the series is his best. Greg's fate is both startling and depressing and therefore very memorable. George Mallaby's Mason is a particularly nasty villain who almost gets the better of Greg. We fear early on that Mason and his cronies have killed our hero. Instead Greg survives to somewhat fittingly meet his end because of his own curiosity and stubborn nature. Here we are cheated of a Greg and Jenny reunion for the very last time. This is made all the more galling as Greg finally vocalises, all too late, how much Jenny means to him. The last laugh of the episode title belongs to Greg as he leads Mason and his men to their deaths. But it is also on us for believing that for Greg and Jenny there would eventually be a happy ending.

The representation of Pet, Jack, Agnes, John and Lizzie as the entire Sloton community doesn't tally with continuity. Not only are Janet and Philip absent but the group of new arrivals from Whitecross (mentioned in The Peacemaker) are also missing, but I'm afraid this is par for the course in Survivors. It is also something of a shame that four of these characters make their final appearance here in a very low key way. This third series makes no bones about who are the show's stars and who are considered to be supporting cast members.

Greg leaves the series on a tragic high but the character still has a huge role to play in the world of the survivors and this fact is purely down to Agnes, who elects to take a very different path from the obvious option of staying on at Sloton to mourn her loss...


Rating:
9/10



Episode 36 -
The Last Laugh

writer:
Ian McCulloch
first broadcast:
18th May 1977


Regular Cast:

Greg Preston:
Ian McCulloch
Agnes Carlsson:
Anna Pitt
Pet Simpson:
Lorna Lewis
Jack Wood:
Gordon Salkilld
John Millon:
Stephen Dudley
Lizzie Willoughby:
Angie Stevens

Guest Cast:

Ed Mason:
George Mallaby
Dr. Stephen Adams:
Clifton Jones
Dave:
Jon Glover
Tilley:
Roy Boyd
Chris:
Richard Cornish
Irvine:
David Cook
Powell:
Paul Humpoletz


designer: Geoff Powell
director: Peter Jefferies
producer:
Terence Dudley
episode recorded:
23rd - 28th March 1977


For biographies of the guest cast in this episode click here

 


NEXT EPISODE: LONG LIVE THE KING by Martin Worth



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