Thunderbirds Are Go – Season 1 Episode 16

Nov 15, 2015 | Posted by in TV
Thunderbirds Are Go


With this review I am officially caught up with Thunderbirds Are Go and the rest of my reviews should be nicely on time after this. Please do give some consideration to my reviews of “Falling Skies” and “Relic” since they were so late. It’s my own fault but still.

After a Scott centric episode with “Relic”, “Breakdown” puts Virgil as the focus as he is called away for a mission on his birthday. John promises him that it’ll be a routine mission which of course means that it won’t be. Meanwhile the Tracy family and friends all plan a birthday party for Virgil in his absence.

It’s a pretty standard set-up for an episode of pretty much anything. A character has a birthday but is frustrated because everyone seems to have forgotten. It only seems that way because they are planning a surprise and then external forces prevent the birthday boy or girl from attending their own party.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Virgil’s pod narrowly avoids a nasty crash

I’m not saying it’s a bad set-up but the episode has a hill to climb as the viewer already knows what to expect from the bulk of the narrative so there is more pressure to deliver something else to interest the viewer.

A big problem that I have with the episode is that the fact that it’s Virgil’s birthday has no bearing on him as a character other than giving him something to complain about while he’s saving lives. It does humanise him somewhat as he shares something with any kid watching in that he doesn’t want to be at work on his birthday. He wants it to be a day just for him so the notion of going out to do something that is for other people is distasteful.

This would be fine if he didn’t volunteer his time to save the lives of others despite the risks to himself. Expecting to have a day off just because it’s his birthday when people might die is a bit of a selfish statement. It’s not the same as missing a day of school as the stakes are much higher.

Thankfully his complaining stops when he finds that people are in very real danger. He makes a point of staying a bit longer despite the fact that all of the evidence suggests that he can go home. He cares enough to take another look because lives are at stake. Virgil has always been established as very professional when it comes to his missions so this is consistent with his character but it would have been a lot better if he hadn’t complained about having to work on his birthday.

Visually the episode was an absolute treat with the snowy landscape looking absolutely beautiful and the effect Thunderbird 2 has just by being there was very nicely done. The whole thing felt so desolate, unwelcoming and dangerous that the tension practically built itself. The pod that Virgil used was really cool as well.

The biggest problem for Virgil this episode was the stubbornness of the researcher Dr. Peck (Ramon Tikaram) who refuses to leave the site until he had completely his research. Initially Virgin -and the audience- thinks he’s an idiot for endangering his own life and the lives of others for some sort of scientific discovery.

Thunderbirds Are Go

Thunderbird 2 takes off as the whole thing collapses

It turns out that Peck is so driven to complete his research because of a super rare chemical that can’t be found anywhere else and will be lost forever when the area collapses. This chemical is essential to him as his daughter is dying of a rare disease that can be cured by this so as far as he is concerned leaving without it isn’t an option. The potential benefits for other sick people are large as well so there’s enough motivation to not go home empty handed.

Peck’s motivation is easily relatable and it’s the first time that this show has come close to anything resembling heart. Some of Peck’s dialogue was well written and showed genuine concern for his daughter. He goes from being obsessive and unlikable to a desperate man doing what we all would to save the life of a love one and the transition can be seen in how Virgil reacts to him.

The episode manages to convey this heart without getting bogged down in the angst of the emotions involved and still manages to keep everything on a positive note. Family solidarity is the central theme in every episode of this show and it comes across very clearly in this one.

  • 8.5/10
    Breakdown - 8.5/10


A really well put together episode that gives the show the first real taste of heart since it began.

The set-up was pretty standard with a character just wanting a day off on their birthday but being unable to enjoy it because of other commitments. Meanwhile family and friends plan a surprise party while he is away taking care of that business.

Given that Virgil routinely voluntarily risks his life to make sure that others are safe I don’t really buy him complaining that he doesn’t get his birthday as a day off. If innocents are at risk then it’s something that Virgil should simply suck up because that is what he has signed up for.

Thankfully he doesn’t allow this to get in the way of his professionalism as he insists on taking a closer look despite the evidence suggesting that the mission is over and he can go home. It would have made more sense had he never complained in the first place but it’s good that it doesn’t persist.

Visually the episode is an absolute treat with the cold, desolate snowy landscape serving as an unforgiving challenge for Virgil. Thunderbird 2’s effect on the snow was nicely done as well.

Virgil’s biggest problem comes from the troublesome Dr. Peck who refuses to leave the site until he completes his research. Naturally Virgil assumes that he’s an idiot as no scientific discovery is worth his life but the reveal that he needs to get a sample of a rare chemical to have a chance of curing his daughter who is dying of a rare disease instantly humanises the character.

Dr Peck’s dialogue is well written as it shows genuine concern for his daughter. He goes from being an obsessive and unlikeable character to a desperate man who will do everything he can to save someone he loves. The transition can also be seen in the way Virgil reacts to him.

The solidarity of family is a theme at the center of every episode of this show so it’s great to see this reinforced in such a way.

User Review
4 (2 votes)