So here we have it, the final full cast Blake’s 7 audio review. It’s a shame it had to come to an end, but with yet another key cast member down, there isn’t any other choice. So does Restoration, and indeed Blake’s 7 Audio Series… series as a whole go out with a bang?! Let’s find out!
Avon is missing, and Zen has taken control of the Liberator – but can the rest of the crew trust Selene’s offer to help, and what is the secret of the doomed planet Tronis?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Rare cover appearance for Orac… which given he’s some electronics in a clear plastic box, isn’t that surprising, really…
The highlight of the set has to be Episode 2 “Failsafe”, which sees General Mordekain wake up shackled to Tarrant with a pair of pain-sharing cuffs, the latter tries convincing him that they got into this mess because Mordekain’s plan to betray the President backfired. The seemingly loyal General finds this hard to believe, but he can’t remember what happened, he was concussed by a bullet ricocheting off of his mostly metallic head. The script does a great job of handling the present and flashing back to the past, leaving you guessing as to whether or not Mordekain was trying to betray the President or not. While this is happening, The President is wounded but manages to get the same type of cuffs onto himself and Dayna, meaning the latter is in fear of dying as much as the always arrogant President.
The two sets of chained enemies must slowly make their way out of the cavern they found themselves in, all with the help of new crew member Selene, who Dayna doesn’t trust (and rightfully so, as we find out, it was Selene who arranged everything with the Pres…) It’s just a great script with equally great performances from the cast, both new and old. Everyone survives but we find out that Mordekain was trying to betray the President, but he’s got him under his thumb, able to “reboot” his memory any time he acts out of line…
Episode 3 “Reunion” is good too. The corrupted Liberator arrives at Cygnus Alpha, the prison from way back in TV Episode 1 itself, and reveals why there was a battle between Liberator creators The System and their rivals the Quonar at all, let alone one so fierce that only the Liberator survived. Turns out deep beneath a nearby planet there was a vault which contained a galactic map detailing the location of every System world, and the Quonar want it. Villa, with his breaking-and-entering abilities, was teleported down there against his, and the rest of the crew’s will, the corrupted Zen only calling him back up if he gets the part of the map it wants. While he’s down there he meets old friend Zeera Vos, who is only down there to steal something valuable.
I wonder how long Big Finish have wanted to use that picture of Cygnus Alpha?
Of course, nothing goes to plan, but Vila does show a rare bit of bravery and bravado. Zeera gets injured and the Quonar’d Zen demands Vila returns with the relevant part of the map, and he refuses, and says he’ll only return if Zen not only teleports him up, but the rest of the crew (who had been put in danger) and Vos. Zen eventually gives in and Vila saves the day… although Vos succumbs to her wounds, much to Vila’s distress. It was a good vehicle for Michael Keaton’s ever cowardly Vila, showing a few rarer sides to his personality.
The big finale then sees the Liberator arrive at the mysterious planet, the planet that deep underground lay a System bunker with a machine so advanced The President has created a new all-powerful “Star One” like system to control the galaxy with, using a combination of original System follower Alta-One, a comatose Avon, and Orac. Selene reveals her true colours (more on that down below) and Cally and Tarrant become trapped, ready to be executed. Much like the last set, Cally manages to get through to Alta-One and remind her a little of freedom, plus her System-side doesn’t want to see the Quonar in control of their technology, so she breaks free and soon The President and Gen. Mordekain find all their prisoners, including Avon and Orac, teleporting away back to the Liberator. There are some tense scenes and good “man is he ever a complete dick” President moments.
The end sees Avon return to help the crew (via stock recordings), Alta-One cleanse the Liberator of the Quonar virus, before being killed as she tries to take over the ship herself on behalf of the System, and everyone head off to get some rest. The last scene sees Avon ask Orac about being plugged into the Federation’s mainframe, to which the computer replies he found a message exclusively for them, he then plays Blake’s message from the TV series, leading to a trademark “Well now…” from Avon as we come to a close, tying this audio series into the TV series well. Great end.
Forget “Restoration”, this series should’ve been subtitled “Parasite” really…
Notice I didn’t mention Episode 1? That’s because it was rather boring, with a lot of people talking, a lot of distrusting Selene, and a generic plot involving a Priest-like leader called Valren withholding the truth about his planet Tronis’s energy source nearly running out, even to his student Zoraya. It just… wasn’t that interesting.
The other bad thing was Selene, who spends Episodes 1 – 3 double-crossing the Liberator crew, and then instead of getting comeuppance when she reveals he deception and joins the President in the final episode, she listened to him banging on about how great he is and how free will is overrated and runs to free the Liberator crew (who already freed themselves) and then dies “heroically” shortly-thereafter, a defiant taunt towards the President before she’s finished off. It was completely unearned and frankly it would have been far more in-keeping with the show if she’s acted sorry but wasn’t forgiven by the non-Cally members of the crew who then leave her to die. I have no doubt that had Paul Darrow not sadly passed on that the ending of the Restoration Part 2 would have seen Avon do just that, leaving Selene to the crumbling space station, not the other way round, and so to do a last minute redemption for the character seems… pointless.
I also think it’s a shame that the whole President and General Mordekain storyline is now left unresolved. We know both aren’t around when TV Series 4 starts, so I want to know what happens. I have to hear the smug git President finally get killed off! I hope they find some way of giving that to us…
One last Avon appearance…
Restoration – Part 3 isn’t as strong as Part 2, but the last three stories are a strong run, and it gives a satisfying conclusion. The Avon-shaped hole in the series is obvious at times, especially as Selene isn’t exactly a great replacement, but at least it ended on one last, great Avon sneering line…
Episodes 2 – 4:
Episode 1 “Parasite”: