Blake-less 7 continues onward with the next four episodes of Series 3. Once again I’ve really enjoyed these episodes, far more than the last two series. In fact Episode 8, “Rumours of Death”, was fantastic! Let’s take a closer look at them!
Still without Blake, the crew of the Liberator continue onward; exploring, gathering resources, and encountering President Servalan.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Two different types of “space clothes” in one picture!
Kerr Avon (Paul Darrow) – Sarcastic and emotionless, Avon continues to shine as the would-be leader of the group, and even his emotionless-ness is explored, so hooray for character development!
Vila Restal (Michael Keating) – Cowardly thief who you can’t help but like. Presumably this is the reason why he’s kept around by the crew, even Avon sticks up for him now!
Cally (Jan Chappell) – Psychic member of the human spin-off race from Auron. Much like Avon, she actually gets some backstory and character development here! … for one episode, anyway…
Dayna Mellanby (Josette Simon) – Weapons specialist who only recently joined the crew… and doesn’t really do anything in these episodes. Ah well.
Del Tarrant (Steven Pacey) – Arrogant twat who apparently is good enough of a star fighter pilot that the rest of the crew bare to have him around. Needs a good slap across the face. Twice.
Orac (Peter Tuddenham) – A.I. contained in a see-through box. Handy for advice, or to get angry at.
Zen (Peter Tuddenham) – The A.I. of the Liberator. Handy for giving directions to in order to control the Liberator.
Servalan (Jacqueline Pearce) – The President of what’s left of the Earth Federation. Cold-hearted as they come, she also deserves a slap across the face, but at least it’s her job as lead antagonist to cause that reaction…
“I tortured thousands of people to death, but not that one! Now… let me go, yeah?”
It’s funny, out of the near-40 episodes I’ve watched of Blake’s 7, these four episodes would probably be in my top 10. Episode 6, “City at the Edge of the World”, has a great concept behind it. It’s based around a dying civilization that needs to periodically send someone through a teleport to a ship that was on its way to a new planet to colonize, in order to see if it had arrived yet (and if it hadn’t, you’re dead!). Vila gets a good showing here, falling in love, making love, seeing a paradise-like planet with said love, and then leaving love behind because he knew he’d get bored in a place with no locks to pick or things to steal. Doctor #6 Colin Baker is in this as the super-over-the-top villain “Bayban the Butcher”, and is fantastic.
Episode 7, “Children of Auron”, sees Servalan unleash a deadly plague upon Auron, even though they’re neutral, just in case they become a threat for her new empire… and also she wants to use their cloning facility to clone herself for… reasons. Cally gets to shine here, and we see her homeworld and her fellow clone Zelda. Sadly the entire Auron race is wiped out bar Cally and two others, though the latter two do have a gene bank. More on that ending later, but the episode itself is good, but definitely the weakest of the four (but strong overall!)
Episode 8, “Rumours of Death”, is centred around Avon’s past as he concocts a plan to kidnap the man who he believes tortured his old love to death, an action that leads him down a rabbit hole trying to find the truth about who killed her. Before long he’s finding out she was alive all this time… and on the Federation’s side all along, wait she’s not any more… ah but then he shoots her… It’s a long story, and plays out really well, I’m not going to spend several paragraphs explaining it. I particularly liked that when he found out that “I was just doing what they told me” torturer Shrinker wasn’t the one who killed his love, he still left him to die anyway, despite his begging for his life. I mean, why would Avon care? I was worried about that, but I shouldn’t have. If this episode got one thing right, it was Avon’s character. Top stuff.
Episode 9, “Sarcophagus”, told a good story, with the crew finding an abandoned ship, only to find out it was a tomb ship that had a powerful psychic presence on board that began to take over Cally. Not knowing this, they brought her and an artifact on board and end up trapped on their own ship with a ghostly and powerful alien who takes the form of Cally, though is actually slowly absorbing her. The best part about this was the framing sequence: it opens up with a series of performers doing tricks or dances, etc, and then as the episode goes on the mysterious entity sees each crew member as one of these entertainment sources, all the way up to the final act, which in the opening sequence was just ignored, and here is Avon outsmarting the entity and saving the day. That probably sounded weird, but again it was really well done and played out.
In case you can’t tell, she’s not very nice!
Not much, but I do have to say (and I’ll be saying this about similarly British sci-fi mildly psychic woman Nyssa during her first few appearances when she also loses her planet and all her people) that Cally seems crushed and rightfully so after her people all died barring two, but I didn’t like how it was never mentioned again and she seems back to normal in the next few episodes. Plus the episode ends with the crew speculating why she didn’t go with the other two members of her race to help grow her people anew, with Avon saying “A brood of 500 children, would you want to deal with that?”, or something to that effect, leading to the rest of the crew having a good laugh. Bit soon for jokes, surely?
I said it last time, but Tarrant hasn’t gotten better. He’s still an arrogant arse who takes command and bosses people around, and then when he gets called out on it he makes some cringey remark with a smirk on his face before changing the subject. Grrr.
“You’re due for a change of trousers, Vila… and not a moment too soon!”
As I said, this was a hell of a run of episodes, for any series. Either the next four will have to be phenomenally bad or Series 4 will have to be amazing for this series not to end up being my favourite. Looking forward to the finale!
Episodes 6 “City at the Edge of the World”, 7 “Children of Auron” & 9 “Sarcophagus”:
Episode 8 “Rumours of Death”: